Going gangbusters for Ghostbusters: Jean Théberge on the fast production of Wrebbit’s new 3D puzzle

Jean Théberge, Wrebbit, Ghostbusters

Want great Ghostbusters product? Who ya gonna call?! Jean Théberge on the Firehouse 3D puzzle.

Jean, terrific to see you! We’ve spoken to you on our sister site before; people can read that here… Something you had on the stand in Nuremberg really caught my eye, though: the Ghostbusters fire station. It looks amazing, tell us about it!
Thank you, Deej. Since we had already released Ghostbusters ECTO-1 ambulance, the Firehouse Headquarters was a natural and great addition to our portfolio. As you saw in Germany, it’s a beautiful set… There are 500 pieces. When built, the Firehouse is 30cm tall, and just over 23cm by 18 deep and wide respectively.

It’s substantial – and beautiful, it has to be said. You also have some lovely extra touches that should make this irresistible to fans. Tell us about them…
The Ghostbusters Firehouse HQ has lovely fine details! The StayPuft Marshmallow Man is impressively illustrated on the back… There are other illustrated features and hidden elements that it might be fun for people to discover for themselves! But it also comes with a small ECTO-1 ambulance and – of course – the Slimer character.

Of course! That’s a very cute addition. And am I to understand you I’ve gone the extra mile with the building instructions?
Yes, we’re particularly proud to bring a third dimension to the product… We’ve added interactive online instructions and video support on various social media platforms. These help highlight product details and enhances our fans’ experience with immersive features. This extra touch lets us reach new customers and build loyal patronage.

How did this model come about, Jean?
While discussing our license renewal with Sony Pictures Consumer Products at the end of November, we learned the date of the theatrical release of the new Ghostbusters movie, Frozen Empire. As you may know, it had been postponed due to the strikes in the cinema industry in 2023.

Jean Théberge, Wrebbit, Ghostbusters, Film & TV, Toys & Games

Right! And rescheduled for release at the end of March 2024…
Exactly. We immediately saw a fit with Ghostbusters Firehouse HQ for a new Wrebbit3D puzzle as a complement to the ECTO-1 3D puzzle that we introduced in September 2021… But obviously, we had to act very rapidly if we were to have that product align with the new film’s theatrical release…

How rapidly?!
We made our final decision in late November and had it in production at the end of February… So it took us just 11 weeks. And that included taking the two-week holiday for Christmas and New Year. So, yes… Our design and creative teams really rolled up their sleeves and put all the energy into this new model.

This turnaround was exceptionally fast and was achieved due to Sony Pictures Consumer Products development team… The collaboration and exchanges we had with them were superb. We needed to execute quickly in order to get product approval prior to London and Nuremberg Toy Fairs at the end of January this year and being able to show final results to trade.

So the turnaround of this was incredibly quick… For context, how long would it normally have taken?
Usually when introducing a new Wrebbit3D jigsaw puzzle, it takes us anywhere from four to six months from initial idea to final product ready for production… It all depends on the dimensions and piece count. The reduced production time included not only the puzzle design in 3D and the illustrated puzzle, with its wonderful hidden elements, but also the packaging design.

Jean Théberge, Wrebbit, Ghostbusters, Film & TV, Toys & Games

And sign off, presumably?
Yes! Everything is subject to the licensor’s approval. For any licensed 3D puzzle, the licensor’s collaboration is not only key, but also very important for us; very meaningful. We want them to be delighted. And as I say, they were superb.

Fantastic. I almost daren’t ask this, though… Now that you know you can turn something around as fast as this, is there a chance you’re going to overwork your team?!
Ha! Well, it’s true that we cannot always ask the Wrebbit teams to execute in such shorter development time! Given the numerous delays and postponements in new theatrical film and series releases, though, I think everyone was energised by the fact that we had a fantastic opportunity. The timing was great for a couple of reasons. First, the market introduction – it fell in very well with the numerous toy fairs at the beginning of the year. Second, what good fortune that the product was ready almost one month prior to theatrical release.

Yes! And I’m quite looking forward to seeing it, too. So… Speed aside, what was the biggest challenge making this a reality?
As mentioned, sometimes there are delays that are out of our control. A licensor’s review process, say, or third-party suppliers enabling us to squeeze in some material and components production. On this product specifically, though, it was a challenge getting it to bed during a period that included Christmas and New Year! That was indeed a challenge as every stakeholder involved had a different holiday shutdown schedule.

Oh, wow! Yes… I can imagine. Now… Stay with me here! I’m given to understand that the image of the Eiffel Tower at night has some rights limitations! Given that the fire station in Ghostbusters – and, by extension, this puzzle – is based on a real building, do you have to pay any sort of image rights on that?!
Interesting question! So there are a couple of things… First, if a building or other structure is part of public domain, there are usually no rights limitations. I think the Eiffel Tower at night has limitations because of the lighting, not the building!

Jean Théberge, Wrebbit, Ghostbusters, Film & TV, Toys & Games

Is that right?! That would make sense!
I think so… But in the case at hand, we have also adapted the ‘firehouse building’ to distinguish it from the ‘real building’. On top of that, since we were reproducing Ghostbusters creative elements and assets, our rights are limited and restricted to licensor and other stakeholder review and approval – and subject to terms and conditions of the license agreement.

A suitably interesting answer! Thank you. We need to wrap this up, Jean, but let’s give the product a bloody good plug! Who’s distributing this for you? where can people get a copy?
With our first production in mid-February, we were able to ship units to North America as well as Europe. Since Wrebbit has a Logistics hub in Belgium, it enabled our EU and UK distributors to get units in their respective warehouses earlier this week… Just in time for Frozen Empire’s theatrical release. In the UK, our Wrebbit3D puzzles are distributed by our friends at Coiledspring Games.

Ah, yes! Lovely people. Finally, Jean, I neglected to ask last time: what’s the most interesting object in your office or on your desk?
Apart from our team mascot – Super Dog KaChou, who wanders around the company cheering up and reducing stress among our dedicated crew of employees… You will also find our 27 licensed jigsaw puzzles from TOP licensed properties renowned worldwide!

A winning answer! Thank you, Jean.

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