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Mattel Q&A Part 2
Head back and read part one of WWE.com's exclusive Q&A with Mattel designers Bill Miekina and Derek Handy.
WWE.COM: What type of reaction have you received from the WWE Superstars themselves? Did it involve a DDT … or two?
Bill Miekina: At SummerSlam, we presented [Mattel's products] to the WWE roster. We ran through the line and everyone was in street clothes sitting in the stands at the STAPLES Center, so it was kind of a surreal moment for us, showing action figures of them.
Derek Handy: There were a lot of guys who really loved what they saw and were really happy with their figure. A lot of the guys were picking them up but they were prototypes so they were pretty fragile and the arms were falling off. (laughs) Overall, people loved the stuff. Evan Bourne came back later to see his stuff. Shad & JTG wanted to check their stuff out again later, too.
BM: It was great to show a guy like Evan Bourne the attention to detail that was given, especially his kick pads. That's never been captured before. With JTG, with the tied-off kneepads, we're doing that and it's never been done before. We're happy that [the Superstars] saw the detail that we've been putting in.
DH: The Miz and Morrison were talking about their abs. And Morrison wanted to make sure he had better abs than The Miz, which we made sure of. (laughs)
WWE.COM: What is it like being engulfed by toys at your daily workspace?
DH: I can never tell you exactly what's in my cube, but I've got tons of samples. Everybody [here at Mattel has] tons of stuff. We're kinda stuffed to the gill for whatever line we're working on. It's kinda cool.
BM: Well, we also get the WWE DVDs to keep track of the product, so my WWE DVD collection is growing, rather rapidly.
DH: [At Mattel headquarters,] we walk back and forth between people's cubes, see what they're working on and go, "Oh wow, look at that." It clicks in and we stop right there and appreciate what we're doing.
WWE.COM: Would you say there is any WWE envy amongst other designers at Mattel?
BM: I think everyone here is working on lines that are most appropriate for them. I know that Toy Fair voted the DC Universe line the best action figure line of the year, last year. And it is our goal to make sure that in 2010 they do not win that crown (laughs). You know, it's just friendly competition. Healthy competition. The amount of talent in this group really blows my mind. Though I would probably openly weep if I ever got moved off WWE. (laughs)
WWE.COM: What do you most strive for when producing the various WWE toy lines?
BM: I personally try to appease the biggest possible action figure nerd on the Internet, because if you can please them, then everyone else will be completely blown away. A small percent of the buying public is going to look at these through a microscope and analyze them. If they can't find fault or anything wrong with it, then we've done your job. I'm an action figure collector myself and I'm pretty nitpicky. I understand the mentality. Accuracy is paramount.
DH: We've got a lot of things we have to accomplish for marketing and sales, but in reaching our benchmark, it comes down to making the diehard guys happy. We'll check out online forms and boards and pay attention to what fans are looking at and the issues they have, then try to make those corrections as we go through.
WWE.COM: Speaking of stunning, there's been buzz about the super-rare gold coin championships that come with one in every 1,000 WWE Mattel action figures. Why all the fuss?
BM: I helped design the [gold coin championship belts]. The design for that belt is actually a combination of two elements coming together … a symbolic merging of two elements. I don't think anyone has actually figured out what the design is based on, but it is a merging of the Mattel logo and the faceplate of the [WWE Championship] from the 1980s. It's sort of an Easter egg.
People will say, "This isn't a belt in WWE, right? Why are they doing this?" But once the truth is out (now), they will appreciate it.
WWE.COM: With the deluge of 3 3/4 scale action figures hitting the toy market, why did Mattel decide to head in the opposite direction with the brand-new WWE figure line?
BM: The scale we're using now is the most appropriate to the license. WWE in a 3 3/4 inch scale? Given some of the aspects, I don't think we'd be able to reproduce as well.
DH: Kids appreciate a larger scale figure more. When you're trying to get figures to wrestle and recreate an event, I think a larger scale works better.
BM: Certain licenses lend themselves to certain scales better than others. I can't imagine Star Wars would have the same appeal in six inches as it does in 3 3/4. But I think WWE's scale is the most appealing.
BM: Making sure we're getting the characteristics of [the WWE Superstars] in each figure is really important to us. For example, Mark Henry is this big, strong guy and we want to make sure we give him a body and personality that reflects how strong he is.
WWE.COM: In your opinion, why should the WWE Universe clamor for these particular figures, especially if they already have a substantial collection? Any final thoughts to add?
DH: I'm really proud of this stuff. We're doing this right in that we're paying attention to what the collectors want. I don't think I've ever seen any line with the scaling that we're using and I think that's going to draw in not just WWE fans, but action figure fans, and kind of turn their heads.
BM: The execution on this stuff is also drawing people in. People see a Hornswoggle figure …
DH: … their jaw drops.
BM: We really appreciate about being able to work on this line. If you've seen the quality of the sculpts and the decos, I think you'd agree they're at a level that has never been offered before for WWE products. I think we're putting out the best action figure line that's ever been put out by any company ever.
Want more Mattel? WWE.com is your portal to this genesis of WWE toys. See extensive figure photo galleries, get series info and post comments at the Mattel-exclusive mini-site. And of course, get your hands on the best action figure line in WWE history now at WWEShop.com.