QMx's Mark Robben Talks How Q-Figs Have Evolved, New Remasters and Q-Masters Lines, and Teases What's To Come

The collectibles market has grown by leaps and bounds over the past several years, especially for fans of the big two. As DC and Marvel properties become more and more part of the mainstream, the appetite for something unique to show your love for your favorite hero or villain only grows. As fans gain more and more options, it can be difficult for companies to find a voice that helps them stick out from the crowd, but Quantum Mechanix (also known as QMx) has managed to do just that with their delightful line of collectibles. Those include their ever-popular Q-Fig line as well as the upcoming Q-Fig Remastered and Q-Masters line, which includes characters like Harley Quinn, the X-Men, Batman, and more. We had a chance to chat with QMx Director of Marketing Mark Robben all about QMx's vision and their upcoming products, and the future certainly looks bright.

You might remember that QMx wasn't always making delightful versions of Batman or Superman, but was instead focused on realisim for properties like Star Trek and Firefly. "When the company got its start, the focus was initially on a lot of screen-accurate replicas," Robben said. "Replicas from Firefly and Battlestar Galactica. So a lot of sci-fi titles. The focus back then was on screen accurate replicas and innovation, which has always been core to what QMX does. That's kind of like why we have the name and how it sounds kind of sciency. It was more about how do we make these things as real as possible. I mean if Andy, our CEO, could have figured out how to make a working phaser, he would've done it, and I think he's gotten pretty close."

"Obviously it's the art team here that's really led the way to what our style was going to be and following their talents as well as a desire to not look like everything else," Robben said. "Today, one of our guiding principles is if you see one of our figures, we want it to stand out. We didn't want it to look like every other Wolverine. We want you to look at like our Bat-Family statue and see I've never seen Batman in that way before. We want it to connect with you on an emotional level and make you feel like you're getting a story from one of our pieces. So when you're looking at our art style and kind of whatever it says to you, it's very purposeful."

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(Photo: Quantum Mechanix)

"I mean, you know, not to go off on a tangent, but when Hawk and the art team designed that Bat-Family piece, his whole aspect was, I want to tell the story about the Bat-Family," Robben said. "And I read about that in the comic books. It's a really important aspect of who that man is with Nightwing and Batgirl and Tim Drake and all those guys, but I don't see anything out there that really reflects that side of Batman's personality. So that's kind of how we approach product development. It's what can we do that's different and how do we stand out from the rest of the marketplace."

That Bat-Family piece is impressive, both from a sculpting level and in how much charm it exudes, but it's also quite durable, something any collector will appreciate after spending their hard-earned money on it.

"I think that is a real credit to our manufacturing team that they're able to figure out how to do this and still make it affordable," Robben said. "And part of that is because they're using different materials. If you've ever owned a Polystone statue before, they're huge, but they're super breakable. With the materials that we're using, it makes it a little more durable."

"When you get that Batman piece in person, you'll see it's still hefty but it also has some give," Robben said. "If you knock it over, it's not going to shatter into a million pieces. That's not what we want for people when they buy our stuff.

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(Photo: Quantum Mechanix)

QMx's style has changed quite a bit from when they started the Q-Figs line, growing from simpler portraits to full-on scenes that reflect the personality of the character.

"If you look at a lot of the Q-Figs from early on, a lot of times it was just that particular character, so you're on a base and that's kind of where we started," Robben said. "Now they've become increasingly complex and we're adding all of these different elements in and you're very right. They're more like diorama's now with little set pieces. And if you look at the Harley Remaster that we're putting out, I mean it's worlds apart from the original Harley, it's got all these different pieces now on the base and an additional hyena. Going in that direction lets us tell deeper stories and that, and lets us do more, but to still sell our products and make them accessible to people. I mean, the way we think about it is we make premium collectibles."

For QMx, premium doesn't have to necessarily mean expensive, and that thinking allows for more collectors to enjoy their products without breaking the bank.

"Now, most premium collectibles are like 500 dollar giant statutes," Robben said. "We still think what we're doing is premium. It's just more accessible than that. It's $20 dollars or it's $30 dollars, and I know 1/6, you're talking about, $200 dollars there. But in terms of Q-Figs, we still think that they're premium and that means that they might be at a slightly higher cost than something like a Funko Pop, but we feel like we're doing a lot more in terms of the stylization and the terms of the diorama. So there are challenges there in terms of trying to keep the cost down because obviously, we want these to be accessible, but the thing is, Andy, our CEO is really, really focused on getting the best manufacturing and working with the best factories we can, and that allows us to do more with less."

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(Photo: Quantum Mechanix)

"There's always going to be challenges and sometimes the art team will come up with an amazing idea and we're like, wow, that's going to be too expensive," Robben said. "How can we figure out a way that will make this an affordable piece but just a stunning? It's a lot of back and forth, it's experimentation and sometimes we'll try something and maybe even accept lower margins on a specific piece because we just really want to see it done that way because we want to show people what we can do."

One of the most promising new lines is Q-Fig Remastered, which will bring back some early favorites with a modern redesign, though the line also gives new collectors a perfect jumping-on point.

"When some of those first hit the market a couple of years ago, if you started collecting Q-Figs now you just might not be able to find those pieces now, or they'd be on the secondary market and they'd be cost-prohibitive," Robben said. "So we've always got newer collectors coming into the ecosystem and saying, 'hey, I never got a chance to get that Harley. I really want to pick one up. Are you going to make another Harley?' And so we kind of thought long and hard about how do we revisit some of these figures that are classic and sort of grail pieces for collectors, but we didn't just want to rerelease them into the market. That's not fair to the original collectors."

"So we thought, well, if we're going to revisit it, we really want to do something special and up our game as well as show what we can do now," Robben said. "We've just gotten better with our art, with our sculpting, with our manufacturing, and we can just do more. So it just kind of made sense to us as fans are saying, we really want that Harley, or Catwoman is another one that people really, really like."

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(Photo: Quantum Mechanix)

QMx's products definitely have a unique flair all their own, even when they are a bit less lighthearted like the new X-Men line. Whether the figure focuses on humor or is a more serious take on the character, there's a charm that truly comes through, and that's not an accident. "I think honestly we just take a lot of joy out of what we do and that gets translated into the work as opposed to a bunch of grim, dark superheroes ripping each other's heads off," Robben said. "That just doesn't connect with us, and I feel like there's enough stuff out there like that."

As for what's to come, Robben and the team are excited for fans to really see the Q-Masters and new Q-Fig remastered lines, and there are plenty of other surprises coming.

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"I've seen some of the artwork for the upcoming Q-Masters next year and they are fantastic, and it is going into some characters that I think people will be surprised that we kind of went there," Robben said. "And again, I think it really just sort of showcases what we can do with some of these larger format pieces. I think people are going to be blown away when you see what we've got at Toy Fair in San Diego next year."

We can't wait to see what QMx does next, especially with the Q-Masters and Q-Fig Remastered line. You can check out their current figures at your favorite local comic store, and the X-Men line's new Wolverine Q-Fig is also in stores now. You can find even more from Quantum Mechanix on their official website.

Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.