MondoCon 2014 – The Art of Toymaking [PANEL]

Sully and I attended the first ever MondoCon panel – The Art of Toymaking – over the weekend and it was truly a great experience. Now, we’ve been to a lot of panels at a lot of cons but there was something extra special about being at the first panel at a first-time con given by a company and people that we’re big fans of………which made for a really cool feeling! Mondo’s own Justin Ishmael jumped on stage and announced The Art of Toymaking panelists: Brock Otterbacher, Mike Mitchell, and Dan Willett. The four men took a seat on stage and Mondo’s first panel was born!

The conversion followed some of the events that led up to Justin and Mondo wanting to venture into the toy realm since they pretty much had the poster gig down. Using slightly different approaches in regards to toymaking, visualization and conception, and what properties they wanted to tackle in their first toy outing, the audience learned some great insight into toys, statues, art, and maybe one of the most important facts – toymaking isn’t just about the toy, but the meaning of that toy itself.


Since 2009, Justin and Brock had wanted to do toys. But where to start? As huge fans of Brad Bird’s The Iron Giant, they pretty much knew that wanted to start here. There had some IG toys before but they weren’t exactly what Justin and Brock had envisioned as fans. So they went to Warner Bros. and told them what they they wanted to do if they were granted permission with the license. WB said no one had asked to do anything with the license (we couldn’t believe it either) and permission was granted. What the duo didn’t know was that Brad Bird had the file which in-turn was stored at PIXAR. Getting the file was the easy part. After that came the reverse engineering and engineering of the IG himself. Justin knew what he wanted and he wanted to make sure they did justice to the movie. Everything had to be right and true to the film. The rivets and bolts, the color, and the scale all had to be perfect. The IG figure that Mondo unveiled a few month ago at SDCC took a year by itself to get ready…… again…..yes. The Iron Giant is a without a doubt a labor of love.

The group also spoke on the 3D Giant Bolt from The Iron Giant that will be coming out as well. As fans of the movie know, the giant bolt is what hinges the Giant’s jaw together. It’s also what’s given to Hogarth in the movie at a certain point. No spoilers…just in case. Justin made a comment that in many aspects, the Giant Bolt represents “the heart of the film.” The detail of the Bolt is unbelieveable. Super realistic and comes complete with pushable buttons and the ability to light up!


Another line they wanted to see was for Alfred Hitchcock. As Mr. Hitchcock is held such high regard, Justin thought there needed to be a figure that represented the man himself but in such a realistic way that the word “toy” would come dangerously close to being frowned upon. Again, every step was made to make sure that this figure would be done right and no detail left out. As with The Iron Giant, Justin and Company knew there were Alfred Hitchcock toys/figures out in the world already but they almost seemed to not take the legendary creator seriously in their representations. So ideas and the creative magic started to flow about how to do this right. Every detail, every curve, every iconic symbol they wanted to incorporate had to be just right. We saw the prototype and it looks like they got it right.

A prototype of the Alfred Hitchcock figure was on display in the lobby of the Marchesa Theater.



Another item on the list was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Another property they were eager to work and of course, they were huge fans. Mondo went to Nickelodeon and asked for permission and they got it. They went to Dan for the Mikey figure to which Dan quickly sent back a 3D unfinished model. The old school meaning of the popsicle and Mikey resonated with the group and they were liking what they were seeing right away. They went through several different variations of the figure – gloss finish, matte finish, paint scheme, mouth molds, etc. The final prototype below shows that went with drawn-on finish which gives a really artsy and unique retro-inspired look.

TMNT prototype



And last but certainly not least, this original Hellboy concept figure, in partnership with Mike Mignola, was announced in the panel. There wasn’t a lot said but they made sure to let us know that they have some amazing ideas coming up and they’re excited and Mondo getting into the “toy game”!




About Steve

Co-founder of Nerd Fu, mild-mannered artist, gamer, movie aficionado, SDCC disciple.

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