We’re massive Game of Thrones fans, but that’s not the only reason we were excited to see HBO Global Licensing and Eaglemoss Collections’ new set of Official Collector’s Models. Released earlier this month in the UK, the 1:21 scale models come with a magazine and actually represent the female characters in the show.
The promo image for the collection shows 10 figurines, of which 4 are female – a ratio far better than you’d find in most tech companies – and the very first character to be released is the kickass Daenerys Targaryen.
Dany spent quite a lot of the early episodes naked or semi-naked, so we wouldn’t have been surprised to see her rendered as a scantily-clad sex object like so many anime figurines. But Eaglemoss haven’t taken that route. It’s kind of sad that we were surprised and delighted to see unsexist official merchandise, but that’s the world we live in.
It seems obvious to most of us that the female characters in any franchise should be given due prominence, but that seems to have escaped toy companies like Hasbro, who were recently roasted over hot coals on Twitter for their decision to leave principal character Rey out of the Star Wars Monopoly set. The resulting hashtag, #WheresRey, spawned a lot of useful discussion and this spot-on letter from an 8-year-old girl:
Hasbro claimed that including Rey would have been a movie spoiler, which is the second-worst excuse we’ve ever heard. This article presents a much more believable theory, based on anonymous insider info: that toy companies were specifically told to exclude Rey because “No boy wants to be given a product with a female character on it.”
It’s not even the first time the toy company’s been in trouble for intentionally leaving out female merchandise – they were famously chastised by the one and only Mark Ruffalo for the same thing:
While we’d argue it’s not just female kids who need female toys, there’s no denying a smackdown from the Hulk himself should have been enough to shame the Has-bros into changing their ways.
In fact, the Game of Thrones collection is a gift of an experiment to prove them wrong, because each figurine is sold separately, which means sales figures should prove that female figurines do sell and the demand is there.
We spoke to Richard Jackson, Editorial & Figurine Manager for Eaglemoss, about why so many companies get it wrong and what they’re doing differently.
Hi Richard. We were happy to see that the first and foremost figurine in your collection is Daenerys. Why did you start with her?
As one of Game of Thrones’ leading characters, Daenerys was always going to be in the running to open the collection. She’s a strong, compelling character with a fascinating story arc, who appeals to all of the show’s fans, regardless of gender. We chose to capture a moment in her story where she’s starting to come into her own. As the ‘Breaker of Chains’, she’s come a long way from when we first see her as her brother Viserys’ meek, submissive pawn. She’s grown in confidence as a khaleesi of the Dothraki, become the ‘Mother of Dragons’ and led her own followers after the death of her husband, Khal Drogo.
The figurine captures her at the moment that she acquires her Unsullied army and unleashes the power of her largest dragon, Drogon, on the slave traders in Astapor. It’s the point where she becomes a queen, going on to liberate the slaves in the cities of Slaver’s Bay.
Choosing Daenerys for our first issue provides a great introduction into all the aspects of Game of Thrones that make it such a fantastic series – there’s war, tragedy, intrigue, character development and – of course – awesome fire-breathing dragons!
Why do you think other merchandise manufacturers have such a hard time putting female characters front and centre?
I think the problem is that fantasy and science fiction have always been seen as genres where the fans – and purchasers of merchandise – are predominantly male. But I think that the truth is that there are a lot of girls and women who love sci-fi and fantasy, and their purchasing power is starting to make a difference.
More importantly, the kind of tough, kick-ass female characters that we see in contemporary movies and TV – such as Daenerys, Cersei, Brienne and Arya in Game of Thrones, the Black Widow in the Avengers movies, Rey in Star Wars, Katniss in the Hunger Games and Jessica Jones – are perceived as cool by both genders.
A lot of the Game of Thrones figurines are female characters. Was this a conscious decision?
I think a lot of the credit for this should go to HBO, George RR Martin and Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. This is a unique genre TV show that puts an array of really different female characters front and centre.
While the actual world of Westeros may have a very traditional and often misogynistic view on women, the characters that have been created in that world are extremely powerful – we’ve had manipulators, warriors, queens, princesses, assassins… So the fact that there are so many great female characters in the show makes it easy for us to put them in our collection.
The truth is that when we made our running list we didn’t sit down and exclude or include a character based on their gender, but we did recognize the role that female characters take in the show and wanted to make sure we not only represented this for all the fans but that we also put the best characters in the collection.
How did you go about deciding which outfits and poses to use?
Once we’ve chosen a character we go through all the episodes they have appeared in and screen grab every costume and important moment. We’re looking for a combination of detailed costume, important moment in the character’s story and cool looking pose. It can be tough to hit all three of these criteria for some characters, especially for a TV show where many characters’ most important moments are them standing around and talking or dying. We’ll then discuss the ideas in our team and pick 3-4 figurine ideas with the ultimate goal being to distil a character’s essence into a single pose. Once we have settled on 3-4 figurine ideas we send our concepts to HBO, explain our choices and then listen to their feedback.
Is it hard to reproduce the intricate costumes in small scale? What source material did you use to accurately reproduce the costumes?
It’s extremely hard to reproduce the detail at the scale our figurines are produced at. When you see the figurines on websites and in photos it can be difficult to see the true size of them and many people don’t realize that the faces of each figurine are less than 1cm across. Our sculptors work in 3D and put a ton of detail into each figurine, especially the costumes and faces. The 3D sculpts we produce could in theory be printed at a much larger size (close to 1:1 scale) and look great. The challenge comes in the next stage of ‘printing’ and manufacturing the figurines, we spend a lot of time revising physical samples to make sure as much detail as is physically possible gets on to the final figurine.
The source material we use is a combination of looking directly at the blu-rays of the TV show and from a lot of official HBO imagery. We have a great relationship with HBO and they provide us with turnaround photography of the costumes and weapons, as well as on set and behind the scenes photography.
Which character does the collection end on, and why?
This is tough question because although we make a list of all 60 issues at the beginning we do change this as we go. The beauty of a collection such as this is that the TV show is still on the air and new characters are being introduced. I’d like to think that when our final figure comes out, it feels right for where the show is at the time. In my ideal world I’d love the final figurine to be whoever is on the Iron Throne when the series ends. Maybe that’ll be Daenerys, wouldn’t it be great to have her be the first and last figurine in the collection?
The Eaglemoss Game of Thrones Official Collector’s Models are available now, beginning with Daenerys. Issue 1 costs £2.99 and subsequent issues are £8.99, available from Tesco, WH Smith and online.
All figurine images and main image: HBO Global Licensing/Eaglemoss Collections