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Chris Jones Interview



28 May 2005

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It was my pleasure to sit and talk with Chris Jones, the Marketing Manager at Vivid Imaginations. I was able to talk to him about the current ranges of WWE action figures and what we can expect to see in the future as well as grilling him about his WWE knowledge.

Thanks very much for giving up your time today Chris. So what is your role in Vivid Imaginations?

I am the Marketing Manager at Vivid Imaginations heading up our boys division so I look after the day to day work on the WWE toy line as well as working on Spider-Man, Lord Of The Rings, Fantastic 4, Marvel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, TV Games, Thunderbirds and Peter Jacksons KONG etc. On WWE I liaise with Jakks Pacific (toy manufacturers) in the US, keeping abreast of what new figure assortments and playsets are being released. I also work on the WWE toys TV commercials that we air in the UK. My role is to create as much carefully targeted exposure for the WWE toy line in the UK as possible.

How long have you been working on the WWE brand?

We took over the distribution of the Toy line from Jan 1st 2005. I did however have a couple of months to familiarise myself with the product line, and to get in to the whole world of WWE. I am quite a convert! It is a great brand to work on and we are still in the process of synchronising our new figure launches with the US - something I believe is of paramount importance for the brand.

Your company carries a number of ranges in children’s toys what made you want to work on the WWE toys over your other brands?

WWE is a really dynamic brand to work on. I like the fact that it is "live" and ever changing. The superstars are real people that we see on our TV's every week - live - that keeps it fresh and interesting. Having been to a live event now I understand completely how people become so passionate about WWE.

So lets talk about the WWE action figures, what can you tell me abut the new lines hitting the shops at the moment those being the new Ruthless Aggression and Adrenaline lines of action figures?

We follow the lead from Jakks Pacific in the US. Jakks work hand in glove with WWE in Stamford, Conneticut and we rely on them to keep us up to date with the latest assortments. It is a very closely managed operation, very slick. It is key that we keep at retail the most relevant characters from the TV show. Keeping the figures relevant help to drive the collectability of the brand. There are new figures coming out every month. We ship small quantities of each assortment to keep the market fresh, rather than dumping large quantities of 1 assortment in the market, missing a few assortments and then dumping another large quantity. It is a careful process and we are still on a learning curve. Our aim remains though to keep stock fresh and relevant. There will be plenty of new Ruthless Aggression and Adrenaline assortments launching through the rest of the year

What makes these better or different to previous action figures?

Most other action figures in the market are figures of imaginary characters i.e. Power Rangers, Spider-Man, Star Wars characters etc. WWE figures are of real living, breathing people. The sculpts are done using sophisticated scanning processes that ensure accuracy. Everything has to be approved by the WWE people - they are very slick and have a keen eye for detail. If it is not a good likeness, the figure does not get made.

Back when I was a kid I had a few wrestling figures and I currently have a Rey Mysterio figure on my desk at the moment and they seem worlds apart it's like comparing a Skoda with a Ferrari. How do you go about developing these products and making each one better than the next?

It is Jakks who do all the development under the scrutiny of the people at WWE. Their combined goal is to make the best figures possible. Improved design technology and manufacturing techniques mean that the figures today are better than ever. You get much more detail these days. Attention to detail enhances authenticity - qualities collectors look for and quite rightly demand.

Are there any new developments or releases we should be looking out for in the next few months?

There are new figures coming our practically every month so it is worth regular trips to local stockists to see what new they have coming in. We are also working on a revamped version of the "Real Sounds Arena" that should hit retail shelves late July / early August. Toys r Us are also bringing in the Wrestlemania 21 figures.

Have you watched much WWE action on TV? Who is your favourite wrestler?

I enjoy watching WWE on TV but seldom get the chance these days. My favourite superstar is Rey Mysterio, 6-1-9 is a cool move and I am constantly impressed by his agility. I also like Hurricane. As for the Divas - where do I start?

Does the action we watch on TV have much affect on the production and promotion of the action figures?

It does yes, we always try to make sure that the figures in the assortments are relevant to the superstars we see on TV. This is carefully managed by the teams in the US

Now our readers want to test your knowledge of your product so wanted me to ask you a quick few questions to see how much you knew about the WWE.

What big annual show is happening this weekend (april 3rd)?

That was Wrestlemania 21 - a great event and great to see some new Champions

Who is the owner of the WWE?

Vince McMahon - what an operator! WWE is growing globally at a rapid rate and all under his guidance.

And who is the general manager of Raw?

Eric Bischoff

Correct on all three well done.

Thanks very much for taking the time out to be grilled by our readers, so the last bit of information we need to know is where can we get our hands on these new WWE action figures.

Thanks for the opportunity to talk about WWE!

Well - WWE is growing and there are more retailers than ever stocking the figures. The big retailers like Argos, Woolworths, Toys r Us, Tescos and Asda all carry WWE and often have their own exclusive figures. I would also advocate keeping your eye on your own local WWE retailers i.e. toy shops and collector shops as they are often the best places to find the more elusive figures!

Adam Sibley

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