NYCC 2017: 5 Behind-the-Scenes Details of the New Star Wars Mighty Muggs

Hasbro's Jeff Leibowitz discusses the popular vinyl figures' mighty return.

Hasbro announced the return of its fan-favorite Mighty Muggs line of vinyl figures yesterday at New York Comic Con, but with a new spin. Literally. Press down on a figure’s head, and it actually spins to reveal a different facial expression: angry, happy, surprised, excited, and more. StarWars.com went hands-on with wave one, consisting of Rey, Kylo Ren, Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia Organa, and found the feature to be downright fun, cute, and charming, adding a level of play to something that is also a cool collectible. Having a rough day at the office? Set your collection to angry so everyone knows. Want positive vibes in your apartment? Make everyone happy — including a certain Sith Lord. Or maybe you’re just over the (Endor) moon to have Mighty Muggs back? Spin them all to excited. StarWars.com spoke with Jeff Leibowitz of Hasbro marketing about Mighty Muggs’ mighty comeback, and came away with five behind-the-scenes details.

1. We’re thrilled Mighty Muggs are back — and so is Hasbro. Mighty Muggs were hugely popular among pop-culture fans, but the line has been dormant since 2011. That doesn’t mean its makers forgot about the figures or what they meant to collectors. “We’ve been itching to bring these back for a number of years,” says Leibowitz. “The marketplace is so ripe for it now. There’s so much entertainment. We’re seeing the growth of casual fans and families [collecting] — everybody’s getting involved. It’s cool to collect these again. The team’s doing a fantastic job with Black Series and [Marvel] Legends, and a lot of the other executions across the country, we thought it was a great time to bring back an expression that was beloved by a lot of people.”

2. The idea for the head-spin feature came from a specific aspect of the figures. It’s somewhat obvious when you hear it, but also kind of brilliant. “We were inspired by ‘Muggs,’ the name itself,” reveals Leibowitz. “I think it came up very quickly in a brainstorm session where we said, ‘Mighty Muggs, what can it be,’ because we didn’t want to bring back the same Mighty Muggs we had before. Playing up the idea of ‘mugs’ and face, and the expression itself plays so well to a big face area. We thought, what a great way to celebrate the nature of these characters as having such a diverse range of expressions across all these different storylines. So we thought it was a great match.” Are you an all-angry, all-happy, or all-excited person? Or will you mix and match? You’ll soon find out.

3. The relaunch of Mighty Muggs was made with one audience in mind: everyone. While the body sculpts are clearly classic Mighty Muggs, these new figures are smaller than the original line, allowing them to take up less space and reach a lower price point — perfect for newer collectors. But they still capture and respect character and design in a way that will appeal to more hardcore fans, as well. “We wanted to make sure it was highly collectible and accessible to everybody, including casual fans,” Leibowtiz says. “We wanted it to be under 10 dollars, so that’s why we landed at $9.99, but we wanted to do the best possible execution for $9.99. So I’m really happy with where it landed from a size perspective, and there’s enough space on the face to really show off the expression.” The figures are also articulated at the arms and head, and each comes in a stackable plastic case that makes for a nice display piece. The figures can be easily removed and put back in their cases, as well, depending on how you might want to show off your collection. (And don’t worry — you can still change your figures’ faces if they’re kept in-package. Breathe easy, mint-on-card collectors.)

4. Realizing the head-spin feature required some creativity. Being able to change a figure’s expression is a novel idea, but easier imagined than done. Hasbro’s masters were up to the task. “Thankfully, we have a very talented team of designers and engineers and manufacturing folks, some of whom had worked on the original Mighty Muggs line,”Leibowitz says. “So they knew going in what we thought would be doable or not doable.” Still, once the engineering was finalized, the line presented other questions, like how much expression can you give certain characters? For the Mighty Muggs designers, it turned out to be an opportunity.

“A challenging one was Vader,” Leibowitz says. “I rallied hard to have no expression change. I thought that would’ve been fun. But the team, even with characters like this with masks, did a nice job of showing [what’s possible].” Happy Vader — albeit, a menacingly Happy Vader — is a definite highlight of wave one.

5. To quote Supreme Leader Snoke, “There’s been an awakening.” Leibowitz says 50 figures are currently planned across various licensees, and that number includes more from Star Wars. “There are more coming. We’re doing more reveals at some of the other shows that we’ll be doing around the world for the next few weeks and months. So there will be more in wave one.” Our faces are definitely set on happy.

Wave one of Star Wars Mighty Muggs arrives January 2018.

Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content writer and editor of the StarWars.com blog. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.

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