One of the unexpected aspects of toy design is that sometimes people will give you a project and forget to give you the reference. This what happened on this project. When I sent in the models, I received a call saying, “Hey these don’t match the reference.”
“What reference?” I asked.
“The reference from Disney on the film,” they replied.
“No one has given me any reference from Disney on this film. Is there reference?”
Even though I had been working with three different people on multiple types of toys for Prince Caspian, everyone was working so fast that no one thought to give me access to the Disney reference portal. I had created all the designs using the first film for ultimate reference then filled in gaps with my imagination based on my extensive knowledge of the books. I was even listening to the audio novels of the books when doing the mindless part of the work to double check descriptions
Why did I not question this before starting? When I was working inside Hasbro one year, they decided to try to get the next Disney property and win it away from Mattel. This was an “ALL Hands on Deck” project as multiple design groups created models of toys concepts for Hercules. We made dozens of models including fashion dolls, action figures and role-play toys. However, Disney refused to give Hasbro or Mattel any artwork so we would both be using the same starting point to show how clever each company was.
One of my favorite concepts from this was a Pegasus with expanding wings. For all the Marx enthusiasts out there, does the body look right but not the head? The body came from the Johnny West’s horse Flame but the head came from the Barbie Dallas horse. Flame is still my favorite 1/6th scale horse. Too bad, Marx never adjusted to hooves since the balance is precarious.
As mentioned above, this version of Prince Caspian looks nothing like the character from the film. However, we showed it anyway as the meeting was showing just a taste of what the company could do. I specifically made him with gold chainmail to separate him from the King Peter and King Edmund. He also used a different shield and helmet. Since this was a true rush job, I pulled those parts from a (terrible) Hercules figure made by a Chinese company “Toy-o-rama”. Those were the only parts on the figure that looked good – mostly since they were vacumetalized in gold. I spent more time trying to get the feature right. Since the other two Kings had fighting features, I wanted Prince Caspian to have a unique one. Kenner made Legends of Batman Power Guardian Batman with a sword as a fencer. When you turned the wheel on his back, it turned a spring so the hand would spin. There were other versions of this with a straight rod that turned but it required the arm to look more like a straight poll than an arm. Accordingly, I took apart a Joe torso, drilled out the arm and made my own 1/6th scale version of that mechanism. The genius of that mechanism is that it does not turn the same as the wheel you are spinning. The spring allows the motion to work through an uneven channel but it also stores the energy a bit, so that when it spins, it goes very fast and in spurts like he is fencing.
I am annoyed when toy companies make all the figures the same size. I get that they need to use tooling wisely but sometimes you just have to push the boundaries to get it right. (Sabrina the Teenwitch is a good example. Melissa Joan Hart is cute but she never had the body of a typical fashion doll, so the figure never looked right. Even though the sculpting looked much like her – but I digress.) Knowing that Lucy was a young girl and not a young woman like her sister Susan, I created her character using the smaller Mattel Skipper body. The dress was very pretty with an overabundance of sparkle to make it fit the fashion doll genre. She came with accessories of the trumpet and a small Repicheep that I sculpted with Sculpy… quickly.
In the film, Miraz looked like a conquistador. Since I did not have that reference, I made him look Moorish like the villains from Tashbaan in the later books. His chainmail is black to help him look more ominous. For boots, I used the GI Joe Fireman boots first created for the Adventures of GI Joe Peril of the Raging inferno. However, to make them more ominous, I took 1/8” black foam, which I laminated to a think black snakeskin vinyl. Since it looked good to make the boots look more like grieves, I added a more of that as a pointed armor look for gauntlets and shoulder armor. The head was the GI Joe Venom vs Valor Ripper. The mechanism in this figure is the same two-armed movement as used in King Edmund; however, I gave him a long weapon to achieve a different look when fighting. The pike used for Miraz is the lance from Sir Stuart the Silver Knight. The shield is also from a Marx Viking but one that was only about 6″ tall with almost no articulation.
The helmet has its own story. In the days before 3D printers, when I was a junior designer at Mattel, I would often spend my lunchtime using their tools to make cool new parts for my 1/6th scale action figures. One time, I sacrificed one of the small helmets from the Marx Odin the Viking Chieftain by cutting off the horns and making a small silicone mold from it. I added a pinhole to the bottom of the mold corresponding with the helmet top point, then used it to vacuform helmets using scraps from the dump bins. I used that base to make various Viking helmets to have a full ship of unique Vikings. I made some with small wings, some with deer antlers and some more accurate looking with just brow and nose guards. Since this project was a rush, I used one of those helmets with just an added finial. This was mostly because the tip of the helmet was so thin from vacuforming that it had crushed a bit.
Most of the other helmets did not survive my backyard adventures and the ship only made it is far as the frame and the one side of paneling, but it is visible to the right in this Marx Viking raid photo.
But wait… there is more!
I know most people reading this are mostly into action figures, but here is a bonus image of the Aslan plush with roaring mechanism. When you squeezed its belly, the head would swing back and mouth open to roar. This Aslan was one of the hardest pieces of plush I ever worked on. Just in case anyone is getting their panties in a twist about a plush toy – it is in scale to the 1/6th scale action figures.
Sadly, a major retailer did not purchase these figures so they never continued into full development. However, I did receive a wonderful letter from the President of the company thanking me for all the support and models. He noted that my work made the difference for them to win the license.
Did you ever have adventures in Narnia with your 1/6th scale figures?
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