noob: building a character previewer

To make a long question short, I wanna learn how to make this.

I'm not entirely helpless as I can set up animations, apply scripts etc. I guess I would classify myself as an Intermediate Unitard. But I just need some extra help in defining the direction required to start building something like this.

Thx in advance.

So 2 weeks down the road and I'm still clawing for a solution. BUT I'm getting closer!! I now have buttons appearing in my UI.

function OnGUI() {
    //background box
    GUI.Box (Rect (10, 10, 100, 200), "Controls");

    // first button
    if (GUI.Button(Rect(20, 40, 80, 20), "Hit")){

    }

    // next button
    if (GUI.Button(Rect(20, 70, 80, 20), "Die")){

}
// blah, blah, blah

NOW I just need to know how to target my character with the animations. Do I control it by calling "animator." that has all the mecanim FBXs?

function OnMouseDown(){
    Animator.Play("Die");

}

.... isn't working. =[

Really trying to figure this out on my own.