Feature Interview

Mighty Jaxx – Interview with a Managing Director | Collectibles Physical and Digital

Mighty Jaxx produces physical and digital collectibles in collaboration with a number of brands from One Piece to Garfield, along with some unique pieces. With many of our readers having an interest in anime and gaming figures, we thought we’d take a look at what they do.

We’ve given our thoughts on some of their physical collectibles in this article, and Alex Neal, Managing Director of Mighty Jaxx (Europe) has kindly given us some of their time to answer some questions below.

Could you tell us a little about Mighty Jaxx, and what you feel it does differently from other companies that produce figures?

Mighty Jaxx was founded back in 2012, and since then we have grown into an award winning creator of toy collectibles for cult fan communities. We create collectibles for an international audience, working with both Eastern and Western IPs such as One Piece, Netflix, Disney, Hasbro and more. Recently, we’ve rebranded to the Mighty Jaxx Group after acquiring synergistic companies PLAYe, a specialised DTC retailer of video games, consoles and trading cards as well as Kinetiquettes, a luxury statue company. 

The Mighty Jaxx Group takes characters and IPs that you love, and gives them an unexpected and exciting twist that transforms them beyond the norm. We work with a wide range of artists to inject their own vision into various IPs, so when you pick up a figure, you own an entirely new take on its identity that you can’t find anywhere else.

While others may want to give you a perfect replica of a character from your favourite anime for example, that’s not where our ambition lies. Instead, we strive to design and produce collectibles that stand out in any room by turning an artist’s independent vision into reality, and giving our community a collectible that defies all expectations. We’re also very well known for our art toys that can serve both mass markets and hyper limited edition collector markets with equal measure. The list of materials for our collectibles is exhaustive from resin to vinyl to porcelain to wood or even bronze and chrome! These products range from 3 inches to lifesize so we really believe in trying to create something that differs from the rest and whether you are just starting your collection or are a hardcore collector, there is something for everyone. 

Furthermore, the Mighty Jaxx Group is not just a company that produces figures. We are a future culture platform that provides an end-to-end journey for friends across all fandoms, producing both phygital and digital collectibles as well as bringing fan favourite IPs to life via our IRL experiences. We have recently launched our first Stranger Things – The Encounter immersive retail experience in Singapore where we brought iconic scenes from the popular Netflix to life and we hope to be able to provide this offering to more countries moving forward.

What motivated the creation of the company?

When Jackson Aw, our founder, was in his early 20s, he was obsessed with learning how things were made. He would spend hours watching YouTube tutorials on everything from chicken nuggets to computers.He was of course a big collectible fan himself, since getting his first figure in 2006. After a long period of learning the production processes behind a variety of everyday items, he sat back and started wondering if he could make figures himself. 

With that, he took a leap of faith and booked a one way trip to China to learn more about how these figures were made. Through touring multiple factories, he was able to learn a great deal about how these figures came to life, but he wanted to do something better.

Jackson had a creative background and as part of this, he started following artists such as clogtwo, PHUNK, Jeff Staple, James Jean and more. They were all major inspirations for him and he wanted to combine this love of their creativity with his passion for figures. That’s what Mighty Jaxx is about at its core, twisting the established into something even more exciting by leveraging brilliant minds. Jackson is a fanboy at heart and doesn’t settle, which means fans can expect a very high standard with our range of toys. 

Each figure we’ve looked at mentions some NFC capabilities. Could you explain what this is used for and why you implemented it?

We were introduced to the concept of blockchain in 2018 and thought about how we could utilise the technology to benefit our business and fans. 

A core part of the collectible community is the concept of ownership, so we began thinking about how digital elements could enhance this side for our followers. As such, we designed a chip that would actually go into our products at manufacturing level as a way for customers to authenticate and register their ownership of the figure. By using our Mighty Jaxx application to scan and authenticate the collectible, it also creates a chronology of ownership and a way to give collectors an opportunity to create a personal historic moment where a collectible truly becomes theirs.

We call it phygital – a process where the physical and digital collectible worlds combine to give owners something more than is offered by each element by themselves!

Mighty Jaxx creates figures for quite a few franchises from Garfield to One Piece, How do you choose what series to create figures for?

It comes down to two things; what do our fans want and what actually excites us. We’re all part of fandoms at Mighty Jaxx, so we’re sharing our passions constantly which helps us identify what direction and brands we should partner with.

For established brands, it comes back to that ‘twist’ concept I mentioned that comes from our artists. We love taking something familiar and giving it a new dimension that hasn’t been done before. We want fans to have to stop and examine our figures over everything else in a store, blown away by the new direction we’ve taken it.

For me personally, I love working with up and coming brands. It’s always an exciting challenge, and so much changes during the production process that lets us really stretch our creative muscles. We had a really exciting time working with the Stranger Things licence for example, and had the opportunity to reshape the basics of their design with our own styles.

Along with recognizable series, Mighty Jaxx of course produces other figures. I particularly like the look of the Nyakuza and Kitsune. Can you tell us a little about how the design for these unique figures get created and the influences behind them?

It’s interesting that those were the two collectibles that you’ve chosen because although they both have Japanese influences behind them, Syndicats: Nyakuza is designed in-house by our own Mighty Jaxx designers while Kitsune Mask is designed by artist Jor Ros. 

For Syndicats: Nyakuza, it is part of a series of in-house designs that reimagines our cuddly cats as leaders of fearsome crime syndicates. Many of us at Mighty Jaxx are pawrents of cats and lunch-time conversations often revolve around our furbabies (this is partly why we’ve so many cat-based collectibles like our Nyammy Treats blind box collection). Part of the joy of owning a cat is how mellow these adorable kitties can be but sometimes they’re total bosses – howling for food, biting our ankles, or banging our doors for attention. This was what gave our designers the idea of turning cats into mafia bosses. 

On the other hand, the Kitsune mask was designed by Jor Ros who draws his inspiration from Japanese fox masks. The Kitsune have a very rich and complicated role in Japanese culture. Often depicted as cunning shape shifters who grow with wisdom and power as they age, the Kitsune have a magical aura that persists to this day and are masters of the art of illusion. Fascinated by masks, Jor Ros implements them into his art whenever possible and adds his own spin to it like with Kitsune Mask.

Kitsune Mask

With NFTs as a sometimes controversial topic, could you tell us a little about how they’re used with your figures and your decision to implement them?

I personally feel that part of the controversy stems from the fact that, obviously, we live in the real world. We haven’t quite hit that digital transition that sci-fi authors keep telling us is going to happen. If you buy something, it’s entirely rational and reasonable to expect it to benefit you in your actual life, not just your digital one. Digital collectibles may not appeal to everyone due to it being an entirely digital asset, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in of itself, but then it always seems to fall into unrealistic roadmap promises. Hence, we always try to bring about real world utility for our NFTs and we like to view our NFTs more as digital collectibles as we appeal to true fans of the IP and less so crypto speculators.

When NFTs came about, it was a natural progression for us to explore digital collectibles as we are able to go to market a lot quicker with digital assets.  We did our first launch with Binance whereby our NFT collection sold out within seconds. However, we did not want to simply release digital collection after collection, but instead, find ways to use NFTs to amplify our company as a whole.

We explored several use cases for NFTs, one of them being NFT ticketing. Blockchain technology is something that we already have as all of our collectibles are embedded with an NFC chip. We wanted to capitalise on this and use NFT ticketing as a form of distribution for the mass market 2.0 fans, whereby they can use it as passes to enter our in real life experience centres, and within these experiences, we integrate our NFC chip in them to link fans to the physical product. This NFT ticket can also be traded in the secondary market.

This truly allows us to create a platform to build a whole end-to-end journey with physical products, digital products and in-real-life experiences that both web2.0 and web3.0 fans alike can easily access.

It looks like you work with quite a lot of different artists to create these figures. Could you tell us a little about how you get in contact and keep working relationships with so many different artists?

We collaborate with top urban artists from around the world, reaching out to those with a distinct art style including the likes of Jason Freeny, Jeff Staple, Rob Bowyer and Takeshi Murakami. We want to work with creators who have a style that really stands out as an entirely fresh perspective, but that also can maintain the core of a brand we’re working with.

We’re always looking out for artists who catch our attention and feel like the perfect fit for what we do.

We also work with local artists like CLOGTWO (who designed our first collectible), as well as an in-house team of concept artists. Additionally, we also accept submissions from artists, with 30% of our collaborations based on submissions from artists in Singapore and abroad. 

Might Jazz - Zoro Streetwear

We were particularly impressed with the build quality when looking at the premium CosmiQ x One Piece: Zoro figure. What makes this different from other vinyl figures?

Our CosmiQ x One Piece series has been done differently to any of our other One Piece collectibles previously. In this series, we take classic One Piece characters for an adventure into modern-day Japan where the characters shed their pirate clothes for trendy streetwear. In fact, this style was something that has never been done before and our creative team really pushed their boundaries for the concept. We are thankful that our licensor appreciated our alternative take on their classic characters and allowed us to produce our premium CosmiQ x One piece series. 

Hidden Dissectibles which show half of the character down to the bones and similar lines appear often in Mighty Jaxx figures. Have the licence owners always been happy for you to take this angle, with some of those where the show is aimed more at children?

That’s a really good question, and one that actually has a great story around it. So the Dissectible collection comes from Jason Freeney, who is a wonderful artist who made the dissection style his own. We actually didn’t start with dissections however, he first created a ‘skull bomb’ for us and we found we loved working with him. He’s become a really good friend, and during our collaboration we agreed we wanted to bring his dissection style to our partners as a test. At the time, the only partner we had was DC Comics, and the team at Warner Bros. gave us the opportunity to try it out. It took off, and we began sharing it with other IP owners of brands such as My Little Pony, SpongeBob and Hasbro. It worked!

However, that doesn’t mean we haven’t faced some pushback. Brands are very careful about what an aesthetic using their IP means for the identity of a product overall. There is a hesitancy when you suggest something new, as they’ll ask ‘will this change people’s opinion of the IP’? It’s not an unreasonable thing for them to ask, and so we’re always prepared to show them the results.

Results are what matter to brand-holders; if we can show that our fans love it and major retailers like Hot Topic want to stock it, it changes the conversation. They realise they can trust us, and that we have their best intentions at heart. The more successful our Dissectible collection proved to be, the more brands are willing to work with us and find a new way to reach their audience.

Finally, we can see that Mighty Jaxx does both premium high-end figures and some more budget friendly blind boxes. Could you tell us your personal favourite from both ranges?

You can’t really look further than One Piece for a great introduction to the capabilities of Mighty Jaxx! At an entry point price point, you collect highly-detailed, uniquely-styled vinyl figures, which you won’t find from any other collectible company in the World. The franchise has been a huge success for Mighty Jaxx all around the world and now we’re excited to finally be able to bring them to European audiences for the first time. 

For the premium line, I’d go for something pretty recent, the Mickey Mouse Transformation is a great illustration of Mighty Jaxx’s ability to create a unique look and feel to an iconic character in a classy way that gives a playful nod to the 100 year anniversary of Disney. I’m yet to see the finished item, but it’s 100% on my shopping list!

Website: Mighty Jaxx

If you’d like to hear more about Mighty Jaxx, we recommend reading our impressions of some of their figures.

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