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Mattel’s Young Justice – A Conversation with Derick Deller and Brandon Sopinsky

As many of you no doubt know by now, DC and Cartoon Network have unveiled their heir apparent to the highly-acclaimed Justice League cartoons- a very sharp mix of old and new called Young Justice. As of 4 episodes in, it’s looking like a literal and spiritual mix of its predecessors, particularly Teen Titans and Justice League itself, and it looks like its going to make some proud parents.

Not surprisingly, Mattel is geared not to let a golden opportunity like this one pass, and has teased us with information regarding 2(!!) differently styled and scaled toylines:

First, a 4.25 in. scaled group, set to fit in with previous JLU offerings, and bringing with it the promise of vehicles and playsets. The down payment on this universe is a jaw-dropping 12 piece collect-and-connect Hall of Justice! Not bad for a first run!

Not to be outdone, there is also a 6 in. line in the works, looking to blend the scale, articulation, and overall theme of DCUC with the style and accessories- a lot of accessories, at that- indicative of the new show.

Derick Deller, the man at the helm for Young Justice, was kind enough to give us some insight on these new lines, and even brought along Lead Designer Brandon Sopinsky to fill us in a little more on some of the finer points.

You and the Mattel team taking on two very popular scales (4.25 and 6 in.) for Young Justice is some awesome news! That can be no easy feat- So, how did you guys tackle taking the show’s animated style and turning into two very different toylines?

First I want to start by saying that when we sat down to plan the Young Justice line, our goal was to deliver product that would give fans something fresh and exciting; while at the same time being respectful of the fact that people have invested a significant amount of money in other lines such as JLU and DCU Classics.

Due to the fact that the Young Justice animated series has a HUGE character library, we knew we had the makings of a line that could build upon the fan’s existing collections. So, it was very important for us to do two things: 1. Provide some continuity within the DC action figure world by developing Young Justice in a way that it could be displayed alongside existing collections. 2. Add something special to the Young Justice line that would give fans great ways to display their collections.

With these two things in mind, we landed on the 4.25” and 6” scales. Our lead designer, Brandon Sopinsky, orchestrated the development of this entire line-up, and the results are amazing.

Our design team handled all of the sculpting and development of the 4.25” figures here at Mattel, and they have done an awesome job. We have a great partnership with the Warner Brothers Animation team, and they have been willing to work hand-in-hand with our design team to help us take the world of animation and transition it to the world of action figures.

For the 6” line, it was kind of a no-brainer to call on the services of the Four Horsemen. Like I said, continuity was the name of the game, so we wanted to put this part of our line in the hands of the geniuses that give us the DCU Classic line. The Horsemen have been able to deliver a product line-up that makes Young Justice look unique, but will also look great displayed next to DCUC.

One of the things that might separate Young Justice from its predecessors is the intention to focus on the “kids out of costume” as much as superhero action. Is that something we might see some of in the figures as well?

This is something we are considering for the future, but we have so many characters to choose from in this show, and we are striving to get the superhero versions out first.

For the 6 inch figures, you talked a little about accessories. Actually, you talked a little about a lot of accessories! What else can you tell us about this exciting idea of packing these guys with “the most across any of [our] DC Universe lines”?

We added a lot of accessories to really play up on the whole “Mission” aspect of the show; giving each hero the right tools for the job. Each character has a lot of cool gadgets in the show, and we really wanted to celebrate that. Characters like Aqualad worked great for this, because he can pretty much create any type of weapon out of water with his Water Bearers; so this gives us the chance to give those awesome weapons to the fans.

So, to summarize, the 6 inch figures, we’re getting 4 Horsemen sculpts, DCUC compatibility, loads of accessories, and “hyper-articulation”? Any chance you could tell us a little more about that?

You are correct for the most part, you will be getting 4 Horseman sculpts that will go seamlessly with your existing DCUC collection. Basically the 4 Horseman did their versions of the heroes and villains from the show, so imagine these characters brought to life in the world of the DCUC figures. Each character will not only come with a lot of accessories but a really cool display base/diorama based on different environments/ scenes from the show. They will have the same great articulation found in the DCUC figures.

The Collect and Connect Hall of Justice just might be the coolest thing to come with a toy since…yeah, it’s going to be pretty much the coolest thing to come with a toy. How did you guys work out the logistics for something this mind-blowing, and what other plans might you have for your growing Collect and Connect universe?

In order to pull off something like the Collect-and-Connect HOJ, it takes an immense amount of work from our entire cross-functional team at Mattel. First, our design team set out to find a fresh new take on the Collect-and-Connect theme, and I think everyone agrees that they delivered with the HOJ!

From there, it’s a matter of finding a way to fit this huge diorama into the package for the 4.25” basic figures. This includes people from design, packaging, engineering, retail, marketing, copywriting, legal and more. I can’t even remember how many meetings we had to discuss the HOJ, but let’s just say it was a constant conversation. Once we had the concept, there was no way we were going to stop until we found a way to fit it into the package.

We actually just received the first production sample of the HOJ, and when we set it up on one of our design tables, we all just stood there staring at it. It was funny to think that something that took countless meetings and months of work left us speechless when we saw it for the first time. It’s freaking amazing, and we can’t wait for our fans to see it.

Right now we are still in the design stages of our next Collect-and-Connect execution for Young Justice, and it’s just too early to comment with any certainty. We are exploring several options at this point, and should know something more in a few months.

Derick, Brandon, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, especially this close to Toy Fair- great timing for us, not so much for you! I can’t wait to see what you’re set to unveil, and look forward to talking to you guys again soon.

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11 thoughts on “Mattel’s Young Justice – A Conversation with Derick Deller and Brandon Sopinsky

  1. So, when will they be released? I hope they’re well done and if they’re like Public Enemies figures it is fine.

  2. I’m hoping this isn’t PE 2.0…but its Mattel, so I have low expectations. It will most likely be some type PE rehash and Scott will come out and make some BS contradicting statement like its the 4h’s “interpretation”. O_o

  3. I think I teared up at the idea of having a Hall of Justice! If this does turn out right, then i will need a Hall of Doom!

  4. Ya, the Public Enemies line was slightly underwhelming. Inferno, was that his name?, and Major force were decent. Banshee and Icicle dont look right next to DCUC. I’m hoping for more or I’ll pass.

  5. can not believe. that Mattel has figured out how to do a play set like the hall of justice as a collect and connect and for the four inch line when normaly collect and connect is done with dcuc. will definitly pick up the figures for the hall. can not wait to see the four horsemans magic with young justice.another dc universe hit.

  6. “Basically the 4 Horseman did their versions of the heroes and villains from the show, so imagine these characters brought to life in the world of the DCUC figures.”

    This quote has me a little more hopeful, though the realist in me is thinking we’ll see public enemies 2.0. What were the announced 6 inchers so far? I think it was in toyfare, but I can’t recall.

  7. It’s a pity one of those accesories isn’t an interchangable head sculpted in the DCUC style that will blend in with the existing collection because I’m concerned these are going to kill whatever chance we have of seeing comic accurate versions of these charecters done. Hopefully we won’t end up hearing that these are “good enough” the way we have with Silver Banshee, Icicle and Major Force in the Public Enemies wave. Pesonally the main reason I started collecting DCUC was to build a cohesive display of figures all done in the same style that were compatable with each other on the shelf instead of the hodge podge of radically different artistic styles that DC Direct produced.

  8. I cannot see this cartoon making it past the first season. It’s barely promoted & the characters are portrayed as being less than likable. Compile that with Mattel’s piss poor handling of action figures…I mean even if they make them, it’s not like you’ll be able to find them in the stores & if you do expect robin to have 2 left feet or the plastic to be so sub-par (“thanks to their “costing”) that they figures will never stand. I have no hope for this line.

  9. Are you sure??
    Things are getting connected together with DVD’s, action figures, comicbooks, and Movies …It’s a time where really great things can come together in a most wonderful way.

    This is a wonderful time. Maybe these figures WILL end up like the Public Enemies figures…
    but somewhere, just over the horizon, … I’m hoping those in charge will be able to make all these tie-in’s come together to give us an almost seemless experience of video adventures, movies, books to read, action figures that work well together, …. and just the complete experience we dream of.

    It’s early in this “inter-merging” process of these large corporations, but it’s not a bad start. Just think of all of the wonderful DCUC action figures we DO have, (thanks to Mattel and the skills of the 4Horsemen.)[Even what’s going on in the MOTUC line. See Vikor! and some of the other figures.]

    I have hope that with continued creative “inter-merging”, we will continue to be amazed at what will be coming our way in the FUTURE.

  10. “The Horsemen have been able to deliver a product line-up that makes Young Justice look unique, but will also look great displayed next to DCUC.”

    By this, they mean they will end up like the Public Enemies figures. Cartoony-looking and not *EXACTLY* in-scale with DCUC…

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