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Marvel Zombies

Misfit Toys: The Saga of the Marvel Zombies Action Figures, Part 3

Production and Packaging with Diamond Select Toys



By Jim Beard Welcome back to the 3rd and final part of our exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Marvel Zombies Action Figures! In Part 1, we talked with Michael Leavey of Diamond Select Toys about the genesis of the Marvel Zombies figures and their design and in Part 2 we rapped with Digger of Dig Deep Entertainment about the sculpting of the figures. Let's swing back over to Michael Leavey again and wrap things up by getting the low-down on the actual production of the Zombies and their packaging. Marvel.com: Okay, Michael, we talked to Digger about the sculpts for the Marvel Zombie figures and everything that goes into that aspect of the project. Now where do we go? A mold is made for actual production? Leavey: After a sculpt is approved by Marvel, the next step is indeed going to mold. Marvel.com: How long does it usually take to get the mold made? Are there usually tweaks made to the sculpt at this stage? Leavey: Molds take three or four days and no changes are made to the pieces themselves. The mold makers do some cool stuff when getting it ready for casting by cutting the piece up and prepping it for mold, but no changes to the look of the piece. Marvel.com: How many test shots do you typically do? Is a paint-up done at this stage? Leavey: Once the tooling and paint master gets to China, they produce a large steel mold for production. There will be several "test shots" off that steel. There is no set number, just enough have to be done to ensure the piece will look and operate as intended. While this process is going on, the factory is also perfecting the paint. Marvel.com: Right, so all this is going on, the real production of the actual figures gearing up—at what point in the process is the packaging designed? Leavey: We start the packing pretty early now since we have the general design already locked down. However, it does take a bit of time to track down good quality images of all the comic covers we use. Marvel.com: And with Marvel Zombies, that must be hard, what with all the fantastic images available from it! What's DST's "theory" behind their packaging? What must it serve, other than simply holding the figure? Leavey: From the start, it was very important to make the figures look like they were a part of a set, so a big part of the design is really that stores and collectors can display them spine out. Marvel.com: Zombie Hulk is a huge figure! Did the size of the Hulk pose any different problems as far as packaging? Leavey: Since we designed the package to fit the line, there were no problems. We've done a Hulk figure in the Select line already, as well as the Watcher, so we were more than ready for the big guy! Marvel.com: The Marvel Zombies are really, well, beautiful pieces. Do you assume most DST figures will be opened by the consumer, maybe even especially the Zombies? Leavey: We think MOST people open them, but maybe a few people might buy two so they have one MOC (Mint On Card). Marvel.com: DST's known for some striking shots used in the marketing of the figures. At what point is publicity photography done? That uses a prototype figure, right? Leavey: Yes we have to use the proto to shoot for ads and packages, as there is just not enough time to wait for the production versions. Since we're shooting the proto, we pretty much start as soon as Marvel Toys sends us our copy of the completed paint master. Marvel.com: Once a figure is approved—paint details approved that is—it then goes into actual production? Leavey: Oh yeah, pretty much as soon as possible. Since these figures are so large and have so many paint operations, we have to start as soon as we can! Marvel.com: What's a typical production run for the Zombies figures? Leavey: We don't give that information out but we can say that the Zombies are some of the most successful figures we've done in this line. BUT, they are still a fraction of what would be produced for the Legends line. Marvel.com: Okay, Michael, big question—maybe the most difficult question: How does it feel once everything's done, the project is finished, and the Zombies have slunk away? Leavey: It's very bittersweet. They are like our kids. You want them to go forth and do well and there is a joy when they do, BUT we're also looking at the finished [products] many times thinking, "OH man, wouldn't it have been cool if..." Marvel.com: Well, rest assured that the Marvel Zombies action figures are indeed cool and could become maybe the most popular Diamond Select figures ever. They deserve to be.
There you have it, Marvel fans: the complete behind-the-scenes story of how three little Marvel Zombies become immortalized in plastic forever, joining the non-decomposing figures on your shelves at home. A rot-to-riches tale, you might say. And if you like the three Zombies—available at finer comic shops, specialty stores and online retailers—and you want more, let us know! Tell your local retailer, write a letter to Diamond Select or Marvel Toys, or approach us at a convention and scream, "We want more Zombies!" Please also be on the lookout for the new Marvel Zombies 2 five-issue mini-series by Robert Kirkman, Sean Phillips and Arthur Suydam, lurching your way beginning this October! It's a good time to be a ghoul.
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