DC, Marvel, and “the best pillow fight you’ve ever had”: Factory Entertainment at Toy Fair 2016
As a fan of comics and superheroes, both Marvel and DC, I was excited to get a chance to visit the Factory Entertainment booth at New York Toy Fair 2016 and have a look at their upcoming tie-in items.
There was plenty of Marvel and DC, along with Game of Thrones, Adventure Time, and Ghostbusters, for fans and collectors to ogle and get excited over. I sat down for an interview with Tom Vargas, Director of eCommerce and Online Marketing at Factory Entertainment to talk about what’s on the way, especially regarding Wonder Woman and Harley Quinn, with the Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad movies approaching. We discussed more merchandise based on female characters, Alex Ross-inspired sculptures, and Deadpool on a rocket.
The Geekiary: Tell me some background on Factory Entertainment, when was it founded?
Tom Vargas: We started in 2011 and we make a wide range of collectibles that are perfect for any type of collector or enthusiast, a lot of different type of pop culture properties. Anything from Marvel or DC all the way to Outlander to Men in Black, or Universal Monsters. We’re really just trying to provide the type of product…that collectors are looking for. Also that a lot of different type of people are looking for, including kids, with our Soft Weapons that I showed you a moment ago…
We’ve been around for quite some time, all of us are industry veterans. Most of us actually come from a company called Master Replicas, which grew to prominence because of its lightsaber that it released – that Hasbro now makes – which were the effects lightsabers that look realistic and light up, and we are just really crazy about this stuff. That’s what we do.
The Geekiary: Tell me more about the plushie swords line. You have tie-ins for for the Batman v Superman movie, you have Wonder Woman’s shield, Wonder Woman’s sword, Batman’s batarang, and there are sound effects involved?
Vargas: What’s really great about those is again, they’re called Soft Weapons…you’re actually able to play with them. So if you can imagine the best pillow fight you’ve ever had, but now you have something that’s shaped like a sword or shaped like a shield, or a batarang, or a hammer, or a mallet, or a machete…the options are limitless. What’s great about it is we’ve incorporated sounds and an element of motion to capture or release that sound once a bat is swung or a sword is swung, you hear a swishing sound. Once it impacts something you hear a cracking or a clinking sound. So it’s really adding an element that isn’t present with other weapons that are out there, in a safe environment, that’s fun for pretty much all ages. And you can be your favorite character. You can be Wonder Woman, you can be Batman; with these items, you can throw a batarang at Wonder Woman’s shield. Not that the two of them would fight! But hey, it’s your imagination. Go crazy!
The Geekiary: If you want to do a character, you want to do a number of characters, what is the biggest challenge in getting these things to happen? How does that come about? Are you looking to do more female superheroes? You said you felt not enough female superheroes have merchandise.
Vargas: They’re really not that well represented and so we try to go out of our way to really make sure that they are. The studio is a big proponent of it. We can’t really speak as to why it’s not present, but there is clearly a demand for it, a market for it. You go to one of these shows [like NYCC] and see the number of cosplayers that are Harley Quinn out there, or Wonder Woman, or any other great, great female protagonist or antagonist…Black Widow, Katniss. Last year we were there licensing for Outlander and we saw some Outlander costumes, it’s absolutely amazing…we’re proud to be out there and to be serving a market that is sorely lacking. And it’s just not necessarily represented enough.
In the next year we’re going to be coming out with the Harley Quinn hammer, which we know is going to be absolutely phenomenal. We believe that girls and boys are both going to want that thing, because it’s such an iconic piece of her character…Harley Quinn is such a fun character. Similarly, Wonder Woman with the sword and the shield.
We’ve got a vast number of things coming out soon, I can’t really speak about it yet because we don’t have the clearance, but there’s going to be a lot of excitement, a lot of exciting stuff, that’s going to be out there for girls…and boys. Lot of great boys stuff coming out too. We’re really excited about it. The great thing about Soft Weapons is they’re not only fun for playing, but you can also take them to a convention, because they’re perfect for cosplaying. Instead of having it confiscated…you can actually take it with you. These are not going to hurt anyone…What’s great about it is it feels just like a hand-made item but if you don’t have the time or attention to devote to it, you have something that you can purchase that is as detailed as a lot of the fan-made stuff that’s out there. Not that we want to encroach…because that [work] is beautiful.
The Geekiary: I notice you have some Ghostbusters in your product line. Are you doing things for the new Ghostbusters movie?
Vargas: Not the new Ghostbusters movie. We’re sticking with 1 and 2 for the moment; we are talking about possibly pursuing the third movie. We really like what we’ve seen so far, but the thing is we have in our product range items in development for the 1st and 2nd movie for some time, so we’re trying to get those out…after the 3rd movie is released we’re willing to talk about pursuing it, but right now in terms of what’s on our plate we have a lot that we need to take care of before we pursue…for that title specifically.
The Geekiary: Marvel has a really long-reaching movie slate coming up. Even if the movies aren’t out yet, are you looking more towards the female characters in the comic books?
Vargas: Yes. At the end of the day we’re trying to create things that fans are going to love and a lot of the time, what fans love isn’t exactly…like we talked about it, isn’t exactly out there yet. So we hope to get it out. And we are going to be pursuing other female characters from comics and from the movies going forward…I know that Black Widow is one we’re already pursuing — specifically with the metal miniature I showed you a moment ago. So yeah, all sorts of things.
The Geekiary: Tell me about these Alex Ross sculptures, one for Avengers, one for Justice League. Talk about the process of getting those made. The detail on these is beautiful.
Vargas: It takes quite a bit of time with the sculptor and the painter to create all the detail that would justify really trying to capture what Alex Ross did in his beautiful paintings in a real world item, something that you can look at from every angle. It takes a lot of effort and a detailed eye to incorporate everything. It’s not just the sculpt. The sculpt you start with and it’s beautiful, as you can see with this unfinished DC piece. You then have to take it to another whole level, and with a different person entirely, in a lot of instances with a different painter, who’s able to put the finishing touches on it, the shading, making sure that they’re capturing every element of life…it takes quite some time. Like I said, Alex Ross already did his work. There’s some extra work that you have to do to capture completely and perfectly with a 3-D representation. We feel like we’ve done that here…the scale as you can see is huge, as it should be.
The Geekiary: Is it heavy?
Vargas: It’s made out of resin, and it is heavy. It’s the type of item you would want on a mantle or proudly displayed on a desk or a living room, next to your entertainment center. It’s the type of item where anybody wherever you live is going to take a look at it and you’re going to be talking about it for the next two hours.
The Geekiary: You seem extremely excited about the Harley Quinn hammer. Can you talk about something else you’re most excited about coming up that you’re allowed to talk about? If you had to pick one?
Vargas: If I honestly had to say…I can pick two I think. The Harley Quinn hammer is 100% something that I am truly excited about. I’ve been waiting for Harley Quinn to get the type of attention that she truly deserves, second that I saw her in the animated series, and the type of popularity she’s received since then has been uncanny. She is in my opinion the perfect type of antagonist, but the fun type of antagonist. The Joker’s my favorite male DC character, so Harley Quinn is the perfect answer to that. Beyond that…my speaking specifically to the product, the bat made out of plush, really kind of embraces her personality…the bat alone you see it in the preview is fantastic, it just feels like wow, that’s Harley Quinn…but when you see it in the plush…it feels like it’s going a little extra. All you want to do is swing it, have fun with it.
The other one that I’m really excited about that we just announced is the Deadpool premium motion statue, the one where he’s in the rocket — we call it our Deadpool Rocket Ride Premium Motion Statue — it is absolutely fantastic. He sways back and forth, there’s a level of fun and detailing, and again, there’s a comedic…his personality comes through in the statue…one of our sculptors…even put his pinky on the steering wheel a little bit to try to have some fun…That level of detail really brings out the personality of the piece. We feel like we’ve done that and that’s why I’m so excited about it is because again, it’s Deadpool in one of the most iconic scenes…
The Geekiary: Thank you!
Have a favorite superhero item from Factory Entertainment? Anything you’re hoping to see them create? You can check out their line at their website: Factory Entertainment and on twitter: @factoryent.
Author: Dot R
Dot has been bouncing around various fandoms for many years now writing essays, episode reviews, commentary, and reporting news and conducting interviews, among other things. Along with being a Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and Supernatural fangirl, she’s also a fan of fantasy and science fiction television shows, everything from Farscape to Killjoys to 12 Monkeys to X-Files to Wynonna Earp. Currently Fangirl at Large covering numerous geek culture related topics, convention news, casting spoilers, show news, and interviews.
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