We spoke with Zach Oat from Diamond Select Toys. DST has been bringing high quality PVC statues to SDCC and continues on with that tradition this year. We highly recommend you check out their booth at 2607.
One of the many reasons we love interviewing Diamond Select is your exclusives. You’re known for your highly detailed PVC Statues… Can you tell us what you have this year and how do you decide what makes the cut and what doesn’t?
When we plan out our products for the year, we try to make a list of possible variations for each piece: costume changes, unmasked versions, etc. That way, we have exclusive variants we can offer to different retailers, or use for conventions. Often, they’re sculpted at the same time, so if the original piece does well, we have a follow-up piece we can move ahead with.
Our Green and Red Hulk dioramas have done well, being two big guys at a low price, so we’re bringing a Savage Grey Hulk to the show. Same with Phoenix and our Dark Phoenix exclusive last year, so we worked up a White Phoenix variant in response to fan requests. And our All-New Wolverine PVC just hit stores not long ago, but we thought an Unmasked version might appeal to the fans who know her as X-23. All of those will have a suggested price of $45, and will be at our booth (#2607) and at other retailers on the show floor.
Do you have any personal favorites from this years batch of exclusives?
I’m in love with our new line of 4” Vinimates figures, since I love the Minimates design style and I love vinyl figures in general, so I’m psyched for the Superman two-pack we’re doing for the 80th anniversary. It’s a classic, first-appearance Superman and a modern Superman, striking two iconic poses, and it’ll retail for $20 at booth #2607 and others.
We also have a new “Gem Edition” statue, a diamond-studded version of our Batman: The Animated Series Premier Collection Catwoman statue. It’s sculpted by Clayburn Moore – the original is one of my favorite pieces by him – and this one takes that great sculpt and adds real precious stones for a highly limited item. We only made about 300 of them, and they’ll sell for $200 at our booth, not much more than the original.
Zach, we also caught you on Netflix’s “The Toys that Made Us” has that had any influence on what you’re bringing to SDCC this year?
Our Star Trek products generally have a long development time, but we’ve put out a lot since we took over the license from Art Asylum back in the day, and I think that legacy was recognized by our inclusion in The Toys that Made Us. We’ll have some new items on display at SDCC, which we’ve said before, but now we actually have new figures, ships and prop replicas nearing the production stage, and therefore the pre-order stage. You won’t see all of them, but I am excited to have any new Trek to show, because I’ve seen the progress that has been made over the past few years.
We will also have an exclusive Star Trek ship variant at this year’s show, which is a tradition we’ve established over the last several years. It’s a cloaked version of our classic Original Series Romulan Bird of Prey, cast in transparent plastic – that’ll be $70, and only at booth #2607.
Where will DST be besides the DST booth this year?
We’ll have two panels this year, one about Minimates and Vinimates on Saturday at 10:30 in Room 8, and one about our full line-up on Sunday at 3:00 in Room 24ABC. I also plan to stop by Vinimates HQ on the show floor, booth #3921, where they’ll have nearly every Vinimate ever made on sale. I definitely want to get some food at the DST Lounge, located in Taste & Thirst at 715 4th Ave. – they have great wings there, and we’ll have coupons for their burger specials at our booth.
What’s the one thing you wish people at SDCC understood about the people that have to work the floor?
That we’re fans, too! We’re there in the middle of the biggest pop-culture event in the world, and we’d love to wander from booth to booth taking it all in, but we can only leave our booth for small chunks of time, unless we bring a lot of extra staff to allow for more freedom. It probably isn’t the same for every toy company attending, but everyone working the DST booth is an integral part of the manufacturing process, from product management to sales to administration. So we try not to bring the entire office to the show, just so the toys can continue to get made while we’re there. But if you want to ask the president of DST a question, come on by!
When SDCC starts what’s it like for a you? What’s your typical day like at SDCC?
Usually we’re in a hotel not too far from the convention, so in the morning we pick up any packages we got the day before (usually new prototypes that arrived late), grab breakfast and a couple of sports drinks at the corner store, and head to the booth. The first couple of days are just setting up prototypes and putting out product on the shelves. Once the show starts, we usually arrive early enough to restock the product shelves, restock the posters and postcards, stand up any toppled prototypes, and get the register up and running; I may go earlier if I have a press appointment before opening time, or a lot of work to do rearranging a display case. Then it doesn’t really stop for nine hours – constant restocking, breaking down boxes as exclusives are sold, ringing up customers, bagging their purchases, etc. We’ll each take a break for lunch at some point, and eat it in the storage room. I have scheduled press appointments during the day where I get to talk about toys for a half-hour or so at a time, and I’ll run over to the Marvel booth to get something signed by the celebs there, but then it’s back to the booth, stocking and selling and talking to customers. And then we all get dinner together, which is our time to relax.
Any celebrity encounters at the Diamond Select booth?
There are definitely people who make a point to stop by our booth – Jason Mewes of Jay & Silent Bob always comes by to sign toys and posters and pick up things for his collection, and wrestler Zack Ryder comes around to check out the Ghostbusters display. But we’ve had everyone from SNL’s Taran Killam to Liam “Spartacus” McIntyre to Mark “Major Don West” Goddard come by to check out our stuff – probably more, since many are wearing disguises. And I wander around trying to connect with everyone else: Avengers and Defenders at the Marvel booth, comic creators at their booths, Kevin Smith wherever he is… anyone we’ve made toys of, really, which is a lot of people.
Was there an exclusive you loved but it didn’t make the cut for SDCC 2018? Can you tell us or give us a hint as to what it was?
I don’t think anything was cut specifically, but I know some Minimates fans were disappointed there was not a Minimates exclusive this year. All I can say is that there will be some great announcements at the show for those fans, and some great mass-market releases scheduled for later this year.
What is your best memory from San Diego Comic Con?
I’ve been going since before I was part of DST, so it’s really hard to say! Back when I worked at ToyFare magazine, we all went and ate at the bar from Top Gun, which served great ribs – and was part of one of my favorite movies. It’s gone now, I believe, but I’m sad I never got to go back.
What are you looking forward to most at San Diego Comic Con 2018?
We’re changing up the team a little bit this year, with some long-time attendees staying on the home front, and two newer team members joining us at SDCC, so I look forward to being part of their first working Comic-Con, an. But mostly I look forward to seeing how fans react to the amazing new items we’ll have on display, from Kingdom Hearts, John Wick, Avengers: Infinity War, Ghostbusters, Sonic the Hedgehog, DC Comics, Pacific Rim Uprising, Nightmare Before Christmas, Watchmen, Star Trek and more. Checking out the booth coverage each night makes us feel great about the work we’re doing, and it’s one of the most exciting times for DST in recent memory, so hopefully the fans will be as excited about what we’re showing off as we are.