It’s been well over a month since the last time F4F CEO Alex Davis and Marketing Manager Chockles graced our screens with an exciting edition of F4F LIVE and Unplugged, but they have finally returned to update us on all things in the wonderful world of First 4 Figures, including answering such burning questions as:
HOW far in development are the next two Berserk statues?
ARE Mumbo-Jumbo and Gruntilda in the works for the Banjo-Kazooie series?
WHAT is the impact of the global pandemic on First 4 Figures?
WHO are the new additions to the F4F team?
IS the Mega Man PVC still in the cards?
…And more! Let’s get to the recap…
CATCHING UP WITH ALEX AND CHOCKLES
–A lot happened since the last Live and Unplugged on February 21st–over a month ago!
–Chocks’ planned return flight from PAX East was cancelled–he wasn’t sure if he would be trapped permanently in the US! But he eventually did make it back to Hong Kong safely.
–Chockles says there’s plenty of Red Bull in Hong Kong right now–no shortage!
–It has been crazy times due to the pandemic.
–Chockles hasn’t had much time for gaming recently, but has been reading a new car-based manga reminiscent of Initial D (MF Ghost)
–Alex and his son Harvey went through the entire Gears 5 campaign together in co-op Insane mode! Alex really enjoyed it and felt really proud to do this with his young son. They’re also played Darksiders Genesis together.
–Alex said he wouldn’t do “Let’s PlaySearch” again until he had good high-speed internet at home–but it’s going to be installed soon, so the streaming series will be able to resume
–Chockles has been watching some 4K Netflix lately and it’s been very smooth
–“Anyone watching with a daughter about 5 years old? How do I make her into a gamer?” — Alex
–Alex has been giving his daughter some Mario Kart and cooking games right now; is open to recommendations from collectors; Animal Crossing might be a good match for her; Kingdom Hearts and Okami would probably be too hard for her to control movement-wise right now
–Amazing reaction to the Okami Oki Wolf Form teaser image shared this week. This sneak peek will be the start of a new series that’s presently untitled. Faye Valentine (Cowboy Bebop), War (Darksiders), something from Crash Bandicoot will all be sneak peeks coming up. This series will theoretically become a weekly thing.
–Not ready to answer whether Oki will be resin or PVC. Perhaps the next Oki teaser will answer that question!
THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON F4F
–Since the end of Chinese New Year, the entire Hong Kong office had been closed because of COVID-19, and remained closed until the Reala launch last month. The office has been sporadically open on-and-off since, but is now shut down again due to the resurgence of the pandemic in Hong Kong.
–The F4F physical team is based out of China and has been incredibly affected by the coronavirus situation.
–Only 4 First 4 Figures items launched in the first 3 months of 2020. Compared to 2017-2019, more pre-orders were launched during Q1 of those years with half the people on staff than this year. The pandemic has had a big negative impact.
–Everyone on the 3D team is remote, so there has been a lot of development in that department during this period with little impact from coronavirus.
–Skull Knight launch was announced just before the pandemic really blew up outside of China. Alex will be watching closely to see if COVID-19 causes a huge impact on Skull Knight sales. Will tailor the timing for next pre-orders in response to the effect of the pandemic on Skull Knight sales.
–Factories are back up to running at about 60% speed now. Still absolutely not normal, which is a challenge–but this is better than the 0% the factories were operating at for a month.
–Banjo-Kazooie, Conker and Shiranui statue production is nearly complete now that the factories have been working again.
–If you go out to the mainland China from Hong Kong, the Hong Kong government has said you must quarrantine for 14 days on return. This has been very challenging because Alex and other team members cannot visit the factories to check on production as usual. As a result, Alex has had to devise an entire method of monitoring the factories remotely utilizing cameras. However, Alex quite likes the idea and would like to keep the system in place permanently.
–Now that shipments to the US and other regions are almost ready to ship out, the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is being temporarily changed as a result of a poll Alex did in the Official Collectors Club regarding the impact of coronavirus.
–Whereas ordinarily final billing occurs when statues reach a regional warehouse, this is being altered during the pandemic. F4F cannot just ignore that 40% of respondents to the poll Alex posted in the OCC said that they had lost their jobs or suffered reduced hours as a result of the pandemic. Until the coronavirus situation has stabilized, collectors will now need to pay their final balance and shipping fees before their statue will ship out from China.
–If collectors don’t want to pay their final balance prior to their statue shipping from China, then their statue will be held in China until the coronavirus situation has resolved, and then the statue will be shippied to the regional warehouse and final billing will occur as normal. [For further information, please refer to the blog entry here.]
–7 Day notices for Conker for collectors in the US will be going out today; collectors who want to opt out of paying the final balance prior to their statue shipping from China can contact CS.
–Some of the remaining Varia Suit Samus statues have been completed by the factory since they reopened. This is a challenging piece, so the movement on this is fantastic.
–Certain couriers are stopping deliveries in certain areas due to the virus–please open a CS ticket for specifics if you’re concerned about the shipping status in your area.
NEW ADDITIONS TO THE F4F TEAM
–Two new hires have been added since the last product launch of Reala from NiGHTs!
–Marc-André Ducharme (AKA MAD) has been the chief rallying person for Darksiders for a very long time. Alex gave MAD a sneak peek after acquiring the Darksiders license–and MAD then made many suggestions for improvements to the statue. Alex was so impressed he decided to have MAD officially join the team in the beginning of March. His main role is to be part of the final check on statue designs.
–MAD has now seen all 100+ projects that First 4 Figures is working on–including unannounced licenses! MAD is doing great and filling a hole that Alex thinks needed to be filled in the team.
–MAD knows all about Alex’s warm and fuzzy management style!
–The other new hire is Dabid, who’s been part of the F4F Family since day one of the OCC. As Alex and Chockles stepped back from doing the Q&As, the club interaction went down. When Alex decided that he wanted to have a community manager whose role was dedicated to community interaction in the club, Dabid was a perfect match given all the F4F-related stuff that he had done previously–almost like the perfect portfolio!
–Alex and Chockles can’t always be everywhere, so having Dabid permanently in the community posting things helps to fill a hole. News and sneak peeks still happen in the community as always, but now there’s a broader range of topics discussed including Netflix Castlevania, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the return of the Youtube Collector Spotlight, etc.
–It clicked right away and Alex and Chocks knew that Dabs was the right match.
–Member Spotlights, Admin Spotlights, and more new features have been added to the club to make it more human and interactive.
–All numbers for the Berserk Skull Knight statue will be assigned randomly since the series had less than two pieces solicited in the line when the new randomized numbering system went into effect.
—-The shipping calendar has been updated to reflect the dates when statues are scheduled to arrive in various regions. You can work backwards to calculate when the statues will be billed and ship from China (about 1-1.5 months earlier).
–Every statue in production was affected by the virus, including Phoenix Wright. All statues moving at a slower pace of around 60% right now.
–Fullmetal Alchemist line is back on track and coming along nicely now.
–Banjo and Conker were almost finished with production before Chinese New Year, and will be finishing up now, so collectors in the US will be receiving a 7 day final billing notice for them today.
–True Form Midna is deep in development and Alex has seen some great new videos of her production at the factory.
–Can’t share anything about Fullmetal Alchemist right now
–Absolutely a chance for a new Metal Sonic
–Every time someone asks about the year of Zelda, it gets pushed back a year, so it’s currently on year 3021
–Darksiders 3-D render coming along very soon; pre-order within 6 months from now
–Spyro PVC #2 based on Ripto’s Rage OG Cover being made right now
–May dabble in classical/traditional variants (ie faux bronze) of statues in the future
–Metal Gear Solid Solid Snake bust coming first before Grayfox
–Soul Calibur Ivy statue is at the final stage right now
–Progress on Darkstalkers? “Morrigan looks hot.”
–Nothing on One Piece for now, although Alex would love to in the future
–Just about signed two more anime licenses that Alex is super-excited about
–Not sure what’s happening with Super Shadow right now
–Some movement on Modern Amy Rose, but Modern Metal Sonic is being worked on first before other Sonic pieces; movement might have been completely starting over
–All Might PVCs are slowly but surely coming along
–Rider Link and Sheikah Slate are in development
–Berserker Armor being printed now; approved and looks insane
–Neo-Cortex is almost ready to launch
–PVCs are coming along–a lot of stuff coming up
–New Sonic Boom8 Robotnik and Metal Sonic figures–expecting samples soon; Classic Amy Rose & Super Sonic Boom8 figures should be shipping in next shipment to regions
–Fatal Frame–Rally for it on F4Funday in the OCC if you’re interested
–Solid Snake LSB probably up for order this year
–Would do Anime Expo if they were going to do an anime convention next year
–Any Chance for Final Fantasy VII? “I wish.” — Alex Davis
–Yakuza statue is almost done to submit for approval
–A lot more Dark Souls statues coming
–Nothing to report on Sniper Wolf
–No idea if Studio Ghibli would be more open to statues now
–A lot more SDs in development–“at least 3”; “2 almost down and 1 at the 3-D stage”
–Berserk: Casca is pencilled in but nothing concrete; Femto done and at the printing stage
–Could perhaps do another Dark Souls bust
–Alex watches a bit of wrestling now and then but isn’t following it particularly closely
–Bowser Jr.? “That’d be nice.”
–No changes to the finished version of True Form Midna Definitive Edition shown long ago
–Alex believes Mumbo Jumbo from Banjo-Kazooie has been submitted for approval
–Gruntilda is being developed right now
–At least two more Fullmetal Alchemist statues coming
–Nothing to report on Xenoblade right now
–Will start working on F4F logo hats and such
–Ornstein SD is almost done; thinking about whether to launch after coronavirus has died down
–Will not be making Mega Man as a PVC anymore–did not get enough support from retailers to launch as a PVC; thinking of making a resin Mega Man 11 statue in the same size as a PVC (would be like a TF resin that costs a lot more than the usual PVCs)
Yu-Gi-Oh coming along very nicely–two pieces already at the printing stage
“Let’s get some plush going!” — Alex Davis
–Why aren’t Alex and Chocks sitting six feet apart from each other? Chockles is a complete germophobe and would be the last man standing in Hong Kong; Alex will be alright from him–Chockles may not be alright from Alex.
Concentrating only on game source for Castlevania products for now–no Netflix Castlevania
–“Yookah-Laylee? That’s cool.”
–Gifts cards coming along
–Card holders will be sold separately in the future–won’t come with statues
–Need commitments of up to 10,000 units in PVC to make the tooling; did not get an adequate response from retailers to make the PVC molds; Alex is lukewarm on making a Mega Man resin in the PVC size
–Alex’s favorite Mario game of all-time? Mario Sunshine. Chocks picks Super Mario World.
–Alex loves King of the Ring
–Mini Metal Crystal Dragons and Cheat Code Spyro PVCs are coming along
–Have a few projects that have been approved; not sure when the next launch will be–want to see how the virus situation is before scheduling the next launch
–Chockles has been able to become more active in the club recently and is giving out hearts now instead of likes!
–Alex and Chockles count off not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, but SIX Okami pieces that are in-development off-screen!
—The First 4 Figures official Buy Sell Trade group has now opened on Facebook–check it out!; shout-out to the admin team for setting it up
…And with a social distancing-friendly non-touching high-five, that’s it for the latest edition of the First 4 Figures Live and Unplugged! What did you learn in this episode that surprised or excited you the most? Leave a comment below and let us know!