Recently Toy-Lines visited Toy Fair 2017 & of all the new toys coming out this year, the one that caught my eye the most was the upcoming Marvel Wood Warriors from PPW Toys. Toy-Lines recently interviewed Dean Gorby, Business Manager of PPW Toys regarding these unique toys.
Toy-Lines: Dean, thanks for agreeing to the interview. It’s great to be speaking with you.
Dean Gorby: Thanks Ian, I love talking about our toys!
TL: How did the idea of Marvel Wood Warriors come about?
DG: We are always looking for exciting, unique ways for fans to express their passions for playing and collecting. Toys with a similar concept to our Wood Warriors (poseable, blocky pieces connected with an elastic cord) have been around forever. One day it occurred to us that we could update that concept and attach a great license to it. We felt the idea would be unique and different than a lot of the other “figures” in the market. Our artists loved the idea and did a brilliant job with the designs, which I think is key to the great response we have seen.
TL: Why wood?
DG: The industry is overflowing with plastic collectible figures. We are as guilty of this as the next company, and we will continue to support our plastic lines. But we also felt like we needed to offer something unique and different than our competitors. Wood is a perfect option. It has a high value, it appeals to consumers as a more “natural” material, the figures look more like works of art than toys, and older fans and parents are more drawn to this material.
TL: How many Marvel characters will be available at first?
DG: We have 6 characters launching this summer in Series 1: Captain America, Hulk, Deadpool, Spider-Man, Thor and Iron Man. We are already working on a couple of exclusive characters for specific retailers/events, and Series 2 is in the works as well. Additionally, we are very close to announcing new licenses and characters. Very exciting new licenses that we can’t wait to announce.
TL: Will we be able to remove Captain America’s iconic shield or Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir?
DG: Yes, both of those accessories are included as removable pieces that fit in the characters hands (and don’t forget capes – also included when appropriate). Accessories such as these will always be included with our Wood Warriors when appropriate.
TL: How much will they retail for?
DG: The first Series will be $20 at retail. We are experimenting with various sizes (larger and smaller) and hoping to offer a range of prices eventually.
TL: Will they be available only through the PPW web site or in stores as well?
DG: They will be on our website and at select retailers. We focus on specialty stores: collectible, gift, novelty, on-line, etc.
TL: So the Marvel Wood Warriors are poseable wooden figures. How is this possible? I believe strings are used? Is there a certain type of string that is best used?
DG: Yes the “string” is actually an extremely durable elastic cord that can withstand severe punishment (for the younger fans). I’m extremely impressed with the flexibility and pose-ability of these figures. We have come up with some outrageous positions that I never thought possible. And when you have more than 1 figure, they stack on each other for even more fun.
TL: Are the Marvel Wood Warriors similar to the Japanese Kumiki-puzzle wooden toys?
DG: Sort of… the Japanese Kumiki wooden puzzles seem to be the origin of this type of design – how the pieces are connected to each other and can be positioned. However I would not say our figures are really similar since they are not puzzles.
TL: I think when you first tell someone these are poseable figures made of wood, they might think of the wooden artist mannequins used for sketching. How are these not like them?
DG: Honestly, I had not made that connection, since I’m not an artist. But I just looked up artist mannequins, and I love them! The obvious difference is in the design. We intentionally wanted the figures to be “deformed”, with large heads and other body parts that are not anatomically correct, but look cool and fun. The artist mannequins are more accurate for obvious reasons.
TL: What was the reaction like for these when buyers & the press saw them at Toy Fair this year?
DG: It exceeded our expectations. The common response was how these were so different than other items at the show. They are also much larger and more impressive in person than you might expect if you have just seen images.
TL: Will there be a second line of Marvel figures? Perhaps including a few villains or even Spider-man in his black suit?
DG: Absolutely, I touched on this in a previous answer.
TL: When will the Marvel Wooden Warriors be available?
DG: Series 1 will be available this June.
TL: How were the first set of characters decided? Was it based on personal favorites or character popularity?
DG: We would love to create our personal favorites, and we hope to do that someday soon. But when you launch a new line like this, you must start with the characters that will give you the best distribution and sales. We have been Marvel licensees for several years, we make a line of Marvel Mr. Potato Head figures and Nesting Dolls. Therefore we know which characters give us the best chance of success out of the gate. Once we have a successful line, we can move through the Marvel character portfolio to some of our personal favorites.
TL: What makes the Marvel Wooden Warriors a great collectible for Marvel fans?
DG: I personally think they are works of art worthy of displaying. We also have a great time posing them, especially when we finally got our hands on all 6 characters. I think Marvel fans will love to display them, to pose them with each other, and to play with them. I look forward to seeing what Marvel fans will do with them on social media! Also, a “trend” that a lot of people were talking about at Toy Fair was “fidget” toys. We did not set out to make a “fidget” toy, but I think a lot of fans will love to “fidget” with these to pose and play with while on the phone or computer. The way they bend and pose is quite addicting.
TL: Is there a certain age limit in mind for these figures?
DG: The figures are all 3+ for safety reasons. Deadpool is 14+ because of the character being for mature audiences.
TL: From start to finish, from character idea to final design & all that goes in between, how long does it take to create these toys?
DG: Another advantage of working with wood is that it is faster to develop. Now that we have the basic functions and designs figured out, we can go from a new character idea to delivering the product in about 4 months. That is VERY fast for our industry.
TL: Are there any final words you might want to give Marvel fans regarding the Marvel Wooden Warriors?
DG: You’re welcome! HA
Seriously, we are passionate about the Wood Warriors and have put a ton of energy and effort into the line. When we are working on a new toy, we ask each other “would you buy this”? I can honestly say all of us would buy and collect Wood Warriors. We are confident that fans of all ages will love what we have done. And if any fans have any comments, complaints, suggestions or questions please feel free to contact me personally. We are a very small company, and we love interacting with fans! You can email me from our website at www.ppwtoys.com.
TL: Dean, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to us at Toy-Lines. The Marvel Wooden Warriors are clever beyond words in concept, how they’re made & how they look. We wish PPW Toys the best of success with the release of them.
You can pre-order your very own Marvel Wood Warriors below & be sure to check out www.ppwtoys.com for more of their great products.
New from PPW Toys:
Marvel WOOD WARRIORS 8″
Available for Pre-Orders at http://ppwtoys.com/Products/wood-warriors
Release in June 2017