We’re celebrating all things NECA during this Week of NECA on Toyark and that celebration would be incomplete without the participation of the folks we’re celebrating. NECA’s Director of Product Development, Randy Falk, took time out of his incredibly hectic pre-Toy Fair 2016 schedule to talk with me. I bombarded Randy with a ton of questions and hope you all enjoy what he has to say. I’m breaking this down into three interviews, as we covered a ton of ground.
Today we’re discussing their wildly successful Classic Video Game Appearance figures. For fans that are new to the line, starting in 2013 NECA began taking many of their licensed figures, which at one point had a classic 8-bit or 16-bit video game, and began repainting, repacking, and in some cases, retooling them to match their appearance in that classic game. They then pack them in wonderful boxes reminiscent of the original game packaging, and you have a really fun line of unique figures.
So read on to check out the interview. Be sure to check back tomorrow for Part 2!
Interview with NECA’s Randy Falk Part 1 – Video Game Appearance Line
Joe Moore: The Classic Game Appearance line started with the Friday the 13th Jason Voorhees figure as a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive. Did you feel this figure was going to be the runaway success it turned out to be?
Randy Falk: I knew it would be well received once we started putting together all the additional elements like the packaging and the teaser video we did but I had no idea it would take off the way it did and connect with so many. We heard from so many people that never bought a Jason or F13th figure before but had to have this because of what it represented and the nostalgia of the classic 8 BIT NES era.
Joe Moore: When the Jason Voorhees was in development, was the plan to continue releasing Classic Game Appearance figures? Or did the success of Jason give way to continuing the line with Freddy Krueger?
Randy Falk: I had it in mind that if this does well we can expand, we have the licenses already as so many movies were adapted into not so great games, once Jason took off we knew it was time to do more and to do them better and add more shading and pixelated paint applications to really make this work.
Joe Moore: From looking at Twitter, Facebook, and all the fan sites, it’s clear that the Classic Game Appearance line has really struck a cord with fans of, not only your figures, but with people who normally wouldn’t even buy action figures. At the time, which figures success has surprised you the most?
Randy Falk: I would say Jason since it transcended the horror genre totally and opened the door for what is now 15 figures in this format, besides that the response to Contra has been insane and rightfully so. Even cooler that is the first non movie based license we have done in the format so that makes it extra special.
Joe Moore: Is there a Classic Game Appearance figure you wish had sold a bit better?
Randy Falk: Rambo without a doubt. Personally I love the deco on this one and how great it turned out, it really pops and to me captures everything we have tried to do with this line. Sadly the sales were not as strong as others in the line, even more tragic is that sales for Rambo in general have been a little soft.
Joe Moore: It’s clear that you’re leaving no stone unturned when it comes to the line. But, you’ve said in the past that not all plans have worked out. Is there one figure or game you’ve really want to get into this line that fell through or just couldn’t get done?
Randy Falk: Early on was the infamous Atari E.T. – that would have been amazing and gotten a Jason type reaction from the collectors but sadly Amblin would not approve us doing it.
Joe Moore: NECA has a long back catalog of figures that you no longer have licenses for. Lines like Castlevania, Beetlejuice, ET, and even Street Fighter, all have potential Game Appearance repaint possibilities. Is it possible to mine any of those existing sculpts for Classic Game Appearance figures?
Randy Falk: It is certainly possible if the demand is there and we think it will work we can look to bring it back, the problem is in some cases if we are going to revisit a license for just a one figure release it is not worth the time and money to the licensor to even deal with the contract and legal work involved. There needs to be enough money involved to justify all the overhead involved in licensing, approvals and so on.
Joe Moore: The reveal of the Contra figures has been a huge hit with Classic Game Appearance figure fans, and class game fans in general. This is the first license not related to a movie or comic tie in. Is this a special exception for a hugely popular game, or could we see more game only licenses for the line?
Randy Falk: Definitely, I have a few things I am working on now and maybe one that I will be able to show or tell at Toy Fair – I am thrilled to see it expanding and want to do more classic games in this style.
Joe Moore: The line has come far since the original Jason Voorhees release. So much so that you’re releasing Jason again with even more features and updates to the paint apps. Are there any figures, such as Freddy Krueger, who came out early on that you may revisit with an updated release?
Randy Falk: Jason got a re-release because he was the first and was only a con figure originally so many missed out on him, we wanted to let those who didn’t have Jason be able to get him plus he was our 13th figure so it seemed fitting. I also tried to find many ways to make the Jason different and unique in each release too.
I don’t think we would re-release any others. It would take away from the special collectible factor at play here.
Joe Moore: Arcades were such an important part of classic gaming scene. Some of your current licenses have had arcade counterparts, such as Terminator, Aliens, Alien vs Predator. Do you ever see NECA releasing arcade based figures in the line?
Randy Falk: Absolutely – more on that later this year.
Joe Moore: Have any game companies ever approached you looking to have their classic games get released in the line?
Randy Falk: Not yet but I am always here to listen to any pitches…
Joe Moore: And finally, what’s in store for the Classic Game Appearance line in 2016? Any hints you can drop or will we have to wait and see at Toy Fair 2016?
Randy Falk: Lips are sealed, with any luck you will see something new and very much wanted by the fans at Toy Fair and we have something super special planned for SDCC this Summer but not talking about that just yet.
Check out some of the amazing Classic Video Game Appearance figures released in a small collection of our past photos below.
I want to thank Randy for his time. You can always interact with Randy on Twitter. Just follow @NECA_Toys to keep up with all the latest from Randy, who is always dropping hits, teases and great interactions with fans. But we’re not done yet. Check back tomorrow as we talk to Randy about the Ultimate 7″ Scale Figures and then continue on Thursday as we talk about even more great things to come from NECA.