Now in its fourth decade serving the sci-fi and fantasy collector’s and collectables market, Eaglemoss has become an authority on the topic of pop culture and kidult sectors, supplying some of the most detailed models to be found on the scene today. But there’s a whole lot more to the company than Star Trek busts. Here, we catch up with head of Hero Collector at Eaglemoss, Ben Robinson to learn more about the company’s plans
Eaglemoss is a cap with many feathers. A bow with many strings. A Trident with the pre-requisite number of prongs; that being, three. It is a triforce of the geek and pop culture scene, acting not only as a direct to consumer platform, but a fan subscription service, and a distributor to independent and mass retail channels across the UK.
If it’s high end collectables, comic books, licensed gifts, toys, and other consumer products all deeply rooted in the growing kidult and pop culture space that you want – be you a casual collector, an entrenched nerd, or a toy shop tapping into both of those – then Eaglemoss has to be on your list. In fact, it likely already is.
Established in 1975, Eaglemoss pre-empted the ‘kidult’ market by a decade or two, recognising early on, the power that many sci-fi and fantasy properties had to capture the imagination of generations to come and firmly establish itself as a leader in the collectables field. Since the publication of its first ‘partwork’, the business has been in a state of continued expansion, and today holds claim to having produced, marketed, and distributed more than 150 collections across more than 30 markets over five continents and in 13 different languages.
Spanning London, Paris, New York, Moscow, Sao Paolo, and Warsaw, Eaglemoss is well-placed to tap into the global ‘kidult’ and pop culture sector as its demands broaden to include more innovative and engaged consumer products. This year, for example, the company is tapping into the demand for pop culture-inspired advent calendars, an extension of the toy advent calendar trend that has been gaining momentum here in the UK over the last few years.
Here, we catch up with Ben Robinson, head of Hero Collector at Eaglemoss to discuss the company’s latest releases, its plans for the growing kidult market, and what the Eaglemoss name brings to a sector brimming with superfans.
Hello Ben, thank you for talking to us and indulging our pop culture obsession. To kick us off, can you give us a bit of background on Eaglemoss? Who are you, what audience do you cater to, and for long have you been doing it?
Eaglemoss was founded in 1975 and is a global leader in licensed collections. We have a long history of figurines, die-cast models, and partwork magazines. We’re lucky enough to work with characters and licenses from Marvel, DC, CBS, AMC, BBC, Disney, James Bond, Universal, and many more. Our core audience is built up of fans and collectors who care passionately about the brands.
A motley crew, if ever there was one. Can you tell us what Eaglemoss is bringing to the UK pop culture space in that case? How does it encompass that market and ignite the passion within the UK scene?
The overarching objective of the company has always been to create products that have real appeal for fans. It’s very important to us that we don’t just do the obvious products but create things that are authentic and have the kind of detail that fans appreciate.
We are experts ourselves and work closely with licensors throughout the development process to make sure that the end product is not just high quality, but authentic and show all the love we have for the brands ourselves.
The adult market – or ‘kidult’ space – has seen steady growth here in the UK over the past few years, and last year accounted for 27 per cent of total spend on toys (according to NPD). How has this been reflected in sales growth at Eaglemoss? What strength of the UK’s ‘kidult’ sector have you witnessed?
We’ve specialised in the adult collector market for decades so its success isn’t a surprise to us. What we have found is that the growth of online sales is making it easier to reach those grownup fans. I think it’s fair to say it’s often been difficult for them to find products that show the level of care and attention that’s important to them. There’s a generation of people who grew up with these amazing properties. They haven’t given up on them as they’ve got older but their expectations have only gone up. They want products that are really designed for them. That’s something we pride ourselves on understanding.
What do you think has been key to driving the growth in this space? What is it that businesses like Eaglemoss bring to the table to give that market credibility?
More than anything it’s about our own level of fandom. The people we sell to can smell anything cynical a mile off. We’re really careful to make sure our products feel just right, whether that’s a specific detail on a super hero’s costume, the exact colour of a die-cast spaceship or including some detail that a fan will instantly recognise, and appreciate. Those are the kind of things that only someone who knows and loves the brand as much as the fans, would know to include.
Can we talk through the Eaglemoss portfolio for 2021? What are the key launches from you guys this year across the pop culture portfolio? We hear you have a range of advent calendars launching – can you talk us through these?
We’re entering the advent calendars arena for the first time this year, which is a very exciting time for the company. We’re launching these fantastic introductions with three iconic brands: Doctor Who, Star Trek and The Beatles; with each one featuring detailed, high-quality collectable items hiding behind each of the calendar doors. They’re really nicely designed and we think they’ll bring a smile to every fan’s face.
The Doctor Who calendar has a classic TARDIS design which opens out to reveal its 24 doors, the Star Trek offering takes the distinctive form of a Borg cube/ship (as seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation) and The Beatles inspired calendar comes in the form of four trays encased within an outer shell featuring iconic Beatles artwork. They’re just things that make you happy.
Why has the advent calendar market become an important one for you guys, and what will you be bringing to the space? What sort of growth of the market are you expecting to see in the coming years?
We always want to make new stuff, and we know we can bring something special to the calendar market by targeting collectors. Every item in these calendars has been specially designed and is exclusive. We’ve brought all our expertise and love for these brands to bear.
One of the things we hear a lot is that people are nervous about buying things for fans because they think they might already have it. The great thing about these advent calendars is that you can absolutely guarantee that the content is brand new, and there is stuff in there that will make true fans smile. That and Christmas are a pretty good combination. We’re so pleased with the final products, so we’re looking forward to revealing them to fans.
What retail partners are you guys currently working with? What are your plans for the UK retail scene?
One of the unique things about Eaglemoss is that we offer an omnichannel solution – with bestsellers sold through key retail partners, like HMV, adding to sales through our own e-shop and high-end model kits through our subscription service. We try to cater for different audiences across the various channels and because of our product development heritage we’re able to play across a wide range of categories.
Our retail expansion is going well in the US where we just have our first launch with Walmart and in other European markets through our network of distributors.
So, Ben, can you tell us what the next big step for Eaglemoss might be here in the UK?
We’re super excited about the next 12 months with plenty of new licences and product lines launching. We’ve only just dipped our toe in the water with our retail range and despite the difficulties that Covid-19 has brought we’ve still been able to expand our business, which is testimony to the products we’re bringing through.
And just before we let you get back to the day job, is there anything you’d like to add?
Alongside our advent calendar launches, we’ve also got some really exciting products coming. We’ve got some classic sci-fi brands in The Expanse and Stargate. We’re just launching a new Hero Collector Museum made up of detailed replicas that are designed to sit on yourself and we’re also growing our horror offering.
We have some amazing subscription offers that mean you can build extraordinary models of the Eleanor Mustang, the Ghostbusters Ecto 1, the Titanic and the Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation. There’s more Star Trek on TV than ever so we’re excited by the opportunities that will bring.
We’re also developing Marvel statues based on the Disney + shows, so 2021 is shaping up to be a busy and exciting year for us.