Q&A with Nate Baertsch, Designer of the Icon Heroes Castle Grayskull

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You may know him as Baena at many of the toy and collectible forums, but Nate Baertsch is also an accomplished illustrator, and happens to be one of the designers behind the Icon Heroes Castle Grayskull Polystone Environment. Nate recently got one of the Icon Heroes Castles off the production line, shared these pictures, and kindly answered some of our questions.

AFP: How did you get involved with Icon Heroes for this project?

Nate: Dumb luck! Okay, that’s not entirely true. I’ve had a good working relationship with the Four Horsemen since somewhere around 2007? I started out doing packaging art for their Seventh Kingdom line. Ramathorr was the first painting I did for them, and to this day still one of my favorites.  Over time my work with them has increased from packaging artwork for their figures, to occasional design sketches and concepts for figures for the variety of lines that they work on. Over time, and meeting up with them when I could at conventions, we’ve established a good working relationship and friendship, as we all love all things MotU and general super fantastical spacey geeky goodness. A lot of “geeking out” about MotU lore, Seventh Kingdom, their other properties, Outer Space Men and now Power Lords!

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AFP’s Best of 2012 – Ron’s Picks

It’s almost February, so I figured I better get to my picks (and pics) for Best of 2012! I’ll get us started with one of the choices I included in the Fwoosh Best of 2012 post – the Marvel Legends Build-A-Figure Arnim Zola.

2012 was a great year for Marvel Legends, with Hasbro finally getting the flagship line back to retail. And it was an especially great year for Marvel villains. In the three 2012 waves, we got: Terrax, Constrictor, Klaw, Madame Masque, Madame Hydra, Daken, Mystique, Dr. Doom, Thunderball, and Piledriver. You could even throw in the Marvel Select Ultron.

But none stand above Arnim Zola, the Build-A-Figure for wave 2. C’mon! It’s Arnim Zola!

Best of 2012 - Marvel Legends Arnim Zola

The World War II WMD dealer looks like he popped out of a Jack Kirby drawing. He’s got the classic orange and purple color scheme, with the tunic and skirt. His legs are ribbed for your pleasure, and he’s got the trademark Kirby flare on his crotch flap. And that Zola face? Pure evil.

To top it all off, via the Madames and Wrecking Crew running changes, you can give your classic Zola a modern twist – the BAF pieces that came with Madame Hydra and Piledriver let you build a Red Skull trapped in a Zola construct. That’s why Zola is the best of 2012 – quit arguing and just accept it.

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San Diego Comic-Con 2011 – Eric Treadaway Interview

VeeBee and I had the chance to sit down again with Eric Treadaway of the Four Horsemen at San Diego Comic-Con a few weeks back. VeeBee just posted the final part of the interview at the Fwoosh, and you should also out the first, second, and third parts too. As always, it was a fascinating conversation that ran the gamut, including Masters of the Universe Classics, DC Universe Classics, and their own Fantastic Exclusives.

The whole thing provides some great insight into the entire lifecycle of making action figures, but I particularly enjoyed Eric talking about creating his own Masters of the Universe Classics character (in the part one of the interview) as well as some of the background behind the revamping of the DC Universe Classics line in the coming year (in part three), especially with the sub pre-orders coming up shy.

With the total subscriptions for Club Infinite Earths in the pre-order phase closing out at just above 60% of the desired target, and Mattel promising a related announcement this week, I’m really curious to see if Mattel is going to move forward in some way despite missing the target subscription number.

So, what do you think Mattel is going to share with us this week?

Toy Fair 2011 – Four Horsemen Interview – Part 1 with Eric Treadaway

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Four Horsemen and Mattel (l to r): Chris Dahlberg, Steed Sun (Mattel), Eric "Cornboy" Mayse, Eric Treadaway, and Jim Preziosi

The Four Horsemen have a Four Horsemen Fridays feature on their website, so we’ll hop on their coat tails for that. Hagop and I got to sit down with two of them at Mattel’s Collector Event at Toy Fair. It was really a treat talking to them, while surrounded by the 2-ups and prototypes of the action figures they’ve designed.

In our first part, we talk with Eric Treadaway, designer and sculptor, about Masters of the Universe Classics, DC Universe Classics, and fan reaction to some of the controversial reveals. We’ll post the second part, our conversation with Cornboy, on the Fwoosh next week.

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