AN INTERVIEW WITH RAVEN HOOD

The second set of Farscape action figures was recently released by Toy Vault. Among them are two Rygel figures: Rygel, Dominar of Hyneria and Rygel, Royalty in Exile. The sculptor of these figures, Raven Hood, graciously agreed to take time from his busy schedule to answer some questions for Karlsweb. 

The completed Rygel action figures
Left - Rygel: Royalty in Exile, Right - Rygel XVI, Dominar of Hyneria

Karlsweb: I really appreciate you  taking  time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for Karlsweb.

Raven Hood: No problem!

Karlsweb: First, let me congratulate you on the Rygel figures. Your artwork is  wonderful, they're outstanding likenesses of the character - he looks  just  as crabby as an action figure as he does on Farscape.

Raven Hood: Thanks! Thatís great to hear!! I hope some day we can do a cold cast version of this figure that is 1/1 scale with the original sculpture. Its amazing how small he is after being reduced 50%. Ok it is 50% but its hard to believe how small he looks after you have been working on him so long at twice the size.

Karlsweb: Could you give us a little background about how you began your  career in  sculpting action figures and how you came to work on Farscape. 

The sketch for Rygel was drawn by Raven Hood's Dad, Jack Barnard Hood

Raven Hood: Well my dad worked in the model shop for NASA during the Apollo moon missions and later worked for Disney's Theme Display department while I was growing up. So there were always little astronauts, cartoon characters, and energetic mice around. Later my interest in film made me want to sculpt my own characters. Then sculpting some of my favorite actors and movie characters during college got me in the model business. I dabbled in collectibles, toys and film making but Toy Vault actually released the first toys I ever saw on shelves. I think!!

 

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Rygel, Dominar in Progress

Karlsweb: I know that Rygel is your second Farscape figure. Being a puppet,  was he  more difficult to create than the Aeryn Mutation figure?

Raven Hood: Yes and No! At first we thought it might be quite a bit easier without all the subtleties of human expression etc. But it turns out proportions on a puppet can be really tricky. I originally worked based on some photos of the original clay sculpt of Rygel. This was great because it was a solid and I had several shots of it (several is never enough) but it was also really rough and didn't have all the details of the final puppet. Since I got started kind of early on this figure, the 'based on clay version' was around for a couple months while I finished other projects and the second series of figures were still being locked down. We even had a paint up at ComicCon that summer. But when Janis Beauchamp (Henson Art Director) and I started reviewing it, we determined he was pretty stiff and some details were not accurate. Here it got tricky. A human face changes a lot with expressions and mood. Puppets stretch to achieve these emotions and should be easier to reproduce but puppets do not have bones like humans do. Rygel's whole face elongates for some expressions and his body even collapses on its self at times. With humans you can always grab someone and say 'do this' but I don't know any little alien puppets I could get to pose for me.

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Rygel at sculpting size: two-up

Karlsweb: Were you given access to a "real life" Rygel or did you do all the  sculpting based on photographs and/or videos?

Raven Hood: No! =.( I didn't even ask. Wish I had! But the show is produced in Australia and sometimes it takes us nearly until a project is finished to get some photos. So, for the most part its just photos and videos. One thing I was really happy about was the photos the studio made of Rygel's chair. Bob Burns, a movie prop collecting friend of mine has the original Time Machine from the George Pal film. Rygel's chair reminds me of that a lot somehow and I was really excited to do it justice, possibly to the point of not being unprofitable. I actually asked that I be allowed to make it a little more symmetrical and not be quite so beat up as the original. I know you can't see those details on the show and I didn't want fans to think I messed it up. Loving this stuff often makes the job harder but hopefully some will really appreciate it.

Karlsweb:. If you used scenes from the show, was there one episode or scene in  particular that you chose to work from?

Raven Hood: "Exodus From Genesis" is the only episode where you see Rygel actually walk in the first season. It gave us the excuse to make his feet articulate and get him out of the chair.

"Throne for a Loss" has great stuff on the chair.

"The Flax" has great expressions and the best smile.

And I really need to get out more!

Rygel with his fellow sculptee, the Aeryn Mutation figure.

Karlsweb: I remember reading that for Aeryn, you worked at a scale of two-up.  For  Rygel, was it the same or did you use a larger scale because he's so  tiny? 

Raven Hood: Same scale though we thought we where making him slightly larger just to make him a better figure. Now that I have one of the toys he actually looks just about right next to Aeryn. Glad we tried to make him as large as we could.

Rygel: Dominar of Hyneria holding the head of Rygel: Royalty in Exile

Karlsweb: Which of Rygel's accessories did you sculpt?

Raven Hood: Just about all of them. I think we used one of DíArgoís knives. Truthfully I only have a test shot of Rygel so far so I am not sure which accessories were produced. There were lots of them. Not all of them were produced unless I missed something. I also did a base that was saved for a future project.

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