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Figuratively Speaking Logo

Who Let the Dogs Out?
Palisades, That's Who!

The 12-inch Reservoir Dogs action figures from Palisades were literally the first new action figure line we (Rob and Bobbi) saw at Toy Fair 2001, so they hold a somewhat special place in our hearts as a result.

In October 2001, Mike Horn, President of Palisades, was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions we had about the Reservoir Dogs product line:

Raving Toy Maniac (RTM): At Toy Fair back in February 2001, you had mentioned to us that Palisades was started with the idea in mind to create action figures of the Res Dogs characters. How does it feel, both on a personal level and as a company, to accomplish what you had set out to do? (Obviously, Palisades isn't going to close up shop now that the Res Dogs have been done, but it has to mark a major milestone for the company.)

Mike Horn (MH): It feels great! Any time you can accomplish a goal, it is a great feeling both professionally and personally. My outlook has been altered (as have most people) in the past month. With the new American landscape, my new fatherhood, and the evolution of Palisades as a company, I am very happy and proud to be able to meet my goals. I have many more goals for this company, some of which are in the process of fruition. I really view Reservoir Dogs as a major launching pad for the company to grow. It was our first major departure from the video game and comic world that we had been specializing in. It was our first experience with human likenesses (well, officially, we did Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and those were quasi-human likenesses, but you know what I mean...), and I think we pulled it off well. Hey, it directly led us to another professional goal, the Star Trek 35th Anniversary Action Figures that are in production. So, the roundabout answer is, I'm really happy and proud to have accomplished this goal, so my reaction is to quickly enjoy it and move on to my next set of goals.

Raving Toy Maniac: What exactly was the appeal of Res Dogs?

Mike Horn: Well, being a big Tarantino fan, I always loved the movie. It also had that kind of hard-core appeal with other fans who really follow the movie. It was definitely one of those kinds of movies that people remember and have a connection with. Just look at it, nearly 10 years later, and there is interest in our products as well as the film itself.

As for the birth of the project itself, it literally came up over beers in a bar one night. We were all sitting around chatting about "What would be cool" in an action figure line. One of those properties mentioned was Reservoir Dogs. It so happened that one of the participants in the conversation represented Artisan Entertainment (the movie studio who produced the film), and he then pitched them on the concept.

Nash head sculpt
Nash at Toy Fair

Nash head sculpt
Final Nash

Mr Blonde head sculpt
Mr. Blonde at Toy Fair
Mr Blonde head sculpt
Final Mr. Blonde

Raving Toy Maniac: How long were these figures actually in development? (Aside from just the idea of doing them.)

Mike Horn: The longest time was just getting started. It was a good year between that initial conceptual conversation and the day that we actually started development. The actual production time was just under one year. But that includes about three months of delay when we made the decision to resculpt after toy fair. If you recall, the sculpts looked much different in February at Toy Fair. After we got back from that show (and had a chance to catch our breath from the craziness that is toy fair), we took a good look at the line and felt that we really hadn't hit the mark. So we contacted a new sculptor (David Cortes) and essentially started over. Also in that time, we commissioned original paintings from our friend Matt Busch, so that added a couple of weeks (time well spent, I think, as the original art really adds a nice touch!).

box art
Mr. Orange's Box Art
at Toy Fair

box art
Mr. Blonde's Final Box Art

Raving Toy Maniac: How well does the finished set of figures match with the original vision/idea?

Mike Horn: For me, they are nothing short of fantastic! I can't speak for collectors, but from what I've heard so far, they've been very well received. I know it sounds very self-serving, but I really think that the figures have exceeded my original expectations. Much thanks to Ken and Greg here at my office for producing a great line with great packaging.

Raving Toy Maniac: What were some of the difficulties involved in creating these figures?

Mike Horn: We had to get actor's approvals on their likenesses. While that was not very difficult, it did take some time. That was one of the reasons for gap at the beginning of the project. We also had a bit of a pleasant surprise that affected our lineup. Quentin Tarantino was not originally included in the line. The reason was that he had not officially signed off on the project. Remember, this is a ten year old movie that was not heavily merchandised. So the original actor agreements did not include such products as action figures.

As a result, each actor had to sign off on the line before we even designed the product. Well, at first, we didn't have Quentin the lineup. At Toy Fair, Ferrell from Artisan comes up to me and says, essentially, "Quentin wants in." He wanted a figure done and he wanted to be in the line. Since we were resculpting anyway, we just added him to the new lineup. He approved his right away, which is one of the reasons that he got moved into the first assortment.

Raving Toy Maniac: Did the actors have any input into the figures, were they enthusiastic, etc?

Mike Horn: Not direct input, per se, but they did each have approvals over their individual figures. Some went easy, some not quite as easy. None were difficult however. There were a couple who insisted on not having guns with their characters. No problem for us, it just meant adjustments, sometimes at the last minute.

Raving Toy Maniac: Has Palisades had any problems with any controversy over the Res Dogs figures? If so, did it help that Mezco was also making Res Dogs figures? (It seems to me that mounting a protest campaign would be easier against a single company than against two.)

Mike Horn: I wouldn't really call it controversy. We certainly have had some interesting comments about the line, but overall, we have had overwhelming support for the product. I think the only "controversy" at all is simply the fact that two companies are producing products at the same time. While the Mezco line is very different from ours, there certainly was a bit of confusion in the marketplace, particularly amongst the non-hard-core action figure fans. As far as a protest, I haven't heard of anything directed at either company.  

Return to the 12" Reservoir Dogs Spotlight

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