Friday, January 31, 2014

Interview: Zombie Dog Tags

I ran into some fun folks when visiting OzComicCon, who made and sold custom dog-tags. When I wast told they had a Kickstarter going locally to me, to take their product to the next level. I got in touch with Sgt. Slaughter from Zombie Dog to talk about their products, vision and their Kickstarter Project.It finishes .

So, in a departure from my usual style, here's the interview...

Q: What is a Zombie Dog Tag?
A: Zombie Dog Tags are your way to show your support for humanity in a post-apocalyptic world. Zombie Dog Tags come in a range of styles and designs from engraved Zombie hunting permits, to the fully personalised MILSPEC embossed dog tags. Our hand anodised aluminium, USA made tags are engraved in Melbourne Australia and offer a smorgasbord of colours, images and text so you can dish out zombie carnage in style. Our super tough battle proven military grade dog tags are USA made, and embossed in Melbourne Australia on the same military equipment that has already seen action in Afghanistan and Iraq. They are built to last and will ensure you will be ready to defend the world when the invertible happens.

Q: What made you think to design and make your own dogtags?
A: We were involved in a Zombie related website that photographed models in their apocalypse gear with knives and swords.
Each model had their own unique serial numbered dog tags which they got to keep after the shoot. The dog tags proved so popular we ended up having to buy more and more. We were paying a fortune for crappy quality embossed dog tags and we had no flexibility when we wanted to change them as everything had to be ordered a month in advance. So we decided to buy our own US Military Dog tag embossing machine. After the massive crate arrived with our new pride and joy, we sat around talking about how great it would be if we could put images on our tags and create other Zombie related dog tags. After a bit of investigation, our options were cheap crappy production in china or invest in our own equipment and make high quality ones ourselves. We talked to friends and family and everybody said we were crazy as no one would want a Zombie Dog Tag so that was good enough for us, we love a challenge so we purchased a machine and here we are. Of course it was an overnight success and these days we have primetime shows like the Walking Dead and Hollywood movies with Brad Pitt fighting Zombies so of course everyone gets it now!

Q: How did zombies in popular culture influence your designs?
A: I’d say our biggest influence is when we’re sitting around watching Zombie movies and one of our team says ‘That person needs a tag that says …’. We love the classic symbols used like the biohazard sign, but we’re also trying to create our own, for example the crossbow in the Daryl Dixon quote tag we make ‘I ain’t nobody’s bitch’.

Q: What about other apocalyptic disaster situations?
A: Not so much currently, we’re fixated with Zombies right now, but we do have future plans to expand into different genres.

Q: What uses do you foresee your dogtags playing in survival situations?

A: I’d say the most important tag would have to be our bottle opener tag, just because the world has been overrun by Zombies, doesn’t mean we should stop drinking beer! But we do also have a more serious side to our tags. We’ve created tags with parental contact information for children with disabilities, tags with vital medical information and tags for sports people with next of kin information (who takes ID with them when they do things like jogging at 5am in the morning!). ICE (In Case of Emergency) doesn’t need to be boring, and we’ve found people are much more willing to wear a tag like ours rather than a generic ICE tag.

We’ve also supplied members of the US Military with embossed tags which i’d say was our biggest challenge as we had to setup our machine to perfectly match tags from photographs, which was completely different than the usual army tags and in a layout we’ve never seen before.
The end result came out perfectly and was approved for use, we created MILSPEC and Special Ops Black tags so who knows where these tags are right now or why this different layout was approved. Maybe we have a bunch of top secret Zombie killing super soldiers running around wearing our gear!

Q: What are your KickStarter design options, and what do they represent?
A: Via Kickstarter we’re introducing a whole new concept, the personalised Zombie Hunting Permit, each tag has a personalised name and a unique serial number. This has never been seen before! We have 7 different tags suitable for Zombie haters, Zombie Lovers and we even have ‘INFECTED’ tags for Zombies! We’re also giving away FREE embossed tags with some pledges. We’re currently running a vote so the Kickstarter community can decide what goes on these bonus tags.

Q: What conditions do you expect your dogtags will survive?
A: We have the 2 types of tags, embossed and engraved. Embossed tags are battle proven and the same as used by the US military and are created by punching the letters through the steel so they are raised, just like the plastic letters on a credit card so you can’t get much tougher than that! The engraved tags is diamond drag so we actually remove metal from the tag rather than just burning the coating like laser engraving. We even engrave the tag twice to get the perfect deeper shine. I’d say both types of tags will outlast all of us in most situations!

Q: What materials do you use, and why?
A: We use the best materials we can source. This does come at a huge cost to us but we feel its the only way we can stand behind our product. The embossed tag blanks are USA made and our supplier also supplies them to the US military.
The Aluminium engraved tag blanks are also USA made & hand anodised in the US too. The chains we use on all the tags are also USA made. Both types of tags are embossed or engraved by us in Melbourne Australia. We have many options for cheaper materials and faster production, but that's not what we want, we don’t want to be the biggest seller of tags in the world, we just want to be the best!

Q: How did you get started in finding the equipment you needed?
A: A lot of phone calls! This isn’t standard equipment you can buy locally. After months of research we ended up managing to get the last military embosser available at that time from the USA.

  It was a big struggle for us as we could of easily purchased a ‘commercial embosser’ that would of produced a similar result and been much cheaper and faster, but we wanted the same as the US military use but you don’t just walk into a shop and buy that type of machinery. We ended up getting hold of the same machine that has seen action with the USA military in some of the worst hotspots on earth, if works for them, then its good enough for us. The engraver was easier and we imported that from France.

Q: What resources would you need to keep going, if SHTF?
A: Our embosser is classed as portable as the US military would obviously move it around a lot. It has a hard steel outer shell and a handle plus a few pins you can put in to stop things moving around on rough journeys but as far as moving it goes, its a very heavy machine! It works on both 110v & 240v so wherever we go in the world it’ll work. If we lose electricity then we go old school and we can use our manual embosser. Our manual embosser can be tailored to work with any piece of metal, so if things got really bad, I think we’d be cutting up old car panels up and using them for dog tags!

Q: What designs do you have in mind in the future?
A: We’ve been having a lot of fun at conventions like Comic-con, Supanova and Armageddon so we’ll be increasing our Zombie range for those shows. The biggest thing in our future will be more customisation, we’d really like to offer a whole range of personalised Zombie Dog Tags. We are getting close to making this happen now so stay tuned as we might have some nice surprises coming up this year!

So there you have it, my thanks to Sgt. Slaughter and the ZombieDogTags team. 


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