The Netflix original hit series The Toys That Made Us will return soon for its third season this year and the show’s creator Brian Volkweiss has a lot of stories of the production of the third season. I got the chance to sit down and speak to him at San Diego Comic Con as he talked about the upcoming season, his toy collection, and much more in this exclusive interview.
Last year at San Diego Comic Con, it was revealed that season three of The Toys That Made Us will be out sometime within this year. Now that we are in 2019, we are not too far along away from the release date of Season 3. So tell me more about the third season and what could we expect?
Brian: It is definitely still going to air this year. I am waiting to get a date confirmed. But it is still airing. I have heard that we got canceled. That is not true. I have heard that we are having legal issues with one of the brands. That is not true. There are just logistical reasons for the delay. The third thing I would also say is you know we had similar logistical issues with season one, but nobody knew the show was coming. Nobody knew about the logistical issues. So we were supposed to come out in May of 2017 and we didn’t come out till December of 2017. So it’s just nobody knew about the show so nobody was you know freaking out. But I will say this and therefore, I shouldn’t say it, but I’m going to say 99.9% of the comments I read on social media complaining about us being late. I take it as a compliment for sure because if people didn’t care, they wouldn’t complain. I respect that. And by the way, the more delayed we are, the funnier the comments are getting subsidized by positive folks all the time. But it’s been about 20 months since we premiered. I’ve read one bad review out of probably over 300 reviews and probably reading over I mean at least two thousand comments and also messages. I would say less than 10 were bad. And I can appreciate that because many shows that I’ve produced are the opposite where if we got 300 reviews, one would be good, and two hundred and ninety-nine would be bad. So, to say that this is the most well received thing I’ve ever been a part of would be a tremendous understatement.
I would also like to say that so far, the Transformers episode has been my favorite of the bunch!
Brian: that makes me very happy to hear because I don’t hear it very often and I love that episode. It took a long time to produce that episode So I’m so happy to hear you say that because I don’t hear very often.
The Master of the Universe series was also a featured episode. Are there any figures of that series that you personally own today?
Brian: When the show was greenlit. I owned zero of He-Man. In fact, I almost did Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles instead of Masters of the Universe. I was never ever into him ever while producing a show. While producing the show, I fell in love with him. And I now have a large He-Man collection. I probably have about a dozen figures and four vehicles of course including Battle Cat.
Do you keep your figures in the box?
Brian:I am 99 percent not a box guy. All I do is tell you since starting the show I definitely have been saving boxes which you know is funny. I get asked all the time you know “how does your wife feel about your toy collecting”. I always say you know [his wife] she’s supportive and doesn’t care at all. And it’s so funny she and I have never talked about this. But to your question, I think it drives her insane that I started saving the boxes. You know it’s weird man. Ninety five percent of the time, I don’t care about mint condition to me. But I really like for my toys for the most part, are to some degree, a symbol of something. And I just want to have that symbol in my collection because, the place in the world where I’m at peace the most is when I’m in my office which is where my collection is. There’s a bunch of toys out there that I love and I really want,and while I don’t understand their price, I do respect the price because it’s capitalism and it’s a fair market valueit’s capitalism and it’s fair market value and if people are willing to spend it, then fair enough. The price should be with the prices but there are certain things where I’m like I get a price. And then, there’s certain things or I’m like I don’t get that price.
At San Diego Comic Con, it was announced that WWE and Masters of the Universe will collaborate for the first time to release a line of MOTU themed WWE figures. What was your reaction to that news?
Brian: I’m shocked it didn’t happen 20 years ago. Everything moves in little pieces in business. If you’re making airplanes or toasters or toys and little steps along the way things have to get proven that something is OK that you’re not going to quote unquote hurt your brand. And I think you know there was a great line that came out last year you know combining Tron with goofy and I just remember looking at that being like if you had told me even five years ago that Disney would allow this to happen I say you’re smoking crack like that is what’s happening now where everybody has the competence to do things from the brand to the IP holder to the toy companies. There is a confidence like Diamond select is putting out these gorgeous black hole figures.
There will be one episode dedicated to wrestling figures in season 3. Which toy developer companies will be showcased for the wrestling figure episode?
Brian: It’s literally every single company that did wrestling figures going back to I mean like tonight 60s before the modern wrestling era even began. So it’s ever you name it such as LJN, Jacks Pacific, and more to be revealed.
Another episode of the newest season will focus on Power Rangers. Will the Super Sentai Warriors toys from Japan also be featured alongside with the Power Rangers?
Brian: Absolutely! To a certain extent, I would argue you can’t do one without the other.
Now you traveled all over the world interviewing many toy creators and publishers and also seeing a lot of rare figures from those toy developers out of a field in all those rare figures of first time as you feel for the first time?
I repeatedly have cried. I mean, I cried, and I cried when I was at Rancho. We were in the basement, and I saw the old car where there was a guy with a binder who had Polaroid pictures of the wooden models that would become Optimus Prime. Because the originals were all destroyed, you were just seeing the Polaroid. I started crying. So I cried repeatedly when we shot the opening for the Star Wars episode when we were at eye level. And you know, we were in the same building that the original Island was in. If you look at like the circuit breakers for the building, they’re still in black Sharpie written like model shop you know roto scope. Like there’s that still there. And I teared up when I saw that so seeing that, I saw some of the original G.I. Joe sculpts. That was unbelievable. Even seeing some of the pictures of the Boba Fett was amazing too.
What was the process of actually going get it to you though you had to go through a whole bunch of approvals from everybody else everywhere?
Brian: Every company was different. They all started the same where nobody believed us because a lot of people lie and say “I’m doing a documentary for Netflix or HBO”. And so nobody believed in this initially. They all asked for a letter from Netflix and Netflix gave me a letter a couple hours after I asked for it that said “to whom it may concern, We have hired Brian to blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. If you have any questions or concerns, please call me at this number”. Everybody called him. He was like a lawyer and the Netflix guy named Tom. And once Tom confirmed that we were real, Every company we worked with was became supportive and wonderful and just a dream absolute dream to work with.We’ve been to Hasbro headquarters probably half a dozen times. We’ve been to Mattel’s headquarters half a dozen times. Almost nothing we asked for was refused as it relates to relics or interviewing people. They helped us find people. They helped us find relics.
Were there any figures or interviews that did not make the final cut?
Brian: There’s one we shot for the Transformers episode with Michael Bay. We did a deal with him that if he didn’t like the interview, we couldn’t air it. And unfortunately, he did not like the interview, and he didn’t let us use the footage. So that was a major bummer because it was a great interview and he explained a lot of things that I never understood. And a lot of people my age, don’t understand about why they made the choices he did for the movies and just watching the footage. I completely understood and felt better about his movies than I had. It’s a shame he didn’t let us use the footage. But no nothing we filmed others in that interview that we wanted to use did not make it into the show.
What about the plans for season 4 if it’s possible? Who do you want to be showcased?
Brian: I’ve got to be careful about this because due to our relationship with big companies, now they’re all over us like “hey, why don’t you cover them”. So I just want to be respectful. But it goes without saying, we would cover hot wheels. That’s the one I’m comfortable saying publicly. We would definitely do hot wheels. There’s really only about 10 more episodes that I really think for lack of a better expression need to get made. I’d love to make 20 more episodes, But I think it becomes a little bit too like people are like “you need to do The Mask”. And I’m like “Mask was a failure”. Then they say “you need to do Thundercat” and Thundercat was a failure. Which isn’t to say you shouldn’t do a show about a failure, some of the best documentaries are about failures.But the problem with doing a show for Netflix without budget being what it is, you really need a constituency big enough for the episode. And Barbie has like 50-60 years of history. You got five year olds, you got 90 year olds that collect Barbie. You know I’m always honest but sometimes, it’s hard to be because you see people’s faces get so upset. But I also inspire them by telling them for them to make their own documentary. But yeah that’s that’s that’s the answer to your question a little long winded.
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