Frank, Ed (McFarlane Toys Chief Designer)


It really is too bad that, during the events surrounding the grand opening of McFarlane Toys Showroom & Store back in October, we couldn’t have a bit more time with Head Designer Ed Frank. But still, any time our man Tindalos was able to get is valuable to us, so I hope you dig what follows…

Dread Central: OK, I’ve got some questions from some people on the site. Once it leaves Todd and comes to your side, at that point, how much artistic freedom do and your crew to run with idea, especially when it’s an original idea?

Ed Frank: Really, we thrive on artistic freedom. That’s the way things work for Todd. He knows what it’s like to be restricted, to have people holding you down and putting a cage around you. He’s very open to any ideas for anything we would want to do. He’ll always look at it. If he feels it’s going in the right direction and its better, you know, he’s all for it. He’ll add to it. I try to take my lead from him. We encourage it. But they have to know that, at the end, that Todd is going to be the last word. We do our best to encourage that freedom. It’s an important part of our process.

DC: Do the artists have the ability to say, “Hey I have an idea for a figure”?

EF: We’ll listen to ideas. But mostly the figures come from Todd and ideas that he’s had. But really it just comes out of discussions.

DC: Are you a part of the licensing discussions that come about?

EF: Yeah I’m involved. Certainly not the last word.

DC: Why have you moved away from the 18” figures and seemingly replaced them with the 12” figures?

EF: That was a marketing decision. The fact is that the 18” figures, because of the price point we were forced to associate with them, the retailers weren’t moving them as well. We figured at 12” it accomplishes the same thing and gets them into a price point that will sell them.

DC: What is more important for the toys, form or function?

EF: Always form.

DC: What are the QC for building and packaging for these figures?

EF: Well, that’s something that we struggle with all the time. In putting the high detail that we put into the figures you have certain materials that you have to use to mold. These materials tend to have more give to them. As opposed to materials that you’d use in a toy for that a 5 year old is going to take out into the sandbox. But we have a number of QC checkpoints that we go though at the factory level, at the testing lab. We have our own QC testing staff at the Hong Kong factory. We still get breakages. It’s a constant struggle. It’s not that we’re unaware of the problem, and it’s certainly not that we don’t care about the consumer. It’s simply because of the detail that we put into the product and some of the restrictions based on the materials we have to use.

For example, we did find that the glue we used at one time to put into the plastic at the joints would react to the wash we used to bring out the detail. Over a period of time, it wouldn’t show up in our QC tests, but when the product would ship in a hot container, coming over from the Pacific Ocean to California, that the heat would react with the wash/glue combination and make some of the materials more brittle.

DC: What can we expect for the future with Todd and Clive Barker? Can you say? I mean, are we going to see Nightbreed?

EF: Specifically I don’t know whether or not I can tell you. I do know that lots of things are being talked about. Todd and Clive are going to continue to work together in the future. Every year you’re going to see us put out another Clive Barker line. That is not something that is going to go away.

Many thanks to everyone at McFarlane Toys for letting us take part in the event, and especially to Ed Frank for sitting down with us!

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