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Hot Toys Founder & President Mr. Howard Chan discuss the development of Star Wars figure

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The STAR WARS movie will be officially restarted at the end of Yr 2015. HOT TOYS, the famous figure company announced that it acquired the copyright from EP I to EP VII in July 2014 and planned to produce 1/6 scale and 1/4 scale figures. Since the company launched the first Star Wars figures—EP V Luke Skywalker 1/6 scale figure by collaborating with Sideshow Collectibles, HOT TOYS re-entered the STAR WARS world. We are honored to invite Mr. Howard Chan, the founder and president of HOT TOYS, to share the stories and anecdotes on their way to Star Wars.

(In order to facilitate reading, hereinafter Mr. Howard Chan will be short for Howard, Hot Toys for HT, the film STAR WARS for SW)

1) HT participated in Star Wars Celebration Yr2015 as an exhibitor and you even came to the United States for arrangement. Are there any interesting things that you can share with us?

Howard: Of course. At the first day of the celebration, we were informed that Mark Hamill who play Luke Skywalker would attend the autograph event on the venue. The way to get the autograph is quite simple: queue and pay for the costs. There is no doubt that the best position for autograph is the packaging of DX07 Luke Skywalker (Bespin Outfit)—the first SW Figure of HT. Due to failure of preparation, we did not have the figure. Sideshow Collectibles, HT’s U.S. partner, was unable to send it to us in time. Therefore, all of us went to look for the figure, hoping to buy the figure from other booths on site, avoiding wasting such good opportunity.

It was ridiculous to recall that I needed to buy the figure produced by my company, with the price higher than the original one. Once I talked to a head of a booth about the price, he surely had no idea of who I was. When he knew that I would buy the figure for Mark’s autograph, he gave a quite high price. I have not spent time for price negotiate or tried to exchanged it with something, I told him my identity and made sure the time for picking it up. He was surprised and said, “Do you need to buy it?”….Hahaha, it made me unforgettable.

Later, we found the figure in another way and successfully met with Mark Hamill before the event closed. Since it was the first time for me to meet him, I was too excited. When he asked me about what should be written on the box, I had no other special requirements, so he just signed with two simple words—HT.

On the second day of the event, I recalled and thought of the question: it was a rare opportunity to me and I should invite him to write down more, not just autograph. Then, my team and I decided to queue for the autograph on the following day again. However, it was public holiday, so the venue was full of people, let alone the queue.

We each spent 3 hours to line up for autograph from Mark Hamill, Carrie who play as Princess Leia and Anthony Daniels who play as C-3PO. Pitifully, Mark merely signed his name only as the staff took too many people as the excuse. And there were short time for me to prepare the picture. Therefore, the picture was taken before I was prepared.

In the venue of Star Wars Celebration Yr2015, SW fans were quite passionate, a lot of SW costuming people, movie scenes and inexpensive SW toys. As a fans of SW, I was rather happy as well as moved.

2) As a fan of star wars, how you felt when saw classic characters appeared again in the second trailer of the EP VII?

Howard:  Very excited, Passion! Everyone crowded in LEGO booth to watch the second trailer together. Darth Vader helmet, elderly Han Solo and Chewbacca. Everyone cheered and shouted, “SW back!”

3) Individually, do you have any expectations for EP VII (or SW restart)?

Howard: I hope the new SW movie series can inherit the legend and carry it forward. At the same time, I hope the DISNEY can make innovations, arranging a good timetable for audiences to watch movies.

4) Are there any problems that HT is confronted with during its production process?

Howard: For MMS297 – Luke Skywalker which was launched recently, we have modified for several times, such as body proportions and head carving. They would not be launched until we were satisfied. For MMS262- Chewbacca, its body hair, physical characteristics of Wookiee tribe and head carving all create a great difficulty for the figure production.

HT always pursues perfectness, specially the head carving of the figure. It is an important link for production whether the figure recovers the flavor of the original character or not. In addition, I have special emotion for SW, HT will be devoted to produce good SW figure series.

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5) So is there a kind of figure that you are satisfied?

HowardCurrently, none. I hope the future EP VI Luke Skywalker can fulfill indicators in my mind.

6) As SW figure production experiences a long time. Inevitably, HT figures will be compared with previous ones. How will HT deal with those comments?

Howard: It is a matter of debate. In addition to SW, other HT products receive other comments as well. I think the attention should be paid to the balance point. After identifying the shortcomings, we will make improvements.

7) Can you tell us if HT has acquired the copyrights of EP VIII, EP IX and two Anthology movies?

Howard: The only thing I can say is HT does not only produce EP VII figures.

8) Could you please tell us about the SW figures which will be launched in the second half of the year?

Howard: Currently, we plan to launch 1-2 figures every month. In addition, important message will be released on the Animation-Comic-Game Hong Kong Yr 2015 (ACGHK Yr2015).

9) So can you tell us the production process of EP VII figures?

Howard: Actually, HT is developing EP VII figures and plans to launch them before movies are released. For the specific characters and launch time, please wait with patience.

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10) Based on the existing HT SW copyright framework (EP I – EP VII), the quantity of producible figures is quite surprising. Does HT have a timetable for releasing figures? For example, 20 pc in one year (including the characters of the new movies)?

Howard: No. HT does not set an annual quantity for SW figures. Adjustment will be made according to the market. Hot characters will be released in advance and other types are adjusted in line with the market demands. SW movies is just restarted in this year, it requires a period of time for audience to re-understand and digest it. HT will choose best characters to produce quality figures.

11) Both SW and Marvel Movie Series are hot brands of DISNEY Studio. HT has not to lose the expectation of SW fans. At the same time, it also needs to make as good as achievements that HT has made in terms of Marvel Movie Series. Will it impose huge pressure on your company?

Howard: It is hard to compare. For example, Iron Man became hot. In addition to the excellent Iron Man movie series, it was a significant factor that Robert Downey Jr. show the perfect performance in characters – Tony Stark and Iron Man. As a businessman, surely I hope the heat of the movie can increase the sales of HT figures. However, figures have been movies’ auxiliary products. Now, it is too early to set a target for sales.

HT focuses on the quality of figures in the current stage without any pressure.

12) Take this opportunity, are there any words to SW fans from HT (or privately) ?

Howard: May The Force Be With You.

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Author: Man Kam
Photography: Joseph Chan

About Man Kam

居住於香港的星戰毒男,沉迷於科幻及文字世界。夢想訪問George Lucas、一眾星戰導演及演員、參觀美國天行者牧場、提早退休寫書。

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