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TF 2007 – Guang Yang, SOTA CEO (Pt. 2/3)

As we wrapped up the Fwoosh coverage of Toy Fair 2007, we had the opportunity to speak with Guang Yang, the new CEO of SOTA Toys.

In the first part of our interview, we talked with him about his predecessor (Jerry Macaluso), the current team at SOTA, and how he ended up in the top spot there.

We pick up our conversation with part two of our interview, in which Guang shares what we can expect this year from the Street Fighter and Darkstalkers lines.  

[] One of the things you mentioned was making choices to push back product you want out now. One thing the fans have been waiting for is the Street Fighter Revolutions line. What caused you to push those back?

[Guang Yang] After reviewing the statistics of our sales, we realized that at one point we were almost flooding the market with Street Fighter products. It’s tough on the fans when they see 15 Street Fighter products on the shelves and they only have so much money in their pockets. At that point they have to pick and choose and make sacrifices. That hurts! I’m a fanboy myself, and I can’t buy everything out there! If I do, I go broke very, very fast! [Laughs]

So if I have to make a choice, it always leaves me a little bit sour inside. So the decision to delay things a bit is to spread things out. Let everyone’s [wallet] replenish, and take away the financial burdens. Toys are toys – they’re a hobby – they shouldn’t be exerting a heavy financial burden on a collector or a fan. If you’re not happy about buying a product, then that’s not good for anyone! So we want to make things easier for people.

[fwoosh] You’ve just finished the fan vote for Revolution Round 1, with R. Mika taking the fan slot. In that assortment, you’ve got a lot of the remaining "big-hitters" in there. What’s next for Street Fighter?

[Guang] Evaluating what we’ve done in the past, with four rounds of Street Fighter done, we learned a lot about what to do, and what not to do. We learned what we could do to improve – that’s what Revolution is for. We’re improving the Street Fighter line – we want to reinvent the line. We are going to go for a look that is much closer to its anime origin and follow the trend that Capcom is setting. They’re the licensor, and if they want a certain look, we have to follow. The good thing is that their decisions are not that bad! [Laughs] So the new look for the Street Fighter franchise, with the UDON artists, really is fantastic, and we want to follow that as closely as possible.

One of the things we learned in previous rounds is about the articulation – we made a consistent set of articulation across all the characters. What we realized is that it works for some, but not for some others. So what we will do with the Revolution, is that we will make all the articulation designs character-specific. There won’t be a standard 33 points of articulation across the board. Some will have less and some will have more. The point is that we want the articulation to work for the character. What we are trying to make are figures that look as good as statues, and yet can still get into all the signature poses.

[fwoosh] So you think after Revolution Round 1 that there’s still plenty of opportunity to make Street Fighter figures?

[Guang] Oh yeah! The Street Fighter franchise is one of the longest running franchises in the gaming industry. And it’s only going to get stronger. For reasons I cannot discuss – I’m bound by contract – but there will be announcements coming in 2007 that are going to be pretty exciting!

[fwoosh] So, announcements from Capcom? Or from SOTA?

[Guang] From somebody! [Laughs] I’m very confident that the Street Fighter franchise is going to get stronger and stronger. SOTA is very lucky to have it and has been doing a pretty decent job at it. Capcom is very happy with us.

We want to call what people are calling Round 5, Street Fighter Revolution Round 1. We’re setting a milestone here. The old Street Fighter line is complete. Previews is the series that bridges the gap. And Revolution is the future. And I just quoted the Matrix. [Laughs]

[fwoosh] Now, how about Darkstalkers?

[Guang] Darkstalkers is an interesting line. SOTA has had the license for a while. For numerous reasons, we didn’t get to make them until now, but primarily because we don’t want to be flooding the market. And now, it’s a good time. We have the resources, there’s the gap between the [Street Fighter] lines, and it’s about time! The fans have waited long enough, and we’ve waited long enough!

[fwoosh] So we’ve heard there’s two rounds of two figures each…

[Guang] Right now the lineup for 2007 shows only one series of Darkstalkers. We might add another series in the 4th quarter of 2007. Right now it’s still undecided. We are taking a leap of faith with Darkstalkers because we’re not making them as typical action figures. At a higher suggested retail price, they will be more expensive than Street Fighter figures. But we will be giving the fans everything that they ever wanted with each figure, in one package.

[fwoosh] So series one is Demitri Maximoff and Lord Raptor?

[Guang] Yes, those are the two. These two figures each come with way more accessories than a typical action figure. Demitri comes with a interchangeable cape and wings, two pairs of hands, two heads, bats as companions, a cursed form bat, two fireballs, and a rose.

[fwoosh] That’s a lot of stuff.

[Guang] And we’re trying to pack it all in one box. So imagine how big the package is! [Laughs] And so far everyone that we’ve talked to about it has liked it and responded well. We took some polls, and to our relief, the price isn’t too high for what’s coming in the box.

[fwoosh] What’s the SRP?

[Guang] The SRP is $24.99, so for $25, you’ll get the whole nine yards. The reasoning is that fans have waited long enough, and there’s no reason to make them collect this variant and that variant just to get all the stuff they want. We give it to them in one package, the whole nine yards, and there it is.

Lord Raptor similarly comes with tons of accessories. Right now, Lord Raptor is my favorite figure. Just because he is way too cool! [Laughs] We didn’t use the 2-up (originally shown at SDCC 2006) because there were a lot of things we wanted to change.


[fwoosh] So it’s completely resculpted?

[Guang] Yes, it’s completely resculpted and we even re-engineered the joints, so you can see, we added a bit of articulation to the shoulders. Lord Raptor is just the coolest figure. We literally stared at it for five minutes while trying to take a picture of it, and everyone was kind of like, "Wow…"

So we’re pretty excited about it, and in a couple of months, we should see some production samples.


Street Fighter Photos:
Darkstalkers Photos:


This wraps up Part Two of our interview with Guang.

You can read Part One here: 

Stay tuned for Part Three, where we get an update on Now Playing, summer exclusives, and Guang’s take on the evolving retail landscape.

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