Fletcher Hanks was a mysterious Golden Age cartoonist whose work has been described as "Basil Wolverton meets Ed Wood." His comics were crude, surreal, violent and instantly recognizable, earning him a cult following among fans of lowbrow art and vintage comics. Hanks' bizarre body of work has been collected in two excellent books edited by Paul Karasik, I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! and You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!, both published by Fantagraphics in 2007 and 2009, respectively.
Stardust the Super Wizard is perhaps Hanks' most well known character, a towering godlike alien with an observatory on his own private star. When his "crime-detector" alerts him to an evil plot unfolding on Earth, he flies to our planet in his "tubular spacial" to unleash his peculiar brand of justice on evil-doers. Besides his near invulnerability, Stardust possesses a wide range of powers, including an improbable arsenal of rays and the ability to change his size and shape at will. He regularly seizes his opponents in a crushing, vise-like grip before administering some bizarre form of punishment that is frequently fatal to the recipient.
In one of his strangest stories, Stardust uses a transforming ray to enlarge the head of the evil "Master-Mind" De Structo, which consumes the villain's body. Stardust then whisks De Structo into space and hurls the terrified criminal into a space pocket inhabited by a "giant headless headhunter." The monster catches De Structo, places him upon its shoulders and absorbs him into its body. Comics don't get much weirder than this!
Inspired by this surreal tale, I have sculpted a small figurine of Stardust holding the enlarged head of De Structo in a bit of a homage to Hamlet. I'm hoping to raise $6,700 to finance a limited production run of the figurine for fans of Stardust and Golden Age superheroes generally.
The figure stands 4.28" (10.87 cm) tall, or 4.45" (11.3 cm) tall including the base. Thus, this rendition of the character would be about 7' 6" (2.29 m) tall at 1/1 scale. In any given story, Stardust can vary between 7 and 10 ft tall, so this is actually on the low end of the scale. As shown in the photos above, this figurine is equivalent to an Eaglemoss "Special" due to its above average size.
The Production Figurine
Like those produced by Eaglemoss, the Stardust figurine will be produced in white metal (tin + lead alloy) with a resin base. Due to the lead content, THIS FIGURINE IS NOT DESIGNED OR INTENDED FOR PLAY BY CHILDREN UNDER 14 YEARS OF AGE. Prominent lead warnings will be printed both on the packaging and on the label underneath the figurine. I considered producing the figurine in resin, but the majority of collectors on forums like the Super Hero Figurine Forum seems to prefer the "heft" and solidity of lead for figures in this scale. I estimate that the production figurine will weigh 10.6 oz (300 g), which is pretty heavy for a figure less than 4.5" tall.
The production figurine will be hand painted with acrylics and sealed with a matte lacquer. A square of black felt and a descriptive label will be glued to the underside of the base. Packaging will consist of a custom printed box and a protective molded plastic tray.
Production will be done in China by a factory that has also made figurines for Eaglemoss, so the overall quality will be similar. Assuming we meet our fundraising goal, I estimate that you will receive your figurine by March/April 2013.
If you purchase 1 to 3 figurines, the price is $25 each plus shipping; for example, a single figure sent within the U.S. by Priority Mail would be $36 ($25 + $11 shipping). Customers outside the U.S. would add an additional $4. For 4 to 6 figurines, the cost is $23 each plus shipping, while 7 to 10 figurines would cost $21 each plus shipping; please see the rewards at right for more information. I assume most backers will be purchasing 1 or 2 figurines; the rewards on the higher end of the scale are geared more towards independent comic shops. I did not include any lower priced rewards with stickers, t-shirts, etc. as I'm assuming that the vast majority of people interested in this Kickstarter campaign really just want a figurine.
The basic $25 price is very competitive with specials produced by Eaglemoss, which generally retail for $32 or more in the U.S. Please also keep in mind that the Stardust production run is likely to be in the low hundreds, while the figures produced by Eaglemoss typically run in the thousands.
On November 18, I added a new $750 reward for advanced collectors who want a one-of-a-kind sculpt of their favorite public domain character at 1/21 scale (must be a "normal" sized humanoid, not an oversized one like Stardust). You will receive a completely unique hand-painted resin 3D print with a certificate of authenticity. More details in the updates section.
On November 21, I added a $5 pledge for those who want to support the project but can't afford the figurine; for this amount, you will receive a limited edition trading card with a render of the figurine on the front and a history of the character on the back. I estimate that only 10-20 of these will be produced, so it may become collectible in its own right.
If this project is successful, I hope to sculpt further figurines and create an ongoing collection celebrating the colorful and varied characters from the Golden Age of Comics. There are scores of public domain super hero, science fiction, and horror characters which would make interesting figurines; you can view some of them at great sites like Public Domain Super Heroes, Golden Age Heroes & Zeroes, and Comic Book Plus, among numerous others. Please help kick off this collection and buy a Stardust figurine today! Thank you for your support.
On November 21, I created a survey to determine the level of interest in and content of a possible ongoing "Golden Age Comics Figurine Collection;" you can fill it out here; it only takes a few minutes and will help me in planning out the figurines which will hopefully follow Stardust.
Risks and challenges
There could be delays in manufacturing and/or shipping the figurines; the March/April 2013 delivery date is based on the estimates provided by the factory and shipping companies, with a couple weeks added to be on the safe side. I promise to keep my backers informed of any significant delays and will refund their money if they decide that they no longer want to receive the figurine due to such delays.
The ultimate reward! I will digitally sculpt you a single public domain character of your choice at 1/21 scale (must be a "normal" sized humanoid, not an oversized one like Stardust). You will receive a completely unique hand-painted resin 3D print with a certificate of authenticity. More details in the updates section.