Making your own Action Figure (Is it even possible?)…Part 01
May 24, 2011

 

Welcome to the 1st of what I hope to be a series of articles on what I hope will end in the creation of my own action figure. Crazy right? Well one can only hope.

As many of you know I started Spy Monkey Creations with fellow AFI “Man of Action” Jeremy Sung a few years ago. Feel free to check us out at www.spymonkeycreations.com.. Jeremy and I, along with our new partner in crime Brian Stevenson, specialize in creating weapons and accessories for 6 inch action figures. Over the last few years we have been fortunate enough to produce a small line of niche products that many folks seem to enjoy. Like most toy fans I have dreams of producing my own line of action figures…but I got to tell you it’s tough to try to pull this off. Not only is it very expensive to manufacture a physical figure, but it’s hard to establish a fan base of folks who are interested in something that is not a licensed property. That’s why most of the figures we see nowadays are licensed, cause without a fan base it’s hard to bring in the sales. And I’m sure if you ask fellow AFI “Man of Action” Jason “Plastic Soul” Lenzi he’ll tell ya sometimes even licensed properties can be a tough sell.

So that’s the challenge of this series of blogs, try to establish a small, yet loyal, fan base for an original property, design a low cost figure and find the funding to produce some fun toys without losing your shirt.

 

 

The 1st challenge THE FIGURE:
The costs of designing, sculpting and manufacturing an original figure from scratch will kill my dream and this blog without even blinking. As much as I’d like to sculpt my figure from scratch, I don’t want to go broke along the way, so that’s not gonna be an option. So I have to look into trying to use a pre-existing figure line that the sculpting and tooling all ready are in place. This narrows things down quite a bit. My options are really only “block figures” at this point as you can print any creation on a block figure. There are many block figures on the market, Shocker has Mallows and Shockini, Mezco has Mezitz, but the BIG GUNS are Art Asylum/Diamond with Minimates. So as I’m a Minimate fan, I’m gonna set my sights on them. It’s a long shot, but as my pappy always said, “If you don’t try, you’ll always fail”.

In order to make this work, I’m gonna need to pitch the idea to Art Asylum/Diamond. I’ve been fortune enough to enlist one of the best Minimate customizers out there, Luke Porter. Luke runs Luke’s Toy Store (http://lukestoystore.com) where he specializes in Minimates and has a great Minimate customizing blog at http://minimatefactory.com/blog. Luke is gonna help me design some minimates so I can pitch the idea to Art Asylum/Diamond.

 

The 2nd challenge THE PROPERTY:
As funds are in issue I can’t go after a licensed property and if I’m going to be honest here I really want to get my own creations on the shelf. I think the toy market is really clamoring for more original properties, but because of manufacturing costs we’re not seeing alot in the market place. I happen to have my own online comic book, called The Midnightmen. It’s a pulp action adventure set in World War II. You can check it out here www.themidnightmen.com. So that seems like a logical place to start. The world and characters are pretty diverse and I think if folks get into it they’ll think it’s a fun ride. However that being said to quote my favorite video game level designer and author of the book Level-Up-The-Guide-to-Great-Video-Game-Design Mr. Scott Rogers..he said “No one is going to be as passionate or care as much about your creation as you do” which is a very nice way of saying that no one is going to give a crap about your silly creation unless you give them a reason to.

So even though I have some Midnightmen content out there, there has not been a lot of marketing behind it. I need to cater it toward my audience and give them some to care about. So as I’m gunning for fans of minimates I’m going to create some Midnightmen artwork in minimate style. To do this, I’ve enlisted the help of a comic book artist, Hamza Pecenkovic (http://www.hpecenkovic.com/). He’s gonna help me create some minimate style artwork.

If I’m lucky maybe folks will be into it. The only way to find out is to get it out there, so with AFI’s help and a fancy FACEBOOK page HERE I hope to get some feedback as we start this train moving forward. Feel free to pop over there and let me know what you think.

 

The 3rd challenge THE FUNDING:
Let’s assume after all this I get really really lucky and Art Asylum/Diamond agrees to help me out and let me use the Minimate tooling for I’m sure some sort of fee. They are not gonna fund the project themselves, it’s WAY to risky. So I’ll have to raise the funding myself. That’s where Kickstarter comes in.

Kickstarter is a online funding platform for artists, designers, filmmakers, musicians, journalists, inventors, etc… The power behind Kickstarter is that it is a unique all-or-nothing funding method where projects must be fully-funded or no money changes hands. So if all the pieces fall into place I’m going to launch a 3 month Kickstarter campaign to try to raise funding. If we don’t raise enough funding this will tell me that there is not enough interest in getting the toy line off the ground. The great thing with this idea is that if the Kickstarter campaign fails no one is out any money. And if we succeed then we know that the fan base is out there to support the line. I really feel this is the way of the future for small toy companies. Sure you can pre-sell items to various online and brick & mortar retail outlets, but that still does not guarantee sales. This way we can communicate with the fans directly and see if the interest is there. As long as you set your fund raising goal to meet the requirements of your production and projections then if you succeed everyone is happy and if we fail only I am sad cause not enough folks like my idea. :(

So that’s the quick and dirty plan. I’ll keep updating blog with my progress and images as we move forward. Again please feel free to send feedback my way and let me know what you think, yes I already know this is crazy, but a man can dream. It might be a very short ride, but I hope it’ll be fun along the way.

 Until next time…

TAGS:
Bill "Fresh Monkey" Murphy
Bill hails from the land of sunny Los Angeles, CA. When he's not blogging about his favorite things here at AFI he produces visual effects for movies and writes comic books. He also just started his own toy company called Spy Monkey Toys with fellow AFI blogger Jeremy Sung. His toy collection consists of everything from Superheroes to miniature monkeys. If you want to read more of his crazy rantings you can check out his blog at www.mindofthefreshmonkey.blogspot.com.
Read other articles by Bill "Fresh Monkey" Murphy.

 

 

 

10 Comments »

  • JuliusMarx says:

    I’m so excited that you are making this a blog. Even though we’re friends and I get the updates on this live, in person from you it’s still a fascinating process and one we at AFi back you on 100%

    Let’s make this happen!

  • Jeff Cope Jeff Cope says:

    Very cool, Bill. I’m looking forward to seeing how this progresses.

    Although…I admit, I’d be more interested if you were trying to get those 3-3/4″ figures that ZICA was going to make produced. Still sad that project fell through. :-(

    • Bill Bill "Fresh Monkey" Murphy says:

      Yeah, I’m pretty bummed that it didn’t work out either. Maybe if we’re lucky we’ll see something down the road.

  • Magog says:

    That’s really cool, and I hope to see your figures ready to sell soon.
    Anyway, I would like to ask, why not use any public domain known character? You know something like Yellow Kid or Popeye (just to start). It would be really cool.

    • Bill Bill "Fresh Monkey" Murphy says:

      That thought did cross my mind. It would sure be easier to establish a fan base using those characters. But I figured, let’s shoot for something new. Sure these are my characters and I really want to see them in plastic, but I also really want to see more original stuff happen in the toy world. I look at some of the best toy lines in the 80s and most of those were based on original ideas…I miss those times and I want to see the again. So few companies are doing that, the best of the bunch is O’nell Design, go check them out at http://www.onelldesign.com

  • Luke314pi says:

    I am really excited to be a part of this project, and I really hope we can turn it into something big. :)

  • Lobsterman says:

    Bill-

    I am *so* excited about this! I too think that Kickstarter is the way of the future not just for small toy companies, but probably a big chunk of small businesses in general going forward. I’m also a huge Minimates fan, so it will be great to see some new figures, and I think it will demonstrate what an ideal platform they can be for other “homebrew” licenses.

    Please keep the news coming, and do pop in over at minimatemultiverse to keep us updated – there are lots of people over there pulling for you already.

    Best of luck!

  • Mario C says:

    Count me in. Minimates are the ultimate format for compatibility and also storage in my opinion.

  • Bob Harris says:

    That sounds like a great idea! I really do love Minimates and I know Luke’s awesome skills, so I am very excited. I’m going to start reading your comic to see what this is all about and I guess a lot depends on whether people will like it or not. On the first glimps, the charaters look pretty cool and – and that’s important – I can imagine all of them as minimates. And there are just a small number of parts that might need to be scultped. Most of the stuff could be done with parts we already got.

    Keep us updated!

  • anthony says:

    I love action figures and comic book related statues. I was actually going to start an online business selling this merchandise and even looked into creating my own line as well. Now, I’m running a custom bobblehead business and I know how you feel when it comes to marketing. You know you have something you are passionate about and people will enjoy it as well. But getting the product out there proves to be very challenging. Good luck with your project. It sounds like an excellent idea and I wish you the best.

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