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My Q&A with SLUG Zombies designer John Rauschelbach

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#1 fkro6784

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 07:15 AM

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On Instagram I recently connected with the guy who designed all of the SLUG Zombies characters. His name is John Rauschelbach, and he also designed the Micro Smurfs Village and Micro Mario World toys, plus a bunch of other cool stuff. I asked him if he'd be willing to do a Q&A for my site to talk about SLUG and other projects, and he agreed. I just posted it. What's really cool is he answered the questions many of us have had, like what was the deal with the Monsters and Aliens series, and what exactly happened to Series 5 and the rest. He even provided a bunch of great images, like some SLUG Monsters and Aliens designs he did! 

 

Check out the Q&A here:

 

http://www.littlewei...igner-john.html

 

 


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#2 ironmask

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 07:17 AM

Very cool, Frank!


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#3 steverotters

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 07:26 AM

Kick ass!

 

Follow up questions:

 

What has to happen between him and Jakks and US to get these other figures produced?  

Does he have the rights to the original characters?

Using Kickstarter and probably a name other than "SLUG Zombies" can we get these figures made? 


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#4 fkro6784

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 08:36 AM

I am guessing the rights remain with Jakks, and that Jakks wouldn't do anything else with the line since since they were starting to have issues with companies challenging trademarks because of the many pop culture references. Based on John's comments, it seems like that had more to do with the line's end than sales (and could explain why Series 5 was never released anywhere even though it was made). I can try to see if he has anymore thoughts regarding those questions, though.

 

I have to say, I was most bummed seeing that Audrey II-inspired design for the Monsters, knowing that figure could have happened but didn't. I've always wanted an Audrey II mini figure. Actually, I would have been so into that entire Monsters line based on those designs.


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#5 steverotters

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 09:16 AM

Yeah, please follow up.  For all we know he has a great relationship with Jakks and/or he maintains the rights to his drawings and original characters.  As long as we divorce the characters from both Jakks and the name SLUG Zombies (relieving them from any and all trademark pressure), I bet we could fund further releases ourselves.  

 

As a side note, I also collected Smurf's Micro Village and Jakks did the same thing -- they ended production and distribution mid run, leaving packaging showing figures that never came to the marketplace.  Extremely frustrating as a collector -- every time.  

 

I also wonder if John is bothered when his characters and creations are scheduled to be produced and released and then they, abruptly, are cancelled and canned instead.  Even if he's paid in full, it still must be a let down to not see a project fulfilled.  Maybe he doesn't care either way.  I wonder if he keeps a set of each of the toylines that actually come to fruition -- it just seems like the ultimate validation of one's talent and labor.   


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#6 fkro6784

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 09:25 AM

As a side note, I also collected Smurf's Micro Village and Jakks did the same thing -- they ended production and distribution mid run, leaving packaging showing figures that never came to the marketplace.  Extremely frustrating as a collector -- every time.  

 

I also wonder if John is bothered when his characters and creations are scheduled to be produced and released and then they, abruptly, are cancelled and canned instead.  Even if he's paid in full, it still must be a let down to not see a project fulfilled.  Maybe he doesn't care either way.  I wonder if he keeps a set of each of the toylines that actually come to fruition -- it just seems like the ultimate validation of one's talent and labor.   

 

Ugh, really? I remember seeing those in stores and liked them (I even bought a pack of the Smurfs), but wasn't aware they ended it mid-run.

 

I am sure it's a letdown for the designer when that happens. I'd imagine it's not uncommon in that industry and line of work, though. 

 

I posted this on Facebook as well and a lot of other people have been bringing up Kickstarter, too. I'll let you know what he has to say about there being any possibility of something like that. 


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#7 jkaris

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 10:21 AM

Zombicide had some issues with their pop-culture references too. That is why they ended up changing the artwork for the "Kill Bill" characters.

Excellent interview, thank you and John Rauschelbach for putting this out!
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#8 Strontium Dog

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 10:48 AM

I must say, I don't buy the legal pressure argument. Parody is protected under US law. Most likely just a convenient excuse for Jakks to ditch an unprofitable line.
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#9 plasticfiend

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 12:55 PM

I must say, I don't buy the legal pressure argument. Parody is protected under US law. Most likely just a convenient excuse for Jakks to ditch an unprofitable line.


Even if they are in the right under the whole parody category... The legal issues would have been extremely expensive. Even if Jakks wasn't at fault. Imagine trying to go toe to toe w/ Disney's legal team. Let's say it drags on a year or two. And then you are out thousands if not more.

Great interview. Thanks for sharing!

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#10 TanRnet

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 04:01 PM

Very cool to read.  I really liked the artwork provided.  My girls have almost all of the smurf villages. 

 

I missed all the SLUG Zombies when there were out, only found one pack on sale at K-Mart for .60 cents about two months ago.


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#11 fkro6784

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Posted 15 January 2015 - 04:29 PM

Even if they are in the right under the whole parody category... The legal issues would have been extremely expensive. Even if Jakks wasn't at fault. Imagine trying to go toe to toe w/ Disney's legal team. Let's say it drags on a year or two. And then you are out thousands if not more.

Great interview. Thanks for sharing!

PF

 

I had the same thought. Unless the product is a big money-maker, it's probably not worth it to spend the funds and effort to go through legal battles. I don't doubt that the line wasn't as successful as they wanted it to be, but I also don't doubt that legal issues played a part in its end. 


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#12 fkro6784

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Posted 16 January 2015 - 06:51 AM

John left this comment on the blog post:

 

"Hey everybody, John here. Thanks for all the great comments, glad you liked the designs. The whole team at Jakks worked really hard and proud people responded. We didn't have any TV commercials or series tie in, but it still did relatively well. With all the great response, maybe this won't be the last we'll see of the line. If anything has the chance of coming back to life it's zombies! If any news comes up I'll share it on Instagram."

 

He also told me in email that he's brainstorming with the guy he worked with at Jakks who he now works with on the Beeline stuff to think of ways it might be able to get going again, so who knows what could happen. I think all the response this has gotten has shown that there's still a lot of interest.


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#13 jkaris

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Posted 16 January 2015 - 07:49 AM

That is great news! Hopefully we see them come back!
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#14 PlasticSoul

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Posted 16 January 2015 - 08:14 AM

Wonderful work man. Answered a lot of questions that i had been curious about for awhile now. This line is kind of special to me for the fact it brought me to lrg in the first place and i don't think i would have made some of the good friends i have now or started sculpting toys otherwise.

 

If you do end up asking him anything else i would love to know why they changed the name of my favorite figure from Mike Biteson to whatever it was when it released. Was it Jakks making the call or did someone force them to do it?


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#15 iwao

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Posted 17 January 2015 - 06:51 AM

Awesome interview and great pics. Very cool to see the production versions of series 5 and some series 7 concepts that weren't on the poster. Would've liked to get that  Babydoll from Sucker Punch zombie hunter.

 

Hopefully the Jakks employees that grabbed the series 5 figures find their way over to LRG someday.


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#16 steverotters

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 07:43 PM

I've put a review (including pictures of 34 figures) from the Mario Microland, designed by John Rauschelbach here:

 

http://letyourtoysli...-microland.html

 

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#17 fkro6784

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 06:59 AM

I've put a review (including pictures of 34 figures) from the Mario Microland, designed by John Rauschelbach here:

 

http://letyourtoysli...-microland.html

 

Those look really cool. I love that skeleton koopa. Where do you find them? TRU? I think I bought my Smurfs pack at Target back when they were out but don't remember ever seeing the Mario ones there.


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#18 steverotters

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 07:04 AM

Yes, I have only seen the Mario Microland at TRU.  I remember the Smurfs ones were at TRU, WM, and Target.  


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#19 fkro6784

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 07:18 AM

Yes, I have only seen the Mario Microland at TRU.  I remember the Smurfs ones were at TRU, WM, and Target.  

 

Thanks, I figured that was the case. I might pick a couple up next time I go there.


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#20 steverotters

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 07:32 AM

I am pretty sure some packs are shortpacked.   I don't know for sure, because the popular packs might just get been bought up earlier.  Either way, TRU online list all 12 packs. 


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#21 tarmogoyf

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Posted 21 January 2015 - 07:19 PM

That was a really fun read.  Good stuff and nice work!


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#22 resfirma

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Posted 24 January 2015 - 10:05 AM

Great stuff!  Thanks for this!  The cancellation of this line basically killed my passion for the hobby.  But I still contend that the thought and creativity that went into this line made it one of the best ever.


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#23 ironmask

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 11:21 AM

I've never seen that Dry Bones. That's a must have, along with Morty Koopa.


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#24 keywolf

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Posted 01 February 2015 - 03:49 AM

Excellent interview, so much interesting information. But oh man, I almost wish I'd never seen the planned SLUG Monsters designs- I LOVE them. So disappointed that they'll probably never exist.

 

Also, I wonder if any of the planned glow in the dark zombies ever got made? I thought they were a neat idea.


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#25 bigburty

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Posted 01 February 2015 - 06:50 AM

Also, I wonder if any of the planned glow in the dark zombies ever got made? I thought they were a neat idea.


Yes they did bud - a guy posted some pics up on the Minifigure Militia Facebook page. He was sent them by the guy following a review he did on them. He also has some figures from the 'unreleased' later series.
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