New ToyFare Magazine: Full Text Transcript and High Res Photos!
MMAFigs.com Presents an Exclusive Text Transcript and Images in Both High and Low Resolutions From the Recent Issue of ToyFare Magazine
The March 2010 edition of the popular ToyFare magazine has recently been released, and its headline article features the Jakks Pacific line of UFC action figures. Several new figures were shown in ToyFare’s four-page article, including fan favorites like BJ Penn, Chuck Liddell in classic attire, and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. ToyFare magazine also sat down with Enrique Ruvalcaba and Jeremy Padawer of Jakks Pacific to discuss the line. MMAFigs.com is proud to present several high-resolution and low-resolution images from the magazine, as well as a full text transcript of the interview.
Scroll down to the bottom to check out the image gallery, which features both high-resolution and low-resolution scans of the ToyFare cover page and the new figures revealed in the interview.
Remember, MMAFigs.com is your #1 source for UFC and Action Figure news, views, previews and reviews.
The interview as seen in ToyFare magazine:
ToyFare: What’s the release schedule looking like for the rest of the year?
Enrique Ruvalcaba: I think we’re going to be doing a new series of guys every two months, and then once we get into the fall, we’re going to introduce some new categories- different scales, micro, 3 ¾- so I think you’re going to be seeing a new series in one way or another probably every two or three weeks.
TF: We showed Wave 3 in our last issue, but who is going to be in Wave 4?
ER: I can give you some inclusive insight into wave 4; I don’t think I’ve mentioned this to anybody out in the public yet. So this is tentative right now, but I feel about 90% sure that this is going to go through as is. [It will be] Wanderlei Silva, Rich Franklin, Andrei Arlovski, Matt Hughes, Don Frye is going to be our legend, Sean Sherk, Kimbo Slice and Jamie Varner from WEC.
TF: So when did you first start eyeing UFC as a possible license?
Jeremy Padawer: Gosh, it seems to be about two and a half years ago. We were in a position of trying to recreate the [boys action] division, with the expectation that we would probably be walking away from WWE at the end of 2009. So, the issue was not whether we believed UFC had a following, but whether UFC would ever be mainstream enough to support a mass-distributed action figure property. We got a lot of feedback from retail, and initially everyone said “No, no, no, no.” They weren’t interested; they thought it was too harsh. They thought it was too hard, but they really hadn’t been reintroduced to UFC the sport, and they were still focused on UFC prior to [UFC President] Dana [White] and [owner] Lorenzo [Fertitta] being involved in the ‘90s. And I think that with UFC achieving a little bit more mainstream awareness and acceptance, by the time we actually went around to selling it-which was about 9 months ago- retail was much hungrier for it. And at this point it looks like we have distribution at all mass retailers for 2010.
ToyFare: So what are some of the challenges with working on a license where the “storyline” is uncontrollable and reality can interfere with the plans for figures?
JP: Well, you have to rely on a lot more leaps of faith, I’ll tell you that. One of the things we believe that our Classic Superstars program has shown us, in terms of the WWE program we did, is that it’s not only important what happens in the future, but it’s also important what’s happened in the past. So there are a lot of athletes that have maybe lost a few fights in a row, maybe their careers ended due to an injury. But I think that the collector world that we’re focusing on is less interested in necessarily what happens next. As long as you have a track record, as long as you’re either a very interesting figure or you have had some big victories or memorable moments, you’ll sell as an action figure in this world. Think about Marvel and DC, for instance. You’ve got great storylines that existed, where now the superhero is no longer viable but the action figure is still interesting, even though you can’t necessarily project that they’ll ever be back around in the entertainment.
ToyFare: What are some of the differences you’ve noticed with working with WWE and working with UFC?
JP: Well, on the one hand, UFC is a much younger organization, so they’re developing. They’re still establishing many of their internal roles, whereas WWE’s been around for 30 years. They hadn’t focused too much on consumer products, but they are extremely entrepreneurial, and I have to say that both WWE and UFC, from a brand standpoint, have been really good partners.
ToyFare: What are some of the biggest changes you wanted to make to the figures themselves, compared to what you were doing with WWE?
ER: One of the things I like to talk about when we talk about this sort of stuff, is that authenticity is critical. With us going a little bit older with the demographic and emphasizing the collectability of the figures, it’s really important that we produce authentic figures. Part of that means being able to “play UFC”-the guys have to be able to put each other in the moves that you would see in a real fight. So if a guy’s doing a rear naked choke or an armbar, it’s important that this action figure be able to move in that way. So we went back and looked at our figures, and what we could do to really improve upon them. One of the big differences is the added articulation. As a matter of fact, in our upcoming packages we’re actually going to trademark that feature, and really emphasize it as a marketing communication to really help differentiate our figures from others on the market. In addition to that, we’re going to do what we’ve always done here at Jakks, which is great deco and really cool accessories. I know the fans out there have asked for accessories such as figure-sized belts and different accessories that are applicable to UFC, so you’re going to see a lot of that.
ToyFare: Tell us about the licensing deal with toy company Round 5. How does that partnership work, and what made you enter into it?
JP: When we signed UFC as a license, one of the more challenging issues was that, again, UFC hadn’t really focused on consumer products, nor would anybody in their position, when they’ve had such extreme growth in revenue from Pay Per View sales, live event sales, etc. Their cash was coming from other resources. So when we signed the license, we signed it knowing there hadn’t been really an integrated plan in terms of signing athletes. So UFC had really started focusing on that around the time that we signed, and we actually put together a pretty nice plan on how to go about doing that. But Round 5 had successfully signed quite a few athletes [for its series of super-deformed MMA figures]. For us, we embraced it. I mean, from Jakks’ perspective, we looked at that and we were very impressed, that these two brave entrepreneurs [at Round 5] had gone out there and taken on those types of risks. So, we had discussions with UFC, and UFC granted us the ability to basically trade a sub-license for the rights to athletes, and it allowed us to license out a few line extensions to round 5. It’s going to be very difficult to compete against Jakks and Round 5 in the categories that they hold by signing new athletes. You just wouldn’t be able to put together a significant roster. So that’s the benefit that we got, that’s the benefit that round 5 got and for UFC, it’s a significant benefit because now they have significant control over that category of business.
ToyFare: Do you see the line spreading beyond just figures and rings into a new feature, like maybe the Joe Rogan figure or a Rampage Jackson monster truck or something like that?
ER: [Laughs] The one he ran amok on in Orange County?
ToyFare: That’s the one!
ER: That’s a good idea. We definitely have plans for, as I mentioned a litter earlier, different scales. So next year, you’re going to see some micro-scales, and those are about two-inch figures. They’re going to be really cool. Also, 3 ¾-inch, which is something that we really like internally. We would blow [that scale] out, but it tends to be a little cannibalistic with our full-sized figures, so that’s going to be a Toys ‘R Us exclusive. In addition to that, we’re considering and exploring possibly entering into different stuff. So, for example, I’ll just throw this out there, those Hulk Hands that we’ve seen in the past? We’re looking at stuff like that-we really want to get into role-play and really trying to figure out what makes sense. We’re always thinking here about the next big thing. We’re definitely going to try some line extensions. We’re looking at all kinds of characters. We’ve heard it all-we’ve heard referees, ring girls, Joe Rogan, Dana White; there’s a bunch of non-fighters that we can do, and you can bet that we’re looking at all that stuff right now.
ToyFare: What are some of your all-time favorite UFC moments?
ER: Man. So, I’m a big fan, and I’ve been a fan for a long time since the beginning. One of my favorite moments was when Don Frye beat Tank Abbot. I also love UFC 3, when Keith Hackney took down Emmanuel Yarborough. That was awesome. I’d never seen anything like that. It’s part of the reason I fell in love with the sport. It’s crazy to see this Kempo guy take down this 600lbs Sumo guy. There’s just been so many. I loved when Machida beat Rashad. I was there at that event and heard the crowd reaction; it was astonishing. Just a ton of moments, and I think that’s why the brand is growing so rapidly and gaining so much popularity.
ToyFare: What’s it been like getting to meet the fighters?
ER: It was great! [It’s] one of the things we really like from a professional standpoint. Bas Rutten was here, and he came in, he saw his figure, he loved it and played with it and we filmed him talking about it and we’re going to put it on Facebook. His reaction was great. From a professional standpoint, it’s awesome to see the guys happy with their figures. From a personal standpoint, I love meeting these guys and Jeremy and I have been fortunate to have gone to some of these events and met some cool fighters. We’ve shaken hands and talked to Randy Couture. I even got to meet Mike Tyson because he was hanging out in one of the seats down there, and it’s been great and fantastic. And [Royce] Gracie was in our showroom and he’s such a nice guy, and he’s got incredible stores. It’s such a treat for us to just sit there and listen.
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And now, MMAFigs.com presents a high-resolution and low-resolution gallery from ToyFare magazine. Please be aware that the first three images are low-resolution, and the next three are high-resolution.