Interview with “Brick Brother”: Michael Pullano, Marketing Brand Manager

DDD: Hi Mike – we’re here to talk about the recently revealed KRE-O G.I. Joe Sgt. Slaughter “Construction Commandos” Set. In my opinion it’s safe to say, this is a mind-blowingly cool set that really adds some great flavor to the universe of KRE-O G.I. Joe. The biggest addition, of course, is Sgt. Slaughter himself, making a triumphant return to the G.I. Joe line. How did the idea for that come about?

Thanks Derryl! I’m thrilled to talk about this set. As you know, Sgt. Slaughter is one of the most iconic G.I. Joe characters and a fan favorite. We here on the KRE-O Team are particularly big fans and grew up watching G. I. Joe on TV in the ’80s and ’90s. As we “brick-stormed” ideas for our first ever KRE-O G.I. Joe convention item, we knew we had to make a big splash. We’ve been eager to produce a Sgt. Slaughter KREON figure for a while now, but wanted to make sure that when we did, we did it right! Product, packaging and storyline all had to be awesome. Hasbro and Sgt. Slaughter have a long history together, but the Sarge hasn’t appeared with us since 2009. We think everyone will agree that his return to Hasbro and KRE-O introduction for Sgt. Slaughter are long overdue. We approached Sarge with the idea, and he was eager to just back into his role as the Marauders team leader for this one.

   

DDD: Tell us about how you approached the overall design. When you are designing with KRE-O bricks, you can build anything you want. What were you trying to accomplish with this set?

Designing this item was an absolute blast from start to finish. The KRE-O team loves focusing on battling, so while we centered the set on Sarge and his Marauders, we set out to make this set more than just a figure set. We also knew we had to include Sgt. Slaughter’s vehicle, the Triple T. The “Tag Team Terminator” tank is a SWEET vehicle and iconic in its own right, as I think any fan would attest to. We feel like we paid homage to the classic Hasbro toy, while also putting our own KRE-O twist on the item.

The battle needed to be epic, and our design team of Rob Maschin & Max Sackett really brought their “A” game here.

DDD: There is a ton of personality in this set.  With so many great villains to choose from to anchor the set, why did you decide to have Sgt. Slaughter and the Marauders battle Destro?

Since the Sarge is larger than life, we had to do our best to bring this same awesomeness to the set and put him in the center of a truly amazing story.  While all of his battles from the original TV show were great, none really stuck out to us as big enough to match the Sarge in personality for the set we wanted to make. So we created our own legendary storyline!  His foe needed to have a strong supporting cast and an over-the-top personality with a sort of legendary mythos themselves. The choice of Destro was a no brainer for us and now we have two of the coolest, most iconic G.I. Joe figures in history teamed up in one set.

  

DDD: It’s not just a classic version of Destro either…this is a pretty cool variant. What’s the story there?

This figure is legendary among fans and there are a number of stories out there for how gold-headed/leopard print Destro came about. Regardless of its origin we  think fans will love this variant. While we released a KRE-O Destro figure a few years ago in our Arashikage Dojo set, this set deserved the best Destro KREON figure ever!

Since we were essentially creating our own new Sgt. Slaughter’s Marauders story, we gave our Brand Writer, Matt Clarke, the ability to really let his creative juices flow. And boy, did he ever! The past few years we’ve wanted to produce Sgt. Slaughter and leopard-print Destro KREON figures on separate occasions, but the timing or the story never really felt right. When finalizing the components of this item, we couldn’t include one character without the other. We love both of them too much…why not give our fans the best of both worlds?

We made sure to get Sarge’s core team in there, including Mutt and Junkyard, Gabriel “Barbecue” Kelly, Spirit Iron-Knife, Low-Light, and Andrew “Footloose” Myers.  In addition, Destro’s supporting cast made it easy to create some cool additional mini-matchups that we thought were cool, like Spirit vs Voltar (with an  eagle vs buzzard battle!) along with Darklon, an Iron Grenadier Officer, and two Iron Grenadier troopers. There is so much personality in this set, and that’s part of what makes KRE-O G.I. Joe so fun and special 

DDD: Typical for Hasbro’s fan convention product, the packaging is pretty special. Can you tell us about what you wanted to accomplish?

At Hasbro, our senior leadership team always challenges us to unlock the power of story. Keeping that in mind, we asked ourselves, what type of package would help bring our awesome ’80s story to life? What would people our age remember about the ’80s version of G.I. Joe? How could we bring back that nostalgic ’80s feeling when a consumer puts this package in their hand? So, as we popped in the G.I. Joe VHS tapes that we owned to brush up on some G.I. Joe stories…the answer was right in our hands. We wanted this to be a very special un-boxing experience for our fans…like opening a VHS that they were PUMPED to watch.

Sarge and his team slide out of the master box in a package of the  shape and size of a VHS tape, and likewise for Destro and the Iron Grenadiers.  It channels that great nostalgic feeling of being a kid again, only with all new KRE-O G.I. Joe figures.

Big shout-outs here to our Structural Engineer Jon Norton, Lead Package Designer Shawn Kenney and Brand Writer Matt Clarke for bringing this idea to life.

DDD: Any other fun or hidden things fans can look for?

Yes, absolutely…but, we’ll leave that up to the fans to discover. We tried to pay homage to classic G.I. Joe packaging, while at the same putting our own unique spin on the set with our unique KRE-O brand tone. Look closely, even the Sgt. Slaughter KREON figure image on the front of the Triple T is tilted slightly like you may have seen it years ago.

DDD: In the past, Hasbro has brought Sarge to fan conventions. Will fans be able to meet and greet Sarge this year?

Yes and we are so excited about this great opportunity for our fans to have a chance to meet Sgt. Slaughter in person. The Sarge will be at San Diego Comic Con at the Hasbro brand booth on stage for two autograph sessions on Saturday, July 11th. He will be signing the “Construction Commando’s” KRE-O Comic-Con special edition set for fans from 11am – 12:30pm and again from 3-4:30pm.

DDD: Mike, how can fans get this set?

This set is will be available first at San Diego Comic-Con July 8-12, 2015. Make sure you get there early, as we expect the set will be very popular. A limited number of sets will also be available on HasbroToyShop.com after the show. This set will cost $49.99 plus tax.

Derryl, thank you for this opportunity! We’d love to give special thanks to the rest of our larger KRE-O team and other significant contributors at Hasbro (Corey Cantelupe & Steve Lathrop for sure!), G.I. Joe fans around the globe for inspiring us and demanding a KRE-O G.I. Joe set at Comic-Con last year, and those G.I. Joe creators from years past. Finally, we want to thank you, our reader, for being a fan.

Team KRE-O signing off…YO JOE!