As we know Weta Workshop is responsible for so many great things dealing with Middle-earth from the movies themselves to the collectibles we bring into our homes. So we wanted to take a chance to sit down with one of their amazing artists who, like so many there,has worked on both the movies and the collectibles. Today, we’re going to interview Steven Saunders who is responsible for the prosthetics for several of the Dwarves in The Hobbit as well as collectibles like mini-Arwen, mini-Strider, mini-Gandalf, Gandalf the Grey from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and Bombur Barrel Rider from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
1. What sparked their interest in art?
Most of us start off interested in art but grow out of it as adults, I just kept going.
2. What medium do they like to work in best (paint, pencil, sculpting, electronic, etc)?
Once I started sculpting in clay I probably got hooked for life
3. Can they pinpoint for us any of their work we may have seen in past films or those coming up? Any character or creature design or landscape we might recognize?
I can mention a few of my favorites:
I did a great deal of prehistoric skeleton sculptures for Roland Emmerich’s 10,000bc. In the Hobbit films I sculpted the prosthetics for Dori, Gloin, Bombur, a few orcs, and a few goblins. On Elysium I sculpted prosthetics for both Matt Damon and Sharlto Copley.
4. What project (book, film, poem, song, etc.) would you most want to help bring to life with your art?
Frank Herbert’s Dune, Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy, and Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. I was lucky enough to have already worked on a Tolkien adaptation project otherwise that would have been first on the list.
5. What tends to be your favorite subject to draw? In other words, if you were offered a million dollars to create a piece of artwork on whatever *you* wanted it to be, what would you create?
Time spent as a contractor doing reconstructions of extinct life for a South African Museum has convinced me that bridging the gap between scientific discovery and public awareness through pop culture could be the best possible application for my craft.
6. You work in a very competitive industry. What’s one tip you have for those aspiring to be in similar positions as yourselves one day?
Talent only provides you with a little extra initial potential. What you really need is to nurture perseverance, tenacity, practice constantly and the ability to work extremely well with others. Practice your craft constantly!
7. Do Weta’s artists get to keep a version of everything they sculpt? Say no.1 of every statue? Or would it feel weird to own and display your own work?
I have unpainted castings of my collectables at work but I enjoy buying my sculptures in the Weta Cave just like everyone else, still a very surreal experience as a collector.
8. As a high end sculptor that pays very fine attention to detail in your sculpts, how do you feel about the possibility of poor painting by contracted workers causing an outcry from some collectors on various fan forums?
We take very special care to ensure a very high standard of reproductions. I have been very happy with the paint jobs on my sculpts so far.
9. If you could choose only one, who would you say is your favorite middle-earth character? And why is this particular character your favorite.
That would be Gandalf I guess. He seems the most proactive in events but still very humble throughout.
10. You’ve now done several pieces involving The Lord of the Rings Trilogy or The Hobbit Trilogy. What would you say has been your favorite piece to work on or have we not seen it yet?
I am fond of my Hobbit Wizards Gandalf and Radagast, Barad Dur environment and the little Arwen.
11. Following up with the last question. Is there a something you’ve not worked on yet that you would love to work on be it an environment, statue, shield, etc.
12. Could you tell us how you got your start with Weta and what is been like working there?
I would like to think I got in through my quality of work and reputation but I think I really got a job offer through persistence. Weta is magical; I am at my happiest amongst a community of highly driven slightly crazy creative overachievers.
13. Can you point to any one particular artist who has most influenced you, or the direction your career has taken? And which of your contemporaries would you list amongst your personal favorites?
I draw inspiration from everywhere but if I had to pick one I think my mother and her support early in life definitely pulled me through. Contemporaries? Everyone at Weta but particularly the elusive Jamie Beswarick,
14. The Lord of the Rings has been around for over 50 years and The Hobbit has been around for over 75 years. These two stories have become huge in many fans lives. When did you first become familiar with Middle-Earth and what have you taken away from reading or watching the happenings in that world?
I read Hobbit and LOTR back to back as a teenager. I have always found it fascinating how we humans blur the lines between fantasy and physical reality. Tolkien’s writing manage beautifully to create a fantasy that feels like a real alternate history.
15. What is the hardest part for you as a sculptor in order to bring these characters to life? Do you do anything to help make it easier? Say, watch some of the movies to get things down.
For me the hardest part is to not start too many sculpts at once. I do watch the films every two years or so but find that a mountain of printed reference is all I need
16. Finally, If you could be any character from within Middle-Earth whom would you choose to be? Following that up why would you choose to be this character?
I could be a fat little Hobbit that goes on road trips twice a year to carve wooden sculpture first for Edoras and move on to do some stone carving in Minas Tirith then take the coastal road from the mouth of the Anduin via the Grey Havens all the way back to Hobbiton to spend the rest of my time gardening, drinking, eating and hanging out with my fat little Hobbit friends and family.
We want to thank Weta and Steven for taking the time to do this interview. I want to thank members of the Sideshow Freaks Message Board, Shadow & Flame Message Board, and my fellow TORn staffers for giving me some great questions to pass along.
Posted in Collectibles, Collectibles, Hobbit Movie, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Merchandise, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, Shop, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, Weta Collectibles, WETA Workshop
UPDATE: Photo of Manu Bennett at the TORn “Hobbit” preview panel.
Gandalf & Saruman at SLCC 2013
SALT LAKE CITY — Once scheduled for a smaller venue in the suburbs, the first ever Salt Lake Comic Con filled Utah’s capital city’s largest convention venue and had it bursting at the seams Saturday. For a time the hundreds waiting outside were not allowed to enter except at a 1-out-1-in rate. Word on the dealer’s floor said it was because the fire marshal closed the space but that rumor was never confirmed.
Reports in the media called the event “record setting” for a first-year convention, and that is possibly true, but such stats aren’t readily available. In any case, it was a massive event with celebrities that included William Kircher (Bifur) and Manu Bennett (Azog) and other pop-culture icons like William Shatner and Adam West.
Azog at Weta booth, Salt Lake Comic Con 2013
TheOneRing.net was part of the fun as well, with staffer (and this writer) Larry D. Curtis (MrCere) attending with the show in his (my) hometown. the SLComic Con invited TORn to present a panel about Smaug and serve on other panels as well, with topics including Fantasy Films, all things Tolkien, Geek Culture and film school.
Bennett and Kircher were kind enough to drop by TheOneRing panel that also included author and TORn friend Paul Genesse. He helped moderate the panel and showed incredible enthusiasm for the material.
TheOneRing also managed a booth on the at time very crowded floor supported by incredible friends at Badali Jewelry and Weta Workshop making its first U.S. appearance outside of the San Diego Comic Con. TORn helped back in a small way to staff the Weta booth and send those with questions about where to purchase The One Ring to Badali’s very nearby booth. Artist David Powell was also kind enough to sign posters of his art for fans.
The Salt Palace Convention Center can be expanded and the SLCC will return next year. TheOneRing.net hopes to be part of the show. Thanks to Dan McBride and Blonde Ninja for their support of the TORn booth. Thanks also to the many financial supports at the event and to Salt Lake Comic Con for letting us be a part of the show. If you attended and would like TORn to return, you can use the contact info here to let them know.
If anybody has images of Bennett and Kircher attending the TORn panel, please send them in! We were busy having a panel and didn’t get any photos.
Data of Star Trek, SLCC 2013.
Comic Book Guy and Otto Mann
A snake charmer and a dino, SLCC 2013
Tuariel’s knives, Weta booth, Salt Lake Comic Con 2013.
Weta booth, Salt Lake Comic Con 2013
Dwalin’s axes named Grasper and Keeper
Happy fans get a free Hobbit poster
Orthanc, Weta booth, Salt Lake Comic Con 2013
Gandalf & Galadriel SLCC 2013
Tom Bombadil and Bilbo Baggins, SLCC 2013
Frankenstein costume at Salt Lake Comic Con, 2013.
Galadriel at SLCC 2013.
Two Princess Leia at SLCC 2013.
Hobbit kids at SLCC 2013.
Manu Bennett at TheOneRing.net panel, Salt Lake Comic Con, 2013.
Bilbo’s contract, SLCC 2013
Dwarf statue, part of the Weta booth at Salt Lake Comic Con, 2013.
Inferno from TORn messages boards and two other Utahns
Gandalf & Saruman at SLCC 2013
TORn shirt at Weta booth
Bilbo’s Contract, SLCC 2013
Orcrist The Goblin Cleaver at Weta booth Salt Lake Comic Con 2013.
Posters for sale at SLCC, 2013
Sorceress costume at SLCC 2013
Mom sews family costumes.
Dave Tremont, Weta, Salt Lake Comic Con
Tauriel’s bow and knives, SLCC 2013.
Gnadalf, SLCC 2013
Bilbo’s contract reporduction
Azog at Weta booth, Salt Lake Comic Con 2013
Team Fortress 2 costumes from SLCC
TheOneRing.net panel, SLCC 2013.
Crowds at SLCC 2013
Dan and Boomer at TORn booth
Thorin’s Pipe, SLCC 2013
Costumes at Salt Lake Comic Con
Posted in Collectibles, Events, Fans, Hobbit Cast News, Hobbit Movie, Hobbit Movie FAQ, Manu Bennett, Merchandise, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Tolkien, Weta Collectibles, WETA Workshop, William Kircher
Comic-Con 2013 brought us multiple new items that are going to be released for sale over the course of the next year. One of the new items that you could purchase while at the show or order for in-stock purchase via the Weta Workshop website is the Bofur the Dwarf statue. Bofur is one of three new Dwarven statues that was displayed at Comic-Con, along with Kili (Kili Review) and Gloin ,who is due to go up for order later this year.
The overall graphic layout for Bofur’s box stays the same as we’ve seen with previous entries in the line. Per the format we’ve come to know, the front of the box gives you a great shot of Bofur, graphic work for the title of the movie, and of course the Weta logo. The sides of the box for Bofur also present a familiar format with different looks at the statue. While the other side of the box presents some of the various products you can get in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey line of collectibles. The back of the box contains a great story on Bofur as well as information regarding details of the character and statue. The Styrofoam on the inside is typical with what we’ve become used to getting with these statues.
Lindsey Crummett is back at it again with Bofur. This will be the third Dwarve she’s sculpted in this series following Baling and Kili. As we mentioned in our Kili review she is also responsible for the amazing Azog the Defiler on Warg we saw during Comic-Con 2013. As been the case so far with every item she’s worked on Bofur is another exceptional addition to our collections.
The likeness of Bofur is pretty darn good. You get the solid likeness that James Nesbitt has while wearing the entire getup to play Bofur and you also have that ornery smile that he has in multiple parts of the movie. The work on the hair is also nicely done once again giving the real life appearance as well as the work done on his very unique looking beard. Bofur’s outfit is a little closer to Bombur but you also get some nice blend of leather with the cloth. So you get some great design work on the edging of his outfit in the sleeve area and on his vest. His boots have a great fur design on them, which comes through from the actual costume. I also love the little details of this piece with the little leather pouch having great stitch work, his awesome scarf, and that cool hat which blends the wool/leather look.
Bofur also comes ready for battle as he’s about to swing that giant mace. I’m really impressed with the detail in this wepon. The wooden detail in the staff of this weapon has a great worn wood look to it and near the top it appears to be wrapped some leather. Of course the end has been recreated to match the prop from the movie in spectacular fashion. It has all the beat up metal markings sculpted into it that make it appear to have actually been used.
Bofur continues the streak of very well painted statues from Weta Workshop. The skin tones use the proper paint mixture to not only make the statue look like a shrunken Dwarf. I also love the work done on the eyes of Bofur in that they help sell the ornery look that he has. Once, again I think after making sure that you create a mini-Dwarf is making the outfit look real. The paint department did this in spades. The outfit has a real dirty look to it that helps show off the wear and tear this outfit has scene, but you do not lose the little details in the outfit. You also get the proper color of the outfit as we saw it on screen. Bofur’s weapon also has a fantastic paint job with it helping to create a old used weapon. The wood has the proper worn look as does the metal piece at the top both working with the sculpting job.
Bofur retails for $249, which is in line with most of the statues so far in the line. I’ve loved Bofur from the start with his unique look and personality in the film. He looks great and helps create a really great looking Hobbit display. I want to add that with every release in this line Weta is just continuing to show how great they with these statues.
Bofur is limited to just 1000 pieces worldwide and in-stock ready to purchase. Get your order in now before he sells out.
10.6″ x 9.1″ x 5.9″ (H x W x D)
27 cm x 23 cm x 15 cm
2.2 lbs (1.0 kg)
Posted in Collectibles, Collectibles, ComicCon, Conventions, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Movie, Merchandise, Shop, The Hobbit, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, Weta Collectibles, WETA Workshop