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  1. #1
    JeffSaylor's Avatar
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    SDCC10 MARVEL UNIVERSE and LEGENDS Q & A

    Exclusive interview with David Vonner, Jerry Jivoin and Dwight Stall.
















    San Diego Comic-Con coverage brought to you by Collectibles Insurance, Big Bad Toy Store, Sekaido, and Monkey Depot.


    We caught up with the Hasbro Marvel brand team at San Diego Comic-Con this year and had an extensive Q&A regarding the Marvel Universe and Marvel Legends toy lines. We had the privilege of speaking to David Vonner and Jerry Jivoin regarding Marvel Universe and Dwight Stall about Marvel Legends.



    MARVEL UNIVERSE Q&A


    Figures.com: Why is it that with the Marvel Universe toy line you don't reveal upcoming figures more often like you do with GI Joe or Star Wars?

    Jerry Jivoin: As far as the strategy with revealing the figures, the reason we don't reveal the whole year ahead of time is because we like to feed out the information through different media outlets such as websites or magazines for exclusive reveals throughout the year. This way we can keep fans engaged and eager to see what's next. Here we've got everything for the rest of the year 2010 and we are also sneak-peeking wave 1 and 2 for 2011 as well. There will also be cases in which last-minute changes need to be made and we not be able to release a specific figure when it was originally intended to come out that is why we like to reveal one wave at a time.
    David Vonner: One of the reasons we do that is because Universe, in terms of scale in the line, is not as large as Star Wars. They have a lot of stuff they can unveil and with Universe when we started it we didn't want to unload all this information and then have nothing to stagger it with. Another reason is because we kind of like to keep fans guessing what's next. Back in the day when I was a kid you had to wait to see the Sears catalog to see what was coming out in Christmas until the fall. So that's another reason and with the movie stuff we canít talk about obviously. We try to stagger the information but not release too much at the same time.

    Figures.com: So you basically prefer to reveal product at large venues such as Toy Fair and Comic-Con?

    David: Those are the venues that guys are checking the sites and there's so much traffic that they shut down forums. Plus there is a large media presence there, and the thing is, even when Legends started with Toy Biz, there were no promotions for it. When we make announcements in such places like this, it's just the right place for it to happen. Marvel is becoming a media empire now with the comics, movies and cartoons. We want the toys to be on the same level as well so when we make announcements about Universe or Legends in venues like this it really broadens the scope of Marvel.
    Figures.com: Have you considered developing a checklist later on down the road to help fans keep track of all the figures and possibly reveal some new ones along the way?

    Jerry: We are definitely working on a checklist. There are a lot great checklists that fans have created on different websites and we want to create our own checklist on our website. We want fans to know what figures and variants are out there and we want to do something where they can print out and you can go to the store and look for those figures.

    Figures.com: Why is that figures such as the A.I.M. Soldier have so much new tooling and better articulation while other more popular characters have less articulation?

    Jerry: We have all the tools from the last few years and we re-use some of the tooling but we try to upgrade the poseability on figures as often as possible. However, we have limitations in terns of production runs so because of that sometimes the older bodies have to get used but we are definitely bringing in new ones as well. Weíre definitely trying to improve that as we go to make some of the A-list characters include the articulation that everybody wants them to have.
    David: Well, it's a constant thought process and with the A.I.M. Soldier that body was actually made for Starlord which we will eventually do. We need to be aware of what we are going to use the tooling for so if we say we are going to develop a specific character there will be some resistance but if the figure is an army-builder, we can really get some decent sales from that and then also use it for other characters such as the upcoming Ghost Rider. With the A.I.M. Soldier he is part of the mutant wave and if you read the Hammer file there's a reason why they are in that wave they are capturing mutants and doing all sorts of experiments and stuff on them. So that's why I was like, lets get the A.I.M. soldier in there so that way we have that new body out there so now we can do the Ghost Rider, the Starlord and other Guardians of the Galaxy with it.

    With Archangel, what I wanted to do was have the wings so we had to compensate the cost for developing those and a new upper torso to accommodate them and use an existing body with him. To me, having the detailed wings as seen in statues and the comics, was a main priority for the figure. We don't necessarily have to make a brand new body but we can add new joints to make them more poseable.

    We are constantly trying to re-imagine, re-invigorate the line and make it better. In regards to articulation where it was when we first started with the modern Iron-Man and classic Punisher in comparison to Juggernaut and the Comic-Con exclusive Captain America it leaps and bounds! I think we have made significant leaps and I am always looking at ways to upgrade the articulation but we have to be smart about the cost and the manufacturing.
    Figures.com: Will the Gigantic Battle Packs continue and will they remain exclusive to Wal-Mart stores?

    Jerry: Yeah, they will continue and we are actually showcasing the new Ben Foster Giant Man with Thor Clone and Frost Giant with Loki at the show. These sets will be available at Wal-Mart in spring 2011.
    Figures.com: Is there any chance that we may see alter-ego packs in the future, for example a Peter Parker/Spider-man, Eddie Brock/Venom or Norman Osborn/Green Goblin?

    Jerry: Thatís actually a really cool idea and that's been kicked around a little bit because it would be cool to have the character in their normal street clothes form and if they have a secret identity, with their superhero costume. We're not developing anything yet, but it is definitely something we've talked about as a 2-pack especially with Steve Rodgers/Captain America, Peter Parker/Spider-man. This is something that we can definitely look at in the near future.
    David: That's one of the great things about Marvel like with Bruce Banner, Betty Ross, Rick Jones and Hank Pym. Henry Pym is a regular guy that has done crazy stuff to himself but he's a man basically. He wasn't bitten by a radioactive hamster (laughs). I had actually pitched a similar concept for this year's Comic-Con exclusive but we went with Galactus instead. We know that there are a lot important civilians like Rick Jones and if we do something like that, Rick Jones would be the first.

    Figures.com: It's definitely going to be difficult to outdo this year's Galactus exclusive, which is one of the most amazing SDCC exclusives ever.

    David: Again, I got some ideas that you just have no idea. Some stuff is so large that it will never happen but there is some great stuff in the pipeline. He is really cool and fans like it. I think it took a while for fans to wrap their mind around the fact that he was 19". Most people thought he was the same size as the Marvel Legends build-a-figure but he is not. (Editor's Note: The new Marvel Universe Sentinels were revealed by David and crew during the Marvel Toys panel).
    Figures.com: Have you considered implementing the build-a-figure program into the Marvel Universe toy line?

    Jerry: We have kicked that idea around as far as putting the build-a-figure program into 3 ĺ. We haven't done it yet because we have been doing our larger characters through other programs such as Gigantic Battles and the electronic Galactus. This is not to say that we are not going to do it. We are definitely considering it and need to figure out what will be the right time to launch that and we also what to make sure we can keep the price of the figures down for the fans and so it is less expensive to buy. It's definitely a good idea and something that we may be doing in the future.


    MARVEL LEGENDS Q&A


    Figures.com: What is going to happen with the remaining Marvel Legends prototypes that did not make the cut in last year's fan poll?

    Dwight Stall: Thatís a very good question. A lot of the figures we revealed at last year's Comic-Con have been locked up in the Hasbro vault. That's not to say that they are forgotten by any means. Jerry and I are always meeting up and discussing how we can make Legends meaningful and to figure out what is the right way to get them back in the populace for all consumers.

    With the fantastic opportunities of Marvel pumping out these wonderful movies year in and year out it's making the awareness of the odd characters we showed last year more relevant to the universe. For instance, next year we got Cap and Thor coming. Some of the relevant characters, like Winter Soldier and Black Widow, are being done this year. Based upon the heat we get from the new movies, we can probably bring some of those characters back in to the mix. (Editor's Note: Marvel Legends will officially return in 2012 as was announced at the Hasbro Marvel Toy Panel at Comic-Con.)
    Figures.com: Have you considered approaching the Marvel Legend line in the way Mattel is handling their monthly Masters of the Universe Classics figures for collectors on their website?

    Dwight: Yeah, Mattel is doing a great job with their collector brands. It's something that we have struggled with in the past year. Mattel has shown us that there is a strong market for collector-based figures creeping up into the $15-$20 price range and that's a lot of money this day and age. We want to make sure we are giving fans the right figures for that price.

    As far as how we get the figures to the fans we have kicked around some ideas like offering them as Hasbrotoyshop.com and we have actually met their team to figure things out. We are still developing sculpts, brand new ones that you guys haven't seen. We want to set a new standard with Legends. If we are going to charge a premium for the figures we want it to be worth the premium. The 2-packs that we are releasing this year are very strong toward what we want Legends to be. Lots of premium deco, good level of articulation and fantastic sculpts. Whether these come out in 2-packs, single packs build-a-figure packs I don't know.

    Figures.com: Are there plans for another Marvel Legends fan poll?

    Dwight: We loved last year's and everyone that has come to the booth have been very, very happy with what they have seen as far as the new 2-packs are concerned. There will always be extreme critics but the people that did not like the figures last year are now saying that this is pretty good. So if we have gone that far in the last year we are very positive about continuing to gauge fan interest for this line.
    Figures.com: Are there any plans to release 6" figures of Captain America and Thor from the upcoming movies, and if so, will they be distributed through mass retail or exclusive to a particular store chain?

    Dwight: Well, we don't know just yet. We are looking at that and there was some fantastic Iron Man figures this year based on the Iron Man 2 movie and they have been doing very, very well. The figures were designed by Jason from the Iron Man team and they some the most amazing 6" figures I have ever seen. The War Machine hands-down is one of the best 6" Marvel figures ever made. So yeah, were looking at it. We would love to do it we just have to find the right items to get out there. Dave is working on Thor and I'm working on Captain America and I know both of us would love to get some of those characters out there in 6" as well as some classics as well. I want to see it so hopefully we can figure out a way to get it done.
    Figures.com: What do you think of Alter Ego Packs in the Marvel Legends line? Obviously, it would be more likely in 3 ĺ scale because of cost. Would you ever consider such a concept for Legends like a Spider-man in his outfit with interchangeable heads, accessories similar to the Stan Lee SDCC exclusive from a few years back?

    Dwight: I think that is a very interesting concept. I think that would have a perfect home in the venues of the Comic-Con world. I don't know if it would be the right idea for a main all-account type item because I don't know if it would have the mass populace appeal to warrant the cost for all the additional parts would result in an achievable price point for mass retail but as a Comic-Con exclusive or even any store exclusive in general, that would be very interesting concept.



    For a complete Hasbro Comic-Con photo gallery tour, CLICK HERE!

    Special thanks to David Vonner, Jerry Jivoin and Dwight Stall for making time for this interview!

    - Jorge Pelaez



  2. #2
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    Re: SDCC10 MARVEL UNIVERSE and LEGENDS Q & A

    Mr. Vonner, Jivion and Stall,
    Your Hasbro Marvel brand team point of view was slightly insightful and prompted me to make this comment. I also have a new thread on this forum you should read. As a customer, and one that has been loyal to marvel since toybiz's earliest days, I'd like to let you know that the figures you have coming out are only barely worth looking at, let alone buying. Your polls have been a joke. The prototypes you have "locked in the Hasbro vault." are your only real work. But with movies like Thor and CA coming out, I'm sure we'll see plenty of those two. Why not add Mjolnir carrying Wolverine and Spiderman to it? Or Star Spangled Spidey and American Flag waving Wolverine? The repetition in your lines is boring. The lack of new and exciting characters
    is going to be your downfall. Sadly, we don't see anything really new coming out anytime soon. "Marvel Legends will officially return in 2012 as was announced at the Hasbro Marvel Toy Panel at Comic-Con." Who cares? Give the license to someone that will do something new. You said extreme critics that didn't like the figures last year like them now. Who do you talk to? And if you are going to charge a premium for the figures you have coming out, don't make me debate buying a Lady Bullseye because it's lockdown with a crappy iron man.

  3. #3
    JeffSaylor's Avatar
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    Re: SDCC10 MARVEL UNIVERSE and LEGENDS Q & A

    I know we're all entitled to our opinions - and some of us, as die-hard collectors - are very passionate about the toy lines we collect. However, you'll find that toy companies are more likely to listen when asked in a more civil and constructive tone. Comments like "who cares, "have been a joke," etc comes across as angry attacks and offer no solution. Which characters would you like to see made? If the polls are not working, what would you recommend instead?

    Just saying that there are ways to voice disappointment with hopes of a solution without simply coming across as rude and angry.

  4. #4
    wesitron is offline Registered User
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    Re: SDCC10 MARVEL UNIVERSE and LEGENDS Q & A

    I have to agree that I hated the idea of Hasbro getting the Marvel Legends license and their work into that land was awful. However, in the past year especially, I've been really impressed by their work. The most impressive thing to me as been the ability to keep the price point low. 20 bucks for two super-articulated figures or 15 bucks for one DCUC is a question I ask myself all the time. The reality is that Hasbro has the license and Hasbro doesn't do everything exactly like ToyBiz. Yes, I still want ankle pivots to come back, but y'know I really appreciate the innovation they've had with the line with swappable hands and heads. We didn't get that sort of thing with ML much.

    ToyBiz had the rights to make Marvel toys for a very very long time before they came up with ML, and for the most part they knocked it out of the park. Hasbro was criticized from day one and probably unfairly. Yes, they do repaints, and some pretty dumb ones, but ones that moms can buy for their little boys and girls. I would love to see the level of sculpting that went into the ToyBiz line, but that line also went away, I believe largely to the cost of new sculpts. You've got to hit a middle ground between collector and kid because these are, in fact, toys.

    My nephews enjoy their GI Joes and Iron Mans because they're fun, durable, and aren't so articulated that a kid can't figure them out.

    I'm glad they're committed to the brand, I love Marvel Universe and the incredible work they've done with it just this year, and as long as they can keep a competitive price point, I'm sure I'll love the new Marvel Legends. Hasbro's been around for a very long time and if it's one thing they know, it's long-running franchises and how to plan out fan-favorite lines. They're young in their experience with ML but they are learning very quickly. I have to say, ToyBiz is gone, the new ML look great, and yeah Hasbro, you made me a convert. Great job and thanks for the info.

  5. #5
    nashisthepower's Avatar
    nashisthepower is offline Forum Fiend
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    Re: SDCC10 MARVEL UNIVERSE and LEGENDS Q & A

    I can see how it came across rude and angry. So I can offer a more constructive argument and we'll see who listens.

    There have been many things done right with the line. Articulation has not been an issue as far as I'm concerned. As for the more recent figure, I've bought nearly every two pack since cable and marvel girl. Dum Dum Dugan and Sharon hill were great additions. Even though a crappy Iron Man was forced on me. There are several character that have been prototyped or talked about that were interesting. If they were to see daylight, then Hasbro would see my money.

    As for polls, the last two were a joke, in that the marvel universe one never happened. People voted and the figures were never made. I have the results of that poll. I would have even considered buying some of those smaller scale figures because I doubt they would see ML scale. The second poll was a joke because just about every character tied into a future movie line. Coincidence? I doubt it. Black Widow, Hulk, Deadpool, Valk, and Winter Soldier are all somehow related to the movies in production. Not necessarily a bad thing, but other characters in the comics could use a first time release. I got a list but this forum is too long. Who do I send it to?

    Lastly, an attack or rant is from a frustrated customer/fan who has offered up solution in the past with no result. And to see something you are passionate about become a thing you can't stand to look at or start to ignore is painful. So there is my lighter side to the argument. Poll what people want and give them options, then follow through. And realize that we are not all still interested in the same things. WE want to broaden our collections, even with obscure characters, not just the same over popular ones.

  6. #6
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    Re: SDCC10 MARVEL UNIVERSE and LEGENDS Q & A

    Hi, I'm new to this forum, but the issue is old. Hasbro admits collectors make up an important part of their sales, yet keep telling us they have to cater to kiddies taste. Collectors don't want more repeated Hulks, Iron men, Spidermen, FF or Wolverines; kids probably don't care for Warpath, Valkyrie, or most secondary or obscure characters. The solution seems simple: A line for children with Scuba diving Wolverine, Pizza delivery Iron Man, etc, with action features and whatever they want to throw in, and a line of well sculpted, painted, articulated, BAF-free figures based on other Marvel characters. And they could still have us buy 2-packs as long as they include two new characters, and wouldn't need the BAF concept 'cause we would happily buy big guys for the price of Icons or even more.

    Personally I spent over $2,000 on TB Legends and other 6'' Marvel lines. And not more because there where several figures I couldn't find. Since Hasbro took over I've bought five figures, and some of them just because I didn't see anything else worth buying.

  7. #7
    nashisthepower's Avatar
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    Re: SDCC10 MARVEL UNIVERSE and LEGENDS Q & A

    WElcome to the forums, Jade Tiger. I like your answer.

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