THE SPECIALISTS COLLECTIBLES COLUMN: Exclusive Interview - Figures Toy Co.’s DePetrillo Discusses New Legends Line - Who Will Be Included?
Jun 27, 2015 - 5:55:44 PM
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By Michael Moore, PWTorch Collectibles specialist
In Brief: First series includes figures of Blue Meanie, Justin Credible, Mikey Whipwreck, Jim Cornette, and more.
Wrestlers like the Blue Meanie and Mikey Whipreck have never been included in a wrestling toy line.
That’s about to change.
Figures Toy Co., the company that is producing the first Ring of Honor action figures, has signed several stars from wrestling’s past to appear in an upcoming legends of wrestling toy line. The first series of figures will be very ECW heavy, with new figures of the Blue Meanie, Justin Credible, Mikey Whipwreck, and New Jack. The first legends series will also include the first modern era figure of Jim Cornette and another yet-to-be-named legend making his action figure debut.
Figures Toy Co. Chief Marketing Officer Chris DePetrillo recently talked exclusively with PWTorch Collectibles specialist Michael Moore about this new legends line.
- Moore: Who do you currently have signed for the legends line?
DePetrillo: Right now the first wave will include the Blue Meanie, Justin Credible, Mikey Whipwreck, New Jack, and Jim Cornette. We are also in the process of finalizing the contract of another legendary name, one that has never had a figure before. I know this might be a vague hint, but I can confirm that it will not be another ECW name. It's someone whose career goes back even further, and was involved with some of the major players of the ‘80s.
- Moore: Will these figures and their packaging be similar to the ROH line, as far as accessories and things like that go?
DePetrillo: Yes. We're looking to cover everything from outfits to weaponry. Just like with ROH, where the talent has input, we work with any of the talent signed to the legends and indy lines on everything from the overall look of the figure down to what accessories to include.
- Moore: How did you go about deciding who you’d like to see in this line?
DePetrillo: Right now the goal of the legends line is to target active legends, if that makes sense - those that still have a presence out there, whether it's still working shows, doing the convention circuit, having an online presence. We're also coming up on 20 years since the start of the Monday Night War and the rise of ECW, so it was a personal preference of mine to try and secure many names from that era for a variety of reasons. The ECW fan base holds a lot of nostalgia for that era. Jim Cornette has been in every major company and lived through so much history in the business. The 18-to 34-year-old demographic is the strongest segment of collectors, so a lot of those kids from the ‘90s that grew up on ECW or saw Jim in his WWF or TNA runs are now at the point where they fit into that age group of collectors, and are looking more for collectors’ items, as opposed to basic play figures. The first wave is a lineup that, for the most part, is based on the ‘90s nostalgia. That's not to say any future lines will be that way, as we have considered and spoken with talent from different past eras about being in the line.
- Moore: You’ve announced some guys who haven’t had a figure at all, or at least a quality modern era figure - New Jack, Blue Meanie, Justin Credible, Jim Cornette, guys like that. Was that a conscious decision for you to look at guys who didn’t already have figures of some sort?
DePetrillo: Yes, it was. Much like with the Ring of Honor figures, I compile a list of who I think would be a good fit in the line. The WWE Classic Superstars line (from Jakks Pacific) gave us a tremendous variety of figures, more than any set before or since. I didn't want to kick off this new series with redone figures, or stars that you could easily get from Jakks or Mattel. ECW has gone pretty much untouched since their 1999 toy line. Jim Cornette hasn't had a figure since 1997. He was supposed to have one several years ago in the TNA Legends line, but it was scrapped. What better way to get relaunch the legends line than with figures that have been in demand for years, yet for one reason or another, were never made?
- Moore: What sort of licensing considerations have to be made when doing figures like this? Do you have to avoid guys with WWE Legends deals or things of that nature?
DePetrillo: We make sure all of our bases are covered. Everything is verified from a legal standpoint so that there are no concerns over trademark infringement. Names, logos - you name it, we've looked at it. As far as WWE Legends deals are concerned, we do stay away from those talents, because typically those deals are in place to set them up for Mattel figures, t-shirts, and other merchandising. This also goes back to my feeling about doing retreads; most of the WWE Legends have already been done in one form or another. To me, that's even more incentive to stay away. It helps us narrow our focus down to the legends who aren't getting their due.
- Moore: Which wrestlers or ideas do you hear most about from collectors? Do fans say, “I want a figure of this guy?”
DePetrillo: As you know, we have a very strong online presence. I oversee our social media pages, and stay active on Reddit. I see the tweets and Facebook messages and Reddit posts. Jim Cornette and Blue Meanie were two of the most requested names since we announced a new legends line was coming. Many of the names that get recommended are names that we've considered, or maybe even spoken to. I've seen names mentioned covering everyone from The Patriot to Disco Inferno, from Magnum T.A. to Stan Hansen. Huge names from the ‘70s through the ‘90s get tossed around almost daily. Unfortunately, the reality is that not every name translates into business. We might not be able to fulfill everyone's wish list, but I certainly try to keep the lines fan friendly.
- Moore: As a long-time fan yourself, which wrestler - or which personality of a wrestler - would you like to see in the Figures Toy Co. legends line?
DePetrillo: I would love to be able to do a Stan Hansen legends figure. He's never had a modern figure release in the U.S. He's someone we could do a great deal of detail on, from the chaps to the cowboy hat to the bullrope. Big Bubba Rogers would be another star I'd love to do. Yes, we got a Big Boss Man figure in the WWE Classic Series, but his career before and after that gimmick was only represented by one of the old LJN style WCW figures. He'd be a great compliment to the Cornette figure as well.
- Moore: Any rough estimate on when the first wave of legends figures will be available?
DePetrillo: We are aiming to have at least some of these announced figures in stock in time for the holiday season. I'll continue to give updates online as progress moves along. Our design team is already hard at work, and I've seen a few of the pre-production sculpts already. We're very anxious to bring something new to the collectors market for wrestling fans.
[ FYI: Next week’s PWTorch Collectibles Column will include an interview with one of the wrestlers in the Figures Toy Co. legends line.
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