Funko has announced a new set of Ralph McQuarrie Pop! figures that are now available for pre-order. The line of figures was first announced back in August of this year. Funko designer Reis O'Brien is the mastermind behind the new Star Wars products that take it all back to where the franchise started. For some, McQuarrie's original concept designs are what brought George Lucas' ideas to life and influenced an entire generation of sci-fi fans. "I had books, when I was a kid. The Art of Star Wars and The Art of The Empire Strikes Back," O'Brien says. "They had a lot of [Ralph] McQuarrie sketches in them. Those early sketches always blew my mind."
Reis O'Brien isn't the only one who has been blown away by Ralph McQuarrie's Star Wars concept art. "Initially, it was important to me because it was just so beautiful and rich and detailed," O'Brien says. "But Ralph McQuarrie had a way of dipping the entire scene in mood. And not every artist can do that." Funko and O'Brien are honoring McQuarrie's contributions to the franchise with the Concept Series, a line of bobbleheads based on his designs, including Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Starkiller, and Boba Fett. Those were all limited edition and sold over the summer.
The new figures include an alternate Darth Vader, C-3PO, R2-D2, and Yoda. As opposed to the Concept Series from the summer, these latest figures are not limited edition. According to Reis O'Brien, the idea of the Ralph McQuarrie figures goes way back. "We started toying with the idea, I'd say maybe four years ago. I initially just did some quick-and-dirty sketches and sent them over to Lucasfilm," says O'Brien. "They liked the idea, but I think it was a timing thing. It just didn't feel right at the time. I just made a point, any time we'd have a brainstorm meeting. I'd just kind of roll those back out. [Laughs] 'Remember this idea?' Finally, this time, it stuck."
Even though Lucasfilm came around to the Ralph McQuarrie Funko products, it was a bit harder than originally thought to make them a reality. "It was a quite a challenge. There's only so much McQuarrie art out there for these characters," Reis O'Brien says. "We had maybe five to eight really good, detailed paintings of characters that changed or never came to be, and then maybe a handful - 10, 12 - ink and watercolor sketches of characters, like variations of Vader's helmet, for example. But other than that, we really didn't have a lot to work with." So, getting a full design sculpt was pretty difficult for O'Brien and his team. He explains.
"The backs are tricky. You get creative and you try to put yourself in the mindset of a guy designing these characters for this sci-fi movie no one's heard of back in 1975 or 1976. You just try to imagine what they would've imagined."
Reis O'Brien says, "That's the end result of myself and the Star Wars team at Funko having such a high respect for Star Wars that we just wanted to do it right." He continues, "To go back to the mood that McQuarrie would infuse into his artwork, we were very cognizant of that, and we wanted to do that justice, as well." This collection of Funko Pop! figures is for the hardcore fans who not only love the franchise, but love the history of the franchise too. the official Funko Twitter account was the first to announce the new Star Wars Ralph McQuarrie Pop! figures. All figures are expected to be out in stores by February 3rd, 2021.