It's a story Todd McFarlane has told before. In 2013,
"It turns out, the assistant to the Toys 'R' Us buyer was a big comic geek," McFarlane said. "They walked up to my table and he said, 'This is the guy I've been telling you about.'" Armed with that coup of a deal, "other dominoes started falling," McFarlane said. "I was able to walk into Walmart and say, 'Hey, Toys "R" Us, the largest seller of toys is buying my stuff,'" he said.
A Toys R Us buyer came along. He had an assistant. The assistant was a comic geek. He said, "Hey, boss. This is the guy I was telling you about." At that point, Spawn was at the top of the charts (remember when we first started). He went store-wide with Spawn. It was easy then to walk into Walmart and say, "Hey, your competitor's got this." They bought it. Then the dominos started. Then, you go, "Hey, let's get some more licenses." We've been going ever since.
At McFarlane's first Toy Fair he had next to nothing to show, not one fully done "action figure", but the assistant of the buyer for Toys R' Us had talked up McFarlane so much that the buyer walked into the crowded room, made a huge order with McFarlane and then left, giving McFarlane what he needed to get his toy company going.
He told the story again at his WonderCon@Home panel yesterday. With a slight twist.
"Do I think that that powerful toy buyer at Toys R Us cared about Todd McFarlane? No. Do I think that he cared about Spawn and the book that had just come out? No. Do I even think he knew about either one of those? No. So now the question is, so how did how did you get your toys there because standing next to that very powerful man, he had an assistant and the assistant to me looked like he was about 22 years old and it was the assistant who said the magical words that day. "Hey boss this is that guy I've been telling you about, his character" and it was the 22 year old and the buyer had enough confidence in his assistant that when the assistant said "hey you should take a look at this", his boss said okay I'll go take a look at it. So he made the journey across the street to this one building on the one floor in the one office to this one 5×5 booth because his 22-year-old sister, I assume was a comics geek. He asked me on that fateful day, given that I had no prototype, what was going to be the size and the scale and I told them about the same size as everybody else, a little bit bigger, and he said can you deliver the toy on this day and can you give it to me at this price. I had no idea if I could but I said, of course, I can and he said if you can do that then I will put your Spawn toys. whatever this thing is called, in all my stores, I will go store wide."
And the dominoes fell.
"That assistant for Toys R Us and I don't know his name, I wish I did because I owe him my company, pretty much. When he said that fateful words, " this is the guy and the character I was talking to you about, boss", that was it that was the beginning of why I'm still in business to this day.
That was 25 years ago. That 22-year old will be 47 now – if Todd's guess about his age was correct. Was it you? Do you know who it could have been? Todd McFarlane would like to say thank you. Here's the video in full;