Hasbro Interview – Vinnie D'Alleva
March 23, 2009

When I worked at Hasbro, I worked with a variety of people across all departments.  One of my colleagues that I spent a fair amount of time discussing Action figures with was Vinnie D’Alleva.  Its now been about a dozen years since I left.  I tracked down Vinnie and he was kind enough to agree to a short interview.

1.  For our readers, I’d like you to introduce yourself.  What titles did you have at Hasbro and when did you work there?

Vinnie D’Alleva: Worked my way from Product Manager/Boys Toys to VP Hasbro Direct.

2. A number of our readers would love to work at a toy company.  I heard a rumor that you wrote a research paper/thesis on GIJoe, which got you into the company.  Can you shed some light on this story?

Well, you have some of the story correct – when I went I graduated from Massachusetts College of Art and Design, I had to complete a thesis project. I chose Transforming Robots. In my final presentation, I compared 2 very different product lines (Hasbro’s Transformers and Bandai’s Godaiken Force) and then presented my own. I graduated with Honors because of it. Later on, when I was working in Chicago for Monogram/Revell (my first job out of college), I was recruited to go to Hasbro for an interview. Maybe it was because of my experience from Monogram/Revell or my passion for toys, but my project from College certainly helped me to get that first job at Hasbro working on Transformers.

3. Sticking with GIJoe for a moment, many people who worked on Boys Toys became used as models for GIJoe figures.  Do you have a GIJoe whose face is modeled after you?  If so, who is it?

I was moved onto the G.I.Joe product line in 1991. Once I was working on the line for a year or so, the Design group decided to sculpt my face on an action figure (this is an “honor” that no one tells you about – you are chosen, you can’t lobby for it). They ended up sculpting me on the Cobra Eco-Warriors leader (Cesspool), with a big jagged scar down my face! To this day, I’m very proud of that honor!

 

(picture credit to: www.YoJoe.com)

4. When I knew you at Hasbro, you became in charge of a group called "New Ventures".  Can you explain its mission?

In 1994, I moved over to the New Ventures Group (later called Hasbro Direct). Its mission was to develop the non-core categories that surround the merchandising of large brands of toys (ie: die-cast vehicles, battery operated vehicles, accessory sets, road race sets, roleplay toys, etc.). One of the areas we developed while I was there, was the Collectible category for Boys Toys. We developed a plethora of 12” figures (fully articulated with removable clothing and accessories, as well as other types of action figures for nearly all of Hasbro’s brand.

5. Hasbro’s JLA line.  How did you decide Kenner’s Total Justice line was ripe for the "New Venture" process?

When Kenner came out with their Total Justice line, it was meant to be a revival of the classic Justice League of America line up of characters from the DC Comic of the same name, but with a modern twist. That line lasted 2 years before lack of interest by consumers caused it to be dropped. Right after that decision was made, DC Comics decided to relaunch their Justice League title under the banner of JLA. When that happened, we at Hasbro Direct worked with DC to acquire the rights to develop an expanded list of characters in action figure form.

 

Superman Blue is TJ Superman with a head swap from a Superman Man of Steel Superman figure.

Due to the fact that we were charged with developing various Exclusives for different retailers, the JLA product was ear-marked for KB Toys – it allowed for a consistent flow of different assortments of characters throughout the year. To enhance the collectability of the characters and to tie them directly into the comic book, we developed a unique display stand (packed with every figure) and a miniature replica of a related JLA comic book cover to cut out on the back of the package. Once you took your figure out of the package, you would cut out the miniature comic book cover and insert it into the stand to create a backdrop for your figure.

 

Martian Manhunter was TJ Superman with a new head and a new cape.

Since this line was exclusively developed for KB Toys, we could only afford a small amount of new molds to develop the figures to insure the project was profitable. We developed a few new heads, and other body parts so that we could mix ‘n match them to form new characters.

 

Flash legs, torso + Black Lightning arms + a new head = Impulse!

We developed several waves of figures over the years but only developed one completely new figure, which was Wonder Woman.

- Vinnie D’Alleva.

 

JLA Wonder Woman.

My thanks to Vinnie for taking the time to do this and letting us know a little more about the behind the scenes at toy companies.  -Erik.

(All Total Justice and JLA figure pictures credit to ToyOtter.com)

Erik "Superfriend" Skov
"Gathered together from the four corners of the universe." Oh, wait, that's the show, not me. Erik "SuperFriend" Skov never actually got to appear on the show, although he did watch it every week. Erik spent 6 years working for Hasbro in Pawtucket, RI before leaving for a job that paid more (Why else would a collector leave the company that was making Star Wars, Transformers, and while I was there Batman). I used to post all over the net. These days I tend to hang my hat at AFI.
Read other articles by Erik "Superfriend" Skov.

 

 

 

14 Comments »

  • CantinaDan says:

    Sweet interview. Love hearing about what things are like on the other side of our hobby. Gotta track down a Cesspool!

  • sam moreno says:

    How come they never released ”PARALAXX” for jla?

    • Erik superfriend says:

      The idea of JLA, explained to me by Vinnie all those years ago, was that Total Justice seemed to be kind of random. DC had relaunched the Justice League comic with the big name heroes as “JLA”. The JLA name on the toy line was to tap into that popularity. Which is why we got characters specific to that title. Electric Blue Superman, Martian Manhunter, Steel, Plastic Man, and Zauriel. Young Justice was called “JLA Jr.” by some. That – and the existing TJ Robin figure – made them a logical extension of the line. My guess is Parallax had no logical connection to the comic, so was not considered.

      • Brad R. says:

        A Hal Jordan as Parallax figure was produced, IMO one of the better figures in the Total Justice/JLA line.

        • Erik superfriend says:

          Brad,
          Sam was asking why Parallax was not done in JLA. I assumed he was referring to why this figure was made in Total Justice, but not in JLA.

          • Brad R. says:

            Sorry, my bad. I think the JLA line was actually a better line, with more classic looks for some of the characters. Wonder Woman was cool and Blue Beetle in particular was very cool with that blue metallic paint. I thought the lines left a lot to be desired as far as articulation was concerned, but at the time these were the only DC figures available. I did quite a few custom figures at the time to fill out my collection (all of which I still have and some of which will be in the next Custom Con). Anyway, great interview!

  • Hourman says:

    I had a weird relationship with Total Justice. I hated the figures from the beginning, yet I bought a lot of them,because they were the only DC figures around for a period of time, and I wanted DC figures. Amd needless to say, when anything better came along, I dumped my entire TJ collection on eBay.

  • Brainlock says:

    Thanks for that interview, Erik.

    I used to have that Cesspool fig, one of the last ones I bought as the Joe line descended into neon stupidity.

    and really need to check if I managed to save a lot of those JLA figs. I know I have a WW, but the ones left in boxsets are def gone. I know I still a have a few that were customed (Bart into Flash 1M), and a lot of the ones I had out on display, but never have taken an inventory of what I did manage to rescue.

    and yeah, Parallax came out in the Black Lightning and Huntress wave. I even customed a Neron from him! LOL!

  • TRDouble says:

    Great interview! I was much like Hourman; I hated the line, but because that was it for DC, I bought up JLA, went back and got Total Justice figures, and they ended up making for a great display. But when something better finally came along, off to eBay they went! I kept a few, like Black Lightning, Conner Hawke and Huntress — figures I never expected to see made again — but I do wish I kept Wonder Woman too. She was a good figure.

  • jtd says:

    Nice interview Superfriend! I’ve also communicated with Vinnie a few times about his work on G.I. Joe, and he’s really a cool & helpful guy. Nice to learn about his involvement with Total Justice.

  • CJB says:

    Does Mr.D’Alleva still work in the toy industry?

  • Erik superfriend says:

    Reading these comments makes me think I need to clarify a few things.
    I know as collectors we have merged the two lines in our heads, but:
    Total Justice was done by the Kenner boys team in Cincinnati, Ohio.
    JLA was done by the Hasbro team in Pawtucket, RI.

    Kenner:
    Total Justice:
    Wave 1: Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Robin, Darkseid.
    Wave 2: Batman Armored, Superman, Hawkman, Despero
    Wave 3: Green Arrow, Black Lightning, Huntress, Parallax.

    Hasbro Direct:
    (Vinnie’s team) released what was planned for wave 4 of Total Justice under the Hasbro: DC SuperHeroes line (along with with what was planned for Superman Man of Steel wave 3).
    From TJ4:
    1. Flash Armored (with tiny Atom) and Blue Beetle 2pack.
    (Ted Kord version of Blue Beetle).
    2. Green Lantern Armored and Dr. Polaris.
    From SMOS3:
    1. Superman Battle Damaged and Metallo
    2. Superboy Surf version and King Shark.

    Hasbro:
    JLA:
    Wave 1: Batman 1, Superman Blue, Superman Red, Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Huntress.
    Wave 2: Batman Movie, Superman, Aquaman, Steel, Martian Manhunter.
    Wave 3: Batman 3, Plastic Man, Zauriel, Robin, Superboy, Impulse.
    Wave 4: Batman 4, Superman 2, Atom, Red Tornado, Wonder Woman.

    Boxed sets of 5 were also available, came with 3 existing figures and 2 new ones. 4 sets. 3 of the new sets came with translucent “Hard Light” versions of the same figures from the at that time current story line. Superman Blue, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman. The 4th set came with Lex Luthor and the Joker.

    I think that covers it.

    • Ham Salad Ham Salad says:

      Don’t forget the mail-away translucent Total Justice Superman and Batman in Cyber-Link Armor.

      And the ToyFare exclusives Reverse Flash and Eradicator. (The last one may or may not be a part of the line, depending on who you ask.)

      And the six Warner Bros Studio Store exclusive repaints, under the DC Super Heroes banner: Aquaman, Fractal Armor Batman, Robin, Green Arrow, Hawkman and Despero

      Pics of all here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hamsalad/sets/72157602285693628/

      I loved this line. It was my Super Powers.

  • DanMan says:

    Man I loved the JLA line, it blew away Total Justice with it’s comic accurate paint jobs and fantastic character selection that was actually current with the comic storylines. I was so pumped to get Young Justice figures too, I really wished the line would’ve continued to get some of the girls in it as well. I’m feeling old now that I’m being nostalgic for a line that doesn’t seem that long ago to me!

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