We chat with Dov from DKE Toys. As long as we’ve been going to SDCC, DKE always has some of the best collectibles at the con. Collaborating with artists they bring some of the most unique toys you’ll ever see.
What do you look forward to most at SDCC?
SDCC has changed a lot for me over the years. When I started going in the early 90s Comic Con was a treasure trove of goodness. It was the most exciting event of the year. This was before the pop culture boom when there were fewer full time retailers. The dealers that did the show would empty out years of accumulated crap from their garages and I went home every year with a car full of gold. Walking the show you could meet Frank Miller and other legends who were hanging out. They would talk to you and sign your books.
Over the years the show changed into a corporate trade show for entertainment companies and the cost to do the show went up exponentially. Consequently you have all the smaller dealers (the ones that are left) bringing their most expensive stuff and mostly new product. There are no real deals to be had and very little in the way of vintage collectibles. In addition the internet has made it so that $5 book you really need is easier purchased online then at the show anyway.
As our business grew and the focus became Designer Toy distribution there wasn’t much to look forward to other than sore feet and sleep deprivation. We had an entire aisle of booths and would set up toys for over 200 companies. Since DKE Toys sold the distribution part of the business to Disburst Ltd in 2016 we have had a smaller footprint and have focused on the artist made resin action figures. Its very rewarding introducing the work of these new artists to the world and seeing the fan’s reactions.
What is your most memorable SDCC moment?
My first con was in 1993 and Topps had released their Star Wars Galaxy trading card set just before the show that year. They commissioned over 50 artists to do new Star Wars art and I lost my mind. We really had nothing new content wise from Star Wars in the 10 years since Return of the Jedi came out. I bought my first piece of original art there. It was by one of my favorite painters John J. Muth and I blew my entire savings on this $900 piece. A few weeks after the show I got a call from Lucasfilm and George wanted to buy it for $3000!!! I did good. It still hangs in our stairwell today.
How does SDCC compare to the other cons you attend?
We do about 3 or 4 conventions a year now and nothing compares to SDCC in scope, size, or who attends. Its an international show now and people from all over the world do their best to get into that hall. It is mostly industry folks who are into what we do. Most of our customers work in comics, animation, toys, video games or film/tv.
Your collectibles are always very unique and interesting, how do you decide what goes the con and what doesn’t?
That’s the key. They have to be unique and interesting or they are not worth offering. Artists pitch me ideas all the time. I can commit to 10-20 of them to make small limited hand made editions. I tell them that this has to be their best work and generally they get more attention from a release at SDCC than just about anything else they do. We are basically setting up a mini art installation at each show and presenting them to many people who have never seen their work before.
Do you have any personal favorites that you’ve held onto?
I hold on to one of most of them so its all becomes a blur but the best art is the kind that punches you in the gut and that experience is different for everyone. I can tell you that some of my favorites no one has cared about and some of my least favorite were best sellers. What do I know?
Last year, you had Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump figures, was there any interesting comments or backlash?
Surprisingly most of the reactions were very positive. Even ardent Trump supporters bought the Darth Trump figure. Most people hate politicians even the ones they vote for. No surprise there. I think the best thing that happened was that they all sold out and were on ebay for $300-$500 and Special Ed Toys and Timebandits won a Designer Toy Award for it!!!
DKE sometimes gets a little controversial, was there ever a figure you felt went to far?
DKE doesn’t get controversial. We are just selling art at a convention. Some of the art and artists on the other hand push the limits but that is what good artists do. We have a figure this year called Junkie the Krusty Clown by Dollar $lice Bootlegs. I think some will think its in bad taste but no one is forcing anyone to buy it and children don’t buy $65 handmade action figures so it’s never really a concern.
What’s the one thing at SDCC you recommend everyone do?
It’s a little different for retailers. I think the show floor is open for over 40 hours over 5 days and we have set up and tear down in addition not to mention the months of preparation beforehand. I personally have a policy of getting some food after the show each night and going to bed. No extra curricular activities for me. I get invited to multiple events, parties, concerts, movie premiers, art shows, etc and I just can’t stay out until 3am and be up at 7 and do my job. I’m old…
For the attendees I would say drink water, wash your hands, and try to eat when possible. Nerd flu sucks!
CHECK OUT DKE TOYS AT BOOTH 5045!