Schylling, Inc. has been making toys since 1975, and recently ventured into a license with Star Wars. As interest in fantasy, science fiction, and comic book superheroes becomes increasingly mainstreamed, more toy companies are expanding into tie-ins.
At some point in your life, you probably played with a Schylling toy—small wind-up vehicles made of tin. Now they’re doing Star Wars toys as well. At their booth at Toy Fair, I got a chance to talk with Justin Discoe, VP of Product Development about the company and their new line.
“Schylling started doing tin toys,” Justin Discoe explained to me, as we stood in front of a display of brightly colored, shiny metal Star Wars figures. “A natural progression for us was to start looking at licenses and we’re all fans of Star Wars…one of the things that want to do is put out a product line that emulated what we do historically as a company and how we can continue this as fans and as designers as well.”
He said the process involves using tin lithograph, and is similar to how old tea sets were made in the early 1900’s. He added that while Schylling is known in the trade, and “almost every household in the United States” likely has a Schylling toy in it, it’s still “one of those hidden little companies.”
For the Star Wars line, they went with price points “that gets more into the collector’s hands easier…these are tin wind-ups like the old days. We’ve re-imagined the Tusken Raider and Boba Fett, Darth Vader.”
Their designer Chris Aja “reinterpreted all the characters,” and then the designs have to get approval from Lucasfilm. The toys go through many development stages, to “make sure we’re articulating those characters true to the style guide but also fitting to the unique look for Schylling.”
The toys Justin Discoe showed me are part of the Be-Bots line. “The Be-Bots will start, not unlike Funko, as a licensing platform for us. This will be re-imagined, we have some Disney characters in the works, and also some superheroes.”
Schylling plans to attend NYCC where they’re planning a special edition Be-Bot.
One thing that drew me right into the Schylling booth was the prominence of Rey in the display materials. I asked about the need for increased inclusion of female characters in toy lines. In addition to Rey, they also already have Captain Phasma. However, Schylling “had very very limited knowledge of who the characters were, what their role would be, as far as the storyline.” They didn’t even know Phasma was a woman, and were given limited information on Rey.
On the difficulties of adding more characters, Discoe said, “It’s a balance. Lucasfilm is a great company to work with and I can see the development process—it’s much larger than our cycle. It’s obviously a massive cycle…they want to protect the brand and those insights, because it’s intellectual property…For us, as a designer, you make do with what we have. We knew Rey, from the sketches that we got, was at the minimum a very cool looking character, we could interpolate that into a really awesome looking graphic, but by the time this went to manufacturing, we didn’t know how prominent a character she was, we didn’t have that intelligence.”
But more female characters are on the way. For their Star Wars line, Schylling has a Leia figure in development already. “Schylling is still not a very big company, so for us this is all an investment,” Discoe explained. “We’re taking a broad look at the characters they have available, the classic characters, Leia is a natural next character for us.”
You can check out more about Schylling Toys on their website. Any thoughts on what Star Wars characters you hope to see more of? Excited about the idea of a tin wind-up toy for Rey, Finn, and Poe? Let us know in the comments.
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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