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Hand Painted Figures for Fantasy Movies

Ever wonder how those armies in Star Wars or the planets, spaceships and strange creatures that existed in those movies were created? Especially back then when special effects were still in its infancy and computer graphics didn’t exist. Many of the visuals we saw on screen were hand painted figures that were shot close up to mimic a real life big sized space ship or even a horde of soldiers. When you think about it, it’s not possible to have thousands of soldiers line up on your set for a single scene – the costs of getting them there, uniforms, props etc will take a huge cut out of your budget and it makes no financial sense.

That’s where small figures come in. Created and hand painted to emulate the character you are planning to have in your movie eliminates the need for creating a large scale prop that will not only eat up your budget but also be a waste of resources and time. That’s why many movie producers are turning to creative studios or individuals who have made a name for themselves in this field.

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A prime example of a movie using small figurines and miniature props would be the famous Star Wars movies which were released in the 70’s long before computer graphics had come in. From planets to the space ships – all were created in studio using scrap airplane metal and other pieces so that the costs would stay within the meager budget.

But owning miniature versions of props or movie characters has become extremely popular with many people investing in the small lifelike dolls and figures. Some of the most popular sci-fi figurines have been the ‘Millennium Falcon’, the ship that is piloted by Han Solo and Chewbacca. Even miniature versions of the Storm Troopers, action figures of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and even Darth Vader have made it to the top selling list.

In fact, when the movie Star Wars was first released, the action figures of these characters became so high in demand that only empty boxes were sold with a promise to be exchanged for an actually figure later in the year. If you’re thinking that only kids buy miniatures and figures, this passion is shared by adults as well as kids.

Another movie that used hand painted models to bring science fiction to life is blade Runner. Many Sci-fi movies have futuristic cities that are not just imagined but are actually built. Ridley Scott’s movie had used many miniatures to film the 1982 classic. When movies like Star Wars and Blade Runner were made, digital effects wasn’t a common thing. Everything from buildings to even the flying car in Blade Runner was created by hand.

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For example, the opening shot of the 1982 movie shows the camera panning over a futuristic endless city sprawl of Los Angeles in the year 2019 – and believe it or not, the entire cityscape was a set that was 12 feet across. Even the billowing flames erupting from the buildings were only inches high and not gigantic plumes of smoke and fire as it comes across in the movie.

As you can imagine, making those sets or figures, it is no easy task and as it can occupy full screen time in a frame or shot, it is important that the right detailing be done to that the set and the movie is as convincing as possible. We only have to look at the past to see the great ideas that have been generated from scratch and made into reality.

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It’s A Small World After All

The world of miniatures and small figure collectibles has become more popular as more and more iconic movies and characters are made. If you’re a collector, and you’re looking at dolls and little figurines, you cannot miss the Precious Moments Figurines that was launched into the world in the 1970’s. There are some fun facts that will absolutely blow your mind as these dolls have become the classic gifts. With this becoming a growing brand, here are some facts that you may not have known about this figurine making company.


  • When the first 3D figurines were created by the creator Sam Butcher, he made 21 of them and called his first collection ‘The Original 21’.The Precious Moments Company has grown leaps and bounds over the decades and now only 1 of those 21 collectibles is sold.
  • All collectors don’t like only a piece of the whole set or settle for only part – they like to own the whole lot – that’s why they’re called collectors. But owning all 21 would be a pricy affair as you would have to source them from other websites and sellers.
  • God Loveth A Cheerful Giver’ became their most expensive doll sold on their site with it priced at $399.99. Compare this is to the single doll that is being sold out of the original 21 names ‘Love One Another’ priced at $25.
  • Each figurine is marked at the bottom signifying the year it was made in. Many of these special markings also denote if they are special edition and it is these markings that help collectors in identifying the true worth of the doll. This process of marking the dolls in this way started in 1981.
  • The creator was inspired by the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican and he decided to open the Precious Moments Park and Chapel in 1989. It features dozens of murals which are hand painted by the man himself depicting the doll characters in various classic stories from the Bible with the Old Testament being featured on the left, and the New Testament being featured on the right. All these murals are large scale murals that were painted by Sam.
  • Over 2,500 figurines have been produced by the Company over the years with items that range from cake toppers to ornaments.
  • The reason why they are considered to be collectibles is because only around 25 – 40 figurines are launched per collection and only 4 collections are launched in a year. You may think that this is quite a bit, but most of the figurines also get retired early and are never produced again, which makes each figurine produced a collectible item.
  • A woman who was collecting these figurines for over 25 years had over 2000 of these dolls in her possession. After her death, her son donated these to a Cancer Organization and the estimated cost of these dolls is considered to be around $100,000.
  • The collectible company also made special animated cartoons during Easter and Christmas holidays.
  • 2016 marks the 35th anniversary of the Precious Moments Company and special figurines set was launched specifically for the members of its Collectors Club which was named ‘Reflections of blessings’.


A lot of these facts also pertain to many collectibles from many creators all over the world. Many items are made in a certain year or have a certain fault or even are created as Special Editions and it is these items that are the most popular or in demand. It is also these types of rare collectibles that command higher prices in the collector’s market.