You’ll recall that a few weeks back Grand Jester Studios was kind enough to share some photos of a few of their awesome collection of Disney character busts. They also graciously agreed to answer a few of your questions that we sent them, so I want to thank everyone that contacted me on that and without further ado let us get to those questions!
1) How do you decide upon the subject matter of your work, is it a group effort on behalf of the studio? For example with the Rocketeer bust, did the Disney studio itself see there was a lack of high quality collectibles and approach Grand Jester Studios or were you the ones who approached them?
GJS: It’s a very collaborative decision between the Disney Studios, Disney Consumer Products and the Grand Jester Studios artists, developers and marketing. The whole reason for the launch of the Disney mini-busts was that we felt there was a void in the market for collectors of quality mini-busts that represent the Disney films and cast of characters. We wanted to use our expertise on Disney collectible lines (such as on Walt Disney Classics Collection) to make the characters very true in form and color (“on model” as the animators say). So, we drew up some concepts and presented to Disney. We wanted to portray them in some forward poses that capture their personality and with a sense of action. We also wanted to include icons from the film where possible, usually in the base or with architectural elements. We also knew we wanted to cover subjects from live action films, comics, and classic animated films and shorts. We had the Rocketeer in mind from the very start noting that it has its origins in comics and then became a Disney live action film.
2) What is the average time it takes to come up with an approved design? I assume that it is a back and forth with Disney. How long does it take to go from approved design to having the product available for purchase?
GJS: Yes, there’s a good deal of back and forth once we have added a subject to the bust assortment. We usually look at film sequences, sometimes freezing frame by frame or other reference ask the creative director to generate multiple rough concepts. We then meet as a team internally, make selections and tweaks. That may take one to two months. We then go to a tighter concept with some color and then present to Disney who will of course have feedback. Once the concept is approved we go into sculpting and then color model with several rounds of approvals. It takes about a year from initial concept to having product available to purchase.
3) Has there been any character that Grand Jester has wanted to create that perhaps Disney didn’t approve?
GJS: Oh, funny you ask! Yes, there have been some and usually there is an issue with the Studio not having the legal rights to the actor likeness or the character or complex rights assignments for merchandise. Some examples which come to mind might be Zorro and Captain Nemo from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. (That’s a shame because I know I would kill to have a James Mason inspired Captain Nemo bust on my mantle! -Vic)
Talking about upcoming busts…what is the possibility of a Maximillian or V.I.N.C.E.N.T. bust from the Black Hole?
GJS: Ahhh, we have received those requests! The somewhat obscure villain from the Black Cauldron, The Horned King, started out with requests like these and ended up with the release of a mini-bust, so you never know….
I want to give a huge thanks to Grand Jester Studios for taking time from their busy holiday schedule to answer all of the questions we were able to send them. I cannot wait to hear from them again on what they have coming out for purchase because my mantle always needs a few more things to showcase. I’ll leave you with two very nice Flynn busts from those hardworking geniuses, make sure to click on the pictures to really check out the detail!