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Tough Talk: Q&A with Damon Lau of Round 5

While the world of Mixed Martial Arts continues to evolve as a global sport and cultural phenomenon for many, the MMA merchandise market has virtually exploded in the past couple of years as well. Round 5 has capitalized on this booming industry by creating some of the most realistic looking MMA action figures out there including all your favorite fighters like Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Georges St-Pierre, and many more.

Following the recent release of the UFC Ultimate Collector Series 1, Round 5 strikes again with the unveiling of Series 2 that features six of the most popular UFC fighters out there including Michael Bisping, BJ Penn, Randy Couture, Forrest Griffin, Tito Ortiz and Kimbo Slice.

We catch up with Round 5 President and Co-Founder Damon Lau to get the inside scoop on these pint-sized combat sport collectibles.

Tell us a bit about Round 5 and what inspired you to create MMA figurines?

My brother Barron and I were big MMA fans, and we happened to be working with Randy Couture on a project for our marketing company.  We were kicking around ideas about products that MMA fans would like. We talked about things like foam cauliflower ears and the discussion came around to collectible figurines.  Randy said at that point that if we ever moved forward to call him, and we did, and he was our first figure.

There are many popular fighters out there today. What criteria do you use to choose which fighters you’re going to go with?

We really listen to consumers on this one.  We are all big fans of the sport, so we have an idea of which figures would be popular, and we get plenty of feedback from fans as to who they would like to see.  So the obvious ones like Couture, Matt Serra, Tito Ortiz, Rampage Jackson are in there with Clay Guida, Gina Carano and Kimbo Slice, who have been requested often.

Round 5 figurines feature some pretty realistic details and character attributes. Tell us a bit about how the design process works.

It’s an evolving process.  The technology available to make the realistic stylization of each figure is way ahead of even where we were when we issued the first collectibles two years ago.  Our goal is to stay true to the sport and make figurines that fans and collectors want to own and that the athletes are proud of.

Have you given any thought to introducing related accessories like signature T-shirts and fight gear?

We have released some limited editions with signature accessories, and we have plans on doing that with all of our future releases.  We will even be creating some product that is not just a variant of the base series, but entirely different, utilizing some of these items.

Any plans to expand beyond UFC figurines and target popular fighters from other promotions (WEC, Strikeforce, etc.)?

Our agreement with Jakks Pacific and the UFC allows us to continue to produce figurines from athletes and other MMA personnel from outside of the promotion.  They are all being given the same consideration as UFC fighters.

UFC Collector Series 1 and 2 included some pretty heavy hitters. Any hints on who we can expect to see included in Series 3?

We plan on offering up several more Series in the coming year, in addition to some limited edition and special products. We can’t say who is in those Series, but we are always interested in hearing feedback from fans and collectors as to which athletes and which unique products they are interested in.

Interview by: Mike Pokutylowicz (Join on Facebook / Follow on Twitter)

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