Maybe you know of Super7, from their collectibles, toys, and apparel based on some of your favorite toys like He-Man, Mega Man, Robotech, or their figures for music legends like Iron Maiden, the Misfits, and King Diamond. There's a whole variety of ways to make their acquaintance. And that's what makes them unique. They aren't fiscally limited to one category of toy or license nor are they bound by traditional large-scale manufacturing practices like Hasbro, Mattel, or Lego. The result? A glitter Alien figure, or a neon-orange He-Man. In short, something strange and eye-catching for your desk.
Based in San Francisco, Super7 started in 2001 with a book about Japanese Kaiju toys, which turned into Super7 magazine, focused on Japanese kaiju and toy culture, and art and design. In addition, was the seed that would sprout into a company that made actual toys: a printed coupon for an exclusive repaint of a toy, based on color schemes they thought would look more outrageous than the Japanese variants of the time. "The Japanese sensibility on repaints is always very referential," founder Brian Flynn
explained to Popular Mechanics in an interview. "The way we approached our recolors was more as what would be cool. 'Let’s make a Hedorah that is clear yellow and orange with red highlights and it’s in glitter. It’s the meltdown Hedorah!'"
These unique figures, with their unusual sizes and odd color schemes proved to be great create fillers, something unexpected that was never available before-and demonstrated demand for small-batch runs that otherwise wouldn't be profitable. Soon, Super7 was designing sculpts for companies in Japan to produce, and then designing their own sculpts in Japan in smaller-run quantities. The magazine only existed for 15 issues and five years, from 2002 to 2007, but was what pushed Super7 into the production business.
Once in the U.S. market, Super7 redesigned the second iteration of its store in San Francisco and Flynn designed custom, flocked wallpaper illustrating all of the dead characters in Star Wars. It was a element that proved so interesting that, through a friend of a friend, Flynn was introduced to Steve Sansweet, the man behind Rancho Obi-Wan, a legend and a master of memorabilia and artifacts in the Star Wars world. The result was a a Jumbo Machinder Shogun Warrior Stormtrooper. At 24 inches tall and costing $300, it was aimed at the higher-end collector than the company now targets with its modern fare like a $6 pack of MUSCLE figures or a $175 for a supersize 18-inch 1986 Aliens toy, but it formed the launchpad for the company's further success.
With the approval of Lucasfilm on their résumé, Flynn decided the next toy he’d re-create would be a lost opportunity from his childhood: the famed 1979 Kenner 3¾-inch Alien prototypes. He was able to track down who owned the prototypes-because a lot of the time they leave with company employees and are sold to collectors-obtain a license from Fox, and finally make the figures real. It was really a turning point for Super7, such that Flynn talks about the company's success in terms of "before Alien" and "after Alien."
With a model for how to succeed in the U.S. market, Super7 was able to move on to create its ReAction line of retro action figures, and its Masters of the Universe project, shrinking He-Man’s stature to 3¾-inch, much to the delight of fans (some dissatisfaction was expressed by some Mattel purists).
And Super7 hasn't stopped. At Toy Fair 2019 in NYC, the booth showed off forthcoming figures of MLB mascots, G1 Transformers, Beavis and Butt-Head, Pee-wee’s Playhouse, Teen Wolf, Breakin’, RoboCop, an Alien SuperBucket, Masters of the Universe, and more that might have a place in your collection.
Flynn’s favorite piece in the display? “The single most exciting thing for me in our entire booth is the Alien Halloween bucket, to me Halloween is just so much fun and always has been this wonderful thing…Long and skinny, ‘oh my god they did that, it’s so messed up,’ that’s so messed up I have to have it.”
Another exciting addition to the catalog are the first screen-accurate Transformers from the original Generation One cartoons-because they don't transform. For companies like Hasbro, the transformation is the whole point of the line, but that comes at the cost of accuracy. "By the nature of that toy physically having to transform," Flynn says, "you’re only going to get 85 to 90 percent screen accurate because you have to put the mechanisms in.” Super7's Transformers Super Cyborg Deluxe Action Figures, each 11 inches tall and fully articulated, have transparent removable chest panels to show off their robotic guts inside in lieu of transforming super powers.
Aside from producing fan favorites, Flynn wants to make all the weird secondary characters, the ones major companies would never be able to make and sell to retailers like Target and Walmart. “I want to make that guy in the background of the third episode from the second season that’s there for five minutes,” he said.
“I hope it’s obvious to everybody else that we’re having as much fun as possible with this, Flynn says. "It's not lost on us that we collectors all sit at home and go 'Wouldn’t it be cool if they did this!?' but there’s only a couple companies that can actually get things made.” After 18 years of business and success with cherished toy lines, Super7 is uniquely positioned to take on those sorts of what-ifs, and fortunately for us all, that's just what they intend to do.
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