The Four Horsemen have a Four Horsemen Fridays feature on their website, so we’ll hop on their coat tails for that. Hagop and I got to sit down with two of them at Mattel’s Collector Event at Toy Fair. It was really a treat talking to them, while surrounded by the 2-ups and prototypes of the action figures they’ve designed.
In our first part, we talk with Eric Treadaway, designer and sculptor, about Masters of the Universe Classics, DC Universe Classics, and fan reaction to some of the controversial reveals. We’ll post the second part, our conversation with Cornboy, on the Fwoosh next week.
Ron: So, of all the new items revealed today, do you have a favorite?
Eric Treadaway: For me the biggest thing there is Clawful. That was one of my favorite of the vintage line. I was so disappointed in 2002, because out of my big guys, Trap Jaw was the only one that made it into the toy line. And we even had the Clawful prototype done, and he never made it. So this is cool because Webstor and Trap Jaw were my other two, so now finally I can have them all in one line.
At this point another collector stops by to show us a King Hiss sample he was given by Mattel.
ET: And are you ok with King Hiss? I know he was one of the most controversial figures of all time.
R: Why do you think that is?
ET: I think people just had expectations that were different than what they got. Some people wanted a cluster of weaving snakes and we stuck more to the [vintage] toy. I mean, you can never read peoples’ minds, so…
Hagop: You can’t please everyone.
ET: That’s what I always say. You can’t please one hundred percent of the people, so the only thing we can try to do is please as many as possible.
R: Of the Masters stuff revealed today, were they any characters you were surprised that you got to do?
ET: Bikini Teela was definitely a surprise when we saw that on the schedule. I always thought it was cool, especially since Vikor came out. I think it’s a great match for Vikor, just having more of that sword and sorcery type thing. But yeah, that was a surprise. You know Man-E-Faces and Clawful are definitely expected. I think people could see those coming a mile away. They announced the Faceless One awhile back, but anytime those 2002 guys come up it’s a little unusual to see it in the line. Megator is kind of a given with Tytus but its good to finally see him out. I always thought Megator was a lot cooler than Tytus. I always like the bad guys. That’s just my thing.
R: So is he going to basically have the same articulation set as Tytus?
ET: As far as I know, yes. They have some shared parts on them, so I would assume so. He’s got a lot new parts on him, but I think because of the base parts that are shared it’ll be about the same.
R: Well now that you’ve got Clawful done, what is there to look forward to? What’s your grail now?
ET: Overall in the line, Grayskull. That might be a pipe dream but definitely Grayskull. The part of masters that had the biggest impact on me was the whole original eight and Battle Ram and Battle Cat and Castle Grayskull. And even into the next round with Trap Jaw and Tri-Klops and those guys. So Grayskull would be just getting us one step closer to that original batch of products being complete. I know Battle Ram has a much better chance than Castle Grayskull but I have to put Castle Grayskull at the top of the list. Figure-wise for me though, it’s just a matter of completing the ones I actually had when I was a kid. I stopped buying them around the time when Stinkor and Moss Man came out so really those are the ones that have a nostalgic quality for me. So I’d say any time those super-classic characters come out, those are the ones where I get a little more interested.
H: In that vein of the earliest characters, Ram Man will present some challenges, I would think. Do you think you would approach him as a regular, monthly figure or more like a deluxe quarterly figure, or in some other way?
ET: I think it would be a regular figure. The issue with him is he’s going to probably have to be a completely new tool. I think to do it right, he’s got to be. But the problem with him compared to a lot of these other newly tooled figures, is once you’re done with Ram Man there’s really not much else you can do with that [tool]; Where even with some of the monsters and more strange characters, there’s reuse. So that guy…he’s definitely a grail for us and for a lot of people, but he’s just one where they’ve got to be able to find the right time to drop him into the line and make him affordable.
R: My grail is still Jitsu. I’m waiting for you guys to get to Jitsu.
ET: Yeah, I’ve got a couple of friends who are big Jitsu fans. I think you’re in good company. And Jitsu – he’s one of the ones, to me, who are one of the very classic, core characters so you know he’ll happen eventually.
R: I had a Jitsu and I used to take pictures of him with a Polaroid camera outside. I’d like, put him in a tree and take pictures of him.
H: So you’ve been doing action figure pics for many years.
R: A long time now.
H: You should post some of those on your website.
R: I would if I had them. Are you guys collaborating with Mattel on the Masters vehicle for this year?
ET: Yes. They liked what we brought them with the Battle Ram, so that just led to good things. We’re excited about it because we don’t do a lot of vehicles so it’s something different for us to get involved with and it’s been fun to work on. I’m very much looking forward to San Diego when people will get to see it.
R: Is this the kind of thing where we might expect electronics in it? Or will it just be a standard vehicle?
ET: That, I don’t know for sure because we wouldn’t prototype something like that into the figure in the studio, or into the vehicle. I don’t know if Mattel is planning to do it or not. I’m sure it could be dropped into the prototype that we did but a lot of it might come down to what the price point needs to be and how the piece is costing out and things like that. I think it will at least have small features in it, whether they’re electronic or not.
R: Let’s switch gears now. The DC stuff: also awesome. The Super Friends seem to be a polarizing topic for a lot of people. Why do you think there are people who just don’t want to see Super Friends in the classics line?
ET: You know, somebody was just telling me that. I didn’t realize it was as polarizing as it appears to be. I think what it might be though, is that it might just depend on whether or not you were the right age for it. I think it’s a very nostalgia-based preference for those characters. So, if you didn’t know anything about them, and you grew up a little later and you look back on it, they probably look goofy and very dated. But if you grew up on it, then to actually see the Legion of Doom and Super Friends, characters like that, completed it’s a very cool thing. For me, that was my introduction to the DC Universe. I know all of those characters from watching Super friends. And I guess, what somebody was telling me, was that some people on the boards are voicing that they want to see more modern incarnations of characters.
H: And there are also fans that were too old for super friends, and they want to see the more silver age characters, perhaps.
ET: Yeah, so it’s just that pocket of however many years the Super Friends was on, and depending on what age [you were], so I would guess it’s something like that. And those characters were heavily just Super Friends characters and not really as integrated into the books and so some people I think are just more comic purists. So I guess there are a lot of things potentially going against it or for it depending on who you are. To me, I’m just excited about it because we got to do it. Although version-wise there’s some differences that we can address later on, the Legion of Doom is complete with Toyman and Super Powers is complete with Samurai. A personal goal for me was getting super powers complete.
H: Yes, you guys have mentioned that in the past. Now that those Super Friends and Super Powers based characters are done, what is your top goal as far as a group of characters you’d like to get done?
ET: Well if it were me personally, I would be going way deeper into New Gods and a lot of the Jack Kirby stuff like that. Forever People. Things of that nature.
H: Veebee will be happy to hear that.
R: Yeah, you just name dropped Forever People. He’s going to like that.
ET: We’re very much of the same mind as far as that stuff goes. But that’s just me. Some of those characters get very obscure.
H: Well Black Racer was on the proposed but never produced super powers list.
ET: I would love to do that. To me, it would be a very big accomplishment if we could ever get a Granny Goodness figure on the shelf because that has everything going against it. So if that happened…that’s big. But I would like to see guys like the Deep Six. They’re background characters essentially, but they’d make such cool figures. But my own personal preferences aside, I think a lot of what needs to be done now is finishing teams that we’ve started. I know that fans want to see it. I know that they’ve questioned it. I know that there’s dedication to doing that, though it may not happen as fast as everybody wants. Ultimately we’d like to get through every character in the whole DC Universe, but at least finishing some of these key teams is essential. And I do think, up this point, we have gone very classic, character-wise, with a few modern incarnations here and there and I feel it’s time you might start seeing some modern versions of these characters that you’ve seen classic. And again, I think you’re getting into that same type of debate; some people just want to see classic, some people just want to see modern. They argue about it. Classic versions have gotten very good representation so it’s time to do some modern ones as well because again, you want to please as many people as you can and it may not happen when and where they want it to happen, but better late than never.
R: You mentioned Granny Goodness. We just posted the results of our DCUC Top ten and Granny Goodness was in there.
ET: Like I said, she’s got a lot going against her. There’s generally less females in the line, so you can take that as one against her. She’s an elderly female; you don’t see a lot of senior citizen action figures out there. She’s heavily tooled. And she’s a figure with some mass to her. So there’s a lot of cost-prohibitive things going on with her. But I think it could happen, actually. If they could get Amanda Waller into Justice League, that opened some doors up. I think it’ll happen eventually.
H: On the subject of completing teams, in most cases it’s just a question of getting through the character list. But Teen Titans provides some unique challenges, because to complete the different eras of the team, you really need different versions of some of the characters in different scales. For example Kid Flash- the one we have is great for a ’60s Titans team, but doesn’t really work as an adult Wally West for a Perez Titans lineup. In the interest of completing teams, is it realistic to expect new renditions of characters like that?
ET: I would like to see it happen. I think a lot of that was…early on in the line, there were a lot of things going on. It takes a little while to get into the rhythm and start figuring out what works and what doesn’t; both from an internal standpoint and also just from what people are reacting to. I would love to see some of that happen but, let’s say it is Kid Flash, what that might take is if Flash is getting a big push in the comics, or a movie, or an animation or something. Very similar to how, since the Green Lantern movie is coming out, they were able to go back and do that two-pack with the taller Sinestro in it. I think that everybody’s aware of those types of issues, it’s just tougher to go back and re-do characters. But when the opportunity arises, it happens. Another thing that you have to look at too – a lot of times if you go back and re-do a character, people feel like a slot is being taken away from something else. I know there was a little push-back from the fans on the Blackest Night wave and I think that’s part of what it was. Although they’re new incarnations of all those characters, every single one of the characters in the wave has been done at some point before. So, I know a lot of people feel like that’s taking a slot away from what could have been Atrocitus or Saint Walker or somebody like that from the Green Lantern line. So, again, it’s a little bit of a balancing act of trying to make sure everybody’s happy.
R: So how many more Hal Jordans do you think we’re going to get?
ET: I think you’ll see a few more. [we all had a chuckle at this point] Everybody’s hoping that the Green Lantern movie is going to be big and that Green Lantern is going to become a household name for kids. So, if that means getting a few more Hal Jordan figures out there, overall it’s good for everybody.