Interview > Andrew Franks, Design Manager at Boss Fight Studio

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Andrew Franks has worked in the toy business for years, including a stint as a product designer for Hasbro. Now a design manager for Boss Fight Studio, an independent design studio for toys and collectibles, Mr. Franks was kind enough to answer a few questions about his experience in the industry.

What do you do, i.e., what is your part in the toy-making process?

970992_334018386726018_1165433396_nI was formerly a product designer at Hasbro, which meant that I was potentially responsible for overseeing all aspects of any given item – concept, aesthetic, function, decoration, etc, and keeping the vision of the product intact when coordinating with all of the other talented folks who have a role to play – sculptors, engineers, package designers, copywriters, hand painters, etc.  In my new role, I’m partner and design manager of Boss Fight Studio.  My partners and I are all equally responsible for the running of the business, chasing down freelance work, and conceptualizing and creating our own original product.

How did you get into the business? 

I went to school in Savannah, GA, where I played around a bit with some toy design ideas, but mostly majored in comics.  A few years after college, I sort of found that the whole comics thing was fun, but wasn’t really clicking for me, so I decided to give some serious effort to getting into toy design.  After putting together some portfolio material and shopping myself around, I scored my first freelance gig putting together some concepts for a line of Fantastic Four figures at Toy Biz that never saw the light of day.  Through a former coworker, I ended up meeting Dave Proctor who at that time was sculpting freelance for Hasbro, and he got my stuff in front of the right people.  I did quite a bit of freelance work on GI Joe, Marvel and Star Wars, and eventually got brought in on a temp position under Brian Parrish on Star Wars.  This was an incredible learning experience working with some of the top folks in the industry, and when I had the opportunity to come in full time on Star Wars, I jumped on it.  I worked for a number of years on Star Wars – primarily the Clone Wars animation stuff – before spending some time on the retail exclusive product, which was a whole different kind of challenge.  There I got to work on a huge variety of stuff – from Transformers to Marvel to GI Joe and more.  After that I struck out on my own again to tackle some new challenges.  This past Spring the circumstances were right to form up with some of my best friends – Erik and Catrina Arana and Dave Proctor, and really put some muscle behind carving our own path. Continue reading “Interview > Andrew Franks, Design Manager at Boss Fight Studio”

Interview > Clayburn Moore of The C.S. Moore Studio

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Many collectors of what I’ve often though of as the “Spawn Generation” of the late 1990s will remember Moore Action Collectibles, one of McFarlane Toys’ few competitors at that time, whose products included detailed action figures of characters from Witchblade and The Darkness, as well as television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Moore kept something of a low profile in the action figure arena throughout the first decade of the twenty-first century, but now the company, now called the C.S. Moore Studio, is gearing to re-enter the market in the near future with some pretty neat toys. Mr. Moore was kind enough to answer a few questions for PoeGhostal.com.

monster-hunter-survival-guide-pitt-moore1.) Many collectors remember the days of Moore Action Collectibles, especially the Buffy and Top Cow action figures it produced in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but it’s been nearly a decade since M.A.C. was actively producing action figures. What has brought the C.S. Moore Studio back to the action figure market?

CSM: We had done the Alice and Calie statues with Zenescope and it had gone well. Over that time, Joe Brusha, co-owner and president of the company had asked me about sculpting action figures and after thinking it over for a few months, I decided to do a series with them. Their characters look great and have a look that goes well in any 3-D format. This is exactly why they say “Never say ‘Never again.’” I enjoyed working on them and collectors seem to like them.

2.) Many of the studio’s current product stems from properties created by Zenescope Entertainment. How did that relationship come about?

I had met Joe at a show some years ago at a show and we got to talk a bit. I always thought they had a terrific look for their characters and they had and have a strong following, which is important in choosing projects. The public domain aspect was also interesting. After clearing some projects off my plate, we decided to do the Calie statue based on one of their covers by Billy Tucci, whom I had known a long time. I thought it was a great cover and would make a great statue. It sold out pretty quickly and we still get requests for both Calie and Alice. Continue reading “Interview > Clayburn Moore of The C.S. Moore Studio”

Any questions for the Four Horsemen?

This is an announcement. Scroll down for newer posts.

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The Four Horsemen, who just unveiled their new website, will soon be announcing their Kickstarter campaign for the Gothitropolis Ravens (sounds like a very weird football team).

To get ready for the event, the Four Horsemen have agreed to answer a few questions. I’m going to submit five questions specific to the Kickstarter project, and five questions about anything else you want to ask about. So post your questions in the comments and I’ll pick ten of them.

Who’s Your Mosquitor? A Discussion With Pixel Dan

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Masters of the Universe Classics – Mosquitor by Ed Speir IV

POE GHOSTAL: So, Dan, a few weeks back you tweeted that Mutagen Man would be appearing on the new TMNT series. He was a favorite of yours, as was Mosquitor (for readers who somehow don’t know, Dan is a HUGE fan of Mosquitor and was campaigning for the character to be added in MOTUC for years). This prompted me to reply that I really wanted Ray Fillet – that he was, as I put it, My Mosquitor. This prompted a discussion as to what other people’s “My Mosquitors” are, but after getting some rather high-profile characters as suggestions, we began discussing a stricter definition. We’ll get to that in a minute, though – let’s get some background first. Dan, why are you such a fan of Mosquitor?

PIXEL DAN: It’s a total nostalgia factor for me. I remember always being completely enamored with Mosquitor as a kid. I loved my MOTU figures, but he always stood out to me as a favorite. I think the liquid blood feature had a lot to do with it. I just thought that was so cool as a kid, and as a result Mosquitor was always with me on my adventures. Even when I wasn’t playing with my He-Man figures, Mosquitor was still usually in my hand. Continue reading “Who’s Your Mosquitor? A Discussion With Pixel Dan”

Interview > Valent Wang and Don Figueroa on ARMARAUDERS

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Don Figueroa will be a familiar name to Transformers fans – he’s worked on numerous TF comics and packaging over the years, as well as helping design some toys for the TF Titanium and Classics series. Several years back, Don met Valent Wang and the two created their own toy company, the Mecha Workshop. Their first project is the creator-owned independent toy line Armarauders.

Continue reading “Interview > Valent Wang and Don Figueroa on ARMARAUDERS”

Interview > Sculptor Scott Hensey

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Scott Hensey has been in the toy sculpting business for decades – chances are, you’ve owned at least one of his creations over the years. While a familiar name in the toy industry, fans and collectors have recently come to know Scott better through his videos with Make magazine.

Scott graciously agreed to an interview with PoeGhostal.com. You can visit his website and see lots of photos of his creations, as well as contact him for potential sculpting projects, at toysculpt.com.

1.) How did you get started in the business?

I’ve always made my living as an artist. I started after high school building stained glass panels, making screen prints and throwing pottery. I got a job at a company that made plaster statues. I made hundreds of different pieces for them. After that I got a great job at Tomy Toys in Los Angeles. When that place closed down I went freelance as a toy sculptor. Continue reading “Interview > Sculptor Scott Hensey”

Interview > DoctorKent of Toyfinity talks new Robo Force

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Code Name: DoctorKent, Doc Kent, or the Doctor
Real Name: John Kent
Base of Operations: Planet Uzalek, home of the Mordles. Also Toyfinity.com.
History: the journey to Toyfinity started for John Kent as it did for so many kids of the 70s – with Star Wars. Over the years, he collected the big lines – Joe, Transformers, MOTU – and the obscure – such as Rocks and Bugs and Things (RBT), Roadblasters, and Wheeled Warriors.

After closing the only officially-endorsed site about RBT on the Internet, John formed Toyfinity.com with Charlie Parry to help people see the connective tissues that run through every toy since Barbie. Moderator of the Glyos forum on October Toys and Producer of three full-length films (including the currently filming APOCALYPSE KISS), Doc Kent fights to bring information and entertainment to the people and propagate the legacy of Robo Force and Mordles!

Continue reading “Interview > DoctorKent of Toyfinity talks new Robo Force”

Interview > Rudy Obrero, Artist for Masters of the Universe & More

I feel very fortunate to present an interview with Rudy Obrero, a professional artist whose worked on Masters of the Universe packaging art over thirty years ago and is once again creating art for Masters of the Universe Classics. Mr. Obrero was kind enough to provide a quick look at this studio before diving into the interview.

1. How did you first get involved in doing artwork for Mattel, particularly Masters of the Universe?

My first job for Mattel was a Barbie product called Barbie Star ‘Vette. It was a pink Corvette that I had to do the outer package for. I worked through Mark Taylor for that job. And then at the beginning of Masters of the Universe ,I got a call from Mark to come in and discuss doing a package for this boy’s action figure, based on swords and superhero muscular guys like [Frank] Frazetta. He asked me if I could paint [like] Frazetta, and I said I could but I didn’t really want to paint a Frazetta piece because I didn’t want to have Frank Frazetta at my front door going, “Why are you doing this?” So I told him I’d give him something like a Frazetta without trying to step on anybody’s toes.

Battle Cat package art

At the beginning it was just me and Mark on this stuff. I did the Battle Cat package, the one with Battle Cat without the mask; that was my first package [for MOTU]. The Wind Raider was next, the Battle Ram, Castle Grayskull, Screeech and Zoar, Attak Trak…I think I did ten boxes for them. Then it got a little crazy for me so I just moved on to other things. I started with Mark, and Mark left and I left right after he did. Continue reading “Interview > Rudy Obrero, Artist for Masters of the Universe & More”

Castle Grayskullman Review Extra > Interview with CGM Creator Daniel Benedict

In preparation for my Castle Grayskullman review, I conducted a brief interview with CGM creator Daniel Benedict. Be sure to check out Daniel’s “ad” for CGM.

Poe Ghostal: How did you come up with the concept for Castle Grayskullman?

Daniel Benedict: I was sitting at my desk trying to come up with another character design to send in. I had already sent in three, but I still racking my brain trying to, if anything, scrape the bottom of the barrel and send in a stick figure with a sword if I had to. I had the vintage castle on my desk and was looking at it. I thought it would be neat to make the castle into a head. And I went from there. Continue reading “Castle Grayskullman Review Extra > Interview with CGM Creator Daniel Benedict”

Interview > Brian-Man of Spy Monkey Creations, Part III

This is Part III of a multiple-part interview with Brian “Brian-Man” Stevenson of Spy Monkey Creations, conducted by PGPoA contributor VENENOR, about SMC’s brand-new toy line, the Weaponeers of Monkaa. You can read Part I here and Part II here. –PG

VENENOR: It’s great that fans of the Weaponeers are taking to the evolution of the Crystal Gohlem. At the end of the Prologue we saw that the revived Crystal Gohlem accompanied the Stranger back to his world. I’m looking forward for that tale and the story’s progression. I’m especially interested since it could lead to a much more evolved version where he ultimately becomes fully Gearo.

Now, can you give us an insider’s view on the development process starting with the concept stage leading up to final product?

BRIAN STEVENSON: The entire process took around 5 months. That’s from initial concepts to final product on the table at Power-Con. In the early days of Spy Monkey Creations we wanted to make figures. They were going to be 3¾” scale and similar to the JLU figures. We scrapped that idea because it was going to be too centered on customization. There really didn’t seem to be that many customizers out that could keep a line like that alive. From there the fantasy based weapons came about after demands from fans saw the early custom weapons we made for ourselves. Those did very well but as a company we just didn’t feel comfortable surviving by only producing swords and shields for He-Man figures. There are companies and groups out there, like ours, which fit into this mold as a third party company making stuff for other toylines. We just didn’t want to rely too heavily on another company and solely continue being third party because we wanted to build our own cohesive toyline. In order for us to really grow and become something that isn’t considered third party we decided to take our next step. Continue reading “Interview > Brian-Man of Spy Monkey Creations, Part III”