With Disney’s brand new animated film “Raya and the Last Dragon” hitting cinemas and Disney+ Premier Access, Hasbro has released a wide selection of new toys featuring characters from the film including Raya, Sizu and many more.
Recently, I’ve been able to catch up with two of the members of the Design Team, Shin Young Park, Design Manager & Etan Wegner, Senior Product Designer, to discuss some of the new “Raya and the Last Dragon” products.
How excited are you to finally see Raya and the Last Dragon released in cinemas and on Disney+ Premier Access so kids can finally bring these characters to life with your toys?
Etan: We’re super excited! Kids and families are going to love this epic adventure. This story takes you on a magical journey into the fantasy world of Kumandra, and you’ll never believe the surprising twists and turns the story takes. At its core, the film really highlights Raya’s strength as a warrior, and the unique friendships she makes, in order to accomplish her mission and bring peace to Kumandra. I can’t wait to see how she and her fierce friends conquer every obstacle they encounter.
Shin: I am thrilled and working on toys for this movie was personally a special one. Since the beginning of this project, it was wonderful to see how amazing the Disney team turned inspiration from the people and cultures of Southeast Asia into a new story, new characters, and a beautiful fantasy design. Throughout the design process, hearing and seeing art and music inspired from Indonesia where I grew up was emotional for me. I know the final movie is going to be visually beautiful and packed with humor and action for the whole family. I’m especially excited for Raya since she is the first Southeast Asian Disney Princess. Our team and I are honored to be part of bringing more diverse characters into the toy market and I hope kids around the world find her aspirational. She is a fierce warrior with a really cute side kick, Tuk Tuk!
How far in advance did you start to prepare the Raya and the Last Dragon collection?
Etan: We always connect as early as possible with the team at Disney to learn about the film, the storylines, and the many characters that’ll come to life in the toy aisle. The exciting part about early development ensures the toys that we design celebrate the coolest and best movie
moments that we know kids are bound to love.
Shin: We typically start ideating early when designing toys tied to entertainment, working closely with the Disney team to brainstorm ideas and build a line. We also have close partnership with filmmakers for regular check-ins to ensure what we are developing is aligning with the latest key scenes from the movie.
Who was your favourite character from Raya and the Last Dragon to work on?
Etan: I have two favorites! First, I’d have to say Sisu! Did you know she can take the form of both a dragon AND a human?! Just wait until you see her magically change back and forth. And she’s played by the incredible Awkwafina, which makes her hilarious, relatable, kind, and full of heart. And my second favorite is Baby Noi. She’s simultaneously cute and sneaky. Seeing her meddle and mastermind with the cute Ongis couldn’t be funnier.
Shin: I love Tuk Tuk. Not only he is such a unique character/animal, but he is also such a loyal friend to Raya and when he was a baby, oh – my goodness! He is so huggable and cute! His speed and ability to transform is so unexpected, making him one of the coolest characters from this movie! When you have a chance, check it out in our small doll line!
What is your favourite product from this Raya and the Last Dragon range?
Etan: My favorite product would have to be the hand-held Baby Tuk Tuk. He’s adorable and comes with a soft leaf blanket, food pieces, and the cutest little bug friend. In the movie, he’s the sweetest sidekick to Raya – both curious and playful – which plays perfectly into how you can feed him little fruit pieces, wrap him up in a blanket, and hear his sweet sound effects when you give him a small squeeze!
How do you go about bringing a new character to a life as a new toy?
Etan: We start by thinking about all the qualities of the character, from their hairstyle to the cool outfits they wear to the exact look of their features in the movie. We work closely with our sculpting partners to design the look of the figures to match the movie characters, and that involves a close partnership with the filmmakers and Disney teams to accomplish. We create many iterations of the design, evolving it over and over until we get the look just right! It’s an exciting process that takes time, but really pays off when we see the characters on shelves look just like the characters in the movie.
Shin: I am so lucky to be working with a team of superb toy designers. We have a few tactics for bringing a new character to toy form. First, thanks to our Disney partners, our team will gather all the insights and understanding of the story, personalities of each character, character dynamics, and pick the key story scenes that kids will enjoy reenacting. Then, we brainstorm ideas to create the most innovative experience we can bring to kid’s homes. Once we have concepts that we believe in, we send the product details to sculpting experts as well as engineers who we work with as a team to bring the idea to life. The best part is test-playing together. We ensure the products are fun and beautiful!
Will there be any new Raya and the Last Dragon merchandise coming from Hasbro following the film’s release?
Etan: There are numerous products on shelves right now for kids to buy before the movie’s release on March 5th! We’re so thrilled to have such an exciting lineup of product launching this year that we know kids are going to love, highlighting so many awesome movie moments and conveying all the spirit inspired by these characters. Stay tuned for more from Hasbro’s Raya and The Last Dragon product line this year!
Shin: We are so excited to share what’s to come from this line later this year – stay tuned!
Will you be watching Raya and the Last Dragon at the cinema or at home on Disney+ Premier Access?
Etan: I’ll be watching at home on Disney+ with Premier Access (additional fee required).
Shin: I am currently staying in Korea and will be able to watch the film a day early, at an IMAX theater! So excited to watch it on the big screen!
Check out this video where I take a look at some of these new “Raya and the Last Dragon” toys:
You can pick up these “Raya and the Last Dragon” toys at most major retailers including Entertainment Earth
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.