Early last week an intriguing post popped up in the social media feeds for many phans - a little company called Wulfric Media began advertising a range of Phantom collectibles unlike anything we've seen before!
Kelby Wooldridge is the man behind Wulfric Media. For those who came in late, we've spoken with Kelby before as he looked to produce a specilised Phantom comic storage box, but he has recently announced that he will be producing a range of Phantom Country miniatures - little 3D representations of landmarks and landscapes that are unique to the Phantom universe.
We have been lucky enough to be chatting with Kelby, and have asked a few questions about the upcoming collection.
Chronicle Chamber: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself Kelby - how long have you been a Phantom phan? Have you ever done anything like this (produced merchandise) before?
Kelby Wooldridge: I was introduced to The Phantom by my grandfather when I was about 11 and started collecting them by visiting secondhand bookshops to get as many as I could This wasn’t very often as I grew up on a farm a while away from any bookshops. Since then I have been interested in pop culture of all types such as films, novels, tabletop RPG [role playing games] and of course comics. Apart from my stalled start in trying to get the comic storage box started, this is my first attempt. We are based out of the Gold Coast in Queensland but will ship internationally. We are looking to release a miniature a month with the map and case to come last. By the way we will still be proceeding with the storage box along with this idea; it was just put on hold when this idea came along. This is so unique that we wanted to get a start on it straight away.
CC: We can understand that excitement! So how long has this new idea been brewing?
KW: We came up with the idea about 7 to 8 months ago and surprisingly, it has not really changed much from its inception. However, we are refining it and elaborating on it. Ideas are workshopped to see if they fit the overall feel of the Phantom and adjusted if necessary or discarded all together.
CC: Why landscape miniatures rather than characters?
KW: We felt that the characters have been overdone. Also, they don’t fit into the overall idea of our concept. I know I am being a bit cagey about the end concept but once it’s completed and released, it will be clear why. As far as I know this has never been done before.
CC: No, we can't think of another set like this either. Can you please describe the miniatures and perhaps expand on the distribution concept... we understand that you will produce 10 miniatures to be released monthly, and collected in a box or placed on a map?
KW: The Phantom Peak miniature will be 48mm wide, 35mm deep and 40mm high, with the others similarly scaled. Yes, all the miniatures are designed to stand on the three dimensional map. It will weigh about 100 grams. I thought it would be awesome to be able to visit Phantom Country rather than just look at it. The sale concept came about to make it affordable to the phans and to help with the workflow of producing the run of miniatures. We will ship internationally.
CC: Can you please share images of the landscapes you'll be creating, or a list of the full range?
KW: So far I have announced that we have The Phantom Peak and the Skull Cave of course. The other ones to come will be Witchman's Peak, Keela-Wee, Whispering Grove, The Misty Mountains, Isle of Eden, Eastern Daak, The Jungle Patrol and Nyahpura. These are all included for a reason, which will be revealed at the end. As we get the artwork and finish the images, we will release these for people to view on my Facebook page, Wulfric Media.
CC: The pics of the Phantom Peak miniature and the design for the Skull Cave look fantastic - do you have prototype versions of each of them created already?
KW: We have only the prototype of the first model, Phantom Peak, with drawings for the Skull Cave from Glenn Ford. Each prototype takes time and money to transfer it from a two dimensional drawing to a three dimensional model. As we get the interest and sales we can invest more time and money in speeding up the release of each miniature.
CC: Your release model seems very similar to the Bradford Exchange model. How do you reassure phans who may have concerns about the run being completed? [FTWCIL: some Bradford Exchange lines were discontinued mid-run]
KW: The only way for this run to not be completed is if there is no interest from the phans in buying it. I love this concept and its uniqueness and want to see it to its completion. Hopefully, with the phans’ support, we will.
CC: We are all hoping! You said that the artwork for the series was completed by Glenn Ford, which is a coup in itself. How has it been working with him?
KW: Glenn has been fantastic. He’s been very accommodating and helpful in supplying the artwork. Without him, we would have had a real struggle in getting this far. His artwork really brings the landscapes to life.
CC: Will you be having each miniature signed by Glenn, or the box/map? (i.e. will the finished set feature several signatures or one)
KW: All pieces that are made from artwork by Glenn will be signed by Glenn. This will include the map.
CC: Who is the sculptor, and what are your thoughts of their interpretation of Glenn’s designs?
KW: I have partnered with John Evans from Paramount Jewellers on the Gold Coast and we are working together on the miniature to get approval from KFS. We have gone through a few interpretations of this. I should have the latest version of the miniature printed out this week and will show you differences when I can.
CC: Very good! And what has the response been like from King Feature Syndicate?
KW: KFS have been extremely supportive and helpful, particularly through Merchantwise in Australia and Kerryn McCormack. She has helped us to get this far with her knowledge on what we can and can’t do and has pointed us in the right direction in order to get things moving. Can I also say there has been a lot of help and support from a lot of phans from other pages and countries to get this far, which is an immense help. That encouragement is immeasurable in getting something like this started and to keep the momentum as well.
CC: Are you concerned about the licensing costs that KFS are asking?
KW: Not at all, it is a small price to pay to work off the back of someone such as Lee Falk who started with just an idea. They are part of doing business in the pop culture arena, you just have to calculate that into your figures and budgets.
CC: That leads u to the obvious question then: what will it cost? Also, what will your model be regarding sales, pre-orders etc?
KW: Each miniature will be $45 + GST. The box and map will be extras at the end, so the full cost of the complete set is projected to be $770 for ten miniatures plus map plus case. This includes GST and shipping. We are looking at several options and checking them against what the phans want. Some want to pay the total cost upfront and others want to pay as the miniatures come out. We also want to offer a regular fortnightly payment to cover the total cost, including the case and map.
CC: Your Facebook ad mentions that it will be a Limited release. How limited?
KW: Depending on demand, we are looking at between 10,000 to 20,000 sets worldwide. I know this may seem like a lot, but given the Phantom readership and the fact that this won’t be re-released, this is not many complete sets for the readers.
CC: You’ve mentioned a surprise for those who buy the full set?
KW: Yes, the full set and the map. At the end the surprise will be revealed then and not before, unfortunately. But I can say that it will be worth it.
CC: That’s really intriguing! Will the surprise only be for people who have purchased the full set, or will it be available separately afterwards as well?
KW: The surprise is for those who have purchased the full set including the map, as that is sold separately. However if people change their mind they can purchase the missing pieces prior to the map being delivered to sign up for the surprise as well.
CC: When will you start taking orders/for the first miniature? What about phans who come in late?
KW: Once we get enough people liking the miniatures, we will set up the website for orders. We will have some for latecomers, but it will be a maximum of 20,000.
CC: How many people do you want to be liking the miniatures before you set up the website? Is there a particular way that you are tracking this interest, and that people should let you know?
KW: To make it worthwhile we are looking at 1,500 to 2,000 people who would like to purchase the pieces. At the moment we are tracking this with likes to the Wulfric Media page, so far we have just hit 100 likes. People can message me at my page with their interest and their country. This will help us track where we will potentially have to send the pieces.
CC: Thanks so much for your time with this interview Kelby! It's been great to find out more about the plans, and we would love to have you on a podcast as the release date for the miniatures gets closer!
KW: Sounds great - thanks guys.
Make sure you check out the Wulfric Media Facebook page, and give it a Like and Follow to stay abreast of all the news, and to give Kelby the encouragement to continue working through this project!