|The Incredible Hulk statue from Muckle Mannequins|
Muckle Mannequins might not be a name you recognize right now, but we guarantee it will be one you'll remember. The German statue-makers who started off creating life-sized versions of characters from the world of film and video games have turned their sights to Marvel movie properties in a series of statues that collectors can actually purchase for anywhere between $1,500 and $4,000 depending on the size. We talked to Stephan Lokotsch who handles Muckle's business in the states through Section 9 Entertainment about what it takes to make these monstrous figures and where the idea came from to sell directly to fans.
"It started out not as a collectible concept, but as a service for Intellectual Property owners to promote their products (DVDs & video games) in stores," Lokotsch said. "Originally, the core business for Muckle Mannequins was the creation and manufacturing of storefront mannequins, launched by company owner Matthias Muckle about 18 years ago, who himself designed and created the various product lines. As he continuously expanded the line, more and more corporate clients became aware and, before long, Adidas began to have its entire, global mannequin line designed and manufactured by Muckle."
The idea to leap from publicity products to collectibles came from a very interesting source: a music video.
|Iron Man statue from Muckle Mannequins|
"The idea for a life-size movie and game statue line was spawned after watching a German music video by the popular band Die Aerzte on MTV, featuring a motion-capture performance by Lara Croft in the background," Lokotsch revealed. "The video inspired Matthias' idea that a life-size Lara Croft as an eye-catcher in computer stores should be highly affective to draw customers' attention to the associated product (i.e. the video game). His idea was proven right--Lara Croft IP owner Eidos Interactive came on board and a new side of Muckle Mannequins' business was born. The rest, as they say, is history; Muckle's reputation grew quickly among Intellectual Property owners and soon, EA, Sony, WB, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, Microsoft and others followed suit and hired Muckle in the same fashion."
Once pop culture fans started seeing these statues out and about, a growing demand to purchase them for private use grew to the point where Muckle expanded their business model to enter the official collectible market. Soon a deal was struck with Marvel to produce statues based on characters from both the movies and comics, with a focus on the film characters.
"While [the license] covers several [films] (Spider-Man, Iron Man 1 and 2, The Incredible Hulk, and the upcoming Thor and Captain America), no statues were made on Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, Blade, Punisher or X-Men,” Lokotsch explained. “Hopefully though, with the soon-to-shoot 'Avengers' film, we will be able to offer the entire team by the time that film is released.”
Lokotsch notes that, while only one purely comic based statue exists—of Spider-Man—there's always room for growth in that field.
"One great advantage of the Internet is the ease of communication with a global customer base, so if enough requests come from customers, I would assume that characters might be added as demand warrants it," he said.
|Spider-Man statue from Muckle Mannequins|
Like any other collectible statue out there, Muckle starts with a design phase on paper, trying to figure out the most dynamic pose for the character. Once the pose is approved by all involved, they get right to work on a full-size sculpt. After another round of approvals and once the sculpt is completely finished, it's shipped off to a manufacterer. "For the most part, the statues are created from fiberglass and, in some cases, accessories may be added that are made from plastic, metal and even cloth (for capes)," Lokotsch said.
The whole process from inception to finished product can take anywhere between five and six months depending on revisions, electronics and paint schemes. With an eye towards coinciding better with the actual release of the films, Muckle and Co. hope to build a great relationship with the moviemakers to help hype the films ahead of time. In the meantime, they've got full-size statues of characters such as Iron Man and Hulk from their most recent movies.
Keep checking Marvel.com for more information on Muckle Mannequins, including upcoming spotlights and galleries on individual statues.