The Triad Interview and Q&A
I didn't want to hijack GooglyDoogly's thread so I figured a new thread would be more appropriate. This is sort of a Q&A post on the Triad bodies that are coming out as well as some questions and suggestions. I had an "informal" interview with a mutual friend who will be republishing / reposting it elsewhere and so the following questions are just a cut and paste dictatorial from that interview. I've edited some things out due to different reasons, but here is the majority of his questions. These are questions I think that will most likely be asked so it doesn't hurt to post here. The latter part will be questions I'm hoping you guys would help answer so I have a better idea about what people might like. I do have some good ideas but two heads (in this case, many heads) are better than one and any suggestions, comments you can make are greatly appreciated. Here goes. . .
So I know Triad's been working on a male and female body and I hear it's supposed to be pretty sweet. What's the big deal and why all the hype?
There are a lot of body types out on the market right now and with 1/6th scale bodies, there's not a whole lot that could be drastically done to change existing bodies. I mean, there are only so many types of joints you could use such as a ball joint, a hinged joint, etc. What Triad's bodies do offer and how they differ is that our bodies are probably the better mix between form vs. function. Erik Barclay (Bitchin aka DarthCallous) and I have been spending the last 6-7 months trying to find the perfect mix. We've been working and reworking the bodies to the point where we just think we're just downright anal. The goal was that we want our bodies to look good with or without clothes on without sacrificing any articulation.
So has any articulation been sacrificed?
Not really. Some areas that do not require as much articulation have been exchanged for better looking, more naturalistic body shapes while others have been reworked entirely. Meaning, our bodies have more realistic articulation that is more natural to a real human body rather than having crazy articulation and looking overly horrid. In essence, we have put more articulation in areas that are needed, such as the dual pistol wielding crossover arms (think Devil May Cry or Equilibrium's Gun Kata stances) that were never achievable with any existing bodies, but took out things such as double jointed necks such as the BBI G3 versus the CY Girl's neck area. The CY one piece necks have almost the same articulation but looks 10 times better. There are many good body designs already on the market. We're not arguing that. We're just trying to balance form vs. function and making a body that suits our needs better. Both Erik and I come from the customization side of the hobby so we're making changes that we have always felt were needed. We don't have an engineering degree or anything. We just love to see what we like get made and made right.
Speaking of form, what type of overall shape of body are you implementing? Natural, animeish, or God-forbid Barbie like?
In order to answer that question, I have to explain a little more about our visions for the future. As many folks already know, we have a working backstory for the upcoming Triad full boxed figures. The story is set way in the future - a sort of post Apocalyptic future where everything has gone completely out of control and mankind is on the verge of distinction due to bitter warefare and greed. The final fight involves three separate forces - one is human, one is sort of a perfected human clone, and the final is a race of mutated monsters. Hehehe. Anyways, the first two bodies we are releasing are the human force bodies. So what you will see are more "natural" looking bodies. Bodies that actually look like real folks with boobs that actually sag and abs that don't look like Fabio's. The next release would be the perfected clone bodies which are super buffed up, ripped up muscular bodies and females that look like she has a personal Hollywood trainer. You can only imagine what our final release would be right?
You guys are insane. Is this all talk or is this actually happening? When can we expect to see something from the Triad line of figures?
Heheh. I guess it's a little of both. It's all talk now because we have a lot of things in the works. Keep in mind Triad's only been started since early June/July of last year so we've been officially "out" for only six or so months. That's not a whole lot of time but we've accomplished soooooo much. Like I mentioned, we're not professional toy designers or anything so everything we make is based on what we love and would like to see get done. As a customizer who turned manufacturer, I've finally realized how insanely long the process of making a figure actually is. You've got to get something inside your head and translate it into a walking, moving 3D object. That takes a lot of work, not to mention a boatload of money, to pull off. Plus, we're such perfectionists on making everything right and right the first time, things are taking double what it normally does. We could have finished a lot of things months ago, but just something minor like the wrong hair strength or color, or a wrong grade of metal on a blade, or a slightly different paint tone can drive us up the wall. We can get pretty anal is what it boils down to. Hehehe.
The bodies, at this point, are currently in the legal process. We are filing the appropriate legal paperworks to protect our designs, trademark, etc. in various countries before we can even begin to produce them. That's the big hold up at this point. The design I think we nailed down pretty tight so it's just a matter of protecting what we worked so hard on. Then, it's on to manufacturing and we will have a more specific date on its release. As soon as we have the "okay" from the legal department, I will post pictures of our prototypes. I promise.
You guys are pretty die hard CY / Cool Girl fans. Any chance the Triad bodies will resemble the Takara bodies?
Not really. Although I own a ton of CY Girl bodies and love them to death, there are so many aspects of the body that could be improved upon and that's what we did exactly. We drew upon flaws of the CY body and worked on what could be better. Our bodies are more natural looking and the overall joint system is pretty different. They are a little shorter than 12 inch because most women are not 6 feet tall. The only similarities it has with the Takara body is that it's made to be backwards compatible to swap hands, bootfeet, and head with our bodies. That was one of the few requirements I must have with the Triad body. I didn't want to replace all of my existing CY Girl bodies with Triad's body just to find out nothing works with each other. I like to swap things back and forth without any trouble. That's another thing that irks me about the 1/6th industry. Why can't everyone make a universal head, hands, and feet system? Or at least make some parts that can be easily modded so customers can use what they already have. Kinda like the Playstation 2's abilility to play old games. No one wants to buy a new system and make their current library of games obsolete.
Man, that's a lot to take in. My head is spinning. So what's this I hear about moveable eyes and scalps?!
Hehehe. Yes, our bodies will have a universal system for replaceable eyes and scalps. Like everything we make from guns to swords, to vehicles or mechs, everything is made to be interchangeable and customizable. Moveable eyes and exchangeable hair pieces are nothing new and they've been done before by other manufacturers such as Obitsu or Volks, but I don't think anyone has done them in 1/6 scale before - mainly 1/4 scale figures. Let's say for example you have a really cool Christian Bale headsculpt you like. And in one movie, his eyes are dark brown and his hair is slicked back. Then in another movie, his hair is parted at the middle and his eyes are blue. Our new system allows just that. You use your favorite headsculpt and just swap them out as you see fit. No need to buy another new figure or an entirely new body. Just buy a packet of eyes and six different types of hair and knock yourself out. Hehehe.
My heart is beating really fast for some reason. The eyes and hair thing already has me panting and you mentioned something about vehicles and mechs too?!
Again, back to our storyline, the reason we went with the Apocalyptic backstory is because it is sci-fi fantasy. Because it's fantasy, we can do whatever the hell we want and not have half the military collectors community bitching about how a scope is 1/10th of a centimeter too small or how inaccurate a kitbash is. We just really don't care because it's all fantasized. We can release a samurai in full samurai armor, carry a huge plasma rifle and ride on an Akira-type motorcycle and it would fit well into our storyline. On the other hand, we can release a Roman Centurion armored general with full battle dress and he'd still fit into the storyline. It's fantasy and as long as it ties into Triad's number one rule of design, which is "if it's cool, who gives a $h!7" - that's all that matters. Hehehe.
Sorry I was straying off a little there. Back to mechs and vehicles. Yes, that is one of the things I have, as a collector, always wanted to do. Over the past Christmas holiday, I spent a few days with the guys ironing out the mechanics of the mech and motorcycle designs. They are completely customizable and parts of it can be used back and forth with other vehicles. Think Transformer meets Lego. Hahahah. We are in the early, early design stages so I wouldn't hold my hopes up too high if I were you. We're looking at a year or so before you see any sort of production, but I do promise they will be released. Even if it's just one for me. Hahahah.
Louie, that is too much man. You have all these crazy plans, but do you think you can pull it off? How are you going to compete with the big boys out there? I mean, no one's ever heard of Triad and some folks just think you're an eBay peddler selling outfits only.
Hahaha. Well, you obviously heard of Triad right? Since you contacted me to do this interview? So I must be doing something right. Hehehe. Seriously though, I started Triad not because I want to compete with the big boys or make a ton of money. It'd be nice, yeah, but I started Triad because I was tired of never seeing the things I want done, done. Personally, I'm financially stable. I could live without getting into all the heavy debt I got into by starting Triad. What happened was I was looking for some female clothes and the only ones I found were on eBay that sold for like $80 a pop. The sad part wasn't the price because I could afford it. It was the quality and I kept thinking "man I could do better than that for under $30." So that's what happened. I drew up some patterns, got a few folks on the Men with Dolls Board interested, and sent it to my Aunt to sew up. She couldn't work it into her schedule so she referred me to someone else. That was that and that's how it started.
What I'm getting at is we're not making stuff that will sell. If I wanted to make a million dollars, all I have to do is make military stuff that's never been made such as an XM8 rifle, some new ACUs, or even take Dragon and DiD's route and produce endless Germans. I'm 31 years old and WWI and II is something I read in books. It's a horrific war and veterans should be remembered I agree, but I can't relate to it. I only know what I was brought up on and that is stuff like Robotech, Ghost in the Shell, Akira, Appleseed, the Transformers, GI Joe, and Masamune Shirow type stuff - chicks with little clothing and lots of guns - cool stuff. I truly believe that if you make what you believe in and what you enjoy - not what you know will sell - you'll do okay. That has always been my belief. If we make a really cool figure and if sales plummet. Oh well, at least we tried and I have something to show for and say, "now that is what I thought up from idea to finish" and it's what I can be proud of. I think when you make something, whether it be a piece of clothing or apple pie, and you make it with a passion and really enjoy it, people can sense and see that, and it shows in your overall product.
I think you'll do just fine too. Just from what I have seen from the outfits - which I do own a few - you'll kick some butt. I know you've been cutting back on the clothing also, but will you continue on with the clothing line in the future or are you stopping it completely? Will you be expanding it if you do continue?
The clothing line is being stopped temporarily after our next batch at the end of January. I've stopped working on patterns since last month and the ones I have finished are being prototyped and will continue to be produced and then finished. Once it's done, that will be the end of it for a little while. I don't know how long. A few months, a year maybe. I don't know how long, but I do want to continue it. Clothing for me is essential because it's just as important as your figure's head. You can have a pretty cool head but if he's wearing pajamas and holding guns. . . err, you get the point. The clothing line will continue for sure. I just don't know when at this point because I want to focus on our bodies and full boxed figures because they take a lot more work and effort. I mean, the clothes I just have to spend a few hours to draw up and patterned then sent to Japan. Whereas the bodies and character designs take months to years to complete. I'm working 18-20 hour days now just trying to keep up with everything and it's starting to break me down. I mean, look at me. Heheheh.
Heheh. Yeah, you do look pretty beat. Okay, final question and I'll let you get back to what you're doing. . . In some of our private discussions, you mentioned about coming up with new ways of distribution, controlling market prices - making the overall price of figures better for the end customer - do you think that will change now that you've gone from collector to businessman? And what type of prices are you looking at for the figures?
First and foremost, I am still a collector. I don't think that will ever change. If I do, I have instructions in my will to have someone shoot me in the head. Hahahah. Seriously, I'm not financially dependent on this stuff. If Triad falls flat on its ass and I go bankrupt. I still have a law degree, a working wife (which I'm not proud to mention here) and other things I could do. I've poured everything I have into Triad, but it does not mean that I'm asking for something in return in terms on monetary value. If another 1/6 company out there offers to hire me and promises to make and release everything I envision, I'd gladly discontinue Triad and work for them, but I don't see that happening any time soon. The point I'm trying to make is that I don't and won't forget my roots. Money is not easy to make and when you spend it on something, you want it to be worth what you spend it on. There's nothing worse than looking at a customer in the face and blatantly tell him there's nothing that can be done when he has a product defect due to poor design or implementation. That's just not me. If I'm going to sell something, I want a happy smiling face, shaking my hand and thanking me, and for the most part, that's what's happening to the clothing line so far and you don't know how extremely happy I've been because of that. It makes my 18 hour days bearable especially when I have two young kids.
One of the biggest reasons why the Triad site's been delayed for so long is that we're trying to make it more than just an information site like BBI, Hot Toys or Dragon. Triad will be everything from retailer, distributor, wholesaler, forum community, blogspot, free picture hosting, you name it. By keeping everything all in one place, you don't have extra people trying to jack up prices on you. Why buy on eBay or through a retailer who's going to mark it up when you can buy it direct from us, talk to us live through chat or on the forum, have full customer support, ask for help via tutorials, get your own free picture hosting and blogspot to show off your Triad customs or whatever you want? The Triad site has been taking forever to code because we keep adding more and more new and innovative features. It's all a matter of time before our stuff comes out. Patience is something else though because I know I'd go crazy waiting too. Heheh.
Back to prices, I mentioned earlier that we are trying to change the ways people make and sell these figures. I didnít realize how crazy things were until I became a manufacturer. For example, letís take manufacturer A for example. Mr. A releases a figure thatís $130 and it comes with 50 little backpacks two rifles, and 30 pens and little things you put into his 50 pouches. Then, Mr. A releases another figure thatís also priced at $130, but the new figure comes only with a bow and arrow, a black BDU pants, and a knife. Why is that? The same can go for Mr. B who sells figures at $30. The items that are included are all sporadic, but the prices are always the same. What gives? They keep all of their figures in the same range of prices regardless of what items are included or how much work goes into it. If we release a figure, itís based on the cost to make and how much we could live with by marking it up. Because we are selling it ourselves and we donít go through any distributor, we could live without the high markups. If we make a figure that comes with 50 guns, you can bet heíll cost differently than a bare chested figure that comes with a knife. Thatís how things should be. Iím still not answering your questions am I? Hehehe.
Okay, you got me. Our full boxed figures will probably be around $40-$80. But like I said, that just really depends on what comes with the figure. A $40 figure will be the best $40 you spent on a figure and an $80 figure will make you carry him with you to bed. Granted, if you can bring all of his boatload of accessories along too. The nude bodies wonít be expensive I donít think. Iím thinking $18-25 tops but I wonít know until our full production begins, but that is my ideal price point. Everything we make is based on cost and not based on what we think people are willing to pay. Iíve dealt with a lot of retailers and manufacturers like that and it sickens me. Thatís not how I work and I want the end customer to be the one that is rewarded. If people are happy, theyíll come back. Thatís always been my goal for Triad because without the support Iíve received thus far, where would Triad be? . . .
Okay. That was pretty much the end of the informal interview. I took out a lot of the chit chat and kept it strict to the questions. You might see this reposted again somewhere else soon.
As you know, our bodies are nearing market. I have some good ideas planned for the body, but I just want everyone's feedback before we write it into stone for production. Your thoughts and comments are very appreciated and all of it is taken into serious consideration so please don't hesitate to comment. Now, for my questions to all you MWD fans. . .
1) We talked about skintones. If you could pick from three skintones only. Which ones would it be and be specific.
2) Other than the two types of body that we have planned - which is the realistic and the "perfect" bodies, are there any other specific body types you want to see?
3) Exchangeable boobs - BBI's PB body had a cool idea, but it was never pulled off right. I'd rather to see different sized bust bodies than to have an interchangeable plate. What do you guys think?
P.S. Ė Erik, if you feel the need to comment and answer, please do so.