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eFX Collectibles to produce Muppet Replicas

Discussion in 'Muppet Replicas' started by FennShysa, Jun 9, 2009.

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What Muppet Replica do you want the most?

  1. Rizzo the Rat

    42 vote(s)
    13.9%
  2. Miss Piggy

    75 vote(s)
    24.8%
  3. Pepe the King Prawn

    41 vote(s)
    13.5%
  4. Fozzie Bear

    145 vote(s)
    47.9%

  1. muppetperson

    muppetperson Well-Known Member

    That wouldn't even cover a deposit!
    You would be looking upwards of $500.Feel like joining the complaining list!:D
  2. junebug1972

    junebug1972 Member

    The price for Quality

    What is a good price for a collectible. If it takes a craftsman 30 hours to build one of these even at $10 per hour you still need to count on overhead, profit margin... I would guess that the reason Master Replicas went under is they charged to little for a quality product. We are talking about American hands making these items.

    I could be way off base here but I would say that these will/would be priced at $600-900...

    If they were made in China and sold at Walmart we could get them for $19.99 but soon enough people will learn that the Walmart way is only going to lead us into a hole we cannot climb out of.

    Sorry but I believe you get what you pay for.
  3. ElecMayhem

    ElecMayhem Member

    Actually, all of Master Replicas products (and all of eFX's as well) are made in China.

    I have to believe you're the first person to ever say that MR didn't charge enough. :)
  4. Bear Man

    Bear Man Member

    ElecMayhem - you'd know this better than I would, and I could be totally off, but with these sorts of companies I don't get the feeling that a huge amount of market research is done. That would make sense, since that's a costly exercise and you've got a fairly small market to start with. But it really does feel to me that decisions often don't reflect what consumers want. EFX, for example, picked Rizzo as a first product not because he'd be the most popular, but because he presented less of a challenge in certain respects. I truly, truly believe that the product was doomed the second Rizzo was selected. I couldn't for the life of me see how they would get enough preorders to go to manufacture, and it seems I was right about that. Fozzie, for reasons I still cannot understand, apparently represented a huge, insurmountable engineering challenge. But people were keen. At the tradeshows there was apparently even some small amount of retailer interest (again, ElecMayhem, you'd know better than me!). Patterns for a "real" version had already been perfected by Terry Angus. But because there were such challenges (shipping, I can see...but what else?) with Fozzie, EFX decided they would go to market with a far less recognisable, less beloved character, rather than spending the extra time in development to solve those problems. And they were doomed to fail.

    I can see it from here: both EFX and Sideshow Collectibles had better hope and pray that they never lose their Star Wars license. Because they are incapable of thinking about managing licensed properties in any way other than the Star Wars model. And that model now only works for Star Wars. It used to be that a company would buy a license and then milk it and stretch it out for as long as they could by holding off on releasing key characters, padding out lines with variants and repaints, and people would eat it up because consumers would be loyal to a line, or a completist. The only franchise to still command that sort of blind devotion is Star Wars. Collectors now will now dip in and out, buy perhaps just one item from a line, etc. The companies that are doing well for themselves these days don't try and make their lines last. They come out with the big heavy hitters immediately, and then if a line is successful well, then they might look at a lesser-known character, but they will more likely just release a variant.

    The best example I can think of is Hot Toys (high end action figures). They do a lot of movie characters and have been very successful with Batman/The Dark Knight. The first two releases were Batman, and the Joker. Not Batman and Two-Face, or Commisioner Gordon and The Joker, or anything like that - they brought out the two figures everyone would want, straight off the bat. Because they know that people are fickle, and there is so much choice out there around what to spend money on. I don't know how they manage to make it financially viable to make one or two characters, dump the license and move on, but they have. I assume it's because they work under the assumption that they would rather be sure of selling 100 Batman and 100 Joker and ending the line there, than risk selling 100 Batman and only 20 Two-Face which wouldn't justify a second line being released. EFX were taking a huge gamble, trying to stretch out a line that was never going to be able to support more than one or two releases.

    Travis, I'm almost certain you've got a strong marketing degree as well as a lot of experience behind you, am I right? But it seems so often companies like EFX grow out of what some fan started in his mom's garage. And that is so awesome that people can take what they love and make it their life's work. But it also means so often people are running a company with no business training.
  5. AnimalAttack

    AnimalAttack New Member

    Sorry for my ignorance, but when does the eFX muppet license end?
  6. MuppetCaper

    MuppetCaper Active Member

    I believe that if Sideshow sold plastic replica apples, they would sell. It is not a matter of them having the Star Wars license. They can lose it tomorrow and still be successful. The reason why? they listen to their customers and what they want. As a avid Star Wars collector and buying from Sideshows many of times, I notice that a lot of other licenses do just as good if not better than the Star Wars license. They have such a large variety of other themes that would do just find by themselves. They do read their forums and the fans concerns. I remember when the Stormtrooper came out and how their where so many complains on it not being shiny or the chest plate was too wide etc. So when the Sandtrooper came out, they fixed all that....including the wonky helmet that was not right. That was fixed before they mass produced the Stormtrooper. So it goes to show you that a successful company is one that listens with their ears open and that what brings in the money. As far as eFX is concerned, I believe it is another direction we are dealing with. Yes, it is a small company, and they want the best for their products, but these are not dolls we are talking about. We are talking about high end collectibles. And like I said before, with the economy and Disney's restrictions, it makes everything difficult for these. I wish Bryan the best, I know that he really has passion for what he does and sometimes, not everything works out the way it should, I can only imagine how frustrating it gets on the level of completion. Also, with us constantly on him about it. I think, knows and feels what we do as far as having more Muppet replicas. I am pretty dead on that he wants us to have something more than what we had at MR's by making them EXACT replicas. I am sure he is not giving up, and we should keep our heads up and just hope that it comes down to at least having one replica if not none at all.
  7. Reevz1977

    Reevz1977 Well-Known Member

    Travis is back - could this be a positive omen ? ? ? Fingers crossed :)
  8. ElecMayhem

    ElecMayhem Member

    This is absolutely correct, and for the right reason as well. Real market research costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    I think there is some truth to this statement. Generally, the types of people that start these companies are fans of the various licenses they are working with. Bryan at eFX for instance, is a life-long Star Wars fan; he knows it inside and out. And even if the owner of the company is not, very often there is someone on staff who loves the brand, and who champions it internally. (The flip side to that is that sometimes when you're in that kind of position, you get handed a brand that you know nothing about, and have to "train" yourself...) In this case, Bryan was very keen to continue with the Muppets because -- like all of us -- he believed it was a project worth doing. And, it was meant to be a continuation of the work that MR had done... So, although I was not involved in the decision to lead with Rizzo, I cannot say with 100% certainty that I would have disagreed with it, had I been asked.

    Honestly, I don't think it was eFX's choice of Rizzo that's hurting them... it's their inability to get him manufactured. Which, frankly, was the same problem we had with Fozzie. As I mentioned somewhere in my earlier post, the vendors were not up for such labor-intensive projects with such short runs. eFX was aware of MR's problems, and thought they had a solution, but I don't know what became of that. There was some retail interest in Fozzie, but not much. And those same retailers were interested in Rizzo. I understand you're reasoning that Rizzo is less popular than Fozzie... but I would argue that, at the end of the day, that's not what is troubling this line. It's 100% a manufacturing issue.

    Again, I think there is some truth to this... As I said before, losing Star Wars was, in my opinion, one nail in MR's coffin. But Sideshow in particular, I think, can live on without Star Wars. They have a ton of other licenses, and were actually thriving before they GOT the Star Wars license.


    I appreciate you saying that, but actually my degrees are in Theatre, English and Education... all of which have helped me tremendously in terms of becoming a successful marketer. But really it's been 10 years "in the field" learning through trial and error that have been my real marketing education. And I still have a lot to learn. In truth, I actually WAS (am?) one of those fanboys; and while I did not start a company, I met Ken Lilly here on MuppetCentral, and went to work for Palisades toys. Palisades was actually a pretty healthy mix of fan-boys and business people... But in the end, that didn't save it from eventually going belly-up. :(

    Hope my comments help shed SOME light on the matter.
  9. ElecMayhem

    ElecMayhem Member

    Ah, I don't want to be an omen! ;)

    I've actually been here all along, lurking and reading... I just didn't feel compelled to comment on any of this for a long time.

    I still don't have much in the way of actual intel, either. In fact, I don't have any. Just a little bit of background info. I hope eFX gets this thing off the ground just as much as anyone, for their sake, for the fans' sake, and for the betterment of the Muppet brand.

    That's something to cross your fingers about!
  10. MuppetCaper

    MuppetCaper Active Member

    Well Travis, it is ALWAYS nice to hear from you anyways as part of the Muppet fans family. I also think you explain it in a very reasonable way since you know a bit about the ins and outs of this subject. I just keep hoping and wishing Bryan and the gang at their best to do what they can for their fans. I am sure he and everyone here would love to see at least one of these come out. And we all know that at least they are trying to do what they can in this kind of market.
  11. Bear Man

    Bear Man Member

    Thanks for taking the time to read through my novella Travis, comment on it, and not take any offence at some of the less than flattering observations I made.

    I guess that my pro-Fozzie argument comes from this reasoning, which may be totally not the way the world works: Soliciting a more recognisable character would result in more pre-orders being placed. More pre-orders gives EFX a larger pot of money to begin manufacture. With more money available for manufacture higher quality factories can be sourced and/or factories can be paid a premium to compensate for their reluctance to take on such a small/technically complex task. So in my eyes, inability to take it to take it to the manufacturing stage is actually tied into selecting the wrong product to build. (Granted I never expected actual manufacturing problems to stall the product before it even started. I expected the line to end because scores and scores of Rizzos sat in inventory because the character was not popular enough to warranty its purchase at such a high premium that would be driven by the very nature of the posers).

    On a sort-of-related note, I have a vague memory floating around the back of my brain that you had a photo of the incredibly bad first factory attempt at Fozzie. Any chance we could get a look-see at it, just for fun?

    And I should also clarify myself around the Sideshow/Star Wars comments. I'm not saying that their other products are not strong, I'm saying that the release schedule model of holding back key characters/characters in their iconic representation, in order to extend the longevity and financial viability of a license is something that they apply to every line they have, and it is actually only something that works with those peculiar Star Wars nuts (all said with love, MuppetCaper, with pure love ;-)) If you look at Sideshow's Lord of the Rings figures the Fellowship remains incomplete because they placed a minor character into the sales line-up early on, and this disrupted the purchasing cycle in a way that the line (already expensive to produce) could not recover from. With Indiana Jones they chose to release Belloq in a non-iconic costume, and then multiple versions of Indy killed customer interest when they were crying out for Marian, or Sallah, or (heaven help us) Short Round. I admit there were some quality issues that compounded the problems, but fundamentally they try to administer all licences to the Star Wars license model and that's a big mistake. Those tactics work for Star Wars - 38 versions of Luke? No worries. What will the next figure release be - C-3PO or R2D2? Nope, it's the third alien from the left who crosses the middle background about 38 minutes into the movie. We'll leave those two droids for later. And there will be a lot of people who will know that character's ret-conned back story and be happy to buy it. No way on earth will this approach work for any other licensed property.

    Sorry for yet another essay, but I figure you understand the compulsion I have to write as much as possible. After all, my degrees are also in Theatre, English, and Education. (If you're trying to steal my identity, Travis, you'll find there's not a lot gain from that!)
  12. MadForPepe

    MadForPepe New Member

    600 dollars is a lot of money

    Thanks for the answers!

    600 dollars is also what a (private) puppet maker asked. Yes that would be illegal, but still.

    I think 600 dollars is way to much. Of course quality doesn't come cheap but you have to think about a cost-effective production line and be able to sell big time.

    I think 300 dollars would be the max for me, but still way to expensive for most fans out there. But eFX could have known this right from the start. Why not make small changes? I mean, the Gonzo doll out there on Amazon would do the trick for me if it was a Pepe! (yes i know, a puppet is not a doll)

    :concern:
  13. Luke

    Luke Active Member

    It costs quite a lot of money to get an accurate looking "Muppet" replica. I'm not even quite sure exactly the quality Pepe you would get from a private puppet maker for $600 ... Pepe's one of the more complex ones so i'm guessing it wouldn't have been anywhere near being actually "Pepe".

    Master Replicas did a heck of a job at the posers with a price point of $300 ish. Doubt anyone could have done better with the budget they must have had .. Gonzo nose aside, but i think we have done that debate to death, lol.

    If you were to start making cuts even more then you would be running into "plushie" territory not "replica"
  14. Luke

    Luke Active Member

    Yeah they copied that from Ken Lilly (and later Travis) at Palisades, he was the first person I think who ever really got the whole listening and interacting thing right. Sure he got some flack for it at first, but then he also made it a two way street giving back to the collectors of the line as well (in terms of on box credits, thank you presents, collectors club, taking the time out to meet and talk with them at conventions). The people who know the license best are usually the collectors who have known the brand for years - it isn't just them being generous, interacting with fans, it also makes their products better and then increases their business.


    I sympathise with eFX that things changed very much since they got the license but I don't think Disney's "restrictions" is quite the right term. It's Disney's job to look after and protect the Muppet brand. When eFX go to Disney to get the license, or for product approval it's their responsibility to know how to make it, where to make it, and be able to produce at retail more or less the exact prototype they are showing them. Of course they charge eFX if further factory prototypes aren't up to scratch - it costs Disney money to do the QC work in approving or rejecting them. It's not Disney's fault the economy has changed or that factory A in the end could not make them and factory B is more expensive or does things differently. They still have to expect the quality of the product that was initially pitched to them and they sold the license based on. Although i'm sure some bargaining goes on they can't automatically be expected to agree to lessen the quality of a Muppet product based on a companies troubles and if they are then presented with a "budget" prototype then they are never going to be EXACT replicas.
  15. MadForPepe

    MadForPepe New Member

    Ok well, of course being a Pepe fan even a nice plush look-a-like would be something. Because now there is none. But a high-end replica is of course the best you could ever wish for. And you know what, I would even save some money for an exact replica (even if it is 600 dollars or more). And I totally agree with Luke's reply.
  16. Davina

    Davina Member

    some decent large plushies would be nice, just in general..
    would have been nice to have gotten one of Pepe before our little Pepe passed away, so we could do group photos.. hehee.. we always wanted to do that with her (the little dog in my avatar pic..)
  17. Luke

    Luke Active Member

    I think what with the movie and Disney's retailing, large plushies will happen sooner rather than later. I can't honestly see Disney sitting back and making nothing for its stores.

    I really loved the poser line. Not sure how long their license lasts but if it goes for a year or so after the movie maybe there would be more chance of sales then to kinda push the manufacturing into happening.
  18. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    I agree. And maybe some company sometime will figure out how to make at least a high quality plush and other figural items that doesn't have the number of restrictions these posers require. The popularity of more accessible items could lead to interest in posers again. :)
  19. Andibcool

    Andibcool Member

    Hmm im still interested in the poser line but EFX dont seem to get any new out.
    I understand the posers cost quite some buck, but if they cost to much not many ppl cant even afford to buy one. Prices like 300$ seem ok if it goes higher i would pass on em even if i had the money.
    What me makes to wonder is, the Gonzo poser sold that bad. I would say out of the three he has the most valure for the money and looks pretty accurate.
    Granted the suit does not look that good but i still think he is well done.
    Kermit is indeed my favorite too but i think Gonzo has more to offer and looks more accurate.
    I dont really think we see any poser from EFX on the storeshelfs.
    Im glad i got the 3 from master replicas, they are sure something special to own.
  20. Davina

    Davina Member

    With Gonzo, I recall a LOT of people not being happy with the compromise they had to come to regarding his nose, which meant there were a lot of people who didn't buy him just because of that. I have all three, but we had to delay Animal and Gonzo when they were released. We'd had the money, then had emergency vet bills when Pepe started having odd seizures so had to use the money for that instead. By the time we had the cash back up for both of them, prices had bottomed out on them, which, while being nice for our pocketbook, was bad for the company. We currently have the cash saved for more posers, but since it looks like none will be forthcoming any time soon, I think I'm going to put it towards a new stove, which we are also in need of at present


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