In November of 2004, Diamond Select Toys announced that they had obtained the license to release G.I.Joe related collectibles.
Mike Leavey, Marketing Coordinator for Diamond Select, was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us about the company and their releases below.
After the interview, take a sneak peek at the first three releases, the G.I.Joe Logo Plaque, the COBRA Logo Plaque, and the Snake Eyes Wall Statue. All three items are expected in stores soon.
For more information about the company and their releases, visit DiamondSelectToys.com.
Q: For some of our readers that might not be familiar with Diamond Select Toys, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the company?
Diamond Select Toys is a manufacturer of toys and collectibles based on various pop culture properties like Marvel, Star Trek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Transformers and of Course G.I. Joe. We are based in Timonium, MD and our products are distributed internationally.
Q: How did DST come to pursue and acquire the GI Joe license?
DST was looking for another strong property that would interest our current market and GI Joe fit perfectly. It is a well known brand, has a huge following and best of all no one has really made the kind of things that we are hoping to do with it. Knowing the Joe collectors were a strong group really helped make it an easy decision to add it to our stable of properties.
Q: What were your initial plans for the license, and what were Hasbro's wishes (or involvement) in the development of the license? Have the two met amicably? How involved is Hasbro with the final product you plan to offer?
Hasbro and Diamond Select have worked together on the GI Joe (and Transformers) license. While many of the product ideas are thought of by us or Plan B Toys, who do most of the product development, Hasbro does share opinions and ideas on where the line and product selection can go. We have tried some unusual items and they have been very supportive.
Q: You have undoubtedly shown a unique, and heretofore unseen, assortment of products associated with the GI Joe brand, the Snake Eyes Wall Statue being a fantastic start to a series of products. I can say that personally, I NEVER thought I would see a Destro mask prop replica. What are the particulars of the various products you are licensed to produce, beyond what is shown?
Our license includes a lot of high-end collectible categories (many of which you have already seen) like bookends, replica, wall plaques and statues, and motion globes.
Q: The first batch of G.I. Joe product has been delayed for a significant amount of time. Have the causes of this delay been rectified for future releases?
We are always working on getting product into the hands of our fans in a timely manner. Sometimes products are delayed beyond our control, and yes we are constantly working on shipping product when we promised.
Q: Are there many Joe fans and enthusiasts involved with the development of products in the DST Joe line? In other words, WHO is the Joe geek on staff, if any?
We are an office full of fans of the classic 1980's Joe stuff, but a lot of the research is done by the guys at Plan B toys, who have helped us out immensely on getting the line off the ground.
Q: Will fan input be a factor in future products? What do you feel, if anything, the fan base is clamoring for, or lacks?
Fan input is always something that we look at but it is rarely a deciding factor. We like to see what fans think of our products, but there is no way to listen to all the things that fans may say. Hopefully the longer that we do this line the more we will learn about what the fans want to see.
Q: Again with the fan base...Joe fans are a notoriously rabid group of individuals...Do you feel that your offerings can easily quench the needs of this group?
I don't think "easily" is the word to use, but we are hoping to strike a unique cord with the fans and offer some things that they have never seen.
Q: The G.I. Joe Collectible Market has many assorted products being released under several different licensees, including Diamond Select Toys, First 4 Figures, and Museum Replicas, in addition to the main Sigma Six line at retail, and the Direct to Consumer Hasbro line. What differentiates your product in the battle for collector dollars? Is there any fear that the G.I. Joe license may be becoming spread too thin?
Our products are geared toward the die-hard collector who goes beyond the figures. A lot of what we are offering will be character based or comic based so hopefully fans that have favorite moments in Joe history or favorite characters will enjoy our stuff. But a lot of our products - like the logo plaque - are products that any Joe fan should want!
Q: What is the main inspiration for the DST line of products? So far, the Snake Eyes Wall Statue caters to comic fans (based on Marvel's G.I.Joe #21), while the Cobra Commander gun and Destro Mask cater more to the most die-hard toy fans in their exactness and "prop replica" nature. What areas of fandom are you most drawing from?
We are going to draw from all realms of the Joe world.
Q: There has been concern in the community over the price point of many of these higher end items, including some produced by DST. A large portion of the Palisades G.I.Joe line has been available at drastic discounts, including their largest and most dramatic piece, the Snake Eyes full head bust. How confident are you that the retailers and fan base can support a higher end line of products, for example, the Destro Mask?
We are hoping that retailers see the value on carrying the Joe stuff and also rely on fans of GI Joe to go to their retailers and let them know what they want. If there is not support on all levels than products or the program may not work producing very limited numbers.
Q: In conclusion, I want to thank you again for giving your time and effort to answer some questions of the fan base. What is your plan for the future of the Joe license? What can we expect from DST beyond the gorgeous initial offerings?
We have a lot in store for the Joe line, some which are dependent on how current products are received. But you can expect more replicas and statues!
Interview by Kevin Watts, 09/26/05