Toy Fair 2020: Neca/KidRobot and Interview with Artist Frank Kozic

The creative minds at Neca work hard to bring highly desirable products to collectors over a diverse range of fandoms. We visited them at Toy Fair this year to see all of their licensed content, which includes a lot of 20th Century brands and Marvel characters. We even got the chance to sit down with the Chief Creative Officer of KidRobot and designer, Frank Kozic, to talk about some exciting upcoming Disney releases. We’ll get to that after a look at their space on the Toy Fair show floor.

We’ll start with the Chia Pet release of “The Child” from The Mandalorian, which went viral when we shared an image of him on all of our social media accounts. He’s so cute in his pram where chia seeds will grow green plants around him. Raise your hand if you’re getting one.

Other licensed Chia Pets include Yoda, Chewbacca, Daredevil, Groot, and The Golden Girls.

“Clap on, clap off, clap on, clap off, the Clapper.” Not just convenient, but also a way to celebrate your fandom, The Clapper is available in Darth Vader and C-3PO styles.

Body Knockers are solar powered perpetual motion characters that swing back and forth. We got to see Baby Groot in action and Neca’s license includes a ton of Marvel characters, in addition to Alien.

Neca Scalers are figures that hang onto wired chords. They’re available in 2-packs with ear buds and individually. They can clip onto any chord and come in a variety of Marvel characters and Alien. There’s also a Spider-Man Jumbo Scalers that could hang onto a larger circular item in a home or apartment.

Marvel HeroClix are a fun hobby and game. This primed wave is unpainted and ready for artistic collectors to try their hand at painting these tiny figures.

Marvel HeroClix also come in a brand new themed game called Fantastic Four Cosmic Clash, which includes the four heroes plus the Silver Surfer and Doctor Doom.

A variety of other painted Marvel HeroClix figures are also available, with a Black Widow wave themed to the new movie coming soon.

Fans of Fox’s Bob’s Burgers can collect their favorite characters through four different blind-box options, including keychains, pins, and two vinyl series; “Trick or Treating Tour” and “Grand Re-Opening.” There are also medium-sized figures to collect and display.

Futurama is another Fox animated series with a Neca collection including the blind box series “Good News Everyone,” a keychain line, and a medium figure of All Hail Hynotoad.

Let’s not forget The Simpsons, with a blind box series themed to Moe’s Tavern, a keychain series, a Flaming Moe medium figure, and Blinky the Fish Nigiri sushi roll.

Itchy and Scratchy will rip your heart out with this adorable, yet disgusting, medium figure set. Plush lovers can get Buddha Homer in two sizes, or the extra sparkly Mr. Sparkle floating out of a box of Japan’s best laundry detergent.

“This is Alien. You are on the spaceship Nostromo with Sigourney Weaver.” No, it’s not The Great Movie Ride, but it almost could be with this 40th Anniversary “Big Chap” deluxe display. “Look out behind you!”

Other Alien products include collectible figures and a line themed to Predator.

Did you know that Xenomorphs can be cute? These plushies are very kawaii.

Christmas may seem far away now, but it will be here before you know it. “Filthy animals” might want to step up their game with these Home Alone cocoa mugs and throw blankets.

Looking to spruce up your home decor? How about a life size Baby Groot in the corner? Or a giant foam Mjolnir in the middle of your dining room? What about having a Xenomorph and/or Predator trophy head mounted on your wall as a trophy from your hunt? Necca makes all this and more possible.

Interview with Chief Creative Officer Frank Kozic

As I mentioned, we got to sit down with the Chief Creative Officer of KidRobot, Frank Kozic, and interviewed him about the current line of products, the new license to make products based on Disney characters, his background, and what makes Neca so special.

Alex: How did your career lead to designing toys and becoming the Chief Creative Officer at KidRobot?

Frank: “I was in the music business for a long time doing posters, album covers, I had a record label and I also did fine art, commercial art. I did really good in Japan for four or five years, 1995 to 2000. I was really strong in Japan, I had a good thing going over there and that’s about when I decided to get out of the music business. I was going to Japan and that’s when the very first few designer toys started. And in Japan, it was all these small fashion labels that I was doing designs for, they started producing these toys and they became very popular in Japan. I started designing toys in Japan so I worked for all these different independants and for Medicom Toy over there from 1999 to 2004. And I was also developing my own characters, I had a feeling this is what I want to do… Kid Robot and Strange Co. started up over here, they approached me… I just worked really well with Kid Robot, I licensed probably over a hundred characters to them. They were my mainstream company that sold stuff… It’s been twenty years now, I’ve done much more in this sphere than I did in the music business and I have to say it’s been a much more rewarding experience. A more interesting mix of people involved, very international… Generally people that are into toys are into other interesting things as far as music and culture go, so for me it’s an ideal situation.”

“As far as taking over at KidRobot, KidRobot went through a bad spell due to business and managerial decisions and they were bought by Neca. Neca came to me to come on board as Creative Director to help revive the brand. I had a pretty good reputation in the business. I spent the first year going around to all the different artists, talked to all the distributors, talked to the factories, everybody that we owed money to, fixed everything. We recaptured our core market, all of our core collectors are back. We even established really good ties with the artist community, with the fan community. We dramatically improved our ecommerce website situation, we’re attending the events, we’re going to be attending more events. The company’s profitable, which it had never been. And now we’re expanding out into the more mainstream and the parent company also acquired Loot Crate, so KidRobot’s creative team will work with Loot Crate to jazz up their offerings a little bit. So it’s all upward, positive growth with an eye towards good design.”

Alex: What can you tell us about the new Disney license?

Frank: “We’re going to be able to do all of the core Disney characters, with the exception of princesses and Olaf, for some reason…. I think there might be some other random things we can’t do. We’re going to start with all the core characters across all platforms, including our toys. I want to do a big, spectacular thing for the next D23 [Expo], which I think should resonate pretty well.”

Alex: You’re a big Disney Parks fan. Does the deal include any Disney Parks licenses?

Frank: “In addition to the core Disney stuff, right now I can do The Haunted Mansion with the exception of the Hatbox Ghost, and Jungle Cruise, which I’m really excited about. I have some really cool ideas for Jungle Cruise stuff, playsets and stuff that are plush and whatnot. One thing I’m going to pitch hard when the time comes, it’ll be the boat with a captain and the animals in the boat so you can display them separately or you can put them in the boat. Because when we do interactive plush, that’s plush-within-a-plush, it does really well for us. They’re going to keep activating theme park rides so as each ride gets turned on, I want it because the theme park stuff is underrepresented outside the park. There’s plenty of it in the park, but it’s all sort of the same format, sort of polystone stuff or whatever… I’m really excited for the Disney [license]. I know the property inside and out. I’ve been a fan and a collector and a passholder for years, so I think the future is bright there.”

Alex: Do you have a dream item you’d like to create with the Disney license?

Frank: “I would do a great big Haunted Mansion doll house that you could open up with stuff that moves and all figures to scale and even the ride represented. We’ll never be able to make that, but if I could just go out of my mind, I would do that. Next up after that would be a Splash Mountain thing the same way. I can’t wait to get Splash Mountain because there’s so many great characters in it. And also Brer Rabbit is super underrepresented. Splash Mountain is one of the coolest things they have and there’s so little merch.”

Hopefully we’ll be able to see some of the Disney license transformed into Neca and KidRobot collectibles when we visit Toy Fair next year. Click here to see all of our Toy Fair discoveries from this year’s visit.

Alex Reif
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).