Toy Talk: Diamond Select Toys Designer Nelson X. Asencio
Oct 13, 2019
Toys, Statues and other collectibles don’t just magically appear on store shelves. A lot of work goes into the concept, design, sculpting and final production of these items, and many of the people who work behind-the-scenes with companies like Diamond Select, DC Collectibles and Gentle Giant, among others, remain mostly unknown to their appreciative audience: the final consumer.
With Toy Talk, we hope to introduce you to the artisans behind some of your favorite collectibles, and to let them enjoy their well-deserved moment in the spotlight!
This month, we welcome Diamond Select Toys Designer, Nelson X. Asencio for this PREVIEWSworld interview!
PREVIEWSworld: How did you get involved in the toy industry as a designer?
Nelson X. Asencio: I started out my career as a comic book artist working for Crusade Comics when I met William Tucci at the Comic Den in Kew Gardens. He saw my work and hired me on the spot. I started out drawing and inking backgrounds on the second issue of Shi and eventually inked some covers and full interiors for the series. A few years later I went to San Diego to look for other opportunities in the field of comics and I ran into a good friend and artist, Mshindo. Mshindo introduced me to Digger, the owner of Art Asylum, a toy design studio in my hometown of Brooklyn, which was great cause they were only a train ride away.
I showed him my work and a few weeks later, I got a call from Digger and started my first project in Toys. It was inking some intellectual properties for the studio. When I finished that project, I started working on other things for the studio and learned how to draw control art, which are turnarounds that the sculptors use as a guide to sculpt the action figures we created. I also learned how to mold and cast the sculpts we worked on. There was so much to learn, and I was up for learning as much as possible! A few years later, I was asked to run the 2-D department and became a Senior Art Director for Art Asylum and jumped at the opportunity. In 2005, I broke away from Art Asylum and started Storybox Ink Studios, catering to the toy industry. My ultimate goal is to release my own Intellectual properties and also to collaborate with more artist friends.
PREVIEWSworld: With Art Asylum you designed the Minimates body that's been used in countless characters and licenses. Tell us about that creation…
Nelson X. Asencio: If I remember correctly, it was around the year 2000. We were in the process of developing our IPs after we got some investors onboard. At the time, mini-figures such as Medicom’s Kubricks were hot, and one of the things we wanted to do was a “pre-school” line, so we created a few different items. We started our research and picked up as many different figures we could find on the market at that time. I sat down with the guys in the 2-D department and started brainstorming.
Also, in the early stages, we were using “Mimix” as a working title. One thing I knew was that I wanted it to be fully articulated since these mini-figures mainly had the basic five points of articulation. So, we hit the drawing board and started designing Minimates, playing with different points of articulations, possible ball joints, and also playing with proportions! Eventually, we came up with the body which has been used ever since!
PREVIEWSworld: Talk about working on the Mortal Kombat Gallery Sub-Zero PVC, the first Mortal Kombat figural offering for DST…
Nelson X. Asencio: Working on the Mortal Kombat Gallery PVCs was awesome because I have been a huge fan of the property for many years now. I remember going to the local pizzeria and playing this game with my friends when I was younger, of course Sub-Zero and Raiden were my favorite characters! When Chuck Terceira (DST President) asked me to work on this, I was ecstatic to say the least, so I’m happy Diamond Select has the property now.
Sub-Zero has become such an iconic character over the years, so I needed to come up with something badass for him. I sat down and watched some YouTube videos of him in action and thought of the still moments and of the fatalities. I wanted to freeze him in time (no pun intended!) using his abilities, and I’m hoping people like it, because I feel it’s important to try and give the fans something that showcases their favorite characters in poses they love.
PREVIEWSworld: Finally, looking back on all your years with Diamond Select Toys, what is one of your favorite projects you designed?
Nelson X. Asencio: As I look back at all these years designing for Diamond Select Toys, I am honored to have worked on so many properties. I would have to say that some are my favorite pieces have been the latest ones because as the years go by, I see myself thinking in things differently design-wise. Another thing I learned drawing control art and being around sculptors, is thinking 3-dimensionally.
I try to envision my designs from different points of view, so the statue looks interesting from different angles. That being the case, at this point Bruce Lee Water Gallery PVC (OCT192560) is one of my favorites, especially because it’s Bruce Lee! It’s an honor to get a chance to work on an icon like Bruce, and Rocco the sculptor did a beautiful job!