Posted by Philip on January 15, 2008 at 12:48 PM CST
Bryan Ono goes on the record answering a few questions about the new Star Wars prop replica company, eFX.

Philip: Bryan, congratulations! A lot of our viewers and forum members are pleased with the announcement from Lucasfilm that there is to be a new prop replica company continuing Star Wars products, and that you are involved. Can you tell us a little of how that came about?

Bryan: First, I would like to thank everyone for their kind support and confidence in eFX simply based on the assumptions that I was involved. Larry, Barry and I are very proud that Lucasfilm chose eFX and our network of resources and manufacturers to continue the prop replica category.

As many of you already know, Larry, Barry and I have a deep passion for Star Wars. Hopefully the consumers saw this in the products that we have worked on previously. Only after it was confirmed that MR would not be renewing the license, we put together what we thought was an innovative proposal to Lucasfilm to not only continue on in the same tradition, but, more importantly to build on it.

There were a number of strong, qualified contenders, with the same deep passion for Star Wars, vying for the license. Lucasfilm carefully evaluated each of the different companies and the proposals they submitted. The fact that they ultimately selected a start-up company dedicated to focusing on the needs and desires of the core collectors while enhancing the category with some new innovations and technologies, proves that Lucasfilm had the needs of the fans as their number one priority.

Philip: Ok, the teaser ad you put online here sure got everybody excited about the possibility of a new prop replica company. Not that there was any hint in the teaser, were you surprised at the reaction, and especially how efficiently the fans smoked you out?

Bryan: Obviously, we were very happy with the reaction of our fellow "scummers" to the "teaser" banner. The fact that they were all very excited about the real prospect of a new licensee for what we feel are the most desirable and exciting categories of the Star Wars franchise, confirms our belief that Star Wars is timeless and "evergreen." Star Wars' fan base now spans three generations!

I know that Star Wars fans are quite resourceful and technologically adept, but they did get on the right track faster than I ever thought they would. I was hoping that by having Rebelscum start that ad at 12:01 AM on January 1, people might get excited about the prospect of a fresh, new venture at the beginning of a new year, and obviously at the end of an incredible era.

Philip: What and where does the license allow you to make and sell?

Bryan: We have been granted the rights to prop replicas, both full size and scaled, studio scale and reduced scale vehicles and ships and full size helmets. We have also obtained the rights to high end die cast vehicles and ships, which Code 3 had previously.

In order to protect our customer's investment in our products, we have developed a strategy that protects the original selling price at purchase, and one that will hopefully benefit the secondary market and keep the items collectible. Most of our products will only be available direct through our website and catalog. However, we will be making a few exclusive items available only through certain, chosen retailers.

Previously, Master Replicas and Gentle Giant had very similar rights in the scaled helmet category. It really does not benefit consumers to have two companies making similar items, so I believe they will now be taking over the mini helmet line. And as for the FX Lightsabers, Hasbro will now be producing that line. This is really exciting since Hasbro has the resources and capabilities to take this item to new heights of innovation and technology.

Philip: Besides yourself, who is involved in the company and what are the planned roles for each?

Bryan: eFX is a small group of dedicated people, most of whom many of you already know. There are no stringently defined roles and titles, we will all be contributing to all aspects of the business to bring our customers the best products and service we can. Barry Jones and I are located in Los Angeles and Larry Leung is located in Hong Kong. And to confirm the news that most of you want to hear, we are very pleased to announce that Amy has decided to join us in our new venture, as well.

Philip: Clearly as Star Wars line manager for MR, you have a well established reputation as a terrific product manager. Should fans be totally unconcerned about your ability to continue to deliver the great replicas MR was able to? Assuming you'll say yes, could you elaborate on how you plan to do it?

Bryan: Our team not only includes the network of resources that have helped us design and develop the most screen accurate props we could, but also the best of the manufacturing partners for Master Replicas. We have spent five years working closely with these vendors to set up a process to manufacture the highest quality products. However, as with most things in life, there is always room for improvement, which we can concentrate on, rather than spending the time training new partners.

Philip: I noticed there is a very long list of potential products forum members have put together they still want replicas of. Do you already have a product plan set in stone, or are lists like this something you plan to use to help you understand what fans want?

Bryan: Yes, I have seen that list! Quite impressive! Even though we would like to make all of these, you have to remember that we are a small company, so we have to be very strategic in our product selection. No product plan is ever "set in stone" it is an evolving process and will always be subject to revision. And, of course we love to see these lists because it does give us inspiration as we develop our product plans.

Philip: Speaking of product plans, can you share any hints at what is to come? What, when, how many? Do you plan to avoid redoing products that were already released by MR?

Bryan: We are still working on our final product plan, so we are not ready to share what's coming just yet. However, I can assure you that we have some new, exciting items on our "long" list. One of the reasons Lucasfilm selected eFX was because we came up with new ideas and innovations. Our intention is NOT to repeat what's gone before unless we can add something new to the mix. We will also be partnering with other companies to design and develop innovative new products. Our first partner is ACME Archives. As many of you already know, they are a great company that makes beautiful product, so we are really excited about the many potential opportunities that we can explore together to bring new and exciting products to our customers.

Philip: We all noticed your teaser ad online and in the latest Insider prominently shows a date of 7/23/08, but we have no idea what happens that date. Other than it's the first day of San Diego Comic-Con, any hints on that as well?

Bryan: That was "most impressive" how quickly they figured that one out! Comic Con has become one of the largest, premier showcases for movie/entertainment memorabilia, and we felt this was an ideal venue to introduce our first products. Also, this will allow a 3-month "cooling off" period after Master Replicas' sell-off period ends. We're looking forward to meeting our customers and hope you all stop by and say hello.

Philip: As much as fans liked MR and its replicas, there were some issues with the company.

Bryan: You have to remember that MR was the pioneer in this category. There was nothing for them to base their business model on. Who would have ever thought that you can make a very viable business out of making something that was historically made in someone's garage? MR may have taken some mis-steps along the way, but I think that they worked hard to address them quickly.

Philip: It was common to require customers to place orders before ever seeing a realistic mockup of the item. Might this issue be addressed?

Bryan: It's always pretty hard with lead times and development work to have anything other than a mock-up available for long-lead launches. However, we're a small company and as such we (hopefully) can react to things more quickly. We are reviewing the whole pre-order process, and we understand the issues of expecting a consumer to purchase an item, sight unseen!

Philip: Are you planning any Studio Scale replicas of the size of the Millennium Falcon?

Bryan: As most of you know, Studio Scale replicas have two inherent problems: size and cost. Incredible as these models are, we have to remember that folks live in the 21st Century and they have to have enough space to display these pieces without bankrupting themselves and maybe even more importantly, some of our consumers are now married! That said there are a couple of special, iconic pieces in development that are "rather" large but we're going to be mixing them in with smaller, display friendly pieces.

Some of the incredibly large models will be perfect for the die cast line we are developing. Imagine, accurate, faithful, die cast replicas researched from the archived originals of some of the most iconic ships and vehicles of the Star Wars universe. We're excited that this line offers us the opportunity to produce some of our favorite ships and vehicles in this form factor.

Philip: What does the future hold for eFX?

Bryan: Obviously, the immediate future holds a lot of hard work. We understand the fans have questions they want answers to, and trust me, they'll get them in time. Right now our work is focused on getting everything ready for the first product launches. Our customers can expect high quality, accurate replicas of (hopefully) their favorite Star Wars props, helmets, vehicles and ships. We have a few surprises coming, and I'd urge everyone to keep an open mind - eFX will not be a carbon copy of the companies that have come (and gone) before us. If we make things that not only meet, but exceed your expectations, then we'll have done our jobs and the future will be bright and successful.

Also, please check out our website, www.eFXCollectibles.com, from time to time for updates. We know that there is not much there yet, but we do have some exciting plans for the website.

Once again, we would like to thank everyone for their enthusiasm and well-wishes in our new venture. I can assure you that we will always try our best . . .

"We're not afraid!" . . . As the crowd responds "You will be. . . You will be. . ."

Philip: Thanks Bryan. I can't wait to see you guys get going!

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