INTERVIEW: PrototypeZ Studios' Erick Sosa and Glenn Ylaya
New Company Acquires License for DC Comics and Thundercats...
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Master Sculptor Erick Sosa has been a busy man. In addition to still being the head designer and sculptor for Kotobukiya, the artist has partnered with Jorge Martinez and Glenn Ylaya to form his own company, PrototypeZ Studios (www.prototypezstudio.com). This new endeavor gives Erick the freedom to sculpt projects that he normaly wouldn't get to work on, such as his own personal creations. While unique sculpts are one way PrototypeZ Studios is flexing it's creative muscles, the new company has also scored a major license in Street Fighter, and as today's interview with Erick Sosa and his partner Glenn Ylaya reveals, two other popular licensed properties: DC and Thudercats!
FIGURES.COM: Letís talk about your new company PrototypeZ Studios. What kind of product will you be producing for the collectible market?
PROTOTYPEZ STUDIOS: Initially we wanted to make highly detailed model kits but we didn't want to stop there. Erick is focusing all his energy and time on creating original concepts and one-of-a-kind pieces. Initially we approached the model kits aspect as an experiment to see what lines or characters do better than others.
FIGURES.COM: So basically, you guys are testing the waters with the unpainted kits.
PROTOTYPEZ STUDIOS: Yes, exactly. We are also listening to all the feedback from customers and the online community. We want to make those characters that fans have always been wanting at a reasonable price while maintaining the same quality of a prototype in the final product that our customers will bring home with them - whether it be an unpainted model kit, PVC figure or polyresin collectible.
FIGURES.COM: That is every collectorís dream to have the final product they purchase look as good as the hand-painted prototype. The fact that these collectibles are being produced overseas must play a big part in their final outcome. I'm sure there must be a lot of miscommunication involved, such as color selection and specific paint apps. For example, how many times have you bought an action figure only to find that the actual figure in the package looks completely different from the image on the back of the blister card or the original prototype images that were shown online? Itís a big let-down.
PROTOTYPEZ STUDIOS: We are definitely making it a priority to have the final product be the best that it can be. We are even considering the idea of not initially showing prototype images of our pieces but rather simply waiting for the final samples and then showing those images to the public instead. Its kind of like that kick-in-the-butt the industry needs to realize the need to reset the standards and focus more on making - to the point that you canít tell the difference between the initial mold master and final production piece. We want to be that small company that pushes the envelope in terms of quality and eventually expand our product line to offer what the scale and type of collectible the fans want. We want to be involved with all aspects of the industry - big or small - so if there is a new video game or comic-book character that comes along and they want licensed collectibles made, weíll be the go-to company for that.
FIGURES.COM: When it comes to pre-painted collectibles, how are you planning to approach that realm?
PROTOTYPEZ STUDIOS: Our original product line will be the best place to test pre-paints because we wonít have licensing approval limitations like we would with licensors. For example, Sideshow has done really well with The Dead line. I would love to produce original fantasy and horror pieces such as vampires and werewolves and other monsters, which are very popular right now.
We already started this phase of the experiment with www.resincreature.com. Check it out.
FIGURES.COM: That is a great idea! It reminds me of McFarlane Toys' Monsters line from back in the day, when they had all those ultimate interpretations of all the pop-culture favorites.
PROTOTYPEZ STUDIOS: Exactly, thatís the idea but on a grander scale than a $15 action figure. These products will be aimed more towards adult collectors. For example, we would make a Frankenstein monster that is cybernetic looking that people will be like, ďthatís differentĒ but ultimately you know what it is.
FIGURES.COM: When it comes to unpainted model kits: there is a particular group that they will appeal to, but there are others who do not have the skills to paint them...
PROTOTYPEZ STUDIOS: Definitely, itís a niche and that is exactly why we are keeping production numbers very low for now because we know that the kits will appeal more to painters. These guys may buy 5 or 10 of our kits in bulk and then sell them painted to turn a profit. Then there are those collectors that will want the sculpts at a more affordable cost and pre-painted and that is where we will need to look into shrinking the scale to make it affordable. The reason we have to do this is because we canít charge the same $200 range for both unpainted and pre-painted pieces. This is why we will have to go with a smaller scale to keep it within the $80 to $120 range for pre-paints.
FIGURES.COM: That makes a lot of sense.
PROTOTYPEZ STUDIOS: We have had a great run so far with our Capcom Street Fighter items and Capcom is really happy with the way our pieces turn out. As a result of this, our approval turn-around time is really fast. Erick has quit freelancing, retaining only a couple of clients, and is now working full-time doing what he loves most. This way he can focus on faster releases.
FIGURES.COM: That is really great considering that the approval process with licensors is usually a lengthy and stressful process. I am sure as an artist, that usually takes most of the creative liberties away from the sculptor as the licensor tends to be the one pulling the strings even if the changes or modifications requested don't make a lot of sense.
PROTOTYPEZ STUDIOS: We have developed a great relationship with Capcom and they have pretty much given us a lot of creative freedom with our Street Fighter kits entrusting us to make the overall design and sculpting decisions that we want. As a result, we have extended our deal with Capcom and are committed to get through all the Street Fighter characters eventually. A lot of collectors hate the fact that certain characters get produced and a few months later, they just stop the line leaving fans empty-handed when it comes to their personal favorite characters. We want to do the opposite of that and not limit our product selection to just the core characters.
FIGURES.COM: This is really exciting news for Street Fighter fans! Are there any other licenses that you guys plan on pursuing?
PROTOTYPEZ STUDIOS: Actually, we are very excited to officially announce that we have acquired the licenses for DC Comics and Thundercats!
FIGURES.COM: Oh wow! That is amazing news! I cant wait to see some hyper-detailed Thundercats by Erick. I am a huge fan and I think that license can be very successful as long as its in the right hands. We have had a taste of what to expect from DC based on that awesome Vampire Batman statue Erick made for DC Collectibles.
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us today guys! We are very excited to see whatís to come from this ground-breaking new company.
PROTOTYPEZ STUDIOS: No, Thank you!
A very special "Thank You" to Erick Sosa and Glenn Ylaya for taking the time from their busy sculpting schedule to do this interview. Keep up the awesome work!
- Interview by Jorge Pelaez