Wayne Park - Boss Fight Studio H.A.C.K.S. The Quarantine
(From Editor: I chose this photo because Wayne & Kara JUST got married! -Mary)
Running a small successful toy company is not an easy job, especially during a global pandemic. It can be a difficult task to stay in business while you are facing global supply chain disruptions, closed factories, lost sales revenue, and shattered consumer confidence in the toy market. Boss Fight Studio, home to the Vitruvian H.A.C.K.S. (Highly Articulated Character Kit System), came up with an innovative way to engage with it’s consumers and fans while at home in quarantine during the global pandemic.
Boss Fight Studio is a creator-owned company focused on offering high quality, collectible toys. They are comprised of multiple toy industry professionals from various disciplines and backgrounds including design, painting, sculpting, marketing, and manufacturing. Their first wave of figures was launched on Kickstarter and was one of the most successful campaigns on that site. Since launching in 2015 they have gained a large following of fans, collectors, and customizers of their action figures.
Boss Fight Studio debuted its product line at the New York City Toy Fair in February and had a full schedule of Conventions and Cons planned for the rest of the year. Normally at this time of year they would be selling their merchandise at conventions, holding custom figure contests, and overseeing the very popular customization class at the cons. With the pandemic forcing everyone to quarantine in their homes and close their businesses, Boss Fight Studio wanted to bring the experience of the convention to their fans by offering an online version of the customization class.
“Taking the in-person customization class we’ve held at previous conventions online was something we’d been talking about for a while,” says Erik Arana, Partner and Art Director at Boss Fight Studio, “our fans worldwide are often disappointed when they can’t be at one of the convention classes so this will allow everyone access.”
Boss Fight Studio offered the customizing class on their website for up to 90 people, and according to Meredith Franks from marketing, the class sold out in 72 hours. There was enough interest in the class that they started a waiting list for the second class and will give the people on the list an exclusive opportunity for pre-registration.
“We’ve been trying to find new ways to entertain our customers during quarantine,” says Catrina Arana, Partner and Art Director at Boss Fight Studio. “We released a free short story featuring some of our most popular characters and got a lot of positive feedback so we continued to push on virtual entertainment ideas. The virtual customizing class was a natural next step for us.”
The virtual customizing class was scheduled for four sessions on Zoom, every Tuesday night at 5pm EST, and would run anywhere from 1 to 3 hours depending on the scope of the project. Each registered class member received 4 different blind-bags of random blank molded parts in the mail. The week of the class you would receive an email with instructions, and a list of supplies you would need, including recommendations for paint colors. Each class you opened one blind-bag and the staff at Boss Fight took you through the assembly and deco techniques needed to customize your parts. Each session was posted on YouTube and fans that were not able to get in the class could follow along at their own leisure. Participants were encouraged to post their progress on the Boss Fight fan pages on social media.
If you watch the videos online, the staff at Boss Fight Studio is giving their fans an exclusive peak behind the toy design curtain, providing tips and tricks that you would only learn if you worked in the industry. Many toy companies still regard these techniques as highly guarded trade secrets. Fans could ask questions, and were even asked to join in the discussions regarding the toy industry and action figures in general. It was a perfect event for kids of all ages, recent high school graduates with an interest in toy design and art, toy enthusiast, and customizers to participate in. It gave you an inside look at the toy design process.
As a veteran of the toy industry, participating in the inaugural customizing class really took me back to the collaborative environment of the toy design studio. It made me nostalgic for my days in the industry and I walked away with a comforting feeling knowing that my friends and former colleagues were all safe and doing what they love during the global pandemic. At the end of the four weeks I had a unique action figure with my own deco and configuration as well as peace of mind.
This was an extremely innovative marketing campaign, which was really focused on their core consumer, the customizer, and how to keep them engaged with their product during a global pandemic. It allowed their fans an exclusive opportunity to connect with the creators in a unique and personal format. This could be the new platform for toy companies to engage with their consumers and get kids involved in art and creation. You can easily see how other brands and companies could adapt a similar strategy. For this reason I think it was a huge success on many levels.
If you are interested in participating in the next Boss Fight Studio Customizing Class, registration begins this Sunday May 17th at 7pm EST on the Boss Fight website. The next class is scheduled to start June 3rd at 6pm EST, and will run for four weeks. I highly recommend it.
Check out the Boss Fight Studio website for more information:
Boss Fight YouTube Channel:
Boss Fight Studio on Facebook:
Wayne Park is a Toy Industry veteran with over 25 years experience working with most major Toy Companies and manufacturers. He is currently working remotely as a Design Director for Envoi Design in Cincinnati, OH.