Consistent readers of this blog know that I am a hardcore mythology dork. So when I heard about Go Go Dynamo's Hero Project Kickstarter, I knew I had to back it. In a nutshell, these guys are aiming to make a line of action figures which celebrate characters from the mythology of different cultures, thus creating a lofty and magical alternative to the glut of toys which often promote poor values - or are just plain boring. As they put it:
THE IMPORTANCE OF HEROES
For many years, we've been making the toys that you and your kids play with from Star Wars to Pokemon, from Beyblade to Jurassic Park. Sometimes, it's easy to write-off action figures as toss-away replicas of whatever movie that might be hot at the moment. But action figures play an important role in children's social development. They are pathways for kids to act out their fantasies, to work out for themselves the differences between right and wrong and to push at the boundaries of their blossoming imaginations.
Hero stories play that very same role in our societal development. They inspire us to reach higher, walk taller and overcome our daily challenges. Their stories bring us together in ways that no other medium can. They are the source code for what makes us human. Who are your heroes?
A CALL TO ACTION
"Why are there no toys of the great epics of India?" Asked casually at a neighborhood get-together, those words posed a very powerful question. Not just about the Indian epics, but about all world stories.
Why ARE modern stories treated with more importance than our traditional stories? Do regional heroes like Beowolf, Quetzalcoatl, Alibaba, or Monkey deserve anything less than to be brought to life in vivid technicolor using the same level of care, quality and vibrancy of Spider-man or Darth Vader?
The universe had presented us an opportunity for a adventure of our own. Kids should have the opportunity to discover these stories for themselves. It was a calling that we just had to answer. And so, the Hero Project was born.
Their first design - and the figure you will receive if you pitch in - is Rama:
Culturally, Rama was the best place to start. He is the perfect embodiment of the value and majesty of the world's cultural stories. The Ramayana is an amazingly magical story, loved around the world. Like many modern fantasies, it's filled with magical beings, vile demons, an epic journey through exotic locales, and an earth-shaking final battle. But, it is also a tale filled with the human stories that sometimes get overshadowed with bombast- acts of duty, honor, faith, devotion, that exemplify what Rama, as a hero and role model mean to billions. He typifies the Heroic Ideal.
The challenge of bringing him to life was daunting. Each person has his or her own relationship with the Ramayana and being true to each is nearly impossible. We redesigned him many times. What started out as a somewhat westernized or classical approach over time evolved to incorporate an aesthetics that was more grounded in the east. What we decided is that we need to design him for both the people who already know and love Rama, but also the people who have yet to meet him. Where we ended up, hopefully is something timeless, that can appreciated by the entirety of the world.
Looks/sounds awesome, no? And they've got plans for Quezalcoatl, Sinbad, Hanuman, Horus, and more. But what really set me over the edge into wanting to help these guys is that they were extremely receptive to my feedback regarding the need for powerful female protagonists. And according to their recent Kickstarter update, I'm not the only one who felt this way. Happily, they came up with some amazing designs for some mythic heroines, including Athena, Bastet, Oya, and Pele (and here's hoping for an Artemis!):
I'm so impressed by their responsiveness to this request, their impeccable artistry, and by the scope of this project at large. If you, too, want to see these inspiring, mythic figures come to life, then please support the Hero Project Kickstarter, and/or help spread the word!