Victor Shaffer Interview

Our latest guest is the Executive Vice President of Business Development for Licensed products at Cartamundi, and as you can imagine he is a very busy man! Please welcome to Jedi News Victor Shaffer.

JN – Victor, welcome to Jedi News. How long did it take for Cartamundi to develop the concept for the cards?

VS – The concept for the cards was developed as new images were released to us. Over a period of about 2 weeks, we had finalized the plan, but the final product took months.

JN – Are the cards all 3D or are they flat design?

VS – The deck of playing cards are 2D and printed on standard card stock. However, within each collectible tin, and in addition to the deck, is a bonus 3D card that matches the character featured on the tin.

JN – How did the artwork for the cards come about?

VS – As more and more images were released to us, our plan came together. Once we had enough images to put a different character on each of the card denominations, and enough background images for the 4 card suits and jokers, we were almost there!

JN – Did Rovio have to approve all of the designs?

VS – Absolutely. Each time we sent anything for an approval, both the folks at Lucasfilm and Rovio had to give their OK.

JN – What are the key differences in the 4 different tins?

VS – The difference is the character featured on both the tin and the bonus 3D card that comes with each tin. We have one for Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and of course – Chewbacca!

JN – How many of each tin will be in a box issued to retailers?

VS – Counter display units contain three of each of the four tins. Master cartons contain a total of 72 tins.

JN – Will we see all of the birds/pigs from the game on the cards?

VS – Our beaks are sealed!

JN – Will we see more birds/pigs in the cards than we may initially see in the game?

VS – Our snouts are sealed!

JN – Why make 4 different tins?

VS – We wanted to feature a number of the key characters to make the product look great. And, with four different tins which include four different 3D cards, there is something there for the collectors to aspire to!

JN – How long did you have to pitch to retailers to carry the merchandise?

VS – Our window was very short compared to our typical selling season so we can to put on a full court press from the moment we were notified that we were selected as a licensee for the project! It was crazy, lots of frequent flier miles accumulated though!

JN – Were retailers receptive to the idea of the cards and the brand?

VS – We’ve never introduced a product that had this much positive energy behind it.

JN – What is the process like to make a playing card?

VS – The process depends on who the cards are being developed for or which brand. When it comes to making Star Wars playing cards, the process is easy! There are so many images and so much artwork to choose from, that it’s easy to become inspired. We have been working with Lucasfilm for about 5 years now, and we have a great relationship with the team there.

Generally speaking, when it comes to making playing cards, the plan is to maximize the visual impact because the product is so small! We like to pack as much punch as possible, while putting out a top quality product at the same time.

JN – How long does it take to design a deck of cards?

VS – That depends on who the product is for and how the approval process works. But, more often than not, time is not something we have an ample supply of! With something like Star Wars, it’s fun for us to come up with new products and bring them to life. The design process from the first concept pitch to a final approved deck is generally between 1 and 3 months.

JN – Once everything is designed how long does it take to make one deck?

VS – After everything is designed and approved, the manufacturing process is pretty quick. It does depend on how many decks we make, but it normally takes about 4 weeks from the time we have approved art until the decks start rolling off the finishing line so we can start to play.

JN – Who does the artwork for your cards not just angry birds?

VS – Our graphic designer, Colleen Bennett, has been designing our Star Wars cards since the very beginning! Her first Star Wars deck was our Poster Deck and she’s designed virtually every Star Wars deck since then. She has also been a part of our team working the last 3 Star Wars conventions. She’s awesome.

JN – How do you come up with the designs?

VS – First, we come up with a concept. We have covered almost every Star Wars category we can think of – we still have a few ideas up our sleeves! After a concept is decided, then comes research.

For example, when our designer created our “Famous Quotes” deck, she literally watched all 6 movies from her desk in the office! She took extensive notes and screen caps so she could remember which memorable quote was said at what time and had the screen caps so she could then find the appropriate images in the Star Wars image database.

Then she had to narrow down the research. Each Cartamundi deck has 55 cards. For the Famous Quotes deck, she had to widdle down pages and pages of notes filled with quotes down to just enough to fill the deck. All the while, making sure there was a good mix of quotes from all 6 films in the saga. This is all before any design work was done!

Generally, once the concept is in place and the research is done, Colleen has an idea in mind for the look. She will put together a few cards, and send them to the team at Lucasfilm and we go from there.

JN – What other cards are coming up the pipeline for the company?

VS – We have new licensed products for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Lord of the Rings. We’ll have a 3D Hobbit deck on the shelves within a month or 2and a 2-deck tin set for Lord of the Rings.

We also have a new product called Cartamundi Cardstackers. It’s a collaboration between Cartamundi and the Guinness World Record holder for cardstacking, Bryan Berg. Together, we created a set of 825 cards that were specifically manufactured for stacking. Each set comes with a 20-plus page Builder’s Guide and Instruction Booklet. You’ll be able to build the Empire State Building in your house! This is the first time anyone has made cards with specific attributes that make cardstacking a little easier, we’re really excited about this product.

JN – What are you most excited about that you can discuss?

VS – We’re always most excited about the stuff that we can’t talk about yet. But, we can’t wait to see how fast the Star Wars Angry Birds stuff flies off the shelves so we can start working on version 2!

JN – Do you have any new Star Wars stuff coming out?

VS – We have a new double deck collectible tin what will be out early 2013. It’s going to be a Weapons and Battles set – with 55 weapons including lightsabers, blasters and more in one deck and 13 battles in the other deck.

We may just have another Angry Birds Star Wars project as well!

JN – Can we expect to see anymore 3D Star Wars cards timed for release with the Star Wars movies?

VS – Our fingers are crossed, we sure hope so. And, we hope that the fans want more of our 3D decks!

JN – What are some of your favorite decks/cards that have been released and why?

VS – We love all of our children equally! Ha, but seriously our new favorite definitely includes our Angry Birds Star Wars decks. “They are visually really fun and have a large collectible value with the series of 4 tins and 3D cards. This project was unique for us because the images are just so darn cute.

You can visit the Cartamundi website here.

Victor Shaffer Interview Copyright 2012 Jedi News. No part of this interview can be reproduced without prior written consent from Jedi News.

Teresa Delgado
Teresa is a co-host of a number of podcasts including Disney Vault Talk, Fangirls Going Rogue, Star Wars Bookworks (with fellow Team Jedi News member Aaron Goins) and Galactic Fashion alongside Johnamarie Macias on the Jedi News Network.