Back in mid-July Bif Bang Pow! announced they had aquired the license for the rock band KISS (who just wrapped up thier 40th Anniversary Tour), and about a week later announced they’d re-aquired the license for the 1980 Flash Gordon movie. Both licenses will be getting 3-3/4″ action figures as well as a veritable boatload of ancillary merchandise. We decided to go straight to the source to find out more about these two very different, but very exciting lines and contacted Jason Lenzi and Jason Labowitz of Bif Bang Pow!
AFi: Recently Bif Bang Pow! announced two big licenses for 2015. One was a new one for the company based upon the legendary rock band, KISS, and the other was a return to an old favorite, the 1980 Flash Gordon movie. Could you tell our readers a bit of how each of these came to happen?
BBP: I’d be happy to, thanks for asking! As most Bif Bang Pow! followers know by know, the 1980 ‘Flash Gordon‘ movie is one of my favorite things of all time. I’ve spent the better part of 30 years trying to turn people on to it’s charms, and when BBP! launched we proudly gave the world what it’d been missing since the film came out: a line of action figures! We made bobble heads as well, but I never felt that was enough and vowed we’d come back to that title again some day. From first releasing those figures in 2007, BBP! has grown from me banging on doors begging studios to listen, to the studios calling us for meetings. So, the time seemed right for us to indulge one of my passions again, but this time to broaden the scope of items. But, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the jaw dropping phenomenon of Sam Jones’ appearance and all the ‘Flash Gordon‘ love in the movie ‘Ted‘! (I never thought there was someone out there that loved this movie as much as me and Alex Ross). Between the 3 3/4″ craze and Seth McFarlane’s love letter, the time seemed even more perfect to go back to Mongo.
As for KISS, I gotta give it up to my business partner of nearly a decade, Jason Labowitz. He’s been a KISS fanatic since childhood, and he’s worked tirelessly for a long, long time to make that license happen . A lesser man would have given up ages ago, but his passion is strong, and, like me, he wants these cool toys for himself!
AFi: We’ll get back to Flash Gordon in a bit, but I want to focus on KISS for a moment – specifically the action figures that have been announced. You are doing 3-3/4″ figures in the retro style, correct?
BBP: Yes, but we like to call ours “enhanced” retro style. Our version of retro style is reminiscent of the 70s, but with a tad more attention to detail. People forget that companies like MEGO and Mattel were churning out figures in the late 70s that had amazing likenesses, and in the case of MEGO, sometimes more than just the five points of articulation. When we can, we’re going to add more movement to our figures.
AFi: KISS has never gotten the 3-3/4″ treatment before now, have they?
BBP: Correct! This scale has never been made before.
AFi: Now, the band has had a variety of different looks over their 40 year career. Sales permitting, are there plans to visit these different looks as action figures?
BBP: The plan is to make what fans (and us) will love, what will be approved, and what will sell. Keeping all those factors in mind, we will most likely focus on the 1970s and early 1980s looks. Multiple waves are planned, and our goal is to keep this figure line alive as long as possble.
AFi: Which look are you planning to kick things off with? Going to go with the current ‘Monster’ album, back to the beginning or something in between?
BBP: It’s a tad too early to reveal our launch items, but see the prior answer for a clue.
AFi: Will they come with instruments? I’d imagine a full set of drums would be difficult to find on a card, but at least drumsticks, along with guitars?
BBP: Cost permitting, we want to add as many complimentary instruments as possible.
AFi: Will these be unveiled at Toy Fair or will fans get a look at them before then?
BBP: Our latest strategy is to show the press and fans our sculpts when they are final and nearly ready to ship. It’s still too early to know if that wil happen at New York Toy Fair. Our business-to-business customers will see the line at New York Toy Fair, however.
AFi: It must be exciting to be part of the KISS entertainment property. They seem to be the most merchandised band around, and masters at getting their brand out there.
BBP: It’s very exciting. We have personal connections to the products we like to make and we are super KISS fans. In a way, this license is a hard one to tackle, because – as you stated – so much merchandise has already been made. Given that, our products need to seem different enough to seem fresh, yet familiar enough to sell well. And from our initial internal reviews, and from concepts that Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley have already approved, we are on track to satisy the KISS Army!
AFi: When do you expect the first figures to be available?
BBP: Our entire line featuring travel mugs, acrylic cups, glassware, tins, coasters, auto shades, license plate frames, action figures and other surprises are scheduled for mid-2015 availability.
AFi: OK, let’s head back to Mongo and talk some Flash Gordon. How long have you been hoping to get the Flash Gordon license back? And, why now?
BBP: As I mentioned earlier, Flash and his pals have always been on my mind for another visit, but we felt like the was right. With all of the titles that are getting the 3-3/4″ treatment, either as first timers or reboots, it’s only fair that ‘Flash Gordon‘ gets to share the shelf space. It’s one of the few properties from the action figure heyday that never got a line, but certainly should have. And, I have to think ‘Ted‘ helped it’s profile!
AFi: Does the new license extend beyond the film and cover any of the original comic book looks of the characters? On the King Features site they used the classic comic strip art along with the PR announcement.
BBP: I’m going to plead the fifth on this one, Your Honor.
AFi: My Fanboy Wish/Dream would be an Alex Raymond, Buster Crabbe, animated series, Sam Jones 4 pack.
BBP: See above.
AFi: As you can imagine, Flash Gordon in 3-3/4″ is pretty much a dream come through for me. These are the figures I wanted back in 1980 after seeing the movie. What can fans look forward to in this new line?
BBP: Well, at the risk of sounding a bit full of myself, I hope that people can see the love and care that goes into everything Bif Bang Pow! does. We really are fans of this stuff first and foremost. Having said that, if you like what we’re doing with our ‘Twilight Zone‘ range of 3-3/4″ action figures, then you’re going to love what we’re doing with ‘Flash‘. In my perfect world, we’ll get to make all the main and secondary characters, with lots of surprises thrown in. But, as you know, it’s all going to depend on the support the line gets.
AFi: Besides the scale and style of the figures, how are you approaching the line in light of having visited this well twice before with the 6″ and 8″ Mego-styled figures?
BBP:Well, it’s going to be a combination of ‘must haves’ along with variants and characters we haven’t yet made. So, it’s a given that Ming in his classic red robes and Flash in his classic red tank top are going to be there, but beyond that you’ll just have to make you’re wish lists and wait and see!
AFi: Like KISS, the new Flash Gordon license also includes ancillary products, giftware and such, correct? Can you share some of the plans for those items with the readers?
BBP: We’ll basically be giving the movie the merchandise it’s always deserved: drinkware, tins, journals, license plate frames and more. Again, I’d rather let those be surprises. But, if anyone is a fan of ‘Flash Gordon‘, and your imagination to those categories and you’re getting close…
AFi: Just as I asked regarding KISS, will we be getting a look at the new Flash figures prior to Toy Fair or will that be their unveiling?
BBP: See above.
AFi: And, lastly, when can we expect your new Flash Gordon figures to be available?
BBP: Mid-2015. That is, if Ming doesn’t get bored again and bring his wrath (and hot hail!) down upon us.
A huge “Thank You” to Jason Lenzi and Jason Labowitz of Bif Bang Pow! for agreeing to talk with us about these upcoming lines. They’re both still a ways away, but personally I’m really excited for both properties.
So, I turn to you my dear and erudite readers. What are you hoping to see in either the KISS or ‘Flash Gordon’ lines? Let your voices be heard in the comments below!
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