Here are the questions to Playmates Toys and their answers from May/June, 2002. The questions appear in bold type:

What is the status of the mail-away figure promotion? Can you tell us which figure it will be, or give us any indication of whether it will be a variant or a new figure? Will this figure be limited to a specific number of people on a first-come, first-served basis? Is Playmates going to run a similar promotion with each wave, or is this just going to be with wave 10? Will this figure be available to overseas collectors as well?

I am sure you have heard the specifics about the mail away figure promotion. We will start with Be Sharp Homer in wave 10 and continue with BeSharp Apu in wave 11, Be Sharp Skinner in wave 12 and finish out the series with Be Sharp Barney in wave 13. If this program is successful we will start with a new series in wave 14. We look to ship to everybody and do not want anybody left out. As far as overseas, this program can be copied by overseas distributors of Simpsons toys. It would be a logistic nightmare if Playmates handled overseas consumers. I know that a number of overseas distributors have inquired about the program.

Have any additional celebrities been confirmed for future figures (Jeff Trojan has mentioned an interest in Helen Hunt for example) and which celebrities are currently on the list that are being pursued? Are there any plans to make figures for celebrities who appeared as themselves (i.e. Leonard Nimoy, Richard Gere) or series regulars (i.e. George Bush, Bill Clinton, John Travolta)? Which celebrities have so far been approached and turned down the offer to have their figures made, either directly or through their original contract with Fox?

The celebrity figures have been a challenge. It is much more difficult to get the look and voice rights to celebrities than we initially thought. We are planning to roll the celebrity figures into the regular series of figures and include one celebrity figure per series. The first celebrity figure for ’03 will be Larry Burns (Rodney Dangerfield) which will be part of series 11. I would like to know what you think of the celebrity figures? Would you like to see the program continue, or are celebrity figures just ho-hum since they do not appear regularly in the show?

Many of the figures in recent waves have trouble fitting onto the resistor pegs properly, and sometimes a lot of force is required to get the figures to fit. Is Playmates aware of this situation, and if so what has been done to correct this problem in future playsets?

Yes, we are aware of this problem. Our Vice President of Product Development went to Hong Kong and addressed this issue. You will see better fitting figures on environments in future waves.

In some recent playsets, characters are saying lines that aren't theirs (i.e. Lunch Lady Doris' "You've been nursing that thing for an hour," and Ralph's lines in the Cafeteria). We know that Fox gives Playmates the lines to use. Does Fox realize that some lines are mismatched? Is Playmates aware of this situation, and if so, has any action been taken to ensure that future figures' lines will be matched more appropriately to playsets (i.e. line about food in the Kitchen or Kwik-E-Mart, lines about crime in the Police Station, etc.)?

We receive the DAT’s from Fox that I believe come from specific episodes. This is the first I have heard about character phrases that have not been actually spoken by the character. What we try to do with each wave of playsets is choose areas around Springfield that you would commonly see many of the World of Springfield characters visit. Since we have done many of the favorite Springfield hang outs, it is getting more difficult to come up with environment themes that a lot of the characters have visited. That being said, now you may see figures work in environments that the character may have never visited in the show, but could visit and say phrases appropriate with the environment theme.

Are there any other retailers that Playmates is dealing with to carry exclusives, other than the ones who have carried them in the past (i.e. TRU, EB, ToyFare)?

Target will be the exclusive retailer carrying our Faces of Springfield 9” figures. At this time we are not planning to add any new exclusive partners.

Has any thought been given to making a playset of the entire Simpson’s house in scale with the WOS line, rather than just individual rooms?

A Simpson’s house in scale with the figures has never been considered. The problem will be the cost to manufacture and the very high retail price.

Is there any possibility of increasing the number of resistor pegs in each playset, even if that involves an increased price tag?

We thought 3-pegs per environment was a good number because in most cases 3 figures can fit “comfortably” on the environment. This is something we can consider for future waves. FYI: Main Street will have 6 pegs.

What is the current status of the Tress McNeale voiced characters' figures? Is Playmates still negotiating for them as they are the celebrity figures?

We are still in negotiation with Tress.

Why was Mainstreet pushed back two months? Will it still work with every figure thus far released?

Toys R Us had some issues with the playset before they agreed to carry it as an exclusive. These issues have now been resolved and you will start seeing Main Street on TRU shelves in September. All the regular series figures through wave 10, regular environment and celebrity figures will work in Main Street. Most of the exclusive figures will not work in Main Street.

Would Playmates consider adding some deluxe figure releases in the future? For example, figures in scale with WOS but with more articulation and emphasis on bigger props (Prof. Frink on Flying Motorcycle, Arnie Pie in mini helicopter, child Bart with evil clown bed, etc.).

We have considered adding more articulation and bigger props to figures in scale with WOS. However, with the added articulation and bigger props come higher prices. Another issue is the resistor in the bottom of the figures feet. On the smaller and skinnier figures the resistor is set into both feet which limits the amount of leg articulation that can be incorporated into the figures.

Thanks to Playmates Toys for answering our questions! See you next month!

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