Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Q&A with Sideshow Collectibles CEO Greg Anzalone

2014 marks the 20th anniversary of Sideshow Collectibles, the world-renowned specialty manufacturer and distributor of the most highly sought-after licensed and original collectible figures and statues from recognized properties including Star Wars, Marvel, DC Comics, Alien & Predator, Terminator, The Lord of the Rings, G.I. Joe and many more.

Since 1994, Sideshow’s team of artisans—including renowned sculptors, experienced model makers, painters, and costumers—have combined efforts resulting in the creation of outstanding original designs and intricately detailed likenesses of pop culture, including film and television monsters, villains, heroes, mystical creatures of fantasy, and legendary figures from history. A deluxe gallery of Sideshow’s best work from its beginning to present day, Capturing Archetypes: Twenty Years of Sideshow Collectibles Art showcases the stunning creations they’ve produced over the past two decades in one breathtaking collection.

We asked their CEO and President, Greg Anzalone, about Sideshow’s journey thus far, and what’s on the horizon for them.

1. What inspired you to start the company back in 1994?

I was inspired by the amazing talent that I saw, a sort of raw ability from sculptors and fabricators to fashion characters and creatures like I’d not seen before. I wanted to work with them and help bridge the gap between their talent and a commercial enterprise.

2. What kind of products did Sideshow start out creating 20 years ago? How has the company transformed since then?  

Our original vision was to be mass market, to create plastic figures that would be carried by the larger toy retailers such as Toys “R” Us and Walmart. After succeeding with that initiative I realized it was a dead end for our true calling, which was more or less the polar opposite: low run, limited edition figures produced for the discriminating buyer.

3. Sideshow is known for its direct-to-customer communication—you sell products from your website and frequently interact with fans and collectors. When did the company start adopting this business model and how has it helped your brand over the years?

While we service hundreds of retail store accounts, we are unabashed enthusiasts of the direct sales model. We think of ourselves as the best spokespeople for the products that we make and relish the responsibility to connect with our consumers around the world.

4. How do you find and recruit the creative talent behind your collectible products?

For the most part, the cream of the figure talent pool rises to the top. Artists know artists and there’s a shared respect for the work that’s being done around the globe. Many of the folks that currently work for us were referrals from friends in the industry, with a large pool of talent emerging from the film industry.

5. What’s your best-selling brand or product?

The legion of Star Wars fans around the world is quite well known. They are rabid, passionate advocates for the type of work that we do and highly supportive of the company. Within that Star Wars universe, it’s logical to see how Darth Vader has become the most successful character we’ve ever produced.

6. When did Sideshow start collaborating with filmmakers and special effect houses like Guillermo del Toro and Legacy Effects, and how closely do you work together?  

Our intention was always to work closely to the source material, or with ingenious talent that were creating film content. That attitude has led us to numerous collaborations with filmmakers, writers, and illustrators.

7. Why publish Capturing Archetypes now? What was your ultimate goal with the book?

We’re proud of what we’ve created over the years—in most cases, the best 3D representation of a character for the collectible market. While typically humble in our approach, after 20 years we felt both the need and the right to showcase some of the work we’ve done for folks that may not know of us or who may not have seen the breadth of our work.

8. Will you be unveiling anything new and exciting at Comic-Con: San Diego this year?

Absolutely. Comic Con is always an opportunity for us to present many new things, including original characters and content, which have been borne from the creative genius that makes up the nucleus of Sideshow.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Q&A with Author Rob Auten

Rob Auten is a video game writer who cowrote Gears of War: Judgment with Tom Bissell and who contributed creatively to numerous games including James Cameron's Avatar: The Video Game, Far Cry, and Aliens vs. Predator. He lives in New York City.

His new book, Gears of War™: Judgment: Kilo Squad: The Survivor’s Log, was published on March 4, 2014. We asked him questions about his career thus far, his new book, and what he’s working on now:

1. How long have you been in the video game industry?

I got started working in game animation and cinematics after several years of being an editor for music videos and commercials. The first game I worked on was Rainbow Six: 3 for the original Xbox which was released in 2003.

2. When and how did you start working with Epic Games and Tom Bissell on Gears of War: Judgment?

Tom and I had been friends for a while and had a few other projects in the hopper, most of which still have yet to see the light of day. He was asked by Epic to write a short book about the development of Gears of War 3, during which time he heard that Epic was starting to talk to some writers about the next installment. Tom asked if we could write a pitch and we ended up getting the job.

3. What excited you about the franchise?

Gears of War was the game that defined my 360. I remember all too clearly that I was away from home and without a console on the day the game was released. When I finally got back, it was just as great as I had expected. When I sat down with one of my best friends to play the campaign in co-op, it even further exceeded my expectations.

4. How does your new book help further immerse players in the game?

The book isn’t going to be a very easy read unless you know the Gears universe. That probably goes without saying. But for those who do care, the book tries to help fans better understand the mentality of Seran citizens around the time when giant monsters started pouring out of holes in the ground. There’s also plenty of detail about Baird and Cole prior to their joining Marcus Fenix and Dom in Delta Squad.

5. What has been your favorite property to work on so far (you don’t have to say Gears of War!)?

I’ve been lucky enough to work on a few of my favorite properties. I still wish the world had been given a chance to play the Aliens RPG that was in development at Obsidian a few years back. The most eye-opening project (and one in which I only played a very small role) was Avatar. I was fortunate enough to be around the filming process and seemingly every week a new technological challenge was being surmounted. I’ve never seen technologists race so fiercely to fill a vision. It was remarkable.

6. What’s on the horizon for you? 

The life of a games writer is filled with nondisclosure agreements and I think my inability to talk about virtually anything I’m doing has made me even more of a bore to be around. Right now, I’m most looking forward to watching my girlfriend finish her doctoral thesis. That is no secret.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Exclusive Pre-Order Discount for Game of Thrones Pop-Up

We're thrilled to announce our Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide to Westeros, available March 25th! Check it out:

Pre-order your copy of Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide to Westeros and receive $25 off and a free house journal of your choice! See below for details.

Visit www.insighteditions.com and add both the Game of Thrones: A Pop-Up Guide to Westeros and the House Journal of your choice to your cart. Upon checkout, simply enter your house's promo code:

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