Adultcollector.org asked Brian Flynn, owner of Super7, todiscuss his company’s the new Snake Mountain playset pre-order and othertopics. This is the final interview in a four-part series. The previous threeinterviews can be found here:
Q: How close is Super7 to reaching its pre-order goal for Snake Mountain?
Brian Flynn: As of today, May 28th, we are at 85%, so I am feeling very good about it. [EDIT: As of 5/29 Classics Snake Mountain is 100% funded!]
Q: Could you please briefly summarize your own role in designing, producing, and marketing the new Snake Mountain playset being offered by Super7?
Brian Flynn: My role is more the facilitator to make it actually happen. It is not a realistic project by most standards. For example, our funding goal is to break even, I hope we get to more than that, but the truth is, this playset is the largest thing every produced since the U.S.S. Flagg. My main role was to finish seeing through the idea conceptually, and to make the final decisions on scale, functions and how it can logistically be made. I think everyone is familiar with all the people involved in layout, sculpt, design, etc. I'm the person pulling it all together, getting the manufacturing side in line with the vision, and trying to make it a reality.
That's the starting point. If we break even, we get the toy for free - that's a win in itself. Obviously, that doesn't pay the bills, but it also doesn't mean something is a failure if it only sells the bare minimum.
Q: How big of a project is Snake Mountain for Super7? And what led you or motivated you to move forward with it, to pick up where Mattel left off and make it a reality?
Brian Flynn: Snake Mountain is a crazy project. I don't think people understand the scale in reality. It is over twice as big as Grayskull, a third bigger than the sail barge and a complete hassle to make on every front. It is not a project that makes "business sense". It is a passion project. It is to make something because you have the opportunity, as we know, these opportunities almost never happen. To let it slip away would be something we would regret.
Q: Do any other Super7 projects come to mind that were as big and complex as this one?
Brian Flynn: No. Plenty of projects were just as daunting as we were just starting and learning what we could do and how to do it, but there is nothing this complex. I can't really think of a single comparable.
Q: What are some of the biggest and unexpected challenges that you've faced in tackling this project?
Brian Flynn: I think we all know the biggest hurdle from the start is the size and cost. I don't think anything has terribly surprised us in the making of it, the surprises have come from the collectors. The sheer volume of people hoping this toy will fail confounds me. I understand that they think it is expensive and don't like that fact, but the Info Wars level conspiracy theories around the pricing or belief that this will somehow make every playset this expensive or more is not realistic. The general ill-will people have to something they aren't planning on buying, instead of saying "it's not for me, but glad you are excited for it," has been the most surprising.
Q: The net from the vintage playset is not present in the new Snake Mountain design being advertised. Are attempts being made to incorporate this, or any other design changes, in the final product?
Brian Flynn: The net will be included, it just isn't in the photos, as it was a soft goods piece, and the photographed model was the physical pieces. We just forgot to put it on at the end.
Q: As you work with Four Horsemen Studios and the factory to bring Snake Mountain to life, are you looking to future projects where you can apply what you've learned from this one?
Brian Flynn: Future projects, as in other playsets? I need to get through this one first before I embark on something else, although I do have an idea for a large scale vintage prototype that was offered to us that I would love to see made, but it is not from MOTU. I think after this, I would like to be a bit more affordable for a while.
Q: Who is creating the artwork for Snake Mountain's packaging, and how soon will it be revealed?
Brian Flynn: The artwork is being made by Jason Edmonston. Jason did all of the 3.75" cardbacks and the carrying case art. I can't show it yet, because the pencil sketches haven't been approved yet. As soon as they're approved I can show it. Back when we started the 3.75" MOTU ReAction line, we tried to get Rudy Obrero to do the art since he did the original vehicle art, but he just didn't have the hands anymore.
Q: What would you tell MOTU collectors who are still deciding whether to buy the new Classics Snake Mountain playset?
Brian Flynn: I don't want to be a salesman, but if you want the playset, this will be your only chance. We are making it to order, so once it is gone, it will be gone. You don't want to kick yourself later. It is truly an insane piece of toy collecting.
Q: For the collectors who pre-order this playset, about how long will it take to appear on their doorsteps? How soon will we get our first look at test shots of the finished product?
Brian Flynn: Well, we can't start until after the pre-order ends, unlike how we do with the deluxe figures. It is going to be a lengthy process, but the goal is to ship it before Chinese New Year, so hopefully out the door in January. I would expect we are 90+ days away from test shots, but the first tests are always a little goofy. We will keep people up to date, but it will be a while.
Q: How did you and Super7 get involved with Mattel in continuing the Masters of the Universe Classics toyline? How did that transition come about?
Brian Flynn: It started five years ago with the first Skeletor's Lair. We had a friend named Mark Morse we had worked with years ago who had switched on to the MOTU program at Mattel. We talked to him about our ideas of what we thought MOTU should be doing and he liked what we were saying. At that time, it was about everything outside of the deluxe figures, it was about the whole of MOTU, not just the plastic. Over the year, that evolved into the first Skeletor's Lair event - wallpaper, portraits, 3.75" figures, MUSCLE figures, a life size Battle Cat head, etc.
We tried to make the whole world of MOTU come to life. At SDCC a lot of the directors of Mattel got to come to the event and see what we could do with the brand, and over time that evolved more and more until we were able to step in and take over the deluxe line when MattyCollector shut down. Along the way, we got to make things like "The Curse of the Three Terrors" animation that I don't think anyone else was thinking could ever get made again. We were very lucky.
Q: Your MOTU events were incredibly impressive! I was blown away seeing all the work put into them.
Brian Flynn: That is what is important to us. A lot of people get narrow focused into just the toys, but to me, it is about the whole - everything from t-shirts to Halloween masks, animation and plastic. it is an entire world of things to make and do, and I like to be involved in as much of it as I can.
Q: I saw the first event through videos and photos online, and like a lot of MOTU fans I'm sure, I instantly wanted to see puzzles, coloring books and a hundred other pieces of MOTU related merchandise.
Brian Flynn: Well, you may get your wish soon enough....
Q: Speaking of wishes, every vintage MOTU figure's toy design has been translated to Classics, except for Mer-Man. Your thoughts?
Brian Flynn: He has been in Classics. Are you asking for something different?
Q: The design captured the Mer-Man we saw on the back of the vintage packaging. It wasn't meant to emulate the actual toy design.
Brian Flynn: I felt like you had a great version in classics, and while there are things that can be done differently, it felt like other things were more important to do for the first time rather than a second time. To be fair, a lot of the Classics aren't true as much to the toy vs the character.
Q: Would you consider selling add-ons for Classics Snake Mountain and/or Castle Grayskull? Such as furniture and other elements that didn't make it into the playsets' final designs?
Brian Flynn: All of it is a good idea, but, we just have to get through this one first. We get similar requests on weapons packs, but we have been focused first on the bigger items and making sure we get those done before we move on to the others.
Q: The main 200X/MYP MOTU character roster (He-Man, Skeletor, Prince Adam, Teela, Evil-Lyn, Trap Jaw, Beast Man, Tri-Klops, Sorceress, etc.) has gone largely untapped by Mattel and Super7 in the Classics line. Why is this?
Brian Flynn: Well, 200X is neat, and I don't want to disparage it in any way, but there were still so many things I wanted to see in Classics/Filmation style that were more important to me than getting on to 200X yet. Everyone has their own personal pecking order, and these are just lower on my personal agenda than they might be for some other people.
Q: What do you see in the future for MOTU Classics? And vintage-scale MOTU figures? If possible, I'd like to provide He-Man and She-Ra fans with a clear understanding of where Super7 and Mattel stand on MOTU licensing and Classics. There seems to be quite a bit of speculation and rumors going around.
Brian Flynn: There is a lot of speculation, because there is a lot of unknown for everyone. I think the easiest way to explain it is that we will both be making MOTU toys. Who is making what and when is a moving target these days because of the upcoming movie, but we don't plan on going away anytime soon.
Q: What are your thoughts on the escalating trade war between the U.S. and China, and the potential impact it may have on the toy industry?
Brian Flynn: Luckily toys are not yet included, but if all of a sudden, a 25% increase happens on all goods from China, that just gets passed on to the customer in higher prices. It isn't like there are toy manufacturers in the states. (Trust me, we have looked.) It's not like this would hurt China at all, it would just come back to the US, and I guess the government would essentially just tax the customer 25% for wanting to collect toys. No one else would see that money.
Q: Is Super7 planning to translate any other licenses into Classics-scaled figures aside from TMNT? Will we see more Toxic Crusader or Conan figures? Or something new like SilverHawks, Inhumanoids, Super Naturals, Tiger Sharks, or Battle Beasts?
Brian Flynn: We have some very exciting tricks up our sleeves, but we have to get through these figures first! Conan comic book was just offered, and Toxie, Voltron and Ren+Stimpy are coming up.
Q: Is Mattel producing this year's Power-Con exclusive Classics figures?
Brian Flynn: Mattel is producing the Slime Pit He-Man figure, yes. And the Starburst figure. We are making the Slime Can of M.U.S.C.L.E.
Q. See I wondered about that, because of what happened with Green Goddess. I imagine it must be very challenging to make a translucent Classics figure.
Brian Flynn: Plastic is plastic, translucent isn't necessarily hard, but you have to worry about all the insides that show manufacturing that may not have been tooled for presentation because they were hidden. Secondly, if the molds are sand blasted to have matte quality, you need translucent to be glossy or comes out cloudy which can be a problem.
Q: Any chance we'll see MOTU mounts, vehicles, or playsets for Super7's ReAction line? Or a wrestling ring for Super7's growing M.U.S.C.L.E. line?
Brian Flynn: We have some plans in the works for ReAction, but we are waiting on approvals. We don't always get to make everything we want to make.
Q: How about toy vehicles that are Hot Wheels sized or Micro Machines sized and look just like the vehicles from Masters of the Universe, ThunderCats, and other licenses?
Brian Flynn: I haven't really thought about that at all. We have a bullpen buggy coming out for MLB, but we haven't really gotten into cars, etc. I think we are a ways away from anything like that.
Q: Any update on your work to obtain a ThunderCats license from Warner Bros.? What other licenses is Super7 working towards?
Brian Flynn: We have a ton of really great licenses in the works for the future. I am continuing to feel positive about the latest notes from WB, but nothing to announce at this time. I'm pretty focused on getting the projects we have in the works out first.
Q: What other topics, would you like to touch on in this interview?
Brian Flynn: I don't have anything specific. I just feel very fortunate that I get to make all these toys that as toy collectors we all sit around talking about what we would make if we had the chance. That opportunity isn't lost on me, so I am trying my best to make as much of the opportunity as I can. And thanks to everyone who buys our toys and allows us to pursue that dream.