Gamasutra recently visited the GameStop Expo in Las Vegas to investigate exactly what happens when the biggest game specialty retailer puts on a shindig for its staff. Exhibitors were there, of course, to both pitch product and sign autographs.
Among them was famous comic book creator and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane, whose toy company has partnered with Microsoft and Bungie to produce a line of Halo 3 toys that are due out in March. Alongside the game's release, a special limited edition Halo 3 controller wrapped with McFarlane's art was also produced.
Thus, Gamasutra spoke to McFarlane - just before Halo 3 launched - about the realities of making toys based on games, his company's relationships with Bungie and Microsoft, and his venture with baseball player Curt Schilling and author R.A. Salvatore, 38 Studios, which is currently in production on an MMORPG.
So obviously you're here at the
GameStop Expo to promote the Halo figures you're doing with Microsoft.
Todd McFarlane: Right.
How did you come to get involved with that project?
TM: You know what, someone just asked me that, and it's interesting. Most times it's somebody who just walks into the room and goes, "Hey, how would you like to do that?" And I never know whether it was because someone was asking us or we asked them, at that point. But we've been keeping our eye on Halo, wanting to get back in doing some video game figures again. You know, we had done Metal Gear Solid --
Those made a big splash back in, I guess that was probably 1999?
TM: Yeah, so. We followed up on a couple of other games that didn't do quite as well as Metal Gear, but I also have a bunch of guys that work for me who are huge Halo fans. They've always been sort of nudging me the whole time, and I think between us looking for them and the Bungie developers wanting to have a bunch of cool toys -- luckily a bunch of guys who work at Bungie also collect our stuff, so they knew that we would deliver quality to them. And not necessarily just that we offered the most money, but just that we could come in there and actually make toys that looked like what was on the screen.
Bungie's philosophy, essentially. They care most about quality.
TM: Right. And so whenever that happens on the license, that puts us high up on the pecking order because there are very few companies out there, if any, that I'll take a back seat to in quality. If they want art, all of a sudden our phone starts to ring. If they want the most money, usually they go to the public companies. But anyway, we ended up making early contact and talking about the toys, and as a byproduct of talking about the toys we sort of splintered off into doing the wireless controller artwork that they had on the drawing board.
Who's producing the controller? That's not your company...
TM: No, no, no. That's Microsoft.
They're producing it themselves?
TM: Yeah, what we did was, they came up with it and wanted to see if they could actually wrap some artwork on it, so we did some artwork for it and then we produced the little tiny figures for it -- those little guys right there [indicates display] are going to be packed in with the controller, and then you get both of those for whatever the retail price is on that.
So did you actually do the illustrations
or do you have a staff that completes the illustrations?
TM: Nah, the guy I've been working with over the years, a guy named Greg Capullo, he and I, when it gets down to the artwork, he and I are like Batman and Robin, we do it all. There are other things that we do, that I let my staff do, but then I don't sign my name to it.
Right, I understand.
TM: So if I sign it, I'm doing artwork on it.