Karl Mizen – Creative Director at Numskull Designs – reveals the characters, thinking and design behind CosCups

Which IP fits the Coscups range from Numskull Designs? Creative Director Karl Mizen tells all…

Karl, thanks for joining us again. When last we spoke, you’d been working on Christmas jumpers… Now you’re onto CosCups. Tell us about them; what are they?
CosCups are quirky drinking cups, very much aimed at fans of gaming, movies and tv shows. They’re skilfully designed to replicate the faces and costumes of iconic characters from pop-culture franchises.

Right. And there are over twenty designs in the range… What are some of the characters?
Ghostbusters characters were the first to be launched a year ago thanks to our partnership with Sony Pictures. To have 25 characters in the range a year later is a great result and our priority is to continue to build on this. Other characters are from Star Trek, Jurassic Park, Stranger Things, Rocky, He-Man, Back to the Future, Hatsune Miku and Halo Master Chief. We’re also set for some Halloween action: we’ve just launched Dracula – complete with blood around his lips!

They’re fantastic designs – and fantastic quality!
Thank you. The combination of premium ceramic and silicone grips allows us to add all the detail that makes the characters instantly recognisable. When it comes to drinkware, CosCups are totally different and lots of fun. If you have one on your desk, people are going to talk about it!

How did this idea come about?
We’re fortunate enough to already have some great official partners and work with some of the biggest global franchises. When we’re thinking of new product ideas, we start by playing around with characters that already feature in our portfolio to see if they can work – and that gets the creative ball rolling.
We’ve produced a lot of official drinkware over the years with mugs and water bottles. In one of our creative meetings, we started thinking of how we could use some of our TUBBZ characters on drinkware: we didn’t want to just put character images on mugs…

Karl Mizen, Numskull Designs,
Why not, out of interest?

It just felt a bit dull; it wasn’t going to cut it. After a few more coffees, we got to adding silicone grips for comfort… In turn, that then got us to costume detail on the grips that would really make these something special.

I’m curious: what unites the characters, Karl? What qualities make a character ideal for CosCups?
Characters with distinct and recognisable costumes, facial features or headgear absolutely work the best. And it’s the little character details that make them stand out to look truly authentic…

Can you give us an example?
Sure! So, for example, everyone knows who Steve Harrington is in his Ship Ahoy costume, while Jim Hopper is holding a coffee and a donut. Dennis Nedry is holding his can of Barbasol and wearing the Jurassic Park lanyard… Meanwhile, Hatsune Miku has her distinctive blue hair and microphone in place.

And how do you manage to capture the personality of these characters in ceramics?
The ceramic section of the mug is for the faces, so facial expressions and unique features are important. Eleven – from Stranger Things – has a blood drop from her nose, Ian Malcolm, Dennis Nedry from Jurassic Park are wearing their glasses! Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed have bruises on their faces and The Borg drone – from Star Trek: The Next Generation – clearly shows his eye implant.

Karl Mizen, Numskull Designs,
What, in your experience so far, what’s been the biggest design challenge?

The biggest challenge was figuring out how to get the silicone covers to work!

Oh, really? How so?
Early prototypes had the bodies as small jackets with zips and press studs attached to them. Although they sound pretty cute, they weren’t very practical! In the end, we slightly altered the mugs’ shape and worked out to create the sleeve as a single piece.

They do look fantastic – I keep saying that! And in terms of design, are there any characters you think won’t work?
Yes… Due to the shape of the mugs, we really are restricted to humans. Or at least characters which have a human form. That’s a shame, as we have access to some very popular characters which, in theory, seem like they’d make cool CosCups. Once we’ve started working on them, however, it quickly becomes apparent that they’re not going to work. Minions are a good example.

Yes, okay; I can see that. And I’m imagining you can’t be too specific, what are there – conversely – are there any humanoid characters with which you’d love to work, but have not yet managed to hook up?
You’re right: I can’t say too much but we’ve got a long list of characters we’d love to transform into CosCups… We’re always working on making it happen. Watch this space!

Karl Mizen, Numskull Designs,
Do you see creativity more as an art or science? Or a little bit of both? What makes you say that?

It’s definitely a bit of both. Creating brands and concepts is an art, but there is, or at least I’ve found, a lot of problem-solving when coming up with something new. Something like CosCups, which seems relatively straightforward (It’s just a cup, after all!), took us around 18 months to get right.

What’s the one question I could’ve asked you today, but didn’t?
How did you come about the name CosCups?

Oh, yes! Good one… And what’s the answer?
We asked everyone in the company to put forward their ideas for a brand name. That got everyone’s creative juices flowing and was a lot of fun. There were many great ideas that would have worked perfectly. However, two people actually came up with “CosCups” and – as they are cosplaying cups – this sums it up perfectly, we didn’t need to overthink it and look any further.

Great question, great answer! Thank you very much for making time for us, Karl. Do let us know when more designs come out.

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