Collector's Corner: Interview with Russ Akin (aka ShartimusPrime)
May 22, 2018
PREVIEWSworld ToyChest proudly introduces Collector's Corner! Here, we'll highlight anyone and everyone with a love of toys and collectibles. Whether it's a hardcore collector with no room on their display case or a veteran sculptor who makes a living in the industry, we'll talk to anyone who lives and breathes toys!
This week, we talked to Russ Akin, better known as ShartimusPrime! Russ' toy review videos have garnered more than 182 million views on YouTube! A Bay Area resident, Russ is also a musician.
Learn how Russ started his toy collection and his popular YouTube channel here!
COULD YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF?
My name is Russ Akin and I’m from a little beach town near San Francisco called Pacifica. The ShartimusPrime YouTube channel was created in 2008 and originally hosted Transformer figure reviews. At the time, I thought most figure review channels were a bit dull so I wanted to show that collectors do have a fun sense of humor, thus the humorous play on words in the name “SHARTimusPrime”. I wanted to break that stereotype of “I live in my Grandma’s basement” with my fun unapologetic amorous disposition. I am half Latino and half White, so I pull a lot of humor from Latino culture, and I tend to incorporate “Spanglish” in my reviews. I incorporate adult humor while also keeping it roughly PG-13 for younger viewers who might stumble onto my channel. While the humor might be crude, there is a level of professionalism involved with the production of my videos. I use quality lighting with a solid white backdrop to provide the best visuals I can on the product I am reviewing. To be thorough, I provide quick bios on the comic book characters. For figures resembling live actors, I provide comparisons from images found online. I keep my videos at a very smooth and entertaining pace, which can be time consuming when editing. So while I do come off as immature, I do take the video production very seriously.
The channel really grew once I started showing my Marvel figures. In January 2009, I posted a video on my Marvel Legends Avengers collection, and things really started taking off from there. SentryProductions helped promote my channel a lot in the beginning. Sean Long also helped a lot in spreading the word of my channel, and later on help from the ACBA Community and Entertainment News International. My wife, The Lovely SharlitaOne, has helped the channel a lot from the behind the scenes as well (including proof-reading these answers). Because of the growing popularity of Marvel movies, my channel has steered more towards Marvel product over anything else. At one point, I started making enough from Youtube ads that I was able to quit my day job. It has been a rocky road, but I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do!
Aside from posting 7 videos a week, I teach drum lessons 3 days a week, and I gig regularly with the local Skyline College Jazz Band Ensemble and Punk Band called “The Mengz”. I also get hired to play drums for random gigs here and there. So I’m a pro musician/youtuber . . . putting that bachelor’s degree in Land-Use Planning to great use! Who wants to work for the government anyway?
WHEN DID YOU START COLLECTING?
I started collecting Comic Books (bagged and boarded) and TV Guides as kid, and as a teenager I started collecting action figures with the Star Wars Power of the Force line in about 1997. I would get doubles of the ones I liked, but most were MOC and hung up on my wall. I would get embarrassed inviting a girl over, but I eventually gained the courage to not care what other people thought. Yeah, those girls were just lucky to be in my company! It sounds arrogant, but that’s the attitude us guys need to have.
WHAT SPURRED YOUR INTEREST IN TOY COLLECTING?
During sophomore year of high school I had a pretty serious skateboard accident that resulted in a fractured skull. The healing process was pretty extensive, so I couldn’t play sports or pretty much any other activities for a at least a year. Luckily, my dad encouraged me to get into slot car racing and collecting Star Wars toys. My parents have always been Sci-Fi geeks and huge fans of Star Trek, but my dad really loved Star Wars too. I was lucky that he shared it with my brother and me.
DO YOU COLLECT ANY SPECIFIC LINES OR FRANCHISES?
Marvel Legends, Transformers Masterpiece, and Hot Toys are my top 3 favorite figure lines. I love Star Wars Black Series too. I don’t review those as much, but I have just about every single 6” Black Series figure.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PIECES?
I have to put the Toys R Us Exclusive Transformers Masterpiece Optimus Prime as my number one. I never get tired of that figure, and it always impresses me how accurate both modes are to the G1 cartoon. I love the Sentinel Build a Figure from ToyBiz Marvel Legends as well. Hot Toys Hulk is another favorite of mine. There’s a lot prized pieces in my collection, I really can go on forever.
WHAT IS YOUR ‘HOLY GRAIL’ COLLECTIBLE?
Do customs count? Because the figure I want more than any other is a Masterpiece ShartimusPrime custom made from the TRU Transformers Optimus Prime figure. This would need the added sanitation vehicle parts and poop effects, and of course be able to transform. If I had a bottomless barrel of money, I’d give it to customizer EnclineDesigns to make it happen.
WHAT IS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL?
Other youtubers have inspired me from the beginning. SentryProductions and Sean Long were big in the inspiration department. To be honest though, I’ve always made home movies. Since I was about 7 years old I would write out these stories and would have friends come over and we’d play out these scenes. My dad was the camera man and editor. So since I was a kid I’ve been doing this.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO TOY COLLECTORS?
Be specific about what you collect. Start with your number one favorite characters and go from there. My first Marvel Legend-type figure was Spider-Man (which is my favorite super hero), and then I moved onto a Daredevil figure, and then Wolverine and so on. Also, don’t be afraid to sell off parts of your collection to get another figure that could be really expensive. If you want that super expensive piece, make that sacrifice in your toy fund, not the rent fund. Also, remember that if you’re younger (like teenager to mid-twenties), you just won’t have the funds to get a ton of stuff. I wasn’t able to afford a lot of the expensive pieces until I was in my 30’s.
HOW CAN PEOPLE FIND YOU ONLINE?
Youtube is the place; just type in “ShartimusPrime” and you’ll find me (http://youtube.com/sharitmusprime). I’m on Instagram as ShartimusPrimePics, and twitter and facebook as ShartimusPrime.