Zodac Character Bio
Once a member of Eternia’s council of Elders, Zodac chose to retain his human form and left Eternia after Grayskull’s demise. Finding peace among the stars, Zodac was recruited by the Overlords of Trolla to become a Cosmic Enforcer being tasked with maintaining neutrality throughout the universe. Although he no longer calls Eternia home, the constant struggle over the Power Sword has often called him back to his native planet to maintain the eternal balance between good and evil.
Designing the Eternians
The He-Man Eternians paper toys are an interesting mix of the original MOTU toy line figures, the Filmation cartoon and original elements. The original intent was to base the Eternians line solely on the original figures, giving them a more stylized top-heavy look and blocky paper craft aesthetic. However as the original twelve figures were being developed it became clear people struggled to recognize the characters without some of the changes that were made by Filmation to the character designs. For example Man-At-Arms original figure didn’t have a moustache, Filmation added this to the character to make him appear more fatherly and senior and it’s now an essential part of the character design, so this was adopted into the Eternians figures. The results are figures primarily based on the original toy line and accessories, which included Filmation elements where necessary, to make the character recognizable. Original elements were added to fill awkward gaps or empty sections that were often left by the armour of the original figures, as well as adding small details to flesh out the outfits of the figures. Taking Man-At-Arms as an example again, the final toy features a body based on the original MOTU figure, however the back of the original figure’s armour was mostly absent to make room for the strap that connected it to the figure, which looked odd so I’ve added my own back and sides, to be a little more filled out. Details that were sculpted onto the figure but not painted such as the wrist band, have been made the same colour as Man-At-Arms armour and his face is primarily based on the Filmation cartoon, with an original take that is unavoidable when designing something in your own style.
I really wanted the Eternians figures to scream ‘muscle’, just like the inspiration for the He-Man line. This can be a challenge, as shown by the many other paper toy designers that have designed He-Man figures. The usual design choices such as flat arms can make it hard to convey muscular biceps, and flat line-art texturing often leads to paper toys looking two dimensional (which is ironic given the medium.) To avoid this I decided to give the Eternians a focus on shading, specifically extreme highlights (these would later be reduced before the final release but are still clearly visible.) This helped the muscles ‘pop’ on the built models, and coupled with the line art which overlaid whatever colour was underneath it, gave a wonderfully rounded and chunky look to the toys.
Other than my love for the franchise as a whole, one of the reasons I focused so heavily on the He-Man MOTU line was Mattel’s re-use of parts in the original toy line (and arguable their MOTU classics line.) Time limits are always a factor when it comes to design projects, (even fan-art projects like Eternians) and the ability to re-use elements and parts I’d already designed would make it much quicker to produce new MOTU characters later on in the Eternians line. This meant that the shading, line art, armour, and colours all had to be easily changed and react to the colours below them. For example, He-Man and Man-At-Arms both use the same left arm, but one is the standard flesh colour and the other is green. Instead of having to re-work all the shading and line art to work with this new colour, it had to be flexible enough so that I could just change the skin layers colour and everything else would just work and still look nice. This also meant that the basic buck of the figures – the muscular body shape, would have to be a separate set of layers from the amour used on top, as many of the figures re-used armour pieces.
He-Man and Skeletor, as you might imagine, were two of the first Eternians to be designed. Many toy lines fall victim to what I call ‘non-practiced primary characters’. This is where toy lines create the main characters first because they’re essential to the aesthetic of the line and will also likely sell the best, then work on secondary characters later. The problem with this is that as the designers, sculptors and design team work as a whole on a toy line or series for longer, they learn from their mistakes and improve. This leaves you with characters that were designed later being better in different ways than the main characters, making the main characters the worse in the line.
In an attempt to avoid this I designed a set of twelve characters simultaneously, and each time I ran into an issue or had to change the overall style to accommodate a specific character, I would go back and make similar practical or style changes to all twelve in the line. The plan being that I would iron out any issues with the style or shape of the Eternians figures without the main characters suffering from being the first designed. The choice to make the weapons removable came later on in the production of these twelve figures, and required a re-work of the arm shape as well as a complete change to how the weapons would attach to the figures, this meant going back over all twelve figures, re-designing each of their arms and weapons all over again, all to improve the final functionality of the figures. The final weapon attachment system allowed me to add small sections to the back of the weapon that could lock the arm at different angles. If I needed to I could lock the figure’s arms facing forwards, leaving the weapon at 90 degrees to the floor (which would be a great way for them to fold a staff instead of at an angle.)
Zodac was a relatively easy Eternian to design, as well as one of the first times I’ve got the benefit of the reusable parts and changeable armor systems I worked on. The arms of Zodac are just the default buck arms for example.
The only complex part of the design was finding a way to make the sides of the helmet stick out.
Christ….I am so tired, does anyone read these designer note sections? Especially for the Eternians project because they all read the same for a whole page before becoming specifically about the toy who’s page they’re featured on. Here’s a “Designers Note” for ya’, I woke up at 11AM today, how bad is that, when I quit my job I was so sure that I wouldn’t slowly slip back into my old ways of staying up late and sleeping in and being lazy, I was so sure I had the motivation to get up at 7 every day to work on these projects, especially when you consider I’m eating into what little life savings I have at the age of 24 in order to work on them. Maybe it’s something like depression, I’m not sure, I keep meaning to make an appointment to talk with the doctors about my general lack of motivation towards anything other than paper crafts in my life or the constant urge to just end everything, but I chicken out when I call them. I guess for now I’ll just keep going until I either get better or get worse, there’s only really two options in the whole thing.
+ 30/05/2017 – New version of Fold Up Toys website launched, with the aim of providing better loading times and better categorization. Website fixed with help from Smart-hosting team as well as Google Garage team. New version of the toy features cleaner tabs, redefined colours and new more clean layout style. The new toy page also features “in context file preview”. Now all downloads for toys are ZIP documents with multiple files inside to make downloads faster and less storage intensive.