At the recent San Diego Comic-Con International, we spoke to Dark Horse's Dave Scroggy about Dark Horse's merchandise programs for the coming months, including merchandise based on Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's MirrorMask, a new film that's going to be released this fall.
Tell us about MirrorMask. When is it coming out?
I don't know the actual release date. It was originally scheduled to come out as a limited theatrical release at September, although there seems to be some revising taking place. Ultimately it will have a theatrical release distributed by Screen Gems, probably forty cities. It's not going to be in every cineplex. It will be more like in art houses. It will come out as a much wider release as a DVD.
What MirrorMask products is Dark Horse producing?
We're doing quite a few three-dimensional figures, both poly-resin and injected plastic. We're taking some of these Dave McKean computer-generated fantasy creatures and making boxed sets of PVC figures, similar to what we do with Tim Burton and Hellboy. Additionally we have license for poly-resin items so we're doing busts and statues.
When's that stuff coming out?
You'll probably see the first products in January. It's not going to be out before Christmas. There are some retailers lined up for January release. We believe the DVD's still online for a January release, regardless of what happens for the theatrical release. The first product will hit in January, probably two or three boxed sets of PVC figures, two poly-resin busts, one of a character called the Dark Queen, one of a character called the White Queen.
We're additionally doing some other licensed paper products: stationery sets, note cards, journals, that sort of thing. We're going to try and do a facsimile of an element in the movie that's a book. There's an item in the movie that Neil Gaiman titled The Very Useful Book. It's a book with blank pages, but if you need it for the answer to a question, and you open the Really Useful Book, writing will appear on the page. We're trying to figure out some way to do the very useful book as a journal.
Additionally, we'll have a new line of our syroco figures that will be based on more contemporary comic book characters. As you know, we've done almost fifty based on old newspaper strips. This will be very similar. It's in a box, poly-resin limited edition with a booklet and a button. The subject matters will be characters mostly from the independent age. The first one will be Hellboy, the second one will be Conan. They're not all Dark Horse characters. We've got a handshake on Bone, Sin City, we're talking to many other creators at the show. Steve Rude said we could do Nexus. He liked it. We'll still have the look of our old syrocos to have that kind of forties, deliberately a little primitive approach, to both the sculpting and the painting.
Syroco? What's that?
Syroco's a kind of collectible. I believe it's an acronym for the Syracuse Ornamental Company, which in the late nineteen thirties developed new materials like an early version of polymer-resin which they mixed with sawdust. There were a lot of Disney figures. I think even patio furniture was made out of this material. They've come to be known as syrocos, those little statuettes. They're a whole area of collectibility. You can find them in the Hake Guide...
What's the difference between that and any other cold cast resin products?
Nothing really in terms of the material. Ours aren't truly syrocos, but the syrocos from the thirties and forties had a very definite look to them. We've attempted to replicate that in today's poly-resin. Our series of figurines is based on a famous series of premiums that was done for Farina Cereal in 1944. They did twenty-five to thirty of these figurines of King Features: Dagwood, Popeye. They were very crudely done. Ours are a little more sophisticated, but we're still trying to have some of that funky patina of the forties look to them.
Other products of note include several Betty Page things. We have the Betty Page poker set. One item will be a deck of cards at $4.99. There's a deluxe collector's version of the same thing, which comes in a beautiful wooden box with Betty's photograph on it...
When's that coming out?
September. Other items of note -- a Hellboy talking board, kind of like a ouija board, except we've discovered that the term 'ouija' is a registered trademark of Parker Brothers, so we are making a Hellboy talking board. If you want to look at a rich history of talking boards there's a website called museumoftalkingboards.com which is great, as a historical website.
Are there other non-ouija products on it?
DS: Many. Ours is specific to Hellboy. Mike Mignola did all original art. We have a planchet that is used on it. That will come in two editions. One will be with a pressed fiber board, like a monopoly board in a cardboard box with the planchet for twenty-four ninety-five. We're making only five hundred, numbered, the art silk-screened on a wooden board, with brass caps in a beautiful wooden box with Hellboy art engraved into it and a signed and numbered certificate from Mike Mignola. That will be $75.
When's that coming out?
That's also online for September. It's in production now. The work's all done. A sample's supposed to arrive here at the convention. We're continuing to do merchandise based on Billy Tucci's Shi, we have a beautiful Shi poly-resin bust coming forward, that will be October. We continue to do poly-resin busts and pvc sets based on Conan. The next bust, Thoth-Amon, will be out in October in time for Christmas. In January, when this event takes place in our comic books, there will be a second pvc set based on the Robert E. Howard story, 'Tower of the Elephant.' All of our Conan products are based on the original Robert E. Howard material. The first pvc set's based on the story 'The Frost Giant's Daughter.' Our second pvc set will be based on 'The Tower of the Elephant,' and so on.
We have two new Tim Burton items. One will be a collaboration with Harper/Collins. We're doing a boxed set of the Harper/Collins Oyster Boy books and a unique pvc figure of the character Voodoo Girl, which has not yet appeared. We're trying to have that out before Christmas. It's in final approval with Tim, so we're just waiting for the exterior design work to be approved and then it will go to press. That will be $24.95, a pretty good deal. The book by itself sells for twenty dollars. For an extra five dollars you get a unique edition with a figure that's only available from us. Our second Tim Burton item which will again utilize as-yet unproduced pvc figures of characters from his book, The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy.
Is that Harper/Collins product going to go out to Diamond also?
Yes. We'll offer it to everyone. We'll present it to chain book stores, comic book shops, specialty retailers, wherever we can sell it. Similarly, there's going to be a Tim Burton note card set based on his characters, Stickboy and Matchgirl. There's a story about how they fall in love. We made pvc characters--one of Stickboy, one of Matchgirl. It will come with notecards and envelopes and a little story card in a package that will be resemble an over-sized matchbox. That will be $17.95 for a little box set of notecards with two pvc figures.
When's that coming out?
We're looking at January. The book we're trying to rush out for Christmas, the other one we're not going to make that fast to give us time to put it in our book catalog. Another cool new item is the Quimby the Mouse wooden doll from Chris Ware. We've been working on this project with Chris for a long time. It's almost like a turn-of-the-century wooden toy, only having Quimby the two-headed mouse. There's an additional head of his cat character that just rolls around loose in the box. Chris has created a beautiful little hardcover book that will only be available boxed with the figure. That's not a limited edition but you won't be able to get the book any other way. MSRP is $24.95, and that's on track for September.