Marvel Legends Team Talks X-Men ’97, Adding More Vehicles, and Crystar! (Who?)

Thứ sáu - 17/05/2024 22:05
The Marvel Legends team on adapting beloved animated series and if we could get figures for some classic live-action Marvel movies and series.

With the ability to pull from classic comic books to the modern MCU and everything in between, Hasbro’s Marvel Legends figures continue to be a dominate force in toy aisles. At San Diego Comic-Con, many upcoming figures were revealed or displayed, from the first figure of Vincent D’Onofrio as the MCU’s Kingpin to a new comics-based version of Blade.

During SDCC, at the jam-packed Hasbro booth, I spoke to two core members of Hasbro’s Marvel Legends team, Dan Yun and Dwight Stall, about how they approach choosing which characters get new figures, including why someone like Vision is getting a new version of his most familiar comic book costume relatively soon after a previous release. We also spoke about the opportunities a new line like the one for Disney+’s upcoming X-Men ’97 animated series offer, choosing which of their specific Legends lines a certain character may debut in, and if we could ever see Legends figures for some Marvel-based TV shows and films from decades ago.

MCU versions of Kingpin and Agatha Harkness are on the way from Marvel Legends

But as we kicked things off, I had to bring up the most surprising reveal at SDCC: Crystar. A character who will instantly make some go “What?!” and many go “Who?!”

Crystar getting a high profile new Marvel Legends figure is actually something of a full circle moment for the character, who was introduced in 1982 expressly as an experiment for Marvel to build a toyline (via the defunct company Remco) around a brand new character, but neither the toys nor the comic book, The Saga of Crystar, took off, with only 11 issues of the book produced. Crystar was then completely off the board until some fun cameos in crossover books for 2015’s Secret Wars storyline. Still, he’s not someone with any widespread mainstream visibility, making it pretty amazing to see him join Marvel Legends.

Dan Yun: Where you at our panel by any chance?

Fandom: I couldn’t be at the panel, unfortunately, so I was looking at Twitter and reacting as all this stuff was being announced.

Dan Yun: Anything that you liked or disliked?

Fandom: I mean, I could spend our entire time talking to you about how psyched I am for Crystar.

Dan Yun: Oh, you’re one of those!

Fandom: I am one of those!

The Marvel Legends version of Crystar makes his glorious debut at San Diego Comic-Con

Dwight Stall: I just talked to a guy who was like shaking and bowing to me [about Crystar].

Fandom: That’s one of those characters where I know a lot of people won’t know who Crystar is, but those of us who do are very, very excited. How fun is it for you guys when you get to announce something like that where you know ‘Okay, this is niche, but for the right people, this is a pretty damn special thing’?

Dwight Stall: You’re absolutely correct. And there’s something about niche and also, there’s something about ‘That just makes a really awesome looking toy.’ Even if you don’t know, sometimes, who these characters are, when you have a character that has that kind of a look to it, it’s just like, ‘I don’t know what that is, but I want it, because it’s really cool.’ You can’t ever underestimate just the cool factor.

Dan Yun: I think what’s really cool too was [Marvel’s] Jesse Falcon was there with us to actually announce the figure and that was one of his babies, his choices, so he was super pumped about it. And for me, I’m not familiar with the character at all right. But to Dwight’s point, it forces us to go back and research the character. And just to see him in figure form, he’s just so much fun to look at and play with. So now I’m so psyched for it as well.

Fandom: I’m just sending it out to the universe… Marvel Legends ROM one day?

Dan Yun: [Laughs] I see, I see…

Fandom: I honestly thought we’d get ROM before Crystar, so I’ll keep hope alive, because toy miracles happen, apparently! With characters like Vision, do you enjoy getting to go back to a character like that in their classic look again, from a new perspective? Obviously, you’ve done a classic Vision, but everything is always evolving, and figures are looking better and better. So how do decide when it’s time to refresh a character like that?

The upcoming new Vision figure

Dwight Stall: I think there’s kind of two things. There’s the timing, and then there’s the caliber of the character. Because even though we may have done a very good Vision two or three years ago, it’s not just that the technology has evolved for us to be able to do another one, but there’s also potentially now this giant [new] chunk of fandom that now was aware of the character, even though in this case, we’re talking about a classic form. But as those characters grow in popularity through movies, and Disney+, and other shows, more and more eyes and more and more fans get into collecting.

I am a big proponent of making sure that if there’s a character you want, you can buy it on shelf for a reasonable price. And two or three years doesn’t sound like much to a collector, which is fair, but if there’s that many more people out there wanting it, I don’t want them to have to go to the secondary market to find it. I want us to always be pushing to make a better updated version that you can find at a reasonable price, offered by us, so that you don’t ever have to have that. And if you’re the fan who has the one for two or three years ago that you’re perfectly happy with, fantastic. You’ve got one you love.

Dan Yun: Overall, our approach to everything is to have a balanced approach. You’ll have niche characters like Crystar, but we also need to consider, like Dwight was saying, the newer collector. The new casual fan who might not know what Legends is, might not know the history of Legends like you do. Normally, if we ever do a character that we’ve just done, in a small gap period, like two or three years, there’s usually significant upgrades to it. So, for instance, Vision, he’s on our newest Vulcan body. And so usually, even for the collector, we try to entice them and be like, ‘Hey, there is newness.’ There’s a new accessory or something like that. We’re really proud of Vision and we can’t wait to tell you guys when it preorders.

Fandom: With X-Men ’97, you’ve gotten to touch upon the classic X-Men animated series before, obviously, but is it pretty cool for you guys that there’s a new show and you get to really dig into this very beloved version of these characters?

Dwight Stall: Yeah, absolutely. The best thing about the X-Men ‘97 is those designs look so friggin amazing from the show and they also are pretty seamless to how a lot of people remember them from the comics. So it’s awesome to be able to do something with a little bit of a fresh take and look. But also know that if you have gaps in your classic shelf, these things kind of dual path fill both those roles. And sometimes it’s nice just to have another opportunity to do an updated version on a character that you love. We do a lot of these things and sometimes we’re not happy with how things end up at the end of the day either. We always try our best, but not everything always lands. So getting the chance to revisit them and take the learnings that you have from previous years of convention-going, oif hearing what people like and didn’t like, gives you a chance to revisit them and take that input to try to make a more superior version of the figures.

The upcoming X-Men '97 line

Dan Yun: The animated shows are the gateway for so many fans to comics versions. And just to know that that X-Men ‘97 show can be the new gateway for even a younger audience. that warms my heart. That’s awesome.

Fandom: Does it seem like maybe there’s also an opportunity to slowly stagger in some characters from the original incarnation of animated series that you haven’t gotten to?

Dwight Stall: That would be really sweet, yeah. It’s definitely possible. It would just be working with Marvel to find out where they’re comfortable with that divide.

Dan Yun: Just two years ago, we did the VHS line dedicated to the original 90s X-Men show and we’re always thinking about maybe dipping back into that well too with the OG show as well.

Fandom: I wanted to ask about vehicles, because there’s been some really cool ones. I was just looking at Hawkeye on display with the Sky-Cycle. I was a huge fan of that thing as a kid. At six inch scale, you can’t do everything. But do you look for those opportunities and think, for instance, ‘Hey, this guy used to have this flying bike. How can we work that into the line?’

Dwight Stall: Yeah, it’s also fun to mix with the format of the line, right? Six inch figures are great, but we know that there are guys that are 12 feet tall, or 30 feet tall, or vehicles of all different shapes and sizes. It just kind of completes the fantasy and allows fans of all ages to build those stories in their minds and their collective shelves. Everybody loves a different piece, whether that’s a signature guy on a vehicle or not. There are always interesting challenges when vehicles come into play too. This one, for instance, we don’t often do soft goods on characters. But in order for Hawkeye to sit on that, he required the fabric loincloth, so in this instance, it made perfect sense to do that, so that he could sit down. And that is just an absolutely ridiculous vehicle! [Laughs]

Just a Hawkguy and his Skyfly

Dan Yun: I really miss the Legendary Riders that we did just a couple years ago too. That Cosmic Ghost Rider with his bike, I love that. I think vehicles are something that the development team work so hard to innovate. And so getting to do something like a Hawkeye Sky-Cycle, and something that we’re cooking up for next year is going to be amazing. I’m telling you, there’s going to be… Just to give you guys some news, there’s something coming out that’s vehicle-esque that we think is going to be awesome.

Fandom: Well, now I’m very intrigued. You mentioned the VHS line, and here you had the reveal of the Peter Parker and Smythe set. Like X-Men, the 90s Spider-Man series was one of those iconic, formative shows for people. So is it always thinking, ‘Okay, what have we not done yet?’ and realizing a character like Smythe is pretty damn distinctive?

Dwight Stall: Yeah. And that’s the cool thing with these different shows. Dan’s always helping to educate us on the different nuances of the show, and find these things that were show-centric, right? The character existed [in this form] because of this. So to be able to do them here it was really cool under Dan’s watchful eye to make sure we get these pieces just right.

Dan Yun: No, no, no. I just bug him about the animated shows, that’s all!

Fandom: I’m looking at The Rose figure over Dan’s shoulder, who was a favorite character of mine when I was a kid, but he wasn’t actually on the Spider-Man animated series. I’m just happy that we got him, but sometimes do you guys look for almost a ‘what if?’, no pun intended, in terms of what packaging a figure falls under? ‘We haven’t gotten to him, and we can incorporate him in that manner’?

Every Rose has its figure! (well, at least this one does)

Dan Yun: I think actually, to be honest, we wanted him to also be historically accurate to ToyBiz, too. If you remember the old 90s [Spider-Man and X-Men figures] too, not all of those looks were from the animated show either. So we were kind of extending on that a little bit and putting some characters in that might have made cameos and stuff like that. But also, we work with our Marvel New York publishing team, and they really thought that the old school characters are more appropriate for the Spider Man retro line card backs.

Fandom: You also have the figure on display for the upcoming Justice figure. That’s another situation where right now — and maybe that’ll change in a few years, we’ll see! — but right now, New Warriors is not well known by a mainstream audience. Do you look for when and how you can kind of pepper in characters like that and slowly but surely people can build up an entire team, like the New Warriors?

Dwight Stall: You always got to tease the fans a little bit too, you know?  Yeah, team building is always important. And we try to get there. Some things are way, way larger than others and can be lot more challenging to complete. But, for instance, we were very pleased to very quickly be able to create the Squadron Supreme of America and get all of them done in pretty short order, revealing the final one [here] with Power Princess.

We realize that Justice adds one more first time [New Warrior] to the shelves. We do know for that core era team, we still need Namorita, so she’s on the shortlist to get out there as well and be able to check off one other piece of a team. Those things are always being thought about. And then what are the right costumes and era to start new teams and mix it up with the old ones. Those things are alwas being throught about. We can’t give you everything you want!

The Justice Society of America (image via @DanYunIsTrying on Twitter)

Fandom: Alright, look, I’ve gotta take my shot while I’m talking to you…

Dan Yun: Here we go… Plant the seed!

Fandom: Here’s mine. Here’s my wish list one. I’m dying for you guys to make a classic Magik in her original New Mutants costume, with the metal arm. I’ve got the Jim Lee-inspired X-Men figures in the blue and yellow team uniforms you did those sets for and now I’m thinking, ‘Well hey, what if there were a classic New Mutants set like that?”

Dan Yun: You’re not the first person to talk to New Mutants to me. Dwight gets it the most. Everybody talks to him about characters that they want to see and New Mutants is definitely a trend.

Fandom: I really want a version of [Magik as the] Darkchild. I’ve been wanting that for a long time.

Dan Yun: Yeah, he’s been wanting that!

Fandom: There’s such a history to Marvel. And we’ve talked about getting to do the animated series versions from back in the day. Are there opportunities you’re looking for in terms of live-action, like how you did the Japanese Spider-Man figure? One day, could we possibly get, say, David Hasselhoff as Nick Fury? How wild can you go?

Dwight Stall: Absolutely. I’ve wanted to figure out the opportunity to do a Lou Ferrigno Hulk for a long time. In this modern era, I think that would be cool. David Hasselhoff, Dolph Lundgren’s Punisher… There’s a lot of things out there from the past. You have a lot of amazing actors that became massive icons of their era. It’d be a lot of extra work…

Dan Yun: It would be!

Dwight Stall: But, I think those things are always on the table to see if we’re able to pull off something unique like that.

Doctor Doom and Captain Marvel go back to 1984's Secret Wars in their new figure set

Fandom: We’re standing near the logo for the Avengers: Beyond Earth’s Mightiest branding you’ve been doing. I really love that you’re getting to stuff within that line like the Doctor Doom and Captain Marvel set based off of the original 1980s Secret Wars. Do you look for those spotlight moments of Marvel history you can hone in on?

Dwight Stall: Yeah, whether it’s a snapshot of some incredibly epic story arc that meant a lot to millions, or you’re building out massive themes… Secret Wars is something that our Marvel partner Jesse has been wanting for a long time and he was very happy to see that in the case. As well as doing those things that we’ve never done before… Super-Adaptoid, we’ve never had a modern version of an action figure of him. It’s finding unique takes on characters and those snapshots in time. We all know what our favorite arcs were or favorite trades back in the day… And we still need Beyonder!

Eric Goldman: And his beautiful perm!

Dwight Stall: And that glorious suit!

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