By Jarrett Kruse

First the AFJ server was down and then their was an issue getting the DSLR photos off of the camera I borrowed for the event. Then I had to wade through the thousands, yes, thousands of shots that I took but I am happy to report that the DIAMOND SELECT Walk-Through was a thrilling success. As I got to the DIAMOND SELECT booth to meet with longtime friend of the AFJ page, Marketing Supervisor Zach Oat, just by eyeballing the traffic of the booth on the very last day of the show, it was even more crowded that I expected. However with the precision of a conductor for the New York Philharmonic, Zach is able to orchestrate the herds of both press and merchants snaking their way around the jam packed DIAMOND SELECT booth. Zach's signature mutton chops were on full display this year and with each successive Toy Fair, they seem to somehow get thicker and thicker. Its a look only few could pull off and Zach has it down to an absolute science the same way Mr. T had a mohawk. Others have tried it but few can get away with it. Don't be mistaken or have any delusions, Zach is the ultimate fan as well as the gatekeeper of the DST brand at the Super Bowl of toys. While I spent years on the outside looking in at the DST booth, this was the third year that AFJ had an appointment with the toy titan and I was happily greeted by Zach as I dumped off my writers bag and began my way around the horseshoe shaped booth, my eyes widening at the feast of toys coming to market. With the precision of a two-guard in the NBA, Zach told me what I could photograph and what was off limits to all lenses no matter how big or small the outlet. As much I hated not being able to photograph a couple of the items that DST has coming down the pipe, I still felt like my hand was stamped at an exclusive New York club with bottle service. To be honest, I am just appreciative that folks like Zach have supported AFJ virtually from the time of its inception and are nice enough to give me the opportunity to walk the booth and take in the brilliantly put together displays.

Unlike some other booths at Toy Fair, DST's has an intimate setting with each property on two to three tiered shelving units with the strategic lighting of a Hollywood movie set. No glass cases here. No, no. You can get super close to the delicate museum style pieces and get the zoom shots you want without out interrupting the painstakingly put together scenes that were created with a healthy amount of glue and resin to maximize the visual punch. Zach and his team of Junkies manage to make the DST booth into a well stocked mancave that has you rethinking the way you display your entire collection. Several times I thought to myself, "Why didn't I think of that?" as I marveled at the way all of the setups flowed from section to section. It was beautifully all laid out for me to take in and I first did a visual lap of just where I wanted to start because if their is a kid in a candy store type feel to my many stops over the four day event, it is most definitely the DST booth that was the Willy Wonka factory style finale. It was serendipitous that I ironically had scheduled he DST walk-through as my last tour of Toy Fair '16. And like so many things that you do last, it is also usually the first thing you remember and the stop that resonates with you most. I was completely enamored at the plastic delights before me as I began my walk-through using my giant Selfie-stick with a bluetooth trigger as my own personal Staff of Ra shooting pic after pic of the immaculately organized displays. From the gorgeous final display of what the Ghostbusters Select rooftop diorama is going to look like to the new wave of Captain America: Civil War Select figures, I was in toy heaven.

If even possible, DST has stepped up their game even further with the character likenesses getting so close to real life that it is scary. The Sebastian Shaw Winter Soldier is going to be a big seller and fans will be astonished at the advancement in facial sculpts that DST has implemented into their product. It literally looks like a scene out of Innerspace where the actors are shrunk down to almost 7-inch figures that come with a plethora of extras inside their signature bookshelf packaging. The Mallrats figures I have been waiting for since 1995 are finally here and although we were not allowed to photograph them, the Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill figure Select figures were absolutely glorious. Trust me, they are worth the wait and Junkies will happily hand over their hard earned cash for these slices of cinema history. The 50th Anniversary of the live-action Batman '66 TV series that made Adam West a household name is being given amazing treatment to celebrate the historic milestone. Most notably, the famous Shakespeare bust that Bruce Wayne & Dick Grayson used to access the Batpoles as entrance to the Batcave will be available to fans for a scant $65. That is another thing to love about DIAMOND SELECT, you get the maximum amount of bang for your buck. Their clever diorama pieces encourage the collector to seek out all the pieces in a line of figures so that you will have an amazing scene to put your figures in when all is said and done. Even the stalwart MiniMates (Zach's favorite) seem to have improved in quality and several sets, particularly the Back to the Future line, has die hard fans of the greatest time travel series of all time rejoicing that at least someone is making some type of figures from the iconic series. Even new hit shows like GOTHAM and iZombie, both of which I review on the AFJ site, are getting the DST treatment with stunning likenesses and the signature extras that make the company continue to stand out. This year will be another banner one for DST as they continue to produce a wide and varied collection of licenses that make them impossible to ignore. I honestly cannot wait too see what Zach and the gang have up their sleeve next because you just know that they are going to have some super secret surprises coming our way in 2016 and beyond.




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