Hey kids, I'm back with part two of my custom Wheel of Time Action Figures article. Sorry it took so long between installments. Truth be told I didn't mean to make you wait quite this long, but I was just too lazy to take new pics. I photographed all of them tonight though, so it won't take me quite so long to get parts three and four done (unless I get too lazy to write, in which case you're all screwed).
Anyway, before I show you Mat and Perrin I have a little bit to add to the origin story from Part One. Now aside from all the stuff I discussed last time, I had an additional motivation going into the creation of the figures, that being that in 1998 as far as I was concerned there still hadn't been any accurate visual depictions of the characters as they're described in the books. I was reluctant to mention this at first because not only is it kind of arrogant of me to think I could do a better job than professionals (and we all know I'm only ever arrogant about my looks, intelligence, sexual prowess and general comparative stock as a better human being than most people, I NEVER brag about my artistic ability), but also because its kind of insulting to said professionals. But then I said fuck it, the Guide didn't quickly become known as "the big book of bad art" on the newsgroup for no reason, and complaining about Darrell Sweet's covers is tired and cliche at this point. So yeah, I figured my attempts couldn't be any worse than what was already out there, and honestly, I think the end results are better than the covers or anything in guide. And I say that with all humility. Now that that's out of the way, on to Mat and Perrin.
The second figure I started was Perrin. During the time I was creating Rand it was definitely on my mind that I wasn't going to stop with him so I began to keep an eye out for toys that might function well as other Wheel of Time characters. I was kind of spoiled with the Rand figure, because the original was such a perfect fit and it was never quite that easy again. One decision I made early on was that I was probably going to have to abandon scale on some if not of all the characters, because finding a toy that was the right fit for a character was hard, finding ones that would be in proportion to the Rand figure was probably going to be nearly impossible. My main concern was the toys be instantly identifiable as the character, if that meant they looked a little "off" when standing next to one another, so be it. Its with that limitation in mind that I initially chose the Skullfire figure from Marvel's X-Men 2099 series to be Perrin. The toy had a jacket that could easily be like the ones Jordan described Perrin as wearing in the books, and also had the correct muscular physique. This was going to take a lot of work though.
So yeah, I somehow looked at that and saw Perrin. Well part of him anyway. The head was all wrong, and no amount of chopping it up or sculpey application was going to change that, so had to look elsewhere for Perrin's head. Since Perrin is described as muscular and stocky, I always pictured his head as kinda square-ish. That vague idea lead me to the Feryl character from Visionaries.
As you can see the character has quite the blockhead. Also, coincidentally, the animal totem on his chest is a wolf, which I took as a sign from the gods of creativity and action figures that I was on the right track. Or something.
I had to make some extensive modifications to both toys in order for them to work. First thing I did was lop off Skullfire's silly looking head. Next, I had to figure out how to get Feryl's head attached to the body. See, Visionaries were built much like G.I. Joe figures, and the neck is essentially a ball joint. A thick, hard plastic ball joint that required a hacksaw to remove. It also required a vice grip to hold the head down, which I figured out the third of fourth time I almost took my fingers off. Once I sawed the ball off, I had to sand the remaining neck-stump flat, reinforce it with a little sculpey and Krazy glue it on. That's right Perrin, no neck articulation for you!
Next I sanded off Feryl's hair, reglued the head onto the body because its real hard to sand something you've Krazy glued on and not have it snap off, and then began to sculpt Perrin's curly hair and beard. I agonized forever over whether Perrin has a beard and moustache or just a beard, because Jordan never specifies with him. I eventually decided that since Jordan does specify that Illianers leave the upper lip bare, that by omission it must mean Perrin does not. The next step was to figure out which accessories to make for Perrin. The axe and the hammer were obvious. Both are semi-original creations, the blade of the axe and the head of the hammer being sculpey, and the hafts being something I took from some action figures, but I can't remember right now. I also made the red wolfhead banner and the flag of Manetheren. I hated the way the Manetheren flag came so I scrapped it, but you can see the wolfhead banner below. I'm not entirely thrilled with it either.
Sometime after the Perrin toy was completed, I came across the Metal Gear Solid Sniper Wolf toy, which I bought just for the wolf she came with, so I could add Hopper to Perrin's accessories. I also went to great lengths to peel back the plastic of her provocatively opened jacket to see if the figure was anatomically correct. Sadly, she was not.
When the Perrin figure was initially finished, I wasn't quite satisfied with it, and the aforementioned scale issue was my biggest problem (aside from the fact that Skullfire's legs are just kind of goofy looking to begin with). When the finished Rand figure was stood next to the finished Mat figure, the scale was believable if you figure Rand is about 6'7" and Mat is like 5'9". It was really jarring to me to have Perrin roughly the same size as Mat, so one of the very last things I did, long after Nynaeve, Elayne, Thom, and the rest of the completed figures were er, uh, completed was I swapped Perrin's legs out. I'm pretty sure the legs are from a Spawn action figure (with the boot tops being sculpey), and I basically just pried the two halves of the Perrin figure's crotch apart and forced the longer legs in. They actually fit quite nicely, and the raised Perrin's height the perfect amount. I'll be sure and take a comparison picture for the next installment.
"Oh Perrin is just divine!" - High praise for my figure from Harriet McDougal (Jordan's wife)
Of the three ta'veren the Mat figure is probably my least favorite and I had tentative plans to do the figure over once I had made everyone else I wanted to. Unfortunately I never made everyone I wanted to. I went through the same process with Mat as I did with Perrin. I knew I was looking for a toy that had some kind of long coat or even a trench coat, and there was only one toy I had that even came close, the Johnny Blaze character from Marvel's Ghostrider series. But even then I knew it wasn't all that a great a match and I remember always keeping an eye open for something better.
Also at that point in the series Mat didn't have a shotgun or sunglasses
The first thing I did was cut off the head, hands, and about half the length of the jacket. Next up was finding a head that would work for Mat. Unlike Perrin, I had no preconceived notion of what Mat looked like, he always just kinda generic brown haired, brown eyed guy. I looked for a bit to see if I could find a face that looked "snarky" but in the end I just settled for the Arzon character, also from the Visionaries line.
I don't know if he quite looks "snarky", but I think the face worked well, especially since I sanded off the hair, smoothed out the cheek lines a little bit, and sculpted him some new hair. This figure also required a hacksaw to get the ball joint off the neck. Knowing I'd be able to disguise it with the scarf, I did a passable job extending the figure's neck with sculpey, so he doesn't look quite as "boxish" as Perrin. I also shaved down the shoulder padding a bunch because I always imagined Mat as being fairly svelte and lean. Next I had to decide on Mat's accessories. Aside from the aforementioned scarf, which is just a piece of felt cut into a wide triangle and tied, and then glued around the figure's neck, I wanted Mat to have his hat, his ashanderai, his foxhead medallion, and because the earlier books were still fresh in my mind as far as defining the character, the Shadar Logoth dagger and the Horn of Valere as well.
The hat I grabbed off the Buttons McBoomboom character from C.O.P.S. which means that yes, Mat is wearing a 30's style gangster fedora. The haft of the ashanderai is from a Spawn figure (I cannot remember which), with one of the knives that came with Longshot from the X-Men toys glued to it. The Horn of Valere and Foxhead medallion are made entirely from sculpey. I would just like to point out that I HATE the way the Horn came out, and would love to do it over one day.
The ruby dagger is just a knife that came with a Playmobil pirate toy, to which I glued a tiny red rhinestone. The banner of the Band of the Red Hand was just an old t-shirt that I painted on. I was going to try to write the band's motto on it underneath but thought better of it... I just tattered the bottom instead. Anyway, I guess the figure works in that its recognizable as Mat, but that has more to do with his accessories than anything else. And with that, I'm out of things to say about the Mat figure. Enjoy the rest of the pics... and a bunch of negative space!
If you look real close, you can see I painted the fox chasing the ravens on Mat's ring. Really. I swear...
Mat keeps it gangsta.
So there you go, the Mat and Perrin figures. Hope you liked them. I promise to have another installment up this week, hopefully before Thanksgiving... Oh, but before I go, here's a little teaser for Part 3 of the figures series; Shadowspawn!