It’s not a shock to discover animation writers are unabashed toy collectors themselves, but to actually get into the toy business is a major venture into another industry. Animation fans are definitely familiar with the names Chris “Doc” Wyatt and Gavin Hignight, two animation writers and toy collectors who have worked on some of the biggest animation properties in the last few years, from Transformers to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and much more. Now they’re taking their love of toys to the next level with the formation of Wandering Planet Toys, their independent toy company.
Today Wandering Planet Toys launched their first Kickstarter campaign to fund the first-ever officially licensed action figure line based on The Prisoner, the 1967 cult classic television show starring and created by Patrick McGoohan. You can contribute to the Kickstarter campaign right here.
The Beat had a chance to talk with Chris “Doc” Wyatt and Gavin Hignight about their new toy company venture as well as their inaugural Kickstarter campaign.
Taimur Dar: I’ve definitely noticed writers in the animation industry are big toys fans and collectors themselves but forming your own indie toy company is a big step from just being a mere consumer. How did this new venture in your careers and forming Wandering Planet Toys happen?
Chris “Doc” Wyatt : It is ABSOLUTELY true that animation industry people are big toy collectors. Just walk through the WB Animation building, or Hasbro Studios, or Titmouse, or Bento Box, or anywhere and you’ll see it. For absolutely years Gavin and I have been using our breaks during writers rooms to talk about toys. And Gavin has friends in the indie toy space, so we’ve always been like: “how cool would it be to make our own stuff like they do…” For me it was just a dream, but Gavin started figuring out how to make it really happen.
Dar: The animated properties you’ve both worked on in the past (TMNT, Star Wars, Transformers, Stretch Armstrong, Ninjago) definitely involve a major toy component. Did your experience working on those “toyetic” properties help prepare you in any way for forming your own toy company?
Wyatt : Well, I would definitely say that seeing characters and stories we’ve written get translated into products in the hands of kids and collectors is an exciting experience. That kind of excitement definitely fuels our desire to make toys of the other stuff, shows and movies, that we love.
Dar: How does Wandering Planet Toys distinguish and differentiate itself as a brand from the other toy companies?
Gavin Hignight: I’m not sure we’ve had the opportunity just yet to say we are different since this is our first line. I will say, from the beginning, detail and authenticity to the property (in this case The Prisoner) is very important to us. Should our Kickstarter Campaign help us get the funding, we’ll look forward to proving that attention to detail and love for the properties we do. We are lucky to be working in other creative mediums, so this effort can truly be a labor of love to the creative properties that inspire us.
Wyatt : We love The Prisoner. Patrick McGoohan made a strange, through-provoking, cult TV masterpiece. Our goal is for fans who get their hands on these figures to look at them and say– these were made by people who cared about the show.
Dar: Aside from a DC Comics licensed comic in 1988, I’m not aware of any official licensed merchandise for The Prisoner. How did acquiring the license to produce Prisoner action figures come about and was it harder or simpler than you anticipated?
Hignight: It was challenging only in that it’s something I had never done before. Once we were in contact with ITV, communicated our vision and agreed on the details, any fear or being intimidated to approach such an amazing legacy and series vanished. ITV has been very supportive of our efforts, careful of how this beloved IP is being handled, and great with creative notes that have elevated our project.
Dar: Though the pandemic has certainly impacted the economy, toy crowdfunding campaigns from other companies in the past year like McFarlane Toys and Hasbro have still managed to be successfully funded. Has the economic concerns of the past year affected your approach with this first Kickstarter campaign?
Hignight: Absolutely. Manufacturing and distribution pipelines have been completely disrupted for everyone. Not only a challenge for the big toy makers, but the indie folks too. Plus, we had to approach this line knowing that money is tight for everyone right now. It was very important to produce something of quality, but also something affordable. I’m a big toy collector myself, I know what I will and won’t spend, my limits, etc… and I know that in the last couple years, like everyone I’ve had to greatly consider every dollar that goes out.
Dar: Since this is Wave 1, it seems safe to assume there will be more Prisoner retro action figures down the line. Can you hint/tease fans which characters might be in the works, or if it will be another Kickstarter campaign?
Wyatt : We don’t have any firm plans but we’ve definitely talked about what a wave two might look like. We know we want to do Leo McKern’s version of Number #2 together with Angelo Muscat’s Butler as a 2-pack. How cool would it be if a “Chimes of Big Ben” set came packaged in a scale version of the shipping box from the episode? Maybe a set from “Fall Out” that comes with figures of a “delegate” and a “Number 1.” Maybe Number 6 in the disguise from “The Girl Who Was Death.” There are so many awesome ways to go! But for ANY of that to happen we have to make wave 1 a success. That’s why we need people to help back us on Kickstarter!
Hignight: I’ll add to that how much I want figures of Number 6 and Number 8 from the episode “Living In Harmony”. And if we can make Mary Morris as Number 2, how cool would it be to include the Number 2 Chair for her or any of our Number 2 figures to use. None of this happens without support from collectors and fans of the Wave 1 Kickstarter. If the support is there, we’ll make as much of the Village and Number 2’s as we can. Oh — and Doc will not rest until he can make Kosho playset and Kosho Number 6 so please help us make it happen. (laughs)
Dar: Can you reveal or tease what other licensed properties might be coming from Wandering Planet Toys in the near future?
Wyatt: We haven’t licensed any other properties yet, but we have our eyes on a few. We just need THIS one to go well first, before we can get too far ahead of ourselves. But we do have an ongoing list on a shared drive, where we keep our ideas for the next project(s).
Hignight: Exactly what Doc said. First objective, make the best possible Wave 1 The Prisoner action figures as possible. Next objectives… surprise and defy expectation with every line we do. And wow do we have a list of cool stuff we hope to make reality.