Author: Poe

The Six-Inch-Scale Scarabus Squad

The Six-Inch-Scale Scarabus Squad

I’d planned to hold off on this for another day (since I have to write thirty-one of these things this month), but since this is technically a time-sensitive issue, I wanted to put it out there as soon as possible.You may or may not have heard of the FANtastic Exclusive. This is a project designed by the Four Horsemen. The idea is this: the Horsemen draw up dozens of designs for several different toy lines, each with a number of different characters. Through the website, collectors and fans then vote on the line, the specific character, the height (scale) of the character, how articulated it will be and what accessories it comes with. They even get to vote on the type of packaging.

The Horsemen made their names sculpting Mattel’s revamped Masters of the Universe (MOTU) line a few years back, so it’s fair to say that, until recently, a majority of their fans came from that particular fandom. As a result, the first and second Fantastic Exclusive winners were from the “Seventh Kingdom” concept line, which was the most like MOTU–a kind of high fantasy realm. The first figure, Xetheus, was a minotaur. The second, Ramathorr, was a giant elephant warrior. Each of these figures was available only at conventions and through the Horsemen’s online store. And each came in multiple varieties of repaints and retools; Ramathorr, in particular, could be purchased with a number of variant animal heads, from rhinos to hippos to bizarre alien mutant-things.

While I’m certainly a fan of MOTU and the Seventh Kingdom, in each FE I have voted for Gothitropolis (a kind of horror-sf line) first. In particular, I’m hoping to get this blue gargoyle immortalized in plastic. What can I say? I find demons and monsters awesome.

The biggest vote-getter this year was indeed a Gothitropolis character, but not the one I was hoping for. It was a dark sorcerer-like fellow named Scarabus, who apparently won by more than twice the next vote-getter’s count.

Now, I have to admit: I don’t get why Scarabus is so popular. He looks like any number of MOTU or Spawn figures (particularly a cross between the Darkness and Mandarin Spawn).

ScarabusI don’t mean this as a knock on the Horsemen’s design skills; Scarabus fits in just fine with the rest of the Gothitropolis line. But he’s certainly not going to be a challenge for them. He has hooved feet not unlike Xetheus; the same goes for his armor. The only real question is how much his robes will limit his articulation. Furthermore, other than some really creative repaints, I don’t see how Scarabus offers many opportunities for interesting variants.

The blue gargoyle, on the other hand, not only represents a more interesting design (the shape of the limbs, the large wings), but offers countless variant possibilities. Red-skinned repaints with more demonic wings, a straightforward “giant bat” version, even a bird-like or angelic version with feathered wings.

But I digress–Scarabus has already won, and while he wasn’t my favorite, I’ll definitely be buying him and supporting the FE.

So now we move on to the next vote, and my real motive for writing this. The current option is for what scale Scarabus will be in. The previous two figures were both in the 6″ scale (which matches up well with three other big action figure lines of the day: Hasbro’s Marvel Legends, Marvel Toys’ Legendary Comic Book Heroes and Mattel’s DC Universe Classics). In the 6″ scale, 1 inch=1 foot, so a six-foot-tall character would stand six inches tall. That doesn’t mean Scarabus would be six inches tall; in the 6″ scale, Ramathorr stood a whopping 9″ tall. Scarabus, according to the Horsemen’s graphic above, would be about 7″ tall.

Judging from the discussions on the FE forums, there seems to be a big movement for an 8″ scale Scarabus, which would make him almost the same height as Ramathorr. I’m against this for a number of reasons.

Nowadays, many people look at their action figures differently. Many see them as collector’s items, and it’s those people who often prefer to see larger scales with greater detail and fewer accessories, vehicles, or playsets. They don’t care if two different lines aren’t in scale with one another.

Personally, I’ve always looked at toys more from a “plaything” perspective. I love it when different lines are in scale with one another, simply for the creativity factor. I can place make a diorama with Superman fighting the Abomination, or Spider-Man and Batman teaming up against Venom. I can have Xetheus dueling it out with LCBH’s Conan in a gladiatorial scene.

If Scarabus ends up in an 8″ scale, he’s going to be enormous next to any 6″ figure. Ultimately, in my opinion, this will make him less of a toy and more of a collectible.

At the 8″ scale, Scarabus is also going to be quite expensive–at least as expensive as Ramathorr ($25), perhaps more so. This will continue to limit how far the Horsemen can go with the concept.

As such, I am officially forming the Six-Inch-Scale Scarabus Squad. As its president and currently only member, I urge you to go here and vote for the 6″ scale Scarabus. Even if you don’t care about the Fantastic Exclusive or toys at all, please take the three minutes to do it for me and my fellow six-inch-scale collectors. Viva la revoluci

Rama vs. He-Man?

RamaI haven’t really been on board with the various religious action figure lines, though that may be because there really aren’t any interesting-looking or badass Bible characters. (Though I’d definitely be interested in a Bible Fight line.) Most of them are just guys in robes, except maybe for Goliath or the Leviathan.

HanumanHowever, there are some religions whose holy texts have some pretty awesome characters, and one of those is the Hindu Ramayan. How can you go wrong with a blue-skinned warrior god and the monkey king himself?

A company called Kridana apparently thought the same thing, and so you can now order action figures of Rama and Hanuman. I don’t own either of them (yet), but I have to say, they look pretty neat. The site says they stand seven inches tall, which means you can have Rama mix it up with Kratos. And there’s always room for another monkey action figure.

TMNT by NECA & the 4H

LeonardoThe Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were the last great toy fad of my childhood. By the time the Power Rangers rolled around, I was busy dating girls and playing Magic: The Gathering (which, contrary to popular belief, were not always mutually exclusive).

I loved the Playmates figures, and quite a few of them have a special place in the Shrine. But even as a kid, I understood that the cartoon Turtles weren’t anywhere near as badass as they could be–and indeed were, in the original black-and-white comics. Leonardo (my personal favorite) carried a pair of fricken’ ninja swords and he never used them to cut anyone on the show. In the original comics, however, he was only to happy to slice-and-dice his foes.

So even as a kid, I understood that the Mirage comic versions of the characters were arguably much cooler than the cartoon’s. And so I always wanted action figures of the Leonardo from TMNT 1original TMNT. But it was pretty clear that Playmates was targeting children and thus, even in their revamped 2003 line, we got the cartoon Turtles.

Somehow, through some legal machinations I may never understand, NECA has scored the rights to create a line of TMNT action figures based on the original comics. The line is sculpted by the Four Horsemen and will feature some great articulation, accessories, and display bases. NECA has been getting much better in the articulation department (due to the influential success of collector-oriented lines such as Marvel Legends and Legendary Heroes?), and the Turtles not only look great, but they should be able to move around a bit as well.

The general fan consensus seems to be one of approval, though from the discussions I’ve seen online there are a decent number of people who want repaints with the Turtles’ familiar bandanna colors (in the original comic, they all wore red–hence Leonardo’s lack of blue here). Paul of ToyBender is a bit disappointed by the decision to use the design from the first few comics as well as the paint application on the above proto. For what it’s worth, Cornboy of the Four Horsemen stated on Toymania’s ToyBuzz that the “paint scheme shown on that blog was one that was originally submitted for approval. I’m not yet at liberty to say how the paints were changed, but they were.” And here’s Randy Falk of NECA, as quoted on ninjaturtles.com:

This is the final sculpt but not the final deco. The paint applications have been revised to better re-create the 3-D translation of the original 2-D artwork. I think when you see the final images and get to see all 4 turtles complete with their unique head sculpts, accessories, and bases you will be very very happy.

I’ll be getting every single figure NECA puts out in this line. As awesome as the Playmates lines were, these are the Ninja Turtles toys I’ve been waiting twenty years for.

Batman wallpaper

I think Piletina original cheap mlb jerseys Bob Kane to Batman is pretty cool, so I whipped up this wallpaper a few months back. Sorry, only have Design it in wholesale jerseys size 1024×768…at least until Snowman I get a bigger monitor and have to cheap nfl jerseys make With: it cheap jerseys again.

Batman wallpaper

The lavender background is единоборств in honor wholesale jerseys of Batman’s original gloves.

Frosty the Snowman

FrostyThe “Magic Toys wholesale mlb jerseys R’ Us” (look for a blog post on this later in the month) came through again a few weeks Regular ago. Articulation! This time, I found the new Frosty the The Snowman figures. I only wanted Frosty; at $8, the wholesale mlb jerseys price wasn’t too bad.

I was a wee bit chagrined when someone pointed wholesale nba jerseys out embajadora to me that the figure wasn’t based on the original cartoon, but on its sequel, cheap mlb jerseys Frosty’s Winter Wonderland.

But then the I wholesale nfl jerseys realized that they look more or less the same.

10 Questions With: The Four Horsemen

The Four HorsemenCodename: The Four Horsemen
Base of Operations: The Garden State
History: The origins of Four Horsemen Toy Design Studios can be traced back to the four partner’s days of working together in the trenches of McFarlane Toys. Eric Treadaway, Jim Preziosi, H. Eric ‘Cornboy’ Mayse, and Chris Dahlberg discovered early on that their various abilities worked well together, and they tried to make sure that each new project that came their way became a collaborative effort between them. After working together at McFarlane Toys for a few years, they realized that the toys that they were having to design and create were moving in a somewhat different direction than they had anticipated. It was during this time that one of them jokingly said that they’d ‘eventually ride off like four horsemen into May the sunset’ to start their own toy design company.

Action figures have been around since that first G.I. Joe in 1964, but until recently it was unusual for the public to be familiar with anyone involved in the process of creating those figures–particularly the sculptors. But that began to change in the 1990s when Todd McFarlane revolutionized the industry with his incredibly detailed action figures. With the added emphasis on high-quality sculpting came a newfound collector appreciation wholesale jerseys for the skills involved and the designers and sculptors who put so much effort into the

No one has done more for the cause than the Four Horsemen. In the 1990s, the amazing work of the sculptors at McFarlane Toys won them many fans–even if those fans didn’t know who they were. About seven years ago, four of those sculptors–Eric “Cornboy” Mayse, Chris Dahlberg, Jim Peliozi and Eric Treadaway–decided to leave McFarlane and strike out on their own, creating the Four Horsemen design studio and quickly striking up a deal with industry giant Mattel to bring back one of the company’s most famous toy lines, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (MOTU). Featuring distinctive high-quality sculpting and unique character designs, the MOTU revamp made celebrities out of the Horsemen, thanks largely to Mattel’s strong public support for the team.

Since then, the Horsemen’s talents have been on display in figures for Toy Biz (now Marvel Toys), NECA, and of course, their own FANtastic Exclusive–an innovative Web project in which the Horsemen ask action figure fans to help design of a brand-new, original action figure to be sold at the following year’s conventions. Fans get to vote on every step of the process, from character selection to scale, to articulation and accessories. It’s an ambitious project, and its continued success (it’s now in its third year) may represent the next small step–or giant leap–for the action figure industry.

I’m very happy to call the Horsemen friends of mine. Not best friends, but not mere acquaintances, either. I mean, if I ran into one of them on the street–once I’d explained who I was–we could stop and have a conversation. And not an awkward one, but a genuine exchange of ideas. Or maybe we’d just grab a beer.

Anyway, the Horsemen have very kindly granted PoA an interview for our second-ever blog post. Read on to get an insight into how the Horsemen design toys, what their favorite Christmas presents were, and even who Santa’s favorite superhero is.

Poe Ghostal: Do you do any sort of research before you begin to sculpt a figure? For instance, what inspired the detailing on the DCSH Batman’s gloves and boots?The best Batman action figure ever made

ERIC TREADAWAY: We absolutely do. When we started on that version of Batman, the guys over at DC were really encouraging us to push things a little more than we normally had. One of the things that was mentioned was to take some cues from the latest Batman movie in the way that his costume had a very “super heroic” feel while still being tied very much to the real world. From there we decided to take a slightly more utility/military approach with certain aspects of the costume. This carried over into portions of the Batgirl costumes as well.

JIM PREZIOSI: For those in particular, we searched out reference for both the boots and the gloves, and then upgraded them somewhat to make them seem a little more futuristic. We have lots of books and magazines around the studio that we keep on hand for reference, but a lot of reference that we use now comes from the internet. We really wonder how we got by before the World Wide Web.

PG: When you sculpt a figure that is using some reused or retooled parts, do you just sculpt the torso, or arms, or whatever the new parts are, or do you also use the reused parts as a base?

CHRIS DAHLBERG:
During the sculpting process we combine castings of the parts that will be retooled with any newly sculpted parts there may be. When we send the tooling patterns over to Mattel, we only send them the newly sculpted parts. They’ll already have the steel tooling made up for the pre-existing parts.

PG: Regarding DC Superheroes: Some of the figures in this line (in the early Batman/DCSH days, at least) seem inspired, design-wise, by their DC animated counterparts (e.g., the first Supergirl release, Clayface, Mr. Freeze). Other characters are clearly based on 【水野朝陽】「誰にも言っちゃダメよ…」甥の性処理懇願に…授乳手コキ&優しい騎乗位でオマンコに出させてくれました their 1980s Super Powers look (Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Crime Stopper Batman). Do you usually try to select the most “toyetic” version of a character, the most classically iconic, or both?

Superman's underwearJP: A little of both actually. We like to find what we consider to be the most iconic version of the character, and then see if there’s a way to blend in the best aspects of other versions of that character from throughout the wholesale NBA jerseys character’s history. Whether those aspects are from movies, comics, cartoons, previously made toys, underroos, whatever helps us to create the coolest figure we can make. Then we try to add a little of our own flair into the character. Luckily, both Mattel and DC have really encouraged us to do just that, rather than seeing it as a negative thing.

PG: We know you guys wholesale nba jerseys were fans of the original Masters of the Universe line. Were you also big fans of Super Powers and Secret Wars? How does it feel to be sculpting classic heroes like Batman and Superman?

Eric “Cornboy” Mayse (CB): I really liked both Super Powers and Secret Wars. I still have the Secret Wars Iron Man floating around somewhere, and I have quite a few of the (very well used) Super Powers to figures as well. Still don’t have Shazam Shazam!(Captain Marvel) though…. Working on Superman, Batman and all of the other DC SuperHeroes is like a dream come true for us. Being big comic and toy geeks as kids (and even now), there’s no cooler job we could have.

ET:
Exactly. When we learned we were going to be working on Masters of the Universe for Mattel, our thoughts were, “How could it get any better than this? There’s no way.” Now we’re working on a whole universe of other iconic characters in the DC Universe, and we’ve been proven wrong. It got better. Besides Masters of the Universe, Super Powers was one of my favorite toy lines as a kid, and to get the chance to go back and re-do many of the characters that were done in that line is an honor.

PG: Let’s talk about Wayne Barlowe’s Power Lords series. Some of you have mentioned your love of this line in the past. How much did it inspire some of the lines in the Fantastic Exclusive concept?

Power LordsET:
Power Lords is one of my favorite lines of all time! I feel like it was underrated as well as way ahead of its time. The designs were so strange and so well designed, I think they were just over people’s head at that time. If there were adult collectors then like there are now, it might have been a different story. As far as influence, I would say that Power Lords has some impact on every line that I design. Not so much the specific look, but the idea of making a line with such a diverse group of differently shaped and sized characters with designs that range from the “normal” looking to the bizarre. The line more specifically influenced the alien line that was in the previous two years of FANtastic Exclusive. I always loved the fact that the Power Lords, along with many of Barlowe’s designs, actually looked so alien rather than like humans in costumes.

PG: The production on the Ramathorr exclusive had a few problems. What have you learned from the experience, in regard to future Fantastic Exclusives?

CB: Wow. We’re still dealing with issues that we ran into with the production of Ramathorr. When we first started producing our own action figures, beginning with Commander Argus and later Xetheus: Champion of Mynothecea, the production process went really smoothly. Of course there were a few hiccups here and there, but for the most part we were wondering what the big deal was. We’d heard so many horror stories, but hadn’t experienced any of that ourselves. People told us that we had been pretty lucky. Well, our Ramathorrluck almost ran out during the production of Ramathorr. From the beginning there were pricing issues, then when we received the product it didn’t meet our expectations so we talked the factory into going back into production to repair the problems. We were then told there would be a delay in our production because larger companies Points were pressuring them to get their stuff done first. The most recent problem was that the factory we were using decided they were shutting all production down permanently before our production was finished and we might lose all of the steel molds that we’d already paid thousands of dollars for. It became a nightmare.

JP: Luckily, a friend of ours was over there working at the time. Between his efforts and a lot of help from the guys over at NECA we were able to retrieve our molds from the closed factory and move them to another factory to begin production anew. So, the good news is we got our molds into a new factory and are starting production again. The bad news is that we’ve lost the money we paid to the closed factory so far, and we’ll probably have to pay most of the money a second time to the new factory in order to do the new production run. The worst part is that we just have to sit back and let it happen, because there’s not really all that much we can do about it.

PG: Do any of you collect the holiday-themed toy lines, such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or Frosty the Snowman?

ET: Somewhat. The Rudolph figures that were released a few years ago were really nice, and the “Year Without a Santa Claus” figures that NECA did a while back were fantastic. The Heat Miser and Snow Miser figures are awesome.

PG: Here’s one for the kiddies out there: how closely do you work with Santa around the holidays? What’s he like?Santa Claus

JP: Santa’s pretty cool with us. When we originally started the company he didn’t come around much because we’d all somehow made it on his “naughty” list. We think Todd McFarlane might’ve had something to do with that. But then after he found out that we’d sculpted two different Batgirls for Mattels’ DC SuperHeroes line he immediately switched us over to the “nice” list. In case you didn’t know, Santa’s a HUGE Batgirl fan. He drops in every week for Taco Bell Friday now. Want us to put in a good word for you?

PG: This one is for all four of you: what’s the best toy you ever received on the holidays?

Damn dirty apeCB: Mego Planet of the Apes figures and treehouse. Out of all of the PotA figures, the Ape Soldier was the one I wanted most. Even if I didn’t get all of the others that I wanted, if I only got the Ape Soldier I would be happy. After opening all of the presents I got, there was no Ape Soldier. I was bummed out. Then my Dad asked me how I liked the motorcycle model kit Santa had brought me. I had no idea why Santa would have brought me the exact same model kit that my older brother had bought just a couple of weeks before. Dad, being sneaky and pretty damned mean had hidden the Ape Soldier in that model kit box. I was pretty happy after I realized what he’d done.

BartenderJP: I had a pretty unusual toy. It was a metal bartender whose nose would light up and smoke would roll out of his ears as he was making you a drink. It was a pretty unusual toy for a kid, but at the time I didn’t look at it the way someone would see it today. I just thought it was a really cool toy with an awesome action feature. I recently found a couple online and started collecting them again. There are a lot more variations of that toy than I thought there were.

CD: Underwear. You play with what you want to, I’ll play with what I want to.

ET: That would be a toss up between the Shogun Warriors Gaiking and the 18″ Alien action figure. The 18″ Alien figure might have a slight advantage because my Dad swore up and down that Santa would never bring me such a violent toy. I was pretty overjoyed when I opened it up on Christmas morning. Apparently Santa hadn’t seen the movie yet.

PG: To elaborate on something Cornboy mentioned on TheFwoosh.com, which one of you is the best at sculpting gorilla crotches?

Ape crotchCB: Oh that’s an easy one! The Fifth Horseman: Shane Dittsworth! He normally handles all of the molding and casting duties around here for us, but when it comes to sculpting gorilla crotches…stand back! We just hand the crotch in question off to him, and gather around in stunned awe at his crotch detailing prowess! It’s simply mesmerizing to see in action.


So there you have it. The Four Horsemen: No one sculpts a better gorilla crotch.

I’d like to thank the Horsemen again for taking time out of their extremely busy schedule to answer a few questions. From what they’ve told me, 2008 is going to be one heck of a busy year for them, with all sorts of secret projects–and of course, their annual FANtastic Exclusive!

Welcome to Points of Articulation!

He-ManWelcome to the inaugural post of Points of Articulation. This is arguably the third incarnation of ZT PoA. The first and was in Thinking 2001, when I wrote a column under this title for the now defunct IGN.com “Scifi” section. It later became the title for columns on OAFE, the website where I cut my teeth writing toy reviews. (I’d like to thank the good people at Pointsofarticulation.com for kindly agreeing to share the name.)

First, an explanation of “Poe Ghostal.” This is not my real name–it’s my online handle, one I’ve been using for more than seven years. It’s meant cheap nfl jerseys to be a play on the expression “go postal,” which I first encountered as a cheat code in a now-forgotten computer game. Of course, by changing the spelling around a bit, on gets wholesale nba jerseys the delicious references to scribe of the macabre Edgar Allan Poe, whose name often conjures thoughts of “ghosts.” Thus: Poe Ghostal.

(For the record, the creation wholesale mlb jerseys of the name had nothing to do with “Tad Ghostal,” the “real name” of Space Ghost according to Space Ghost Coast to Coast. I found out about that later.)

Optimus PrimeFor those of you who aren’t diehard action figure collectors, perhaps an explanation of this blog’s title is in order as well. “Articulation” is a toy industry term describing the way something moves. So, for instance, an action figure with joints at the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees would have nine “points of articulation.”

Of course, articulation also has another meaning–a politician can make “points” while “articulating” an argument, while a good speaker is often referred to as “articulate.” Thus, “Points of Articulation.”

Before I go any further, immense thanks and kudos must be given to two people: OB1, the talented web designer who created this site; and Red Kryptonite, my good friend and a brilliant artist who is responsible for the images and logo for the site.

So, what can you expect from PG’s PoA? Unlike other action figure websites, which are usually devoted to providing either toy-related news or reviews, this blog will mostly feature my thoughts on various action figure-related topics. I’m interested in taking a close look at the action figure industry and see what makes it tick. In doing so, I plan to offer interviews with members of the industry, from designers to marketers to journalists.

Now, you may ask, what are my qualifications? (I’ll spare you the obligatory BeetlejuiceBoba Fett gag here.) Aside from being a lifelong collector of action figures, I have extensive training and experience as a writer. I’ve written on toys for the aforementioned IGN.com, and I’m a regular contributor to ToyFare magazine. I peruse many toy sites regularly, and I’ve seen The Exorcist a hundred and sixty-seven times and it keeps getting funnier–wait, I said I wouldn’t do that.

This being December, probably the biggest month for the toy industry and probably wholesale nfl jerseys my favorite time of year, I’ve decided to celebrate by putting up a post every single day Industri this month. That’s right, cheap jerseys you get thirty-one days of Poe Ghostal right off that bat. Will I be driven insane? Quite possibly.

Tune in tomorrow for my exclusive interview with those maverick masters of toymaking, the Four Horsemen!

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