At Movie Figures, we've sold figures from Asmus Toys for several months. We're huge Lord Of The Rings fans, and it's particularly that franchise that Asmus is famed for creating figures from. They produce the finest LOTR 1/6 scale action figures of any manufacturer in our opinion. If you're new to Asmus, you can see the Amus range of action figures here. Asmus also produce other figures based on characters such as The Mask, Ace Ventura and more.
We interviewed Asmus's product development team leader: George Hsu to learn more about the company.
Who created Asmus Toys and why?
Asmus was created by Andy Hsu, our director who was a free-lancer sculptor at the time. He was a collector of toys to begin with, and this hobby pushed to form a business of his own.
Are all Asmus's staff based in Taiwan?
No. Asmus Toys has three branches in Taiwan, China and USA. Our office in Taiwan is our headquarters and it's where figure prototypes and design take place. Our office in China is our private factory where the figures are manufactured. Our USA office is the newest one. It's based in Los Angeles and will soon be in charge of licensing and sales.
What is special about Asmus vs other 1/6 producers?
We try to approach the fan online directly, retrieve first hand response on our figures for both end-products and prototypes. We filter the comments and ACTUALLY make adjustments upon them.
To us, the point of view of the collectors is also very important, and I feel it is a rare gesture in our industry.
Also, our designers are collectors too. We believe in the best products are made by the ones who love it.
When did you secure The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit series?
The opportunity of working on LOTR/HOBBIT license began in 2012. It was keenly pursued by Andy because he began his sculpting career at Weta Workshop, and the title has a special connection to him.
What challenges did you have to overcome to produce Gandalf?
The most difficult thing was the likeness of the actor. It has been 10 years apart from LOTR to HOBT, Sir Ian McKellen went from 60 to 70, and they do look rather different.
The thing is, our impression of Mr. McKellen grow on his recent works, like Mr. Holems or The Hobbit, therefore, when we made a Gandalf from LOTR, the likeness seems to be off because it looked way too young.
In the end, we had to choose the look from the Hobbit trilogy to match the right impression that we have. However, it is the less favored Gandalf image of the two, and we took some heat for it.
Which figure are you most proud of and why?
It has to be Mouth of Sauron. The character is in and out of the movie in 30 sec, but we still made a $300 horse set for him. It is a gamble because it will only be sold to the hardcore fans.
It is a crazy move, and that makes us really proud as a brand. We did it because the character was interesting and unusual which we think is nice to do sometimes, rather than just solely producing the better known characters.
Do you have any more planned figures for the above series that you can talk about? For example, is Bilbo or Frodo planned?
We are planning to complete the fellowship by 2016, but at moment it seems to be an impossible job, due to the demand of other figures. However, it is still our priority goal for LOTR.
We will also be focusing on Uruk-hai in 2017, planning a full range of infantry of the big ugly monsters.
Can you explain the process how you create a 1/6 scale figure?
It begins with an intensive research of images and data. Once we have enough material, jobs are given to different artists of different fields. Like head sculpting, fabric/clothing, and 3D modeling. Once they are done, all parts are brought to the workshop to paint and assemble into a full figure.
How long does each figure take to design?
From research to prototype, it takes around 6~8 weeks.
How long does each figure take to construct / paint?
Parts are brought to the workshop to paint and assemble into a full figure. This stage takes about 2~4 days.
How do you manage such great likeness to the characters? Are your painters / sculpters only working from movie images or do you have special access to photos not seen by the public?
Only from the movies, so it is important we watch the movie over and over again, and again.
What software do you use to sculpt your figures?
Z-brush, also modeling clay by hands
Do you make use of 3D printing for prototyping?
Yes, almost all the accessories are 3D printed.
What has been your most popular figure to date?
Our most popular figure is Aragorn, it was sold out right after launch. We re-stocked some more, and they still flew out like the wind.
What other figures do you have planned?
As well as plans for more Lord Of The Rings figures such as Thranduil, we have figures coming out soon for characters like The Mask based on the hilarious Jim Carey. We also have licenses agreed on some deformed figures from a few titles that we are designing at moment. These aren't ready to talk about quite yet.
How did you find out about Movie Figures?
We were trying to branch out to Europe’s collectors, and this is about the time when we were about to release Gandalf the Grey. So we thought what better place to start than the UK? Since Tolkien as well as Sir Ian McKellen, who plays Gandalf in all six movies, are both from the UK. So we turned to some of our review partners for retailer suggestion and began sifting through the Internet for UK collectibles and toys retailer shops. And Movie Figures are not hard to find in the hay stack that is the Internet so we got the contact from your website and here we are!