It was way back in January that news of a new wave of Mortal Kombat action figures first broke [full story]. With the reshuffling of the MK license under Warner Brothers, Jazwares returned to the picture to pick up where they left off in 2007 with the conclusion of their range that included characters from Mortal Kombat: Deception and Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks.
Jazwares makes their triumphant return with an initial wave of four action figures inspired by the new video game -- Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Raiden and Johnny Cage [pictured below]. Featuring fifteen points of articulation and accessories directly inspired by the games, they are the6" leading wave that is accompanied by 3.75" versions of the Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 male palette swaps, and the Lin Kuei cyber-assassins.
With the series' summer release right around the corner, Mortal Kombat Online talked to Director of Product Development and Brand Manager of Mortal Kombat, Joe Amaro, to learn more about what goes in to the making of the series, and what is still to come.
[MKO]: How did Jazwares come to be the makers of the official Mortal Kombat action figures?
[Joe Amaro]: We have always been fans of Mortal Kombat from the very beginning. The process is like dating, we meet, we talk and then if we like each other we start our relationship.
What goes in to the selection process for characters that are made?
Warner Brothers is involved in every step! As fans we choose the characters we would like to see first, and then we discuss it with everyone involved. Sometimes apporval determines who will ship next.
Does the game's 3D engine help at all in the design process?
Sometimes it does, but we mainly use the game as reference.
What does it take to go from design concepts to a final sculpt?
The process starts with a concept, then a sculpt is made from that. We make a tooling model to make a metal mould called a "tool." Plastic is then injected into the tool to make the final figures. Warner Brothers and the game creators are involved in every step. We do not proceed to the next step until we get approval from WB.
How hard is it to work under the intense scrutiny of a loyal fanbase? Are criticisms ever useful to the process?
We are fans also, so it's difficult to balance the creative fan side and business money side. We try our best to please the fans, and their input is very valuable to us. It always has been, just ask our Sonic fans! We always are open to constructive criticism, [for example] sometimes our Sonic fans point out our mistakes, and we try to correct them.
Scale, anatomy and detail has been a focus for the fanbase. Is there a general design philosophy that Jazwares adheres to?
All that is determined by the game creators at WB. We sculpt the figure using the reference they provide. We sculpt the figure and we show it to them. They give us comments back on what to fix and what they like. We try not to add any of our own artistic interpretations.
Extra hands for Johnny Cage are a somewhat unique feature. What inspired this choice?
He really doesn't have any weapons so we wanted to include something with him that made sense, rather than just adding a base.
How do you decide what comes packed with each character?
We try to include what make sense. Sometime it comes direclty from WB.
There seems to be an ever growing demand for points of articulation in action figures. How do you balance that function with design?
We try to include as much articulation without destroying the sculpt. All the MK figures will have ball joints all over! In the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles, and we added an ab crunch.
There's a feeling that current MK figure designs favour a younger market. Is there any consideration for producing more sculpted, less articulate editions for an older fanbase?
No, we are not targeting a younger market. We know the primary market are the fans. We are trying to produce highly detailed figures with as much articulation as we can muster! I am not into static figures, we leave that up to the statue guys.
Jazwares is producing a range of 'retro' designs from MK's early past. Which era do you think makes the best action figure, then or now?
Yes we are! I think they both make great figures!
They both have tons of great designs.
With the characters having been redesigned so many times over the years, are there any characters or designs in particular you wish you could've made?
Yes! We just have to be careful that the characters we choose have a distinct look. We are starting with the very first MK games. Later will plan to go through all the games all the way to Armageddon.
Kintaro was created for a previous line, but never released [full story]. Why was that, and could we see Kintaro released at some point in the new series?
I know, I sculpted him. Right after Goro the line died.
Midway decided that they were no longer going to license any product. Yes, Kintaro will return, but probably not my sculpt.
Any clues what might be in store for future releases?
We have plans for tons of figures! You can also let us know who you want to see [via Facebook]. Again, we value fan input so the more you give the better the line will be!
Jazwares have confirmed that Sonya Blade will appear in the next wave. There is also a Toys 'R' Us exclusive coming to San Diego Comic-Con International, in July. SDCC is also where the final episode of Mortal Kombat: Legacy will finally air, starring Cyrax and Sektor [full story].
You can find more Jazwares at Jazwares.com, or on Twitter, @Jazwares. Mortal Kombat Online would like to thank Joe Amaro and Jazwares for their time and look forward to more from them in the future! You can also find MKO in the realm of social networking @MK_Online, or via Facebook. Don't miss last week's Q&A with MK National Champion, Justin Wong [click for more]!