These new detailed Popeye action figures take inspiration directly from the original comics
Olive Oyl, Bluto and even baby Swee’Pea come to life in their original designs.
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Creating action figures from two-dimensional drawings is an art all its own – especially when the drawings are comic strips that only really show the characters from side angles. But Boss Fight Studios was up for the challenge.
The company has a new line of incredibly detailed Popeye action figures inspired by the famous Sailor Man’s original appearance in comic strips. Cartoonist E.C. Segar created the character for his Thimble Theatre comics back in 1929. Popeye was so popular he started appearing in animated theatrical shorts in the 1930s and eventually became the beloved cartoon character we know today.
Boss Fight Studios Art Director Andrew Franks spoke to The Pop Insider in February about the inspiration and challenges when designing these figures. “The first thing we wanted to do was to make sure these were the best, most authentic versions of these characters that have ever been done in toy form.” While plenty of other Popeye toys have been sold over the years, Franks noted that most of the other merchandise has been more influenced by the animated Popeye rather than the original comic strip. Of the other toys, he said, “There’s been a lot, and there have been some great ones, but we know we wanted to take a different design direction than some of those had taken.”
The hard part about that approach is trying to create a three-dimensional sculpture from a comic strip sketch that only ever shows certain angles. Popeye’s instantly recognizable squint and jaw were always seen in profile – never straight on – not unlike other famous characters. “It’s sort of equivalent to the way Mickey Mouse’s ears work. Where, if you watch the way the character turns his head, the ears sort of magically migrate. They don’t actually turn in three dimensions,” Franks said.
A toy, on the other hand, has to work from every angle. Boss Fight Studios found a way to marry the early design of Popeye with a 3D sculpture that can move and work like an action figure should. The comics also provided inspiration for which characters to include in the collection. Popeye’s love Olive Oyl and his nemesis Bluto have their own figures, of course, but so does Olive’s brother, Castor Oyl, who was an important character all the way back in the Thimble Theater days. Castor even comes with the beloved animals Bernice the Whiffle Hen and Eugene the Jeep. As Franks put it, “Being able to have this representation of a character who is actually quite important to the history of the stories, and to be able to pack in with him two magical creatures that are very important to quite a few of the storylines was really exciting as well.”
The Popeye figure comes with interchangeable hands and faces, a removable hat and his famous spinach can. Olive Oyl comes with baby Swee’Pea and Bluto also has a removable hat and hands. The figures cost $34.99 each and are available for preorder now.