Super7 Opens Doors in SoCal
Super7, purveyors of Japanese toy culture in the US, opened their second location in downtown San Diego Mar 13, 2015 holding an open house stocked with donuts, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, non-alcoholic drinks and tons of talk about toys for big boys and girls. The future is bright for the company who was awarded Brand of the Year and Best Media Tie-In at the 2014 Designer Toy Awards in New York for their Alien ReAction line.
Super7 a long trusted advertiser within the pages of MAT continues to set goals and make designs not duplicated elsewhere. The company is managed and owned by Brian Flynn who is also busy with his design firm Hybrid Design. Super7 partnered with Funko from Seattle and branched out with 3 3/4” old school action figures in their ReAction line. The line has touched about every figure never done in this format, including the highly successful Alien line, which continues to expand. You can find the toys at Toys ‘R Us and other stores, including retailers in Japan.
Hanging downtown on the streets of San Diego vintage clothes reseller, Mike Tomomitsu spoke about his favorite toyshop saying, “It’s great that Super7 offers Japanese vinyl figures more to the mainstream audience and offer things other stores don’t carry. The root of my fascination with toys comes from my enjoyment of Japanese monster films and shows.”
We spoke with founder Brian Flynn, designer Josh Herbolsheimer, and San Diego store manager Kris Butiong as fans flocked from parts of Mexico and north of L.A. to get in on all the fun of opening night. As the night went on we got a few words in with owner Brian Flynn.
MAT: Can you tell us what you see for the future of the company in San Diego?
Brian Flynn: We had a great turnout so many people came out that we knew and tons of people that we did not know. It is interesting for us because we have never really gone out of San Francisco, we don’t know what it’s going to be like here in San Diego or anyplace else. Hopefully if this goes well and people like it we can do it again someplace else. This is our canary in the coalmine here, so hopefully it will work. I would not have done it if I didn’t think it would work. I think it will be good. There is something nice to be able to walk into a physical store and see the toys on the shelf, and be able to pick them up. It’s much more enjoyable than buying it online. Now, we just have to convince people to physically buy it in the store, rather than buy it online. I think we’ll get there.
Do you think you might be able to export this idea back to Austin, Dallas or other cities in the future if it goes well?
I don’t want to speak too much about that, but yes I would hope so.
The goal is if it works here in San Diego we should be able to take this business model and run. I don’t want to go to New York. I don’t want to go to Miami. I want to go to places where I grew up in like Kansas City, I want to go to Dallas, I want to go to Oklahoma City and places where there is nothing. It’s great there, but not as many people saying come over here, hang out with us. That’s why I would. If this works we should be able to take the exact same business model. In San Francisco it’s different. People come to Haight-Ashbury everyday. This is not like Haight-Ashbury. If we can make this one work ideally we would be able to say, okay here it is. Atlanta, Kansas City, Oklahoma and Dallas, those are the four I want to go to first. Austin is one as well, but that’s sort of… let’s go to the places where no one is paying attention. People like us grew up and didn’t have anything and would say to ourselves I would love to have a store like that we could go to.
That’s part of what we have to figure out here is what is the right mix?
Later we spoke with designer and Flynn’s right hand man Josh Herbolsheimer.
Now that the store is officially opened for business how does it feel to branch away from the home base?
Josh Herbolsheimer: It’s great to expand the brand into San Diego. We spend a lot of time here every year for Comi-Con and it’s nice to have a permanent presence. We are excited about opening up the new chapter of Super7.
What do you think is the next direction for creative projects at Super7?
We have been doing the same things forever like classic kaiju and original creations and now we are putting and sort of applying that point of view to new licenses and other classic realms of other toys that we have not done before, but still central to who we are in terms of things we grew up on. These are things that we love from childhood and that have gotten that type of attention in a grown up kind of way. That’s where we are going and ReAction figures was the first step into that type of world. Starting with the Alien figures we are always looking for what kind of opportunities along those lines that will come up next. When they do we will jump on it and make the coolest stuff we can.
And make it happen!
That’s what we do.
What can you say about what is coming up, or can you reveal any secrets for Comic-Con this year?
Without releasing secrets it is going to be pretty tough, but there are going to be some exciting things with new licenses and product formats. We are really excited about some things that people won’t see coming, but when they see them they will be excited.
Something classic possibly?
Yes, something definitely classic that has been sort of under the radar for quite a while that we are going to bring back.
Finally we spoke to store manager, Kris Butiong after the store had been in business a few weeks. We spoke with Kris in person and over the phone about the store and its loyal customer base.
Now that the store has been open for a bit can you tell us how are things going?
Kris Butiong: The reaction we get from our store is great and the people are excited whether they are familiar or not familiar with our company. Those that don’t know us its exciting to tell them about our story. Those that are already familiar, it’s great to reach out to those collectors in San Diego and many who have been fans of our brand for awhile.
Looking back at the opening we remember a wide variety of people from California showed up for the event.
Yes, at the opening people as far as Mexico and quite a few from various areas of L.A. came down too.
Have any exciting things developed since the opening?
Well there are some new licenses coming up that are under wraps for now. We can say that we have more licenses that involve toys from: Robotech, Godzilla and Alien.
That’s great, because new movies are coming out on both shores. Is the award winning ReAction line based on classic and popular new properties?
A variety of both. We have the Breaking Bad, Firefly lines, plus we now have a Taxi Driver series with the Travis Bickel figure, the character played by Robert Deniro. Plus the Star Trek line is doing well and a second wave is on the way. We also have the Universal Monsters, Pulp Fiction and even The Karate Kid.
What is your most popular product?
The t shirt designs are our biggest hits in San Diego and San Francisco and people nerd out on them. People are brought back to memories from their childhood, Star Wars, video games or sci-fi films when they see them and many buy them to wear.
For those who have not visited your shop, tell them why they should head on down to sunny San Diego.
You cannot chat with people online. Here, you can come in talk with us, and talk about those shows, movies and things we are interested in as well. Coming to the store is a whole different experience. You can touch, feel and ask about the products, making it a more personal experience.
Okay, what is the greatest reaction you have had from a customer visiting the store?
KB: One of the greatest things was when one of our employees saw a customer just after he purchased a Gigan figure. He saw the gentleman who has bought 5 or 6 variations of this figure from us get in his car. Then he saw him and his girlfriend playing with the toy figure just after he purchased it. Hanging out, buying stuff and returning to the store just to talk with us is what we are all about. We welcome those who are into collecting like we are.
As the store continues to grow a presence, how do you feel about being the new neighbor on the block?
We are developing the store as we are earning our stripes in the community. It is a positive growing process and we have some upcoming plans. We are working on some get-togethers where people can meet other collectors, talk about toys, movies and Sci-Fi.
Any updates on Super7 plans for Comic-Con 2015?
Keep an eye out for big things happening with Super7 during Comic-Con and definitely off the beaten path.
Thank you for time Kris and all the best with the store and your toy print in San Diego.
Super7 always has set up their own playing field charting a bold path to future vinyl toy projects and ventures focused on US and Japan pop culture aficionados. They grew up with giant monsters, comic books, punk, science fiction, skateboarding, robots & rebellion. No one made what they wanted. So they made it themselves.
Super 7 San Diego
Address: 701 8th Ave, San Diego 92101
Store Hours: 11:00AM – 7:00PM Mon-Sat and Sun 12:00 – 6:00PM
Phone: 619 339 2642
Online store: http://super7store.com/