DIAMOND SELECT TOYS TO DEBUT TALKING MONTY PYTHON ACTION FIGURES
by Hans ten Cate
special thanks to Andy Livingston of Diamond Select Toys
Tuesday, 5 August 2003

A while back I spoke with Andy Livingston of Diamond Select Toys about the upcoming series of Monty Python collectible Holy Grail figures from DST.

 

King Arthur and the other two talking collectible figures will ship later this year.

Diamond Select Toys and Collectibles (DST) of Timonium, Maryland has announced that it will release the first-ever talking Monty Python action figures this year.

Capitalizing on the most licensable of the Python films, DST has modeled the figures on the main characters from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The first series of three figures (see photos) will include:

  • Terry Jones (as Sir Bedevere),
  • Eric Idle (as Sir Robin), and
  • Graham Chapman (as King Arthur).

Series 1 is slated for a late November release. Series 2, which is looking at a Summer 2004 launch, will feature the other three Pythons:

  • John Cleese (as Sir Lancelot),
  • Terry Gilliam (as the Bridgekeeper), and
  • Michael Palin (as Sir Galahad).

Each figure will stand 7-inches tall and will come with a Grail logo base which, when pushed, will say one of three phrases. Each recorded phrase will be taken directly from the film and will, of course, be specific to that character.

The figures will carry a suggested retail price of $12.99 and will come with shield, sword, and base (with talk button). About 10,000 to 50,000 units of each figure will ship, according to DST. The figures will be available at comic book stores and collectible shops. All of the figures on display will have a "try me" option - look for them later this year.

A PythOnline exclusive: a first look at the Sir Robin talking collectible figure

I'd Like to Buy a Fish License

Andy Livingston of Diamond Select Toys explained the process by which the company decided on the Python figures.

“Every once in a while we try to think of a new license,” explained Livingston. Looking to fill the slot of a recently expired license, Battle of the Planets, the creative brains at DST turned their thoughts to other cult phenomena. “Normally we try to think of properties that are 'evergreen' and not just fads…” Mr. Livingston said. Disney, Looney Tunes, Star Wars, and Monty Python fall into that category. “They have been around forever.”

Monty Python was a clear winner, particularly given the success of the DVDs and other licensed products. But how to break new ground in a rapidly growing field of Monty Python memorabilia? The one thing that was missing from the product family, the execs at DST felt, was 'sound.' So, DST contacted Bliss House, North America's licensor for the Monty Python films, and struck a deal. Bliss House, it turned out, had access to a number of Digital Audio Tapes of the original Holy Grail film.

Each Holy Grail figure stands 7-inches tall and will be able to say one of three phrases from the film

For some at DST, the project was a dream come true. “We have some BIG fans in the company,” explained Livingston. Multiple viewings of Holy Grail became mandatory for the staff. Scripts and photographs were consulted. The airspeed of various swallows were tested. Coconut halves were parked in the executive lot until the wee hours. Developing figures based on a twenty-eight-year old film proved to be no small task.

“Likenesses are always very difficult to do,” explained Livingston. With Holy Grail, the figures' likenesses had to be based on how the actors looked in the original 1975 film. The Pythons' faces have changed so much that doing a three-dimensional computer model of the actors (as some movie studios and toy companies today are doing) would not have made sense. For this, the film itself had to be consulted.

The artists used photos and sculpted the figures by hand, using metal skeletons and special clay. The photos shown with this article are test versions, which are 50% larger than the final figures you will buy in the stores. When the test versions are finally ready, the figures will be replicated by artisans in China. Steel molds will be created wherein plastic is poured to create the individual figure components - heads, arms, legs, etc. The parts will then be assembled and painted by hand. “At every step there's a person,” explained Livingston.

Keep tabs on the new figures from Diamond Select Toys by visiting http://www.diamondselecttoys.com/products/.