Having your own collectible company can be a real benefit for some folks, as Todd McFarlane is well aware. A founding member of Image Comics, McFarlane, in addition to publishing "Spawn" and "Haunt" every month, also has a good thing going with McFarlane Toys which has created hundreds of toys and statues including the current comic and TV-based "The Walking Dead" lines.
Today, McFarlane Toys debuts exclusively through CBR a brand-new statue featuring a character co-created by McFarlane and "Walking Dead" creator Robert Kirkman: Haunt. A supernatural combination of two brothers, one dead, one living, Haunt's current adventures are chronicled by Joe Casey and Nathan Fox after the original creative team of Kirkman, McFarlane, Ryan Ottley and Greg Capullo left the series to focus on other projects.
Kirkman and McFarlane have returned to their creation in a manner of speaking, signing all 500 of the 12-inch tall resin statues which go up for pre-sale on the McFarlane Toys website at noon EST on July 4. For behind the scenes information on the piece CBR News talked with McFarlane, who collaborated with the McFarlane Design Group on the statue, as well as Prototype Development Director Michael Gulen about everything from the limited-to-500 print run to why Haunt made the cut as the next statue from McFarlane Toys.
"Since Haunt is an original character developed by Robert and myself, and it's Image's 20th Anniversary, we felt that this statue would resonate with several audiences," McFarlane told CBR of the collectible's genesis. "If Kirkman gets any hotter, he's gonna melt, so we wanted to get this statue out now."
Of course, as with any project of this nature, a lot of advance planning had to go into the design and production in order to release it "now." In the case of the Haunt statue, work actually began last year to make sure everything was just right, from the posing of the character to the distribution of weight throughout the piece, ensuring the perfect balance to go along with the character's mid-air leap.
"We started working out poses and concepts in January 2011," Prototype Development Director Michael Gulen told CBR. "Getting the pose perfect was one of the most time consuming steps. Todd wanted a very dynamic pose, and getting the right look from all angles was the one of biggest challenges. Along the way we increased the scale, added a ton more details and redesigned the base."
McFarlane clarified that the character's action-packed lunge is not a snapshot of a specific moment in the comics, but is more a representative look for the character. "I wanted to capture the savage nature of Haunt," McFarlane said. "He's a pretty scary dude, and the statue captures that in this pose; an uncontrollable, ferocious creature running wildly at you."
As seen in the photos, the character's feet don't actually touch the base. Instead, the whole thing is supported by the costume, a tricky effect to pull off according to Gulen.
"This was actually a big challenge for the piece," Gulen said. "Even though the sinew was sculpted digitally, along with the figure, we didn't know until we had it printed and in-hand if it would support the figure as well as look dynamic at the same time. We had to make adjustments by hand, traditionally, in wax, to make sure that the sinew would support the figure as well as keep that dynamic feel and flow.
"Due to it's dynamic pose, it was very beneficial to start the sculpt digitally to nail down the final look of the piece," Gulen continued, explaining why the decision was made to work digitally rather than in a traditional medium such as clay or Sculpey. "The basic pose, proportion and base were all created digitally. Then, certain levels of detail were also included in the digital sculpt to further the final look. Once approved at this stage in digital, we printed the parts, molded and cast in wax. All of the fine details and textures were done traditionally in the wax version of the sculpt."
With so much work going into the piece, some fans wonder why a small run of just of 500 was settled on, and whether they could expect a repaint or variant down the line. According to McFarlane, the answer is an emphatic, "Nope."
"Once we sell out of the 500 Haunt statues, the mold is retired forever," McFarlane said. "Based on how this Haunt statue is received by the collectors, we may look at doing another Haunt one in the future."
Fans interested in getting their hands on one of the 500 Haunt statues should check out the McFarlane Toys online store Wednesday, July 4.