Super7 founder Brian Flynn wants you to play with your toys
"Mint-in-box"? No way. Toys are meant to be fun.
As an Air Force brat living in Bitburg, Germany in 1977, young Brian Flynn got one chance to see the movie Star Wars when it was projected onto a TV screen in the base’s Officer’s Club. Without an accessible local theater to run back to again and again, the smitten Flynn’s only outlet for re-living the adventure that had just blown his young mind were 3 3/4-inch pieces of plastic.
“I only spent two hours with the movie as a kid, but I spent years with the toys. So my affection and connection to Star Wars is heavily dependent upon those toys,” says Flynn.
Flynn would go on to study design and, after a few years working for Nike (during which he designed the first MLS league logo), and later would open his own design studio: Hybrid-Design. But his love of toys never abated, and he began channeling his interest into his own self-published fan magazine called Super7, motivated by the dearth of information about Japanese toys for an American audience.
Once it began offering mail-away figures (mostly repaints of popular Japanese toys) and received an overwhelming response, Super7 began evolving from a magazine to a source for retro-cool toys based on everything from Thundercats and G.I. Joe to the Sex Pistols and Notorious B.I.G. to Bruce Lee and Vincent Price—all designed to be a loving tribute to the small, stiff Star Wars figures that started it all.
Other than Star Wars figures, what toy were you most obsessed with as a kid?
There was a toy in the ‘70s that was like a foam F-15, and it had a little plastic wheel and you would pull it back on a rubber band, you'd let it go and it would fly. Well, they had an aircraft carrier you could buy where you could put two of them on it and the whole thing and it would launch them both at the same time. They had it at the base BX (base exchange] when I was in Germany. I saved all my money up for three months so I could buy that aircraft carrier, and it had a very specific blue F-15 that went with it. When I got there, it wasn't there anymore. I've never seen it since.
Nice segue! I was going to ask what your toy “holy grail” is—is it that aircraft carrier?
I don't have anything specific anymore, really. I've been fortunate and I've been collecting long enough that I got most everything that I could have ever wanted. Meaning, I got a double telescoping lightsaber Darth Vader in 1997. I have a missile-firing Boba Fett. I was able to buy the Alien prototype from the unreleased Alien toy line when we made those*. When I think of collectible holy grails now, it’s usually things I never knew existed, like a Canadian Death Star play set where the box opens like a suitcase, not like a typical Kenner box. Or the fact that the old ‘70s fast food chain Burger Chef had their own version of the Happy Meal that came with Star Wars papercraft toys. Discovering these things that are unknown to me gets me excited again.
Should toys be opened and played with, or kept mint-in-box?
Opened. Completely. You’ve got to move the arms and legs. That's the thing. I was once offered a rare carded Star Wars Uzay Blue Stars bootleg and I was like, “I can’t do it. I want to be able to move the arms. I want to put the gun in their hands.”
Finally, what advice do you have for someone who wants to turn their fandom into a career?
The reality is, for Super7, I never planned for it to become a career, and I don't know if it would've worked if I had planned it. I just started making stuff I wanted to have. When I'm true to that, then I find that other people are also interested in that same thing. What I would say to people is just make the thing you want to have, not what you think other people will buy. Then if you get stuck with a basement full of it, you're at least stoked you have something cool. Just stay on that, and then the rest will magically work itself out.
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*Note: Super7’s first venture was going back and making an aborted line of toys that had been planned for Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien. Prototypes were made, but the line was never produced. Super7 tracked down the original molds and samples and actually produced the line as a neat bit of deep-cut fan service.