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?
I 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.