When Logan Paul made his WWE debut in 2021, it was only a matter of time before he was immortalized the same way most WWE superstars are: with his own Mattel action figure. He’s not getting anything as simple as the company’s line of Basic figures or even an entry in the long-running line of Elite toys. Paul is starting on top, with WWE and Mattel creating an Ultimate collection figure–the most-detailed and articulated line of toys WWE has. Getting to a finished product was no easy task, though.
Paul’s Ultimate is the second Mattel has offered via their Mattel Creations website as a presale exclusive item. The first, Ultimate Cody Rhodes based on his Wrestlemania return in 2022, will arrive this summer. Still, while it won’t be available in stores at release, the toy giant pulled out all the stops to make sure the Ultimate lives up to its name. And where that all starts is with many, many pictures of Paul.
The design team used what they have dubbed a 3D virtual studio, a portable scanning rig capable of taking 64 photos simultaneously. It gives them the ability to capture every single angle of a facial expression, and the team first brought Paul into their headquarters to be scanned. Per Mattel, a scanning session could take up to a few hours, as superstars are asked for a number of facial reactions. Some of them aren’t used, while others wind up on the toy heads included with the figures.
It’s not as easy as taking a photo, though, as Mattel designers then have to render the photos as a singular 3D image. It’s not an easy process and takes a lot of computing power. The end results, though, leave the company with a full rendering of the talent’s head in 3D, viewable from any angle. Once that and the body and clothing design process are complete, it’s off to the 3D printer.
In its Southern California workshop, Mattel has an impressive collection of 3D printers, all of which are used to print different things. While this might seem like a new technology due to the popularity of commercial and consumer 3D printing, Mattel has actually been using the process in one way or another for over 30 years. It began using its first 3D printer way back in 1991.
Oh course, the process is a bit more involved now. First, Mattel creates the earliest prototypes in a PolyJet 3D printer. Per Mattel, printing a single figure in the machine could take over 10 hours, as what’s being printed is actually incredibly thin layers of plastic. There are other printers for rubber elements, as well as a much larger machine used to print out prototypes for things like stage and ring pieces.
While touring Mattel, we were able to see a number of Logan Paul’s prototypes in different sizes, which you can see below. This allows the company to not only make sure they have all the details right by looking at larger versions of the figure, but helps to keep the various WWE lines in scale with one another. After all, Logan Paul is taller than Rey Mysterio, but how much taller and what does that equate to in action figure sizes?
Throughout the process, designers are checking in on the prototypes, making tweaks to the design based on how it actually looks and feels. They can even test different types of rubbers and plastics for the prototypes until they find what works just right.
While this sounds like a very involved process and does indeed take time before the finished prototype is shipped off to be turned into the final action figure, it’s nothing compared to before 3D printing revolutionized the industry.
Now, thanks to the 3D printing process, making a change to a design could take as little as 10 minutes. By comparison, prior to 3D printing when the prototypes were all hand-sculpted, even a tiny change could result in the designer having to start their sculpture from scratch, resulting in plenty of lost time.
As it stands, Mattel’s Logan Paul Ultimate collection figure is expected in the third quarter of this year. Without the scanning and 3D printing technology that is powering these action figure lines now, there’s no telling how long such a detailed toy would have taken otherwise–or what kind of impact they would have on all of the other Ultimates, Basics, and Elites WWE and Mattel are planning to release this year.
So while the process to create action figures might be a far more involved process, it’s hard to argue with the results. Mattel is creating the most detailed and lifelike WWE figures of all time at this point and the technology is only going to get better in the years to come.
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