Some of Dark Shadows' most popular characters are due for the action figure treatment this summer, with the release of a new series of collectibles from Spectre Toys. Rick Phares is the driving force behind the range, and exclusively reveals what's in store...
Hi Rick, were you always a fan of Dark Shadows?
I am a huge Dark Shadows fan! I grew up watching the show and it had an impact on me at an early age. I think that's why I've had this life-long interest in horror and fantasy. I remember rushing home from school every day and sitting in front of the TV set, totally enthralled. It was really cutting edge – vampires, werewolves, witches, ghosts... all on daytime television.
How did Spectre Toys come about?
I've worked in the toy and collectibles industry for many years, and few years ago I had a company, Majestic Studios, through which I released a few item, including three 1/6 scale Dark Shadows figures, which were very well received. The success of that line was very encouraging, but, due to my other consulting business, I found myself being spread very thin between two companies. I made the decision to focus on consulting, rather than try to release products through Majestic that I couldn't devote the right amount of time to. However, I never quite got rid of that desire to release my own products. Certain events over the past year have now enabled me to fulfill that desire and release products once again. I can now focus on Spectre Toys and devote the time needed to do it the way I always wanted to.
For the uninitiated, what are Mego-style of figures?
Mego was a very popular brand of 8-inch articulated figures with real cloth clothing released in the 1970s. It was known as being the first real action figure line, with numerous movie and TV characters issued as Mego figures. I'd always thought that Dark Shadows would have been a perfect line of figures, but sadly that never happened. In the past few years, EMCE toys has made that style of figure popular again, using the registered Mego-style body. Due to my consulting business, I had to opportunity to meet up with EMCE Toys and one thing led to another.
What's involved in getting a figure from concept to the finished product?
It's a lengthy and labour-intensive process. First is choosing the character, sculpting, prototyping the clothing with fabrics and getting licensor approvals. Then tooling and mould making, followed by actual production and further approvals. There's also packaging artwork and sales and marketing, and then the finished toys are finally shipped from China.
What are the plans for Dark Shadows figures beyond this initial wave?
We plan on releasing numerous figures in the coming years, including all of the most popular characters and some that may surprise even the diehard fans. We'll have Series 2 out later this year, around October or November, and will be at the San Diego Comic-Con this year with prototypes for upcoming figures. On display will be Quentin Collins, Josette DuPres, Dr. Julia Hoffman, Willie Loomis, and Adam!
That's quite a line-up. How are the characters chosen?
We wanted to start with popular characters to launch the line, then mix those with some others that may not be as high profile, but do have a following. We have a poll on our website, where fans can vote on what figures they would like to see released.
Did you have any personal faves you wanted to include?
I'd have to say Barnabas Collins, but the Chris Jennings werewolf is a very close second. I'm extremely pleased with how that figure's turned out. It really exceeded all our expectations and I'm confident fans and collectors alike will be very happy with it.
Chris is planned as a convention exclusive...
I'd like to take this opportunity to clarify some information on this figure. The Chris Jennings werewolf is a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive and we will be making 500 pieces available at the show. However, afterwards, we will have a limited number for sale on our site for fans and collectors that can't make it to San Diego. We want to make our figures collectible, but not impossible to get.