Over the past 45 years, Eaglemoss has grown from a leading publisher of subscription-based partwork collections into a multifaceted publisher and maker of officially licensed books, toys, collectibles, and crafts. For some insight into where the company is headed, the Toy Book caught up with Matthew Buss, national director of retail sales at Eaglemoss Hero Collector, about the state of the collectibles industry and the company’s expansion into the U.S. market.
Toy Book: What are some of the key qualities that set Eaglemoss Hero Collector apart from other companies in the collectibles space?
Matthew Buss: Eaglemoss Hero Collector is a global force of more than 150 of the highest-caliber pop culture, comic book, TV, and movie fangirls and boys ever assembled — so much so that I don’t understand how we don’t collapse under the weight of our own geekiness into a dense black hole of fandom! Our ideas often come together in some Dragon Ball-style fusion of uncontrollable passion for a property and an unrivaled determination to make the coolest and most detailed collectibles on the market.
You might say maybe we aren’t unique in this style of doing business, and we know, as fans, that we are blessed to have some exceptional toy manufacturers in the same space as us — but we love what we do and we try our very best to make products for fans that we would love to buy ourselves.
TB: How is the distribution mix for Eaglemoss’ products in the U.S. market evolving this year?
MB: Geek culture is a universal language, and from the start, we set out to serve as many markets as possible in order to reach as many fans as we can, both through our direct-to-customer verticals and servicing global retail markets. Here in the U.S., we are still a fledgling Pidgey in this space. We have just begun to work with some powerhouse specialty retailers, including Hot Topic, BoxLunch, GameStop, Calendar Club, Spencer’s, and more. Our aim is to grow further.
We want to be able to serve our community in any way they want it — be it through fans’ favorite retailer for an exclusive item, our own e-shop, or having the option to set up a subscription to have their favorite collection shipped straight to their door every month.
TB: What are the differences and similarities in developing products for a major franchise, such as Harry Potter, versus a niche property, such as The Orville, that has a smaller, yet extremely passionate, fanbase?
MB: It may sound cliché, but from our perspective, there really isn’t any. We approach The Wizarding World in the same way we approach the interstellar alliance of the Planetary Union — with the desire to make exceptional products for the community.
We are lucky in that we have extremely talented and versatile product development teams in-house, who at one moment can be meticulously sculpting a high-detail model replica of the USS Orville (ECV-197), and the next can be designing beautifully crafted gift items like our Harry Potter range of knitting kits.
Potterheads, Trekkies, Whovians, and fans of any genre love their subculture. It is theirs and they own it as much as any studio, director, or writer, so we treat it with the same level of enthusiasm when creating products.
Every single one of our licensing partners understand this — some even better than we do — and they are instrumental in helping us deliver the best products possible.
TB: How has the market evolved from fans wanting to simply collect to those who now seek hands-on experiences through building or crafting their
MB: Fans are shrewd and specific in what they invest in, especially in collectibles.
I have seen many phases and cha-nges, but I have overwhelmingly seen an increasing desire for better quality collectibles with detailed sculpting, accurate paint and deco finishes, accessories, and quality packaging.
This is undoubtedly why we’ve seen a huge surge in the demand, not only for our statuary and figures, but also for our high-end, build-up crafting collections, such as the DeLorean Time Machine from Back to the Future and the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters . The impact of COVID-19 has unquestionably had a positive impact on the crafting and hobbyist space (we are all stuck at home!), but the truth is, fans are always desperate to consume their favorite characters or in-universe products in new and exciting ways.
TB: With an absence of live events this year, how is Eaglemoss connecting with fans worldwide?
MB: You mean apart from crying so much in solidarity that we ruin our print-at-home virtual comic con badges?
We are super fortunate to have a hugely active social community. Ben Robinson and Chris Thompson — the evil super-geniuses behind our brand — host Hero Collector Happy Hours on Twitter, and we engage frequently via newsletters, social, and with other fan communities, such as Comic-Con@Home.
We usually have a massive booth at many conventions and we have desperately missed seeing our fans this year. We will be back stronger than ever in 2021 and we will have something extra special for everyone!
This article was originally published in the October 2020 edition of the Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue!