Magazine:
Each month, our message board writes and votes on a selection of ten questions to send to Playmates regarding their Simpsons toys. Board VIP Michael Crawford sends these to Jeff Trojan, VP of Boys Toys for Playmates, who has always graciously responded with detailed and informative answers. Here are the questions and answers from May, 2001:

Yes! I recieved our answers tonight, directly from Jeff Trojan, VP of Boys Toys for Playmates. First off, he said this about the 2002 lineup:

"In short, the entire 2002 line is on paper, but hasn't been fully approved. All I can confirm is the first 2002 Wave (available December 2001) - Figures: Dolph, Cletus, Ms. Kreboppel, Lou, Hans Moleman and Officer Marge / Environments: Simpsons Kitchen with Hyper-obese Homer, Krusty Burger with Pimple-faced Teen"

Uh-oh. Hans and Teen are in the playsets. I bet you can guess what that might mean for the main street set.

Jeff's answers are in the quotations. My comments are after each.

1 - There is a rumor that Playmates is not considering the late Phil Hartman's characters like Troy McClure, Lionel Hutz, and Lyle Lanley for release. Is there any barrier preventing their production or is it possible we'll see these in an upcoming wave?

"We are interested in Phil's characters and voice as an anchor to our celebrity assortments. There are several approval and contractual steps with Fox legal, Groening's office and Phil's trust. Everyone will weigh the issue on their subjective "tacky or tribute" scales and we'll see where we come out. No word yet."

Sounds like they are working on it, but Hartman's trust is likely the problem.

2 - What's up with Moe's? We've heard that there is some sort of licensing issue with Fox, or that there is some fear over marketing a bar as a toy. What are the odds this playset will see the light of day?

"We have repeatedly been denied approval for a Moe's interior environment. (Which is why we wanted a facade on the Main Street playset.) Maybe a rooftop or a facade in the future. No plans yet."

And that's why we are seeing Hans and the Teen getting used in other playsets.

3 - Would it be possible for Playmates to allow collectors to vote on getting a particular character made? Hasbro did this for the Star Wars line last year, and it was extremely well received.

"Go ahead and vote - we always use that feedback to plan our coming line(as we did with Trek). Anything you could name is probably already on the list somewhere."

My interpretation - we will make all the figures we think people will buy.

4 - Can you confirm or deny any of the following rumored list of 2002 figures? Even if it's only to let us know that some are at least under consideration, or certainly not on the radar screen at all at this time. The list includes:

2002 Wave 1 Figures- Daredevil Bart, Selma, Mrs. Krabapple, Radioactive Man, Duffman, Pinpal Moe. Playsets- Burns' Manor w/ Larry Burns, Flanders House w/ Rod and Todd.

2002 Wave 2 Figures- Pinpal Otto, Gil, Mrs. Skinner, Super Intendant Chalmers, Sunday Marge w/Sunday Maggie, Sunday Lisa. Playsets- Retirement Castle w/ Jasper, Police Station w/ Lou and Eddie.

2002 Wave 3 Figures- Fat Tony, Poochy, Stonecutter Homer, Stonecutter Carl, Stonecutter Lenny, Frank Grimes. Playsets-Roger Myers w/ Itchy & Scratchy Studios, Stonecutters Place w/ Number 1

"Sorry I can't give specifics until the line is approved. Your breakdown never was one of our working line lists, though many of the characters are on our lists. We're treating all celebrity voices as separate SKUs, mainly because the approval and legal issues will take longer to line up. (We've been working on them for a year and a half so far...)"

In other words, the rumored 'list' isn't particularly far or close - they are looking at all the obvious choices, and so are the fans, so the lists come out half right.

5 - Do you have any additional information on the next Halloween exclusive - Kang and Kodos is the rumor, along with perhaps Maggie and the spaceship.

"Treehouse of Horror II with Kang, Kodos and Spaceship Homer will ship FOB TRU mid-August (in stores mid-September or October 1). They'll disappear in about three weeks. (There will be less than last year...)"

Uh-oh. Interesting that it's Spaceship Homer though...

6 - What is the current status of the Mainstreet Playset? Some reports have it delayed until next year, others that it's cancelled, and still others that it will be an exclusive.

"There are no plans to produce Main Street. You'll notice Hans and Teen are popping up elsewhere."

As you could infer.

7 - The following are the most desired figures from our group. Some are already accounted for in the previous question. Are there any plans for the following figures? If not, what could we do (petitions, polls, etc.) to show that these character selections would be viable?

-Duffman
-Fat Tony
-Superintendent Chalmers
-Disco Stu
-Poochie
-Ms. Hoover
-Sherri/Terri
-Cletus
-Dr. Nick Riveria
-Jasper
-Frank Grimes
-Mr. Burns' Lawyer
-Pinpal Moe
-Hank Scorpio
-Gill
-Troy McClure
-Lionel Hutz
-Mrs. Skinner
-Lunchlady Doris

"Thirteen are on "the list" submitted for approval right now."

A little deduction. There's only 19 there. Removing Hartman's characters Hutz, McClure...any others? Also, from the question below on Roswell, you can remove Mrs. Skinner I believe and Ms. Hoover as well. That leaves 15 - obviously we can figure out who the 13 from this list are, and that would cover almost two waves for 2002.

8 - Are there plans to do Maggie Roswell characters? Since Maggie Roswell left the show in a contract dispute with FOX two years ago, will there be any problem producing her characters as World of Springfield figures? These include Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, Miss Hoover, Luann Van Houten, Shary Bobbins, Mary Bailey, among others.

"There are no plans for Maggie Roswell characters at this time. It would be a while before we got to them. I'm not too familiar with Fox's relationship with her, but we would have to pursue a separate contract with her as we do with many of the VO actors and celebs."

Doesn't sound likely, at least not in the next 18 months.

9 - Are there any plans to get the web site updated more frequently, to provide better information to buyers?

"Web site updates will come slowly, usually as product is manufactured, because we use the packaging photography and copy (which is done late) for the site."

In my opinion, the weakest answer of the set.

10 - How long do you forsee this line lasting?

"As I said, the 2002 line list is full and strong. It adds up more than 2001, which was better than 2000. We're going into 2003 plans with strong momentum and we haven't exhausted the characters (or the consumers)...Looks good into 2004 1/2 right now..."

Actually, one of the most heartening answers. I believe that because it doesn't sound like they are thinking something as simple as "as long as we can", but instead have some pretty specific plans for the next couple years.

And now the commenting begins!

Michael
MWC

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