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View Full Version : Has sculpting reached its peak?



darthbooger
11-09-2009, 07:02 AM
Do you feel sculpting for the Star Wars Legacy line has reached its peak as far as detail is concerned? Or will the day come when 3 3/4 inch figure sculpts will have the same detail/articulation as Hot Toys?

gba88
11-09-2009, 10:03 AM
Do you feel sculpting for the Star Wars Legacy line has reached its peak as far as detail is concerned? Or will the day come when 3 3/4 inch figure sculpts will have the same detail/articulation as Hot Toys?

I think it depends on the individual figures, but I think we're about there.... There's only so much detail you can get for the price vs. articulation vs. size equation. I think that the recent marvel, dc and 25th gijoe lines *may* have actually influenced the detail in some of the SW figures we're seeing these days.

Droid
11-09-2009, 10:09 AM
I think in some ways that the sculpting has declined. Sure, there is more articlation, but they are so focused on articulation that figures like Yarna or the new Death Star II Luke have so many visible, ugly joints that really detract from the figure in a neutral pose.

And I really hate when they sculpt a hand so that it is posed in some way that can't hold a weapon. Stop giving the Jedi force poses!

gba88
11-09-2009, 10:13 AM
I think in some ways that the sculpting has declined. Sure, there is more articlation, but they are so focused on articulation that figures like Yarna or the new Death Star II Luke have so many visible, ugly joints that really detract from the figure in a neutral pose.

And I really hate when they sculpt a hand so that it is posed in some way that can't hold a weapon. Stop giving the Jedi force poses!

Yes, good observation. The added joints in many cases has been detrimental to overall figures in some cases. The 25th gijoe line is infamous for having weird hand sculpts that prohibit a lot of figures from holding their weapons. It's like they can't find a happy medium..., and I agree about the jedi hand-force poses!

JEDIpartner
11-09-2009, 10:16 AM
I think it's difficult to sculpt "bare flesh" with so many joints. I also think they need to look at what is truly essential to the overall character and go from there. If they are going to do "force hand" poses, then just stick an interchangeable hand in with the figure. They come off easily anyhow!

Devo
11-09-2009, 10:31 AM
Well I agree with both respondees so far. I'm sure it can only get so good in this scale, certainly it'll never approach Hot Toys level of detail. Sculpts today are great as long as they take care with the size and type of joints which unfortunately they don't always. DSII Luke is a clear example of oversized balljoints making the figure on the whole look fairly bizarre. I'm also not fond of the hinges they're using in the shoulders of a lot of figures now - very angular and they jut out in an ugly manner when a figures arms are raised. I don't know why Hasbro has started using these ugly hinges when they didn't and still don't on many other figures. Cost cutting? I dunno. I've also long being saying I generally dislike balljointed heads but thats a losing battle for me.

Apart from these issues the detail going into the figures is great...again though it can be marred by ever-lowering standards when it comes to paint apps.

But for the scale I think sculpting has peaked if only it would stay consistent.

pbarnard
11-09-2009, 10:44 AM
I think sculpting can be better, especially as the computerized process goes even further into the nano/fempto/atto scales, which will also help paint aps more and more. (Several smaller cuts or shaves will be better than one large gash or stamp) However, there is a limit to how accurate one can be given the scale. Until they come up with a way to put a 1/18th skeleton with complete tendons and ligaments and put the form over that, visible if not downright detracting joints are going to be a fact of life (sometimes more than others).

JediTricks
11-09-2009, 02:47 PM
A 1:18 scale body is a lot different from a 1:6 body. Double-elbows and -knees look really bad at this scale, hinged wrist articulation bulks into the hand, mid-torso articulation has to have a thicker pin so a bigger groove to sit in. Until we get stronger materials cheap enough to deliver thinner designs that hold up to play, I think we've hit the ceiling. And I don't think we're going to get those materials anytime soon. Ultimately, I think in the nearish future, Hasbro will refine the sculpting process to be slightly more accurate in the face, to tighten up mistakes and to better hide articulation slightly, but there will always be some variance.

My hope is they'll get more innovative on increasing the range of motion in the elbows and knees, using a single joint to go past 90 degrees - they've done it with knees on occasion, but the knee can get away with more because it's facing backwards.

I get a little annoyed at this idea that Luke Jedi's joints are somehow bulky. The mismatched shoulders on the new DS2 Luke notwithstanding, I don't buy this at all. The elbow joint is a smooth straight line. The knees are straight on the sides as well, the only reason they're puffed up in the front and back is because that's how the pants looked in the costume with the boots over them:
http://www.padawansguide.com/BMA/luke_rotj1.jpg
I've got 3 different runs of this figure on my desk (TAC, TLC cut scene, TLC DS2) and I just don't see an issue there. I also have the Saga '04 ROTJ Luke here, and THAT figure has some fugly joints at elbows and lower legs.


Devo makes an interesting point, deco is an area that can greatly affect the perception on a sculpt. I am very happy with the new Luke headsculpt and I'm fairly happy with the paint, but it can't go on either TAC or TLC '08 because they are painted different colors - TAC is especially bad since he's very tan with weird butterscotch hair. I think they're already getting better with deco in most areas, but the eyes are what they still need to tighten up across the board. Luke DS2's eyes are great, they're small and not too white, not too colorful, the eyebrows aren't too thick, but there are so many folks finding wonky off-center pupils that it's clearly not a fixed problem. There's a lot of figures with eyes gazing up, or big eyes, or overly bright eyes. There are still too many figures with thick eyebrows. I think that's the one area they still need to work on, and will take them another year or so to get right as the technology gets better, but they'll never have it locked down because of the low-cost nature of the finished product. Aka: what do you expect for eight bucks? :p (Mind you, I can dump a hundred bucks at a Sideshow figure and STILL not get the eyes right sometimes due to manufacturers' variance, but at least there they charge so damned much that they make good on replacements.)

AmanaMatt
11-09-2009, 09:12 PM
I've never seen a Hot Toys/Hasbro comparison, but hey, one can hope!

I believe that current Hasbro (sculpting) quality is being dictated by the economy. They are capable of more, but seem to have a business model where they can do 'X' Amt in terms of quality (translation: their bottom line in terms of cost). Personally, I am NOT impressed by many of their figures right now.

By no means are we seeing their true potential currently.

The best fig they've ever done in my book is the Vintage Bossk...in terms of paint, detail, articulation. Just a perfect figure in every way. But, that was at a higher price point.

IF it were up to me, Hasbro would make a Super Vintage line - $10 -$15 retail with uber detail in every way. That would excite me (personally)

bigbarada
11-09-2009, 10:44 PM
The best fig they've ever done in my book is the Vintage Bossk...in terms of paint, detail, articulation. Just a perfect figure in every way. But, that was at a higher price point.

I wholeheartedly agree here, VTAC Bossk is the new standard by which all other figures are judged as far as I'm concerned.


IF it were up to me, Hasbro would make a Super Vintage line - $10 -$15 retail with uber detail in every way. That would excite me (personally)

I would actually be okay with that. Plus, I think it would be better if they significantly reduced the number of figures they produced each year. Not 40-60 new figures each year, I'm thinking more like 10-12 new figures a year. This would give them more time to perfect each figure to make it worth the higher price.

Also, since I'm dreaming here, I would say that it's time to put realistic Prequel figures on hiatus for a few years. Focus solely on the OT and leave the prequel characters for the Clone Wars line.

Mr. JabbaJohnL
11-10-2009, 12:56 AM
I don't think that, even up until about 2004, anyone ever imagined that 14 points of articulation would one day be considered the standard. So, I think it's hard to know how exactly sculpting and/or articulation will be in the future. As to detail, again, I think most people were impressed with the level back on the POTF2 figures, perhaps because they only had the vintage stuff to compare them to. What's considered "perfect" today could, for all we know, look like junk in 10 years.

JediTricks
11-10-2009, 05:12 AM
I believe that current Hasbro (sculpting) quality is being dictated by the economy. They are capable of more, but seem to have a business model where they can do 'X' Amt in terms of quality (translation: their bottom line in terms of cost). Personally, I am NOT impressed by many of their figures right now. Keep in mind, some of the sculptors are freelance, some of the sculpts are dictated by what the Chinese factory toolmakers will interpret, and some are simply a matter of personal taste.


The best fig they've ever done in my book is the Vintage Bossk...in terms of paint, detail, articulation. Just a perfect figure in every way. But, that was at a higher price point.The "vintage" pricepoint in the TSC line was really about paint apps and a little more care in handling the tooling. You'll see sometimes the vintage tooling next to a re-release where the re-release is a softer sculpt, it could be mold rot but seems unlikely with small runs, more likely it's just not using the best materials and not treating it with the proper care, not letting it cool completely and such.



I don't think that, even up until about 2004, anyone ever imagined that 14 points of articulation would one day be considered the standard. So, I think it's hard to know how exactly sculpting and/or articulation will be in the future. As to detail, again, I think most people were impressed with the level back on the POTF2 figures, perhaps because they only had the vintage stuff to compare them to. What's considered "perfect" today could, for all we know, look like junk in 10 years.It's the ball-hinge jointing that really is what changed there. The sculpts by then had already started hitting the strides we have now, even by POTJ's best days, they just weren't integrating articulation anywhere on the level they are now. The first ball-hinge shoulders without visible injection pins was I believe Saga Saesee Tiin. For knees, ankles, and elbows, you have to look to Clone Wars Micro Series with the SA Clone Trooper, and for mid-torso jointing you can look to Deluxe Durge who came out before the Clone Trooper but had pin knees and elbows.

But for modern sculpts, you can look at POTJ for modern quality (some paint too) like on Ketwol, Lando, K-3PO, Duros, FX-7, Chewie repair and holochess, BoShek, Mas Amedda, the Biker Scout, Zutton, Squid Head, Leia Bespin, Security Battle Droid, and all 4 deluxes (Amanaman, topless Maul, bacta Luke, slave Leia). Those sculpts I think hold up to anything since, if you take articulation out of the equation.

El Chuxter
11-10-2009, 07:43 AM
I still think articulation is overrated in some cases. You really don't need to re-envision Saturday Night Fever with background characters like Malakili.

bigbarada
11-10-2009, 09:42 AM
I still think articulation is overrated in some cases. You really don't need to re-envision Saturday Night Fever with background characters like Malakili.

As a kid, I used to think that GI Joe figures were superior to Star Wars figures based purely on their articulation. Of course, I didn't know that it was called "articulation" back then, I just knew that my GI Joes could bend their knees and elbows and my Star Wars figures couldn't.

So, to me articulation is very important as it adds versatility and opens up nearly unlimited possibilities for the figures. Actions figures weren't designed to create static dioramas that do nothing but take up space and collect dust, they were designed to allow kids to expand upon the stories in the films and build their own imaginations, not just to endlessly create scenes from the movies.

I think that articulation should be as consistent as possible across the line. I understand that not all SW figures can have 14 points of articulation (like droids and some of the more bizarre alien designs), but I don't want a human character to be made without knee joints simply because we never saw him bend his knees in the films. To me that is the ultimate in lame.

DarkJedi5
11-10-2009, 11:13 AM
I'm with BigB. When I was a kid my brother and I loved the bounty hunters and aliens and we would make up missions for the bounty hunters with the background aliens. We played with them more than the main characters! I don't think articulation needs to got too far but I do like some of the things the marvel team is doing at the scale and really think those could be incorporated into the Star Wars line. Not for every figure but I do think some of the best articulation should go to the troopers. The more pose-ability troopers have the easier it is to create battles where they don't all look like they're doing the same thing. It's why I never had any interest in the mini unleashed figures.

dindae
11-10-2009, 01:02 PM
Do I think they could do more yes? But the more that they can do the more problems arise. I can hear it now. "In the movie the boots on luke have white laces and red stitching why did you make it tan laces and orange stitching?" I think that if they just use all of the technology they have and get everyone with the right saber hilt, skin tone, facial expression, etc. that people will be completely satisfied. The only thing I think that really needs improving is making some kind of thin plastic that doesn't wilt for battle droids.

JediTricks
11-10-2009, 04:06 PM
I still think articulation is overrated in some cases. You really don't need to re-envision Saturday Night Fever with background characters like Malakili.IMO, every figure should have totally movable arms, a ball-jointed head, some level of torso articulation, and hip and ankle articulation. This is what is necessary for expressive posing, to project feelings and action. Plus, I'm sick of figures that can't hold their weapons like they do in the movies.


As a kid, I used to think that GI Joe figures were superior to Star Wars figures based purely on their articulation. Of course, I didn't know that it was called "articulation" back then, I just knew that my GI Joes could bend their knees and elbows and my Star Wars figures couldn't.

So, to me articulation is very important as it adds versatility and opens up nearly unlimited possibilities for the figures. Actions figures weren't designed to create static dioramas that do nothing but take up space and collect dust, they were designed to allow kids to expand upon the stories in the films and build their own imaginations, not just to endlessly create scenes from the movies.

I think that articulation should be as consistent as possible across the line. I understand that not all SW figures can have 14 points of articulation (like droids and some of the more bizarre alien designs), but I don't want a human character to be made without knee joints simply because we never saw him bend his knees in the films. To me that is the ultimate in lame.:thumbsup: Totally agree! I remember being annoyed at how static my SW guys were when I was a kid, even with how the vehicles they had to sit straight-legged while my Joes could sit in their vehicles in these poses that really looked like they were driving, cramped into the seat so they could do a job of blowing up the enemy, or whatever the vehicle was doing.

Also, if the joints are done right, like Clone Wars Anakin space helmet (it's not a suit if it's his normal getup), then articulation doesn't have to detract from play value.

AmanaMatt
11-10-2009, 08:32 PM
.

The "vintage" pricepoint in the TSC line was really about paint apps and a little more care in handling the tooling. You'll see sometimes the vintage tooling next to a re-release where the re-release is a softer sculpt, it could be mold rot but seems unlikely with small runs, more likely it's just not using the best materials and not treating it with the proper care, not letting it cool completely and such.



Oh, i agree that a lot of the difference in the Vintage line was within the paint apps area, but what a difference. In my personal opinion, the paint detail is just as important as the sculpt.....you cant have one without the other. One other thing about the Vintage line: in some cases, they used way smaller articulation 'joints' or whatnot. Vintage ANH Han (shoulders were tiny) and Ig-88 come to mind.

DarkArtist
11-10-2009, 10:16 PM
I think we have reached the limits of scale sculpting at this level. sure other figures are at time more detailed and sculpted better then some of the Star Wars figures (ie Marvel Universe, Hellboy, Movie Maniacs etc) but for the most part I think that too much sculpting on these figures will lead to higher pricing, poor paint apps and alot of the figures breaking.

i think the sculpting game has come a long way from the original Kenner line, vintage G.I. Joe lines and so on.

Devo
11-10-2009, 10:20 PM
I get a little annoyed at this idea that Luke Jedi's joints are somehow bulky. The mismatched shoulders on the new DS2 Luke notwithstanding, I don't buy this at all. The elbow joint is a smooth straight line. The knees are straight on the sides as well, the only reason they're puffed up in the front and back is because that's how the pants looked in the costume with the boots over them:
http://www.padawansguide.com/BMA/luke_rotj1.jpg
I've got 3 different runs of this figure on my desk (TAC, TLC cut scene, TLC DS2) and I just don't see an issue there. I also have the Saga '04 ROTJ Luke here, and THAT figure has some fugly joints at elbows and lower legs.

Swivel joints aren't my favourite either but I think Hasbro have proven they can do better balljoints than they provided on DSII Luke.

The build of the character translated into the figure should determine the size of the joints - not a fixed joint size determining the build of the figure as IMO is the case with any jedi luke from TAC onwards. Look at the new Slave Leia - she was required to be small and feminine (what with her being a semi-naked woman) and accordingly her joints are tiny. Luke in his DSII outfit was very slim and yet presumably bigger built than Leia so theres no reason he couldn't have a middleground in joint-size. These straight lines you speak of do not excuse that the figure is overall more buff than he ought to be anyway because the joints are of a particular size. What we complainers base our assertions that the joints are oversized on is the extent to which the rounded hinge is visible. Usually on figures with balljoints this is either a smaller hinge or it is recessed more inside the sculpt whereas on this figure it is very prominent and undisguised by sculpted detail. This can be said of his elbows, knees and ankles.

Sure the saga 04 Luke's elbows and knees aren't great either but I find them a lesser of the 2 evils. Plus that figure has a great headsculpt, is a normal caucasian paintjob, has the correct haircolour and better paint apps overall, his outfit is a matte black rather than glossy and hes not wearing a bath towel.

JediTricks
11-11-2009, 01:16 AM
Oh, i agree that a lot of the difference in the Vintage line was within the paint apps area, but what a difference. In my personal opinion, the paint detail is just as important as the sculpt.....you cant have one without the other. One other thing about the Vintage line: in some cases, they used way smaller articulation 'joints' or whatnot. Vintage ANH Han (shoulders were tiny) and Ig-88 come to mind.I don't entirely agree. There are some sculpts where a simple deco can carry it, provided it's the RIGHT simple deco.

To a lesser degree, sometimes a good deco can carry a horrible sculpt, such as the OTC Imperial Scanning Trooper, but that isn't as true as the other way around.



Swivel joints aren't my favourite either but I think Hasbro have proven they can do better balljoints than they provided on DSII Luke. For elbows and knees, provide an example. The shoulders are ugly there, no question.


The build of the character translated into the figure should determine the size of the joints - not a fixed joint size determining the build of the figure as IMO is the case with any jedi luke from TAC onwards. Look at the new Slave Leia - she was required to be small and feminine (what with her being a semi-naked woman) and accordingly her joints are tiny. Luke in his DSII outfit was very slim and yet presumably bigger built than Leia so theres no reason he couldn't have a middleground in joint-size. These straight lines you speak of do not excuse that the figure is overall more buff than he ought to be anyway because the joints are of a particular size. What we complainers base our assertions that the joints are oversized on is the extent to which the rounded hinge is visible. Usually on figures with balljoints this is either a smaller hinge or it is recessed more inside the sculpt whereas on this figure it is very prominent and undisguised by sculpted detail. This can be said of his elbows, knees and ankles.You think Luke's arms and legs look buff? I am not seeing that at all. His outfit is a little baggy and the figure represents that pretty well, especially in the upper arm where they sculpted a small fold to suggest this, but I really don't think anything about that figure looks in any way buff.


Sure the saga 04 Luke's elbows and knees aren't great either but I find them a lesser of the 2 evils. Plus that figure has a great headsculpt, is a normal caucasian paintjob, has the correct haircolour and better paint apps overall, his outfit is a matte black rather than glossy and hes not wearing a bath towel.I think you're looking through rose-colored glasses on this one. The elbow joints don't line up in ANY position, straight-armed they have a whole step in. The knees are a big ugly hinge that show flat surfaces, go the wrong way, and then a big cut at the boot. I also don't think the headsculpt on the figure is that great, it's ok but not outstanding in my book. Don't forget too that that figure also has an unusable right hand, and can never ever be DS2 Luke.

darthbooger
11-11-2009, 07:02 AM
I had no idea this thread would get so many responses, so thanks to everyone who has. In 1977 the company Kenner had people taking surveys in theaters across the country. During the survey they showed a short video(which was beta lol) introducing starwars action figures to the public. After the presentation the rep would hold up some glossy pics and ask which characters were the childs favorite ,what the child thought of the video and if they would be interested in purchasing in advance a mail away offer for some figures. That promotion was later sold in stores that fall. I'm bringing all this up because I was one of the kids who took that survey with my Mom that summer and I remember two things vividly about it , one was that I was really angry that the toys were not anything like my Megos, and the other was that I opted out of the mail away coupon in favor of the five bucks they gave you instead. I hated the figures in the video. They were too small. They looked dull. And the whole lightsaber coming out of Luke and Vaders arm to me was just stupid. Now that all changed the following Easter when the figures hit the shelves at Air-Way. I wanted everything on the display. All the misgivings I had about scale, detail and sculpt left me.(Mostly because I didnt know those words existed and I had 65 bucks to spend). So now its 33 years later (good god thats kinda sad) and I have to say that the paint apps , scuplting, and articulation are just about everything I wanted it to be as a kid. A few years back when the first moveable knees and elbows became almost standard I thought it was the best thing to happen to the line and didnt believe it could get any better. Now we have ball joints and more points of articulation than I thought possible. On occasion I still pick up figure and think it may have a poor paint app or goofy articulation (dont get me started on the Indiana Jones line) but overall I'm very pleased with what is being produced. I do agree with one post here that stated ten years from now the current figures we have may look shoddy in detail to the figures of 2019, but to have as many good looking figures in my collection today as compared to even 10 years ago is something I wont complain about.

Devo
11-13-2009, 01:47 PM
Ok I know the saga 04 Jedi luke can never be a ds2 luke but I wasn't the one who brought up that comparison in the first place. I stand by the position I have always held that he is aesthetically superior to the tac luke though. We'll have to agree to disagree there I guess. Excuse my brevity and not addressing every point you made jt, I'm typing this on an iPhone while at work! No internet at the new house just yet so I'm borrowing the brothers phone when I can.

JediTricks
11-13-2009, 02:22 PM
FIVE BUCKS?!? Dang, that had to be a kick in the pants. I bet that coupon would be worth more than an actual Early Bird Kit itself even due to its rarity.

How could Kenner not know which figures would be the best to release first? I guess it was still too foreign to them.


IMO, Saga ROTJ Luke is a different ball of wax than TAC Luke, but I will agree with you that aesthetically it holds up better. That '07 figure isn't exactly the pinnacle though, it's got a head modified from the Saga one with a bad paint job and soft sculpting on the body, as well as an incomplete soft goods vest. But to me, ROTJ Luke is ROTJ Luke one way or the other. We've gotten a dozen Jabba's Palace Lukes over the years and yet only 3 DS2 Lukes, so every ROTJ Luke to me has to compare to DS2 Luke in order to pass muster.

Tell your work that you have more important things you need to be allowed to do. ;)

dindae
11-13-2009, 03:50 PM
How could Kenner not know which figures would be the best to release first? I guess it was still too foreign to them.

Well if you look at the original 12 most were locks but there were some that without any data could be duds.

Stormtrooper - pretty solid being the main enemy
Vader - given
Obi-Wan - old man figure but a major character
Luke - given
Leia - female character would it be too much of a "doll" for the time
Han - given
Chewbacca - it's hard to think for me but he has no real lines
C-3PO - probably not much doubt but he was priss of a droid so would kids want it
R2-D2 - same boat as Chewie
Sandperson - a good choice for non imperial enemy but was only in one scene
Jawa - as solid as the Sandperson with a little more screen time but less menace
Death Squad Commander - this always seemed a strange choice to me given the amount of screen time

Looking back they seem obvious sure but on paper I can see it being a sketchy thing. Would aliens be "cool" or would you want more of the human cast? Would characters without speaking lines or subtitles connect to an audience? We still have to fight for female figures.