It’s just a few more days until Toy Con UK in London this weekend and yesterday I reported on NeMa Studios announcing their exclsuives for the weekend. Those exclusives are amazing and I cannot wait to go and see their stall in the flesh! Whilst we do wait those last few days, I managed to catch up with Nic from NeMa to talk about retro figures, bootlegs, indie toy companies and of course this upcoming event!
It is clear that NeMa Studios is a toy company by collectors creating products with other collectors in mind, and as such, having a chat with Nic has been eye opening and quite frankly an absolute pleasure… Enjoy!
F ‘n’ F – Hi Nic, thanks for taking the time to have a quick chat with me, I know you must be busy getting ready for Toy Con UK, which we’ll get on to in just a minute.
Firstly however, online we can’t get to know you very well, hopefully I can meet you at Toy Con, but in the mean time can you introduce Nema Studios to us? Who are you guys and how did you get in to making your own toys?
Nic – Hi! So I’m Nic, I’m the co-founder and creative director at NeMA Studios. We are Britain’s only independent action figure and designer toy manufacturer. As for making our own toys…I’ve been a toy collector since I was 5 (32 years if your counting!) my dream has always been to make my own toys, so after founding the company 3 years ago (originally as a designer toy retailer Fhloston Paradise) the eventual goal was always to arrive at a point where we were making our own toys.
F ‘n’ F – One thing which we can see about you in the way you design your figures is that you are collectors yourselves. As a collector how does it feel when you get your own figures arrive – totally finished and packaged, and to hold them in your hands?
Nic – How does it feel to hold your own creation? It’s mind blowing! I’m not blind to the fact that I get to produce these things that folks only dream of doing. The level of work (and expense) that’s involved in creating these toys is huge, so as cool as is it to have that creation in my hand, what means more is when someone decides they want to buy it! For someone to want to part with their hard earned money in exchange for a toy we’ve created, the magnitude of that is not lost on me.
F ‘n’ F – Going back to you as collectors, what sort of things would we find if we delved in to your collections?
Nic – If you were to dig into my collection, you’d find a multitude of things that not only appeal but also inspire.
My personal collection is made up of Sofubi and classic vinyl toys (hence my obsession with making vinyl toys) as well action figures, Star Wars, Ninja Turtles, Toxic Crusaders and some lesser known lines like Golden Girl and Cosmic Cowboys…oh and bootlegs, many bootlegs!
I also keep and collect everything we do as a studio, because if I don’t like it, what’s the point in making it!
F ‘n’ F – The toy industry feels like it’s really growing lately with companies like Funko and KidRobot doing so well at a general consumer level. In the indie market it seems like the two main approaches are open edition customisable toys or really limited edition collectors pieces. Some of your pieces are super limited, but then some like the Duck Boy prototypes really lend themselves well to customising – have you ever thought about that route for one of your characters?
Nic – To be honest, as much as I should follow trends because ‘that’s what’s hot’ etc etc. I tend not to. Short run toys at our level is not a choice, it’s the norm. Would we like to create higher numbers of our toys, of course we would, but all of that is governed by demand and we are still growing and being discovered as a brand. As for a customisable piece, we did do those for Duck Boy and we are looking at potentially doing that again in the future, as for the character, I’m sure that will present itself as and when.
F ‘n’ F – Speaking of your figures, in a market where companies are putting their resources in to hyper realistic figures with 30+ points of articulation, I love seeing the retro style of your figures. Some of the characters remind me of Masters of the Universe… What is it about this style that attracts you?
Nic – So the short answer…I personally like the scale and style of the late 70s/early 80s, the 3.75” 5 POA style, as well as the bigger chunky style of the 90s,. Hyper realistic features and super articulation has never been my bag, so when it came time to create our own toys, the inspiration was drawn from the style we love. For example, when making the first line of DB toys, the style and inspiration was a combination between Sofubi, Hasbro’s Dinosaurs (from the Jim Henson TV Series) and one of my all time favourite figures the Kenner Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, super fun, beautiful sculpt, low articulation.
In the case of the Novatron line, you are correct with the MOTU reference, we draw heavily on the world of bootleg toys for that line, reimagining those crazy MOTU 5.5” knock offs from the 80s in the style of those bigger chunkier toys from the 90s or the classic 3.75” from the late 70s.
F ‘n’ F – The figures I like the most out of yours (and I think it goes back to my appreciation for Master of the Universe), can you tell us a bit more about the Novatron characters?
Nic – The Novatron, as explained above draws heavily on the world of bootleg and knock toys from the 80s. This was a time when bootlegs were actually really inventive and weren’t just copies made of inferior materials.
The Novatron is designed to be an inclusive line that can take any character from those weird and wonderful bootleg toys and incorporate it into a shared universe, so those characters you’d buy from a discount store when you where a kid and use your imagination to battle them against other toys, now physically do exist in the same universe.
An example would be how we can take characters made by companies that haven’t existed for decades such as Acamas and S&T Sales and give them new life, redesigned and reimagined in a never ending shared universe.
F ‘n’ F – Let’s get back to Toy Con UK in London this weekend. You’ve just announced your exclusives so we know a bit of what to expect from you guys. What else are you going to be bringing to London for us?
Nic – As you said we’ll have our exclusive slate, we’ll also have the last remaining stock of the Deathlatron 8” figure, the last pieces of Duck Boy wave zero, some new apparel and a couple of surprises that haven’t been announced yet. We’ll also have the new 3.75” Deathlatron prototype and the pre production Jawbone samples on display, pre orders for both are currently still open!
F ‘n’ F – This is going to be our first time at Toy Con UK. For others like us who are new to the show what can we expect from the event as a whole? We attended plenty of comic cons, but something tells me that this more specialised event is going to have a different atmosphere.
Nic – Expect to get your mind blown! The level of talent on display at this event is immense and we as a studio are over the moon to be a part of it again this year.
F ‘n’ F – Beyond Toy Con and your Dethlatron pre-order, is there anything else on the cards for Nema Studios which we can get excited about for the future?
Nic – At present for 2020 we hope to complete wave 1 of the super deluxe 8” figures, this summer will see us release all of Novatron 3.75” wave 1, Deathlatron is only the first! We are also working with Beyond The Bunker to bring their comic book character Moon to life as an action figure. Towards the autumn/winter, look out for Novatron Keshi and our debut horror line.
It’s been an absolute pleasure speaking to Nic, and I for one now cannot wait for Toy Con UK on March 14th and 15th. If you’re in London during that weekend make sure you pop by and check out their stall. If you can’t make it, don’t worry, they’ve got a website which is well worth a look too: