The First Lady of the North Pole is one of Santa’s greatest assets!
One of the coldest places on Earth is getting hotter. Naughty and nice, Mrs. C. finds a new way to work the North Pole – just doing what she can to keep Santa happy on those cold winter nights.
You may recognize that text if you were one of the many who bought McFarlane Toys’ Twisted X-Mas Mrs. Claus figure. Those of us immersed in Action Figure culture often refer to companies as a whole like Mattel, Hasbro, DC Direct, Sideshow, or NECA. We often discuss the sculptors who bring our figures to life like the 4 Horsemen, Jean St. Jean, or Tim Bruckner. But there are many other individuals working hard to bring us our toys! Like John Roark, copywriter for McFarlaneToys. John was kind enough to answer some questions that I had about what it means to be an Action Figure wordsmith. Read on . . .
Q: What job responsibilities do you have as McFarlane’s copywriter?
A: Basically, if it’s written for McFarlane Toys, it’s either been written or edited by me. This includes weekly news stories for SPAWN.com, packaging copy, ads for comic books, newspaper, magazines and radio, brochures that we distribute at Comic-Con, special signage for events at our two retail stores, online feature content, press releases, figure specs and our employee newsletter. I’ve also done some interviews with Todd McFarlane for magazines.
Q: What’s been your favorite job to work on thus far?
Two projects come to mind. I loved working on the LOST figures that we did. I’m a big fan of the TV show, and it was really exciting to be involved in the toys. I got to see and work with actual props from the show, and write about the characters and figures, not only for the packaging, but also for our online feature and all the news stories for our Web site.
Another project I really enjoyed was last year’s Twisted X-mas line. Todd came up with all these twisted characters, and we took it from there. Writing the packaging was a lot of fun, and for the online feature we wrote backstories for each of the characters – explaining how they went "bad." The online feature had new content revealed each week for the 6 weeks leading up to Christmas. There was a lot of content to work on and it was a big job tying everything together. But it was unlike anything I had ever done before.
Q: Is there a particular piece of copy your especially proud of?
I wrote one of the backstories for the Twisted X-mas "Mrs. Claus" character. That was a lot of fun, and I was able to go wild creatively. I also feel pretty good about some of the ads I’ve written for our Halo 3 action figures. Halo is so vast, and there are millions of fans of the game. Our figures are awesome, and I feel proud writing about them.
Q: Can you describe the atmosphere at McFarlane?
It is unlike anywhere I have ever worked. Of course, it’s a very creative environment, and practically every flat surface is covered with toys. I work with a lot of very creative people, and that in turn, makes me more creative. The atmosphere here is very laid back – everyone wears shorts and t-shirts. We have a lot of fun; there isn’t a whole lot of stress. We play with toys all day long and get paid for it.
Q: How much input does Todd give to your work?
Todd is very involved in all aspects of the company, both creative and business. Eventually, everything that we do passes before his eyes for the final blessing before it goes anywhere else.
Q: Not being an action figure aficionado yourself, do you find it hard to write for the genre?
I came into the company knowing virtually nothing about action figures, so there was definitely a learning curve at the beginning. But as I got more immersed in what we do, I was able to see that what we produce is very, very cool. I don’t find it difficult to write about our figures – it challenges me creatively with each new line that we do.
Q: What’s been your favorite McFarlane toy line?
Wow. I can’t pick just one. Obviously, I liked LOST. I really liked Adventures of SPAWN, Series 1 and 2. And there are a couple of lines that haven’t been announced yet that are going to be very, very cool.
Thank you very much, John. We appreciate you letting us into your world of words at McFarlane. You’ve really done some outstanding work and we promise to read our figure packages more thoroughly!