Interview:
Bandai Japan: S.H. MonsterArts

Michal Shipman: I'm interviewing today Adam Newman, Bandai Toy Collector Department at Bandai Co., Ltd, and Hannah Lemmer, Product Developer at Bandai Co., Ltd.

This year has been, what most current fans and consumers would call, a "Dry Spell" within the Godzilla line for S.H. MonsterArts (SHMA). Following the release of Mecha-King Ghidorah, an onslaught of repaints and re-issues were released and announced for the remainder of 2015. What was the decision behind this and is this indicative of the direction the line is going?


Adam Newman: With 2014, we had the [Hollywood] movie. And now we're pulling back a little after the [60th] anniversary and waiting for a new opportunity.

Shipman: Does this mean that the Godzilla SHMA sales aren't strong enough to carry the line without a new movie or anniversary coming out the same year?

Newman: There are simple capacity issues that we or any figure manufacturing brand have. SHMA is a big labor and financial investment. It's not our only brand. Also, we do like to try new things [like] new category templates for the same character. We are always considering this. And new characters for the S.H.MonsterArts template as well-- we conducted some iPad surveys on this over the last year and have some definitive direction on fan requests.

Shipman: Can we look forward to a variety of new monsters within the Godzilla line in 2016, or should we expect more repaints and re-issues?

Hannah Lemmer: No comment.

Newman: There is no 2014 sequel in the works ---[in production right now]. There are other things we are looking in to.

Shipman: Does that mean consumers should expect production spikes of the Godzilla line around the time of the next Hollywood Godzilla sequel(s) release dates and does this decision apply to Toho's new 2016 release as well (capitalizing on a major movie release)?

Newman: We take media background into account. We really saw a big spike [in pre-orders] around the timing of the Hollywood movie. So anything that happens with regards to new content or publicity regarding anniversaries is always something we or any company involved in character merchandising will time product releases around. Fortunately, we have a core fan base that is not swayed by these media trends and the fifteen plus age demographic of Tamashii Nations allows us to release product that is not timed with new media (but anniversaries certainly do help).

Shipman: Last years SDCC 2014, when we spoke, the Alien and Predator franchise was on hold and under review following the release of Big Chap from Alien (1979). It doesn't appear that anything has progressed since then, does that mean that the line has been officially cancelled?

Gamera SH MonsterArtsNewman: Right now the line is on hold and we are re-evaluating its direction.

Shipman: Gamera was released earlier this year. Was it received well? Could we be anticipating more monsters from that franchise in 2016 or beyond or will it end up being another King Kong in the SHMA line? (i.e. a single figure from the franchise with no supporting monsters/creatures to date).

Newman: Gamera did well. Continuation is to be confirmed.

Shipman: Any new franchises in the works for SHMA?

Newman: Yes, but we cannot reveal the details yet.

Shipman: For the recent Godzilla game, there were a few monsters that they built from scratch and from other sources. (Mechagodzilla 1975, Anguirus, Rodan 1956, Hedorah, Jet Jaguar, to name a few). Any chance that this working relationship, as well as bringing these other monsters back into the spotlight for consumers, that we may see some new figures based off of them?

Newman: We have no plans to produce monsters from the game as this is not a direction we will be taking the brand at this point.

Shipman: For clarification, because I think I'm hearing two things from that answer, are you saying we're going to be seeing less articulated figures in the future of the Godzilla line in favor of something new [that's Godzilla related]?

Godzilla 2014 SetNewman: Yes. As fans are probably seeing, [there will be] less articulated SHMA Godzilla figures going into next year. It seems pretty apparent to the fans we are tapering down right now on new articulated Godzilla figures and this is the reality for the line over the next year.

Our core fans are savvy to the cadence of our product releases, have a keen instinct on when release frequency wanes on lines, and are able to draw their own conclusions, but it's not necessarily permanent.

Shipman: So, like how Tamashii Nations has its S.H.Figuarts Zero line alongside its S.H.Figuarts line, can we expect a S.H.MonsterArts Zero line in the future or something else along those lines?

Newman: Great question. If you were to shake an 8-Ball, it would say 'outlook positive'

Shipman: The Heisei series has been quite dominant since the beginning of the SHMA line. Now that most of those monsters have been released, can we expect a better focus on Showa era monsters? Maybe Millennium era monsters?

Lemmer: To be confirmed.

Shipman: Tamashii Nations just started a new line for Effect Sets and Parts. It's really great to have extra options to dress our displays, however, can we expect more dedicated Godzilla Effect Sets like last year? (These sets featured additional beams, buildings, and special military vehicles from the franchise).

Newman: Nothing specific is being planned for now.

Shipman: Fans want to know, we've seen the prototypes of Godzilla 1989 and Rodan (Brown Repaint) SHMA figures. Are those still in consideration or have they been canned?

Newman: Right now those are on hold.

Shipman: What is your personal favorite monster from the Godzilla franchise, other than Godzilla?

Biollante SH MonsterArtsNewman: Biollante! I like plants and it lights up.

Lemmer: Dorats. They are so adorable. I have the ones from the Mecha-King Ghidorah sitting on my desk.

Shipman: Do you have anything you'd like to say to your consumers as we close?

Newman: We would like to take the brand in a more exquisite (premium) direction.

Lemmer: There is something new in the works with Godzilla. It's still in the first stages, so there is little that can be said… for now :-)

Shipman: Thank you both for your time and answers!

PERSON DETAILS

Interview: Bandai Japan: S.H. MonsterArts (2015)

BANDAI JAPAN

Releasing Godzilla figures for over three decades, covering films for the Heisei and Millennium series as they were happening. In 2011, the company started the S.H. MonsterArts line. The toy series first focused on the Heisei series Godzilla films before expanding.

Date: 08/07/2015
Interviewer: Michal Shipman

 

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