Recently, Mike Vogel, VP of Development for Hasbro Studios, conducted a phone interview with Christina Radish of Collider.com. We learned quite a lot about how he balances making great entertainment with selling toys. Some of the highlights were:
- He is the go between for the animation and toy sides of the company.
- The reaction to MLP has been his biggest surprise thus far, in terms of toy sales. he cites the strength of the show as the reason for this.
- He has to discern what would make both a good toy and a good cartoon at the same time, without compromising one or the other.
- They knew from the outset what direction they wanted to take Transformers, the time table to do so, and what the end game was for that series.
- He strives to find a balance with keeping the current characters relevant, and introducing new characters, to make the story more interesting and epic.
- His plan is to bring more 80’s era reboots onto TV.
- He commented on how “cool” it is to see instant reactions to shows like MLP and LPS, because of the internet, but in some ways it’s “horrifying” and “stresses you out.”
- Mike made a very interesting comment, relevant to the negative Alicorn Twilight reaction that some of us had.
Sometimes when the fans hear about some major change happening in a show, it makes them really nervous because they love the show and they love the characters, and they don’t want anything to change. Our job is to find that balance between giving the fans the characters and the stories they love, and then shaking things up that sometimes upsets them, but hopefully, at the end of the day, once they see what we’ve done, makes them go, “Okay, they’ve still got it. They’re still on track with what we love about these characters.
- The unexpected adult fanbase for MLP inspired them to create the comics, and embrace that audience.
- Mike made the point to point out how free the studios are to bring thier vision of the shows to life, namely MLP and LPS.
My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop for us, it’s amazing when you get these creative people in a room and you start talking about these brands. Half the people have the toys. Half the people were obsessed with the old version of the show.
Everybody brings a lot to it. And then, you give them the freedom to say, “Okay, what would you do with it?,” and the ideas you get are just crazy and fun and out there. That was what was great about Lauren Faust and the Studio B team with My Little Pony. They had this love of the original ‘80s My Little Pony, and they got to say, “Here’s what I loved about it, and I want to bring that part out, even more, in this new series.” It’s actually really exciting to have brands that have that level of love, respect and nostalgia, and then just let creative people cut loose on it.
We try to be really free with that. Even though we have a lot of needs and global brand desires, we try, in those very early stages, to let them go crazy and come up with whatever they want, and then bring it in, as opposed to giving them all of the parameters, right away. When you let creative people go loose on a blank canvas, sometimes you get stuff that surprises you, that you never would have thought of, in the first place.
- There’s evidently a powerpoint presentation outlaying how a Kreo cartoon would work.
- Unlike other studios, Hasbro hires people, including him, who work on the animation side of the industry, as opposed to marketing individuals. He and his whole team have a very impressive resume with creating and developing children’s cartoons.