CS Interview: Hasbro Star Wars Creators Talk New Toy Lines
For the recent May the 4th festivities, we sat down with Hasbro‘s Mark Boudreaux (Senior Principal Designer) and Andy Ochiltree (Senior Manager, Global Brand Marketing) for an exclusive chat about the new Star Wars lines out for this year’s 40th Anniversary celebration!
ComingSoon.net: So what are the highlights you have coming up for May the 4th?
Andy Ochiltree: One of the cool things that we have that we will also still have out there is we did a stop-motion animation with Stupid Buddy Studios, you know, “Robot Chicken.” They’re kinda best in class for stop-motion. It’s so cool to work with those guys, where we took our 40th anniversary figures. So the original 12 figures that were released in 1978, we updated them in the Black Series scale. Taking those, and having the vintage figures as well, those OG 3 ¾” inch ones battle. So good versus evil. The 6” and the 3 ¾” are teaming up together. Chewbacca picks up little Chewbacca and smacks another guy with him. It’s really fun. So we’ve got that. That’s kind of a May-long thing. Check it out.
CS: It’s out now?
Ochiltree: Yeah, yeah, it’s got a million views right now.
CS: Oh wow.
Ochiltree: Yeah, hopefully that continues. Yeah, and then I think we’ll have a small announcement. But most of what we’re doing, we’ve done at Celebration. That was a great time to, you know, celebrate the 40th, but also, get some new announcements out there, like the vintage collection, which was a big one. I don’t know if you’re a collector, but that has been something that people have been asking for for years now and we’re really psyched to bring it back.
CS: What is the vintage collection?
Ochiltree: The vintage collection is 3 ¾” super articulated figures. So that’s like, it’s like the same level of articulation—
Mark Boudreaux: Done in Kenner style packaging.
Ochiltree: Done in Kenner style packaging.
CS: But with more details than the Kenner figure?
Ochiltree: There you go. Modernized.
CS: So it’s like something for the new fans and something for the old fans.
Boudreaux: Right, absolutely.
Ochiltree: Right. And another thing we did today was announce the winner of the vintage collection, which is Dr. Aphra, who is this new character just in the last year, appeared in the Darth Vader comic, but has gotten a massive following, because rightly so, she’s just this awesome character. So she’ll be appearing in the vintage collection in 2018.
CS: So which individual product are you most excited about?
Ochiltree: Are you familiar with this, Forces of Destiny?
CS: Yeah, I know they’re going to have the voices of the actual actresses for the animated component.
Ochiltree: Yeah, and we just, and Disney just announced both the brand and the product line in celebration. And yeah, in terms of evolution, this is a next level evolution. It’s something we haven’t done. This is probably the product I’m most excited about right now. These are like, we’ve taken what we do best with action figures, which is like, the articulation, the action features, the in-the-universe accessories, like weapons, and then combined it with fashion dolls, which means soft goods, the rooted hair, like all those little details that bring the characters in the galaxy to life, and made something, we’re calling them adventure figures, that hasn’t been produced really, it’s unlike anything else, certainly unlike anything else we’ve done with the line.
CS: Well, it certainly answers the call that a lot of fans have had of like, figures specifically for the female fans.
Ochiltree: Yeah, we think it definitely appeals to female fans. We think, though, just like Star Wars, Star Wars has such a wide appeal. And actually, in our research, we’ve seen both boys and girls respond to these because they love the characters and they love the action. They love the stories.
CS: Yeah, and because Barbie has always needed a laser gun.
Ochiltree: Well, hey, I didn’t say it, but I agree with you completely. Yeah, so, or light saber. But yeah, in total, Forces of Destiny is content, so there’s animation. It’s also a publishing program and apparel and these toys. So it’s like, they’re treating it like a sub-franchise unto itself.
CS: And do you all kind of work together to make sure like, everything is like—or do you guys just focus on the toys?
Ochiltree: Well, on this, I think the Forces of Destiny team could share details on how they work together, but we certainly, it’s a collaborative relationship with Disney and Lucasfilm. They’re awesome partners. We strive to bring their stories to life in the most meaningful way. And in that, we work back and forth sometimes. And like I said, they’re really great partners.
Boudreaux: You know, we take a look at each character individually, like in this particular set, where she comes with her buddy, what accessories will compliment the main character? In this case, it’s BB-8. But for Princess Leia, it’s R2. You know, and what are those action features? You squeeze Rey’s legs and she actually has a light saber swinging action. So what Andy was alluding to goes across genders. I mean, if you’re a Star Wars fan, you’re in love with all the characters that are up there, whether it’s Poe Dameron or Rey or Sabine. If you’re into Star Wars, you’re just into the characters. And I think whether you’re an older guy, an older gal or a little girl or a boy, you’re just into Star Wars. And you’re seeing characters that you’re just fascinated about. You want to know their stories. And I think that’s where the appeal of this is, because we’ve had focus groups where are just totally enamored with these.
Ochiltree: Yeah, boys and girls, yeah.
Boudreaux: And it’s like, ah, Rey just kicks. And they just love that. They see a strong character, who happens to be female, but a strong character on screen. She’s a part of the Star Wars legacy, and it’s just like, you know, she’s part of the Star Wars world. So she can wield the blaster with the best of the dudes, right? There’s no issues there.
Ochiltree: Yeah. That said, I have two daughters. They’re going to go ape for these. They’re going to love them. They already play Star Wars, of course. That’s like, mandated in my household.
Boudreaux: Of course.
Ochiltree: Yeah, you must.
CS: Yeah, and this particular design for Rey is probably going to have a lot of shelf life, because I mean, the costume is from the end of “The Force Awakens,” but it carries on into the next movie.
Ochiltree: Yeah, yeah. So yeah, it’s from the end of “The Force Awakens,” yeah. So it’s totally evergreen. Yeah, in the way we’ve seen in the trailers, seems to have something similar. Yeah. So it’s great. And I think there’s great shelf life with the whole thing, because we’ve got Leia, Hath Leia over there, from “Empire Strikes Back,” which will be 40 years old in 2020. And that’s the strength of Star Wars, right? There’s so many evergreen characters. We could watch Chewbacca on screen for 50 years. We could make Chewbacca toys for 50 years. He’s a fantastic character. It has a great shelf life.
CS: Yeah, absolutely. I’m kind of curious because I know “Rogue One” just came out. But “Rogue One” is very much kind of like a one-off, but there’s not going to be a “Rogue One 2” and a “Rogue One 3.”
Ochiltree: Wait, what? No? Should I go see that? (laughs)
CS: So I’m just curious, are you guys going to continue to emphasize that or are you going to focus more on the saga films and the classic stuff?
Ochiltree: We bring “Star Wars” stories to life, and that includes “Rogue One,” the upcoming Han Solo, so absolutely. We’ll continue to do that.
CS: And there’s continued interest building in the “Rogue One” products?
Ochiltree: Yeah. I mean, we’re still releasing stuff. We just had wave four come out for our 3 ¾” figures. This beauty right here is still on toy shelves. Have you seen this guy?
CS: Yeah, the imperial walker?
Ochiltree: So yes, there’s still interest. It’s not just new characters, right? It’s more “Star Wars” universe and people love that
Boudreaux: And we’re just very interested in the expanded aspect of “Star Wars.” Like, the new Han Solo movie coming out, we’ll talk a little bit about that. I’m sure there are elements in that Han Solo story that we got little glimpses of in the [UNINTEL 14:11] thread movie.
Ochiltree: Like “Rogue One.”
Boudreaux: But we’re always kind of hungry for more. It’s like, absolutely, we want to see a Han Solo movie. What did he do before the day we first met him? How did he get to where he is? Who knows? And I think just like we mentioned, just like “Rogue One,” in my mind’s eye, “Rogue One” could’ve easily been “Episode 3.9” because they took that nugget from the craw of “Star Wars” and said, “Rebel resistance have stolen the Death Star plans.” You may not have thought about it too much, but every time you read that, there’s a nugget there that I want to know more about. And there’s “Rogue One.” And it’s just totally awesome, where they can take these little nuggets, because you’re wanting to know more. You’re interested in knowing more. You’re fascinated by the characters and their evolution and their sort of growing up in “Star Wars.” Because most of the people that we see in “Star Wars” do evolve in some way or another. Luke and even Vader. Everybody has their evolution and kind of redemption.
Ochiltree: The galaxy unto itself is a character. Right? Like, the universe at large has had an arc from “Episode I” to currently and since then in the new trilogy.
CS: Yeah, absolutely. Now can you talk at all about some of the things that you have lined up for May 25th or can you give us a little hint at what’s happening with that?
Ochiltree: We’re doing the bulk of our celebration of the 40th today, yeah, and it’s a celebration. May the 25th will bring—I’m like, what can I say? May the 25th, we’ll have something fun. And I’m sorry I can’t say.
CS: No, whatever you can say, yeah. That’s fine. So the big takeaway from today, like what are the main lines, you have “The Forces of Destiny.”
Ochiltree: Yeah. Well, yes, the black series, vintage collection.
Boudreaux: And for the first time, actually going into the vehicle realm in 6” as well, allows us to not only—you know, you’re celebrating the new and the old. You have Rey’s speeder, right, from “Force Awakens” back to Luke’s speeder. You know, and again, that’s—
CS: With the deleted scene goggles.
Boudreaux: The deleted scene, absolutely, the poncho, great detailing, the vehicles have additional, just like we add additional details to the characters super articulation, we apply what makes sense for the vehicles. What about a vehicle are you going to be interested in? You’re going to want to be able to open up a hatch, see all the piping, the nooks and crannies. What makes this thing tick? It’s like, oh, it’s like this engine in there. Rey’s speeder, side panels come off, because she’s a tinkerer, and she built her speeder, there are scenarios that she can play out that Rey is there. If you want to setup for photography and things like that, now you can setup a nice display with Luke and Tusken Raiders and R2 and Obi-Wan. Rey, she’s tinkering on her speeder. So we feel that it’s a great opportunity, a great way to expand into our black series offering.
CS: Yeah, I saw the early art and at Celebration that they put out for these. These are great.
Boudreaux: And we actually even went into the figures that come with these particular vehicles and actually enhanced them and tweaked them. Like the poncho. He’s got his poncho and his fishing hat. We actually even sculpted Rey. She’s a new sculpt so that she would better be able to sit on the speeder. So we’ve even gone back in and said, “You know what? She needs to really be able to sit on the speeder more naturally.” The first sculpt, because we hadn’t intended her to sit on the speeder, didn’t necessarily have the subtleties required, so we went back and re-tooled it, re-sculpted her, so that when you put Rey on her speeder, she is really a part of that vehicle.
Ochiltree: It probably would’ve been easy just to go with the original Rey, but that’s this team that we just, we love “Star Wars.” We love the characters. If it’s not right, it sticks in our crawl space.
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