The success of Todd’s spawn comic sparked the interest of major toy manufacturers eager to capitalize on the worldwide popularity of the figure. But unimpressed by the quality of their products, Todd declined numerous offers and formed his own company.
Why did you decide to start your own toy company?
As Spawn became popular, toy companies made offers, but the toys that I had in my head couldn’t be what I had seen on the shelves. I decided I would start my own toy company, and launched it in 1994.
Spawn was the first toy you made. Tell us about that first figure.
The very first Spawn toy that came out sold very well for us and established us in places like Toys R Us and led me to still be in the business for 10 years later. We won multiple awards for this toy because it was “cutting edge” and doing stuff that nobody else was doing. If you look at the other toys we have made since then, this first toy almost looks comical in comparison.
It just goes to show you that even in toy making – any time you do any type of art – there’s a learning curve on it. Three-dimensional plastic figures are no different than trying to learn how to draw, how to ink, how to write. There’s this beginning period where you think you know what you’re doing. As time goes by, you get more and more answers.
What led you to move beyond Spawn to other action figure lines?
Although I like Spawn dearly, I know that being a true businessman is being fair-minded to the company. As the company gets bigger, I can’t put all of my eggs in one basket and hope that the world will continue to support Spawn in a big way. I knew that we had to come up with other creations.
After Spawn, we became involved in other comic book characters; we now music and TV, movie and sports figures of all the major sports. We’ve done NASCAR, we do military, dragon figures, album covers. We do a whole array of things.
How has McFarlane Toys shaped the action figure industry?
One of the things I think McFarlane Toys has brought to the industry is the attention to detail, realism, and unique paint jobs. I believe that our company as a whole has raised the bar in how toys are put out – even by the big public companies.
I see other companies try to imitate what we do. Quite a few sculptors who have worked for us have gone on to work for other companies – so basically, we have trained the competition. I’m very proud that not only have we been able to do some pretty wicked Spawn toys, but we’ve been involved with major Fortune 500 clubs, all the major studios in New York, doing big, big pop culture lines.
What inspires original action figure lines like Twisted Fairy Tales, and how do these ideas become a full line?
The ideas come from my own warped imagination. I come up with an idea that I think is cool and that I think our collectors will think is cool. Then we see if we can realistically craft those ideas into a line that falls within the criteria necessary to get them onto store shelves.
What’s ahead for the coming year?
You can expect to a more diverse product line than we’ve ever had before.