This is Part II 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, theÂ Weaponeers of Monkaa. You can read Part I here. –PG
VENENOR: The suggested buildsÂ you’veÂ posted so far are very cool, especially alongside the characters. One thing with this launch that I really like is the included trading cards. They look really great and differ from whatÂ I’veÂ seen from similar lines that go with the header cards attached to the bags.
BRIAN STEVENSON: A lot times those headers get tossed so we wanted to provide something different with the artwork of these figures. Weâ€™re very fortunate to be friends with some amazing artists and illustrators that have different skill sets than we do. Their help and collaboration on this line has really helped the look and feel for these characters.
V: Â It really takes this line to the next level andÂ helps pack a real pro punch to this launch. The presentation has been great overallÂ with the site and the Prologue.
B: Matt â€œIron Cowâ€ Cauley of Iron Cow ProductionsÂ did the Prologue illustrations. We wanted to go with an old 1920â€™s-30â€™s pulp feel, and Mattâ€™s style lent itself perfectly to that. With the card art and posters we wanted some clean, concise art that was very 1980s Transformers-looking stuff with bright colors that would pop. For that, we contacted a concept-artist friend of ours. He does concept art for video games and feature films, stuff like that. Heâ€™s done a phenomenal job and all the artwork is modular like the figures so if we need to change colors and do different card art heâ€™s got all the elements separate so he can blow them apart and rebuild them like the figures. Itâ€™s pretty awesome.
V: And thatâ€™ll be great considering future alternate colorways.Â Art for those figuresÂ can be whipped up quickly to tease fans with upcoming drops.
B: Thatâ€™s the plan. The Gohlems are basically our army builder characters. Weâ€™ve got our good guys and bad guys with their factions but we wanted some generic characters too.Â We plan to write a stories for some of them as they evolve.Â TheÂ Crystal Gohlem from The Strangerâ€™s Tale was shattered by Brutok, then basically resurrected. Heâ€™s evolving and weâ€™re definitely not done with him and other Gohlems that will evolve into their own distinct characters.
With that in mind, we can run all sorts of colors of Gohlems. We can do clear/colorless that we can call Diamond Gohlems, we could do all-flat black thatâ€™d be Obsidian Gohlems; thereâ€™s plentyÂ story-wiseÂ that would allow us a chance to have figures molded in any color. Weâ€™re even batting around the idea of glow-in-the-dark red, which kinda looks like raw pink meat when itâ€™s dormant but in the dark it glows so bright, like itâ€™s on fire.
V: Just thinking of a spectrum of clear-colored Gohlems is cool. There’s plenty of colorsÂ that Glyos has pushed out there that would be cool to see down the line.
B: Yeah, clear yellow and clear purple are some of our favorites. We really want to hit as manyÂ colors when we get the chance. Another we really like is the metallics.
V: The metallic gun metal on the Gearo figures isÂ very vibrant.Â It’s alsoÂ great thatÂ it’s the same color fromÂ the original Cold SteelÂ Armory set.
B: Itâ€™s definitely something we wanted to do withÂ the main fourÂ characters. Matching the colorsÂ from our original Armory adds unity among all our pieces. ItÂ alsoÂ gave us a way toÂ reward those that already had ArmoryÂ sets.Â By using those colors, it gave us room to throw in a little variety with the Gohlem colors. If the Gohlems prove popular, we can eventuallyÂ boost theirÂ build potential withÂ Magma and Crystal Armory sets.
AÂ nice thing about the Armory is that the dual colors give them good accents to certain colors. It’s the reason why weÂ incorporated the colors into the figures the way we did. The Cold Steel compliments the smoke glitter color in the Empyrean Armory really well, so it goes great with the red.
Being that it was our first foray,Â there’s a lot of great buildable parts in the Armory. But what weâ€™re finding is that when building thereâ€™s certain parts that are pushed off that donâ€™t get incorporated into new builds. But whatâ€™s great is those parts are easy to use as accessories for other figures, like Masters of the Universe, Transformers, ThunderCats, etc.
V: With some of the buildingÂ I’veÂ done I can relate to that. Most of the time IÂ don’tÂ useÂ the blades but they definitely get used elsewhere in the hands ofÂ other figures. One question I have for a builder like myself: whatâ€™s the potential for a small pack like the Close Combat Armory, maybe even a Close Combat Armory version 2, where it has small blades but also some of the extra building bits from the original Armory?
B:Â We’veÂ thought about doing something like that.Â The problem is when shooting the tools weâ€™d have to run everything. If we do that weâ€™d end up with a lot of extra bits, such asÂ the wing blades,Â thatÂ weÂ couldn’tÂ do anything with. Weâ€™re also trying to create as small of a carbon footprint as possible, taking into consideration that these are plastic petroleum-based products. ItÂ wouldn’tÂ fall in line with what we want for our toy line.Â The reason we devised the Close Combat set was that after the figures were designed, we had a lot of room left in that tool.
We had gotten requests for smaller blades, especially ones that were more Glyos compatibleÂ in regards to scale.Â Many Masters of the Universe and Transformers collectorsÂ sent requestsÂ for short blades and pistols to equip their figures with true close combat weapons. There was alsoÂ a bit of a problem with the Dominar handle from the original Armory. In certain colorways, the Dominar handle was a little too pliable, so itâ€™d begin to droop a little bit because of the weight.Â It wasÂ redesignedÂ and includedÂ inÂ the Close Combat set to help eliminate that issue for our fans. If we decided to re-run a previous Armory, we might replace the old handle with this redesigned version.
We just think people will be more apt to buy a figure versus a bag of builder parts. We could literally run all of the tools we have in a single color, like black or white, and call it a builderâ€™s set.Â We just donâ€™t think itâ€™d move compared to individual figures of characters. Like Poe stated in his review, there are a lot of collectors that like to keep the figures how they were released.Â It’s a collecting trend we’ve observed and it happens more often than not.Â Using Lego as an example, they market big plastic buckets containing random bricks with suggested builds on the container. Those usually donâ€™t sell well compared to the cohesive sets that are made to be something specific. The specific build sets tend to be more desirable to people.
Builders will be able to get these figures and build and tear them down and create what comes to mind. Take for instance a few of the builds you posted using the Armory sets. They look beyond the fact that itâ€™s a shield, this is a sword, this is a hammer, etc. Sometimes it takesÂ breaking these things down to show what can reallyÂ be done with them.
V: Iâ€™ve had a blast building with the original Armory and Iâ€™m looking forward to the build potential with the Weaponeers. Now regarding the original Armory, and considering the Weaponeers use colors from some of those original sets, which Armory was your biggest seller to date?
B: Cold Steel and Bloodlust have been the most popular. It definitely rang true at Power-Con considering the Cold Steel version of the Close Combat set sold really well. PalidarÂ was also very popular, but Empyreus and Umbreus were the most popular of all the figures at the Con. My personal favorite is Brutok, he did well too. We had a suggested build of the Crystal Gohlem showing his new form after being brought back in the life springs. Due to his role in the Prologue, there were someÂ fans buying two of him so they could keep one like he was at the beginning and anotherÂ in the reformed build.Â It wasÂ was very cool to see the build received so well.
END PART II – PART II coming soon!