StarWars.com reveals the exciting new line and speaks with designers Ben Butcher, Reis O'Brien, and Amanda Brock!
A small box, a sealed bag inside it, and a secret, stylized figure inside that.
It's a simple concept, but it's also really fun one, adding a wonderful element of surprise to collecting. And if you're a fan of blind-box toys and love a galaxy far, far away, we have some good news: a Star Wars line of Funko's vaunted Mystery Minis is coming this summer, and it's launching with a most-appropriate selection of Star Wars characters.
"We wanted to start with A New Hope," Ben Butcher, VP of creative at Funko, tells StarWars.com. "The one that is really the first movie for most of us, and it was the year celebrating the 40th anniversary."
The first wave, revealed here, has all the visual hallmark's of Funko's popular line. The bobblehead figures are cartoony but accurate and detailed, sport poses reflective of character, and have endearingly expressive faces. As a whole, the wave is definitely a celebration of Star Wars: A New Hope, featuring all the main heroes and villains plus some fan-favorite oddballs: Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, C-3PO, Stormtrooper, Grand Moff Tarkin, Hammerhead, Snaggletooth, Chewbacca, Ponda Baba, Greedo, Shadow Trooper, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jawa, and Darth Vader. (The hand-on-hip Leia and blaster-ready Ponda Baba show just how varied the assortment is, and how beautiful the sculpting turned out.)
"When we hit the ground running, we wanted to make sure that the final product was really something that stands out from everything else," says senior product designer Reis O'Brien. "We sat around and really tried to come up with something pretty original."
The development process began with early concept sketches by Funko. Lucasfilm then offered some guidance on where to go from there, and Funko digital sculptor/designer Amanda Brock further developed the aesthetic. "Some of the poses were actually done by Ben in the concept phase," she says, "then I just took them and pushed them a little bit further or pulled them back a little bit. The facial expressions, really, it just goes with the characters themselves. Han Solo is gonna be smirking." Some characters, however, present different challenges that the average fan might not realize.
"The stormtrooper helmet alone drives me nuts," O'Brien says jokingly. "It's a tough helmet to nail down, especially if you want to simplify or stylize. It's like, 'What choices do I make?' If we go too far, it no longer looks like a stormtrooper helmet. Those are tough." That's where the team's knowledge of Star Wars design and character traits comes into play.
"Sometimes, I also notice -- especially when it gets into Amanda's hands -- it's the little tiny nuances that can really [convey] a character's identity," O'Brien says. "Like Tarkin. Just the way he's posed, with that finger, that thoughtful, snide [look]. It's perfect."
O'Brien names Tarkin as his favorite from the wave, while Brock points to Vader, and Butcher likes Greedo. "There's some great attitude that she got into the Greedo," he says of Brock's design, "that really kind of captures him in his heyday." Or, at least, before he sat across from Han in the cantina.
For fans -- and the design team -- the series has been a long time coming. "It's been probably the single most requested line in our history," O'Brien says. "Every time I hear Mystery Minis come up, I hear 'When are you going to do Star Wars?'" Now that it's finally happening, the talents behind Star Wars Mystery Minis feel they've created something that will appeal to fans of all kinds.
"Everything's there for the Star Wars aficionado and the uber-detail-oriented person," Butcher says. "And then the collector who loves a nice, stylized figure, I think there's something there for them, too. It's a really perfect balance of those two worlds."
Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content writer and editor of the StarWars.com blog. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.