A Mermaid’s Tale- Weta Workshop makes one woman’s dream come true
February 26, 2009

The team at New Zealand based special effects company Weta Workshop have recently co a fully functional Mermaid tail for Auckland woman Nadya Vessey, who is a double leg amputee.
Ms Vessey approached Weta with the ambition of making a tail that was both practical and beautiful, a task that proved to be a pleasing challenge for Weta’s team of talented artists and craftsmen.
“We really couldn’t resist the opportunity to help Nadya on such a magical project” says Richard Taylor, five-time Academy Award TM  winner and Creative Director at Weta Workshop. “We’ve made mermaid suits and prosthetics for the movie Peter Pan, but this project was to make a huge difference to a real person, which makes it incredibly satisfying”.
The unique articulated construction of the tail will allow Vessey to propel herself through the water with an undulating movement as if she were a mermaid.
Every aspect of the tail has been custom made to Vessey’s body using a blend of 3D modelling and milling technology, combined with vac forming and a poly carbonate spine and tail fin. The skin of the tail has been made from a layer of neoprene and a lycra outer-layer digitally printed with a stunning ‘scale’ pattern, designed by one of Weta’s concept artists.
Vessey was born with a condition that meant her legs would never develop properly, but began swimming after she had her first leg amputated at seven. Despite having her other leg amputated at 16, she swam competitively in high school and now swims as often as she can.
Vessey says she is thinking of using the tail to help her complete the swimming section of a triathlon.
"I thought rather than just having it as a plaything, I would take it further." Vessey, who is in her 50s, was inspired to get a tail a few summers ago after an encounter at the beach.

Weta has donated staff time and expertise into making the tail, and Vessey has been able to cover the costs of the materials from a grant she received from the Kerr-Taylor Foundation Trust.


Daniel Pickett
Daniel “Julius Marx” Pickett has been around toys his whole life. The first line he ever collected was Mego’s World’s Greatest Super Heroes line back in the 70s. He has been surrounded by collectables ever since. In 1999 he was confounded by a lack of information and news about some of his favorite toy lines he was collecting. Since he couldn’t find the information he decided to pursue it himself thinking other people might also be interested in the same news. He started writing a weekly column on the toy industry and action figure for a toy news site and in a years time he tripled the sites daily traffic with his updates, reviews and product features. He built relationships with every major toy manufacturer and many sculptors, painters and mold makers. He grew his hobby into a world wide expertise that the industry has embraced. In 2004 he teamed up with his toy buddy Jason “ToyOtter” Geyer and they created their own website www.ActionFigureInsider.com. Daniel has been quoted in both industry and mass media press outlets. Over the years Daniel and AFi have been sought out as experts in the field. Daniel was regularly featured on “Attack of the Show” on the G4 network as the primary contributor to their “Mint On Card” segment, and our front page has been linked to from USA Today’s “Pop Candy” Blog twice. Daniel’s content has also been featured on MSNBC.com, Wired.com, Fark.com, Boing-Boing, Gizmodo.com, Ain’t It Cool News, the Official Star Wars blog, Geekologie, G4, CNet and Toy Fare magazine, among many others. He has consulted on toy lines, books, documentaries and TV shows. But all of that really just sounds snooty and “tootin’ his own horn” – the long and short of it is that Daniel loves toys and he LOVES talking about them.
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