About Statue Collecting

“The best artist has that thought alone Which is contained within the marble shell; The sculptor`s hand can only break the spell To free the figures slumbering in the stone” Michelangelo

Be it action figures or statues, there is something appealing about having a scaled version of your favorite characters displayed right in front of you. To be able to gaze at that miniature piece often feels like those characters are alive and ready to leap out at you.

Unlike action figures, statues lack articulation which is the key element for playing with action figures and displaying them in various poses. Although newer action figures have  greater detail in them they still tend to offer limited likeness to the characters they’re based on.In terms of visual appeal the statue form offers much greater detail and realism to the character, far more so than the plastic look and feel of the action figure. The sheer weight of the statue is an added bonus, it is a visceral sensation to touch and hold the statue in our hands.

How are collectible statues made?

Companies and sculptors use various techniques and materials to bring statues to life. Sculptors may use clay, resin, polystone, porcelain, vinyl or wax to create a statue. Some of these materials may only be used to sculpt a prototype of the statue. Cold-cast porcelain is one of the commonly used materials for collectible statues. This is a mixture of resin and porcelain which forms a solid surface.

The first step in the production is to visualize the statue design in a concept sketch. First the required pose of character is chosen, after which the basic proportions for the statue are calculated. Some companies also use human models to create the pose, their image is then scanned to create the digital sculpt, which is modified using a modeling program.

The latest process, which is still considered to be a controversial departure from traditional sculpting, is for the scan to be printed in three dimension format onto a resin surface to create a rough mold. This is then re-cast in wax and sculpted by hand by the statue artist. Previously the sculptor would work from a block of sculpting material. Some collectors feel that the new process lacks the human touch and intimate attention to detail of the traditional method.

In the traditional method the sculptor will create the armature (skeleton) of the character using wires. The sculpting material will then be applied on to that armature.Before adding fine details and texture to the sculpt, it is important that the basic shape and form of the sculpt is achieved.

Depending on the materials used, the final sculpture would then be required to be baked in an oven at specified temperature for hardening. This original sculpt could then be molded (often in silicon rubber) to create additional castings for multiple copies using the same materials. The painting process is one of the last steps.

How many typically get made?

Based on the demand for  a character, statue companies would typically choose an edition run to be anywhere between 500-3000. Sometimes a character would get a variant edition with a different body/costume color or perhaps the addition of an accessory. These variant editions tend to be more limited and will usually run between 200-500 statues. Sometimes the number of statues a company can manufacture is also based on the license agreement they have with the character’s copyright holder.

Price over the years.

Typically 1:6 and 1:8 scale statues made of cold-cast porcelain will retail for anywhere between $150-$250, depending on the overall size and complexity of the statue design. Depending on the number of statues released, you may see situations where the statues sell out during the pre-order statue. This causes a higher market price when the statues are shipped and you’ll often see much higher ebay prices for the same statues.

Sometimes the price will see a dramatic drop in price if collectors feel that the final product isn’t as impressive as expected based on the colour prototype and pictures released of the statue.

If a company manufactures a variant of a sold out statue, then those who couldn’t buy the original will now be able to buy the variant at retail price. This can cause a noticeable drop in the value of the original edition statues.

Taking care of collectible statues

Statues should be dusted on a regular basis (every a month or two). This should be done lightly using soft and dry paint brush, preferably of small or medium size. Frequent dusting won’t be required if the statues are displayed in a dust free environment. Avoid keeping your statues under direct sunlight so as to avoid colour bleaching.

Soap or cleansers of any kind should not be used as this might damage the paint finish of the statue. If additional cleaning is required then use a damp cloth to carefully wipe the required surface.

Glossary

Scale

This is a measurement system used for models and figures, which is expressed in terms of ratio. Eg: 1:6, 1:8, 1:12

If a human is 6 foot (i.e. 72 inches) tall, then 1/6th scale of that human is 72/6 = 12 inches (1 foot) tall.

Similarly 1/8th of the human is 72/8 = 9 inches.

1/12 of the human is 72/12 = 6 inches.

Artist Proof

This refers to a statue which has been individually inspected by the sculptor. If a statue is marked and labeled Artist Proof, the buyer is given the assurance that the statue meets all of the quality standard intended by the sculptor. Artist Proof statues won’t have some of the inconsistencies like minor sculpt surface dings or paint scuffs, which is sometimes present among the mass manufactured statues. Artist Proofs are offered in limited numbers and thus more valuable than the regular statue.

 

Written by Vivek (Spideristic)