Well here we are again, another summer, another crazy 8-bit ZOMBIE summer release! I’ve got a lot to say about this one so I hope you’re up from some reading. This year I decided to make some changes. I’ve always tried to go all out with my summer releases and that usually meant tons of hats and tees. And these past few summer releases have been a great brand building and learning experience. But last year I came to the realization that maybe clothing isn’t necessarily my forte. Last summer I began to branch out a bit with the Power Packs, the Kids Club and the lunchboxes. And seeing how that stuff flew off the shelves compared to how slloowwllyyy clothing does, really made an impact on me and made me think about what I’m doing and where I want to take 8BZ as a brand. And not gonna lie, I have WAY more fun thinking outside of the box and coming up with unique stuff. Tees are great and I will always come out with new apparel. But creating these nostalgic “throw-back” type items has been the most fun I’ve had with this brand. I love coming up with this stuff and I love that it brings a smile to all of your faces too. So with this release, you’ll see a new trend with 8BZ – Less clothing and more emphasis on the those rad 80′s throw-back items that have gained my little brand so much attention lately.
So let’s get to the release itself. This release was not an easy one to accomplish. In fact I fought with it for months on end. To be honest, I feel like I’ve been wrestling this beast to the ground for far too long. But in the end it was all worth it. I took some chances and went out on some limbs. But the greater the risk, the greater the reward, as they say. And this release produced some amazing rewards. Let’s start with what I’m sure everyone will be most excited to see – 8-bit ZOMBIE’s very first custom toy!
This is very much a dream come true for me in a way. I’ve always had aspirations to create a toy with my brand and if you follow me on insatrgam, you know that I love and am obsessed with 80′s toys, haha. But a custom toy always just seemed out of reach for me. Luckily the awesome Scott Wetterschneider of Shinbone Creative reached out to me last year after seeing my power packs. And with that my journey into the world of custom toys began. You may recall the Thrashor tee that the that always amazing Matt Skiff designed for me last summer. Matt and I (Mostly Matt, haha) put our blood, sweat and tears into creating the raddest MOTU parody this side of Eternia. And we joked from the start about someday bringing Thrashor to life as a toy. Little did either of us know that a year later, that dream would become a reality. Custom toys have a pretty big learning curve and it’s a lot to take in and wrap your head around. But in the end, Thrashor turned out better than I even imagined he could. Scott did an absolutely amazing job of bringing Matt’s design into 3 dimensions. And The amazing dudes at True Cast Studio did a phenomenal job on the figures. Still blows my mind just how perfect it came out. These things are SERIOUSLY rad. Holding the prototype and then the first finished toy in my hands are moments I will never forget. This is only the first run of these figures, so if you missed out, fear not! Thrashor WILL be back soon.
Next up is the lunchbox! As I mentioned earlier, these lunchboxes have been an amazing thing for 8BZ. I absolutely LOVE doing them. And you guys seem to appreciate them as much as I do. I once again went back to Matt Skiff and he created pure magic for the 3rd time in a row. This was a toughie because we knew we had to top the last two. In the end I think we came up with a design worthy to sit along side the others. I really love this one and it looks fantastic on the red boxes. RIGHT before the release I had the idea to include a set of “behind-the-scenes” type cards that detail all three boxes. Matt and I wrote up some short thoughts on each lunchbox and I created the card designs in the style of the toy cardbacks that relate to each box. MOTU, Real Ghostbusters and G.I. JOE. (Which took WAY more time than I anticipated) But I think it was a great addition and will hopefully be fun insight for fans of the brand. Super happy with this one and it looks like you guys are too. As with the toy, there’s just something about holding these in your hands that transcends anything else I’ve done with 8BZ. So much nostalgia!
That brings us to the Garbage Bags! These evolved from the smash success of the Power Packs. With the Power Packs I finally turned those store product GPK images into actual stickers. (Something you guys had been asking for for quite some time) Those stickers alone garnered so much attention that there was no question that I had to do full-on GPK card parodies. I’d been wanting to do SOMETHING GPK-esque for quite a while so I was really excited to jump on this new pack. What I didn’t realize is just how big of an undertaking it would be. The amount of time and effort that went into what is basically a bag of stickers is pretty ridiculous, haha. I have to give major kudos to Matt Skiff and Pitchgrim for working me with on making these happen. They were both as excited as I was to work on these and they both put in a TON of time on these . Once again, everything turned out better than I even imagined it would. The parodies are just SPOT on. One of the highlights for me is the “Make Your Own” GPK card set. I had this idea ages ago but really didn’t know if it would ever work. Luckily Matt knew exactly what I wanted and in the end, the effect worked flawlessly. Can’t wait for everyone to get these and come up with their own creations. (And I want to see pics!) The posters are also SO cool. And the enamel pins are a fun little item that worked better than anticipated. I absolutely love this pack!
Onto apparel! As previously mentioned, I knew it was time to scale back on clothing. It just doesn’t make sense for me to have so many tees sitting on my shelves for SO long. Especially after seeing how fast other types of items can sell. I’ll never stop doing tees or hats but I definitely have to be smarter about them from here on out. One thing I get a lot of complaints about is stuff being out of stock. And hopefully that’ll change this year too. Doing LESS designs allows me to do MORE tees per design. So stuff should stay better stocked from now on. This also frees up more of my budget to use on bringing back older designs that you guys have been asking for for ages. All in all, I think this is going to be a great change for the brand. One more change to discuss before we get to the new designs – PRICE. You may have noticed that prices have gone up. This is actually something that I’ve needed to do for a very long time. I simply haven’t been charging enough. Especially when you consider the ridiculous amount of money I spend on freebies. I’m not willing to stop sending out all those rad retro goodies with orders because I feel like it’s become a hallmark of the 8BZ buying experience and is something that makes people happy. So to be able to keep doing that and keep the brand afloat, prices have to go up. Nothing crazy. Just a few bucks more. Hopefully everyone will understand that this was eventual and really did need to happen.
As for the new tees, I’m unbelievably happy with all of them! Matt Skiff and I once again created a classic toy package parody design like last year’s Thrashor tee. This time based on quite possibly my favorite toy line ever – G.I. JOE! I didn’t think it would be possible to top Thrashor but Noxious gave him a run for his money. I also had a blast creating a G.I. JOE file card and back story for our new villain. I absolutely love creating these characters and this is a trend you can expect to continue. Matt and I also came up with our take on one of the most classic logos from the 80′s – Transfomers! Again, super pleased with the end result. Matt is just TOO good. Chad Manzo whipped up a “sequel” to last summer’s “Villains” tee, aptly named “Heroes.” Turned out so amazing! And Pitchgrim once again blew my mind with another tribute to classic NES cover art. All of these designs are jam packed with so much detail and so much awesomeness. All 3 dudes really knocked it out of the park. Cryface also did the mega rad brim for the Grayskull hat and I absolutely love that too!
I know what you’re thinking – “This release seems a little small” And “Where’s the Kids Club!?” Well, there was a lot more planned. More hats, another tee or two, a new Power Pack and new Kids Club stuff. But the toy and Garbage Bag put a massive dent in my budget. It was a really tough tough balance and I did the best I could with the money I had. Fear not though, that stuff WILL be coming soon. And believe me it IS awesome and will be worth the wait. And as I mentioned before, I plan on bringing back a whole slew of older hat and tee designs. So keep your peepers peeled for that! And to those who may be disappointed that there’s not more clothing, stick with me and I’ll make it up to you in the coming months. The changes rolling out with this release should make for an overall better shopping experience with better apparel and higher stock levels.
So that’s it! I didn’t quite accomplish everything I wanted with this release but what I did accomplish is, in my humble opinion, the best 8BZ stuff to date. And hopefully you agree. So what’s next for 8BZ? What can you expect to see in the near future? Well you’ll definitely see more crazy, outside-of-the-box, 80′s nostalgic products. I’ve already got some AWESOME ideas for Halloween that I’m really excited about. And more toys hopefully! But that all depends on you guys. If you buy’em, I’ll keep makin’em! And if 8-bit ZOMBIE slowly morphed from a clothing line into an 80′s toys store….well, that wouldn’t hurt my feelings a bit. =)
Thanks a ton for the support everyone. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to see so much love for my little brand. The response has again been overwhelming. And a MASSIVE thanks to all my artists. They all went above and beyond and put in so much amazing effort. But I definitely have to take the time to single out my good buddy Matthew Skiff. I dumped an INSANE amount of work in Matt’s lap on this release. And not only did he do everything I asked of him, everything he did was absolutely TOP notch stuff. Without all of his help on this release, SO much of this stuff quite simply wouldn’t have happened. So thanks a ton Matt.
Thank you and see you guys again this Halloween!