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TNInterview: David Vonner Talks Marvel Legends, Marvel Universe and Mattel's WWE

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For my latest interview, I got a chance to sit down with David Vonner, who is currently a Design Manager on Mattel's WWE line of action figures. Before that David worked at Hasbro, and was the driving force behind their 3.75" Marvel Universe line. Before coming to Hasbro, David got his start making action figures at Toy Biz working on Marvel Legends and LOTR figures. We talk about all those things and more in the interview.

David was at Atomic Basement Comics in Long Beach, CA during the interview. He also wanted you to know that you should support your local comic book stores.
 

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That 3 3/4 scale Marvel Universe Planet Hulk figure he did was really amazing. Probably my favorite figure from that line.

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1 hour ago, ransomz said:

That 3 3/4 scale Marvel Universe Planet Hulk figure he did was really amazing. Probably my favorite figure from that line.

Yeah, they did quit a few good figures in the line.

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I loved the 3 3/4 line. I collected most of them but by the same token...I was kinda frustrated bc I believe Hasbro wasn't putting out much ML 6"@that time. And my♡belongs to the ML 6" figs. I didnt want these 3 3/4" figs replacing the 6". So towards the end in stopped collecting them even tho I wanted to. Im glad they brought back&stayed w/the 6"line. I think that's why I'm kinda having a hard time collecting the McFsrlane DC stuff bc Im rooted in the 6"fig market and not willing to change from that...juss sayin'🤔

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Sound quality is really crappy; I don't know if that's feedback or people in the background yapping.

5 hours ago, Jmo said:

I loved the 3 3/4 line. I collected most of them but by the same token...I was kinda frustrated bc I believe Hasbro wasn't putting out much ML 6"@that time. And my♡belongs to the ML 6" figs. I didnt want these 3 3/4" figs replacing the 6". So towards the end in stopped collecting them even tho I wanted to. Im glad they brought back&stayed w/the 6"line. I think that's why I'm kinda having a hard time collecting the McFsrlane DC stuff bc Im rooted in the 6"fig market and not willing to change from that...juss sayin'🤔

I had no problem dropping the line once they cut back on the articulation, but kept the same prices.  Hell to the no. It was a good series, though, and I particularly liked the Iron Man Hulkbuster armor, the Angel, Iron Spider-Man (one was translucent!) , and Beta Ray Bill. Got all the Dr. Dooms, too (green, dk green, white). Excellent work done on all of those. I hope when/if the 6" Hasbro Legends versions are done, they'll be as good (oh and when you do Beta Bill, Hasbro, note the use of color on this guy....VIBRANT red...metallic blues and gold...none of this bland brick color used on the 80th anniversary Thor...).

143_a4aa97f3-68d3-4cdb-b80d-75bfb489d24a_1024x1024c.jpg

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Initially I wasn't into this type of video, but with your last 2 interviews I really am starting to like them. As big a name and a get as McFarlane was, he is what he is, along with the likes of Liefeld and Jim Lee, he's an egomaniac. That cat is so full of himself he actually believes his own BS and is fairly smooth about getting other people to buy into it. In every interview I've ever seen with him he's contradicted himself more times than he talks sense, yet he has such a slick way about him that he's able to convince most people that he's genuine.

That being said, your interview with Vonner was a home run. His insight into the behind the scenes world of the toy industry and his willingness to talk about it really surprised me. I had no idea how much competition and strife there was between the two Marvel lines. I had always thought they worked fairly closely together. It had to be a kick in the scrote when they had to cut down on quality and eventually shut down, right about the time they were hitting their stride with figures like WW Hulk and Doc Green. At that time I had almost come to terms that MU had taken ML's place and was chasing down all the older figures I had initially passed on.......and then the GOTG wave hit and the rest is history. He really had a vision.

I have a feeling if he had been in charge of the DC Universe line, his passion would have made it a much better line and he would have strived to compete with and outdo ML and Mattel would still have the license.

Keep getting guys like this and I'm a fan.

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3 hours ago, Atlantis said:

Sound quality is really crappy; I don't know if that's feedback or people in the background yapping.

143_a4aa97f3-68d3-4cdb-b80d-75bfb489d24a_1024x1024c.jpg

There was background noise cause the comic shop David was at was holding a D&D tournament. Wasn't anything I could do about it, but you can still pretty clearly hear what is said by me and David.

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3 hours ago, monron999 said:

Initially I wasn't into this type of video, but with your last 2 interviews I really am starting to like them. As big a name and a get as McFarlane was, he is what he is, along with the likes of Liefeld and Jim Lee, he's an egomaniac. That cat is so full of himself he actually believes his own BS and is fairly smooth about getting other people to buy into it. In every interview I've ever seen with him he's contradicted himself more times than he talks sense, yet he has such a slick way about him that he's able to convince most people that he's genuine.

That being said, your interview with Vonner was a home run. His insight into the behind the scenes world of the toy industry and his willingness to talk about it really surprised me. I had no idea how much competition and strife there was between the two Marvel lines. I had always thought they worked fairly closely together. It had to be a kick in the scrote when they had to cut down on quality and eventually shut down, right about the time they were hitting their stride with figures like WW Hulk and Doc Green. At that time I had almost come to terms that MU had taken ML's place and was chasing down all the older figures I had initially passed on.......and then the GOTG wave hit and the rest is history. He really had a vision.

I have a feeling if he had been in charge of the DC Universe line, his passion would have made it a much better line and he would have strived to compete with and outdo ML and Mattel would still have the license.

Keep getting guys like this and I'm a fan.

LOL while I not gonna say McFarlane doesn't ever BS, he actually is a pretty nice guy and he is confident, which you have to be in order to succeed in this business. I used to think he was full of himself as well until I met him in person and really got to talking with him a few years ago at Toy Fair. I'm not saying he doesn't have an ego, but to some extent its warranted, and I think people respect that.

This one was actually my third interview, the second being with the founder of Sota Toys and Pop Culture Shock. If you liked this one, you should check that one out to.

I like doing these interviews but I think people want these guys coming on and giving breaking news or such. That's generally not going to happen. The McFarlane interview was the exception to the rule but generally these are just going to be about hearing these guys stories and struggles working in this industry on past things they've worked on. Based on stats people seem far less interested in that type of thing, which I think is unfortunate.

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4 hours ago, Atlantis said:

I had no problem dropping the line once they cut back on the articulation, but kept the same prices.  Hell to the no. It was a good series, though, and I particularly liked the Iron Man Hulkbuster armor, the Angel, Iron Spider-Man (one was translucent!) , and Beta Ray Bill. Got all the Dr. Dooms, too (green, dk green, white). Excellent work done on all of those. I hope when/if the 6" Hasbro Legends versions are done, they'll be as good (oh and when you do Beta Bill, Hasbro, note the use of color on this guy....VIBRANT red...metallic blues and gold...none of this bland brick color used on the 80th anniversary Thor...).

143_a4aa97f3-68d3-4cdb-b80d-75bfb489d24a_1024x1024c.jpg

That happened after David left Hasbro. It wasn't about lowering the price though, but trying to keep the price from going up more. It didn't work and the line died, but thats why most companies these days stay away from 3.75" or give us super cheap ones with limited articulation.

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17 hours ago, JayC said:

There was background noise cause the comic shop David was at was holding a D&D tournament. Wasn't anything I could do about it, but you can still pretty clearly hear what is said by me and David.

Better to have held it somewhere else then, wouldn't you agree? I had to struggle to hear you guys, and that's not how you should want your interview to go. Its impolite to both your guest and the audience.  It got so bad I turned off the sound and tried just using captions, but that was worse because they couldn't translate clearly what was being said (almost funny, actually). I'm glad you all decided to do the interview, though. Just in the future, have it somewhere where the audience can hear you.

Of what I could make out, this was his take on HIS experience in the field and I really liked that. I mean, to hear it straight from someone in the know, not the half-assed rumors of a message board, is really the best. When reviewers talk to guys at SDCC and that kind of thing, I wish they'd ask these kinds of questions. Why make the Falcon's Cap outfit so near perfect, but leave out the wings? Why double jointed elbows on Rescue and Proxima, but none of the other female figures? Will we ever see the Inhumans or original Guardians finished out (like the excellent Alpha Flight set)? Why don't we see more robust female figures like Ms. Marvel or Rogue? When Hasbro completed the Colossus figure, did they weep from pride?

Looking forward to more interviews!

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Even though I'm not really into 3.75" or WWE, this was yet another awesome interview! You can really tell he was passionate about the MU line. Hell, I even felt excited and kinda wanting to check out the figures that were released in that line. Very entertaining and informative interview. 

As for some feedback, yes, the audio could improve, although it's good on your side. In this case I get it, he was at that shop and he wasn't the only one there, so there wasn't much that could be done. Unfortunately, a computer's default mic is rather inefficient, and the difference between your voice and that of the interviewee is noticeable. I understand that by these being online interviews you are limited to what the interviewee has at hand, but for future interviews my suggestion would be (if you don't do it already) to politely ask them if they have any headset or even earphones they can connect to the computer, so that they can hear you better and also improve their voices, even if it's just a little bit. Honestly this has been the only interview I've kinda struggled to listen to, because of the aforementioned situation, so the audio improving would be just a plus.

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