Men Can't Sculpt
December 30, 2006

Geek time. Just a warning.

WTF is wrong with the companies producing action figures, huh? Look, we all know that the "realistic" looking action figures are sculpted largely by comic book geeks for comic book geeks. However, check out this new offering of Supergirl:

Now, this particular picture does not really do justice to the hideousness of the male neck which dominates this figure. I saw this toy in Target the other day and, for a moment, I thought, "Hey, I wouldn't mind having that figure -- they finally got a female figure --"

I trailed off as I picked her up off the peg hook.

Hideousness incarnate.

Now, I've collected action figures for quite some time. And I've noticed a couple of things. First, toy executives are absolutely, positively convinced that female action figures do not sell. On the other hand, they remain completely convinced that 873 versions of Batman in increasingly garish colours, with sculpts that are exactly the same, only changing the colours and sometimes the accessories, will sell in spades. I have heard 8 year olds in the Batman aisle at Toys R Us and Target, frustrated and confused as to why Batman is suddenly bright neon orange when they have NEVER seen him that way on the cartoons.

I, too, wonder about these things, but in recent years, I've particularly been struck by two areas. First, vital but ancillary characters. Until the customizing community became big in the late 1990s, there had never been an Alfred action figure made for the Batman toy lines. Sure, Alfred is not necessarily the crime fighting front-page type. But really, can you think about Batman without ever thinking about Alfred? What about Jim Gordon, the police chief for Gotham? Once action figure customizers began rounding out the lesser known villains and the supporting cast of some shows, that the toy companies sat up, took notice, and began doing the same.

Sadly, they have learned NOTHING about sculpting women in this time. Check out some of these early female sculpts:


Seriously. WTF?

Now, the hideous green thing and the similar looking blob next to it are She-Hulk and Xena, respectively. I know they're supposed to be muscular. But do they have to look like pumped up on steroids eastern European Olympic Frankensteins??? Lucy Lawless did NOT look like that. The neck is particularly egregious. That's the neck of a weight-lifting Schwartzenegger, not a female athlete.

What kills me is that they KNEW the neck was a bad job at sculpting and they "covered it up" by adding the strange little neck band. Really, all this does is make the figure look even more like a poorly done-up drag queen attempting to hide an adam's apple.

And the 1995 Princess Leia?

Look at the picture of Carrie Fisher on the packaging ... the whole figure and the close up of the head. Really? What the hell?

It comes down to this, in my opinion: stick boobs and an attempt at make-up on the figure, and it's good enough. The "men" buying these toys are only buying them for the boobs anyway, right?


Now, back up to the Supergirl figure that made me start this rant. The midriff is actually really well done. This is not a man's six-pack, but the muscular torso of a woman. Obviously this sculptor paid attention to more than just the boobs. Sadly, though, the neck is still the trunk-like thing of ... of ... well, I think the eastern european female athlete is still the best analogy. The arms were sculpted well, and even the shoulders have a nice, decent proportion.

And then we get to the legs, which obviously didn't truly matter as they look to be standard male superhero legs fitted into this body.

Certainly this is a wee bit better than the hideousness that was She-Hulk and Xena ... and somewhat better than the 1995 Princess Leia. But, look what happens when instead of trying to be perfectly "realistic" about a female sculpt, they go into their nice little fantasy world:

Here, we have another neck piece covering any possible thickness to the neck, but we also have a much more feminine face (even if it's demonic ... this is, after all, Corrupted Supergirl), a feminine torso, even feminine legs. The tops of the arms ... not exactly the shoulders, I'm talking about the top of the piece of plastic that makes the arm ... these are too large for the rest of the figure.

But overall, this is a much better female figure. Sadly, she's also pretty much just a sexual fantasy.

Why is it that the Slave Leia action figure ... the Betty Page action figures (oh yes, they did make those) ... and any female figure that can be sexualized to the extreme - THOSE are the female action figures which look female. The rest? Bah. Slap boobs on it and call it done. The kids won't care. The male collectors won't care, they just want the boobs.

The only exception to this that I've found is action figures which are done in the cartoon style. Seems once you completely simplify the lines, the sculptors have a much easier time sculpting women.


I suppose I'm just going to have to learn to sculpt action figures myself and stop simply customizing existing pieces. (Of course, that means I have to learn to paint eyes better. I'm shuddering to think of the last female action figure I customized. Scary eyes. Very very very scary.)

Posted by Red Monkey at December 30, 2006 12:48 PM | People Say I Have ADHD, But I Think - Hey Look, A Chicken | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


jodi said:

Got to be the same group of men who agree on "Have a Happy period" As a slogan for kotex!

December 30, 2006 2:22 PM


flo said:

Finally! Someone who remembers that Lucy Lawless Xena never looked like some kind of 'huge' body builder type. I will never understand why people have that image planted in their heads. She was not Chyna the wrestler. Hell she didnt even have muscles to speak of period. But I guess back in 1995, anyone over 90 lbs was considered "huge" ;-)

January 5, 2007 8:57 PM


weedonald said:

Where can we find tutorials about sculpting the female form or figure on the internet. I can ably sculpt the male figure and animals but the female form is far more demanding, as you ably point out.

May 24, 2007 6:40 PM


BullyBoy said:

If you like action figures check out

September 22, 2009 4:55 PM
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