Collider Interviews ‘Frank the Bunny’

     February 25, 2006

This interview is sort of like cheating. Usually when you try and interview someone you have to schedule it with a publicist, and most of the time something comes up at the last minute, or there ends up being a conflict. I knew when I tried to get Jimmy to answer some questions about the new 12 inch Frank the Bunny toy from Donnie Darko it wouldn’t be that hard, as we have been good friends for years.

Jimmy and I have been friends for so long, that we watched the rise and fall of the prequel Star Wars films together. We were both collecting Star Wars toys back in ’97, back when Star Wars was cool, before the dark times, before the prequels.

We would venture out together looking for our pieces of plastic. Back on Saturday mornings we would sometimes venture out to Frank and Sons (think of the Cantina from Star Wars, except instead of alcohol, they sell toys and collectibles) and look for cool stuff that interested us. I know this is scary to say, but back then, if you wanted to buy a new toy you had to hunt for it,as eBay had just started.

While neither of us collects the way we used to, both of us know a great deal about toys, and about the collector market for pieces of plastic. That is why I was so happy that NECA decided to make a Frank the Bunny and include Jimmy’s head with the toy. If there is one person who can really appreciate being a toy, trust me, it is Jimmy. And with that, here is Frank….I mean Jimmy.

Tell us about your history of collecting toys… if you don’t mind.

Toy collecting for me started when I was fairly young. Star Wars came out in 1977 (I was four-and-a-half), and the toys by 1978… by the end of 1979, I had my first real little collection of toys in my entire life. So, along with my friends from the neighborhood, we had a little Star Wars universe all our own. My collection had also consisted of Battlestar Galactica, Tron and Buck Rogers in The 25th Century.

You have done a fair share of movies ranging from the big budget (Independence Day) to the cult, like Donnie, May and Nowhere. What is the movie you are recognized from the most?

It’s usually between Darko, Independence Day, or Doom Generation, depending on the audience. I’m extremely flattered as Darko, being one of the most recent films I’m recognized for, is actually 5 years old now! ID-4 and Doom are now over 10 years now!

As someone who used to be a toy collector, what is it like to have a six-inch and a twelve-inch version of yourself in plastic?

It’s really quite surreal! It is a character I had a blast playing and will always be one of the highlights of my career. It’s certainly one of my favorite movies and a pleasure through and through to be a part of. The fact that NECA finally got the rights and made not just one but two versions (6″ and 12″) of the Frank figure is extraordinary. It only added to the experience and also has most certainly only added to those highlights!

I like the smaller version, but I really think the 12″ is amazing. How do you think the 12″ inch came out?

Let me start by saying I was absolutely flabbergasted when I got wind of the 6″. I saw the 6″ test shot at Comic-Con 2005, met some of the NECA team (who are some great f***ing people) and I have to admit I was floored when I saw the 6″ in person! Thanks again to Randy Falk and Nicolle M. Puzzo! You two and all at NECA friggin’ rock! But when Randy sent me a sample of the 12″, I freaked out! I mean I was absolutely blown away, Steve. Randy did such an incredible job with the sculpt! I still to this day have trouble getting over the fact that there’s also now a 12″ version of Frank that even has at least 7 different phrases from the film itself!

“I can show you the way,” “Do you believe in time travel?,” “Wake up, Donnie,” “Have you ever seen a portal?,” “I can do anything I want… and so can you,” “They’re in great danger” and “Don’t worry, you got away with it.” And holy crap, the detail on that thing freaked me out! From the bunny mask to the face! Top, top job.

When NECA first did the toys, did you know about it, or did you just see it all of a sudden and were shocked?

Of course I was shocked when I found out about it but when I heard that the Frank the Bunny would come with an alternate head and then saw the prototype for myself in San Diego (Comic-Con ‘05), I nearly fell over! I had heard rumors that there were plans for one for a few years back (the movie was from 2001) with various companies vying for the rights! Then in spring 2005, I found out NECA got the rights and I got I became very excited with the idea… I feel truly honored to be in the same creepy company as Freddy Krueger, The Tall Man, and Leatherface, not to mention the other horror classics from the series before and still yet to come!

Here’s an interesting note… I had heard that they actually made a Donnie Darko (Jake G.) 6″ figure in the skeleton costume with the gun he shoots Frank with! Sadly, the rights were not quite fully acquired so it remains in limbo…

I know you have recently signed a whole bunch of autographs for this new 12″ version. Can you talk about how many you signed, and are they all signed the same way?

I stayed in touch with Randy and Nicole from NECA after Comic-Con and they actually offered me a chance to be part of a special run of the Frank the Bunny 12″. I signed 3000 postcards in all and each is hand numbered (i.e. 1/3000, 2/3000, etc…), so being a collector myself and a fan of the random one-off, I decided to include various messages from Frank himself along with my signature, such as “Free the bunny,” “Free the 12,” “The end is coming,” “Frank was here,” and “Frank went to get beer.” I probably wrote at least a dozen-and-a-half different phrases!

Yes, you heard correctly! In number, that means at least 18 different messages including phrases from the movie… I also wrote a few one-offs that are floating around in those 3000…. I’m not quite sure of the exact details but I believe that there will be a special run (3000) of the 12″ Frank, and it will include a postcard with a personalized message with my signature. Wow, that sounds weird to say. F*** IT! FRANK LIVES!!!!

Now for the all important question. Favorite Star Wars movie and why?

The Empire Strikes Back, of course! To me that’s easily been the most spiritual and cerebral of the six. I felt this movie challenged the concept of ultimate right and wrong. Our being faced with the dilemma of the hero crossing the threshold. When we come to face our biggest challenge (and we all do/will), the decisions we make can and will forever change the course of lives. Those decisions also can and will alter the evolution of our character for the rest of our lives, i.e. Vader/Anakin. Unfortunately for him, although he brought balance, it still wasn’t without the cost of himself, his family and endless lives around an entire galaxy through mass slaughter and genocide, through subjugation by terror and fear (sounds familiar!) I’ve never quite gotten over the power that film had when Han Solo gets captured, tortured and frozen by not only Boba Fett, but The Dark Lord himself, Vader. Then its most despicable villain imaginable was revealed to possibly be the hero, Luke’s real father, and that things were not at all what they seemed. Not to mention the fact that Yoda’s introduction, Luke’s training and his very essence still remains one of the most amazing accomplishments in film, ever! Yes, I’m geeking hard but the film still brings tears to my eyes.

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Also, do you have a favorite Star Wars toy?

Probably the Electronic FX X-Wing or the Han Solo-Death Star Escape figure with the white stormtrooper utility belt! For the big stuff, my favorite is the Master Replica’s Mace Windu FX Saber, and I can’t wait to get the new Master Replica’s Qui-Gon Jinn Saber replica!

Out of all the toys you have seen over the years, do you have a favorite?

That’s a hard question because the toys now are definitely better than ever before! With the Sci-fi/monster/fantasy genres moving to the forefront, most anything you can think of is or will be made! I really like the Buck Rogers Starfighter by Mego circa 1979, and I was recently given the Gatchman/Battle of The Planets die-cast G-1 Fiery Phoenix that comes with all the other vehicles that linked to the ship as well as the fiery shell (Thanks, Jack M.)! I also have to say I’m a big fan of the entire NECA “Cult Classics” series in general!

Also, do you think toys are better now, or do you think they were better back when you were a kid?

I loved and miss some of the toys from when I was a kid, but there is no doubt that the toys of today kick ass in a serious way! Before I do, I want to give a special shout out to Randy Falk, Nicole M. Puzzo and Talia Bella.

And with that… Frank is gone.

I like the t-shirt he is wearing….

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