Chris Mirjahangir and site contributor Jeremy Williams chat with Super7 Founder and CEO Brian Flynn about the new Godzilla toy line being produced by Super7, as well as Brian’s experience with Godzilla toy collecting. Interview conducted over Zoom on February 11th, 2022. Interview transcribed by Noah Percival.
Note: This was less of an interview and more of a conversation over Zoom. It was transcribed and edited for flow. Enjoy!
Chris Where did it (being a Godzilla fan) all start for you?
Brian Flynn Well, I mean, obviously, as kids you grow up watching Godzilla movies on uh you know, weekend, you know, weekend Saturday afternoon TV shows. The funniest, the funniest story I have is when I was really young. So six, seven and eight, my my parents were in the military, so we lived on an Air Force base in Bitburg, Germany. And on the weekends they had quarter matinees for kids, sort of a way to babysit the kids of the Air Force base. So you’d go see a G-rated cartoon or movie or something for a quarter on Saturday. It sounds like you’re living in the 1950s for a quarter. I went to a movie, but you know, it was more babysitting than anything else. And so, you just went every weekend and one weekend it was Yog, Monster from Space.
AKA Gezora and you know, I’m in the theater and I’m watching it, you know, and here comes Yog, and he comes up and he smashes the shit, the ship, and the guy goes overboard and, you know, washes up on shore. And then you see him sort of wake up and get up and walk off and they pan over to Yog’s eye sort of looking at him. And then they cut to that shot, like, from space of Yog coming up to the edge of the beach and then standing up on his tentacles and starting to walk across that land. And I was like seven, I was just like, “This was fine when Yog was in the ocean, but Yog was coming to get me!” My brain just melted and I just turned, ran out of the movie theater and ran all the way home because Yog was coming to get me. So there you go. That’s my start on the the world of Toho.
Chris How did licensing with Toho start?
Brian Flynn How did our licensing with Toho start? Actually, the first issue of the magazine back in 2001. So when we started, Super7 was a magazine about collecting mostly Japanese toys. And the reason at the time was obviously action figure news and toy reviews existed. Tomarts existed. You could get Hyper Hobby or Figure King from Japan, but there wasn’t really any place that you could go in English and really understand anything about collecting Japanese toys. And at the time you know, collecting vintage Japanese toys was a really interesting sort of thing. American collectors were incredibly collaborative because nobody really knew anything. Very few people spoke any Japanese of any sort. So if you knew something, you would talk to somebody else to see what they knew. It was very, very collaborative. Yeah, of course you had some collectors that were less so, but for the most part everyone would really talk together.
Brian Flynn And I was starting to travel to Japan very regularly and buy stuff in Japan very regularly. And as I got to know, dealers and people like you give them one or whoever in Japan, I would hear about different things and rare things or just history of toys like why the J-tail exists for the Marusan Godzilla. But it was very much a “you don’t tell anybody else what you know” like, because then they can use the information and you wouldn’t get the toy. For the most part, more of the high end collectors that we met in Japan were very, very, and I’m not going to find the right word because it’s not reclusive and it’s not iso… iso… I was going to say isolatory, but I don’t even know if that’s a word, but everything was held very close to the vest. So information was sort of at a premium because there was obviously much more competition for toys. And one of the things we really wanted to do with Super7 was make all the information that we had found out, like available because like, how am I supposed to collect this stuff if I don’t even know what’s out there? And it’s easy to know like, hey Bullmark made a Godzilla, Bullmark made a this, Bullmark made a that, but then no one wants to talk about well, well don’t tell anybody about the flesh vinyl because you don’t want them to know about the flesh vinyls or don’t tell anybody about the Hawaii sprays. And don’t tell anybody about tail mold variations, like when I went back to Japan after the issue, uh the first issue of Super7, I got scolded by a see… a very old Japanese toy collector that basically had told me about the J tail Godzilla, and he’s like, “I didn’t tell you about the J-tail Godzilla so that you could put it in print.”
Like, “That information was for you so that you could find one. But it wasn’t for you to tell other people.”
Brian Flynn And so, you know it just there’s just a very different point of view around collecting. So coming all backwards is when we started the magazine, we wanted it to be the experience like it was of buying a Hyper Hobby or a Figure King in Japan, where you had to buy the magazine and then cut out a coupon to mail in with your money for an exclusive paint variant. So in the first issue of Super7, we did a clear gray bear model of 1954 Godzilla along with an M1 Gorgo in conjunction with Club Daikaiju. So our very first Godzilla exclusive was the 54 bear model clear gray in issue one May 2001.
Chris And cut to now where Godzilla is this huge thing. But with your announcement with the Godzilla 57, that kind of opened up this new Pandora’s box. That was like a more obscure design. But, does that kind of also mean you can go after more other, more obscure designs like the Stan Winston Godzilla or the one from the Godzilla 3D that was supposed to be like in the 80s?
Brian Flynn Yeah, I mean, right now that’s part of what we want to do is like, we want to go deep on every Godzilla. There’s a sort of two different things. Obviously, I’m making a grand amount of assumptions by people coming to a place called Toho Kingdom that you’re like, “Look, I don’t necessarily need another 54 Godzilla or another Baragon. Like, I’ve got that.” But, for your average collector in the United States that does want to get, that isn’t like a die hard guy buying M1s and Marmits and things from Japan, where they’re $200 a figure, you know, they can’t go out and buy Anguirus. They can’t buy Baragon. They can’t buy Kamacuras. They can’t buy, you know, Jet Jaguar. So the first part is, I want to make sure that we’re bringing all the characters to American collectors and obviously we’re doing it now instead of in a Japanese vinyl way, the way we did for a decade, we’re going to do it in an American action figure format. But at the same time, I’m then going to say like, “OK, well, here’s all the other deep cuts that you don’t normally get to.” And 57 Godzilla is a perfect example. Like, here’s a uniquely American, if you will, Godzilla that I can tell you I don’t own one, and I got a lot of Godzilla toys. So like, how do we start getting into all the weird nook and crannies that normally don’t get touched? Whether you know, here’s Marvel Godzilla comic books, here’s the animated series with, you know, Godzooky here. There’s so many… there’s so many weird offshoots. It’s sort of like having this conversation with Toho sometimes where we’re like, “OK, we want to make this Godzilla. We want to make it green.” And they’re like, “Well, Godzilla is not green.” Like, I know, Godzilla is not green in Japan. Godzilla is green in America, because every other time you saw him, it wasn’t in a movie and he was green. It’s sort of like when you talk about money, everybody’s like, “Yeah money’s green.” It’s like money’s black and white with a little bit of green egg. But mentally, you think it’s green.
Chris The licensing I’m curious about because I remember NECA was doing their Godzilla line, then they just stopped and then Playmates comes in and says they’re the master license holder. You deal with them? I mean, how does it all work?
Brian Flynn It’s sort of a different sort of beast. So obviously, NECA had it for a while. You could argue in a simplistic way that we’re, we’re in the same space that NECA was. There’s licensing restrictions on, you know like, Playmates is very much a mass retail licensor. So like when you go to boys action figures in Target and Walmart, that is where you will find Godzilla toys from Playmates. When you start talking about independent retail and mom and pop distribution, that’s where you would theoretically find us and NECA. Obviously, NECA crossed over at the end with the stuff that they were selling to Target in their collector section, which is back in the DVD area. But for the most part, those two worlds aren’t supposed to cross like that. We make our stuff and we sell outside of the major channels. They make their stuff that’s made in the major channels because that stuff is predominantly geared towards children. We’re targeting an adult for the most part.
Chris Ok, you mentioned the Marvel Godzilla. I was just wondering if that one can come to light as well.
Brian Flynn It’s very possible we’re working on it. All of those things become multi, multi licensing deals, like we’ve got to clear it with Toho, but we’ve also got to clear it with Marvel, which is a sub of Disney so you know. But we’re doing some work with Disney, but not specifically with Marvel and you know, those are all things that we’re slowly working our way through.
Chris But, it opens the door a little bit.
Brian Flynn Completely, completely. And I think if you were to look at maybe a lot of the other stuff that we’ve done over the last, you know, five or six years at Super7, you’ll see a lot of stuff where you’re like, “Oh, to make that, they had to get three or four people all on the same page.” That stuff generally takes some time, like the William Stout Masters of the Universe movie figures.
Jeremy Which are really cool, by the way.
Brian Flynn Yeah, well it’s not just Masters of the Universe, you’ve also got to get William Stout and you’ve got to get actor likeness and and you know. You’ve got to get a lot of people to line up but it’s harder, but it’s not impossible. So all of that stuff is definitely the stuff that I want to do, which is here’s all the stuff, like I said, I’m not trying to restate it but here’s the stuff for the American collector that isn’t buying Japanese Godzilla toys that wants Godzilla toys? Now let’s get into it’s not just Godzilla, it’s all the monsters. And then for the guy that does actually have a lot of the stuff now, what am I bringing to you that you’ve never been able to buy before?
Chris You know, I had reviewed the Shogun Godzilla and did the glow in the dark, but when I got the actual one, I couldn’t even take it out of the package, cause if I do that, I’m just going to ruin the whole thing (in my review, I pointed out how I loved the entire package and just couldn’t bring myself to open up the plastic and damage the backing card), whole experience. So I reviewed it still in there but I was wondering if you would go if there’s the possibility, I guess the Ultimate, to make one of those in that size?
Brian Flynn I hadn’t actually thought about that, that’s, it’s such a fun… That toy gives me such joy, it shouldn’t make me as happy as it does but I love that toy so much. And you know, like I said and then, and maybe people got it maybe they didn’t but if you, the glow in the dark version? When you turn it around, it’s our interpretation of the Aurora Godzilla kit painted on top of the Shogun Godzilla. And it just kind of like…
Chris That threw me because I thought it was a rerelease (of the Aurora Godzilla model). I was like, “Why is this (design) on here?” You know what I mean?
Brian Flynn We’ve already done the one, like here’s one.
Chris Yeah well the Aurora Godzilla I was like, “Well, this is a different figure, why is it on here?”… but in that line, the Shogun Godzilla line, could you also bring back the Rodan as well, which is so sought after?
Brian Flynn Well, it’s one of those things. I don’t know if this is going to end up as a video or not?
Chris No, it’s transcribed.
Brian Flynn Oh, it’s going to be transcribed so nobody can see my face, but oh shit like of course we’re making Rodan, come on!
Jeremy That’s awesome!
Brian Flynn Of course we’re making Rodan! It’s funny because you know, I’ve had my Rodan for I don’t know… 23, 24 years, right? When I got it, I got it with a box. But when you put stuff on your shelf, you don’t have room for the boxes and for the life of me, I have no idea where my box is. I’ve looked for it like six times I’m like, “Where the hell is my box?” And then I go on to eBay like, “Alright I’ll have to get a new box.” I’m like, “I’m not getting a new box!”
Jeremy Oh, well, speaking of the box real quick, I have to say that was probably one of my favorite aspects of your first Shogun ReAction Godzilla, like even replicating the original box in such a small format. But I’m, I’m also curious because you mentioned about how the glow in the dark Shogun was sort of an homage and even sort of replicating aspects of the Aurora design.
Brian Flynn Yep.
Jeremy Could we see any other forms of that like, say with potentially like, you know doing any sort of homage to Trendmasters figures since they were really big in the 90s, or even potentially tackling something like maybe doing a version of some of the unreleased prototypes for the Godzilla: The Series line that they had all ready to go, but then, for whatever reason, just didn’t come out.
Brian Flynn I think that over, over the next year you’ll probably start seeing a lot of really goofy things coming out from us, like you know, there’s going to be some very straightforward stuff where it’s like, “Oh, here’s a wave of ReAction figures,” and there’s six figures, and we can just assume that here’s Wave two and it’s another wave of six and there’s this, but we’re going to throw in some weird curveballs in between. I think they’re like, “Oh, you did what? They did what?” And it might be some stuff like the Aurora version of the Shogun, where you’re like, “I don’t understand quite why they did this” and me being slightly… I mean, I’m making a grand assumption here that it’s me being slightly older you know, when I started collecting Godzilla toys for American Godzilla, you could collect the Aurora kit, you could collect the Shogun, you could collect the Imperial, and that was that.
Jeremy Yeah, it was very limited back then.
Brian Flynn So to me, you know, that colorway of the glow in the dark Aurora kit is sort of synonymous with you know, American Godzilla. Like I think, you know, it’s no different than if I talk about the Bullmarks, I’m like, you know, the flesh vinyl, metallic blue paint. You know so yeah but the flesh vinyl metallic blue paint Godzilla is something that is uniquely American. Now, I do know that technically speaking, the fleshes were also exported throughout Japan, while the the green with the metallic gold is technically only Hawaii. You know, it’s still one of those things where I’m like, that is an American Godzilla where a traditional sort of, you know dark green and not the Japanese Godzilla.
Jeremy Yeah, which is something that I’ve really appreciated so far throughout the offerings that Super7 has been offering and just kind of sort of focusing on some of the aspects of some of the American merchandise that we’ve had throughout the years and decades since. And even speaking of the Aurora Godzilla, I’m sure this has probably been discussed in some form, but is there potential to maybe see that in a ReAction figure scale or maybe even in like another line of figures that you guys do?
Brian Flynn It’s definitely something that we’ve discussed.
Jeremy Ok, I figure because I remember that was one of the things that was really exciting was like, Oh, you like the tease of it? And it was the Shogun and I was like “Oh, that’s really cool” but it would really be… not that that figure wasn’t awesome it was so cool, but it would be really interesting to see the the Aurora design in that format as well. As well as just you know, even seeing the Shogun Godzilla and like you know, maybe in like a slightly bigger scale to like you know actually have like, you know the rocket fist would be really cool as well.
Brian Flynn Yeah there’s some really… I think there’s some very obvious misses. I mean, if you go back to all the Godzilla toys that we made back in the day in Japan. You know, so many of the toys we made still have other company’s names on them but they were very much were like those companies going, you know you’re buying all of you know, tell me what you want to make because you’re buying them all. So you know, if you talk about like the Marusan giant sized Godzilla for example, the scale up of the nine inch but at the 15 inch scale, I mean that was me very deliberately going to them and saying, “Hey, you know, the giant sized Godzilla sculpt that Bullmark made I just never liked. I loved the original one can we just scale this thing up? Can you scale it up and like, make an alternate universe of what would have happened what would the giant size have looked like?” When you have the standard sized Jet Jaguar, it was the same thing. We did that that was, “Hey how come Jet Jaguar never got made as a Bullmark standard size?” Then they would be like, “I don’t know, why hasn’t that?” And I’m like, “All right then make one of those. And then if you make one like, we’ll make some exclusives of it and can we make one that is then clear with the tinsel inserts that match the Bullmark Ultra Series and Triple Fighter and to a degree, the Astro-Mu figures that were clear with the tinsel inserts.” I said “Oh OK, that all makes sense.”
Brian Flynn But you know in that regard you know, those people will be like, “Oh that’s their toy.” It is, but that was us sort of along with a bunch of other stuff that was us designing the toy for another company in Japan because we couldn’t make it and in return, we got to bring and have our own versions for the states. Does that make sense?
Jeremy Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah, and another one that I’m really curious about because an aspect I’ve always liked about Super7 is it’s not that you guys are necessarily a collectible company that just focuses on, say, like figures and stuff. You also focus on like other forms of merchandise with like shirts and sweaters and other really cool items. I mean, like you guys did the sort of like homage to like the drive through glasses.
And I’m curious are there any other sort of like a novelty type items that we can expect this year? I mean, not necessarily exactly that, but I remember in the in the last couple of years, you guys did the Universal Monsters like sort of Halloween buckets and I think you guys even did masks with them as well. Is there any chance that we could see any like Godzilla stuff going that far or can we see it more stick in the realm of what we’ve seen so far from Super7?
Brian Flynn No, no, no. I mean, I’m going to make as much Godzilla stuff as people let me make.
Jeremy That’s awesome, man!
Brian Flynn I’ll be very clear about that. I’m going to be, I’m going to get real nerdy with it. I think the thing is that we went into with some of those other licenses that it’s important when I talk about all this stuff because generally what happens is we start making a bunch of these other goofy stuff and then you get half the fandom that’s into it. Half the fandom is like, “Why are you wasting your time on this bullshit when you could be making me this other thing that I want?” It’s really important to realize that like when we all collect all this stuff, we all collect our own points of view around it.
Jeremy Especially with something like Godzilla, because this is something that’s so generational, it’s like you kind of get introduced at a certain point and let’s say that film or that era becomes like, that’s your Godzilla, and that’s kind of what you want to focus on.
Brian Flynn Yeah. So, in that regard, when we start making some of this, we are definitely going to start making more oddball stuff here and there. And that’s because it’s like it’s for this person over here. And if it’s not for you, even though you love Godzilla, it’s OK that this part isn’t for you to buy because I’m going to make something else that’s over here in a different direction that is for you, hopefully to buy and it’s not a competition between which Godzilla line is better and it’s not going to be sort of a, if this thing gets made it’s stopping me from making something else that you might want to make. We’ve definitely run into that with a couple other fandoms, and it takes a while before people realize because they’re so used to not getting enough stuff that they want?
Jeremy That they want to get everything at first.
Brian Flynn They want to get everything, and they get really frustrated when it’s not the version that they want. So we’ve got plenty of time here and we’re going to make plenty of things. So I mean, assuming that we get approvals on all that, you know, there’s all sorts of fun stuff to be made in the world of Godzilla. And you know, I don’t want to go back to some of the cornball stuff that you would see in the late 70s, early 80s. Like, I don’t want to make Godzilla lighters.
Jeremy But I think seeing something like some of the stuff from the 70s would be interesting. I mean, you know, one film that I think kind of gets lambasted a bit, but people kind of forget that it was a huge film for a certain generation was Godzilla vs. Megalon.
Brian Flynn Oh yeah, Megalon was amazing!
Jeremy Yeah exactly and like, like you’re starting to see a resurgence of like Jet Jaguar in some aspect of course, with him being in the first wave of the ReAction figures and like definitely, I mean like just some of the merchandise from the American side of stuff, even like just the promotional items that would just be cool to see incorporated. I mean like that poster is just like so iconic and even like the sort of like, you know, adverts that they did with like the buttons for like the “vote for Godzilla” or for like “this character for president” that they did back in the day is just something that really is intriguing and I’m curious to see where you go with Super7, especially talking about all the oddities and everything that you know you guys kind of opened up to.
Brian Flynn Yeah, if you look at some of the stuff we’ve done like if you can Google up the bodega that we did for Universal Monsters for two years in a row, which is where some of the masks and stuff started with you know, those were really great places where we made all sorts, I mean, we made Wolfman Pomade, Frankenstein lighters, you know? But there was also T-shirts, sweatshirts, stickers, buttons. It’s like, OK, let’s have a moment around this license where we just we have a lot of fun with it and we’re not trying to sell a million of them like, let’s just you know. And I think you may have seen, you know, we’re just getting started like the first two Godzilla puzzles came out, which I know it’s pretty straightforward in some ways, you know, it’s not reinventing the wheel, but it’s also like, No, no, no, let’s come back here and we’re going to use, you know, the landscape poster and make it a long, skinny puzzle and you know, because it’s the first movie. Oh, OK. Well, I didn’t expect that or I don’t have that where, you know, making the American fifty four movie poster. Maybe it’s obvious, but I’m also like, I don’t think it’s ever been made as a puzzle before.
Chris I’m curious if you will be doing tackling any of the MonsterVerse stuff, going after Legendary’s originals like the Behemoth. Is that on the table?
Brian Flynn Legendary is a different thing. Anything Legendary is a whole that’s sort of like… I hate to call it modern Godzilla, because obviously there’s still there’s modern Godzilla on the Toho side, but the Legendary side is a different, different set of licensing and a different set of things, so we won’t be able to touch Legendary.
Jeremy So this is just strictly like Toho original stuff then?
Brian Flynn It’s all Toho.
Chris Does that extend to the video game, Super Godzilla and everything else? Because, NECA had their video game Godzilla right? The 84 figure with that (video game style paint job), Super Godzilla that video game kinda be on the table?
Brian Flynn You know, I don’t know. I’d have to ask. I would assume that it probably would be because it came from Japan, you know? So I would assume that it probably would be.
Jeremy I’m also curious because it was the Super7’s mostly sticking to the Toho stuff, is there the possibility that we could see merchandise or even say monsters included in, say the ReAction line that are a part of the Toho monster catalog that haven’t made an appearance in Godzilla or say it was just like a brief cameo appearance? Or maybe like, you know, stock footage or something.
Brian Flynn That we’ve talked a lot about that right now. Obviously, we’re just getting started and you know, you could rattle off 40 Godzilla monsters in 30 seconds. So before you start talking about, you know, Ebirah, or Yog, or Gezora or, you know the Gargantuans or other stuff you know. Those are all conversations that we have had, but it’s sort of been like, OK, well, let’s at least get started with the with the monsters themselves first, with Godzilla first. And if there continues to be interest which I hope there is, then yeah I’d love to be getting into you know all of the stuff, you know like Matango is a perfect example.
Brian Flynn Can you ever have enough Matango figures? And I don’t think the answer is yes.
Jeremy Oh, especially here in the States, I don’t think we’ve even gotten really like more than maybe a handful, if even that of official things in the states.
Brian Flynn Yeah.
Chris Now, is there a timeframe in which you have the license? Sometimes people, you know, they have them for like a few years and then (the license expires), is this something that’s going to be ongoing?
Brian Flynn Well, every license in the world is, you know, is two to three years, depending on the license. They never give you any more time than that. That said, if you do a good job, everybody gets along, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. There’s no reason to assume that you shouldn’t be able to continue that license. So my assumption would be that unless we really screw it up, that we should be able to go for a good long while.
Jeremy That’s good.
Chris OK and Godzilla stuff, as you know from the Shogun one that it sells out really quick. Do you do re-releases or is it just a one and done?
Brian Flynn It depends on what it is and what it’s meant for. So in the case of like the one that the Shogun Godzilla in the box, that caught us a little bit by surprise that it went as fast as it did.
Jeremy Yeah I remember I was very surprised that I was able to get one because it was gone like in under like a minute or two it seemed like.
Brian Flynn I don’t think it was near that fast, but it was in the first hour. You know, we expected it to be a day or two, but we’d also planned from the very beginning that that boxed one was sort of, you know, that sort of a little special item. And then it’s going to come out on card and the on card one is the one that gets out there wide. And that’s the one that we give everybody a chance to get because that’s sort of the traditional action figure for lack of a better description. You know, and then there are differences, ones you know the one in the Shogun box is the lighter green, and the one on the card is a slightly darker olive green that matches the two colorways of the original Shogun.
Jeremy Oh, that’s cool I didn’t notice that.
Brian Flynn So you know, like I said if you put them next to each other, you’ll be like, “Oh, they’re two different greens.” And it’s like, Yes, because the Shogun Godzilla came in two different greens
Chris Do you have a dream release, the one that you’ve wanted to make and you’re on the cusp of, or it’s still in the works?
Brian Flynn Yes, and it’s all in the works. Let me pull up, I’m going to pull up a tab on my screen real quick hold on. I got to see because it’s it’s a long, arduous process to get this thing made. It is on schedule right now for November of 22. That is by no means to say that it will actually make it on time or anything else but…
Chris It’s the hope.
Brian Flynn There is a dream of all the stuff we’ve got going on. And there’s, you know, there’s some stuff. The Dream project is currently on schedule for November of this year. So you know if it all, if everything goes well, we’ll announce it clearly before then but there’ll be something later this year where you go, “Oh, that’s what he was talking about. Now I know. Now I know that’s what he’s talking about.”
Chris Now, you as a fan do you collect just the toys or, do you go into the other aspects like all the films and the soundtracks and everything as well?
Brian Flynn I used to sort of be much more completist. Then you run out of room. And the reality is I not only collect obviously Godzilla stuff, but I collect you know, Japanese toys in general like I collect… I had to pare down while I do still have Shoguns like I don’t really actively collect Jumbo Machinders cause it was too expensive. Like I’ve got a few, but Jumbos were too expensive and I would say it was probably ninety eight or ninety nine when I had to make a decision on what I was collecting. So I had to pare down and I sold off all my diecast except for my Tahoe bowl pets. I sold off all my diecast and then just focused on vinyl only. And so within Japanese vinyl figures, you know, um, I’m at the point where the things I don’t have, I can’t afford.
Chris How is it for you as a fan to be seeing Godzilla in such a mainstream light now?
Brian Flynn Well, it’s really weird because you have to remember like if you Google they’re out there, you can see pictures of like the Super7 store that we opened in Japan town in 2003. And it’s it’s a wall you know, it’s a 12 foot shelves, walls, full floor to ceiling with M-1 and Marmit and Bear Model vinyls of Godzilla, King Ghidorah, and everything. And that was always full, and we would slowly sell through it and carry it but like, you know it was few and far between that somebody came in and was like, “That’s a $75 Godzilla but I think I’m into it.” You had to have somebody that really knew what you’re going through. And the other funny part is at that time you know, those figures now, those same figures are like that’s a thousand dollars. You’re like,”What? The one that’s… huh? How does that work?” So it’s just very interesting to see how much it has mainstream, but not so much how much it’s mainstream, because everybody knows who Godzilla is. So Godzilla is mainstream. How many people are interested in buying Godzilla product is what has been very surprising. Because you know, like I said, we made stuff in Japan for over a decade and you know, it was a very small, dedicated group of people. You knew that you had 100 or 200 people that you could sell the stuff to, but it wasn’t much bigger than that. And obviously, now we’re looking at something that is radically different and people’s appreciation of the entire history of the Godzilla, well it’s a Godzilla cinematic universe you know? Whether you’re talking about Showa, Heisei, or whatever. It’s like people are into it and want to collect it and it’s fascinating. But at the same time, your only options back then were the Bandai figures or you know, the newer stuff that was coming out of Japan, like the Marmits and the M1s and everything.
Like you know, I remember because I started collecting toys again in the summer of 1991. I started wanting my Star Wars figures again and started going out to flea markets and looking for stuff. And then you move into Shogun Warriors and you want the diecasts again and you want obviously all the Jumbos, including Godzilla. But when those 1991 Bandai’s came out and I could buy a rad Godzilla vinyl for twenty dollars? That was like it was crazy it was like, “I can’t believe they’re making this stuff!” This was a whole like, it’s kind of crazy to really think that in 1991, that’s the first time since Bullmark, which didn’t get exported to the States really you know. It did but it didn’t. That like, you could really buy Godzilla in mainstream. And I say mainstream, mainstream in Japan. I think mainstream in the States, but it was available to be imported. Like Yamakatsu made some stuff, but that wasn’t a big deal. Popy had made some stuff but that really didn’t get brought over other than the Godzilla Gang stuff, which other than Godzilla was all Ultra monsters. It just didn’t, the product just didn’t exist, flat out didn’t exist. And all of a sudden, magically, here’s this Bandai 1991 line, and we’re just like, “Uh! This is amazing! Like, I can buy Godzilla toys now!” And literally you buy them as they came out like, “OK, they made the 62 now. Oh, now they’re going to make the 64, and I gotta get that!” And then you were done! You checked it off the list because there was nothing else to get!
Chris Does it still seem like a small thing or does it seem like it’s off to the world now, even more so than before?
Brian Flynn I think it’s still small compared to the franchise, the other big franchises. Like as big as you could argue Godzilla is now compared to where it’s been, it’s still a, you know it’s still a fly compared to what Marvel’s doing or Batman’s doing. So there’s still so much more room for it to grow. You know, and then I, you know I being a grumpy old man, I definitely look at the new stuff as like, “That’s a different Godzilla than my Godzilla.”
Jeremy Exactly, yeah.
Brian Flynn But for my daughter she loves, she loves it. She’s like the new Godzilla vs. Kong, she loves that movie. She loves Kong Skull Island! She thinks Kong Skull Island is the greatest thing ever. She loved that movie, and I’m just like, you know, but that’s OK because that’s her version and because I get obsessed with 1974 Mechagodzilla. Like even for me to this day, when somebody says, “Oh you know, you know, SpaceGodzilla.” I’m like, “Well that’s new.”
Brian Flynn And its like, you know it’s not new it’s actually pretty old at this point!
Jeremy It’s like almost 30 years old!
Brian Flynn It’s almost 30 years old I’m like, “Nah, nah, that’s the, it’s it’s cool! I like it! But it’s still new Godzilla.”
Chris Well, there was one question I want to throw at you about the Godzilla 57. Could that also extend to the Anguirus 57?
Brian Flynn I don’t see why it shouldn’t!
Chris Yeah I mean these waves that you’ve kind of, you know cause they have wave 1, wave 2, how many waves do you have planned that haven’t been announced yet?
Brian Flynn I have roughly, not roughly because I had to give them a plan, but I gave… when we started with Toho, I gave them a 4 year outline so. Now my license isn’t for 4 years, but I gave them a 4 year outline of what I wanted to start with. So I have, I have no reason to believe that we shouldn’t get through that stuff and more.
Chris It’s interesting to be in new uncharted territory with Godzilla, isn’t it?
Brian Flynn Yeah I, you know I just don’t know what it’s going to all be like. Obviously you know, when I stick making 54, and 57, and 74 Mechagodzilla is… and I can make them available and they’re going to be much wider, would somebody like my daughter… my daughter’s getting a little old for this, but she’s about to be 14. You know, does she want that Godzilla? And maybe she doesn’t maybe what she wants is Legendary Godzilla. Well, people want to, you know, I don’t know. I’m over overthinking the business of it right now I’m just getting to make Godzilla toys and as long as everybody, or some people buy them? I don’t need to have everybody buy em. As long as some people buy them? I’m gonna make as many Godzilla toys as I can until people quit buying them.
Chris Now this is the 50th anniversary of Godzilla vs. Gigan and I think Toho is probably going to have some sort of anniversary (to commemorate the film’s release) thing. Would that be something you have planned as well or?
Brian Flynn I don’t have anything specifically around it. Like I said, I I more or less said, “Here’s how I think we should build a line that can be maintained and exciting for people over a long period of time.” And I didn’t tie it to like specific anniversaries, I didn’t tie it to specific moments, like anything I tied it more to like, “How do I walk a collector through here? How often do I go to a collector and ask them to buy something without over overtaxing them with too much product, but not giving them enough product? Like how do I…?” and so my plan was really sort of agnostic of any anniversaries or any moments. And then you know after that, that’s when we start going like, “OK now, now do we have something for Godzilla Day? Well, OK, maybe we do maybe we don’t.” but it was more like, “First let’s just plan out what the best toy line would be.” That make sense?
Chris And I had seen the Pixel Dan interview that you’ve done and you have the larger figures. You were going to be pairing Godzilla with another monster to fight?
Brian Flynn Yes. Like I was saying with Pixel Dan, like we have 4 that are done. They’re ready to go for preorder obviously, our Ultimates are all preorder business and, and marketing images were done. Things were approved and just as pricing and everything came back in, I just was really like, “I…I…” You know, as I talked about a bit with Dan, I was just like, “I don’t feel like this is… I feel like I’m being abusive to this collector.” Now if you’re the die hard, die hard guy thats used to paying 200 dollars for a Marmit from Super Festival or Wonder Festival every two months? Yeah an $85 Godzilla is not going to scare you. But for that American customer that’s trying to get into collecting Godzilla and saying, “Here’s a giant Godzilla figure, but it’s $85.” is already stretched. Now saying, “Here’s 4 figures for $85?” It’s kind of a little bit of like, “You know what, fuck you.” And so I really kind of… I just not really, I pulled the brakes on it and was like, “We’ve got to rethink what we’re doing here and what we’re trying to do and what am I asking that person to commit to, to collect this line? And is it realistic to make this line?” Because at a certain point, you like I was saying with Pixel Dan, you know, we can’t we’re not on video like, front to front like, “Oh Godzilla’s 3 quarters of an inch taller than Lion-O, so his head can look down on him that, that even though that’s not real proportional scale, it feels correct as a toy.” But when I turn this sideways this Godzilla figure’s, just the body of it’s 3 times the size of Lion-O. Then I get into the tail and the accessories or extra pieces, and it’s like, “Oh shit!” Like for no pun intended, we’ve built the monster. So, you know, we’ve come back to just like, it’s the right toy, it’s the right product. But asking somebody to buy all four at once, I think, is too much for a for a more casual customer. Or somebody that wants to get into the deep end. But you know, I try to be as much as somebody I’m sure would argue against me as I tried to be very cognizant of what I’m asking the collector that’s buying into our lines to commit to and spend each month. Because I’m not the only thing they need, and quite frankly, I’m by no means a necessity so.
Chris Could you- because you said you want to get in the crazier stuff-, just make playsets like the Godzilla Land or whatever from Godzilla Vs Gigan but as a playset? You know something like that.
Brian Flynn Yeah I mean we’ve, we’ve… *laughs*.
Chris Everything possible has been discussed.
Brian Flynn We’ve talked about it all, we’ve talked about it all!
Jeremy I mean even the Godzilla Land statue from Godzilla Vs Gigan would be a cool Ultimate figure.
Brian Flynn I mean it’s in our best interest too you know? If we’re being crass about it, I’m not trying to be crass about it, but yeah, there’s I am trying to have so much fun.
Jeremy Will the Ultimate figures come with like sort of accessories with, or will it be just like just the monsters themselves?
Brian Flynn Well, I think because the monsters themselves, they have a bunch of stuff. So you know if we’re talking about the Ultimates, you’ll see when when we release and be like, “Oh, they come with a bunch of shit.” It’s still that Ultimates thinking that we’ve done with the toys, but just translated to Godzilla. So it’s got all the stuff around it plus the giant figure.
Jeremy One thing that intrigued me from a couple of years ago that you guys did was Masters of the Universe, I think it was a Comic-Con exclusive, or it might have been another con exclusive was the sort of the meme version of Prince Adam in the Ultimates line. And I’m curious if you guys might try and attempt anything like that with Godzilla. I don’t know that there’s necessarily a lot of memes per say with some of it.
Brian Flynn Dancing Godzilla is not a meme?
Jeremy Well yeah, like definitely like the Shie Godzilla Dance one, is like one that comes to mind from Monster Zero.
Brian Flynn Yeah, yeah, we’re… we’re going to have a lot of fun with all of it, I think. I’m trying to, you know, how do you vaguely just, yeah, we’ve got a lot of years, hopefully that we’re making this stuff. We’re not going to try to make it all at once so that it’s fun and easy. And I hate to say easy to get to because that almost sounds a little disingenuous. But it’s like, you know, it should be fun to collect this stuff. It shouldn’t drive you crazy. It shouldn’t be a hustle.
Jeremy Which I think is is one of those things that not to name names, of course, but like a lot of toy lines and figure lines, kind of fall into the trap too, where it’s fun at first. But then it becomes just like, you know, this huge kind of chore where it’s like you have to pay attention to everything if you want the figure that you want.
Brian Flynn Right, right. My goal is, you know, and that’s why part of our preorder model with Ultimates is set up that way, which is like its open for a month. Anybody that wants one can get one. You can buy as many as you want. You can buy one, 10, 12. Doesn’t matter. And when we’re done, that’s what we make. There’s no extras. Yeah. Well, but everybody got a chance to get it. It’s not going to sell out in 15 minutes or this or that.
Jeremy Which is something I personally as a collector myself, very much appreciate.
Brian Flynn And with ReAction like when those figures start coming out, it’s the same thing. Like when we made the Godzilla box. Obviously, I’m excited for that box, but that’s not really, you know, it’s almost like we reverse engineered the box, like it was designed to be on card first and then we’re like, “Oh man, it’d be so cool to put it in a mini box.” We’re like, “All right, well let’s do a special version that’s in these dollars.” and we made a lot of them! We made enough that we thought it would be fine. And then it wasn’t fine. At the same time, if you want a Shogun Godzilla, you can still buy one on the card all day long.
Jeremy Yeah, which is one of the things I remember seeing firsthand. A lot of people disappointed by that, but I remember just thinking, like, you know, you guys tend to be really good where it’s like, OK, you’ll have, you know, the sort of exclusive version may have different packaging or maybe a slight change to its appearance or accessories, but the main one will still be there on the card or in the packaging.
Brian Flynn Yeah yeah, exactly.
Chris Was there, you know, I’m thinking of like a lot of the 70’s stuff you mentioned the Mechagodzilla, could you possibly go into some of the characters as well make them the figures like like a Katsura with the Titanosaurus or something?
Brian Flynn Yeah, I mean… I think within the movie itself, all of its fair game like you wanna make the twin fairies? You can make the twin fairies. You want to make… it’s just most people don’t do that? I’m not sure the exact state on most of the Toho stuff with actor likeness. Usually, the twin fairies are scaled down so small that you don’t have to worry about them. So I’m not sure about that but I know when you talk about stuff like, “Oh, here’s you know, Godzilla waiters.” Yeah, you have to go out and get that person’s likeness as well.
Chris So there was the Haruo Nakajima figure. Did you ever see that one?
Brian Flynn Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Chris I mean a reprint, you know probably for like the 70th (Anniversary of Godzilla) maybe?
Brian Flynn You know, it’s definitely that’s one of those toys where people that don’t collect Godzilla toys love it. People that are diehard Godzilla collectors are like, “It’s cool, but it’s not the character cause I’m in love with all the characters.”, right? So they’re like, “It’s cool and neat.” And then you’ll have somebody that doesn’t collect any Godzilla toys and all come over and look at like a thousand on the shelf. And the one they always go to is like, “Oh, but this one with him in into the waders? Now this one’s rad!”
Jeremy I was curious because you mentioned that basically anything in the movies is fair game, so to speak. Could that mean that we could see anything like any sort of like vehicles or one that I think would be really cool in any sort of scale for somebody to have would be the Oxygen Destroyer.
Brian Flynn I wouldn’t know anything about an Oxygen Destroyer being, exactly how big it is and everything you know?
Jeremy Well I think another question I have real quick, just because you brought up some of those sort of more obscure oddity stuff with the Marvel (Marvel’s Godzilla design) and the Hanna-Barbera Godzilla. Is there any chance that you guys have discussed anything of like doing homages to say like VHS releases in terms of like packaging or like, you know, merchandise or even, you know, a nod or something in the realm of like how I think it was the… Was it Mattel or Parker Brothers that did that Godzilla game? Like the board game from the 70’s?
Brian Flynn The Godzilla game, the Godzilla pops up this way. I’ve got it in the box so. Nothing on the Godzilla game has really come up. There’s not really much there other than the artworks really awesome, you know if you look at the Godzilla logo that we’re using. No, because we only showed the card back style. Oh, so I guess it’s not in there the teaser image, but that sort of block angled drop shadow Godzilla logo that they use on the game and stuff like that in the 80s. That’s the main logo that we’re using.
Jeremy Oh, that’s cool!
Brian Flynn So. But yeah, within the game, I think the box arts the best part.
Jeremy Yeah, no, it definitely is.
Brian Flynn Oh yeah, it’s funny because, you know, there’s so much of that stuff I know. Like, I pulled out a box the other day and I have both the store display containers of the different Imperial store display containers for the Imperial Godzilla. And like, it was the worst toy ever. Yet I still was like, “Oh, going to Toys R US” and be like, “Oh, you know, this box is kind of empty, mind If I take the box?” Totally changed the art on the box, I guess I would be shocked too.
Jeremy Yeah, which I’m sure the imperial Godzilla is probably something that’s been talked about at some point.
Brian Flynn Yeah I hate it so much. I hate that figure. But at the same time, a 3.75 Imperial Godzilla will be hilarious.
Jeremy Yeah, it definitely would.
Chris Is it like being in a kid in a candy store with this all this now?
Brian Flynn A little bit, you know, like, I think first and foremost, the thing was like, I want to script out a really great plan to make Godzilla and the monsters and the characters and here’s the line that we want to get out. Once we got that part done? Then it was like,” All right, now it’s all the goofy shit we want to do!” And you know, and that’s the same thing like day, actually before we even signed the license, I shipped my Shogun to the factory and it was just like, scan it and scale it down. Like get it going. So yeah, because I was like, “I have to have this, I have to have it now.”
After this interview was conducted, I sent over six additional questions a week later that were answered via email.
Chris: Are the rights to King Kong 1962 and 1967 (and Mechani-Kong) included in the rights to the Godzilla franchise/Toho license?
Brian: No, the rights to those characters are complicated, and have multiple partners. That is why you don’t see product from them very often. Those two are explicitly out (at least for now).
Chris: Is Godzilla 1998 a possibility?
Brian: Matthew Broderick Godzilla? Are we sure we want that?
Chris: Are monsters from the Dark Horse/Marvel/IDW comics possibilities?
Brian: I would think so, but have not asked directly.
Chris: Any chance of a Charles Barkley/Godzilla release (from the Famous Nike commercial where Godzilla faced off against NBA star Charles Barkley in a one on one in a game of basketball)?
Brian: This is one of my dream projects, and I am trying my best to sort it out, but it is very complicated rights wise. Toho, Nike, Wieden + Kennedy, Charles Barkley and possibly more all own a piece of that. That doesn’t mean I won’t try though!
Chris: Godzilla the Ride in Japan has new versions of Godzilla, King Ghidorah, and Rodan. What are the chances of figures of them?
Brian: I think we have quite a list of classic characters I would want to get to first, but you never know.
Chris: Are beam effects a possibility for the Ultimates line (or even the Re-Action line)?
Brian: Beam effects are a possibility. I personally don’t like them, but lots of other people do. So, yes, they are a distinct possibility.
Brian Flynn Bio (from Super7.com)
Brian Flynn is the founder and owner of Hybrid-Design and Super7 in our beloved and foggy San Francisco. Super7 was supposed to be Brian’s pet side-project but it has become something much more than simply a hobby. Super7 began in 2001 as a magazine focused on his obsessive collecting of vintage Japanese toys. Now, all of these years later, Super7 has evolved into a thriving retail brand that is still an extension of Brian’s original passion. As the Super7 company manifesto says: “No one made what we wanted. So, we made it ourselves.”