Monday, March 09, 2009

Custom Action Figure - Daniel Craig as James Bond

When it was announced that Daniel Craig was the new James Bond, I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. It seemed like every time a new actor was assigned the role, there was always some kind of buzz in the media about how this person is not right for the part. As a fan of both the novels and the movies, I can't see how anyone can truly claim any expertise on knowing who is or isn't the right person to portray the character.

Many think that Sean Connery is and always shall be the quintessential Bond, probably because he was the first to play the role on film and that's the first impression many have of who Bond was supposed to be. At the time, however, Ian Fleming was extremely disappointed in the choice, and anyone who's read the novels can understand why. In Casino Royale, the first Bond story, Fleming described Bond's features this way:

His grey-blue eyes looked calmly back with a hint of ironical inquiry and the short lock of black hair which would never stay in place subsided to form a thick comma above his right eyebrow. With the thin vertical scar down his right cheek the general effect was faintly piratical.

In the same story, he writes that Bond had "a cruel mouth" and Vesper Lyn mentions that Bond looks a little like Hoagy Carmichael. That's an obscure reference for most of us today, so here's what the singer/songwriter looked like:

Not exactly Sean Connery, I would say. After the first movie came out, Fleming grew to like Connery in the role and even gave Bond a Scottish background in the penultimate Fleming-penned Bond novel, You Only Live Twice. When Roger Moore took over the role, some said that Moore embodied the proper British gentleman aspect of Bond's character, but Bond never struck me that way in the books. Although he could turn on the British charm when he had to, and he did have a certain code of fair play in his otherwise dirty line of work, he was generally a pretty coarse character. I think Timothy Dalton was also a bit too refined for the role, but I didn't really have a problem with the way he played the character.

Of course, Pierce Brosnan was likely the most popular next to Connery. He had that combination of gentlemanly refinement and rugged strength that fan came to expect from the cinematic Bond, but again, not really the literary Bond. So when Daniel Craig took over, I really had no feelings about the choice one way or the other.

"A blond Bond?" many scoffed.

Well, why not. Hair color or eye color really shouldn't be a determining factor. Instead, what I was looking for was whether or not he might be able to bring back some of the coarse manliness of Bond, especially since his first outing as the MI-6 spy was in a movie adaptation of the first novel. Once Casino Royale was in the theatres, all the fuss quickly blew away and the general public loved the new Bond.

My wife and I have gone to see Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace on her respective birthdays, and have enjoyed each movie quite a bit. We're hoping that they keep releasing Bond movies in mid-November so we can keep the birthday tradition going. That's why it was such a kick when, this past Christmas, she presented me with a 1/6ht scale resin headsculpt of Daniel Craig, made by Dale Van Slyke who sells numerous celebrity headsculpts on eBay. I finally got around to creating my Daniel Craig custom figure this weekend.

As per the usual process, I lopped off the head from one of my 12-inch action figures and glued the resin head onto the neck stalk using model glue. Once the glue was dry, I painted the head, occasionally glancing at a picture of Craig on the computer for reference. The sculpt is not a perfect likeness, but just as good as, if not better than, the other Daniel Craig action figures I've seen online. It's a lot cheaper to make your own as well.

After painting the head, I dressed him in a blue pin-striped suit that I bought from Old Joe Infirmary many moons ago. The light grey shirt is also from Old Joe Infirmary, and the black tie came from the old Playing Mantis Green Hornet set made for Captain Action. All my dress shoes were currently being used on other figures, so I found some G.I. Joe boots that, when tucked underneath the pant legs, could pass for black, lace-up shoes.

Without any armaments, my action figure just looks like Fred the insurance salesman, so I tried to find an assault rifle like the one Craig is holding in the poster for Quantum of Solace. I didn't have one that was exactly the same, but I think the one in my photos is fairly close. I also took some shots of him holding a pistol. I could've gone with a Walther PPK, but I think that's so overdone. Frankly, I'm not sure what kind of automatic he's holding here, but it's chunky and cool looking.

Now I have to figure out what I'm going to do with the Christian Bale headsculpt my wife also got me for Christmas. Maybe I can stage a diorama where he's attacking a cinematographer!

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