Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Getting to Know: Robert Tonner and Comic Book Collectible Dolls Part 2

Please read Part 1 of the interview before reading Part 2
Tonner Doll Company, Inc. and Comic Dolls continuation

Before any project, Marvel and DC Comics, can begin, the first step Tonner had to “build the relationship.” In the words of Robert Tonner, here is his explanation on the step by step process: “We would contact the licensing department of each company and explain what we wanted to do. In some cases, a licensor may not want their name on a product that you make, but in our case, both companies were very receptive. I believe they both knew of our work. We then discussed the terms of an agreement (usually the length of time for the agreement and the royalty rate). Once we came to terms, we would start the development process. We submit prototypes to the licensor along the way and at the time when everything is approved, we would start production.”

Even if the relationship and all agreements have been made, there is one component to the product that one should be aware of. Can you guess what or who I am thinking about? Well, I am thinking about you, the fans, and anyone who may have an interest in the product. If buyers, such as consumers, did not purchase the doll, then the doll might not be successful in the market. “If a doll or figure was not successful neither my company nor the licensor would want to continue with the project. Usually the companies ask for a guarantee so that they wouldn’t have tied up their property without recourse. These arrangements really need to work for both parties and I believe that both sides understand that.” Of course, if the success was met, then the project would continue and both parties would continue to work together. ☺

In the DC Comic relationship, the doll collection is called DC Stars. This cool collection contains well-known DC Characters, such as Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, and the Joker, just to name a few. There is so much more to check out on the company site. Even though Tonner has many characters in the collection, it was a selective decision on which characters should become a doll designed and produced by Tonner Dolls Company. According to Tonner, “because DC does do their own figures (and, very well, I might add) we try not to produce the same characters at the same time. We work closely with DC to pick the right properties that cater to our strengths, such as the DC Women.” After deciding which characters to produce, next was to design the perfect doll that matches the DC characters. So how did they go about it? “We’re all big comic readers here! We do a lot of research and work closely with DC for direction.”
© 2009 Linda Thai

All DC Comics characters and elements are trademarks of and © DC Comics.
TONNER 459 Hurley Avenue, Hurley, NY 12443.
©Tonner Doll Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
Photographs supplied by Storm Photo, Kingston, NY.

Thank you Storm Photo for letting me use their photographs! Stay tune for Part 3 of the Robert Tonner interview!

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