Tagged: superhero toys

Martha Thomases: Super-Hero Toys In The 21st Century

People would say, “Your kids are going to be so lucky” when they looked at all the toys on our shelves.

John and I would say, almost in unison, “Those are not for kids to play with. We have them to have.”

I completely understand the lust for acquisition that inhabits your average toy collector. I love my toys. I miss the smell of caps.

But beyond the joy they bring to me, personally, I think toys are important for a lot of reasons. Most important, they are the means by which children discover the world. In that, they are as important as other media, whether it be television or music or poetry or dance.

That’s why I think this development is fascinating. For lifetimes, toys marketed to girls have emphasized either the role of mother (toy ovens and vacuum cleaners and baby dolls) or passive object of beauty (Barbie). But because of changes in society (and therefore changes in marketing), things might be different now.

A much larger segment of the toy market is made up of licensed products, often from major studio movies, with large casts and lots of explosions. This is not a new development, but rather an increase. When movies cost so much to make, and with limits as to how many movies an average person can go see in any given year, the studios are looking for as many other revenue streams as possible. So, toys!

When I was a girl, and even when my son was a child, there were strict gender differences in the way toys were sold. There were “boy” toys and “girl” toys. As a child, I accepted this as the way of the world, although thanks to shows like this and this https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x47l89v, among others, I insisted on having that aforementioned cap gun. For my son, I bought dolls and stuffed animals as well as trucks and cars. Just because They wanted to raise my kid to their gender standards didn’t mean I was going to do so.

And I wasn’t the only one. Today’s parents (or a segment of them affluent enough to be attractive to retailers) don’t want to limit their kids’ ambitions in those ways. So while Disney still makes a lot of money with its Princesses, they are also allowing that some girls might want to be fighter pilots against the Empire.

As a fan of superheroes, I’m thrilled at the thought of more toys for girls who also want heat vision and lassos of truth. I’m excited that they can imagine themselves to be part of the Avengers or the Justice League.

My fear (and I have one) is that because comic books are aimed at a much more diverse audience than they were when I was a kid, some parents might not realize that not every comic book is appropriate for their particular children. Just because there are toy tie-ins doesn’t mean the story won’t scare the crap out of a five-year-old. Personally, I think it’s immoral to sell products based on R-rated movies in toy stores, but I am not the Empress of the World. If adults want to collect items based on their favorite stories, whatever those stories might be, that’s swell. I’m not talking about taking away their joy. I’m talking about the possibility that parents might buy a toy electric chair just because it was in a comic book, without doing the research to find out what kind of comic book it is.

Given our political climate, there may very well be parents who think toy electric chairs are exactly how they want their kids to discover the world. If so, I hope they are upfront about it so I can keep my family away from theirs.

Emily S. Whitten: Craft with Me, Skottie Young & Deadpool!

deadpool skottie youngSkottie Young has always had a unique style, but I particularly love his little chibi versions of comic book characters. When I first saw his Deadpool “Screw U” chibi art on the badges for Baltimore Comic Con a couple of years ago (and then on the Deadpool #001 Variant Cover it immediately went on my mental favorites list. Young has also done very cute chibi covers of other characters, like Wolverine and Spider-Man. So this past weekend when my fella (who’s a huge Spider-Man fan) and I decided to do some clay crafting, Young’s grumpy but adorable little Deadpool and his adorable upside-down Spider-Man were excellent tiny sculpture project choices for us.

I’m fairly pleased with how my Tiny Grumpy Mercenary turned out, and, I gotta be honest, having him slouching irritably on a shelf with my family of Deadpools makes me happy in my nerdy little soul. So in case you are craving a happy nerd soul too and are in the mood to give crafting a try, I thought I’d share a tutorial on how I made by newest little buddy.

Step One: Suggested Tools and Supplies

  • Fimo, Sculpey, or other colored sculpting clay, in red, black, brown, white, blue, and purple
  • wax paper (to work on – I usually tape it down to the table) and a bright desk or work light
  • aluminum foil, and an old cutting board and sharp knife or other handy cutting tool
  • basic sculpting tool set (this is the set I have). You can also use toothpicks or other household items if you don’t have official tools.
  • wire and wire cutters

Step Two: Photo References

It’s always good to get a reference for whatever you are going to make from all angles possible. Of course, if it’s just one image, that’s all you’ll have to work with. But if you search and and save a good-sized version of the image, you can also at least zoom in as needed to look at the details. In this case, of course, your reference is this image.

Step Three: Making Your New Friend!

SKDP_1This process is going to vary for everyone, but generally, if what I’m making is a creature or a person, I like to start with the head. Having the head done first helps me gauge how big I will want to make the rest of the character; plus, making the part of the character that expresses the most personality first just makes sense to me.

To make a tiny Deadpool head, start with a round red ball and trace out the black eye holes very lightly with a knife tip. Pro tip: rolling the clay in the palms or your hands is a good way to get a good round ball (after kneading the clay .to warm it)

SKDP_2Once you’ve got the eyes traced to your satisfaction, trace them again with a deeper cut, angled inward at a shallow angle. Next, lever the middle area out to make a little hollow where the eye will be.

SKDP_3Use your finger or a tool (the ball-tipped tool does well for this) to smooth the edges and insides of the eye sockets and get rid of any clay crumbs.

SKDP_4Then make a ball of black clay of a size to fill the eye socket, shape it slightly to fit the socket’s edges, and press it into the socket.

Use your fingers and the flat-tipped tool to smooth the edges of the black to the red.

SKDP_5Next, repeat for the other black eye, and the white inner eyes. Pro tip: if you are using white clay, ensure you first wash your hands and are careful smoothing the edges so other clay colors don’t transfer onto the white. You can also lightly scrape the top surface of the white clay after you are done to remove any color tint.

SKDP_6
SKDP_7Once you have the eyes done, squinch the nose area just a little bit to get a grumpy look. Then roll a tiny red cone, and affix it to the back of the head, using the flat-tipped tool to smooth the edges of the cone onto the head and get rid of the seam where the two meet. Bend and pinch the tail of the Deadpool mask as per the original image, and use the flat-tipped tool to make tiny “wrinkles” in the tail of the mask.

Hey, look! You have a Deadpool head! Hooray! But don’t forget the excellent crowning touch, i.e. the little dart. Roll a piece of brown clay out into a thin snake, and cut to the size of the dart handle. Make another little snake of blue, wrap it around one end of the brown in a circle, cut to size, and use the flat-tipped tool to smooth the blue onto Deadpool’s grumpy little forehead until it looks slanted like a suction cup dart. Pro tip: to stop the dart handle from drooping, put a little extra blue or brown on the underside of the dart to support the handle.

Now, put the head aside and move on to the body. For Deadpool, I chose to make the whole body out of one solid red piece of clay. Pro tip: For larger objects or complex shapes, you can also shape aluminum foil into a relatively smooth core for the object, to save clay and/or make the sculpture stronger. You can then roll out a thin sheet of clay, cut it as needed, and mold it around the foil like a skin, smoothing it with tools and fingers afterwards.

For the body, start with shaping Deadpool’s round tummy, and then shape the legs and feet, and then body and arms. Once you have the basic shape to your liking, roll out a thin sheet of black to use for the markings on his uniform and for his belt. For the uniform, you can cut several shapes with the knife tool and then fit them together and smooth them into one piece on each side of his body. I cut five shapes for each side: the front and back strips that also jut out a little near the top, a strip for around the top of each arm, a small piece to go on each arm where the black goes further down, and a piece for under the arm to connect the front and back strips. You can always cut less shapes if you want to.

After smoothing these into the uniform, roll a thin black snake to go around each wrist, and a thin silver snake for his zipper, and attach these. To make the zipper tab, you can form a tiny ball of silver into a little rectangle using, e.g., the flat of a knife blade and your flat-tipped shaping tool simultaneously on opposite sides of the shape. Once you have a flat little rectangle, attach it to the top of the zipper line, and use the tool that rounds to a point (or a toothpick) to make a little indent for the tab “hole.”

SKDP_8Now you can go back to your black sheet of clay and cut a long thin strip for the belt, smoothing it together in the front where the buckle will be. Finish up with the four brown pouches (made like the zipper tab, and using the flat-tipped tool for the crease of each pouch “flap”) and a little light purple oval for the belt buckle.

Your final step will be to attach the body to the head. Once you’ve lined up where you want the head and body to join, you can cut a short piece of wire and insert it in the top of the body and bottom of the head. Before attaching the head, knead a small piece of red clay and shape it around the wire in the body; that way when you join the two, they will also be held together by clay. Finally, use more red clay to fill in the cracks between body and head, and smooth those together until the seams disappear. And voila! You have a little Deadpool.

SKDP_9Now, follow the baking instructions (and keep an eye on the light clay colors on your Deadpool to ensure he’s not baking too long – if he is they will begin to turn brown, like a marshmallow would). I recommend baking your clay in a glass dish.

SKDP_10When the bake time is up, take him out very carefully, and let him cool SKDP_11completely before touching him. Pro tip: For some reason white doesn’t always bake as brightly as you might like. If you see that your whites are dull or translucent after baking, you can always use paint on your figure to brighten him up; and also, there are clay glazes available if you ever want to make a shiny critter. And now, your tiny Deadpool is done! And you can sit him up somewhere and enjoy your awesome handiwork every day! Hooray!

SKDP_12Good luck with your tiny creations, and until next time, Servo Lectio!SKDP_13