Figures Toy Company is set to significantly increase collectors wrestling displays. I spoke with FTC’s Chief Marketing Officer, Chris DePetrillo, last year to discuss FTC’s foray into wrestling figures. Now with the first wave of Ring of Honor figures and a Rising Stars AJ Styles figure, I figured now was a good time to check back in with him.
Chris has some interesting stories about the challenge of completing Bullet Club, signing Ricochet, getting wrestlers to reconsider signing deals, which old school legends are on FTC’s radar and why you should buy a Kevin Steen figure ASAP.
When last we spoke, ROH Series 1 was nearing production, but had a bit of a delay. What was the holdup?
CD: We swapped out Adam Cole for Jay Lethal. At the time, Jay was the champ and it felt unfair for us to make Jay wait. He’s the representative for the company so you want to kick off the series with the world champion. We were able to get him done within a reasonable amount of time since he was the franchise player for Ring of Honor.
How is ROH Series 1 selling?
CD: We’re getting tremendous feedback. Overall we’ve been getting very positive feedback. People really love the Michael Elgin and the ROH ring set. Everyone’s loving the canvas, turnbuckle. People are really happy we didn’t just do a basic sized ring, but instead have more of a gigantic playset. If you’re displaying you’ve got a nice display piece. Everyone been selling very well.
[Order ROH Series 1 from Figures Toy Company here]
I just got this confirmed on Twitter last week. ROH has started selling the figures at their shows. Last weekend, they sold out of all of the cases they purchased for the two night run. On the very first night all of the Kevin Steen figures had sold out.
What’s the challenge in competing with Mattel for figures they’ve also announced/released?
CD: We’ve had a lot of popularity for the Kevin Steen figure. From what I heard, they rushed their KO basic to beat us to the punch. I’ve heard some people say they prefer our version of Kevin Steen to the Mattel Kevin Owens. He’s still our highest seller out of ROH Series 1.
— Figures Toy Company (@FiguresToyCo) October 4, 2016
On Twitter, someone in New York in town for Summerslam that weekend even managed to get the Kevin Steen figure signed by Kevin Steen.
AJ Styles is getting a standalone release as opposed to the regular four wave figure release. Why the switch?
CD: With AJ, he was always looked at by us like one of the main guys that people would want. When he signed his WWE contract we didn’t want another situation where [Mattel] beat us to the punch. We wanted to have him out in a good time frame and didn’t want a production snag with another figure delaying AJ’s release.
Our design team really knocked the design for AJ out of the park. This is the first figure to capture him in his ROH/NJPW look.
How do you choose the specific looks for characters and decide on attire?
CD: Whenever someone is signed, we get reference photos. Talent is involved every step of the way. We ask them to send us reference photos with the expression they’d like us to use, which is why Nick Jackson has his tongue out and AJ is doing his signature scream. That’s what they wanted.
Mattel has been known for using hard plastic for figures attires. You all are going the cloth route for ring attires and outfits. Are you seeing Mattel collectors investing in the line just to use the accessories?
CD: I’ve seen YouTube videos with customizers saying this shirt or jacket looks awesome. Clothing is something I think we knock out of the park because we do so much to really nail down the attire with the wrestlers. For a guy like Doc Gallows or Brian Myers, who’s back to using Curt Hawkins in WWE, the attires can help give that completed look to a character. Customizing is something that will always appeal to collectors.
I know people are buying figures to use the accessories to use with the Mattel figures to piece together the ultimate figures. They’re still buying the figures so as far as I’m concerned, that’s a win for us.