Figures.com recently caught up with David Silva, sculptor extraordinaire and owner of Creative Beast Studio (www.creative-beast.com), the company behind the Beasts of the Mesozoic: Raptor series of 1:6th scale dinosaur action figures. Read on to find out how those figures are coming along, David’s deep love of dinos, and what dinosaur projects he has planned for the future!
FIGURES.COM: Your Beasts of the Mesozoic: Raptor series was a massive Kickstarter success. Congratulations, and thank you for bringing dino fans some incredible looking figures. What I really appreciate is that if you missed the Kickstarter campaign, you can still pre-order the series on the Beasts of Mesozoic website. Oh so often you discover a Kickstarter after it’s over and you’re left in the dust. So thank you for that as well.
So before we talk about your dinosaur figures, tell us a little about your experience in the toy industry. What companies have you worked for and what are some toys you’ve worked on that people may be familiar with?
DAVID SILVA: Well, I began as a freelance toy designer for McFarlane Toys back in the Fall of 2003. This eventually led to me sculpting for them. After some time there I went on to Hasbro, and now I currently work for NECA.
Some of my most memorable projects include the series 6 Scavenger Clan Dragon for McFarlane, a 3 3/4” scale Jabba the Hutt and Dewback figures for Hasbro, and lately for NECA I’ve worked on a lot of kaiju (Pacific Rim) and Predator (AVP and Kenner homage) toys.
You’ve estimated a July release for the raptor series. How are the figures coming along in production? What have been some of the challenges getting the raptors made?
At this point all is moving along as well as can be expected with no major setbacks and I’ve actually been impressed with how helpful the factories have been already with making technical adjustments and offering improved solutions for articulation and assembly.
This being my first experience running a crowdfunding campaign and then having my own toy line made, it goes without saying that there are things I’ve done well and things I have learned not to do next time. Most notably in the ‘not to do’ list is to estimate production costs for items that haven’t been sculpted yet- LOL.
I was in for a big learning curve during my Kickstarter campaign last year when I reached my goal within 12 days and then proceeded to fly through the stretch goals I had planned. To keep the momentum going, I came up with new items such as accessory packs, Build-A-Raptor sets and Nestling 3-packs. Since prototypes for these items didn’t actually exist yet, none of them could be properly estimated for cost, so I just had to wing it.
While I did ultimately end up with enough funding to cover the production expenses, I cut it pretty close. Next time I plan to be much better prepared.
Aside from your amazing sculpting skills, I’m most impressed with your extensive dinosaur knowledge. I know my dino basics, but I had no idea there were so many raptor types! How far back does your love of dinosaurs go and how did you go about educating yourself on them? Are you also a paleontologist?
HAHA- no, I’m definitely not a paleontologist, but thanks for asking. I’d even be reluctant to call myself an expert on the subject as I’m constantly learning new things about dinosaurs. But I do have a great passion for prehistoric animals and have been interested in them since I was very young. When I was a boy, I would draw dinosaurs often and was very inspired by the early works of John Sibbick (though I didn’t know who did the art at the time). I also collected a lot of dinosaur toys as a child, most notably Dino-Riders.
As for now, in addition to a small library of books on the topic, I’m also subscribed to Prehistoric Times magazine, and of course the internet is an invaluable tool for not only finding up-to-date reference but also for finding people who know more about dinosaurs than myself.
For me, the modern discovery that raptors had feathers was like learning that Pluto was no longer a planet. Raptor’s being lizard-like was just one of those things I grew up with, and the Jurassic Park movies certainly didn’t help. You’re a lifelong dino fan – what was your initial reaction? Did you ever consider creating a “movie raptor” as an add-on figure or stretch goal?
My first revelation about real raptors came not long after the release of the first Jurassic Park movie. I’d just received a new dinosaur book and in it was a drawing of the skeleton for velociraptor. I was so confused, yet completely intrigued. It had a thin, long snout and was much smaller than the one in the movie. Jurassic Park lied to me? (and don’t even get me started on Dilophosaurus). This was probably the first time I truly became interested in researching dinosaurs instead of simply trusting what was in the various media that featured them.
After that I became thoroughly fascinated and wanted to know more about all of them. Later on when I was in college, I’d first heard about dinosaurs having feathers from an article in a science magazine I found at the Savannah, GA airport. Again I was blown away by the implications of the discovery and it has stayed with me ever since.
It’s exciting that we have such a better understanding of what they looked like now as compared to when I was a kid. Knowing what I know now, I could never go back to the old way of thinking with raptors having scales. To me those are ‘movie monsters’ and not real animals. I still enjoy them, but I have no interest in making them myself. When it comes to dinosaurs, I’m all about the true natural history versions.
Fossils have long fueled our imagination of the dinosaurs. Any plans to release skeletons of these great beasts as collectible figures? Or perhaps a dinosaur skull series?
Both are great ideas and could happen someday, but for the foreseeable future I’ve only planned to do fleshed out versions.
You recently announced plans for a Ceratopsian series (for those unfamiliar with the family, it includes the popular Triceratops). What attracted you to doing this dinosaur species next?
For the second series, I wanted to focus on herbivores with each Beasts of the Mesozoic series alternating between herbivores and carnivores. Ceratopsians are arguably the best known of the herbivorous dinosaurs, mainly because of Triceratops.
Aside from this, there have been some major discoveries for new ceratopsians species within the past ten years offering a wide variety of incredible head ornamentation that could lend to many toy possibilities. I was overwhelmed by the number of species that could be made for this series, so much so that I may have to split it up into two parts.
Another reason I chose ceratopsians was for how perfectly it leads into the next series…
With the Ceratopsian series you are switching scales, from 1/6th used on the raptors, to a GI Joe-sized 1/18th scale. Approximately how big/long will that make each Ceratopsian in inches?
When doing larger animals like ceratopsians, it becomes necessary to go smaller with the scale so that the size and cost don’t become impractical. At 1/18th scale, the ceratopsians will range from approximately 11” to 20” each, while there will also be a sub-line of 1/6 protoceratopsians that will be around 12” long.
To ensure a cohesive display, I also plan to release 1/18th scale versions (around 4” long) of some of the raptors as well as the protoceratopsids in vs. 2-packs reminiscent of the old Battle Beasts sets from the 80’s.
Where the raptor series was more lithe and bird-like, Ceratopsians carry some serious bulk. Do you anticipate an increase in price per figure or do you have some tricks up your sleeve to balance things out?
While parts sharing definitely helps to distribute costs and thus keeps prices lower, and it helps that ceratopsian bodies were very similar for the most part, I do think it’s inevitable that these figures will cost a little more than the raptors. Though by omitting the base and using rotocast methods on the larger species, I do plan to keep the range between $45- $100 per figure. The 1/18th raptor/ protoceratopsian two-packs will be a more affordable option for those on a budget.
I’m aware that you’re still in the early planning stages, but what’s a rough estimate to when dino fans can expect the Ceratopsian series Kickstarter to launch?
I hope to launch the first Ceratopsians Kickstarter in the Spring of 2018 and then another later in the year around Fall. The line will probably have to be split into two parts- Centrosaurs (Styracosaurus, Pachyrhinosaurus, etc) and Chasmosaurs (Triceratops, Pentaceratops, etc.) .
I’m still in the planning stages right now as there are so many species to consider, but I expect to begin sculpting very soon. And also, look for a few color schemes this time to pay homage to one of my favorite 80’s toy lines. *wink wink*
And while we’re looking at the future, what dinosaur species would you like to tackle eventually? Any plans for the ever-popular Tyrannosaurus rex?
All of the dinosaurs are fair game, I just wish I could make them faster. There is a huge list of species that I want to make, but I’ll have to be patient. And as for T-Rex- absolutely. I have plans for Tyrannosaurs in series 3. And the T-Rex will be in scale with the Triceratops.
Any closing words for our readers?
Thank you to everyone who has supported this project thus far and have believed in what I’m doing with this concept. It has been a privilege having the opportunity to make this project a reality and I hope it is just the beginning of much more to come.
A huge “THANK YOU!” to David Silva for taking the time to do this interview. Keep up the DINO-mite work!