Rooster Teeth’s anime web series RWBY is so popular that its characters are now best-selling action figures. The Austin-based production studio (recently acquired by Fullscreen for an undisclosed amount) created a line of RWBY figures with McFarlane Toys in early 2014 and is now producing limited-run, museum-quality versions with China’s Threezero.
Rooster Teeth’s CEO Matt Hullum told Tubefilter his company (which just partnered with local retail shop Toy Joy for a pop-in store with Rooster Teeth merchandise) was first interested in creating toys based on RWBY when the employees saw how cool the character designs were for the anime-inspired series. Hollum knew “people would want to interact with them” in a three-dimensional capacity.
As soon as Rooster Teeth started considering RWBY figures, Hullum noted how his team immediately thought of McFarlane Toys. The toy designer and manufacturer founded in 1994 by comic book artist Todd McFarlane is well-known for its high-quality, detailed models from popular comic book and video game franchises like Spawn, Hellspawn, Halo, and The Walking Dead (and the company has made military, sports, and music-themed toys, as well).
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“We were approached by a couple different toy manufacturers for doing RWBY figures, but we really liked McFarlane and we’ve worked with them on multiple levels,” he said, explaining that the Austin production studio knows some of McFarlane’s employees from Rooster Teeth’s site forums and gaming conventions.
“It was serendipitous that we would end up teaming up with the Rooster Teeth group, given our mutual partnerships with Microsoft on the Halo franchise,” McFarlane said to Tubefilter. “I’ve seen some of the fun stuff they have had on their website over the years, like the Red vs. Blue web series. Fast forward a few years later, and they approached us to create cool toys for another one of their web series, RWBY. I liked how dynamic and vibrant the characters looked and felt in the animation, so it was natural fit for our company.”
The first RWBY action figure from McFarlane was the character Ruby and came out in March 2014. Hullum noted how Rooster Teeth had placed a big bet on the toys, as they’re more resource and time intensive to produce than other types of merchandise. But Hullum and his team found out the bet paid off as soon as pre-orders for the figure went live back in February 2014. “That one sales day was bigger than any other sales day we had in years,” he said, adding that the production studio sold “thousands of units.”
Since Ruby’s debut, McFarlane and Rooster Teeth have released toys based on the three other main characters from RWBY: Weiss, Blake, and Yang. The two companies are currently working on a Series 2 run of the toys, with the first figure of Jaune available for purchase now. The characters Nora, Pyrrha, and Ren are slated for production and will be released on an as-of-yet unannounced date.
Rooster Teeth also just partnered with Hong Kong’s Threezero toy manufacturer for a new, museum-quality line of RWBY collectables, which will have a limited production run. Threezero was founded by Kim Fung Wong, and since 2013 has made toys in collaboration with manufacturer Bandai based on franchises like Zoids.
“When Threezero approached us, RWBY was a young show,” said RWBY’s creator Monty Oum in a release. “I had heard of Threezero and when I looked up their products I was awed by the catalogue of work they had produced. It took a moment to register with me that something I had created could be among the ranks of toy lines like Metal Gear Solid or Game of Thrones. The products are such beautifully crafted artworks, to make tangible some doodles and polygons I’d thrown together in my random fashion is something I could not have fathomed only a few years ago.”
The first Threezero RWBY figure in the series will be “Ruby Rose.” She stands at 12” tall, has three sets of interchangeable hands, and boasts a mechanical design to allow for various poses. “Ruby Rose” will also come with several accessories, like her signature Crescent Rose Scythe and two different capes with wire trim for forming the capes into different positions. The toy is now available for pre-order at $20, which will be applied towards the full price of $168 once the figure is released (estimated for the early summer of 2015).
For RWBY fans who prefer softer, less “pokey” toys, Rooster Teeth also released a set of plushies based on the show’s female leads. Ruby, Weiss, Blake, and Yang are all 8” tall and boast huge, adorable eyes which betray their lethal fighting abilities in the web series. All four toys are available for purchase in Rooster Teeth’s store.
“We concentrate on merchandise as much as most people in this space concentrate on YouTube,” Hullum said. “We’ve been trying greatly to expand our merchandise offerings. Everyone can do T-shirts and DVDs, and we do that stuff, too. But we wanted to also offer a lot of cool stuff that, as fans, we would want to buy.”