Zach is TKO211 and TKO211 is Zach
Britt Dietz is also our fearless leader and owner of this site.
He is also known as P-51 Britt Dietz is a professional photographer and he photographs Aircraft, this is his website http://www.warbird-photos.com/
check it out.
http://www.21stcenturytoys.com/area21/a ... ?newsID=41
AREA-21 exclusive interview
- Britt Dietz guest interviews the AREA-21 presidency
This month AREA-21 is allowing the tables to be turned, giving the administrator of the famous GPXD message board, Britt Dietz, free reign to interview the AREA-21 presidency. So follow along and see how we did under the pressure of Britt Dietz.
Guest Interviewer Britt – Zach, tell me, of all the fans out there, how did you guys get the amazing gig of running the new Fan Club?
Zach – AREA-21 president – Believe it or not, it was really a matter of being in the right place at the right time. To make a long story short, we were introduced to 21st through a business contact. We were afforded the opportunity to tour the company, which is very uncommon and generally not open to the public. So, being long time fans of 21st, We jumped at the chance. We were introduced to the CEO, talked for a while about many different things, and then we left. I guess we made an impression because a couple months and several phone calls later he shared his vision of the new Fan Club with us. Together we pounded out the final details. He is very driven and he had a pretty clear vision for AREA-21 with high expectations. We really liked the ideas and it just clicked for us. It really was just luck. We feel very fortunate.
Britt- So you are President and Allen is vice president? Why the two of you?
Zach & Allen (Laughs)
Allen - AREA-21 Vice President – Well, the old saying of two heads are better than one is true, especially in this case. There is so much to be done. It really requires the efforts of the two of us to concept, develop, and execute all of the ideas for the vision that 21st has for AREA-21. It’s a lot of planning effort, especially communication back and forth with 21st Century Toys.
Zach- A lot had to be done up front and it does require the two of us to do it right.
Britt- With all that work, are you guys being paid by 21st. Don’t you have full time jobs?
Or is this your full time job?
Zach- We are not employees and we are not on the payroll of 21st. In fact, our office is not even in California. By design, 21st wanted an outside force to develop the idea for AREA-21. The site is paid for and supported by 21st Century Toys Inc. However, 21st has left it to us as fans to run with his concept. I am just happy to have the Fan Club up and running again.
Allen- Zach and I are business partners in another company that we own. So most of our day is spent on that endeavor. We run AREA-21 as fans on the side. As business owners, there are certain opportunities and freedoms of time that might not otherwise be there. I think a blend of business professionalism and fan interest were at the core of the requirements as he looked for the new Fan Club presidency. As Zach said earlier, we were lucky enough that 21st saw that in us.
Zach- We really enjoy being close to 21st and we feel we won’t let the fans down with Area-21. It’s really a fun project to be involved with.
Britt- Being Fan Club president and being close to 21st, how important would you say is the relationship between 21st and the fans?
Zach- It's VERY important! 21st recognizes it, too. Believe me, 21st has been a dream to work with. They really are concerned with making AREA-21 the best Fan Club ever. It took several months to lay out the plans for AREA-21. It is a top priority over there. In the very short 2 months since we went live, there has been a tremendous response from fans. This is just like a snowball... and we have just begun to roll! Some plans require more planning and timing has to be right. But rest assured, 21st has invested much to seeing this new Fan Club succeed. Long term!
Britt- What type of “member benefits” can fans look forward to in AREA-21?
Zach- The future? Well I am not quite sure where it will all go. There are more ideas on the table as we look at the success of AREA-21. To be honest, the number of fans has a lot to do with those ideas. We have a very good following right now and it is still quite early to know which ones to develop first. For now, I can tell you that 21st is going to be doing a lot of PR through AREA-21 this year. The Sahara Movie screening, for example. I got a call from 21st saying they had 20 passes to give out to fans to join them. So we worked out some details, added some prizes and after much of the planning, I think its going to be a blast for fans. For those who can't make it, we will of course be reporting from the event much like Toy Fair last month. But the future could hold anything really. 21st is very committed to re-connecting with fans!
Britt- Will we see exclusives in the future that will only be available through AREA-21?
Allen- (Laughs) We knew this would come up. We certainly hope so!
Zach- We get many, many requests for doing something exclusive for AREA-21 Fans. You know one of my favorite pieces in my collection was the old Fan Club exclusive 1:18 Me-109. I think it’s because I felt like I had something that not everyone else had or even knew about. An exclusive is one topic on the table. Fan membership is directly tied to 21st's ability to make an exclusive work and things are looking positive. Membership is still climbing. Because we started all over from the ground up, we know the numbers we have now are accurate so that is very positive.
Allen- We are working to bring exclusives to AREA-21. We would like them ourselves!
Britt- Can we expect more contests from Area-21 in the future?
Allen- Absolutely! The Marines and the F-104 giveaway have been very successful. I know they (21st Century Toys) got a kick out of the submitted photos. So AREA-21 can count on more contests in the near future.
Britt- Now that you've seen the upcoming Avenger and Starfighter in person at Toy Fair, can you elaborate on the detail and functionality of the aircraft?
Zach- Where to begin? Well, both planes are...AMAZING. I like them both equally but from different perspectives. The F-104 is a rocket, really stunning. It's an elegant aircraft that in 1:18 does not disappoint. The Avenger, well – it’s very big! I think with all the moving parts on that plane it’s going to be a real value for the buck. The folding wings, the moving turret, flaps, rudder, elevators, even a crew access hatch. It’s really beautiful and I’m excited to have another Pacific Theater plane!
Britt- We've all been dying to know about that new P-51 Mustang we saw in the video and photos from Toy Fair. What types of features appear on it so far that sets it apart from the original P-51 Mustangs from 21st
Zach- Worlds apart! It is bar none the most accurate 1:18 scale Mustang ever! The one shown in New York was still a prototype and did not show the "special features" yet to be seen. 21st still hasn't fully disclosed what that feature will be. However, I think I overheard a discussion on working ammunition doors in the wings. It seems to have all the extras that seem to be the new standard for 21st. Flaps, rudder, elevators, and the cooling doors on the bottom. It just looks very sharp. I know 21st is working hard to make this plane extra special.
Britt- Is 21st limiting the aircraft they do to the standard box size that is currently being used for 1:18 XD aircraft?
Allen- For now, yes. We have been told that it is critical for the plan-o-gram system in retail distribution. We don't know all of the details, but it is a major requirement, at least for now. Bigger boxes would mean bigger planes for sure, but for now the footprint for the boxes and thus fitting the planes in the current box is the focus.
Britt- We saw a lot of new packaging for the aircraft in the Toy Fair coverage. Are the aircraft packages getting a new facelift?
Zach- Yeah, some of the new paint schemes will be featured in a new "highlight" special edition box. The upcoming Flight 19 Avenger series, for example, really needed something special for it. A dedicated package look is believed to really add interest and excitement to unique events, planes or aces in history.
Allen- There will still be the main package look for the majority of the line, but the expansion of movie-licensed products had 21st thinking that they wanted to do a couple of special edition projects. We are gathering more information as we speak and hope to give a better-detailed report on this subject in an article very soon.
Britt- The database archive on the 21st site appears to be missing some things, or at times the photos are not that great. Are there plans to make the database the one definitive source for 21st Century Toys products?
Allen- That is one of my tasks. It has taken a lot of work just to get it to this point. The old photo database was in such a state of disrepair when we received it, especially the quality of the older photos. In fact, we are working hard right now to bring that database up to speed with all new photos. It’s just going to take some time. To more directly answer your question, yes - at some point this year, we hope to have it become the best source for viewing all the product produced by 21st.
Britt- One problem that the fans run into is various sites saying conflicting things about release dates, aircraft status, upcoming aircraft rumors, etc. How valid should the fans believe these rumors to be and should they check in on the 21st Century Toys website to find the REAL answers to these rumors?
Zach- That was the first item on the agenda when AREA-21 was in it’s infancy. 21st knew that the information being passed around was often times very incorrect. So we knew early on that we had an uphill battle to change that in fans’ minds. Even for 21st, it was initially difficult. AREA-21 meant a significant change in the way that 21st was communicating or rather not communicating. As I said before, this one area is perhaps the single biggest change 21st has made this year. They are very open with us and tell us everything they can, with the understanding that timing and industry secrets have to be considered for the long-term health of the company. As the AREA-21 Fan Club presidency, we work very hard to bring you every shred of news as we receive it. Also, because it comes down directly from 21st, you can bet it’s the closest thing to talking directly to them yourselves. Our mission is to be first to report the news that you can count on to be the most accurate.
Britt- Does 21st listen to the fans on message boards, say like GPXD, and take the various comments made (within reason) into consideration?
Zach- (Laughs) YES! I was hoping you would ask me this question! I am a fan and I have been collecting the 1:18 scale stuff since 2001. I was a member of the old Groundpounders message boards and I currently am a member of the new GPXD site.
For those fans out there who are on that board, I am perhaps better known as TKO211.
In fact, since you are the administrator of that board, I have been meaning to ask a special favor of you.
Britt- What can I do for you?
Zach- Could you change my tag / title to reflect the fact that I am the AREA-21 president? I think that might cut down on confusion on the boards as I still like to post and participate. Is that a problem or will fans mind?
Britt- We can work that out. I normally wouldn't do that, but yeah - I think it’s a great idea given the sensitivity of the situation. Allen, do you post on GPXD? I can change yours, too, if you like.
Allen- No. I don't post. I watch but I leave the posting to Zach. He is the vocal member of the team. We sit next to each other all day and discuss everything on the boards. So I currently don't need to post. If that changes for me, I’ll let you know.
Zach- That would be great if you could do mine. I have long been a fan and I have many friends there. To come back to your question. Yes, 21st does listen. They do not personally participate on the boards and I believe that is a company policy. I get to have that freedom because I don't work for them. However, the information on those boards is very important and it does hold a lot of weight in the consideration of products. Reviewing and evaluating fans’ reactions on those open forums makes a big difference. Also, because I am a fan there myself, I am often asked what I think of the information.
Every fan should know that 21st is running a business and there are restrictions to every project so it is unrealistic to please everyone all of the time. But they sincerely do their best. AREA-21 and in fact the ability for me to even be having this interview is a testament to fact that they do care about the fans.
Britt- Finally - what's your favorite 21st Century Toys aircraft to date?
Allen- F-104 all the way! I like the unique design of that airplane and 21st did a really great job at making it accurate. I am also really looking forward to seeing the new 1:18 ME 262. It has been a long time coming for that plane.
Zach- That’s tough. You know I am a plane nut so picking just one is hard... To date, I would say the BF-109 G's. Roy and 21st really did a smashing job on that plane. Really packed with detail. As for the future? My heart really goes out to that new Avenger. It’s going to be a great year over all though. There's never been a better time to be a 21st Century Toys fan!