HOME FOR ALL LOTR ACTION FIGURES
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GENTLE GIANT OVERVIEW
Founded in 1994 by Karl Z. Meyer, Gentle Giant was a trailblazer within the action figure industry. For over two decades, Gentle Giant Studios has led the development of state-of-the-art content using 3D scanning and modeling to develop and manufacture licensed 3D printed characters, toys and collectibles from a variety of franchise properties with global brand recognition, including Marvel, Disney, AMC’s The Walking Dead, Avatar, Harry Potter, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.
Gentle Giant Ltd. designs, develops, and manufactures three-dimensional representations of beloved characters from a variety of franchise properties with worldwide name recognition. Utilizing the most advanced scanning techniques and a team of incredibly talented artisans, Gentle Giant digitally captures the likenesses of actors, props, and scenery to accurately recreate these images for fans and collectors everywhere.
Provider of 3D modelling services in Burbank, California. The company's services include 3D scanning & design, custom prototyping, fine arts fabrication and manufacturing, enabling gaming, TV and movie studios to satisfy their wildest creative imaginings faster and more efficiently than ever before.
Gentle Giant's licensed assets and properties were acquired by Diamond Select Toys on 12 February 2019.
SCANNING THE ACTORS
In early 1999 Gentle Giant was tasked to do all the 3D modeling of the actors, for use in creating many different products of their likeness. Hired by Toy Biz, they set out to New Zealand to make "Real" laser scans of the principal actors faces and to translate the computer-generated characters and creatures into reality.
GG spent a little over a week in New Zealand working with Toy Biz Manager Jesse Falcon. Jesse played director, asking the actors to play out scene expressions, in order to capture them digitally for later use in the action figure process. Karl Meyer once stated in an interview, "The talent was very enthusiastic and receptive". "Elijah Wood and Sean Astin were especially interested in the process and outcome of making the toys".
Unlike their work on Star Wars: Episode II, Gentle Giant was only instructed to scan the heads of the actors for LOTR. Their prior work with Star Wars included full body, sets and even vehicles. Nearly every major and minor actor provided there time for scanning, across all 3 films. This data is what became our beloved figures.
The process on the outside seems quite simple. The actor sits in the scanning apparatus as a laser passes around their head. The laser works with computers to develop a three-dimensional 'map' of the actors head. See Ian McKellen above. Next, the mapping is used within a modelling program and fine tuned before it can be used to create a hard-copy print of the actors head. This process is called stereo-lithography.
BALROG AND OTHER CREATURES
CG characters don't need to be scanned as they already exists as digital image data used to create the images for the film. Since most beast are done this way, Gentle Giant was able to use the existing animation models to generate a prototype for characters like the Cave Troll, Fell Beast and of course the mighty Balrog. In an interview Founder Karl Meyer spoke about that very beast.
"In movies today, most monsters and creatures are done digitally for certain sequences. This allows us to take the CG animation model and build sculpture off of the texture maps and geometry through means of rapid prototyping and 3D printing. We just finished a model for Toy Biz of the Balrog, which we built utilizing the CG model. It's pretty incredible to see just how accurate a physical reproduction can be to the model or scan. Both the scan data and the CG models can be used for all kinds of different applications-from action figures for Toy Biz, to Burger King toys".
The hard copies that were produced are always a work in progress. GG and Toy Biz relied on their team of highly talented sculptors and painters, in order to further refine the prototypes into future toys.
Gentle Giant also produced their own products based on the files they acquired working with Lord of the Rings team, even producing a gigantic life sized Balrog wall monument.