Day 368 January 3rd
Ushering in the 10th anniversary of the Minimates I have conducted a series of interviews with people that were involved with the creation of Minimates ten years ago as well as the people involved with keeping them going strong today!
10th anniversary interviews – Chuck Terceira, Director, Diamond Select Toys
- What was your first exposure to Minimates?
- What was your first exposure to Minimates?
C - I first saw them late one night MANY years ago at the old Art Asylum office in New York. Used to be a few times a year I would go to visit the folks over there and spend the day looking at and reviewing designs -- it was a crazy time to be working on toys. I'd also have to go to NY for trade shows several times a year back then, and on a trip shortly after they hooked up with Play Along I spent the night with the crew as they built their first show room for Toy Fair, and [Art Asylum president] Digger showed me the Minimates room. Back then they were much larger -- they didn't get to the size they are until we came to a partnership deal with AA and Play Along to do the Marvel line. I remember being on my car phone with Digger all the way home from work one day, and I stayed on the phone with him while I barbecued dinner on my back porch coming up with the original line plan, and I can promise you that night we gave NO thought to the line lasting ten years.
- What does your job entail?
C - I run the day-to-day operations of the company, and all the department heads report to me. Pretty much nothing gets out the door without my seeing it. I am also the project manager on several of our lines. I also answer all the Ask DST questions that come in to the website -- not counting outside Q&A, I've been doing those pretty much weekly for three years. Much more is involved, but it hard to put a fine point on what I do every day.
C - It's amazing, really -- as I said, there is no way I was thinking ten years down the road when I made that first line plan up. There are so many times that the line was on the verge of ending, it's amazing to me that it's still here and stronger than ever. It's truly a tribute to everyone that's worked on this line and all the fans that fell in love with these little toys.
- What were the factors at work when you weren't sure the line would keep going?
C - Low sales, a tough sales environment and licensing issues have all been factors over the years. It's hard to imagine how much time it takes to explain these little guys to a sales person, buyer or licensor. The key outside factor to keeping this line going has been the never-ending support we have been given by Marvel Comics. I have no idea where the line would be right now if we had not had their support over the last ten years.
- Is it particularly challenging to manage a line that sells to both the specialty market and the mass market, or does that make things easier in a way?
C - I don't know if it makes it harder or easier, and some days I wonder if we're managing it properly. Mixing in core characters and fan favorites as well as exclusives can be difficult. We also have budget concerns that each series has to adhere to, and that's Robert Yee's job, to make sure all that works based on the crazy line plans I give him. Over the last couple years I am really happy with the move to include an army builder in the specialty waves, increase the TRU exclusives to two per case as well as cross the contents over from box sets to specialty lines to TRU to make the universe more rounded. I think my biggest misstep was not realizing the popularity of the Hulkbuster Iron Man -- that never should have been a short pack.
- What can you tell me about how the character selection process works for various waves/lines?
C - It's a process, to say the least. We have a list of characters we want to do, families of characters we want to focus on, characters "needed" to round out teams or story lines and random ideas all on one big sheet. Certain rules have to be followed, like short packs, army builders and a need to have one or two of the "A" characters in each TRU wave. Once that's all matrixed out, I start to fill in ideas. To be sure, there are several rounds of changes and entire waves or themes can be scrapped. Once I am done with it, I send to it Robert and he reviews the line with our designers Barry (Bradfield) and Uriel (Caton) to see if what I have is really possible with the budgets we have, as well as any other suggestions they can think of. After that, it's pretty much off to the races.
- When retailers get exclusive sets, do they have much say in what it is, or do they generally rely on your knowledge of the brand?
C - Even from the start it was never, "Hey, pick anything you want and we'll bust it out for you." When we first started, we might have been able to take some suggestions or give them a short list to pick from. The line now is too complicated to have that level of choice. We pretty much have to tell them what they can have, but we've found ways to be flexible, and if they have ideas we like, we expand on the idea and come back to them with what they can have as an exclusive.
- Is there any one Minimate figure or line that you would consider to be a favorite?
C - I don't really think so. Maybe the Clint Eastwood movies. It was amazing to be able to work on those. We'd wanted to work on those properties for years, and it was great to find a way to make it happen. Marvel is always a pleasure, since I was such a fan as a child.
- If you could have any character from any property as a Minimate, who would it be and why?
C - I guess it would have to be Star Wars. I think that's the biggest one out there we have not had a crack at. It's also something I've always been such a fan of, I'd love to be able add something like that to the Minimates family.
- Is there anything you can tease for what's in store for Minimates this year, their tenth anniversary?
C - Marketing Supervisor Zach Oat has some plans he has mentioned to me, but for the most part I'm letting him run with that. I am interested to see what he comes up with.
- Where do you see Minimates in 10 years?
C - Plugging along on Marvel series 90? Hmm, maybe not. I'd like to see some of the lines we have developed take on a life of their own, like Calico Jack and the MAX line. I'd love for it to become less and less a toy line and more of a brand, something applied to games, T-shirts, and all sorts of new ideas.