Hasbro’s Marvel Legends alongside their other action figure lines are some of the most realistic on the market. Since Hasbro seems to be the only company that has this process figured out it begs to question how are these action figures produce to achieve such a level of accuracy and realism.
They are produced through a combination of digital sculpting and painting, which create the signature realistic faces and hand-painted bodies of the action figures. The initial model is made at Hasbro’s workshop and the rest are mass-produced in the manufacturing facilities after getting approved by Marvel.
The process of creating the initial model is actually quite interesting and since it is so new there is not much information about it. If you’d like to know how these realistic action figures are brought to life keep reading.
Who is making Marvel Legends?
When the line started hitting the shelves in 2002 the manufacturer of the line was a company named Toy Biz. This Canadian-based company was widely known for the production of action figures, stuffed animals, and role-playing games.
Their first venture into action figures was with WWE with professional wrestling action figures. The company’s next big break was a licensing deal with Marvel in 2001. The deal made Toy Biz one of the only licensed manufacturers of Marvel’s action figures.
After the licensing deal with Marvel was terminated earlier than planned the company struggled to stay afloat and suffered poor sales after its rebranding which ultimately led to the company’s defunct status.
Another popular toy company, Hasbro signed a five-year licensing agreement with Marvel and carried out the maturation leftover after Toy Biz’s buyout.
Hasbro sized down on the action figures dimension at the time, making the 3/4 of the scale and making them the same in size as other action figures they were producing. This was done to cut down on the usage of plastic, but the return of the franchise was announced in 2011.
The company remains the biggest manufacturer of action figures to the day. From the moment it took over Hasbro produce an enormous number of different waves and exclusive series of Marvel Legends action figures.
One of the most important business decisions made during this time was making the action figures cheaper and widely available making the Marvel Legends toy line one of the biggest collectible lines out there.
When did Hasbro take over Marvel Legends?
As we already said, the original licensed manufacturer of the Marvel legends was a company called Toy Biz. Despite being in what seemed a very lucrative business in 2006 Hasbro took over the manufacture.
The Toy Biz’s buy out came as a surprise to the general public. Their inventory at the time consisted of very popular items such as Lord of the Rings action figure, TNA and other professional wrestling action figures, and of course the Marvel Legends.
Toy Biz was so successful that it helped Marvel in the 1990s when the company filed a chapter 11 bankruptcy by merging with it and producing a popular line of action figures.
Despite this Marvel suddenly and without a publicly available explanation switch Toy Biz with Hasbro and prematurely terminated their contract with the former.
This caused Toy Biz to turn to other toy lines they had the licenses for but unfortunately, the rebranding did not go well with the general public. Because of the poor sales with their other ventures the company was declared defunct.
How are Marvel Legends made?
Hasbro’s Marvel action figures as well as the other action figures they produce are extremely detailed and realistic which begs the question of how are they made.
This feature of Hasbro’s action figures comes from Photo Real Technology which revolutionized the action figure industry after its official introduction in 2017.
This technique allows the creators of the action figures to make them look exactly like their movie counterparts. Besides the Marvel Legends, this technique is also used on another one of Hasbro’s more popular toy lines, the Star Wars black line.
The process of creating the action figure starts digitally. The company uses a sculpting program that creates a 3D version of what the action figure will look like.
Most of the basic features of the action figures are added during this step. From points of articulation to outfits and accessories, the creators can add almost anything during this step.
Once the creators are done with this process and they have a basic sculpt they are happy with it, the sculpt moves to the model shop. During this step, the existing features are further worked on and smaller more intricate details are added to the sculpting of the figure.
The pieces created in this process then get cast into plastic molds to create duplicates of the digitally created sculpt models. The molds are then used to create white plastic pieces of the action figure.
After the pieces are created they are used in the process where the signature realism gets brought to life. This process requires detailed pictures of actors in their costumes.
Luckily, Hasbro works closely with Marvel Studios to ensure they have all the necessary materials for the production of the action figures. The pictures are used in the model shop where all the small details of the action figure’s face get added through different layers in 3D modeling software.
The software provides a digital version of the already created action figurehead which then gets painted by the artists. They start off with a white head and add the details by coloring it to resemble the real-life actors.
This is why the reference photos are so important. The artists working on modeling the sculpt use them as a guide on what to do to make the model realistic. They can also use color to further enhance the features added in the sculpting process or simply to add smaller details, for example, blush, scares or shading.
After the process is done and the artist is happy with the finished product, the digitally modeled face gets printed onto the previously mentioned plastic part.
The head then gets assembled and all of the plastic pieces are joined to create the rest of the action figure’s body. The body is then hand-painted by the sculptor. This is an extremely tedious process that requires a lot of precision.
After the initial model is done it has to be approved by Marvel before it can start mass production. During this time, Marvel and Hasbro work closely and usually involve the actors in the process of creating other things important for the action figures such as packaging.
After everything was approved, the figure starts mass production and in a few months, the new figures will be ready to hit the shelves in all retailing locations.
Although this is a quite detailed explanation there are a few steps in the process we didn’t go through. These steps are unknown to the general public since the technique Hasbro uses is still quite new and the company wants to retain a certain level of secrecy.
Where are Marvel Legends made?
The process of creating a new action figure takes place in a few different locations. It starts with Marvel creating sufficient reference photos from the manufacturer. This step usually takes place before the filming when the costumes are tested. Although this may seem simple, this is the most important step since the reference photos help make the action figure as realistic as possible.
After that, the manufacture moves to the sculpting and modeling shops at Hasbro where the general sculpt of the action figure is made and where the face of it is printed. The figure is lastly assembled and fully painted before being shipped to Marvel to be approved for manufacturing.
After it has been approved the blueprint for the figure moves to manufacturing facilities where the action figures get mass-produced, packaged, and shipped.