Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Inspiration and Descendant
The lineage of robotic figures goes all the way back to the walking tin-toy robots of the 1950s, passes through various Marx and Ideal figures in the 60s, Star Wars, Micronauts and Star Team in the 70s, Robo Force and Transformers in the 80s, Z-Bots in the 90s, all the way through to today.
I bring this up because a lot of people ask me about licensing. Over the years, all of these different lines had robots, but they each had something unique to bring to the table. So my question to "you" is - what do you want a license for?
Manufacturing is a gamble. Any business is a gamble. You are trying to express something (or/and make some cash while doing it) and why would you want to hamstring your business by being locked-in to something which manages expectations? Is the robot in the above picture Maxx Steele/Maxx Zero, the invincible warrior of the Robo Force? Some people have stated they don't think it is, because their view of Maxx is something different - a bulky, suction cupped, bendy arm robot. Or a giant personal assistant robot who could actually talk. Nothing that anyone can do would meet those expectations.
Given a choice, I would have pursued my own original property*. I've spoken about it before - we were actually thisclose to an entirely different original concept being the launch line from Toyfinity. What expectations would people have if the line was something never before seen? None. It can be anything, as Glyos is. The relevance of the Block in the above pic, for people who are somewhat new to Glyos, is that the partial inspiration for it WAS Zeroids and Robo Force. That's part of what I love about the Block, and Glyos overall - it is like many things in aspects, but it isn't a copycat.
So, my advice to anyone who has dreams of starting their own toy line is to ask themselves "what is it that I want to have inhabit my life for the next few years?" Do you want to be dealing with licensors and quotas and all of the rest that goes into a standard license? Where's your inspiration? Why settle for "Crystar" when your Crystar is out there?
*I know this begs the logical question "why did you get licenses then?" The answer is really two-fold: one, I wanted to bring back the Mordles, and I'm sure any original property I would have conceived would have had a Mordle-inspired figure in it somewhere. Two, as I have said many times previously, Maxx didn't get a fair chance at retail because of the environment he was introduced into. If Robo Force was released in 1982, the conversation might be entirely different; 1984 was not a place where Robo Force as a concept was going to be able to stand up against Transformers and Go-Bots. Letting Maxx rot away forever in limbo was not something I was willing to let happen.