Published on March 22nd, 2017 | by gareth0
Ro Kohli Of War Machine Marketing Interview
As part of our coverage for Wondercon; I spoke with Ro Kholi of War Machine Marketing about his company that makes crafted figures for companies and fans. Ro was kind enough to tell us about his company, upcoming appearances, and what he has in mind for the future.
How did you get into the figure crafting business?
I’m a huge Boba Fett fan but all the figures that were coming out were just different versions of the same character which was getting boring to me as a collector. There’s a few cool variations here and there but nothing that was really exciting to me. So I went on eBay to see what kinds of customs people were doing. I bought one called “MANDALORIAN MERCENARY” which I thought was super cool looking. The helmet came off and the guns were able to be holstered which is something I LOVE in my action figures.
When I got the figure in the mail, it was SO amazing that I contacted the sculptor, Kevin Ferrier, who made it and asked if he could do me as a Mandalorian. He said he didn’t see why not. So I gave him my specs (colors, ideas, weapons I would like etc) and when I got THAT figure in the mail, I contacted him again and said, “We NEED to do business together!” If he was able to do me as an action figure, I thought how amazing would it be for us to do people as their favorite characters from whatever series? I thought about what a dream come true it was for me to have my own figure, but what if you were a cosplayer or just a random fan who has everything? You can have EVERY Boba Fett or Darth Vader thing but you don’t have YOU as that character! What’s more exclusive than having YOU as a figure?
What are some of the new figures that will be available?
We started doing music based action figures like Megadeth’s mascot, VIC RATTLEHEAD We’re also working on some cool concept figures like Disney Princess Sith Lords…we love doing mash ups because you can have so much fun with them and we can take some really fun creative license with their features and accessories.
Do figures have to be ordered in a batch or can people buy individual figures?
Since they’re hand done, for right now, we specialize on the one offs. It makes for a much more exclusive and special offering for our customers since there will never be one just like it afterwards. It makes it a really unique item and something that no one else can claim to have.
Also, our figures are all hand done and hand painted. There’s no 3D printing, no molds and no casting. For mass produced figures, molds can cost upwards of $20,000 which isn’t feasible for regular people. Also, most people don’t need 5,000 of a figure of just themselves. This way we can keep the pricing reasonable for your average consumer. Our goal isn’t to break people financially or to offer this only to the very rich. We want this to be accessible for everyone. Everyone should be able to have the opportunity to have themselves as an action figure.
How many licensed properties are available?
To be honest, we can do pretty much any properties. The beauty of what we do is that because they’re all unique and individually done, we don’t have to worry about licenses. These are considered “commissioned art” so it’s really no different than asking a painter to paint me as a Stormtrooper or a Jedi. Because we don’t mass produce these figures, we can come in under the radar a little bit.
What have been some of the more difficult figures to craft?
To be honest, it’s hard to say. Because each figure we do is unique, we never quite know when one is going to be more difficult than another. Usually, finding the right head/face is the hardest part. We always want to make sure that the heads/faces are as close to our clients’ request as possible. Also, sometimes what I think is “easy” is sometimes not and what I think is going to be insanely hard isn’t. A lot of the difficulties come in finding the right parts also. Sometimes finding parts that are proportionate with a 3.75” figure isn’t always the easiest thing We had a singer in a band who wanted 5 of his figure produced which was no problem. However, he wears a top hat as part of his stage persona. Finding 1 top hat wasn’t a problem but 5 was extremely difficult. We still managed to get it done, but it took a lot of searching and digging.
What are some figures that you would love to do but have not been able to do so as of yet?
I love anything that’s a mash up. We’ve done a Joker/Darth Vader, Deadpool/Jedi, Deadpool/Clone Trooper, Han Solo/Dr Who…I would love to get the Disney Princess Sith Lords or Disney Princess Mandalorian figures done…same with bands like Slipknot or GWAR. We’re in the middle of creating a Lemmy/Stormtrooper mash up which is really exciting. My goal is to create action figures that have never been made so that people can be happy with owning something that’s personal to them on many levels. We’d love to do more video game characters also. But mostly, we just love seeing what our customers come up with that they really want.
What upcoming conventions can people see your work at?
We will be at WonderCon in Anaheim on March 31 – April 2 and we’ll also be at San Diego Comic Con July 19 -23, 2017. We’re also hoping to be at Designer Con in Pasadena, CA in November and possibly Comikazee in Los Angeles in October.
What have been the biggest obstacles and greatest triumphs you have faced in this venture?
Ooh, good question!! The biggest obstacles we’ve faced have been getting the right heads/hair/faces for people We want people to really see themselves in their figures (if we make it of them). Our goal is to always make the very best figure we possibly can. Our biggest thrill and triumph is when people get their action figure and they look at it like they got the big present on Christmas when they were kids.
One of my personal favorite triumphs is doing action figures of characters that have never had figures before. We’ve done Ackmena (Bea Arthur) from the Star Wars Holiday Special, we’ve done Vic Rattlehead (Megadeth’s mascot), we did N’Kata Del Gormo (Yoda’s Jedi Master), as well as tons of figures from Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars: Legacy comic books. I love that we can be a part of helping hard core collectors complete their collections or finish up a scene that they’ve been working on but never had all the figures to do so.
That feeling of nailing the figure so perfectly that it exceeds every expectation that our clients have is what we love. I’ve seen people cry when they got their figure, I’ve seen people stare at them in sheer speechless astonishment…those are the moments you live for. The people who are so passionate about a certain brand like Star Wars seeing THEMSELVES as a Star Wars character is the closest many will get to actually being IN Star Wars.
What is upcoming?
We have two new projects we’re working on which we’re extremely excited about. First off, we just started doing custom packaging which is very exciting. Our packaging will be a standard cardback with a REMOVABLE blister. This way, when people get their action figure, they can actually take the figure out of the packaging without damaging it. As a collector, we never want to remove the figure because it’ll destroy the packaging but with our cardbacks, that won’t happen. So people can take the figures out, display them, show them to people and then pop them right back into the packaging. There’s no need to have your figure held hostage by the packaging anymore. The custom cardback is an added option that our customers can request
We’re also working on “What if?” figures along the lines of “What if Rey was a Sith Lord?” or “What if Luke was a Padawan?”…we like doing those kinds of figures because it’s not the type of thing Hasbro will really do. They’ve done some “What if?” figures from the Star Wars: INFINITIES comic books but beyond that, there’s not really anything out there. This way, our customers can have their own “What If?” figures and don’t have to wait for Hasbro to make them. It gives our customers a chance to play with some really amazing concepts also and helps to expand their a universe to more than just what the TV shows and movies give us.
You can get more information at his page below.