We report on their toys all the time. We watch everything they do. We freak out when they show off new toys. And now, we got together with the man behind NECA Toys and their amazing work, Randy Falk. Check out our interview with him at the NECA booth at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 and see our gallery of their amazing set up!
Hey everyone! It’s finally happening; We are at San Diego Comic Con and Toy Wizards are interviewing Randy Falk from NECA Toys! Randy, how are you doing today?
Randy: I am doing fine.
Great! So, let’s start off by discussing some of those toy exclusives. What was your strategy in choosing how and when to unveil them online, and which toys have been the most popular so far?
Randy: The most popular so far is definitely The Capture of Splinter which Splinter chained up against the fence with Shredder and two foot soldiers from the 90s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film. It’s a companion piece to what we did here last year with the turtles. We’ve had an allocation per day and in the first hour or hour and a half they’ve been selling out.
Our strategy with turtles in general is because we weren’t able to sell any turtles retail for quite a while, only at conventions, we’ve had a TMNT item as our exclusive for the last four consecutive years. We’ve done a 4-pack box set, and the movie stuff has just done phenomenal. We knew it was time to get to the villains and give those turtles someone to fight. A lot of the licensing dictates what becomes an exclusive.
Three and a half years ago we created a series of DC vs Dark Horse with Superman versus Predator and Batman versus Aliens. The intention was to get them out to retail, but we couldn’t because of licensing conflicts. We were finally able to offer them at the show, and they’re awesome versions of Batman and Superman. They’re 6 inches and fully articulated and paired with an Alien or a Predator from the early 90s Darkhorse comics. We have John Connor from T2 and he comes with the bike. If you have him at retail and he comes without the bike, no one wants it. You add the bike and now it’s suddenly too expensive for retail at Target. But at the show, we’re able to do it because it’s direct to consumer and he has all the accessories like the ATM hacking device, two heads…and then we have the Etched Pennywise from IT, and because the new IT trailer just dropped Pennywise is doing well. He’s been on fire for the last two years. So we won’t be taking anything home except for sore feet, sore throats, and con-crud.
Shortly after the Movie Turtles came to retail the Cartoon Turtles came to Target. That original reporting about those cartoon turtles was a hugely popular article on Toy Wizards. So my question is this: How do you balance between the toys you’re licensed to make, the toys fans want to see, and the toys you WANT to make?
Randy: The fun and interesting ones I get to do is the hard rock and heavy metal stuff because that’s a passion of mine. When I get to work with Megadeth, Iron Maiden, or Anthrax a lot of them are based around the mascots like Eddie or Vic because they look like monsters already. How we’ve grown that line is that every channel or distributor has something unique to them. So Target will have the cartoon turtles, Gamestop had the movie turtles, and then the game turtles will go to our specialty markets like BigBadToyStore and Entertainment Earth. They’re a big part of our product line and we’re glad to give them something special and each retailer gets a different line.
You guys have some severe fan love, I’m one of them, I love your products. How did you develop the Target Ambassador program?
Randy: You know, it’s something that came from the old Record Store model. Record labels used to send fans out to record stores to hand out fliers, give out CD samples, and it sort of had those grassroots beginnings. The Target program was sort of born out of necessity. Where we’re based in New Jersey, we have a guy that picks up product directly from us in his Splinter van to the Target vans and there’s a lot of accountability. I can physically walk into the stores and see how things are doing. But for the stores nationwide we use a rep group and merchandising company to set up the areas. They do send pictures and report in, but it’s a way to engage the fans to see what the NECA sections look like and we’ll give out Target gift cards to them. It’s been going almost a year and while there’s been growing pains, it’s ultimately been really awesome. And the NECA sections themselves are growing by several feet per displays with awesome new exclusives heading to Target like Godzilla, Gremlins, and all of this helps build the following. Everyone goes to Target; doesn’t matter what you’re buying. You’re already in there. And we’re right there with all the entertainment.
I have one last question for you before I let you go. Would you please tell me about the NECA Fan event in June, how it went, and whether or not you plan on expanding that model or doing another one?
Randy: It went really well, way better than I anticipated. It wasn’t a retail opportunity and we weren’t selling anything. It was a show and tell at a retro arcade that I go to all the time. We considered a product launch there, but we decided just to have an event where people could meet the team, we could answer questions, show off some new reveals, and let fans see the faces behind NECA. And we had about 250 people show up—it was awesome. People flew in from Texas, someone drove in ten hours from Chicago. They came just to hang out with us. It was really cool, a family friendly event and people got to play video games all day on free play. I would love to make it an annual thing. We probably won’t take it on the road or do it anywhere else, but it was really cool. It really brought together the community. The company might have 100 people, but the core group designing is about 12. Someone from every department was there.
NECA rocks and you guys just keep kicking ass. So how do we want to wrap this up?
Randy: Just know that we have a bunch more reveals coming in October at New York Comic Con, you’re going to see a Green Lantern. We’re getting ready for Toy Fair in February, and we’ve already completed three exclusives for SDCC 2020. We’re always jamming. And this show, as tiring and exhausting as it may be is really gratifying because you get to see people lining up, excited for your products. It makes you want to get back into the studio and get started on more. And lastly, thank you to Toy Wizards for what you guys do and all the amazing coverage you give us.
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