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The Locals: The Kanik Brothers Part 2: Major Bendies



Very rarely do I get to talk about some of my more niche hobbies, and even more rarely does the subject of one of my stories happen to be about that. I’m what I like to call a “serial collector”. I collect everything from vintage cameras to retro game consoles and comic books. Most notably though, I have a collection of figures. Toys, action figures, dolls, whatever you wanna call them, I’ve been displaying them on shelves since I was about twelve years old. So you can imagine my intrigue in our next subject.

Michael Kanik is a Hudson County local based in North Bergen. Born to Maria and Gursoy Kanik and having grown up in Union City, Mike had taken a quick love to all things geeky from a very young age. Power Rangers, wrestling, comic books, you name it. Michael is the younger brother of Chris Kanik, the boy scientist of Hudson County, and being such, there were certain expectations some of his teachers had of him when he was growing up. They saw Michael and Chris and thought “the dynamic duo” of science.

For a while, Michael followed suit and joined in his brother’s scientific escapades. It was, fortunately or unfortunately, not his path in life. While Chris was off being Reed Richards, Michael was more akin to Ben Grimm. His interests and passions were fundamentally different. For the next few years of his life, Michael would work various jobs in marketing and the like. That is until 2014, when he collaborated with his brother to launch Totally Pop Culture, a website dedicated to comic book news and all things, well, pop culture.

To commemorate the launch of the site, the brothers got in touch with Marvel Comics and had their own variant issue of Amazing Spider-Man #7 made available through their website. The cover was done by veteran comic book artist Bill Sienkiewicz who himself is a Jersey native and known for his iconic work on characters like Spider-Man, Elektra, and, most important to me, Moon Knight.

When I asked him how it was that he managed to score a collaboration with the likes of Marvel Comics his answer was simple “I just kind of reached out. I think that’s something people don’t know is that they think everything is unattainable, but if you just pick up the phone or text them, they’ll likely show up” he said. He then looked at me while smiling and said “I mean, that’s how you’re here.” Which to that I say, fair enough, Mike. You got me there.

While this kind of accomplishment in of itself is already pretty notable, Michael’s major success would come in more recent years with the launch of his company, Major Bendies. Launched in 2021 and in collaboration with The Major Wrestling Figure Podcast, Major Bendies is a callback to the rubber action figures of yore. They’re paying homage to the Bendems and Stretch Armstrong figures that many wrestling fans grew up playing with.

Michael managed to find work at the WWE almost six years ago as a brand manager for their toy collection. He made various connections during his time there and helped launch other products during the pandemic that were instantly popular for their nostalgia appeal. Products like Wrestling Buddies. These pillows, while popular, were not exactly what Michael felt collectors ultimately wanted and came up with Major Bendies as a solution to that. Matt Cardona and Brian Meyers of the The Major Wrestling Figure Podcast — two people he was not only fans of but also inspired him to look for work in the toy industry — became his business partners.

I, myself, know very little about wrestling but I collect superhero and sci-fi oriented figures. So I can appreciate some of the more minor design features of these figures and their packaging. For one, the box doesn’t have to be destroyed to remove the figure and you can repackage it if you wish. This might seem trivial to the average person but, to nerds like myself who grew up having to rip through clamshell packaging, it’s much appreciated. It allows collectors to choose whether they want to display their figure by itself or in the box whenever they want. It’s also makes it very autograph friendly for convention attendees which is great for preserving the value of these collectibles.

What’s more astonishing outside of the design is the way the business is currently run. Michael started this business out of his attic three years ago and while improvements have been made, he still ships everything out of his house. He’s had to personally ship out 5,000 figures out of his home in just the last month and he’s in charge of almost every other major aspect of the company. Putting his average work day at almost twenty hours.

The seemingly grueling hours are not grueling to Michael by a longshot. “I work twenty hours a day which is probably twice more that what I’d be working at a corporate job, but it doesn’t feel like that at all. I just love doing it” he said. I think anyone who is lucky enough to be working in the field of their passion can share in that sentiment.

As for the future, Major Bendies is currently developing figures for filmmaker Kevin Smith based on the characters of his films and Michael plans on expanding the business soon so that he has a dream team helping him out and making the process as seamless as possible.

The biggest impression that all of this really left on me was how Michael described what he was in the business in, and it wasn’t toys. “I sell nostalgia” he said, and in a world where people love to reminisce and think back to the “good old days”, there’s no greater gift than taking people’s sweetest memories and making them something tangible.