A Peek Into One of the Coolest Office Spaces You'll Ever See...
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There are certain perks to living in Southern California, and not just the weather. With the entertainment capital of the world just a few miles away, we’ve got movie studios, theme parks, and everything else you can think of... including toy companies! Last week two of your intrepid Figures.com reporters had the pleasure of visiting the offices of DC Entertainment! Read on to hear about this incredible, once in a lifetime experience...
DC Entertainment’s office is in an undisclosed location in Southern California with very strict security, so don’t expect to walk in off the street. Once we come out of the elevator we knew we were in the right place thanks to a huge panel of video monitors playing trailers for current and upcoming DC properties like The Dark Knight Rises. This was the gatekeeper to the massive lobby, a circular open area ringed by curved walls of metal infrastructure and glowing lights behind frosted panels. The theme of the room is the Fortress of Solitude with a cool diagram on the floor and serene, slowly changing colored lights. And while the lobby is cool and a great place to hang out and read comics, there’s plenty to look at and do there too!
First is a display of the entire collection of Lantern Battery Prop Replicas, most of which are not yet available for purchase. A small nook next to the windows holds a one of a kind chess set; each piece is a Mattel DC Universe Classics figure (including opposing pawns Black Manta and blue costume “Ocean Warrior” Aquaman)! Standing guard over the lobby is a trio of glass cases containing iconic costumes from film and television. On one side is Heath Ledger’s Joker’s purple suit, and on the other Christopher Reeve’s Clark Kent’s suit pulled open to reveal Superman’s S-shield; between them is Justin Hartley’s Green Arrow from Smallville. Borrowed from the Warner Bros. archives, the costumes highlight the length and breadth of DC Comics characters in popular media, and with the massive display cases you can see them in the round to take in all of the subtle details. Also on display in the lobby is a LEGO wall “tagged” with Batman, a 3D representation of Jim Lee’s artwork from the Darkness & Light exhibit.
Tucked behind the costumes is a small game room outfitted with fun arcade games and Batman film-themed pinball games. The coolest thing about this room wasn’t the selection of games, though, but the artwork. Two large frames display collages of artwork from the out of print DC Comics “VS” card game. With great artists like Alex Ross, Tim Sale, and countless others, the pieces capture the iconic heroes and villains of the DC universe (from the Atom to Zatanna) in their respective illustrators’ unique styles. If you can still find them, the VS cards really pack some great images into a fun card game.
On hand to escort us through the magical place that is the DC offices were Brandy Phillips, Director of Publicity, and Kevin Kiniry, Executor Director of Creative Services. Heading into the offices proper from the lobby we would pass another small reading area guarded by a Constantine film prop replica “Holy Shotgun.” Next to that is the main library. This room is stocked with everything from new releases of graphic novels to bound volumes of single issue runs from the early days of DC Comics! The library is patterned off of the original one in the DC New York offices, and both are used for extensive research. As you’ll find out below there’s plenty more to see, starting with the incredible sliding doors to each office decorated with full length comic book art designed to look cool with light streaming through them. Along with DC Collectibles we visited other departments including publicity, online, and digital comics production; there’s a lot going on at these offices!
Of course, it’s in the DC Collectibles headquarters where for us the real magic happens. We got a chance to check out the office of Jim Fletcher, Director of Creative Services (a man who enjoys working while dressed in various costumes and eating popcorn). Among all the cool stuff he had on display there was the entire collection of mint in box Ame-Comi figures, some cool upcoming figures like the Justice League Darkseid (he’s HUGE!) and of course his many awards. Particularly noteworthy was one decoration on the wall, a totally unique “pin the tail on the donkey” game signed by various luminaries from the DC world like Jim Lee, Geoff Johns, Dan DiDio, and others! Jim would show us around the rest of the department a little later, but before that we continued our tour with Kevin and Brandy.
As you might imagine, desks and offices in the DC complex are covered by all manner of toys, statues, and other collectibles. Everywhere you look there are DC comics characters standing guard over cubicles or flying over shelves; it’s really impressive. Of course there were tons of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and the other characters you’d expect, but it was interesting to see the other characters appearing as well. For instance, in one corner was a massive collection of Aquaman figures, while Rey in the Collectibles department showed off his array of Flash and Hawkman figures. Walking down the hallways you’ll find even more DC collectibles and fun items, with one particular corner holding four unique displays. Launching from the darkness is a life-size mannequin wearing a reproduction of Christian Bale’s Batman suit from the Dark Knight! Flanking him on one side is an open area holding all of the Dark Knight Rises statues and busts, while on the other side are the four initial Before Watchmen statues. Meanwhile, around the corner is a really cool display for the arena show Batman Live featuring fantastic artwork of the Gotham City heroes and villains by Kenneth Rocafort (of Red Hood and the Outlaws).
A few more interesting tidbits: in the collectibles is the Toy Production display, a series of wall-mounted boxes showing the evolution of an action figure, in this case the classic Jim Lee’s “Hush” Batman sculpted by Tim Bruckner. Starting with the artwork you can progress through the initial sculpted prototype, original paint master, molds used to produce the figure, sprue trees from the factory, a mock-up of the packaging, and finally the finished product! Down the hall from the Dark Knight costume is a collection of framed elements from DC films. In addition to movie posters from Batman and Watchmen there are prop articles like Daily Planet newspapers, Harvey Dent buttons, the actual “S” shield from a costume in Superman Returns, and more. In the Creative Services headquarters is a huge wall decorated with all sorts of DC products and advertisements throughout its long history like artwork from old pop up books, MAD magazine covers, video game posters, and more.
One room at DC that’s definitely devoted to both serious work and a bit of fun is the “game room.” Behind this door is a “mostly” sound-proofed room where DC supports the development of games from Warner Bros. Interactive and other studios. One wall has a massive collection of games (old and new) along with figures and other collectibles developed from them. And what room like this would be complete without the awards won by Arkham City, one of the best reviewed games of all time?
Back in the Collectibles area we got to meet some of the hardworking people who make our highly sought after toys a reality. From concepts through final quality control and marketing it’s a group effort involving many talented individuals. Sketches, prototypes, and half-painted figures were everywhere, projects in various stages of completion. One room that we particularly enjoyed checking out was the photo studio where publicity photos are taken. For those of us who review toys and take a lot of pictures it was cool to see how the professionals do it. Nearby was the quality control department, where again we saw a bunch of the new Darkseid figures and even the newly revealed Arkham City Harley Quinn statue!
There’s even a room devoted to nothing but testing and breaking down every last part of upcoming products... including tools like saws and drills! This is where toys and statues are dismantled, twisted, dropped, and everything else you can think of to make sure they live up to DC’s standards of quality. And when something doesn’t, they’ll get it fixed in a manner that works best for both the company and collectors. Just down the hallway from the QC room is a famous storage room, known to everyone as the “graveyard.” This one of a kind room houses seemingly endless bins of figures and parts of figures, everything from unreleased products to prototypes from years gone by (some in crazy plastic colors), and much more. Just like with the different libraries, here you can search through old physical versions of characters to see how they’ve been represented and with which parts.
Did you know that in Malaysia (and coming soon to China) there are DC stores in upscale malls? Kevin’s office held a treasure trove of the unique items being offered in those overseas locations, apparel and collectibles designed for a completely different market. The clothing blends funky designs with unusual materials with the result being fun outerwear with a distinctive East/Southeast Asian feel. My personal favorite, though, was the gigantic novelty Green Lantern-branded tennis shoe, a collectible that sells in those stores for hundreds of dollars! Other awesome artifacts in Kevin’s office included the actual large-scale letters that spelled out “Teen Titans” in the 90’s commercials for that cartoon’s toys, an array of Green Lantern memorabilia and collectibles, framed artwork based on an the old DC letterhead, some neat DC kid’s games put out by Wonder Forge, and so much more. As I noted earlier, each office is a shrine to the length and breadth of DC characters in toys, statues, art, novelties, and other collectibles.
Fans of DC comics and collectibles could spend days looking at every last thing in those cool offices, but one afternoon was definitely a good start. From talking to everyone there it’s clear that DC is going full steam ahead into the rest of 2012 and 2013 with every part of the organization working toward the best books and products. Expect to see lots of new announcements coming soon, convention exclusives, more licensed toys like the LEGO line, and of course great figures and statues from DC Collectibles.
A very special thanks go out to Brandy Phillips, Jim Fletcher, and Kevin Kiniry for this amazing tour!
Story by Scott Rubin and David Yeh
Photos by David Yeh