Dan Polydoris is a lifelong toy collector and writer. All the way back in 2010, he started a website called Death by Toys which he intended to be a place for him to write about his toy news and to showcase the occasional custom action figure he created.
As time went by, his batches began to sell out faster and faster. Eventually, he began really focusing on making custom action figures and it paid off. Death by Toys has developed into a line of collectibles known for its affinity for the strange, offbeat, and absurd.
"I read some comics, but I am not really a ‘comic nerd'," Dan told Bored Panda. "I'd definitely fall more into the ‘toy nerd' bucket. When I was a kid in the '80s, I'd go through my friends' X-Men or Batman comics, and I'd really only recognize the characters from having already owned their figures (despite having no clue who the hell they were)."
The creator doesn't know if there's really a good figure or a bad figure. "I think it all comes down to what type of toy/aesthetic you dig," he explained. "For me, I love a good simple, vintage action figure in the 3-3/4” scale with classic 5-point articulation (specifically from the '80s)."
Basically, anything that captures that old-school vibe is pretty much at the top of his list. "But I wouldn't look at something that's on the opposite spectrum (i.e. something super detailed or highly articulated) as being bad. I actually think they're great, but I'm too in love with all things vintage to dabble in much current stuff."
His love for the craft began when Dan started repurposing his vintage Star Wars figures to look like old NES characters around 2012 before his first kid was born. "I posted them online and people asked to buy them. I sold my second set to my good friend and fellow toy designer, Dano Brown, and then basically just kept making toys since."
However, it wasn't just talent. Dan has really put in the hours to perfect his skills. Looking back, he thinks that the constantly trying out new things was what has helped him improve the most. Whether it's a new process like resin casting with pressure or veering into (or out of) different categories like horror, humor, the Bible, public domain characters or whatever. "This stuff is all so fun to do, so I feel fortunate that people have stayed on board as I've continued to explore new ways to make weirdo stuff."
Unfortunately, his store is completely empty now. "Everything I make sells out instantly, so I'm trying to work to keep it stocked, but Death by Toys is literally just a one-person operation. And sometimes I try to eat or sleep." So if you're craving one of his designs, you better follow the project closely!