Interview with Mattel WWE Action Figure Designer Bill Miekina

We have been joined this weekend by Bill Miekina, the lead Mattel designer on the WWE action figure line during a live shop event in London’s Leicester Square.

Bill Miekina travelled to London for Wrestling Shop Live, a special pop-up shop we opened in Leicester Square over three days where customers got to buy our range in person in central London.

During his time in the shop he answered many customer questions and when he had a minute we managed to pull him aside to ask some of our own.

We would like to welcome you to the UK and understand that you have been here before?
BM: Firstly thanks for having me, Im honoured to be here as a guest. Yes I’ve been over to the UK at least 10 times over the past 19 years now but for tourism and not as a guest as such. I think the first time I came to the UK would have been in 1998 and I always love coming here.

Do you follow the English Premier League?
BM: Yes I follow the Premier League pretty closely. West Ham United is my team.

What made you choose West Ham as your team?
BM: I came to see them play in 2000 as a tourist against Coventry City at a game at Upton Park and after seeing Paolo Di Canio and Paulo Wanchape I became a fan ever since. I even have some of their older jerseys.

Going on from that into the WWE UK scene and action figures more specifically. We have just seen the first-ever UK WWE Elite Collection figure: Tyler Bate. Is there any possibility more will follow?
BM:
If the Tyler Bate figure sells well, its very likely we will do more figures based off from the UK talent.

How about the British Bulldogs as a 2-pack or as separate single versions?
BM: I am working on another Davey Boy Smith right now. It’s in the early stages, but its possibly due out in late 2018. Things can change always but that is the plan.

I knew more than anybody else in the company that people would go crazy for them [Retros] because I was a big collector of the Hasbro figures.

Bill Miekina, Wrestling Shop
Bill Miekina during our walkthrough video

We would like to discuss the WWE Retros figures, which as you know were based from the original Hasbro figures circa 1990. How did the Retros series come about?
BM: Retros came about because of Wal-Mart, who is our biggest client in the United States. They had specifically asked from something very unique and special as an ‘Exclusive’ line. We had previously kicked around the idea of doing these (Retro’s) before Wal-Mart came to us. So when Wal-mart requested something special, this idea sort of bubbled to the surface again. 

It’s kind of funny because we had only intended on making the first 6 figures as a quick in and a quick out series. But once they were shown at the San Diego Comic-con in 2017, they got more response by far than anything else on display. People just went crazy for them. 

I would say I knew more than anybody else in the company that people would go crazy for them, because I was a big collector of the Hasbro figures. The Hasbro line was the one that got me into collecting wrestling action figures. So I understood the emotional connection that collectors would have to this form factor.

Once it hit at Wal-Mart and was extremely successful, it expanded into a second wave and then it expanded further going into 2018. From the third series onwards, its actually going to go main line which is available to all retailers.

The third series includes an app related feature available for each figure which unlocks play on the WWE Mayhem app and includes WWE Superstars Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Goldberg and AJ Styles.

Is there any particular reason you went from six characters per series in the first two waves, down to four per set from series three?
BM: Yes. It’s because we’re going to be releasing more waves per year. So the idea is to get a smaller amount in each series, but have more series released throughout the year so that its a faster turnover.

Do you see the Retro packaging colour changing again going forward? It went to red from the third series.
BM: I see the overall dimensions staying in the same form, but every year or so it’s likely to get updated to stand out at retail. Generally Mattel changes the packaging for the core lines every two years.

We saw Hasbro release 2-packs, are there any plans for Mattel to release Retro 2-packs?
BM: No plans on that right now. If we’re going to do tag teams they will be released as individual single figures. But who knows, its still early and a lot of factors are determined on how well the line does and we’re expecting this line to continue to do well.

For future upcoming WWE Figures stay tuned to the coming soon section in our shop, as they become announced by Mattel.

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