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Figuratively Speaking Logo

Figuratively Speaking
with bbi

Toy Biz LogoRTM had a chance recently to run a few questions past Mike Murphy, in Business Development for bbi division of Blue Box Toys. We met Mr. Murphy at Toy Fair in February, and in addition to being hypnotized by his Australian accent, we couldn't help but notice that his enthusiasm for bbi's products is contagious. He is a pilot himself, so you know that under his watchful eye, bbi's aviator action figures will always be authentic.

Raving Toy Maniac (RTM): Collectors seem to really adore the 1:6 cockpit. Do you have any plans to do more vehicles in this scale?

Mike Murphy (MM-bbi): The cockpit was our first endeavour into a large highly detailed piece. It has been very well received and we have had tons of suggestions and requests for more items like this. We are considering all our options at this time and while I can say we will have another large piece for 2003, you will just have to wait and see what we have in store.

RTM: How did bbi convince Richard Marcinko to become an action figure? Was it an easy sell? Did it help that bbi had done the Rudy figure in 2001? Did it help to show him the detail in the "generic" Navy figures bbi had already produced?

MM-bbi: We contacted Richard Marcinko firstly to establish his interest in a figure of him being made and once that was established we advised him of our plans for such a line. From there we sent him examples of our line to show our quality and accuracy. After that it was as case of striking a deal that was good for both of us. I could not say it was hard to sell him on the idea after seeing our work and samples. Whether or not having done Rudy actually helped us in our approach remains to be seen. Richard knows Rudy but we did not discuss this with him.

Richard helped us to get the figure right by advising us on the equipment and accessories as well as his likeness. Our initial research was quite close as we were given good starting info and reference material by Richard. Naturally all the work done was approved by Richard.

RTM: Blue Box Toys has a diverse range of products, with bbi products aimed more at collectors than children. What direction do you see the toy market as a whole taking in the next few years? At Toy Fair, we saw several companies backing off a bit from products which collectors want, but which they could not sell to kids. Does having bbi as a separate entity help shield you from this kind of thing?

MM-bbi: I guess in this question you are asking if we will continue to make the collector line or move to a more mass market "toy style" line. We are committed to the collector market with our Elite Force line and will continue to develop what the collector market tells us it wants. I guess having said that, then we have no need of a "shield" as you put it.

RTM: Will there be more movie and television licenses in the future, like the Andromeda figures?

MM-bbi: We are always seeking and negotiating more licensed style items for our line. Once again we want to deliver what the consumer wants. We do not always get the properties we desire, but we are out there looking and trying. Just imagine how good a 12-inch figure of Metal Gear Solid and MGS2 would have been if we had made it!

RTM: Any plans to do historical warriors? Modern and World War II are very popular at the moment, but would bbi ever expand and produce a line with Samurai, Roman Legionaire, etc? Or would we be more likely to see other 20th Century eras covered, such as World War I and Vietnam?

MM-bbi: Here again we are constantly exploring our options. We may try a direction in the future to see the response and then follow it accordingly. But we do like to listen to the collector and see what they are asking for. We started our bbi member club solely to get feedback to assist us with our development. Also we still need to be commercial and we need to make items that sell so we can keep making them...let's call it a "win/win " situation.

RTM: Has bbi thought about carded sets for the military figures like for the Cy Girls?

MM-bbi: We already have carded accessory sets, weapons and now backpacks. We are not considering uniforms at this time but will continue to expand the carded line.

RTM: Will there be more Cy Girls in 2002 beyond Nikki, Ebony, and Aurora? Specifically, are there plans to bring to the US more of Takara's Cool Girls, such as the Battle of the Planets (Gatchaman) figures?

MM-bbi: Cy Girls is an on-going program for us as we do the manufacturing of Cool Girls for Takara and we will continue to develop new items.

RTM: Will the Cy Girls ever be translated into the 1:18th scale?

MM-bbi: At this time we have no 1:18 Cy Girl plans and I doubt that would be a direction for us.

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