I’ve been covering Diamond Select Toys for years now. First, in podcast form on my Above and Batman Beyond show, and now, my coverage here at C506. I also have a new audio show focused on Batman toys, DC Collecticast. DST‘s DC Comics line never fails. The American mid-sized collectibles company enthusiastically celebrates the Bat year in and year out, 80th birthday or not.
For 2019, Diamond Select Toys has a gorgeous lineup of DC pieces, not the least of which celebrate the Godfather of DC comics himself: Batman.
I interviewed Zach Oat this week, Marketing Supervisor of Diamond Select and good friend of my podcast network @comicbookintl. I’ll be meeting up with Zach at the Diamond booth once again this year for a live C506/pod interview from New York Comic Con. So, stay tuned for that coverage as well if you’re a fan of today’s interview.
Here’s what DST’s Zach Oat had to say about this year’s lineup of DC and Batman’s 80th:
Batman 80 Years
BD: I was at Newbury Comics in Boston a few weeks ago, and I saw some DST pieces with DC’s yellow “Batman 80 Years” logo. 2019 as the 80th birthday of our beloved Batman, what are some of the Batman 80 collectibles Diamond has put out this year?
ZO: This year saw the release of our first straight-up Batman Gallery Diorama, based on the comics, and that may have been the first piece we did branded with the 80th logo. We also released an assortment of DC Vinimates vinyl figures that was all different versions of Batman, from White Knight, Damned, and the Batman Who Laughs – a black-and-white version of that last one will be at New York Comic-Con in a couple of weeks.
BD: I like that Diamond offers a slightly higher quality “Deluxe” subgroup of the DC Gallery line, in addition to its standard Gallery pieces. For this DKR Batman/Robin double statue, it also happens to be a case where you are just getting more statue altogether since there are 2 figures. But, this makes it a deluxe piece, nonetheless. Talk about some of the other DC Deluxe gallery pieces, or just the Deluxe figures in general, if you don’t mind.
ZO: Deluxe Gallery Dioramas are not all necessarily two-figure dioramas. It can be a larger character, like Darkseid with his alternate heads, or it can be a figure with vehicle, like Lobo on his bike. We showed that piece off at San Diego Comic-Con for the first time, and it got a really great response. I love that piece.
BD: With the new critically acclaimed Joker movie closely approaching, do you think this is going to be a popular DC piece this year?
ZO: Hopefully the Joker is on everyone’s minds! The designer, Shawn Knapp, and the sculptor, Jean St. Jean, did an amazing job on it, so I think it would stand on its own, but I’m certainly excited about the film, and I think a lot of other fans are as well. With no movie-based Joker product out there, ours will definitely look appealing.
BD: For many, Killing Joke is pure Bat comic canon. The film seems to be pulling heavily from elements of the classic comic, in terms of telling an origin story for the character of Joker. Is this Killing Joke Diorama partly in celebration of the film, or was the timing of the statue’s release coincidental?
ZO: I believe it was a coincidence. We released a more modern Joker Diorama exclusively at GameStop earlier this year, and we wanted a Joker product for the specialty market. So this Diorama will be in comic shops across the country – around the world – where those fans of the comic will be able to find it.
BD: Was the release of this Bat/Cat 2 pack for Batman’s 80th, or did these just happen to fall the same year?
ZO: We’ve been working on product for the Burton Batman films for a while, so I think it was a coincidence, but we certainly are putting out a lot of Batman Vinimates this year, and Batman product in general! That said, we’ll have more Burton Batman product beyond 2019, with a couple of Gallery Dioramas in 2020.
BD: Batman Returns was my first ever cinematic Batman experience. It changed my life. Watching it now, the movie doesn’t hold up for me anymore, but the aesthetic of Returns and Tim Burton inspired designs that came out of it, are eternally great. I’m glad to see Diamond making fun toys like these vinimates out of equally fun designs like Returns’! Also a Tim Burton film, the Nightmare Before Christmas character designs adapt amazingly well to your minimates and vinimates. You and I have talked about that line several times on the podcast, for Halloween episodes. Would you say Burton’s bizarre yet brilliant design work has contributed once again to how good this Batman Returns 2 pack looks?
ZO: Hey, we all love Tim Burton’s Batman. And the Catwoman design from Batman Returns has influenced numerous Catwoman costumes that followed. I think there’s a lot of pent-up demand for Tim Burton Batman product, and hopefully that translates to this two-pack, and future product releases.
BD: The DC Rebirth comic design fuses elements of Margot Robbie’s cinematic Harley Quinn with a comic Harley. The pig tails, in particular. Great design, great execution by Diamond. Does DST have any Robbie inspired Harleys in mind for the upcoming Birds of Prey film?
ZO: We will definitely have a Harley Diorama from Birds of Prey, and our Harley Diorama from the Suicide Squad movie just hit stores this month. Our upcoming Rebirth Harley is actually based on a comic cover by Joseph Michael Linsner, who definitely based his Harley on DC’s movie-inspired reinvention following the release of Suicide Squad.
BD: Have Dark Knight Trilogy pieces been popular since last year’s 10th anniversary of the Dark Knight?
ZO: The four Dioramas we’ve done from The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises have done really well, and so have the Three VInimates. Again, it’s an incarnation that hasn’t had a lot of product since the movie came out, so I think after ten years there’s a lot of nostalgia, and a desire for merchandise.
BD: Is this the first ever series of DK minimates or vinimates?
ZO: Yes, Batman, Joker and Bane were the first three Vinimates from the Dark Knight films. I’d love to see a second series with Catwoman, Scarecrow and Two-Face, but we’ll see!
BD: They adapt really well to the blocky vinimate body. It’s a bit surprising, to be honest. I was saying before how the Batman Returns 2 pack was no surprise to look great as mini/vinimates. They come from the imagination of Tim Burton. They’re already weird by design. Whereas, Christopher Nolan was going for the most real world interpretation of the Dark Knight he could achieve. But, again, Bane, Joker, and Batman all look great in this DK 3 pack. I personally think Bane is the best. Those spherical fists and that mask are priceless. Are any of these Dark Knight trilogy vinimates going to be available individually, as opposed to a 3 pack?
ZO: Yes, all are available individually, and not as a three-pack. We’ve done a few two-packs – Superman and Classic Superman, Nightwing and Batgirl, but no three-packs yet. Hopefully someday!
BD: Putting the character of Nightwing into Diamond’s PVC format seems like a match made in heaven. The PVC diorama statues from DST are ultra dynamic for superheroes in action like Nightwing. He’s so acrobatic, that I feel like his action poses are right at home in the PVC. The Batman Beyond PVC Gallery piece is another stellar example of how dynamic these statues can be. This particular Nightwing piece reminds me of the New Batman Adventures animated Nightwing PVC, where he’s also in action. Was it a no brainer deciding to put Nightwing into PVC form again, or do you know if there were thoughts of doing a resin bust or some kind of other statue style?
ZO: The animated-style Gallery Dioramas have done very well for us – we have a new edition of animated Batman coming out in early 2020 – so we’re expanding our comic offerings pretty aggressively. This diorama of Nightwing first appeared as a Gamestop exclusive, but now we’re making it available to comic shops as well. We don’t currently have the resin statue license for comic-based characters, but a resin bust of the animated Nightwing would actually be pretty cool. I’m going to pitch that right now!
BD: Is this Nightwing character design based on a specific comic iteration or is this DST’s own interpretation?
ZO: This is another Jean St. Jean sculpt, based on a Joe Allard design, who I believe was going for a modern comic Nightwing. Obviously, every thing we make is an artist’s interpretation, but I think as far as he was drawn by Scott McDaniel or Jim Lee, it’s pretty spot-on.
Again, stay tuned here at C506 and my DC Collecticast podcast for live NY Comic Con collectible coverage from the Diamond Select booth! If you liked today’s interview with Zach Oat, you’ll get to hear from the very same guy on our show, live from Con. As you can see, we’re going to have plenty of DC to talk about from the Diamond booth, as well as some 80th B-Day figs for the Bat.
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