This week's guest is Adrian Faulkner, author of numerous short stories and one kickass novel: The Four Realms (which features, amongst others, a half-vampire, gun-toting centaurs, shape-shifting cephalopods).
Adrian's also got a particular area of geeky expertise, so, let's hand it over to him...
Before becoming a fantasy author I spent a decade in geek culture writing about toys and collectibles. It was an amazing time and a lot of hard work but I got to see a lot of cool stuff. So without further ado here are five fantastic fantasy action figures you might have missed.
Vereticus – Blood Wolves (Stan Winston Studios)
Stan Winston was responsible for most of the movie monsters of my youth. From the design of the Terminator and the Predator, to the animatronics of the T-Rex in Jurassic Park, he won four academy awards for his work.
At the turn of the century, presumably feeling the threat to traditional model-making from CGI effects, Winston branched out into making a series of action figures. Rather than license an existing intellectual property, Winston created some of his own to showcase his work and ended up turning out some of the most beautiful and intricate action figures ever made. I met him a couple of times before he death in 2008 and even got to interview him for a magazine back in 2002.
My all-time favourite figure of his was the werewolf knight of Vereticus from the Blood Wolves line. The mere concept is beyond cool – the mix of the noble and the savage - and I swear one day I will find a way to include a werewolf knight in my own work, simply because of this action figure.
For the 24th series of their line of Spawn action figures, McFarlane Toys recreated a couple of their comic covers in three dimensions. This deluxe figure was based on the cover to issue 23 of the Spawn: The Dark Ages comic book series and you can see the Frank Frazetta influence from a mile away.
Usually I’m not the biggest fan of McFarlane’s work. Their sculpts and detailing are some of the best in the business but I like being able to articulate the figures I have on display into the poses I choose. There’s no way to display this figure without that axe held aloft.
However, where it more than makes up for it is in the detailing on the horse. Not only does the horse have articulation (more so than the figure) but the sculpt and paint are superb.
Centaurs are cool and we don’t see enough of them in pop culture. Admittedly I armed the one in The Four Realms with a shotgun rather than the flail seen here, but I really regret not picking up more of this toy line at the time.
In scale with Star Wars or GI Joe figures, the toys based off of the Prince Caspian movie saw a lot of our favourite mythological creatures get turned into action figures. Seeing as the Narnia books were where my love of fantasy first started, I’m genuinely surprised I didn’t buy them en masse and build an army.
An army of centaurs. Now that would be cool!
ToyBiz’s Lord of the Rings action figure line was one of the best toy lines of the last twenty years. Not only did they feature laser scans of the actors for added realism, but they were packed with articulation and fantastic paint jobs.
So it would be remiss of me to not include at least one figure in this list. But with so many to choose from, so many iconic characters, such great movie designs, how could I choose just one?
In the end I went with this deluxe figure of Sauron. It not only recreates the iconic armour from the start of Fellowship of the Ring, but it has light up eyes and sound. It also looms over other figures in the line, just like the character did in the movie.
If you asked me what intellectual property was just calling out for a high end action figure line, I would have said, Harry Potter.
But despite how big the movies were, and a great but all too brief toy line by Cards Inc, Harry Potter action figures never took off at the time.
It’s taken until now - and Asian company, Star Ace - to bring back an action figure line which includes this fantastic 12” scale Lord Voldemort. At the size of an Action Man or old school GI Joe, it’s possible to do a lot more detail than in a regular figure but, even so, this figure, due out later this year, looks absolutely perfect.
At over £150 it’s not a cheap purchase, but I am sorely, sorely tempted.
What are your favourite fantasy action figures? Do you have any lurking on your desk or under the bed? And if not, which ones would tempt you? Talk all things articulated and sculpted with Adrian on Twitter at @figures.