By now, most of you should have received your Single Steel Core Trailer orders or your tracking numbers.
FPC? Where are you at?
There has been a lot that has happened in a few months with Fans Project Core (FPC) - some very exciting announcements, a great outing at TFCON and a release of a particular blue robot too on top of all this. This is just the tip of the iceberg and we are looking towards the next stretch.
But first, we would take this opportunity to talk about FPC and this new direction that we’ve been trying to take Fans Project (FP) products in. From individual emails to some very public discussions about the site’s purpose and its future... the feedback has been very active and generally very positive.
As a collective, there have been many discussions and debates on how these kinds of announcements should be handled and what the focuses should be. We’ve spoken with PR reps for larger companies and consulted with professionals in the industry to give us more insight. In the end we concluded that the best route was to observe some of the etiquette in doing PR, but ultimately just keep it simple and speak unfettered from the heart whenever it’s right. FPC is just simply not that kind of company to create the most politically correct and expected general statements of other companies.
So here goes...
Many have asked us about the relationship between FP and FPC. It’s very simple... FPC is its own registered company in North America - not just a website, and it is not a division of FP. FPC was given a kickstart by Boris Chow, an owner of a technology development company and toy enthusiast who has been active in promoting independent toy products in the industry for the past 4 years.
FP has a relationship with FPC in that we know the people heading up FP very well and have the same spirit and enthusiasm for the production and releases of exciting independent products. FP is a team of fanatic toy enthusiasts and designers that had one purpose when they started... make awesome products for the TF community to enjoy in their collections. What started with add-on accessories became more than they dreamed - full-featured figures.
The Start of Fans Project
With that said, FP started with a very small footprint and had no idea it would become what it is today. Along the way of this organic discovery, they realized that as their dreams were becoming a reality, so was the other reality of a growing business. Communications and resources to handle more than just being crazy and creative became more of a focus - something the main team could not afford if they were to continue creating great products.
That’s when FP enlisted the help of Boris to kickstart what is now FPC, a community that would be able to run itself by offering exclusive products and help to facilitate consumer-based feedback and responses, without over-extending FP as a company itself.
The Start of Fans Project Core
Fast forward to this year and you can see that FPC has finally brought something to market. Much like FP, FPC was also founded on some crazy ideas and enthusiasm. We didn’t know if it would work and have been taking it slow to make sure we can manage the response. We too have had many budget issues as without a product, we had no way of supporting the resources we needed. So despite all the big ambitions, we had to start with a small footprint as well.
FPC has been two years in the making already and although it seems trivial to set up a site and sell things on it, there was much more to the logistics of what goes on in the background. Everything from language barriers of dealing between two regions, to finding the right platform for the technology of the member-driven site, and just basic budget and resource constraints made getting this off the ground a major effort in itself.
We thankfully had help from the community in writing efforts, web development, fulfillment, legalities and general consulting, but even those resources were on borrowed time. In the end we had to get something going to start getting the resources we needed to manage the site and its ambitions and mostly, we needed the support from fans who would want to see something like this grow into its full potential.
It took many talks to convince FP that FPC needed a flagship product - something that also made the community different than what has already been available. Finally we got FP to take a chance on us and Steel Core, a character not based on anything. At first we must say we were nervous. However, when we saw the first run of Steel Core sell out like it did, and had skeptics that said they would never purchase or buy into this figure, we knew that we had something.
Although FP applauds FPC for its recent success and its crazy ambitions, FPC has had to earn its keep just as other organizations that represent FP products. FPC is much more than a place to retail FP products, but we are treated no different than any other retailers by the manufacturer. We have to prove we can do the numbers to keep selling products directly to the consumer.
FPC’s Goals and Mandate
Having said that, the mandate of FPC is to be different - rather than just being a retailer, we wanted to create a community around stories and push FP products in a direction that can support its designers’ own unique characters and ideas.
Our purpose is to enrich the already great products and fan base surrounding FP. What this means is that FPC is not mandated by FP to be the exclusive retailer of all things FP, though exclusive products will be something that we will be working at, to continue to reward members with, much like other fan clubs that support other toy lines.
What FPC does not want to take away from the rest of the community is the respect for the retailers that have already been and will continue to support FP products. These retailers which we do not even have to name, have supported not only FP products but other great independent products from the start. Some of these industry pros even have helping hands in supporting the resources FPC needed to get off the ground.
At the end of the day, the people involved with FPC are not only driven by FP and Boris’ vision, but are enthusiasts of independent toy producers at large. To see such art and engineering come from such small groups and sometimes even a one-person team, is not only exciting but it shows how this new online economy and evolving production capabilities have allowed companies small and large to have direct relationships with their fans and deliver these great ideas and products to their doorstep.
We know this produces a lot of demands, expectations, debates and sometimes pure frustration in a growing model, but this is one of the times that fans and the industry alike need to take a step back and realize how far it has come and what it took to get here. This is amazing not only from the perspective of a fan of toys, but from anyone that can appreciate the work it takes to bring a product from concept to what ends up in a customer’s hands.
Let’s take a moment to acknowledge that it takes some crazy thinking and enthusiasts to lead this charge and give all of these crazy ideas life, and to give credit to all the retailers that have brought these great independent and large-scale toys to market. Without all of this, the envelope certainly would not be pushed.
And most importantly, we as the industry need to take a step back and thank all the fans that have supported this and made this a reality.
Let’s all remember though what this always should be about... a great toy. This is exactly what FPC believes in and will always put as its priority ahead of sales or exclusivity... we just want to be a part of putting great toys into the hands of the fans.