Jordi Burgues, Product Manager at SD Toys, on creating puzzles for Descent!, Twilight Imperium – and more
Jordi Burgues, you’re the Product Manager at SD Toys. What does SD Toys do? What does your job involve?
We produce all kinds of licensed merchandise – and we need to find the right licenses. Once we’ve secured the licenses, we need to design all the products and find the right factories to offer the best quality. I supervise a team that makes that possible.
Interesting work. How did you come to be in the industry?
Long ago I started working as stores manager at Norma Comics in Barcelona. It’s still going strong – it’s huge! It carries a lot of comics – mainly in Spanish. They also do a lot of figures, posters, t-shirts and other accessories.
And how long ago were you there?
Oh, a long time! Around 20 years ago, I came to SD Distribuciones and – shortly after that – we created SD Toys.
So if you weren’t doing this, what might you be doing now?!
Honestly, I don’t know! I think you’re the first person to ask me this – I’ve never thought about it.
That’s no bad thing – presumably you’ve never needed to know…
No, that’s true. I guess I’m very lucky, really… Lucky to do something cool and lucky that I’ve been able to do it for so long.
SD Toys recently entered a licensing partnership to produce jigsaws for Asmodee Entertainment. How did that come about?
The main business of SD Distribuciones is the distribution of comics. Besides this, we distribute anything that can be interesting for a comic store… Art books, figures, all kind of merchandise – and board games.
Including Asmodee titles?
Yes, we’ve been distributing them for years; we have a very good partnership with them in Spain. At some point, somebody pointed out that Asmodee’s designs are very cool – and that it’d be great to do them as puzzles… And here we are!
You must be spoilt for choice with the IP! With which properties are you working?
We’re starting with some beautiful titles: Arkham Horror, Twilight Imperium, Keyforge!, Descent!, Legend of the Five Rings and Dobble.
What makes that IP exciting to work on?
In this case – for me – the artwork! You don’t really need to know the games to like the puzzles. The artwork is so cool that anybody can love them. Of course, if you like the board games, it makes them even better.
You said earlier how important it is to find the right license. What makes a license right, do you think? And how does Asmodee fit the criteria?
Every company has their own ‘right’ licenses. We mostly work with classic licenses: Back to the Future, Gremlins, Jaws, Scarface… Even some newer licenses such as Dragon Ball and Harry Potter have become classics. Asmodee is a little different – in all the right ways – and because of our partnership with Asmodee Spain and our distribution of board games, we think that it can be a good fit.
How do you go about developing the raw assets of a property into a jigsaw? By which I mean: what needs to happen to make images work as jigsaws?
Usually, the main issue is the shape and the measurements of the artwork. Besides this, puzzles are quite easy to design. Some other products are a lot more complicated, but when it comes to puzzles, I think the most important thing is to choose the right image. That might sound obvious but sometimes what you think is the best image isn’t really… It’s just your opinion.
And is that easy to do? To separate your taste from Asmodee’s best interests?
To be honest, I’d never do a puzzle with my favourite images, at least to start. We need to choose the best images for the whole public, not what we like for ourselves – and when you have as many options as there are with Arkham Horror, it makes it very hard. The artwork is awesome! It’s so different, and that makes it very hard to choose.
So how important is creativity in what you do?
It’s very important. We have a supercool team of designers that know what to do and how. I said earlier that to do a puzzle is kind of easy because the most important thing is the measurement of the artwork. But even with that, it’s not so simple. Also, there’s a part of the process that’s almost as important as the puzzle itself: the packaging…
Not just anybody can do cool packaging. Think about it: the packaging has to be just as attractive to the consumer as the puzzle itself. When it comes to creativity, having a good team here is super important.
Fantastic. We need to wrap this up, Jordi. Before we do, what’s the one question I could’ve asked you today but didn’t?
Hmmm. I don’t know! But as this is the first time we’ve done any kind of merchandise based on board games, I do wonder if gamers like to do puzzles…
And what do you reckon the answer is?!
I hope so!
Well, I hope so too! I also hope you’ll come back and let us know sometime, Jordi. Thanks for joining us!
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