This past week AFI had the opportunity to track down and talk to Chuck Terceira and Mike Leavey from Diamond Select Toys. Anyone that reads the front news page of this site knows that DST is going gangbusters with great product and announce something cool almost every other day. They continue to pick up great licenses and make great product around them. Their products have spawned so much discussion on our forums that last week we added a specific board just to talk about DST product.
For anyone that has ever been to Comic Con or several of the big Wizard World cons you have met Mike and Chuck. They are always on the front lines of the DST booth, answering questions, interacting with fans and selling great convention exclusives. Chuck has been a panelist on my Comic Con panels several years running, and Mike has been a great friend to this site since our opening keeping us up to date on all DST news.
So, I thought it was high time to find out a little more about the men and women that make up Diamond Select and what they have in store for some of my favorite properties. And.. if you are paying attention in the course of the interview you will find some first ever reveals.. such as the next Marvel Select figure…
AFI: I don’t think a lot of the fans know a lot about the gang at Diamond Select Toys.
DSTChuck: Can one man ever truly know what is in another mans heart.
AFI: Let’s get a few details from you guys:
Name and title?
Mike Leavey – Marketing and Sales Supervisor
Chuck Terceira – Director
AFI: How long have you been with Diamond Select?
Mike: About 2.5 years
DSTChuck: 6 years
AFI: What does a typical day look like for you?
Mike: There is no typical day, so I am not sure how to answer it… with the amount of products that we are releasing on a monthly basis I think that most people here would agree from the moment we walk in to the moment we leave each day our heads will be turned upside down a couple of times … mostly due to Chuck. We may even here some screams.
DSTChuck: I come in and immediately begin plotting how many things we can do at DST that will truly upset as many customers as I can. I get in the office about 8:00 and answer email for about an hour, then I take staff meetings and that brings me to late AM at that point its putting out fires until lunch. After lunch I do as much product development as I can and each afternoon I have a conference call with one of out outside development houses like GG, AA, Plan B etc.. During the day on and off I review, sculpts,paints, 2D, ads, packages, text, web updates etc…
Mike: and scream…
AFI: What is your favorite product that you have worked on?
DSTChuck: Since I was 5 years old I’ve been a Spider-Man fan so one of the thrills was that first Spider-Man bust that Sam Greenwell sculpted. I also was very proud of our Dark Alliance figures – our first action figures. Of late StarGate has been a REAL blast for me as well as planning all the BSG Minimates with Robert and Donna at AA- but don’t get me wrong I still love Marvel and the new Zombie stuff we’re doing has been cool!
Mike: The BSG figures are going to be a lot of fun. I am a huge fan of the show (as most are) and this is a chance for us to really have fun with the license!
AFI: What is the one license that you would love to have at DST?
Mike: There are a ton… probably too may to list but Star Wars always is at the top.
DSTChuck: Yea I guess StarWars I mean who wouldn’t want to work on that, but also some oddball stuff would be cool if we thought it would sell, I mean I loved Buck Rogers as a kid and 6 Million dollar man and don’t snooze on Rom. I always wanted that toy when I was a kid!
AFI: Is there anyone else on your crew that we should know about?
Mike: No… I keep them locked in a dungeon. There are about 10 people at DST… a rather small staff, so you can imagine that we all have a large part of what the fans see.
DSTChuck: No come on Mike just because they don’t have windows and dine on raw meat doesn’t make it a dungeon. We have Chris Myers, he’s one of our marketers and handles trade shows for us so most of you would have met him. We have Matt Peck our resident fan boy master of all things Buffy, that helps with PD and marketing. Jason Whitney that handles Licensor approvals and our outside contractors. Ryan Hatfield works with our factories. Steve Rowan leads the design team of Est i Gerson and Jen Lleras handle our packages and ads and all things graphics. I think that’s all of them.
AFI: What is Kim Mattison (formerly of Palisades) doing for you guys?
Mike: Kim is a Project Manager here, and is working mainly on replicas.
DSTChuck: OH yea, Kim I forgot her, sorry. Yes she heads up replicas as well as works as PM on a couple top secret big projects we’re working on for the end of the year.
AFI: What sculptors are you frequently using right now?
Mike: Jean St Jean Studios is working on both the Stargate and BSG figure – and has done an absolutely amazing job with both. Art Asylum still works on the Trek figures and other than that we do have a couple sculptors on staff now including Rudy Garcia, who has sculpted a lot of our recent Marvel Resin and the Office Space line.
DSTChuck: We’ve also got Gabriel Marquez, Bill Mancouso, and Sam Greenwell doing work for us right now. From the start DST has been VERY lucky to work with the talented people for sculpting, painting and casting.
AFI: Does the Hasbro Marvel deal affect you guys in any way for either Marvel Select, your statues or mini-mates?
Mike: The Hasbro license has absolutely no effect on any of the Marvel Resin or Minimates that we are making – that is our license with Marvel. The Marvel Select line is a Marvel Toys agreement that we have – and there are no signs of that ending either.
DSTChuck: Mikes right no effect except that fans will have to keep seeing DST do more Spidey Minimates. Marvel is very happy with the work we’re doing an I really feel we’re hitting another level on the works we’re doing in all categories.
Is the Marvel Select line still destined to end after 30 figures?
Mike: Nope… not sure where that number came from either.
DSTChuck: No way we’re stopping we love doing these and Damon over at Marvel toys has been fantastic, heck we even just hired Digger to do the Zombie figures for us, he is retuning to Marvel action figures for the first time in over 5 years!
Mike: But for those keeping track Marvel Select Zombies Spider-man is 32.
AFI: Do/did the convention exclusive figures (SheHulk and Spider Woman) count against the 30 figure number?
Mike: They are counted in the 32.
DSTChuck: Heck I wasn’t even counting – 32 is a good number all of mine are on a book shelf still in package I might just have to take them out and fill a bookcase with them.
AFI: Will we see more convention exclusive figures?
Mike: We may have something up our sleeves for this summer….
DSTChuck: Its really tough with Marvel Select the numbers we need to run are pretty high and due to the size and complexity they take along time in production. Its work in the past a couple times where we’ve been able to do something cool and Mike’s right we do have an idea for this summer, we’ll just have to see if the stars line up properly.
AFI: Who chooses the statues and busts that you make and how does that process work?
Mike: Chuck is the project manager for all of Marvel, and his knowledge of the Universe is top notch. Most everything Marvel we do is from his brain.
DSTChuck: Yea I guess I do end up picking and designing most of the Marvel ones, however the sculpts and studios at this point have lots of input in the work they do! We also get emails from fans and sometimes we take those ideas directly to a sculptor. While I may remember the Contest of Champions limited series I struggle to remember my son’s birthday and my anniversary (I switch them all time) so …that’s not too good I guess.
AFI: Can you tell us about your plans for Wrath of Khan? (and can we just say “God bless you” for being the first ST license holder to recognize that WoK is the best trek film ever and worthy of a lot of product!!!)
Mike: The TWOK Line is something that almost all Trek fans have been waiting for and we are really psyched about the line and the sculpts that we have so far look like some of our best Trek work to date. 2007 is the 25th Anniversary of the film, so aside from the figures we will also be doing an Enterprise A from the film… complete with a sound chip!
DSTChuck: TWOK is a GREAT movie nothing more needs to be said. I couldn’t WAIT to get my hands on this and neither could Robert at AA, heck we’re even the ones that discovered the anniversary date so we just took it and ran with it. If the figures do as well as we think they will we’ve got other cool ideas we’re dying to get to.
AFI: Now that you are working on classic Trek again will the Next Gen stuff run along side it in terms or releases or will they alternate?
Mike: We are pretty much finished with the TNG line… so on to the next show. But they will all run pretty much together.
DSTChuck: Oops SORRY Mike I have some products we’re working on that I guess I need to tell you about!
Mike: I did say "Pretty Much"…
AFI: How does this license work? It is still Art Asylum’s license and they are the manufacturer and you are the distributor? If so how are the character line ups chosen? By AA or DST or jointly?
Mike: Star Trek is a DST license, and we use Art Asylum for sculpting . The line plans are a joint effort for the most part.
DSTChuck: Yea we have the license but AA doesn’t just sculpt they do the design work and work with us on the line plans and for the ships Robert even helps work with the factory to be sure we get it as correct as possible.
AFI: The Build-a-Stargate promo in your Stargate figures was great. Will we see this idea cross over into Trek?
Mike: Right now there are no build-a-set plans for Trek.
DSTChuck: I don’t remember seeing a ‘Gate in Trek or you mean that big thing in he City on Edge of Forever?
AFI: Does your Trek license cover the upcoming JJ Abrams film still in early pre-production?
Mike: Nope, we have rights to all the TV and movies thus far.
DSTChuck: The script and casting etc.. are not done yet on the new movie so its kind of early for them to license – but we’ve let them know we’re more then a little interested when the time comes.
AFI: Any more movement on getting the full sized Captain’s chair reproduced?
Mike: That is a huge undertaking and we are not ready to announce anything yet.
DSTChuck: I also haven’t find a place to put mine so until I can do that your all going to have to wait.
AFI: Is the closing of Tower Records going to slow this line at all?
Mike: There are a lot of great things going on right now for Buffy including Dark Horse publishing the Season 8 Comic but the Buffy line over the next couple of months will take some drastic turns. We think that once the fans hear and see hat we have in store it will breathe new life into the franchise and line.
DSTChuck: The closing of the Tower stores was unfortunate for lots of people for lots of reasons..including losing a very progressive outlet for specialty toys and while they were a big supporter of the line other have stepped forward and now carry the toys. I have to be honest though the slow down maybe just a maturity for the license. Like Mike mentioned we’ve got something that we hope fans will view as aggressive and innovative ideas for a new direction.
AFI: Is it more difficult to get actor sign-off on sculpts now that the show it no longer in production?
Mike: The actors have been generally easy to work with – whether or not the show is in production.
DSTChuck: Yea most of them have been super cool, approvals are more case by case based on their schedules, I mean if they are in the middle of filming or on vacation or on location in another country. All of them are still VERY supportive of their time on Buffy. Some are surprised that people even still care enough to buy products based on a show that’s been off the air as long as both of these have been.
AFI: Can you talk a bit about your plans for BSG? What size will they be? What size figures does your license cover?
Mike: We obviously have the first wave of the BSG Minimates hitting stores within the next month or so. And of course at Toy Fair we will have the second 2 series of Minimates along with some of the first action figures on the line. We are going to treat this license a lot like the other that we have. Several action figure assortments a year, with busts and Minimates sprinkled in.
The figures will be 7" scale, with our hope to get them in stores this summer.
DSTChuck: We’ve gone so far as to rough out our plans for the first four waves so we can be sure we have continuity and cover as much of the deep cast as possible. The folks over at AA are also helping with designs and line planning since they are as big a fans of the show as most of us at DST are.
AFI: Does your license cover classic BSG as well as the current show?
Mike: We have certain rights to both the classic and modern shows.
DSTChuck: We’re going to concentrate on the modern show for the time being – with SO much cool stuff happening SO fast we’re going to have trouble just keeping up with that!
AFI: Do you have the license for BSG props?
Mike: No comment
DSTChuck: I’ll comment – We don’t have those rights. It went to another company.
AFI: Are you looking at action figures for this license?
DSTChuck: I think "Office Buddy" might be a better term…
Mike : Maybe you should also know about some of the some of our OS stuff as well … maybe I forgot to mention it. Yes we’re going to do action figures, the office buddy (no I’m not telling you what that is) and some other cool stuff for your cubes.
AFI: Are we going to get replica cover sheets for our TPS reports? Replica red swingline stapler?
DSTChuck: Yea we’ve got lots of cool ideas and if there is any way to produce that stapler we’ll find it.
Mike: Right now we are concentrating on the bobbles and some lines that will be revealed at Toy Fair.
AFI: It seemed like your Rocky license announcement got lost a bit in the roar of Comic Con. Can you talk a little bit about your plans for this license?
Mike: We will shortly be shipping the first 2 replicas from the line, the Boxing Gloves and Rocky’s Robe. But along with that we also have several box sets of Minimates planned – as each of the Rocky films will get to be created Minimate style.
DSTChuck: Yea SDCC is getting like that everyone wants to announce cool stuff there BUT there is SO much cool stuff no one can absorb all of it .
AFI: Any closing thoughts?
Mike: 2007 will be a huge year for Minimates – BSG, Marvel, Spider-man 3, 24, Star Trek, Rocky… plus we have a some new licenses that will be revealed in the coming weeks. We look at Rocky as the one of the first launches of those licenses in the Minimate Universe.
DSTChuck : What Mike mentions is just the TIP of the iceberg.
Tip of the iceberg indeed! We should get a better look at more of that ‘berg’ starting next week with our coverage of Diamond Select Toys at Toy Fair 2007. Check out our Toy Fair coverage on the main page!
And I want to say a HUGE "thank you" to Chuck and Mike for taking the time for this interview in the busiest of times – PRE-Toy Fair! Thanks guys and keep up the great work! We look forward to all the new stuff you are cooking up!