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Interview with SOTA’s Jed Haigh

Today, Fwoosh’s Chris McAuliffe (cmm21 to all you forum goers) brings us a sit down session with SOTA’s Product Manager Jed Haigh.

1. How did SOTA Toys get its start in the toy industry?

   SOTA toys started out as a Prototyping house for other companies. SOTA did a lot of work for Palisades back when they were cranking out Aliens and Predator busts, as well as House of the Dead figure.  SOTA also prototyped for several other companies such as Spin Master, Plan B and many others.  Eventually SOTA got the clout to buy its first license, which was The Tomb Raider movie, and then it just kinda snow balled from there as we got more licenses and made different product.

2. Based on several internet toy forums, SOTA seems to be a big leader in making collectors happy. How does it feel to know that people truly appreciate your work?

   I have to say that this is Jerry’s doing.  It’s sort of like a give and take.  From the beginning in a niche/collectors market one has to really realize that the fans are what make the company.   Making the collector a part f the process and letting them know that their voice really matters is make them happy and then makes us happy because they support us.

3. Street Fighter seems to be your biggest hit. How did planning for Round 1 start, and who collaborated on the project?

Round one was chosen after consulting with Capcom and with some discussion on the boards.  The design was decided on by looking at art through the history of Street Fighter plus looking directly at the game, plus getting input from Capcom, plus a little help from the guys at Udon who do the street Fighter Comic.

4. Is there ever any pressure in putting together the character choices that your fans get to vote on for Street Fighter?

Well, some times there’s pressure from fans to make the characters they want!  But for the most part it’s just  matter of counting up the votes.  It can be difficult making sure there is a nice variety and that all of the categories are filled.

5. Out of all the past voting, is there any one character that hasn’t made the cut that you guys would have liked to have seen make the voting results?

   I can only answer that one personally.  For me it was Akuma but now we put him in series 4.  I am really pulling for R. Mika to make it into series 6 because she’s my kinda woman!

6. Recently, it was announced that SOTA is most likely will have an online store to showcase their products. How does everyone feel about the change?

   This change is not official and we are actually trying to see how everyone feels about it before we go ahead full steam.  For the most part, we’ve built our fan base and feel like by going completely online we will be able to serve them better.

7. Its also been stated that this move may open up the possibility for SOTA to go after other licenses that brick and mortar retailers may not be too keen on carrying. How likely is that to happen?

   That’s a tough call.   We actually have to be even more careful with the licenses we chose at this point.  We simply want to make what our fans will buy.  what’s key there is the word buy.  It one thing to make a product that people look at and say "Wow that’s cool!" and then don’t buy.  It’s another thing to make something that people think is cool and also want to own!

8. SOTA’s figures seem to have a distinct quality in their sculpting, plastic, and paint application. What is the process for achieving such a high quality product?

   Man, that’s along tough process.  for the most part is starts with the sculpt.  By engineering the joints nicely initially and making sure it all fits together properly it facilitates the factory being able to put he whole thing together correctly.  It’s kinda like providing a very detailed blue print.  Then a bible is made and sent to the factory. What the bible does is detail exactly how every aspect of the figure should come together.  It indicates which plastics to use, which types of articulations to use, the paints colors, basically every detail.  Then Jerry keeps a close eye on every aspect of the manufacturing.  He keeps in close contact with the factory and makes sure they follow his direction implicitly.

9. Going forward, is there any projection of where SOTA would like to be a year from now?

   A year form now hopefully we’ll be completely online…I think…I’m not sure if that’s our official stance so don’t quote me on that.  But we’ll want to have a few more licenses under our belt and probably be making some stuff that make people say "SOTA’s doing what now?  Dang, those guys are all over the place."

10. Is there any message you guys would like to give to your fans?

   We wanna make what you want!  Just make sure you let us know!

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