To call something a toy these days paints a broad stroke. One type of toy that I enjoy is the wide variety of figures based on current and retro pop culture. To learn more about these figures, I reached out to Scott “Toy Guru” Neitlich. With a resume that includes Mattel, JAKKS Pacific, Jada Toys, and Loot Crate, he most certainly knows the industry. He kindly responded to my five questions that you can read below!
Travis Blair: What technology introduced the most advancement in toy making?
Scott Neitlich: Having digital assets is a huge change for the industry. On one hand it can remove human error and ensure accuracy, but sometimes the opposite can happen. Like with the Star Wars ep7 Stormtrooper. Every figure by every company from Jakks 48″ fig to a Hasbro black series have reversed ankles because the digital scan was wrong. Sometimes the best intention and new technology can backfire!
Travis: How much influence do the big Toy Fairs have on products?
Scott: The Toy Fairs are where already produced (or in production) product is shown. So while reaction may effect future product, reaction/change to product actually shown at Toy Fair is not very likely purely because the toy industry works about 1 1/2 to 2 years ahead. Right now is April 2017 so folks at toy companies are working on Fall 2019 toys right now.
Travis: Articulation, likeness, and accessories. How would you list them in importance?
Scott: For me personally it is likeness first. It the figure does not look like a character (or the version you want) it is hard to get over that. Articulation next as that give you the amount of poses you can put your fig in. While I love accessories, they are always a bonus to me. I do love to have as many as possible but with the high cost of figures, I’d rather see money go into deco and articulation first. You can often mix and match accessories or buy off brand items (unless it is a specific accessory that defines a character. Then it is usually a crime when not included. Like when Danielle released Nekkron without his Blade after I left the DCU line. That one still kills me).
Travis: What advice would you share with those looking to get into the toy making business?
Scott: Don’t just go in asking for a job making toys. Have a specific position you want to apply for and the professional background to make yourself qualified.
So many folks used to come up to me at shows saying “I want to make toys” but had no experience as well as no idea what specifically they wanted to do (sculpt, brand manage, write, design, cost out, engineer, etc…). There isn’t just one job making toys. It is a team effort across many disciplines.
Travis: Superheroes. Movie characters. Video games. These have been done well. What is a category you feel hasn’t been explored enough yet?
Scott: I think public domain figures in Classics/legends/black series 6″ style would be awesome. Sherlock, Robin Hood, 3 Musketeers. Bring it on!
Want to know what Scott is up to? Follow him on Twitter!