Skeksis Chamberlain Mini-Bust
Movies have always been a fertile ground for licensing products, and the main reason for this is that the stories and characters inspire us to want mementos to remember such uplifting tales. It seems that science fiction and fantasy seem to elicit more of a drive to collect things (maybe since they are often of creatures that do not exist in our lives). The Dark Crystal is just one of these movies, and Plan B Toys is honoring it with a line of mini-busts starting with one of the evil characters from it.
Movies without any people in them have been around for a while when you consider animation. But The Dark Crystal was the first time that a movie had no people and was shot as live-action, using a variety of techniques to bring it to life. Puppetry was the primary means of giving life to the characters, combined with actors in suits and the use of animatronics to add details like eye movement and sneering.
While the way it was made is unique, the story elements are far from it. The Dark Crystal is a tale of good versus evil, with a mix of boy meets girl in it along with saving the world. The world of The Dark Crystal is a fantasy landscape with extraordinary creatures that aside from their looks have the same motivations as we do - greed, lust for power, the impetus to do right, honesty and integrity.
The basic story of the Dark Crystal began a thousand years previous with the breaking of the eponymous gem that created two races - the evil Skeksis and the good Mystics. The Skeksis took power over the land (with the aid of their Gathim shock troops) and have ruled with an iron fist. However, their plans are in danger of coming apart as a prophecy tells of their downfall (and every prophecy in every movie is always true).
The movie details the fulfillment of the prophecy, with a Gelfling (very much like an elf) who is on a quest to restore the crystal and save his world. Along the way he meets more than a few strange creatures, including a female Gelfling to help him along the way. The movie is available on DVD, so you may wish to either re-live or experience it again as you have time.
There is a theme of duality that runs through The Dark Crystal with the splitting of a heavenly race into the Mystics and Skeksis. The diametrically opposed Mystics and Skeksis are simply the two parts of a whole, the yin and yang and this makes it very clear who is on the side of good and who is evil. Their predilections are even personified in their appearances, with the Skeksis deteriorating away while the Mystics remain hale.
At the start of the film there are ten each of the Skeksis and Mystics, but the leaders of each respective tribe make quick exits. What remains are a group of very specialized characters with specific jobs. Originally the Skeksis were to mimic the seven deadly sins, but since there had to be more than seven of them a few sins got some extra play!
After the Skeksis Emperor's death there is a power struggle between the Chamberlain and the General (known also as the Garthim Master), and the General wins the challenge and assumes the throne. The Chamberlain is then banished and plots and schemes to regain his place in the hierarchy, through means mostly deceptive and unsavory. He really seems like a used car salesmen combined with a raptor from Jurrasic Park.
The Chamberlain (whose name is actually skekSil) is shown as he looks for much of the story, with his finery removed after he was banished, wearing only rags to cover his hideous body. The Skeksis look very much like lizards and birds, with atrophied arms on their backs. The Chamberlain sits atop a translucent base of the Dark Crystal (the missing shard would fit in a spot hidden by the Chamberlain).
The founders of Plan B are all huge fans of the movie, so the love they have for the characters is easy to see in the care shown in creating this mini-bust. You will want to be extra careful removing it from the styrofoam as there are many projections (like on the back) that could be broken if you aren't careful.
Joining the Chamberlain is the Mystic numerologist urYod and there was a mini-bust of Aughra shown at Toy Fair 2004 for possible future release. The Chamberlain is 6" tall, and the other busts are sculpted to the same scale to ensure that they can display together.
Brian Froud was the conceptual designer for The Dark Crystal, and he worked closely with co-directors Jim Henson (creator of the Muppets) and Frank Oz. The Chamberlain is performed by Frank Oz (with some help), and his work is well known for Fozzie and Miss Piggy of the Muppets and Yoda from the Star Wars movies.
The sculptor for this piece is Jon Matthews, an artist who is starting to get a lot more attention. Jon has been one of the most versatile sculptors in recent years, with work running the gamut from Heroclix, to action figures (Special Forces and Ladder 49 for Plan B, and now for DC Direct), and mini-busts (GI Joe from Palisades). You'll be seeing more and more work from him in the near future.
Sideshow Collectibles made a pair of Gelfling action figures, so fans of the movie may wish to find a set to go with their mini-busts.
More Pictures of the Chamberlain
|Where to buy the Skeksis Chamberlain Mini-Bust: This resin bust retails in the $40 USD price range. It is available through Plan B's online store, as well as at various online toy and collectible retailers.
One such online store is RTM sponsor Big Bad Toy Store. (Be sure to check the other RTM sponsors, listed on the Shop Center.)