Today in the ToyBox we are interviewing ItzDante2.0 of Instagram and YouTube fame. Dante is a fellow toy collector, reviewer, and best of all, photographer! Dan’s ToyBox was very happy to be able to sit down and talk with Dante about his passion for photography, what got him (back) into collecting and his views on reviewing toys and the hobby, overall. I hope you enjoy this chat as much as I did!
DTB: “First off, thank you for finding the time to talk with me. I really enjoy your reviews and am a fan of your figure photography. I know how hectic life can be, so I will try to be respectful of your time this evening.”
Dante: “Thank you for inviting me to do this. I was surprised when I got your message because I had not been asked for an interview before and I figured this would be a live video.”
DTB: “Ahhh, I prefer to write my articles to post on the website. Plus, it allows me to send you the copy first for final approval. Just a way to show further respect to the people I interview. If everything looks good, when you give me the ok, I will also need maybe 9 or 10 of your favorite photos to include in the article. So, with that, let us kind of jump right in… What started you on collecting?”
Dante: “Well, to be honest, I would say it has been pretty much all my life. I was getting toys as a kid and, you know, I hit that middle/high school age and suddenly it is not cool to be buying toys. Started chasing girls and getting into other hobbies. But all of those great 80’s era toys are boxed up and in storage at my mom’s house, so I do still have them. Anyhow, a few years ago, a friend of mine bought me a figure and that is what re-started the interest.”
DTB: “Nice, I still have about 80% of my original Star Wars toy collection, so I understand hanging on to the vintage toys. That was cool that your friend got you back into the hobby though. Was that what got you into figure photography as well?” EDITOR’S NOTE:(Dante actually pointed out that he’s NOT a fan of Star Wars and gets razzed about that quite a bit. I promised I would mention his expansive love for the franchise in the interview… so here it is. LOL)
Dante: “No I have been into photography for a long time. I have two camera set ups that I use. My primary is a Canon Rebel 7D and my back up/secondary is a Canon TI. I started out doing wedding and baby showers. Taking photos at clubs and events… I was one of those guys that you would see at the club taking shots of the dancers and high-profile people coming in. I am self-taught and do all my own editing. Which is why I really do not do A.C.B.A per se. Those types of photos are supposed to look natural, unedited to give us a sense of realism in the picture. I love playing around with my backgrounds and giving my photos a unique touch. I started figure photography with Funko Pops. I was like…” Man, I am going to be the only person doing this stuff.” Yeah, I was wrong. I was really amazed at how many other people were out there doing figure and toy photography. I love the hobby though and so I just keep doing my thing for people to enjoy.”
DTB: “How long have you been reviewing toys?”
Dante: “I started about a year ago. I try to keep it real and, probably won’t get many endorsements for that. I see this as a service to collectors. I am going to tell you if a toy is worth buying or not, which means I am not always going to have nice things to say. Now if a toy company wants to send me a review sample, great. But I am going to be honest about how I feel. People are spending good money on this stuff and should feel good about what they are buying.”
DTB: “You have just verbalized my entire philosophy as well. It is not always easy to be critical of a figure, especially if it is a character, you really like. I must remind myself to be objective as much as possible because it can get too easy to rave about something and minimize the issues with it. What prompted you to get started?”
Dante: “Right. I just want to keep it real and give the people watching my videos the best information possible. I got into reviewing as a way to give back and help collectors. One of the best things that has happened is receiving messages from my followers about how much they enjoy the videos. I have a father and son that are fans and they sent me a picture of themselves eating dinner, with one of my videos playing on their big screen TV. That really touches my heart, to hear how much they enjoy the reviews and to see the impact I am having on collectors.”
DTB: “Well, I can certainly agree with them. Speaking of the reviews, I really dig the perspective you use. Are you wearing a Go-Pro camera or something?”
Dante: “No, just my regular rig. I have the camera on a tripod, angled downward. I figure, if I am standing there holding a figure, I am naturally looking down at it. Which is most likely how everybody else is looking at theirs. It is easier to stand by the tripod and look down than it is to sit behind it and try to reach around the camera and manipulate the figure awkwardly.”
DTB: “I dig that. It gives you a unique characteristic, plus, it lends to the cool way you do figure size comparisons. Doing something just a bit different than the other guy helps distinguish us. I have filmed some video reviews, but I actually prefer to sit and write. It allows me to give a little background on the character and maybe add some interesting tidbits from specific comic issues regarding the figure I’m reviewing where applicable. So… with all of the figures you’ve reviewed, do you have a favorite toy line?”
Dante: “Oh man, that is a tough one. No, I cannot say that I have a favorite line. I mean, there are great things and bad things about every one of them. If I were to choose though, I would base it on the specific figures. Like, I love Mezco… they are high quality figures, packed with lots of accessories and all have cloth/soft goods. The articulation is, for the most part, excellent. I enjoy Mafex, they really nail the look of the characters, their articulation is excellent, but they are always plagued by QC issues. I am a huge fan of the SHF Dragonball Z figures and just love what SHF has done with that line. Storm Collectibles Mortal Kombat line is among my favorites. I love the look, detail, heft, and design of those figures and I have the entire MK line in my collection and, of course, I love Marvel Legends.”
DTB: “So, with all of that… what’s your favorite figure?”
Dante: “Oh man, you had to ask that. *laughs* I would say it depends on the character. I am a big Spider-Man fan, so I really like the retro blue/red costume figure. But… let us see… if I were to name my top three, they would likely be: 3) SHF Goku, 2) Storm Collectibles Scorpion and 1) Mezco Gomez. Actually, yes. Gomez is my favorite. They have done so many awesome variations of Gomez and the heads and hands are all interchangeable, plus the character is just great. I am really into the oddball, random stuff. If I see it and I like it, I will add it to my collection. (At this point, Dante took me on a virtual tour of his collectibles room and man… I was super impressed with the variety and quality of his toy collection!)
DTB: “I know it is getting kind of late, and I only have a couple more questions. I will lob you a softball first… What is your “grail” figure?
Dante: *thinks for a moment…” The Mezco Gomez White Shadow Assassin. If you do not have any Gomez figures, I definitely recommend adding one to your collection and the White Shadow Assassin is one I’d love to find for myself.”
DTB: “I hear ya. I do not have any Mezco figures, oddly enough. In fact, my first one will be the new Superman that is coming out this summer. That being said, I’ve watched a number of Gomez reviews and would definitely love to get my hands on one… I do not even care which version it is. The figures are amazing. So… here is the big question to wrap things up with. What is your take on the state of the hobby today?”
Dante: “Oh man… we are in a ‘Golden Age’ of action figures. This is “PRIME FIGURE TIME!” There is something out there for anybody who wants to collect. We talked about Funko; people are snatching those up like crazy. Import figures, superhero figures. The designs are so much better than what we had growing up. The articulation, paint, character designs are incredible. People have so many different reasons for collecting; nostalgia, movies, great designs, etc.… I think though, the best part of the hobby is the friendships I have built with other collectors. Being able to make trades with guys, finding stuff that other people need and helping them out. You should check out the Open Box Mafia group on Facebook. Fantastic crew of guys that I have a lot of fun with. To me, that is what makes the hobby so great, the people. The problem is that so much stuff is being pushed back and there are lots of people who pre-order just to snap them up and turn around to scalp them. Yes, do not get me started on scalpers, man.”
DTB: “You and me both. For the website I used to write for, I drafted an article on my disdain for scalpers. I love that comment though… Prime Figure Time. In fact, I think that will be the title of our interview. Dante, again, I cannot thank you enough for your time tonight. I have really enjoyed our conversation and will look up the Open Box Mafia on Facebook.
I really enjoyed my time with ItzDante and hope you all had as much fun reading this and enjoying his pictures as I have writing it. You can find Dante on Instagram at: @itzdante2.0 or his personal page @itzdante.jpg. His reviews are available on YouTube, and he can be found there under: https://www.youtube.com/c/Itzdante20. All Images used with permission from and are the express copyright property of @itzdante2.0.
Thank you all for stopping by the ToyBox and until next time… GEEK OUT!!!!