Thursday, January 5, 2012

Day 370

Day 370 January 5th

            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 – Zach Oat, Marketing Supervisor, Diamond Select Toys

– How did you first become involved with Minimates?

Zach - In 2002, I was a copy editor at ToyFare magazine, and it was only my first or second year attending New York Toy Fair. We'd done a couple features on Art Asylum, and Digger had such eclectic tastes that I expected crazy things from the showroom, and we certainly got it. I mean, I'd seen Kubricks, but Minimates were different. So blocky and poseable (something we valued at TF) and fun. Unfortunately, the licenses were for far cooler kids than me -- I wasn't an old-school metal fan back then and I'd never actually seen a Bruce Lee film (I know, right?). But I'd enjoyed "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon," and that Rob Zombie Minimate was the coolest looking thing I'd ever seen. When Art Asylum sent over some samples later that year, I snagged Zombie for my desk, and he stayed there for at least a year or two. We'd use Minimates in photo shoots, doing comic strips and photo guides, and we commissioned plenty of custom figures and original illustrations over the years. Later, after the Marvel line started, the TF staff lobbied hard for an exclusive two-pack, and we ended up getting Power Man and Iron Fist. We were pretty psyched. 

– What does your job entail?

Zach - As of this past May, I write most of the text for the company, including figure bios, ads, the DST newsletter, insert comic strips, sales sheets, Previews text, blog posts (aside from the posts written by other staffers) and the stop-motion animations we've started doing. I update the blogs at, and, and I run the DST Facebook page and our Twitter and Tumblr accounts. I also send out press releases, interact with fans on the Minimate Multiverse message boards, and come up with fun contests. I do a little bit of photography, too, but more "on the streets" than in a studio. 

– Is there any one Minimate that you would consider to be a favorite?

Zach - Aside from Rob Zombie, my favorite production Minimate would probably be the original Nightcrawler. It's so small, but has so much personality. The Mr. T figure Art Asylum did for Celebrity Deathmatch was a fave for a while there, as well. My current fave is the Heroic Age Classic Iron Man, with the orange thruster effect, but any Iron Man is my favorite as long as he can fight Stilt-Man. But customizer Matt Cauley made a Zach Oat Minimate, complete with C.O.P.S. shirt, that I will treasure forever.

– If you could have any character from any property as a Minimate, who would it be and why?

Zach - Robocop would of course be great, he just seems like a perfect fit. Hellboy, too -- he's so squared-off, and he's one of my favorite comic characters. But I'd also dig Road House, Buckaroo Banzai, Young Frankenstein, Mad Max and Ferris Bueller Minimates. And don't get me started on vehicles or I'd never shut up.

– How does it feel to see the Minimate brand still going strong 10 years after starting?

Zach - When they started, I could see Marvel Minimates going for a long, long time. Of course, when you're a Marvel fan, you think every toy line is going to keep going forever, even if that isn't always the case, so while I'm not surprised they're still around, I am extremely happy. What really surprises me is the sheer number of non-Marvel licenses that have been made into Minimates over the years. Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, 24, Halo, DC, all of the Marvel movies... each of those lines went on for much longer than I would have imagined, and those are only the most successful ones. Factor in all of the one-off box sets and two-packs -- Terminator, Fistful of Dollars, Platoon, Playstation, etc. -- and you can see how universally applicable Minimates really are. 

– How is it to go from a fan of Minimates to being on the inside of DST, behind the scenes of such a cool company?

Zach - It's kind of a dream come true. When I was with ToyFare, we were professional fans, and we'd do fun stuff with Minimates all the time. We'd get these amazing illustrations done for features, we'd have guys like Matt Cauley and Eric Dlugokinski make customs for us, and at one point I photographed every Marvel Minimate that had been made on different sets, for a photo guide, a few years after that line started. We even did a couple of Twisted ToyFare-style comic strips using Minimates. Now I take pictures of Minimates, write stories about Minimates, and I've just written my first official comic strip for a packaging insert. So while not much has changed, at least now I'm only writing about toys I like. 


– Are there any celebrations being planned for the 10th anniversary of the minimates brand?
Zach - Instead of doing a single event, or making a single anniversary assortment of product, we're celebrating the anniversary by turning up the volume to eleven on all of our existing lines, reviving lines that were thought defunct, overhauling a couple that needed a little extra something, and launching a slew of new properties that will blow people's minds. It's a non-answer, I suppose, but the announcements will start at NY Toy Fair in February, so be ready.

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