5 Questions with: Jim Bell of Foamheads

A few weeks back, I posted my review of Foamheads’ excellent Fox Sports Robot (which, to give credit where credit is due, I first heard about in a post by “Industrial” on the Fwoosh forums). Soon after, more glowing reviews of the figure appeared on OAFE, Figures.com and Michael Crawford’s site.

I recently spoke to Jim Bell, creator and co-founder of Foamheads, about how Cleatus went from marketing gimmick to action figure phenomenon.

jb.jpgCodename: Jim Bell
Specialty: Creator and co-founder of Foamheads
Base of Operations: www.foamheads.com
History: Jim Bell is a Boston College Graduate and former NFL player for the San Francisco 49ers. In addition to Jim’s football heritage, his 10 years of experience in the manufacturing, importing and advertising specialties industry brings a fundamental knowledge and network to develop and work within NFL and NCAA operations. Jim will manage sales and marketing and be responsible for new product development.

So how did the Fox Sports Robot come about?

We were talking to Mike Baron at Fox, who’s in charge of getting licensees to do Fox Robot merchandise. He said, hey, we’re going to be marketing this robot; maybe we could do a Foamhead for the robot, like his helmet? And I said down the road we could, once it’s recognized, but why don’t we do an action figure? That was most obvious thing to make for this graphic.

I think a robot is what a football player believes they are. I played football for twenty years and you’ve gotta believe you’re a robot when you go out on that field or you’re done.

Who designed and sculpted it?

We got the three-dimensional graphics from Fox, so that’s all Fox. Then a company named Gentle Giant Studios, they do all the scans and all the outputs for difficult sculpts. They’re very, very good in that field. So they output the tool master right from the three-dimensional graphics given to them by Fox, and we output it and sent it over to China to be made.

Many collectors have commented on how incredibly articulated the figure is. Was that a priority in the design process, and why?

We wanted to be able to make it function in some football poses. We were focused on making it really cool and able to change the poses. So we decided–and Gentle Giant thought it would be a good idea–to do all the ball joints in every single area. They inspired us to go for the maximum articulation.

Is there any chance we’ll see some repaints in team colors?

Yes, we’re in the process of talking about that. That’s what I see. And then also maybe a smaller version, more playable, possibly six-inch down the road. And then battery-operated, with sound. Down the road it would be nice to be able to make him do the dance.

Any more sports action figures planned in the future?

Nope, this is our start, our first one. We look forward to taking some other opportunities down the road.

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I’d like to thank Jim again for taking the time to talk to PGPoA. To get your own Fox Sports Robot, visit your local Toys ‘R Us (in the sports figures section) or order one online direct from Foamheads.

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