At New York Toy Fair, I got a chance to see what Underground Toys has coming up. Despite the name, they don’t just make toys, they make all kinds of tie-in items, including housewares, for everything from Star Wars to Ghostbusters. I also got to cuddle the cutest giant Chewbacca plushie ever.
I spoke with Bryana Brendis (whose title on her business card reads “Genie of All Things”) about the company and the process of creating their tie-in items. Underground Toys started in the UK in 2001, then branched out into the US. “We started with Doctor Who and then they expanded to Ghostbusters,” Brendis told me. “From there it kind of just went to any pop culture license that we could get.”
She said that Star Wars and Doctor Who are their most popular licenses, and that with the arrival of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, their Star Wars line blossomed.
“We aren’t just in plush or toys any more” Brendis explained. Underground Toys has licenses coming up for The X-Files, Assassin’s Creed, and Game of Thrones, and Brendis was especially excited about an upcoming line of Marvel homewares. They’re also expanding into properties aimed at kids. “Almost anything you could want….you can find us in every mass retailer, online, comic book shops, mom and pop shops, we’re pretty much everywhere.”
Underground Toys has a dedicated product development department and designers. The company acquires a license, and from there starts working on what items to create. “The licensor will give us what we call a Style Guide. Sometimes it’s stills from the movie or TV series, whatever the license is, and they’ll say ‘here’s the logos that you can use,’ and then we develop all of our concepts from that.”
Their top seller in 2015 and heading into 2016 is a set of lightsaber barbecue tongs. Brendis added that with Star Wars: The Force Awakens being such a bit hit, anything connected with that also sells very well.
Her personal favorite? A BB-8 plush with a rotating head. Brendis demonstrated it for me. “I think that is going to be a best-seller,” she said. (I agree!)
I also got a look at Star Wars spatulas, pizza cutters that have sound effects, and a prototype of a Death Star barbecue grill, to go with those lightsaber barbecue tongs.
And Rey fans, no worries, Underground Toys has female characters too. There are Rey and Leia plushies, Rey is part of a plate set, and they are planning to do more and more characters.
They have a lot of Ghostbusters as well, with items from Ghostbusters 1 and 2 already available, and computer accessories and homewares in development for the new Ghostbusters film in 2016. I got a look at some Ghostbusters plushies, and a prototype for an Ecto-1 USB stick.
Underground Toys had samples from their upcoming line for The X-Files on display. Unfortunately, they were in the concept stage so I couldn’t take photographs, but I immediately wanted to take all of them home with me.
My favorite by far was a giant plushie Chewbecca with sound effects, which, sadly, is not mass-produced, but was a lot of fun to play with and incredibly adorable.
You can check out more from Underground Toys at their website http://www.underground-toys.com and on twitter: @UndergroundToys.
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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