We’re back with the second half of our exclusive in depth interview with Zach Oat, Marketing Supervisor for Diamond Select Toys! In the first half of our interview, Zach talked to us about all of Diamond Select Toys new DC Comics products, Universal Monsters, Ghostbusters, Kevin Smith and more! Now we’re back to talk about all of the rest of the cool stuff Diamond Select has in store for us for the rest of 2015, and if you’ve seen the lengthy list of new stuff they’ve got coming up, we’re sure you’ve got a question or two for Zach yourself! Hopefully you’ll find your answers in part two of our exclusive interview below!
SF: Picking up right where we left off, the Diamond’s signature ‘Select’ line has been going kind of crazy this year with new additions and expansions coming! You’ve pretty much always had the ‘Marvel Select’ line…
ZO: Yes! That line has been running since 2002 and it’s still going strong! The original figures were… well the line was a very different beast at that time. We were working with Toy Biz and were focusing a lot more on sculpt over articulation, and we still do that to a certain extent. But we’ve also adapted to what the consumers want to see more of! I personally think some of the stuff we had on display at Toy Fair this year was some of the best figures we’ve ever produced for the line!
SF: Well yes, you just premiered the new ’Doctor Strange’ figure right?
ZO: Yes! That was another Jean sculpt! His ‘Carnage’ was on hand at Toy Fair as well! I’m a big fan of that figure, and everyone loved the ‘Venom’ he did so everyone wants his ‘Carnage’! Cable was on display too, sculpted by Phil Ramirez, who sculpted many of the classic Toy Biz ‘Marvel Legends’ figures! We also had Phil’s ‘Zombie Sabretooth’ on display! Plus Gentle Giants ‘Antman’ from the upcoming film, who looks really great. And of course the three ‘Avengers’ figures that are coming up, ‘Black Widow’, ‘Hulk’, and ‘Thor’! ‘Hulk’ and ‘Thor’ are slightly modified from previous releases, but Gentle Giant’s ‘Black Widow’ figure is truly amazing! I know a lot of people have been asking for it, and I’m excited to get my hands on one myself! It’ll be great to have the full ‘Avengers’ team for the first time before it gets even bigger!
SF: I can imagine how exciting it must be to finally complete the team! It’s going to get harder with all the characters they keep shoving into the movies these days, which actually brings me to my next question! I noticed you’re actually doing two separate waves of ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ Minimates instead of just the one?
ZO: Technically we’re actually doing three assortments! We’ve done double-waves for movie lines in the past, but we haven’t done one in a while! We have one wave coming out before the movie, which will be at Comic Shops and at Toys R Us with each having their own exclusive sets packed in. Then we’re going to have a series of blind-bags that are mostly Ultron variations and Iron-Man variations, plus the exclusive ‘Baron Strucker’ Minimate! This is actually going to be our first Marvel blind-bag assortment! Then we’ll have the second full wave of 2-packs coming to both Comic Shops and Toys R Us with each having their own exclusive 2-packs as well as a few shared sets. There may actually even be a fourth thing that we do for ‘Age of Ultron’, but we’ll have to see. Oh! And we’re doing a box-set for ‘Ant-Man’!
SF: So for ‘Ant-Man’ we’re getting a box-set instead of a full wave? Who will be packed in the box-set?
ZO: Yeah, since it was just the one hero and we’re going sort of crazy with ‘Avengers’ we decided it’d be better to just do one figure 4-pack box-set for that line. The set should include Scott Lang Ant-Man, Hank Pym in a business suit, Hope Van Dyne, and Yellowjacket.
SF: Well it’s great to hear that we’re still getting the full main cast of characters! I keep seeing all of these movie lines announced for ‘Ant-Man’ that are just producing ‘Ant-Man’ himself with none of the other characters from the film! You might actually be the only one making everybody!
ZO: I mean, I haven’t read a script or anything, but I feel like we got most of the main characters here in this one set. The only one we don’t have is an Ant! You’d be surprised how many people have asked me if we’re going to be making a Minimate Ant! It doesn’t even have to be for the movie, we could theoretically do a comic styled Ant-Man with a larger Ant as a vehicle for him!
SF: Speaking of comic styled Marvel Minimates, the new Toys R us Exclusive Series 19 just hit stores this month right? Do you have any preliminary plans for Series 20 yet?
ZO: We do have Series 20 of the Toys R Us Exclusive waves done! They’re designed, although I don’t think they’ve been produced yet, and they should be hitting Toys R Us Stores this Spring or Summer! It’s going to represent a little bit of a change in the way we do things for Toys R Us. I can’t talk much about the change yet, I’m not quite ready to drop that bomb, but lets just say it’s going to be a little different. The next Toys R us wave is going to be something special, and it isn’t going to overlap with any specialty assortment. Hopefully we’re going to announce more information on that soon, and once we do, determine when it’ll be hitting stores. I think it’ll be really cool and a lot of people are going to like it! I’m sure there will be some people who are still a little unsure about it, but I feel like for the most part it should go well.
SF: Well with all the new ‘Avengers’ waves, plus the previously announced ‘X-men Vs The Brotherhood’ and ‘Axis’ waves, there’s always something new going on with Marvel Minimates!
ZO: There’s always some new event and new characters, or even just new costumes for classic characters, so it’s fairly easy to keep coming up with new figures to make! There are still plenty of classic characters that people want us to do and that we’d love to do as well! It’s all just a matter of finding room for classic style characters, modern style characters, and making them all work together in an assortment. If we can find a theme and go with it that’s usually the best way to do it!
SF: While we’re on the topic of Minimates, I wanted to make sure I brought up that Diamond Select has a new line of ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ Minimates coming this fall? We haven’t really seen much for the line until now at Toy Fair aside from the announcement that it was coming at NYCC 2014 and the preview ‘Jack’ figure that was given out during Halloween Comic Days last fall!
ZO: Yes! We’re going to have figure 2-packs at Comic Shops and at Toys R Us, with a few shared figures and a few exclusive figures. I think we’re hoping to do more than one series of these, although I’m not sure if box-sets are going to be a part of this line at this time. We want to make sure we do all of the main characters while also making sure we do all of the coolest and creepiest supporting monsters and creatures from the film! It’s a very unique cast and obviously there are a lot of unique parts for these figures since so many of them are so oddly shaped. I think it’ll be a very interesting line with a lot of variety to it.
SF: It’s definitely a very different looking wave!
ZO: It is! We’ve been getting into a lot of different stuff creatively lately. Like our new ‘Spongebob’ Minimates, which are all various shapes and sizes, and of course another line we just announced at Toy Fair was ‘The Muppets’, which we’ll be doing Minimates for! We’re doing figure 2-packs for that line, which so far look fantastic! I can’t wait until we get to really show them off, I think we’re long overdue for more ‘Muppets’ merchandise’!
SF: Will Diamond Select be doing ‘Muppets Select’ figures?
ZO: Yes! We will be doing ‘Select’ figures for ‘The Muppets’! They will be in scale with our other ‘Select’ lines. There’s a lot of general love for these characters that will probably never go away, and with good reason! There have been some great toys made for the ‘Muppets’ brand in the past, but I can’t think of anything aside from some plush toys that have been released in the last ten years, so we’re due for some new figures!
SF: I don’t think there have been any proper ‘Muppets’ figures since Palisades Toys went under over a decade ago!
ZO: And Palisades really set the bar for the ‘Muppets’ line, but we can’t live in their shadow forever! I collected all of those figures and certainly hope that we can live up to the expectation fans might have. The bar is set by the Palisades figures, but this is going to be a very important line for us so I think the figures we put out will be something that the fans will like!
SF: You guys are really getting into some interesting and different designs and sculpts! Even in the last few years we’ve had ‘Plants Vs Zombies’ and the ‘Battle Beasts’ Minimates line, and more recently ‘Godzilla Minimates and now ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’! SO you guys are really stressing the parameters of what you can do with a uniform mini block figure it seems/
ZO: The ‘Plants Vs Zombies’ figures were Plants, which did contain some Minimates parts, but a lot of people were saying “well are they Minimates? Are they accessories? What are they”, and it’s really up to your interpretation what they are. I think that whatever you consider them, the designers did an excellent job with them translating those designs! The ‘ALIENS’ ones that we’ve been doing are another one where it’s just a really great and fun figure to play with! They all have more or less the same structure, but it’s a great figure and we’re going to bring out a ton of variations of the design for that, along with all the different human characters from the first and second ’ALIEN’ movies.
SF: And you guys have officially announced ’Predator’ Minimates now?
ZO: We had those at Toy Fait this year, but unfortunately they were not allowed to be photographed just yet. But there will be a full wave of both 2-packs and single-packs for the ‘Predator’ Minimates line! There will be a little overlap, but you’ll get some more characters there weren’t in the 2-packs that are in the single packs, but we’re doing all three ‘Predator’ movies! So there’s going to be a lot of different versions and variations of the ‘Predator’ armor and designs!
SF: Oh that’s awesome! I wasn’t aware you had the license to all three films!
ZO: Yes! The first series has Dutch, it’s got Carl Weathers and Danny Glovers characters from the films, it’s got ‘Billy’ from the first film, and a couple of the guys from ‘Predators’, including Danny Trejo! I should be saying their character names, but I’m just completely spacing on what the names of some of these characters are right now. But this line is going to be a very interesting mix of characters from across that whole series of films! These three films should be enough to keep us going for a few series of Minimates.
SF: Speaking of a few series, I know that the second ‘Godzilla’ Minimates box-set was just released, are there any plans for further figures in that line?
ZO: I think we’re taking a break from that line at this point. I’m not sure how long of a break, and while we have some designs, we currently do not have a third set actively in development. We are still working on the vinyl banks for the ‘Godzilla’ brand. We just haven’t pulled the trigger on a third Minimates set yet.
SF: That’s too bad, the first few box-sets have been really fun designs! While we’re talking about fun designs, you guys just revealed the new wave of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Minimates right? Now that we’re on Series 2, are they going to be blind-bags again? Or something more traditional like the 2-packs we are seeing at Toys R Us of the first series now?
ZO: It’s going to be the same format as the first series, so there will be single pack blind bags at comic shops and specialty stores, and then 2-packs at Toys R Us. There will also be two characters that are in the specialty store series that are exclusive to that series, which are Bradford and Karai, and there will be two characters that are exclusive to the Toys R Us assortment, which are the Mutagen Variant of Donatello, and Anton Zech- who is the human form of Beebop! Those two will be available in the 2-packs, although not packed together. Both Donatello and the Mutagen Variant Donatello will be packed with a Norman (which are alien robot army builders that are disguised as normal people, for those who don’t know), so if you end up buying both you would just end up with a few Norman figures, which works out pretty well! There are going to be three Norman figures packed into a specialty case, so if you buy a case of those you’ll also end up with a small army of Normans! The Turtles themselves all come with a ton of gear, including alternate heads! So even if you end up with doubles of the Turtles, you’ll have multiple ways to display them. We’ve even included multiple looks for Karai and Casey Jones! I think the only character that doesn’t include an alternate look is Master Splinter, which is still just a figure we really wanted to get into this wave!
SF: Well of course! It’s really hard to have the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and not have a Splinter to go with them! He would relaly complete the series as far as “main cast” goes.
SO: Exactly! Plus we’ve already started working on Series 3, so we definitely have more places to go with this line! We’re going to be doing new outfits for the turtles, and we’re going to be doing a lot more mutant characters aside from the Turtles themselves, which I know a lot of people have been asking for.
SF: That’s awesome! Are you able to give us an idea of what other mutants we might be seeing in the next wave? Or is that all still very “hush-hush”?
ZO: Well, I can’t really say yet, but if you think of some of the big mutants in Turtles franchise history aside from the Turtles themselves, I think you’ll be seeing a few of them. I’ll admit I’m not as knowledgeable about the lore of the current television series, but I can say I definitely recognized the majority of the characters on the list and I’m pretty excited about seeing the designs for Series 3!
SF: Okay so I think the only thing we haven’t touched on yet are some of your upcoming ‘Star Trek’ products! Can you tell us a bit about what we’ve got coming up? It’s my understanding that you guys are reissuing a few classic Phaser replicas?
ZO: No, no, actually those are all brand new models! The ones we had on display at Toy Fair are all new Phasers. They’re always keeping our ‘Original Series’ model Phaser in production, as well as the Tri-Corder and Communicator, but we’re moving on to ‘Star Trek III’ Phasers! We did ‘Star Trek II’ Phasers a bit ago, so now we’re on to ‘Star Trek III’! There is also a variant that is based on a pre-production concept Phaser with a side-charger! After that we’re going to be doing the ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ Phaser. It’ll be the ‘Cobra head’ version of the ‘Next Generation’ Phaser. There are a few variations of that Phaser on the series, but we think we picked the version that most people would be excited to pick up. That one is still a ways off, it’s in early prototype stages yet, but it should hopefully be coming out by the end of the year or early next year. The “Star Trek III’ Phaser should probably be out in the Spring though! We also showed off two ships at Toy Fair this year, the Excelsior NX-2000 ship and the Enterprise-A!
SF: Oh wow, that was my mistake on the Phasers then. Do I remember correctly that I saw something about a new Romulan Bird Of Prey also?
ZO: Yes! That’s going to be our next newly sculpted ship! The Romulan Bird Of Prey! We have another newly sculpted ship class in development that is still not quite ready to reveal, and we unfortunately couldn’t allow photography of the Bird Of Prey yet at Toy Fair, but I’m hoping to show it off soon! We’re also going to be bringing back the USS Enterprise NX-01, which is the original ship that Art Asylum first put out when they started making electronic ships! We’re doing a whole new paint scheme for it, and we’re doing new sounds and new lights, so we’re excited to be bringing it back!
SF: That’s great! Now, aside from the replicas and the ships, you also have the new ‘Star Trek Select’ Worf figure coming soon?
ZO: Yes! That should be out in March or April! That’s the one with all the interchangeable arms, and interchangeable heads, and interchangeable weapons! Plus he comes with a floor with a Klingon symbol on it that can also become a wall, and a short flight of steps! You can put our previously released Picard figure with this set and recreate scenes from the Klingon Throne Room that happened on ‘The Next Generation’! We’re also doing a Worf vinyl bank, and we have a few other ‘The Next Generation’ Star Trek Select figures in development!
SF: Wow that all sounds great! ‘Star Trek’ is really a never ending brand for you guys it seems!
ZO: Yeah, it just keeps chugging along! We took over ‘Star Trek’ from Art Asylum and they were doing ‘Star Trek’ in 1999, so I think it’s been a long run and a lot of people have really stuck with us over the years through thick and thin, so we’re just trying to put out stuff that they would want to add to their collection.
SF: Not to sound too impartial here, but your stuff is usually ends up being some of the best quality stuff out on the market, so it’s great to see licenses like ‘Star Trek’ in hands like Diamond Selects!
ZO: That’s really great to hear, thank you! Not everybody is a fan of what we do, but we think that if we’re going to do something or have a license, that we want to try and make something that hasn’t been done before, or that nobody else is doing, or that is better than what has come before. Some people wonder if a license is something that we get “just to have”. but we get it because we want it. We’re all fans of the licenses we have, and it’s very rare that we would get a license just because we hear “other people like it”. We’re all big fans of the license we work on!
SF: Okay, last question, and this one is a bit more personal for you, but if you could pick just ONE item from all the products you and the team at Diamond Select Toys were showing off at Toy Fair to take home with you right away… like you could take it home with you today, what would it be?
ZO: Wow… the ONE thing I’d want to see first? I really think I want to get my hands on the Predator Minimates. Like when we were talking about all of these great new products, I didn’t really think about how big of a fan I was of the original ‘Predator’ movie. And the second movie! And even though I didn’t actually see it until not too long ago, I really enjoyed the ‘Predators’ movie as well! So I’m really excited to sort of play in that world and really see what the Predators can do! We do have unique head sculpts for the Predators, so I want to see how those come out. So far they look really cool in prototype form. I’m also really enjoying the ‘Godzilla’ vinyl bank line that we do, so even though the Minimates are great, I’m really excited to get my hands on the new Godzilla we’re doing that is based on his 1974 look! It’s a look that not a lot of people have done, so having him in a 12” style vinyl bank form to fight Mechagodzilla will be very cool!
With the veritable floodgates opening and a tsunami of cool stuff coming out over the next year from Diamond Select Toys, it sounds like Mr. Oat is going to have his hands full for a while getting them all out to us! Be sure to follow Diamond Select Toys on Twitter @CollecDST, and stay tuned to ScienceFiction.com for all the latest Diamond Select Toys news and reviews!