Do you find your 3-eyed Evil Warrior lacking protection against Power Sword attacks? How about noticing that your Skeleton-faced overlord could use a wicked bat wing-shaped blade? Perhaps that a certain Space Cop would benefit from a powerful blast that emanates from his mighty ring? Well folks, now you’re in luck! No longer do your action figures need to be ashamed by their lack of accessories, because Spy Monkey Creations Inc. has got you covered! Today we’re talking to the President and Lead Designer at Spy Monkey, Jeremy Sung.
MTV Geek!: For the readers unfamiliar with your company, could you tell us what Spy Monkey Creations Inc. is all about?
Jeremy Sung: Spy Monkey Creations is an endeavor by fans, for fans. I've been an action figure fan for a long time, and I love accessories. Our current focus is on bringing high quality hand crafted accessories to fellow collectors in order to enhance their collections.
Geek!: How did the company get started?
JS: The whole project started when I created the Master Blade of the Empyrean. It was a hobby project I undertook to make a figure in my collection a little bit more fun. The fan response was so strong that I founded Spy Monkey Creations Inc. in order to bring that, and other fan created accessories, to my fellow collectors.
Geek!: What has been your most successful product to date?
JS: Our first item, the Master Blade of the Empyrean was and continues to be popular, but our most recent item, the Dark Arsenal of the Space Pirate has been an incredibly strong seller.
Geek!: What (if any) has been the biggest pitfall? Any horror stories of things going horribly wrong, either with procuring materials or in the manufacturing process?
JS: Oh yes! I'm sure every small business has it's share of horror stories, and we are no exception! On our Shield of Destruction Eye of Doom we'd originally been using these great glass taxidermist's eyes. Unfortunately the supplier was not able to keep up with demand and it ended up delaying our orders significantly. Ultimately we had to switch to a plastic doll and bear eye, which also looks great and ultimately solved the supply problem. But it's a shame as the glass eyes were made in the USA, and I like to try to support fellow US based businesses when possible.
Geek!: You guys seem to be on top of things when it comes to releasing product coinciding or (in the case of Tools of the Master Strategist) before figures hit the market. About how long from concept does it take to have an accessory ready for the consumption of the masses?
JS: Since everything we do is hand cast in the US, our production cycle is pretty fast. From initial concepts to first castings we can turn out a new product in about a month. This is assuming the design is sound and passes QC. Working in resin means we have to account for shrinkage in curing and test durability carefully. So the bulk of the time is really taken up in planning, design and testing. The actual fabrication, molding and casting is relatively fast as long as we have the designs locked down.
The compatibility of your products with the hottest "adult collector" lines is really a boon to the fans that feel slighted by a lack of great accessories. While the fantasy-themed weapons are quite plentiful, there's considerably less in the superhero department. Have you been looking to develop any new products for that line, or possibly some of the current energy blasts in different colors?
JS: We're big superhero fans and our Emerald Energy Accessories were a big hit! The main reason we've not yet expanded that line is that there are issues with the fit/function of clip-on accessories. Weapon grips and handles are relatively easy to do while allowing compatibility with a variety of figures. Clip-on's are harder to keep universal. We do plan on re-visiting the superhero genre, it just may take some more R&D.
Geek!: As we've seen with The Dark Arsenal of the Space Pirate & The Tools of the Master Strategist, Spy Monkey is capable of some really intricate systems that are just as high, if not better, quality than the lines they're made for. How much more complicated were the "plug and play" aspects of the sets to sculpt and pull off than the axes and shields that have come before?
JS: Every product teaches us something new, and the Arsenal/Tools sets were a real challenge. The fit/function of the plug system was something we weren't sure would work in resin, so we had to very carefully test those. The toughest issues were accounting for resin shrinkage. The resin we use shrinks about 2% as it cures, so this makes parts with narrow fit/function tolerances challenging as you have to account for the shrinkage with some guesswork.