The New York Times ran a piece today on the Four Horsemen toy studio. Action figure collectors will be very familiar the “4H” (as they are known on message boards) for their work with McFarlane Toys, DC Universe Classics, and Masters of the Universe.
The article in the Times focuses on the studio’s attempt to find time to focus on their proprietary creative lines, while keeping up with orders from their primary patron, toy giant Mattel.
For the Four Horsemen, having a client like Mattel has been both an opportunity and a burden. They design more than 100 action figures a year for the toy maker. “Mattel put us on the map,” Mr. Mayse said. “They are bread and butter.”
But the work they do for Mattel also makes it hard for them to devote time to building their own lines — and a diversified company that could withstand the loss of its biggest customer. Their annual revenue is well above $500,000 now, but it fluctuates depending on their workload for Mattel. They would like to sell their own toys through a mass-market retailer like Toys “R” Us or Target, but their work for Mattel keeps them too busy to develop story concepts.
There is also this tantalizing tidbit for fans of the Horsemen’s in-house work, such as the 7th Kingdom line of figures
Despite their struggles, the men would still like to pursue an animated series. But they are taking a more cautious approach to the entertainment industry. They are looking for smaller ways to build their concepts, like through comic books and graphic novels. … They are also building a style guide for their characters, with the hope of handing it off to a writer who can develop a story concept.
Check out the full article here.