Ever since Warpo announced it’s upcoming Legends of Cthulhu Retro Action Figure Toy Line, it is all we can talk about here at Retroist HQ. We love the styling of the figures, the back story of Warpo and of course the pitch perfect retro commercial.
In order to learn more about the people behind the now successful Kickstarter, I submitted some questions to the folks at Warpo. Here are their answers along with some really cool behind the scenes photos that should give you some insight about the people behind the curtain.
Q. What is your background in the toy biz?
Bryan: I started in 2004 with a small agency doing graphic design and pitching inventor concepts to toy companies. From there I slowly moved from a designer position to more of a creative director role at a local toy company called Senario where I created the first line of collectible r/c robots (check out Zibits – they’re rad). While there I worked with licensors like Disney, Sony, Sanrio, Nestle/Wonka, Mr. Bubble and more to help grow their product lines and enhance their properties. It was during this time that I really got experience traveling to Hong Kong and China, working hand in hand with manufacturer’s there and learning how to turn my ideas into living, breathing retail products.
Tommy: I am a life-long toy enthusiast who has been taking toy collecting seriously ever since 1985 when I saved up enough Flagg points for my mail away Sgt. Slaughter. Since then I have taken my passion for creating art and toys further by studying Design and Sculpture at the Columbia School of Art Chicago and working as a free-lance artist, graphic designer and sculptor. It has been a dream come true working on the Legends of Cthulhu and I look forward to breathing life into more toy creations.
Eric: My toy career began when some friends and I started a company that made online video games for Nickelodeon, General Mills, and Nintendo. In 2001, I joined a toy design and licensing company where I developed inventor toys and board-games and presented them to major toy companies. I then moved to RC2 (now Tomy) where I designed die-cast cars for Johnny Lightning, model kits, toys, and collectibles. From there, I went to a small toy company where I designed and created plug n’ play video games and sundry other toys. These days I develop interactives for trade shows by day and create new old toys for WARPO by night.
Q. Now that the Kickstarter is a success how relieved are you?
WARPO: Before we released LoC to the public, we showed it to a few trusted sources. Every single one of them had an overwhelming positive reaction. Even so, we went into the Kickstarter cautiously optimistic.
When we reached our initial funding goal in three days, we finally felt like we could breathe. That said, we won’t be completely satisfied until we unlock the $200,000 stretch goal. The item we have planned is one we had in our minds from the beginning. So I guess we won’t be completely relieved until we reach the goal that lets us birth that big boy into the world.
Q. How did the Warpo team come together?
Bryan: Tommy and I were on a “friends & family” trip to Disney World… and there’s nothing like Disney to make you feel like you should be working harder, doing more. I had an idea to take an “artisinal” approach to making toys – to make collectibles in a way no one has before. We talked about it the entire trip and to sound absolutely corny “the dream was born”. Once getting back home we contacted Eric, told him all about our plans and he was on-board within 24 hours.
Eric: We’ve been friends for many years. We’re three creatives with very similar interests including regular trips to toy shows and flea markets to dig through dusty bins of old toys looking for rare gems and discovering figures we never knew about. Since we were also in the toy and design business, we always had it in the back of our minds that we wanted to do something together. Bryan’s concept for WARPO and Method Manufacturing gave us not only a platform for a company, but a powerful concept the three of us could rally around creatively.
Q. Did Warpo kick around a lot of ideas before deciding on Lovecraft (which is genius), did it take a while or was this the idea that brought you together?
WARPO: This was definitely not our first launch concept. We’ve had tons of ideas that we’ve kicked around – really the idea of forming a new form of collectible toy company is what brought us together. WARPO’s goal is to bring new stories into the vintage collector’s world but marketing a line of figures that no one is familiar with can be one of the hardest things an unestablished toy company can attempt to do. We knew that we’d be crowd-funding our initial launch, and essentially our company, so we opted to go with starting out with a property that had a following but no previous action figure line. When the idea of producing a series of figures based on the work of H.P. Lovecraft arose, we knew we had a strong concept from a multitude of angles.
Q. Is there a toy line from the past that you think is underrated and that people need to check out?
Bryan: I think Adventure People kind of get a bum wrap with collectors. Check out all the space toys they created – the design of the toys and figures is incredibly cool with tons of play features. I have the Alpha Star (which I think is my favorite), Alpha Probe, and the Alpha Interceptor sitting in the studio and people can’t resist picking them up when they see them.
Tommy: There are so many toys lines that have not gotten the recognition they deserve, from World of Wonders’s Germs to Ideal’s Manglors. However, my favorite obscure toy line is Remco’s The Saga of Crystar. I am a big fan of the amazing comics run by Marvel and the truly unique sculpts of the figures. From the fantasy based world created in the comics to the crazy aesthetics and subject matter of the figures, whats not to love?
Eric: DRAGONRIDERS of the STYX may not have had the support of a cartoon or a comic book but it was tapped into the 80’s D&D/sword and sorcery zeitgeist so much so that it didn’t need them. The figures captured a diverse range of characters from barbarians and knights to wizards and demons and more. As a kid, I would have loved a cartoon and a comic book but the toy designs themselves were so compelling, they inspired better stories in my imagination than any media could have presented.
Q. Any hint to what the final BIG stretch goal might be?
WARPO: Nice try, Retroist! But we think there are enough hints out there already. We can’t wait to reveal it to the world, but we’re keeping it under wraps until we get closer to the goal. So keep spreading the word to your friends and family and via social networks Facebook.com/warpotoys and Twitter.com/warpotoys #LegendsofCthulhu
Arggh! So I guess I will just have to wait to find out more info about that final stretch goal. To do that, this successful Kickstarter needs to keep stretching, so if you are a fan of Lovecraft, retro stuff, cool looking toys or all three and you have not visited Warpo’s Kickstarter Page, now is the time to do it. Give what you can and follow along on their website and social media to watch as these cool toys make their way towards completion and push us all ever closer to MADNESS (retro toy madness).