Cinescape Magazine Writing Sample

Title: On the Right Trakk
Subhead: Stan Winston Creatures’ Mutant Earth line invades the toy world
Published: Cinescape #64 (September 2002)

Stan Winston’s future is horrifying. No, not his career. The special effects guru who’s brought everyone from the Predator creature to the Jurassic Park dinosaurs to the acid-dripping Alien to big screen life is currently hard at work on the Terminator 3 film. He’ll be scaring moviegoers for years and years to come. It’s his new Stan Winston Creatures toy line whose future looks quite bleak.

Set in the year 2099, the new Mutant Earth action figure line takes place some five years after the great alien invasion. Earth has been decimated. Hordes of hideous mutants and invading aliens are fighting for domination of the planet. And humanity’s last hope? Some reluctant hero named Trakk. And if Winston has his way, you’ll be seeing a lot more of this guy.

Mutant Earth’s outset is to introduce to the world the next Spider-Man, the next Superman, the next Batman. It’s Trakk. And Trakk is a monster hunter,” says Winston. “He is an immortal who has been here since 100 A.D. and is in fact a reluctant hero, but has a mission. Mutant Earth happens to be post apocalyptic based on an alien invasion that has wiped out all but a few remaining human beings. And Trakk will have to come, eventually, to the rescue.”

Exclusively on sale at Toys “R” Us chains across the country, the Mutant Earth line is currently muscling its way onto toy shelves. The six-figure line includes the Earth guardian warrior Trakk; the alien junk trader Horrg the Dismantler; the vicious night-sighted killing machine Red Vane who’s rumored to have been resurrected by alien technology, the alien marauder Gallowz, who’s recruiting warriors for his bloody quest to reconquer his homeland; the Crippler, a mutated carnival strongman who now rules a nomadic circus group of mutants; and the fugitive alien outlaw Moloch.

Besides acting out their own bloody war with the figures, fans can learn more of the Mutant Earth story thanks to a four-issue comic book mini-series put out by Image Comics. One part of this flip-book tells of Trakk’s role in the Mutant Earth storyline, while the other side delves into the tales (and tails) of Winston’s previous toyline Realm of the Claw. But as far as the action figure line goes, Winston is more than a little passionate about his new children.

“It was very important for me that the artwork for the action figures was up to the quality that has been with Stan Winston creatures and characters from film. To bring that essence of attention to detail, beautiful sculpture, wonderfully creative characters, beautiful paint jobs, and have that happen in the action figure world. And we’ve done it. I don’t believe anyone has created action figures that are more artistically well rounded than the action figures that we are coming out with now. “

With a fine attention to detail, Stan Winston Creatures is fast becoming a name for itself in the toy collectors’ market, much like McFarlane Toys and Moore Action Collectibles. And that should come as no surprise, considering McFarlane was an inspiration for Winston actually creating his toy company.

“I’ve been talking about doing a toy line for many many years,” he says. “The quality of the toys was never up to snuff until recently when Todd McFarlane came on the scene and started creating action figures (and licensed many of the characters that we had created for movies), and did a beautiful job. He really was inspiring to me biting the bullet and saying we’re gonna do action figures. Because what Todd proved is that the audience does know the difference. Even in the toy world, quality and attention to detail is appreciated. And Todd McFarlane paved the way.”

Now that McFarlane’s inspired Winston to jump into the toy arena, he views the toy maker as competition. That means pushing the bar even higher with each new toy release. And Winston makes sure he’s surrounded by the best and the brightest in the industry to achieve that goal. Helping him out with character design is a name familiar to comic book fans: Simon Bisley.

“Simon has been doing many of the designs,” says Winston. “Many of the characters in Mutant Earth come from original Simon Bisley drawings. As matter of fact, Trakk is based on original sketches from Simon Bisley that he did for me on another project. Simon has become—even though he doesn’t know it—a new member of my creative art team.”

Bisley contributed many designs to Stan Winston Creatures, including the company’s next release: Extreme Gargoyles. Set in medieval times, this is Winston’s take on the creatures who’ve been a favorite of his for years. Oddly enough, the effects wizard’s very first movie after finishing an apprenticeship for Disney years ago was a TV movie called Gargoyles. Winston won an Emmy Award for his work on it, helping to put the creator on the map.

While the immortal monster-hunter Trakk won’t be appearing in Extreme Gargoyles, look for him to pop up in the following release: Blood Wolves. Also set in medieval times, this is Winston’s take on werewolves. And if the company’s previous releases are any indication, collectors should truly expect the unexpected.

“I’ve been a werewolf fan all my life,” says Winston. “It’s werewolves we haven’t seen before.”