Earlier this week, Wandering Planet Toys launched the Kickstarter campaign for The Prisoner Wave No2 retro action figures. Unsurprisingly, given the dedicated fanbase for the cult classic British television series, the crowdfunding campaign reached its goal and was fully funded in less than 24 hours. The independent toy company is now three for three with successful Kickstarter campaigns.

The Beat had a chance to interview Wandering Planet Toys founders Chris “Doc” Wyatt and Gavin Hignight over email about The Prisoner Wave No2 toy line. Our discussion included their personal fandom with the franchise, the challenges of running a small business, as well as recent rumors that filmmaker Christopher Nolan may be helming a remake of The Prisoner.

Taimur Dar: I think it goes without saying your first Kickstarter campaign blew expectations, not only being fully funded in less than two hours but eventually raising ten times your initial goal. For Wave No 2, you’re definitely upping the ante but not going too overboard. How did you want to differentiate and surpass what you accomplished with the “Wave 1” Kickstarter campaign but keep your goals within reason?

Chris “Doc” Wyatt: The simple answer is that we don’t feel like we need to surpass the first Kickstarter. The “Wave 1” Kickstarter offered the first ever officially licensed action figure from The Prisoner, which harnessed a lot of pent up demand, and satisfied what most casual Prisoner fans needed. “Wave No2” isn’t aiming at going higher than “Wave 1”, it’s aiming at going deeper. A deeper dive on characters that obsessive Prisoner fans (like ourselves) would consider MUST HAVE figures. Angelo Muscat’s BUTLER figure for example– so many hardcore fans have begged us to do that figure.

Gavin Hignight: We have been very careful how we approached Wave No2, and I hope as people are reading this, Wave No2 is funding and a success.  We are much more confident going into this wave. We’ve now gone through the process twice before, we know how better to work with our factory and we know there are other Prisoner fans out there like us that want figures of the series. Also we are not in the middle of a pandemic which was absolutely challenging.

However, wave one had the “this has never been done before” excitement, the “are they really making toys of The Prisoner, are they going to make the white ball?” energy… We know Wave No2 might be challenged with the sophomore slump… we hope not, we’ve worked really hard to get a new assortment of characters that makes the Prisoner Retro Action Figure collection feel more complete. Can you really consider your collection complete without Leo McKern as No2? Everyone has their favorite Number 2, and many people have different favorites… plus we can’t lose track of our favorite Number 6, how else can he be explored in a satisfying way. So there are no figures in Wave No2 that arrived by accident. And we are aware that there is still demand for wave one figures, because we are indie and smaller and have not been able to distribute to everyone that wants them… so, we are making wave one items available as ADD ONS for Wave No2 in hopes that if someone missed us the first time, they don’t have to feel left out. BUT — we are also shaking things up a bit, we retired three of the editions from wave one and have created the Number 6 Second Edition, so those who got in early and supported us now truly own some great collectible figures like “Beach Escape” and “First Edition” Number 6 that will not be offered again.  We’ve met so many incredible fans and indie toy folks since the launch of wave one… we hope there is momentum and those who are enjoying wave one come back for more members of The Village. 

Dar: Is artist and sculptor Louie Tucci involved again in Prisoner Wave No2?

Hignight: Louie has been really busy with the music side of his career and Zbrush duties, so on wave no2 we’ve been working mainly with Adrian Melton and Ed Delos Reyes. It’s a wider range of characters this time so we needed all hands on deck. We’ve been really lucky to meet and work with such talented sculptors and artists. (We’ve got more stuff coming later in the year I CAN’T WAIT for everyone to see). The sculptors, painters, prototype makers and Jenny Moore who’s the guru of our packaging and art direction… They all make Doc and I look like we know what we are doing.

Dar: Collectors are very familiar with shortcuts companies have employed for some of their favorite toy lines over the years. Some of my personal favorites are Mego recycling Marvel’s Lizard head for the Star Trek Gorn figure or Mattel reusing Mer-Man’s mold for Stinkor. For Wave 2, what’s the balance of keeping your business overhead down without sacrificing the creative quality you’ve established?

Wyatt: Yeah, it’s true. Especially for tiny little companies like ours (Wandering Planet Toys is basically just the two of us, working out of Gavin’s garage) parts re-use is an important element in keeping costs down. Meaning both that it keeps costs down in terms of what we pay to the factory, but also that it keeps the price of the action figures as affordable for the collectors as possible, so people can buy them without breaking the bank. That said, in “Wave No 2” we’re doing the legendary Leo McKern as Number 2, who has a very stocky build compared to Patrick McGoohan, we’re doing Angelo Muscat’s Butler character, who is short of stature, and we’re doing some female characters– so there’s plenty of new tooling we’re doing to make this second wave happen.

Hignight: The thing that really saves us with the Prisoner, is that those in the Village have a sort of uniform. If you look at the wardrobe for the show you’ll realize that the styling is bright, diverse and stylish and also has a sense of uniformity. I feel like talking about our parts recipe is a little like explaining how a magic trick works. I don’t want to kill any magic, but The Prisoner (and a retro Kenner style approach) has been good to us in that we have been able to make the most of the tooling. There are two characters that don’t share parts with any of the others, Leo McKern as No2 and The Butler. But these are such great and popular characters that it made sense to go for it and commit to their tooling. 

Dar: I finally started watching The Bear not too long ago and it indeed lives up to the hype. One of the things I’ve gained from the show is a great appreciation of not just the restaurant industry, but anyone who starts their own business much like yourselves with Wandering Planet. Assuming you’ve watched The Bear, does it resonate with you in any way for you?

Hignight: I must admit, I haven’t had a lot of time for modern television in the last few years. We are doing Wandering Planet Toys on top of our TV and Video Game writing careers. So if there are scenes in The Bear where any characters look overwhelmed and exhausted, I can relate to that. LOL.

When I do have time to unwind with TV I immediately go to old TV, which probably isn’t a surprise to many. I’ve been rewatching/watching the Tom Baker era of Doctor Who, classic Red Dwarf, and documentaries when I have the time. But yes, Wandering Planet has been built from the ground up, we are in a startup phase which is amazing and challenging at the same time.  I think bonding with customers/backers over the figures once they are in hand, bonding over our love of these classic properties, that has been the best part. We’ve really focused on bringing collectibles for franchises that don’t otherwise have cool collectibles, so there is a real joy in bringing them to fans who haven’t been properly satisfied with action figures from their favorite IPs. I just love creating things and having something in hand at the end of the process is absolutely satisfying. It’s stuff I’d pick up for my collection even if we hadn’t made it.

Wyatt: I love The Bear too. The Christmas episode very much resonated for me, but that had nothing to do with the “starting a new business” aspect. Also, Gavin keeps hiding all our money in tin cans, so that aspect of the show resonated for me too.

Dar: When you launched the Nancy Drew Kickstarter campaign, you both had a really nuanced response to the prevailing notion that female action figures don’t sell. So I’m glad this Prisoner Wave No2 also include some of the female characters. Was there any concern about including characters like the Taxi Driver or Number 50, or were you confident that it wouldn’t matter to the fanbase?

Wyatt: No concerns about making female figures for Prisoner fans. Can you show me a hardcore Prisoner fan who doesn’t love Mary Morris as Number 2 from “Dance of the Dead”? Or Barbara Yu Ling’s Taxi Driver character from “Arrival”? Such a thing is almost impossible to imagine. Mary Morris is god.

Hignight: I think it’s a testament to the awesomeness of The Prisoner that there was no doubt or difference to us in bringing male or female characters into action figure form. Patrick McGoohan carefully constructed a series that had engaging badass characters of both sexes and they were all equally important to the plot, The Village and the series. One of my favorite Number 2’s is Mary Morris from” Dance of the Dead.” Doc and I knew that if the first wave did well, we had no choice, we had to include her in the next wave. She’s incredible. 

Dar: Finally, by cosmic coincidence, news recently broke that Christopher Nolan, fresh off sweeping the Oscars for Oppenheimer, may be contemplating a remake of The Prisoner. I’m fairly confident you saw that bit of news. I’m curious if you think this Prisoner Wave No2 Kickstarter campaign may benefit from the rumors in any way like driving interest for those who want to get in on the ground floor of possibly the next big franchise? 

Wyatt: You assume it’s a cosmic coincidence, but is that a safe assumption? What if Christopher Nolan grabbed some of the “Wave 1” figures, and it reminded him how much he loves the show?

Hignight: We DID see those rumors hit the internet and YES we did see a nice little bump in traffic and interest from it. Thankful for any news that elevates such a great series and our efforts to pay tribute to it in action figure form. I will confess, I’m in the camp of those who don’t really feel like they need a remake or revision. But I’ll also say that Doc pitched to me how he would approach a modern day version of The Prisoner and I was all in on his idea. So there you go, we found a writer. Give him the assignment.

The Prisoner Retro Style Action Figures Wave No2 Kickstarter is live now. You can see images and info and make your pledge, here.