Trash Mutant Interviews (TMI): Amanda Brock
- by Cherokee, 9 February 2017
You don't have to go to a comic book or toy shop to cop a figures or plush, either. Bookshops sell them. Supermarkets do, too. They're accessible not just in what toys you can buy or where they're stocked, but in price too. There is far less fear going into your overdraft when picking up a set of Pops!.
So, who are the people responsible for the peace brought between collectors and non-collectors?
Meet Amanda Brock, one of Funko's sculptors and designers making toys of characters you probably worship the shit out of. She has worked across a number of big franchises for the company including Star Wars, Adventure Time, Suicide Squad and Fallout. You might even have one of the figures she sculpted on your desk right now.
She spoke to us about creating toys for Funko, the time Mark Hamill tweeted about his Pop! vinyl, the progressiveness of the Funko office and more. Prepare for plenty of job-envy feels. Seriously.
TRASH MUTANT: So, how did you get into making toys? Has it always been something you’ve wanted to pursue as a career, or was it an unexpected path?
AMANDA BROCK: I went to school for Video Game Art & Design, with a focus in character sculpting. I actually didn’t even consider making toys as a career option until I was contacted by Funko. My sculpting skills transferred over to toys very well and now there’s nothing else I’d rather do.
Growing up, what were some of your favourite toys?
I had a secondhand Castle Greyskull which was my ultimate favorite, as well as some Masters of the Universe figures. I have a twin brother, so we played with a lot of the same toys.
Tell us a bit about your role at Funko. What does a day usually look like for you as a toy sculptor at the company?
Really my day is just sculpting, which is one of the main reasons I love my job. Once I finish a sculpt, I’ll show it to the concept artist and the art director, then adjust things based on their feedback. Once they’ve approved it, we send turns to the licensor and I move on to the next project on my list.
What was the first Funko toy you designed?
I usually do sculpts from designs the concept artists have done. My first sculpts at Funko were the Superbad POPs (I personally think that I’ve improved a lot since then). The first POPs I was able to design on my own were the Fallout 4 POPs.
What are some of your favourite licenses you’ve worked on?
Star Wars, Masters of the Universe, Fallout, Skyrim, Adventure Time, Indiana Jones.
A lot of the toys you’ve made for Funko are based on pretty big names. Have you had a pinch yourself moment where a celeb has acknowledged a toy you’ve designed?
Mark Hamill tweeted about the Episode VII Luke Skywalker toy that I sculpted from Reis O’Brien’s concept. I’m pretty sure we both squealed like little girls about it, although I don’t know if he’d admit it.
Funko have a great history in producing a diverse range of toys. Still, considering how toy companies recently omitted female characters from women-fronted franchises (like Ghostbusters and Star Wars), it’s not surprising that there was a brief nail-biting moment when Tulip wasn’t initially announced in the Preacher Pop Vinyl range. How do Funko continue to ensure the toys they produce are diverse, not just in the types of licenses they have rights for, but the characters themselves?
I think it comes down to the diversity of our office. When we get a new license, we all have the opportunity to suggest characters for lines that we’re passionate about. 90% of our sculpting team is female, and we’re big fans of kick-ass female characters. We also know that we have a diverse fanbase, with at least 50% of our fans being female. We don’t want to leave anyone out.
Are there any Funko franchises you didn’t – or haven’t – gotten the chance to design for, but would love to?
There aren’t many licenses I love that I haven’t had the chance to work on… except Game of Thrones. I’ve been waiting my turn for that one.
Recently you created a custom Pop Vinyl of Hannah from Rat Queens. Do you plan on making any other custom Pop’s?
I’ve been working on some customs of my cats and dog, but that’s not quite as exciting. I have so many plans for custom POPs but so little time! I really want to finish the Rat Queens. I started on Violet, but haven't had a chance to finish her yet. I’d also love to make some Critical Role customs.
What’s been the most unexpected thing you’ve discovered about making toys for a living?
How few toys a bookshelf will actually hold? Actually, the most unexpected thing is the fans. When I started working here, I had no idea that Funko had such a large following. It’s been great to see it grow and actually be able to meet people who are fans of what we do.
You also cosplay, too. Has creating your cosplays helped with designing toys?
It’s actually the other way around - sculpting toys has taught me how to break down costumes into manageable pieces. It can be overwhelming to look at a character with a ton of armor and not know where to start, so being able to think in layers helps a lot.
Is there a character you’ve cosplayed as (that isn’t already a Funko toy) you’d want to make?
Cassandra Pentaghast from Dragon Age! I would love for her to be a POP!
Are there any exciting upcoming Funko releases you’re working on you can tell us a little about?
Nothing I can talk about right now, but some of them should be shown at NY Toy Fair in February!
Thank you very much for the interview!
What are your favorite Funko toys? Do you own any of the POPs and other toys Amanda sculpted? Let us know in the comments!