How can we have another long-running toy franchise?

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False Prophet
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How can we have another long-running toy franchise?

Post by False Prophet » Thu Mar 30, 2017 11:10 am

Ok, I've to get this out of my chest first: Merchandises decide wether a mecha series will at least have a legacy or not. Think of Macross, Gundam, and Evangelion.

With that said, how can a studio success in making a show that would launch a new toy franchise?

Good storyline, good visual, good characters are given, but I want to dig a bit deeper than that. For example, what kind of mecha design would really attract the intended demography (men over 15)? Or should the studio keep a steady stream of supplemental materials to keep the fandom entertained?

So how do you think of this?

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Re: How can we have another long-running toy franchise?

Post by Kuruni » Thu Mar 30, 2017 12:22 pm

...You somehow include Eva (1994) but neither Zoids (1982) nor Super Sentai (1975). Especially Zoids, which mostly rely on toys themselves instead of lets anime driving them.

May be you should start by give definition of "long-running toy franchise".
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Re: How can we have another long-running toy franchise?

Post by False Prophet » Thu Mar 30, 2017 9:44 pm

Kuruni wrote:
Thu Mar 30, 2017 12:22 pm
...You somehow include Eva (1994) but neither Zoids (1982) nor Super Sentai (1975). Especially Zoids, which mostly rely on toys themselves instead of lets anime driving them.

May be you should start by give definition of "long-running toy franchise".
Thanks for reminding me about that. In Vietnam, Zoids is almost unheard of, and so I'm unfamiliar with it. As for Super Sentai stuffs, here we only get bootleg toys from China, as imported Bandai stuffs are so expensive.

"Long-running" here means both the time which the toy series has been running (in my opinion, over 10 years. It means that the first generation of fan now has gotten old enough to be actively participate in the creative fandom, as well as spending their own earnings on toys, thus making them collectors and the likes.), as well as the scale of the toy franchise (How many platforms does it cover? Figures? Card games? etc)

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Re: How can we have another long-running toy franchise?

Post by sdwoodchuck » Fri Mar 31, 2017 6:41 am

The nature of the question is inherently a little outside my way of thinking about it--I'd much rather see a show survive by its quality than by its toy line. That said, I think what's most important to getting the same kind of cultural footprint would be doing something innovative enough capture the imagination in a big way, that doesn't share its spotlight with other similar shows.

When we look at those TV shows or movies that have a lasting impact, they're the ones that either invent an aesthetic or popularize it. A show trying to get by on "real robot" designs is going to have a hard time gaining traction up against the juggernaut that is Gundam in the same way that space epics in the US would have a hard time getting out from Star Wars' shadow. So if a company is looking to start the next trend rather than follow a current one, they should be looking at contexts and settings that aren't well-explored right now, and trying to find a way to take that and make it their own.

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Re: How can we have another long-running toy franchise?

Post by Amion » Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:39 am

I was about to mention the Star Wars bit. It's so difficult to escape that I gave up as a kid trying to create my own universes. But Star Wars is fairly unique, as was Gundam. So there's definitely something there about being innovative. My take is that there's spiritual foundations in both. MSG and the UC series in general have Newtypes, which are basically jedi in giant robots, and Star Wars has the Force and its jedi/sith with cowls and lightsabers.

Take Star Trek, for instance. Spock inherently questions the human mind and thinking, and has mental powers to boot. The Vulcan's are so fanatically "logical" that it's their religion, an interesting speculative one that fits Star Trek's introspective nature.

Of course, there's plenty of shows that have varying degrees of spiritual or moral undertones that simply fall flat or are downright ignored. So it's clearly not JUST that, only that there's a different color or facet to these shows other than cool designs. Of course, those designs are what get turned into the toys, so they shouldn't be discredited. Star Wars would be dead long, long ago were it not for the fanatic little boys who are devoted to their AT-AT walkers. The Empire probably could use the darned things alone as their recruitment tools, given what I've seen.
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Re: How can we have another long-running toy franchise?

Post by sdwoodchuck » Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:47 pm

Oh definitely, the fantasy element is crucial to the success of both Gundam and Star Wars. So much so that Star Wars is often cited as being a fantasy story that just uses the trappings of sci-fi, and not science fiction in and of itself at all. I'm not sure I'd say that it's the spiritual nature of those fantasy elements necessarily, but it's a common way for it to show up, and fantasy tends to be the field of fiction that inspires the imagination in a way that makes kids want to immerse themselves in it. Usually this comes down to there being a special form of power or ability that doesn't come from size or physical strength or academic intelligence, or any of the "real world" measures that kids are inherently unable to excel at before they mature. In Gundam it's Newtype ability; in Star Wars its The Force; in Harry Potter it's magical ability, in X-Men it's being born with the mutant gene. It can even be something as simple as just being the chosen one who can pull the sword from the stone. Seriously, watch a kid's face during any of the familiar "sword from the stone" scenes in movies, and they are INTO IT, man. They want to be that guy. They will imagine being the one to stun the world by lifting the sword no-one else could for weeks afterward. Hell, I did the same thing when I was a kid.

There's also something to be said for the power of the archetypal "hero's journey" stories that lend themselves to fantasy as well. Again, it's a way for a character to undergo a transformation from their ordinary selves into the person that the world looks up to, but that doesn't involve a lifetime of gradually improving steps and gaining influence. On top of the "inherent ability" concept, that plot structure also tends to grab audiences in a big way.

So in terms of creating a series that resonates, I think the fantasy element is definitely a huge piece, if not an outright necessary one. I think where Star Wars and Gundam really work here is that you hook in the imagination with the fantasy element, that gets them invested, and then the design elements of the series lend themselves to a "collectible" mentality to channel that investment. AT-AT walkers, speeder-bikes, Zakus, GM's, what have you. And studies have shown that once someone has spent money on something, they're much more likely to estimate its value to them more highly. It's irrational, but that's how our brains work.

So the formula seems to be: Fantasy elements to grab the imagination -> Collectible pieces woven into that story to get them to spend money -> Now they've spent money and are more likely to consume further pieces of the fiction and the merchandising for those stories.

...Wow, when I put it like that, it comes across as a lot more manipulative, haha.

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Re: How can we have another long-running toy franchise?

Post by Arbiter GUNDAM » Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:54 am

Merchandise doesn't really apply to Macross as much except in recent years.
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Re: How can we have another long-running toy franchise?

Post by Amion » Wed Apr 19, 2017 7:07 pm

Yes, it is basic manipulation of our wants and basic desires, giving us an outlet to feed it. I think that's one reason why nudity is used so often now in the hyper-competitive market in Japan. They realize it's becoming a big problem with lasting consequences, I think, but no one's about to stop using a marketing tactic that sadly works good on everything and even buoys up merchandise and stories that don't deserve success, while even leaving shows that don't go for it to fail entirely where they deserve to succeed.

Just look at Leia the Huttslayer, for instance.

As for the fantasy element, I think I do agree, but I wouldn't say spiritual and fantastic are quite the same thing. The one gives a framework and basic principles to anchor the flow of the story, whereas Fantasy is anything not existent in our world, at its core, and as such is horribly diverse in its incarnations and effects on viewers, in my opinion. Sometimes it does well enough, ESPECIALLY with collectables, as you mention, like with the Sword in the Stone, or vehicles.
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Re: How can we have another long-running toy franchise?

Post by Zeonista » Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:13 pm

I would say the main obstacle with a new toy franchise, is enough children and teens to purchase said toys to make it a hit. Japan's population demographics make this rather dubious from a commercial standpoint. We're talking stuff under the 20,000 yen mark here. Not just toys (which includes figures, models, etc), but all of the other once-ubiquitous and inexpensive consumer goods made for popular anime. Sticker sheets, bookmarks, folders, pencil boards, capsule toys,... All of these are few and far between on sale at anime cons these days. Even the number of usual stuff like figurines, posters, models, and such are fewer in quantity and cast diversity, and are priced out of the range of casual purchase in many cases. The "toys" available are mainly for grown-up girls & boys, or for school-age girls & boys with credit cards.
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Re: How can we have another long-running toy franchise?

Post by False Prophet » Tue May 02, 2017 10:29 am

Zeonista wrote:
Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:13 pm
I would say the main obstacle with a new toy franchise, is enough children and teens to purchase said toys to make it a hit. Japan's population demographics make this rather dubious from a commercial standpoint. We're talking stuff under the 20,000 yen mark here. Not just toys (which includes figures, models, etc), but all of the other once-ubiquitous and inexpensive consumer goods made for popular anime. Sticker sheets, bookmarks, folders, pencil boards, capsule toys,... All of these are few and far between on sale at anime cons these days. Even the number of usual stuff like figurines, posters, models, and such are fewer in quantity and cast diversity, and are priced out of the range of casual purchase in many cases. The "toys" available are mainly for grown-up girls & boys, or for school-age girls & boys with credit cards.
So, maybe the producers should begin looking outward to the the international markets (for example, Philippines and Singapore are two of the biggest Gunpla markets to date)? But then, what really makes the international audience ticks?

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Re: How can we have another long-running toy franchise?

Post by Kuruni » Tue May 02, 2017 11:55 am

False Prophet wrote:
Tue May 02, 2017 10:29 am
(for example, Philippines and Singapore are two of the biggest Gunpla markets to date)?
...really? That seem against common sense.
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Re: How can we have another long-running toy franchise?

Post by False Prophet » Tue May 02, 2017 10:15 pm

Kuruni wrote:
Tue May 02, 2017 11:55 am
False Prophet wrote:
Tue May 02, 2017 10:29 am
(for example, Philippines and Singapore are two of the biggest Gunpla markets to date)?
...really? That seem against common sense.
I read it in this interview: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/interv ... ru/.104264

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Re: How can we have another long-running toy franchise?

Post by Kuruni » Tue May 02, 2017 11:28 pm

...so you're right about Singapore, but for some reason skip China and Korea to Philippine. Why?
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Re: How can we have another long-running toy franchise?

Post by False Prophet » Wed May 03, 2017 8:49 am

Kuruni wrote:
Tue May 02, 2017 11:28 pm
...so you're right about Singapore, but for some reason skip China and Korea to Philippine. Why?
I too don't know why did I skip it.

In Vietnam, each year there are one or two new merchandise-driven anime coming from China and Korea, so I guess the competition there is pretty hard?

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