A quick recap from part 1: The animated feature Prince of Egypt released in 1998 with Prince Moses, Moses, the Queen with Baby Moses, and the wife of Moses Zipporah. They sold as a special available only at Walmart and were gone in just a couple of weeks. Other figures were planned but all licensing was scaled back as soon as the words, “Academy Awards” started to be spoken. Part one only covered the backstory and both Moses figures.
One of the problems with modern computerized films is that it allows the studio to keep making changes up to the last couple of months before distribution. Often the film’s colors keep changing until the very last available date. This obviously creates issues for making toys to match the film. Production can take three months for a large release and it is about six weeks on the water.
The very first model created and shown for Zipporah was the least interesting. Her gown was very plain and her head design still had a very long distance between the eyes and mouth: not unlike an El Greco painting. It worked well on Moses but looked terrible on Zipporah. There was still a focus on textured fabrics.
One aspect of design the studio insisted on, “the Midianites (her tribe) were black so Zipporah will be a black character.” They were trying to keep as much authenticity as possible. That actually made the character look nicer. Her eyes really popped on the new sculpting and skin tone. We did give Zipporah a small lamb, as she was a shepherdess.
These were the last Kenner/Hasbro toys I worked on as an employee and the final details were completed in Pawtucket. I do believe it lost some luster from the last model to production. (It would be about a year later that I started back in as an in-house vendor to work on GI Joe for five years).
There was another version of Zipporah created and I honestly cannot remember why. Either this was another primary gown the studio was considering or it could have been planned to sell through alternate channels of distribution. To my eye, it was too busy and dark so it was a good that this version did not ship.
The final Zipporah designed was the Wedding Day Zipporah. The gown was very white which offset her skin tone the best to make it very stunning. The plan for this was to appear as a special in a popular sales catalog. However, their business model structure required a manufacturing a huge amount of product ready to ship, but they would only order it from you monthly. It forced all the risk of the sales onto the toy company. As toy sales are already a very risky, “hit or miss” proposition, management wisely decided to pass. It would have been a beautiful figure.
The jewel of the set was Queen with Baby Moses. The original model was more ornate than the final release. The detailing was part of the issue, as simplification usually happens between the concept model and production. However, that simplified detailing did match the film better.
The pose of the figure was much different. We had planned to sculpt a new body with simplified but elegant articulation. The elbows had a pivot at a 45-degree angle similar to the waist on Twist and Turn Barbie. In the end, management decided to use the bodies the Sindy doll Hasbro had bought and sold in the UK. That body only has universal joints in the shoulders, which made her articulation very limited.
The hair was another big issue. We sculpted the hair to get the specific look from the film’s art on the model. However, as young girls always prefer real hair to play with, and this was not a true collector doll, we erred on the side of girls. Getting that look with the hair was very tricky and required combining several different unusual techniques to get that look.
One other detail to note is her stand. It was specifically sculpted for the DreamWorks presentation. It incorporated the film name and had her on the edge of the Nile with clear blue edging to the stand. It was a shame they lowered the shelf price and eliminated these, but with the new deluxe packaging direction, not many people would want to remove them from the box and ever see the stand.
Even though I was just picking apart the doll, it still is one of the better non-collector price point dolls on the market. On a high note, I found a website that listed her as one of the “10 Best Black Dolls Ever Made.” I took that as quite a compliment. Especially considering one of my other dolls was on the list also – Fallon from Princess Gwenevere and Jewel Riders.
One of the things that always irked me at Mattel was their insistence at that time on using only three different skin tones on dolls: Pink, Suntan and African American. That particular AA color always looked chalky and dead. Later when I was a Kenner and they did not have preset skin tones, I was very particular to find just the right skin colors that looked alive. Those two dolls were really two of my best female dolls.
Another figure that was designed and sculpted but never released was a Jochebed – Mother of Moses. Once again, it has special attention to fabric texture. The scene was striking. There was also a basket sculpted which baby Moses would fit into. It may just have been too heart wrenching to make a figure of that scene.
While I love creating 1/6th action figures, I have also created tons of plush toys. Occasionally, I had the chance to combine those passions. This lead to the GI Joe Yeti and Polar Bear/Kodiak Attack. This also led to a plush version of Habibi, who became the camel of Moses in the film. The design was very stylized. I pushed for making it sized to fit with the figures. We created two different versions. The first one was just a fun plush toy in the right size. It had a saddle and continued the highly textured fabric look. This one would come with a small book and was intended to sell through a book publisher.
The second version was the same 1/6th scale size but with an added wire frame for posing. This way it could stand or sit. It would even hold one of the figures on that saddle.
That was the entire 1/6th scale line designed. It would have been fun to have more on the market but at least I had the fun of designing and hand making many of the samples myself. At least by showing the unproduced work it is a way to “Let My Toys Go!”
However, before we end this, how about one or two more views of the other unproduced, yet marvelously sculpted jackal.
What was your favorite 1/6th dog? (Expect a post of that someday).