Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Part 2 transcript of conversation with Howard (Hot Toys)

(I must say the final approved transcript was not heavily edited and 90% complete; they did remove some specific questions I had posed to Howard regarding Sideshow products but otherwise the conversation was pretty complete.)

Q: Regarding your “DX” series, what criteria applies before a character gets the DX treatment? To be frank, your recent announcement for Michael Jackson “Bad” as the next DX figure took most of us by surprise.

Howard: It’s good that we can still surprise the public!

As you know we started the DX series featuring the new Parallel Eyeball Rolling System (PERS); plus we make sure we give extra details and more accessories in the whole package.

Q: Have you already decided what will be in “DX04”? Any hints, whether it is a movie character or based on a real person?

Howard: Yes, we have decided on DX04 but I can’t tell you now! No hints, sorry!
But you can expect an announcement within the next 2 months. And, I believe this time you all will like the choice of character!

Q: Howard, I must congratulate you on Hot Toys incredible success in the 1/6th scale category; you must be very proud of how far you have come – has it been 10 years since you started Hot Toys?

Howard: Yes, this year we celebrate our 10-year anniversary; and we are planning to publish a 10th anniversary bible book and considering big-bang events in Hong Kong and Japan to celebrate with our fans and industrial leaders. Please stay tuned with us for update. Thank you.

Q: So what is your vision say in the next 3 to 5 years for Hot Toys? Will you explore in other scale categories for articulated figures? How about statues?

Howard: Firstly, we want to continue to maintain our present expertise in the 1/6th scale category and continue to produce products that excites the buying public. At the same time we are aware of the cost and pricing challenges, say when we introduce new techniques like the DX series.

As for other scales, I feel personally that the 1:6 line is best suited for representation of fine details with articulation possibilities, that collectors will support and is a good scale that meets both the “play” factor and dynamic sculpting and detail features. We will continue to cater to the collector market (as opposed to the mass market for the 3 ¾ inch line like Star Wars and GI Joe).

As for other products like statues, we will continue to explore, in speaking with our dealer network and design team and our OEM partners / suppliers, we will continue to challenge ourselves in making these exciting products; we are also mindful to not entering an existing market just for the sake of doing it for example Sideshow Toys’ Premium format line of statues, we don’t want to copy this and try to compete in this directly, and we are also not sure if our dealers will necessarily want to see this offering from us.

Oh, we mentioned earlier that Hot Toys turn 10years old this year in 2010, so we are already planning something special to celebrate this event! You can look forward to some special events and activity, like what I talked about just now, I can’t say too much now but watch for it!

Q: Thank you very much for your frank answers. Finally, something about yourself? You started out as a toy collector yourself right? Do you still collect toys?

Howard: Yes, I am still a collector but I guess the difference is now I am not so die-hard and not like “die-die” must get that one particular toy! The thing is I am surrounded by toy designers and toy enthusiasts everyday in the workplace – is like 24 hours a day I am in this business! So while I am still a toy collector, I remain first of all a toy lover myself and I get more satisfaction in my team producing a first class item than in owning and collecting something for myself.

What do you think guys ? Please feel free to question or comment; I personally find Howard easy going and one thing I notice - his enthusiasm for toys and collectibles shine through; although he runs a business, in his responses I get the feeling that he cares very much for the product and not just the $$ / profit, as when I asked him for his vision for the next 3 to 5 years, his first response was centered on producing excellent products, not growing sales or sales position. If the founder and creative director of Hot Toys have this motivation, we can be assured of greater things to come from Hot Toys.

Thanks for reading.

A conversation with Howard Chan, President of Hot Toys - Part 1

Ok - the approval took longer than expected but finally I can produce the full transcript of my recent conversation with Howard, founder and President of Hot Toys!

It was a balmy spring afternoon when I made my way to Hot Toys HQ in Kwun Tong, Hong Kong, a little before 3pm; I was quickly ushered to Howard's office by Ms Emily (head of PR) and as you can imagine I was NOT allowed to wander around their office unsupervised, and taking any pics was out of the question!!

Q: Why did Hot Toys make the decision to allow customers to cancel their orders
for the Iron Man Mark III (Battle Damaged Version) collectible figure?

Howard: We remain very proud of the final product with its many new enhancements
to the armor; unfortunately there were too many negative feedback from the “public”
in the discussion forums (which not necessarily come from the actual customers or buyers of the product) regarding the head sculpt and color scheme.

So we made the decision to allow those who feel they are not 100% satisfied to cancel their orders, in direct response to all the negative discussion in the forums. If we had not made the decision Hot Toys would have been accused of having grown “too big” or “arrogant” who does not care for the feelings of customers.

However, I stress again the final product is one that the Hot Toys team is proud of and I believe this has also been the opinion of the vast majority of the buying public as we had less than 50 actual cancellations in Hong Kong, but the truth is that we are still getting re-orders in after the final product released in the market.

Q: What is the nature of Hot Toys’ collaboration with Sideshow Toys (USA)?

Howard: We have established a close-relationship with Sideshow Toys since 2005, and we had the chance to collaborate with Sideshow at their 12 inches Clone Troopers projects. And Hot Toys also has the great opportunities to produce the T2 series and the Godfather collectible figures under our Movie Masterpiece line in partner with Sideshow Toys.

Q: Hot Toys’ last military product in the 1/6th scale was the pair of modern British soldiers. Have you abandoned this line and why? Is it due to resource constraints in having to produce the various movie licenses?

Howard: Yes and no; of course Hot Toys started in the 1/6th scale military genre and has been very successful. And yes, the nature of design, production and meeting the various demands in pursuing movie licenses is time and resource demanding.

And given the current time frame and our resources, we just feel we are better having to commit all our time and effort in doing justice to producing the very best in our movie license products; this is not to say we won’t go back to producing the military line sometime in the future; in fact we have already made many in the past that we are looking for something “exciting” before we return to this line. Also, some of the related movie licenses may have some military-related theme so that when we do produce them, we can draw on all our past experience and success.

Q: So is there anything planned in the year 2010?

Howard: This year we are bringing about the 1/6th scale newly licensed collectibles from the worldwide well-received movie Avatar, and the upcoming and long-awaited movie Iron Man 2, Clash of the Titans and Prince of Persia. You may expect the collectibles of some of the characters from these great movies this year!

Q: Moving on to the Marvel license: does the current license only cover Marvel characters as released in the movies?

Howard: Yes, when we discussed this with Marvel that was the plan. Having said that we are aware of the various possibilities with Marvel characters whether they are in the movies, animation, comics or video games, and definitely Hot Toys would like to explore further the opportunities to make popular figures from the Marvel line.

But we only started with Wolverine Origins and Blade; there are still many Marvel movie characters that we can produce before we even start thinking of doing those in the comics or other properties. We are still catching up!

Q: On specific characters from movie licenses, will Hot Toys produce Commissioner Gordon (Batman), Iron Monger (Iron Man), Jill Valentine (Resident Evil)?

Howard: Yes. We have always planned to make Commissioner Gordon; initially we were informed that the actor (Gary Oldman) was not so supportive of the idea but our current understanding is that there is no such obstacle either from him or the main licensor so yes I can say that at some point we will be releasing a Gordon figure.

As for Iron Monger, it was always a case of cost issues and pricing, as you know it is a very large figure in 1/6 scale so to really do it justice and yet making it a price that will still be supported by the dealers and customers remain the greatest challenge.

Personally I want to see this made! But now given that Iron Man 2 the movie will be released soon and we are already committed to making a few characters from the new movie. We are also preparing a series of exciting promotional activities such as Iron Man exhibition in Hong Kong and Taiwan in Apr-May this year and a stream of exclusive privilege to our event participants. Therefore, from a timing standpoint we don’t know where to fit Iron Monger. But it remains in our development plans.

As for Jill Valentine, yes in speaking with our dealers and from what is discussed in the forums we know she is a very popular character so yes: I can say to her fans that you can look forward to Jill sometime in 2010!

End Part 1 - Part 2 follows

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Coming soon: a conversation with the founder and President of Hot Toys Mr Howard Chan!

Hey everyone, stay tuned for a complete transcript of my recent conversation with Mr Howard Chan the boss of Hot Toys Hong Kong!

Find out as we discussed about:

~ the recent hoo-ha on the actual sculpt of Battled Damaged Iron Man Mk 3;
~ Commissioner Gordon ! Iron Monger ! hear the final word from Howard on these
in-demand figures! also... a certain heroine from Resident Evil series!
~ the future (or lack of) military figure line from Hot Toys!
~ thoughts on the Marvel license!
~ DX series - who is planned for DX04 ?? (ok we won't know...yet!)
~ collaboration with Sideshow Toys
~ his vision for the future of Hot Toys

Pending final approval from Hot Toys, I hope to have the transcript up in the next 24 to 48 hours so keep a look out at this blog site for the full frank and open discussion I had with Howard.

(the good looking guy in the photo above is Howard!)