As promised, we have some great answers from some of the nice guys at Jakks Pacific about their popular new World of Nintendo lines. Many of these questions were taken right from the community, so you will certainly want to check this out. Plus, we have brand new exclusive product photos that they were kind enough to share!
Jose Alvarez of Design and Justin Mill-Orcutt of Marketing took time out of their busy schedules to get us some answers to some of the burning questions around their World of Nintendo line. So, here they are without further adieu!
Guys, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, we really appreciate it!
To start, can you each give us your current title and responsibilities at Jakks, specifically how it pertains to the World of Nintendo property?
Jose Alvarez, I am the Senior Designer on the Nintendo Brand at Jakks Pacific. And I’m Justin Mills-Orcutt, the Marketing Brand Manager for Nintendo here at Jakks Pacific. We both work closely with the licensor to ensure all of the product we put out is as true to the game as possible and understand that Nintendo, Like many other Japanese companies, is always striving for perfection whether it be in one of their games or in our toys and we are always working towards that.
What is it like working on a property as well known and beloved as Nintendo? It is has been a long time since there has been anything close to action figures released domestically for WoN, so it seems like the world is your oyster.
It’s like finding the key to a treasure chest that has been locked for a long long time. The World of Nintendo is no mistake. Before partnering up with Nintendo each title was kept separate and there was no cohesive world so to speak. We wanted to have it all live together, so one of our first orders of business was to create the World of Nintendo branding to really connect all these great titles together which has proved to be very successful. We both grew up with Nintendo so this experience is very nostalgic needless to say and it’s an honor to be part of a brand that not many have been given the chance to touch especially for action figures domestically. That being said the opportunities are vast in terms of character selection and we have great plans to really bring the WoN worldwide (Except Japan) and finally give all the fans what they have been asking for.
Towards that end, does Jakks have an overall philosophy for how the WoN property is being handled in terms of product and execution? This is one of those properties that not only appeals to a mass marked crown, but also to the collector sect.
We have three major categories that we concentrate on: Figures, Plush and Vehicles and within each category we work closely with Nintendo to really explore each franchise available to us and offer as many characters from that universe that fans will enjoy. Other factors we look into are scale, value and price point. For scale we want to offer different scale options for our figure lines that are strategically cross compatible so you can create your own world in scale. For example our 4″ Mario will be in scale with our 2.5″ scale boo and our 6″ WW Ganondorf will be in scale with the 4″ link Wind waker figure “Hint hint” 😉 and so on. This really creates a line that everyone will want to collect in all scales to create your own WoN.
For value we offer each figure in the 4″ line with a secret “accessory” and many points of articulation like the much praised import figures from Japan. Articulation is very important and we like to use it wisely in all of our scales where it makes sense for each character. Our figure lines are also set at price points much lower than our import competitors which appeals to wider range of fans and collectors around the world.The WoN has not been available to the mass market here in the US (just Mario titles) it has been primarily for collectors at a much higher price point.
Our goal is to make affordable toys that both kids and collectors will enjoy and be able to collect the whole line, if they choose, without breaking the bank. After all what’s the point of making great figures if not everyone can enjoy them? Nintendo is a brand loved by millions of people worldwide and we feel the toys should be able to be enjoyed by all these fans as well.
Since most of our readers are collectors themselves, a lot of people are wondering just how deep you license goes in terms of Nintendo properties – can you give us a rundown of what is covered? Is it just the big names like Mario and Zelda, or do you have the rights for properties such as Metroid, Star Fox and Kid Icarus, or even smaller ones like Ice Climber and games like that?
While we can’t go into all the boring legal details of our contract we do have the rights to many titles both current and classic for a huge character selection and offering of the full Nintendo World not just Mario like done in the past. We can certainly expect to see many characters that were not done before!
So, if you have the rights to some of the “smaller” game characters, are there any lines or executions you plan on offering that is specifically for collectors?
While we don’t have any specific collector based lines planned yet we do have many surprises within our mainlines that will certainly appeal to them. Although it’s difficult to do a “limited quantity” line since this is for mass, that doesn’t mean that we won’t have some surprises (Comic Con for example).
Speaking of collectors, the lines that have been embraced by most are your 4 inch and 6 inch deluxe lines, have those been strong sellers for you?
We’ve actually seen very strong numbers for all of our lines including the micro, 2.5″ figures and Plush and although we only have one wave under our belt for the 4″ and 6″ lines, we strongly believe as the waves continue to rollout these will become the core favorite for collectors especially as we release more of the figures and accessories that they probably did not expect to see.
Most of the questions that were asked by our readership and forum members were around the characters that you intend to put in each of those lines, do you have plans on going deep into the Mario and Zelda universes in the four and six inch scales? Should we come to expect characters like Princess Peach and Ganon, or can we venture a little further like the Koopa Kids and Moblins? Universe building is something that collectors have been enjoying for a long time, and the WoN certainly offers a lot of opportunity.
We definitely plan to fully dive into each and every franchise that is available to us and fans can certainly expect more than a handful of characters from each of these franchises. With the popularity of some of Nintendo’s latest titles many of the characters that used to be secondary have become more popular so that allows us to bring them to you in this universe in all scales. This is a really great opportunity for us and being that no one has really brought these characters out before we really hope to have a long lasting line to satisfy all fans for many years to come. Great value,quality and variety in the waves is key here for us.
Additionally, scale is (usually) a big deal to the collector market, so while Mario, Wario, and Yoshi have a great relative scale, many people are already requesting seeing characters like Link and Ganon in the deluxe line to keep the correct scale to the rest of the characters, any chance of seeing that happen?
(Jose): This is one of the questions I was actually most excited to answer as I know there are many concerns and doubts as to what we have planned, so let me dive into it and clear it up for everyone. The WoN characters are very special to us and we would like to represent them the only way they should be. Also keeping in mind that we do want to deliver an affordable line, we do have some cost limitations so we have to be very careful as to how we approach every character and their scale.
For all of our lines especially the 4″ line, the characters will be in scale with each other within their own respective franchise. I know there were some concerns about our 4″ Link (Skyward Sword) not being in”true” scale but we wanted to be able to deliver a Link figure that was as detailed and articulated within price point for that line. This is considerably our main core line and we want everyone to enjoy collecting it. This is not to say that we will never see a 6″ scale Link or Samus in the deluxe line (more collector based) but we want to be able to appeal to a larger market as well as the collectors.
This will open up many options for fans of all ages as well. Some smaller characters may be bumped up in size (Just a bit) and that is ONLY so we can be fair and still deliver a good value to the consumer. Cross promoting our lines is very important to us and we really hope consumers have fun collecting them in all scales.
2014 was the kind of the first year rollout for product, but can you give us any indication on what to expect in 2015? Will be seeing more? About the same?
2015 will be a much more exciting year than 2014 as building the WoN takes very careful planning and timing which is why we saw a very limited run in 2014. We want all of our lines to have purpose, which means every figure in every scale is carefully chosen. Just in the 4″ scale line you will see 20 plus figures being released in 2015 not counting our other scales such as the 2.5″ line which will have about 30 plus figures.
While collectors have latched on to the action figure lines, I think that the Micro Land sets have a TON of potential and the little figures are a great way to build up a quick universe, do you still have plans for this execution?
Our micro line was an opportunity for us to break into something different for young fans and it has proven to be successful even in the collector market. In response we do have plans for extending our micro world out. Our wave 2 should be in stores now which includes 4 new play sets from the New Super Mario Bros. U and 18 new figures. Other universes will include Zelda Wind Waker HD and even classic titles for later releases. Not to mention these little figures are a great way to build out the world with the largest character selection available across the different scales.
The new Smash Brothers game has just been released and like those that came before it, it is proving to be a HUGE hit. Do you have any plans to target SSB specfically?
Unfortunately while we don’t have access to the Smash Bros. license, we do have access to many of the titles in which those characters originated from, so we can execute them from those respective titles.
Nostalgia is a BIG factor that comes into play with collector lines, so while most of your products have featured modern takes on the characters we love, are there any plans to cover games and styles from older games? I know I would personally LOVE a Link and Ganon figure based off the art around his original appearance in the Legend of Zelda.
These characters definitely fit within a more collector based line so while we don’t have immediate plans for them, we could possibly see them in the future as an exclusive or in the deluxe line.
Again, 1980s style is a bit of a hot commodity right now and 8-bit “look” falls right into that. Have you explored any options for product of that type? A series similar to the Micro Land concept could be a lot of fun to build a famous game screen (like the first level of Donkey Kong, the “It’s Dangerous to go alone” screen from the Legend of Zelda, or the Mother Brain screen from Metroid) in the 8-bit style. That could even be doubled as a display piece for gamers if they could be hung on the wall!
So next year, 2015, is the 30th Anniversary for the NES System which totally falls with the 8 Bit style and we do have plans to release something that will commemorate that. We look forward to a great response from that release so that it enables us to keep the “classic lines” going in many forms!
As a company, Jakks seems to have a lot of success with the giant-sized figures and Mario is probably one of the best ones yet, can we expect more from that line? A Giant Bowser could even integrate into the smaller action figure line since he has been known to be gigantic in some instances.
Our giant size figs have been a great success and Mario has proven to be a real champion in this line. With his success we absolutely have plans to keep expanding this line and really concentrate on more of the A list characters that fans have known and grown to love. These figures really have a strong presence on shelf or wherever you may display them. There is a very special one lined up for Fall of 2015 that we’re sure everyone will love.
Speaking of big products, you have got to give us the story around that ride-able Mario Kart. I have to say, I think I want to buy one “for my daughter” and then take it for a spin myself.
We are always looking for new and creative ways to bring Nintendo to life in ways that have not been done before. The Mario Kart franchise is a perfect fit for a ride on and was a great item for us to launch into the category with. With the inspiration of this beloved franchise and this truly iconic kart we couldn’t resist making an awesome life size toy out of it.
Can you give us a quick timeline for when we can expect the next round of product to be hitting the store shelves, specifically for the next series of 4-inch and deluxe figures?
Our next big wave of product including micro, 2.5″ and 4″ figures will be hitting stores in Spring 2015 (We will keep you all posted soon before release) with several more waves hitting soon after within the year for each line. For the 6″ line you can also plan on seeing the next round hitting stores in Spring 2015 as well and hopefully one more wave throughout the year. We are currently working to be able to fit more figures in this scale such as a 6″ Link and Samus. As true Nintendo fans ourselves, you can only imagine our anxiety to be able to have every figure possible now, so we are really working hard to deliver this world to everyone as soon as possible.
Wario was a little “late” to the party for the first cases of the 4-inch action line, is a “rolling change” something that we can continue to expect or was this a one-off from the first assortment? I know collectors get a little concerned for certain figures that start to hang around a little too long due to being included in original and revision cases.
Although it is not ideal to have rolling changes in any line there are some instances that may require this such as Wario. Who would have guessed having a garlic field next to the factory would lead to trouble? Moving forward all of our waves are expected to ship complete to keep the normal rollout schedule for the year.
What games and characters do you want to see in action figure form the most in your lines? I am personally a mark for the Koopa Kids, Toad, the original Link and anything NES-related, but what do you guys hope to personally see?
(Jose): I am definitely a big fan of the MarioKart title so seeing more of these little karts and characters rolling around would be fun for me. Also bringing out anything 8 bit satisfies that craving! One of my favorite figures is releasing soon so I am very happy for that. I never thought to see this character in this scale. (Justin) For me playing Mario Kart DS with friends before school every day but not having the game myself I was able to play as Shy Guy and have ever since grown to love this character as he brings back found memories.
Finally, is there anything you would like to communicate to the fans about the World of Nintendo property and lines that we haven’t asked? Any messages to the collector base?
If you think it, we will make it! The Nintendo vault is open and we are bringing it all to you from tiny scale figures to Big sized figures, plush, Vehicles and more! Thank you to our friends at the Fwoosh for allowing us to do this interview, we really love this forum. We read and follow it and are always open to suggestions as we make this product for you the fans/collectors! Looking forward to a great 2015 and please enjoy some official (Not leaked) pictures of some of our upcoming figures! Stay Tuned to the Fwoosh for updates on releases!
We want to thank Jose and Justin for taking the time give us these great answers! They have agreed to provide some follow-up if there are questions that spin out of some of these answers, so please ask in the comments section. In the meantime, check out these exclusive pictures of some of the new and upcoming product — Toad and Metroids, oh my!
Thanks for reading!