There are only 48 hours left on Creative Beast Studio’s Beasts of the Mesozoic Kickstarter! This has been an amazing campaign that has dinosaur lovers and toy collectors freaking out in the best way. Toy Wizards got together with toy designer and owner of Creative Beast Studios, David Silva, to discuss his history as a toy designer, toy lover, and to learn more about this incredible line of horned dinosaurs!
Hi David! Thank you for giving Toy Wizards this interview. Your profile on Creative Beast Studio’s website is wonderfully extensive and does a great job of highlighting your toy sculpting experience with McFarlane and NECA before moving onto your own ventures. Currently, your second Kickstarter for the horned dinosaurs in the Beasts of the Mesozoic has completely crushed it and surpassed its goal in under two weeks. Even now, there are only 48 hours left on it! Was the experience the same with the first wave Raptors line? Did you go into that one more nervous and this one more confidently, or was the experience launching the campaigns unique?
David: Each time the experience has been different. When I did the raptor series Kickstarter, I was probably a bit too naive to know what I was getting into. Even after doing a lot research, and talking with some of my peers who’d done it before, ultimately it seemed pretty straightforward.
I had no expectations, I just wanted to see what would happen. With this Ceratopsian Series Kickstarter, I went into it with experience so I felt pretty good about it, but it also brought the weight of expectations and due to the higher price points, it has created new challenges. Plus, three years had passed so a lot of what I thought I learned the first time about marketing, funding projections, social media reach etc., doesn’t completely apply this time. Although both Kickstarters offer dinosaur action figures, they’ve each been a unique experience.
How many iterations of design did you go through with the raptors line and the horned line before you were happy with the final result? Do you design mostly by yourself, or is Creative Beast Studio a team effort?
David: The design and art direction in general is all done by myself, though it is a team effort. For example with the Raptor Series, I would first paint up a color design, which would be inspired by a modern-day bird. Then I would pass the color design as well as my bird reference to my package illustrator, Jonathan Kuo, who would then take those elements and do his own take on it for his illustration.
After he’d finish his rendition, I would not only incorporate his work into the figure’s final paint work, but often times it would influence the sculpt as well, that way everything looks consistent. If there’s another sculptor involved this can also effect the design. The design process for each figure has it’s own natural evolution with final outcome being influenced by everyone involved. I like to think that each one already exists in the future, we just have to find it.
Clearly, these dinosaur figures are extremely desirable. Their paint and sculpt are incredible and I’ve had more than one friend in the collecting sphere tell me “I need these” in regard to the Beasts of the Mesozoic line. Based on the feedback you’re getting, do you think your fans are more dinosaur collecting purists, action figure junkies, are toy lovers all over the map?
David: I think there’s a good balance of toy collectors and dinosaur enthusiasts collecting the ‘Beasts’ line. My goal was to get action figure fans to buy dinosaurs, and dinosaur fans to buy action figures. So far it seems to be pretty even. I also really appreciate that the figures appeal to a very broad demographic in general.
Can you see these toys being used in an educational setting, or as part of a hands-on experience in a science museum?
David: Yes, I am actually very interested in getting more involved with educational markets and museums. There have been other dinosaur toys in that arena that have fairly-accurate depictions and are considered educational, but they are only static figures. I feel the articulation my figures have adds another level of interaction that is much more engaging and is ideal for sparking the curiosity of both young and old.
According to your biography, you’re a lover of robots. Giant robots are huge in the Toy Wizards’ readership sphere. After the horned Beasts have been manufactured and sent to backers, do you have any plans for a robot line of some sort? Or can fans look forward to Beasts of the Mesozoic wave three?
David: I am planning a third series for ‘Beasts’ with the Tyrannosaur Series, but eventually I hope to have more than one line running at once. I am interested in developing my own IP’s and one of them actually does incorporate robots. But I don’t want to say too much about that just yet.
Let’s take it to a more personal level. What has been the best toy line you’ve ever worked on? Have you ever made any super cool customs or have any wild designs in your secret stash?
David: There have been several lines that I really enjoyed working on. One of my first design projects was for the McFarlane’s Dragons toy line. I may have been the first person to design for that line because in the beginning there were no clans, no story, not even a direction. I was just told to design some bad ass dragons. So I did and what I came up with was apparently too crazy, so I had to reel it in and we ended up settling on some more traditional fantasy designs. Another favorite has been designing and sculpting the Kenner-inspired Predators for NECA.
I love taking those wacky vintage toys and re-imagining them as a realistic movie design. The most recent one I did was LaserShot Predator, and it’s pretty out there, but It’s one of my favorites so far. I also do the occasional custom figure as well. The Sinestro Core Predator that we recently released with the Green Lantern, was based on a custom I’d made from extra figure parts. (I eventually turned that custom into a Cyrax Predator… Sektor and Smoke Predator customs are still in progress.) I also made a cool Stallone ‘Cobra’ custom using a combo of Rocky IV and Nathan Drake parts that I’m pretty happy with.
What is a franchise, toy line, television show, movie, or hobby that you love that friends, families, and fans might not expect?
David: I’m actually a big fan of the Hayao Miyazaki films, especially My Neighbor Totoro. These stories help balance my otherwise focused and intense lifestyle. I’m also a great admirer of the music from the Final Fantasy video game series, owning around fifty soundtracks, though I’ve barely ever played the games themselves.
Do you make any convention appearance? Where can fans look forward to seeing you and these amazing creations from Creative Beast Studios in person?
David: I don’t do shows very often these days, but I was able to finally get a table at this past San Diego Comic Con and I hope to do it again next year. I also will be at Toy Con in Parsippany, NJ on Nov. 9th and 10th where I’ll have all of the Ceratopsian Prototypes on display.
Where can we find more of you and your work across the internet? Please plug all social media, projects, other interviews, podcast appearance, and anything else we should know!
What’s something about you that people don’t know that fans might find interesting?
David: I’m not sure if this is of interest, but I actually went to art school to draw comic books, being heavily inspired by Image Comics in the 1990’s. I earned a BFA in both Sequential Art and Illustration. But somehow that led me to wanting to design toys. I wanted to draw comics mainly because of Todd McFarlane’s Spawn comic, and then decided I wanted to go into action figures instead… mainly because of the McFarlane Toys action figures I collected in art school. My first job out of college was design work for McFarlane Toys and rest just fell into place after that.