When I last touched base with Play With This Too, they had launched their first, rather ambitious, Kickstarter for a line of highly-detailed action figures, inspired by the toys of their youth. It was a little too ambitious, as it turned out. Even though there was enthusiastic support for the Kickstarter, the cost of the figures and the dearth of choices proved to be too much for some fans and it fell just short of its goal.
Having taken a step back to retool the campaign and figures alike, Play With This Too has returned with just two figures (for now), in five paint schemes each, and a more wallet-friendly cost point, $39 as opposed to $55 for the first PWTT Kickstarter. The greater focus and increased detail (and size, they’re half an inch bigger this time around) have done a solid job of drumming up support. The Kickstarter is a third of the way to its goal, with less than two weeks left to go. So what did CEO of Play With This Too, Rik Alvarez have to say about the differences between this Kickstarter and the last?
“We learned to make it simple. Simple is better. It’s a laser focus this time. We shot ourselves in the foot, showing too much. You’re not sure what the market can handle till the market actually speaks.”
While the interchangeable limbs, heads, and combining weapons remain, gone are the non-figure rewards, such as buttons and t-shirts and art prints. The two figure focus gives backers time to choose which figures and paint applications they want before bringing back things like the Tech Drones and Head Shots (modular robot weapons and three-packs of designer-specific heads, respectively).
“We’re ready to go with more weapons, more gear, more figures. And I think if we get that far, with stretch goals, we’re going to send out a survey and let the backers decide. Find out ‘What do you want as a stretch goal?’ The important thing is to get something made and get something into people’s hands.”
But what about those distinctive color options, and their relation to a certain transforming robot toy that was popular back in the ’80s? Considering that a lot of PWTT talent hails from Hasbro, that can’t be a coincidence.
“One thing that I was very adamant about is that I don’t want to do Transformers–some of us have done that for over twenty years and we definitely didn’t have the funding for something that transformed or had mechanisms. We want to make something cool, we want to make some action figures. I’m a big He-Man fan, and collected figures from the classic series, so that was a really big influence.”
But how do you go about grabbing nostalgia dollars when there are so many third-party toy makers already operating in that space?
“I thought ‘Alright, where is there a space for us to play with that harkens back to stuff from our childhood, but made cool?’ It’s like when an artist or architect is influenced by stuff in their past. You can see the influence, but they bring their own take. I’m a fan of the ’80s. I’m a product of the ’80s. I had Thundercats and G.I. Joe and Transformers and I still love all that stuff. I still collect all that stuff. I was very lucky to go to Hasbro and work on Transformers and Joe and M.A.S.K. and I think a lot of that stuff influenced our design.
We’ve increased the detail, amped up the articulation, and at the same time done things like increase the number of shared parts so that we can bring the cost down.”
But even with more shared parts, how did Play With This Too increase the detail, but lower the cost? That starts with a price increase, actually…
“We were talking to our factory and the guy says ‘We’ve done a bit of research on you guys since the first Kickstarter, and who you’re catering to. So we’re going to raise the price.’ And they raised the price by 55% percent!”
Luckily, Play With This Too was able to find a U.S. company with trusted manufacturing partners in China that wouldn’t jack their manufacturing rates. This means that Boneyard and Jetstrike will be in backer’s hands by 2016 (as opposed to those Kickstarters that have zero presence in China and end up dragging on for years as they try to negotiate with the factory–I know we Kickstarter faithful all have at least one of those in our history).
“We’ve got everything ready to go. If the Kickstarter is successful, we collect funds in October. We’re cutting steel in November. We are shipping samples in June. Hopefully, within less than a year, these will be out.”
With just under two weeks to go, the Kickstarter is in full swing. Just this week, they’ve added some cool BMOG incentives for the upper tiers (and awesome glow-in-the-dark BMOG add-ons). What does that mean for backers? More weapons for what are already insanely detailed, heavily accessorized figures. And it’s hard to turn down more toys for your toys.
Rik and the folks at Play With This Too are passionate about toys and they want more than anything to get figures into backers’ hands. With a fun concept that hits that ’80s nostalgia sweet spot and an intense focus, they seem well-poised to succeed.