Rama: Our first hero in a line of 8 inch, high-quality, action figures, celebrating the rich diversity of the world's cultural heroes.
Words of praise for The Hero Project-
"This is one of the best projects I've seen here. I hope this goes through, not just for the action figure, but to see kids play with heroes from the past that I've come to love." - Harrison Montgomery
"An awesome project guys! Love the concept AND the execution. Doing my part to spread the word." - Jon Wesley Huff
"It's not just about selling action figures, it's about culture, education and heritage. Go, go, dynamo!" -Tey Beng Huan
THE IMPORTANCE OF HEROES
For many years, we've been making the toys that you and your kids play with from Star Wars to Pokemon, from Beyblade to Jurassic Park. Sometimes, it's easy to write-off action figures as toss-away replicas of whatever movie that might be hot at the moment. But action figures play an important role in children's social development. They are pathways for kids to act out their fantasies, to work out for themselves the differences between right and wrong and to push at the boundaries of their blossoming imaginations.
Hero stories play that very same role in our societal development. They inspire us to reach higher, walk taller and overcome our daily challenges. Their stories bring us together in ways that no other medium can. They are the source code for what makes us human. Who are your heroes?
A CALL TO ACTION
"Why are there no toys of the great epics of India?" Asked casually at a neighborhood get-together, those words posed a very powerful question. Not just about the Indian epics, but about all world stories.
Why ARE modern stories treated with more importance than our traditional stories? Do regional heroes like Beowolf, Quetzalcoatl, Alibaba, or Monkey deserve anything less than to be brought to life in vivid technicolor using the same level of care, quality and vibrancy of Spider-man or Darth Vader?
The universe had presented us an opportunity for a adventure of our own. Kids should have the opportunity to discover these stories for themselves. It was a calling that we just had to answer. And so, the Hero Project was born.
TOY ECONOMICS 101
Making an action figure is more complex than most people might imagine. Right up until launch the biggest question we got from anyone we showed was, "Why is your funding goal ($125,000) so high?"
The answer is threefold- scale, complexity and quality. The steel molds used to reproduce a figure are expensive and that expense grows exponentially with scale, complexity and quality. A small and simple Pokemon item may cost $5000 to make a mold, $15,000 for Batman or Ninja Turtles figure, and upwards of $30K for most larger scale figures. Ordering a sizable batch of large, multi-part figures is costly and like most people we know, neither of us has an extra large bundle of C-notes sitting around to front the capital.
After a lot of investigation, we decided that crowdfunding was probably the best way forward. We'd go straight to the people, tell them about what we'd built and let them champion it. The idea would live or die with folks like you!!!
A PROJECT OF HEROIC PROPORTIONS
A great action figure should inspire kids to pick it up and invest their imaginative energy into telling their own epic stories of good vs. evil, personal challenges, and saving the day.
We wanted to produce an item that could deliver a singular, awe-inspiring, hands-on experience. We also wanted to consider mold reuse and material efficiencies as much as possible. We decided to build a single universal body (UniBody) that would capture the raw, iconic essence of heroism.
This single body would allow us to make Rama, who we wanted to be our introductory figure, but like GI Joe and Barbie before it, we'd re-use the molds from the basic body and supplement with new molds to create other characters in the future.
THE VIRTUES OF RAMA
Culturally, Rama was the best place to start. He is the perfect embodiment of the value and majesty of the world's cultural stories. The Ramayana is an amazingly magical story, loved around the world. Like many modern fantasies, it's filled with magical beings, vile demons, an epic journey through exotic locales, and an earth-shaking final battle. But, it is also a tale filled with the human stories that sometimes get overshadowed with bombast- acts of duty, honor, faith, devotion, that exemplify what Rama, as a hero and role model mean to billions. He typifies the Heroic Ideal.
The challenge of bringing him to life was daunting. Each person has his or her own relationship with the Ramayana and being true to each is nearly impossible. We redesigned him many times. What started out as a somewhat westernized or classical approach over time evolved to incorporate an aesthetics that was more grounded in the east. What we decided is that we need to design him for both the people who already know and love Rama, but also the people who have yet to meet him. Where we ended up, hopefully is something timeless, that can appreciated by the entirety of the world.
RAMA: THE FIGURE
On an artistic level, Rama conveys that sense of heroic 'presence' that we felt was essential. We balanced that artistic value with the functional needs of a consumer product, it needed to be long-lived, something of heirloom quality that could be passed from child-to-child and stylistically stand the test of time.
- Poseability- We've built Rama using a special technique to avoid ugly pin joints that can be distracting to the character. At 31 points of movement, our design gives him incredible poseability and balance when standing.
- Accessories- One of the most important reasons we chose the 8 inch scale is the playability of the accessories. Rama's bow will fire his arrows like a real-scale working bow. His arrows are designed after the various magical and elemental archery techniques portrayed in his adventures. Each is engraved with the Sanskrit words for each power.
- Fact card- Rama comes with a 5x7 fact card which will introduce kids to him via story bits, friends, foes, skills and characteristics of his specific brand of heroism.
- The package- As a toy designer, one of the hardest decisions is to take fun details and accessories out of one of your products to spend it on the package. You understand the package's importance for kids trying to make a hard choice in the figure aisle, but you also know that it's just going straight into the garbage when they get home. Our main goal was to reduce the amount of packaging material as much as possible to ensure that the figure itself carried the bulk of total product value. This package was built to be our 'mailer'. All the figures purchased in the $35 reward level, will receive their figure in the mail packaged as shown below.
A GLIMPSE INTO THE FUTURE
Although we've started this journey with Rama, what got us really excited about the project is all the new heroes that we discovered during our research. The deeper we dug, the more excited we became about the vast array of great characters. Getting that rich diversity of heroes into kid's hands is the ultimate promise of the The Hero Project, exposing kids to the vastness of great hero stories from around the world.
Above are two line-ups of possible heroes and demigods that we'd love to develop in the future. See any you recognize? Don't see your favorite? You can see more of these figures in the 'Updates' tab above. You can vote for your favorites or suggest characters via our Male Character Poll and Female character poll. We have huge plans for the future. Help us make it happen!
Growing up outside of Pittsburgh to a family of artists, Tucker planted the seeds for his cultural curiosity with weekends spent at the Carnegie museum. He cultivated those interests through college by spending every academic credit on eastern religion and culture courses. After working in advanced concepts for General Motors, design at Hasbro, and as a consultant to major media and toy companies, he sees The Hero Project as the fruition of all his past experience.
Wayne grew up loving stories of heroes, monsters and worlds undreamed-off. He started illustrating comics at the age of 18, where he enjoyed appearing at comic conventions across the country, promoting his work and talking to people about their passions. After a successful career at Hasbro Toys and founding Dynamo Development Labs with Tucker, he's looking forward to putting out some fun products of his own and continuing that creative discussion.
EPIC REWARD ITEMS
One of the greatest challenges of doing this Kickstarter was coming up with rewards that complimented the figure. We'd been researching product-on-demand solutions for some other personal projects using Shapeways and Ponoko. These seems the smartest way to avoid over-committing to more tooling and inventory. It really allowed us to provide some great incentives for the escalating reward packages. Our goal was to provide something for everyone.
In addition to the product rewards shown in each package, every backer at or above the $30 pledge level will receive some additional perks. These benefits include- voting privileges on our 'character advisory board', where you can help us determine which future characters we will pursue, access to project art and wall papers, a members-only portal into the design, manufacturing and fulfillment process for this and future items and a special prize!- 15% off any future Hero Project figures.
The Paper Doll set
Gear up Rama for his various adventures! This features a wide variety of options including several parts not available in the figure itself.
The commemorative Hero Project T-shirt
A pre-shrunk cotton Hero Project t-shirt, printed on navy and available in all adult and kids sizes.
The Rama T-shirt
A pre-shrunk cotton Rama: Hero Project t-shirt, printed on navy and available in all adult and kids sizes.
The softcover Rama Storybook
An illustrated (and abbreviated) telling of Rama's adventures. 24 color pages of story and activities that introduce kids to Rama, his allies, foes and journey.
The hardbound 'Art of the Hero Project' Book
A commemorative hard bound book collecting of all the preliminary design work leading up to the figure and Kickstarter campaign. This 32 page full-color book contains figure development art, Rama-inspired works by professional illustrators, designers and friend of the project, including Triclops Robotboy, Stephanie Swanson, James Groman, Michael O'Hare, Galen McKamy, Ben Hitmar, The Tarantulas, and BJ Johnson and most importantly, it will detail the names of all project contributors and backers like you!
The limited-edition, 'Kickstarter-only' Alabaster figure-
We're offering a limited-run of 100 'Kickstarter-only' exclusive figures. These will have the same high-quality detailing of the basic figure, but presented in an 'alabaster' white motif, inspired by classical sculpture. This figure will come with its own version of the figure display stand listed below, but each version of the stand will be numbered (1-100) for authenticity.
The laser-cut and etched Figure Display Stand- We wanted to produce something that would allow users to display the figure in their homes. Each display is individually cut and printed and shipped to you flat for easy assembly.
TO OUR INTERNATIONAL FRIENDS
If you live in a country where you cannot donate directly to Kickstarter the current best option is to buy a prepaid amazon cash card and use that for your donation. You must add $1 more than the prize amount to make sure the donation goes through. This thread (a million thanks to Double Fine), offers the most comprehensive guide on how to do this.
Emphatically, yes! We both have daughters and we love the idea of introducing them to some alternative role models. We have preliminary designs for Sita, Rama's queen, and the female Unibody that you can views using the 'Updates' tab at the top of the page. Let us know what you think!