Two weeks back we stared down the barrel of the loaded gun that was Toy Fair 2015 and took a look at some of the coolest toys we’ll be seeing hit the market over the course of the next year! This week we had the privilege of sitting down with the Marketing Supervisor for Diamond Select Toys, Zach Oat, to talk about all of the awesome new products they’ll be releasing for the duration of the year! If you saw the lengthy list of new stuff they’ve got coming up, we’re sure you’ve got a question or two for Zach, so hopefully you’ll find all of your answers in our exclusive interview below!
Science Fiction (SF): First off, thanks for taking the time to talk to us! We know how crazy things have been over the last week or two with Toy Fair 2015 going on, and of course the post convention wrap up!
Zach Oat (ZO): Of course! It’s funny, because afterwards it seems like you get into this lull of “oh man there isn‘t so much work to do!”, until you realize you’ve still got the same amount of work to do- just not necessarily all at once!
SF: Of course! So last week at Toy Fair you and the team at Diamond Select Toys announced a ton of cool new licenses and products that you haven’t shown before! There’s just so much to talk about! I know back at New York Comic Con in October you talked about some of the new licensed brands like ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ and ‘Predator’, but you had yet to show off any of the products from these lines until now! Plus you’ve just announced the ‘DC Animated Universe’ license, which is fantastic, plus you’ve announced the ‘Gotham‘ license! And then you announced new pieces for your ongoing ‘Femme Fatales’ line right?
ZO: Yes! We’ve been doing the ‘Femme Fatales’ line for four or five years now, and this year we’re introducing DC Animated women into it! Over the years we’ve done a lot of comic book characters like Lady Death, Kabuki, Darkchylde, and Atom Eve in this line. We’ve even done some original characters like ‘Little Red’, who was sort of our take on ‘Little Red Riding Hood’. We did our riff on ‘Alice in Wonderland’ as well, and actually did another ‘Alice’ statue for the ‘Alice: The Madness Returns’ video game! We also did a ‘Star Trek’ Femme Fatale of ‘Seven of Nine’, but for the most part this line has been comic characters and some of our original creations. Adding in the DC Animated characters is kind of a huge “game changer” for us with this line, although we are still going to do other comic characters like our upcoming Cassie Hack statue from ‘Hack/Slash’, but the DC Animated stuff is just too cool not to do!
SF: So now you guys have the license to what from DC Animated? Let’s do the list of what we’ve seen so far- ‘Batman The Animated Series’, ‘Superman The Animated Series’ and ‘Justice League Unlimited’? Are you limited to those?
ZO: Yeah, I mean I’m not sure of all the different variations within that, but I think we have all the DC ‘Batman Animated’ looks, although I’m not sure about ‘Batman Beyond’, and for ‘Justice League’ I’m pretty sure we’ve got both ‘Justice League’ and “Justice League Unlimited’. I’m pretty sure it’s “all encompassing”, but you’ve got to start somewhere! We really wanted to do the original ‘Batman’ stuff because those looks are so timeless. And that’s not to say anything against ‘New Adventures’ looks or anything, but the original looks are what made us really fall in love with the series.
SF: Of course! And ‘Batman The Animated Series’ has been having a huge resurgence in popularity in the last year or two especially, which is kind of crazy because we’re coming up on the twentieth anniversary of the show’s finale! Do you guys have the license for just statues and busts? Or does your license allow for more?
ZO: Well we’re making the resin busts and vinyl banks, like we did for the ‘Batman Classic’ TV series line. You may even have noticed The Joker and Harley Quinn banks on display at Toy Fair on a lower shelf! They don’t have pedestal bases, so their waists are flush with the floor, plus they’re vinyl banks, so they can retail for $23 instead of $60, which makes them much more collectible!
SF: That’s actually something I really love about what you guys do! With the vinyl banks, they’re these larger scale busts that would normally retail for a fairly high price point, but because they’re vinyl they cost maybe a fifth of what something in that size would cost were it made of resin. They all look fantastic, and they don’t cost an arm and a leg to pick up, so you’re able to collect more of them while staying on a budget!
ZO: Our factory really does an amazing job executing the paint jobs that we give them for these guys too! We start from a fairly detailed paint job, and it’s a very rare case where I see the factory having trouble trying to replicate the original paint schemes. The upcoming ‘Predator’ vinyl bust might prove to be a bit of a challenge, as the paint scheme is amazing complex, and I’m very curious to see how that will come out in it’s final form! But for the most part our bust banks come out looking pretty detailed with great paint applications, so for the price you really can’t beat them.
The resin busts are all really nice as well! We’re going to be doing some PVC statues, the ‘Femme Fatales’, for the ‘Batman’, ‘Justice League’, and ‘Superman’ lines as well. As a matter of fact, we are soliciting our new Supergirl PVC statue to retailers right now! She’s already up for pre-order, and we’re going to keep going with the ‘Batman’ girls, and Wonder Woman and so on. We’ve got a pretty extensive line planned for the entire DC Animated Universe.
You may have also noticed on display we had some new metal bottle openers that are a part of our DC license, like a ‘Green Lantern’ Power battery shaped bottle opener, or the Flash symbol, or The Joker! These should be really cool for DC fans. We even have a porcelain cookie-jar coming out for ‘Superman’! That’ll be much like the one we did for the ‘Batman Classic’ TV series as well. It’s a lot of the same categories, and unfortunately the only thing not really allowed, but much with the ‘Batman Classic’ series, are poseable action figures; so we won’t be doing anything like that for ‘Justice League’. At least not for the foreseeable future.
SF: So that means we won’t be seeing any DC Comics ‘Selects’ or ?
ZO: Correct, although we will be seeing both ‘Selects’ and ‘Minimates’ for the live action ‘Gotham’ TV series line! We’re working on a few other categories for ‘Gotham’ as well, categories we’ve done other stuff with before that we feel would work well.
SF: That’s still fantastic news that we’ll be getting ‘Gotham’ Minimates! I know there’s been a lot of people begging for you guys to bring back DC Minimates for years, and I can only imagine how well Minimates based on ‘Batman The Animated Series’ or any of the DC Animated Universe shows would sell!
ZO: The desire for DC Animated Minimates is always there. There are always people asking us for more DC Minimates, and I’m hoping that maybe us “dipping our toes” into the ‘Gotham’ universe will be at least a temporary relief for people who are dying for more DC Minimates!
‘Batman Classic’ TV series was out first license directly working with Warner Brothers, because we did the original DC Minimates through DC Direct. So now we’re slowly building a working relationship with DC, and maybe things will change in the future, but right now we’re just happy to be doing anything with Warner Brothers or DC related products!
SF: It sounds like there’s potential for so much more coming! It’s really exciting and everything you guys have shown off so far from the DC Animated line looks great! So bringing it back to ‘Gotham’, with the ‘Select’ figures, you’ve announced Gordon, Penguin, and Selina Kyle figures. Can we expect more characters in the not too distant future? Or are we waiting to see how the line does first?
ZO: I think it’s safe to say we’re planning to do a second series, and I’m pretty confident the first series is going to do really well. I think doing Bullock is kind of a “no brainer”, we just went with those three characters for the first series, but Bullock is almost certainly in the cards for Series 2 of our ‘Gotham Select’ line. He’s more or less a “lock”, depending on how things go. Chuck Terciera, the President of Diamond Select Toys, does all of our line-planning, and he’s been making toys for two decades. He knows what he wants to see, and he knows what fans want to see! He knows the shows and watches the shows, so he’s almost certainly got the line planned out in his head, if not already paper.
SF: Fantastic! Stepping back a bit to the ‘Gotham’ Minimates line, will those be released in the standard figure 2-packs, or in figure 4-pack box sets like many of the other more recent releases based on movies or television series?
ZO: It all sort of depends on the license itself, whether we do a series of 2-packs versus a series of 4-pack box sets. If it’s something we feel can maintain more than one series of 2-packs, like ‘Ninja Turtles’ or ’Nightmare Before Christmas’ for example, then we’ll do the 2-packs. But otherwise, box sets are the way we go! ‘Gotham’ is going to be a series of 4–pack box sets, although we might actually be doing an exclusive 2-pack for San Diego Comic Con this summer! For the most part, the 4-packs are the route we’re going to go with these, with the first set including Gordon, Essen, Black Mask, and Nygma. That’ll be the first set, and we’re hoping to mix in a lot of the other main cast members in future sets.
SF: These all sound great! It sounds like you guys are really putting a lot of effort into your new DC licensed products! You mentioned earlier that you’ve even got the bottle openers and the cookie jar for DC, but outside of DC over the last few years you guys have really been going the extra mile with cool new products like licensed pizza cutters and silicon gelatin/ice-cube molds!
ZO: Yes! We’ve got a new ‘Deadpool’ gelatin mold coming, and we’ve also got stuff like the pizza cutters and bottle openers and the cookie jars! The cookie jars are relatively new, we may have made some long ago before I was with the company, but as far as during my time here, and I’ve been here since 2011, they’re new to me! I don’t think we’ve done them in quite a while! Production samples of the ‘ALIEN’ and ‘Batman’ ones were on display at Toy Fair and looked great!
SF: So soon it’s going to be like we can have our very own fully licensed Diamond Select kitchen-set?
ZO: Oh yeah totally! We’ve also been moving in to glassware too! It’s really fun stuff and the glassware is definitely stuff that we hadn’t seen before. I mean over the years, people have done bottle openers of stuff, but none were really to the same extent or really to the quality we wanted to do. The Silicon ice trays is another thing that we saw that other licensed companies were having success with and we have so many licenses in our stable that it just made sense for us to expand into that. Especially working with Diamond Comic Distributors, we have a customer base that includes almost all comic shops, and a lot of different kinds of stores that carry this kind of product. It just made sense to offer the customers something a little different from the usual fare.
The glassware is something we are definitely trying to do something a little different with. We call that product line ‘Reel Ware’, in that it is product that might exist in the world of the movie it’s from. So we did ‘Kadies Club Pecos’ pint glasses for ‘Sin City’, because it’s sort of like THE pint glass you might get served in if you were at ‘Cadies Club Pecos’ from the film. We did ‘Biff Tannen’s Pleasure Paradise’ and ‘Café 80’s’ from ‘Back to the Future II’ too! And you may have noticed these on display at Toy Fair, but we’re doing Fast Food style glasses for ‘Bluntman and Chronic’, but not like for ‘Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back’, but for the fictional ‘Blunt man and Chronic’ film from within that movie universe. We’ve even got the ‘Moobys’ logo on the glass, so they’re like a fast food promotion that would have been released as a promotional item during that films theatrical release. We’ve been doing some other things too like poker sets, and Zippo lighters, that are things that you would be able to get inside the world of these movies. It’s for the people who don’t necessarily want to have a ‘Back to the Future’ logo on something, but would want to have the logo of something from ‘Back to the Future’ on something. So it’s one more layer for people who really know the films, and want to show how much they love them.
SF: So they’re sort of for ‘meta’ collectors who are maybe a bit more mature and won’t necessarily want to have branded cups or what have you, but that do love those brands and want to represent that love in a way that feels more real and a little more subtle so it’s more passable socially?
ZO: Yeah, and that’s nothing against someone who would want to have like a tee shirt that has a big ‘Back to the Future’ movie logo on it, but say you could just have the tee shirt… and mind you, we aren’t getting into making tee shirts at this time, but say you could have a tee shirt for a business from within the world of the film that maybe doesn‘t exist in the real world; You know what it is and get the reference and maybe not everybody else does. Other fans will recognize it, and it’s kind of a way to show off your knowledge and love of the films.
SF: It’s really nice to have that sort of layer of subtlety to your collections for some people too! So I know you were saying you’ve got some Zippo lighters and the ‘Mooby’ glasses coming, but I think one replica ‘real ware’ item that people are asking about most is the new ‘Bluntman’ Hat Replica? I feel like people have been begging for that thing since like 1995!
ZO: Honestly, I didn’t even know there was a demand for it until I saw it! Then it was immediately like “why hasn’t anyone done this yet?”! The ‘Marty McFly’ replica hat that we make from ‘Back to the Future II’ is one of our best selling items of all time. Every time we do a run of them, it sells out almost instantly, so we just keep making more! It’s just a lot of fun to have, especially now that it’s 2015 in real life. SO when we saw this opportunity to make a new hat that was from a world that’s so popular like ‘Bluntman and Chronic’, it just made sense! We’ve got a great relationship with Miramax and Kevin Smith, so we’ve been putting out some great stuff from those movies and even just from Kevin Smith’s library of characters and creations. The prototype for the ‘Bluntman’ hat looks pretty good, it’s deceptively simple! It’s a really fun piece and I feel like even people who aren’t into ‘Jay & Silent Bob’ would probably love it because it’s essentially a baseball cap with Batman ears on it.
SF: So I know Diamond Select has been doing a lot of products for ‘Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back’ and ‘Clerks’, but what about Kevin Smith’s other films? Does your license cover them at all?
ZO: Our relationship is actually with Miramax, but we do work directly with Kevin on some stuff that isn’t specifically part of any of the films.
SF: Like the upcoming ’Comic Book Men’ Minimates?
ZO: That’s actually with AMC! We’re working directly with AMC for the ‘Comic Book Men’ Minimates, which is a new license for us. There are just a few new products that are sort of “from the mind of Kevin Smith” that we are working on, but for the most part these products are done through Miramax, so the license only really includes ‘Clerks’ and ‘Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back’. Right now we don’t really have the rights to the other Kevin Smith films, but the two we have access to have given us a wealth of ideas for characters and product ideas that we can make and still really want to make! We aren’t feeling like we need to move on yet, but the option to move on is certainly there. We work with most of the other studios. I don’t know if we’ve done anything with The Weinstein Brothers, but Universal we’ve worked with and might be able to talk to about some of those other movies.
SF: There’s also the fact that with ‘Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back’ you’ve sort of got a “back door” to use most of Kevin’s major characters, as many if not all of them made some kind of cameo appearance in that film.
ZO: Yes, I believe that is where everybody sort of shows up! I don’t know if we’re going to do much more necessarily with that world right now, I know we’re releasing our second Minimates box-set from that film soon which features Will Ferrell’s character, and for now that might be it for the Minimates. In terms of action figures, these characters appearances might not change too much for us. But you never know! We may end up expanding, or we may end up just digging deeper into what we already have! The ‘Clerks’ action figures are just starting up now. We just solicited the first two and will be soliciting the next two soon! There are definitely more characters we want to do from both of the movies, so we’ll see how that goes.
SF: Speaking of expanding lines, someone had actually asked me to ask you if there were any more Minimates planned for ‘Lost in Space’? You guys released an exclusive 2-pack at SDCC a year or two back but haven’t done much with them since!
ZO: I honestly don’t think it was ever intended to be much more than what we have already released for that license as far as Minimates for that brand. The main reason we had gotten that license was to make the electronic B9 Robot! That 10-inch robot will be coming out in just a couple of months actually! The robot itself was the main reason we had obtained the ‘Lost in Space’ license, and the Minimate 2-pack was sort of the icing on the cake for us. We also did a few metal bottle openers as well of the Jupiter-2 ship and the B9 Robot. I don’t know if we’re ever going to go back and do the other characters from the show as Minimates. There’s a bit of a niche audience for that line so it’s kind of a hard sell. There hasn’t been a lot going on with that property for a while so we aren’t sure how much the audience would be there for a full line like that. It might actually be the oldest property we have licensed aside from the ‘Universal Monsters’.
SF: Speaking of which, Diamond Select has a new wave of your ‘Universal Monsters Select’ coming out this year as well right?
ZO: Yes! We’ve got completely new versions of ‘The Mummy’ and ‘The Wolfman’ coming! The originals were sculpted by, I want to say Gabriel Marquez for ‘The Wolfman‘, and I’m less sure about ’The Mummy’. The new ones will be completely poseable, while the originals were pretty static. The ‘Mummy’ we’ve actually been reissuing since then is actually asleep and has his arms crossed! We did an “awake” one at Toys R Us, and we had done the first ’Wolfman’ exclusively at Toys R Us, so those have both been sold out for around five years! So now we’re bringing them back with new bases, new sculpts, and new articulation! I think our sculptor Jean St Jean did a great job with these. It’s the ‘Imhotep’ Mummy by the way, featuring Boris Karloff’s likeness. These two figures will hopefully be coming out right before Halloween this year.
SF: And if I remember correctly, alongside these two figures, you’ll have another brand new original design character coming out with that wave?
ZO: Yes! Do you remember last year we had our new ‘Van Helsing’ figure? Jean (St Jean, Sculptor) and Chuck (Terciera, President of Diamond Select Toys) came up with their own concept for a take on ‘Van Helsing’ last year, and it did really well! This year we wanted to do another one, so we did another Monster Hunter in the form of Lucy Westenra, based very loosely on the character from the original ‘Dracula’ novel! She’s bene remained as having survived her attack from Dracula, and becoming a Monster hunter in the vein of Van Helsing. They’re both sort of “steam Punk Victorian Era’ warriors, and they’ve both got various weapons. She’s going to come with this really cool stone archway base, and I think she came out looking pretty darn cool!
SF: Now, not to jump subjects too far, but speaking of spooky figures in the ‘Select’ line, we’ve got the all new ‘Ghostbusters’ line coming from Diamond Select this year right?
ZO: Yes! We’re aiming to have those released towards the end of the year, as the first series of three figures. In total we’re planning to do at least twelve figures from the first ‘Ghostbusters’ film, wit the line up being four waves of three figures each. Each figure is set to come packed with diorama parts as their base, so if you collect them all you can build the final battle scene on the roof from the end of the first film! There will be a few repeats of the ‘Ghostbusters’ characters as well in this line, but we really wanted to do them in different outfits so they’ll still be different figures. There will also be secondary characters like Dana and Louis too! I’m sure you’ll be able to put together a pretty cool diorama with the whole rooftop display put together! We also might do a few paint variations of certain characters that might be available elsewhere besides comic shops, but those will essentially be repeats of the same parts. Just hearing about some of the stuff that’s currently in the planning stages for this line is incredibly exciting!
This concludes the first half of our extensive and exclusive interview with Diamond Select Toys Zach Oat! Be sure to follow Diamond Select Toys on Twitter @CollecDST, and stay tuned to ScienceFiction.com for the Second Part of this interview, as well as all the latest Diamond Select Toys news and reviews!