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We have the first three painted characters in, both the standard colors and the ultra-rare chase editions. Here’s a look at all of them.
Here is a closer look at the individual characters, with their standard colors on the left facing off with the rare colors on the right. As always, you can click the images to get more detail.
Jatayu VS Jatayu
Jambavan VS Jambavan
Vasuki VS Vasuki
The pearl finish on the standard Vasuki and chase Jatayu. The crown on Jambavan, they all turned out beautifully. In person, they are even more amazing (or so everyone has said). You can mix and match the heads and bodies, and the crown wobbles around. They are immensely fun.
We managed to get all of the characters in for the collectors’ carved edition. Check out all of them here.
Every little detail of these characters is gorgeous, down to the intricate work on their crowns.
Let’s take a look at all of them.
Thanks so much to everyone who has ordered so far. The response from everyone has been amazing, and I’m so glad to hear how much everyone loves them!
There’s still just a little time left to order some if you are interested, and all of these will ship out as soon as possible, along with their unique packaging and beautiful cards detailing who each of them are.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m now going to reveal the chase line up of our range! These are the very rarely available versions of the standard range, that you should consider yourself extremely lucky to get!
We went completely crazy with the colors in the chase line, experimenting with different lac finishes and colors. We came down to a mix of metallic and matte finish lac colors ranging from pink to the light blue.
The idea was also to enhance our color choices with these beautiful Varanasi patterns and motifs. Sanjay has really outdone himself in adapting to the chase figures.
There are only a couple of hours left to purchase these beautiful toys, so do pick your favorite one here!
We have been sharing our entire journey on the blog, and as it is often with new travels, the path hasn’t been a straightforward one. We’ve gone back and forth, made big changes at the very last stage and have had a pretty organic design process throughout the project. (FinalRange.ai became FinalFinalRange.ai became FinalFINALRange.ai and finally became FinalLACRange.ai on my computer!) I thought it would be a good idea to put the entire final range together for all of us to see. So, here comes the team!
Feel free to click on this image for a full size version where all the little details of the body are also visible. This range was achieved after weeks of working with the artisans and considering all the different stages of production, including available colors in lac, the kind of colors used for hand painting, and streamlining the process of production. Some of the bodies, like the ones on Bali and Jambavan, were designed with the artisan, incorporating his own sensibility and representation of various animals.
Here are some photos of the physical toys!
Its amazingly satisfying how well we’ve been to achieve two very different things at the same time – the faces and the colors are extremely loyal to our character designs, and the detailed patterns and textures that Sanjay (the artisan) has added brings out the distinct Banaras flavor of the toys and complements them beautifully.
You might have noticed that Bali is missing from this line-up. I’m going to reveal him very soon! Till then, do look through the warriors, pick your favorite ones and buy them here.
Not satisfied to just stop at making toys, we want the whole experience to be amazing. This means we’ve been working on little surprises for everyone who buys some of the toys, including the packaging and some other things.
One of these surprises is a card that comes with each toy. Each card shows a classic piece of art of the character, so you can see what they looked like before we got our hands on them and made them an adorably lethal warrior. On the opposite side, you get the story of your character. Who they are, why they are awesome, and a story that tells you about how significant they are.
These cards honestly came out more beautiful than I had hoped, in ways you have to see to believe. Each card has a three dimensional texture on it that gives it depth and shimmer, making the colors pop and bring the artwork to life. You can see some of the texture reflected in the Jatayu card in the bottom photo, and if you click on the upper photos you can see it up close. The back of each card lets you know all about the character, so you can talk about them confidently and also have a leg up if you want to dig even deeper.
I also wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who had bought a toy so far. Each and every order makes us extremely happy . Thanks to each of you who has shown your love for the toys by buying some. If you haven’t bought one yet and think they are awesome, please consider getting some of your own. Every toy we sell puts us that much closer to being able to do another line in the future, which is our ultimate dream.
As a reminder, you can buy the toys for a very limited time here.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have officially launched the toys! We decided to keep this run very limited so we could keep the quality as high as we want and still get them out as soon as possible. For the next 30 days only, you can get the limited edition first run of Little Known Heroes here. There are 6 different characters with amazing stories, and we only had 30 sets made of the painted version (including the 1:5 rare vibrant versions), and only 10 sets of the fully carved. That means 240 of them, total. No more.
I put together a video to showcase all of the toys, as well as the process of how they are made. I don’t know if you’ve been to India before, but trying to pull everyone together to make a video like this is an amazing amount of work. This was filmed across 3 cities in 3 different states in order to get everyone on camera. India isn’t the calmest or quietest country in the world, and there were immense amounts of background noise and interruptions to edit around. Overall, I’m happy with how it turned out, and I think it really conveys how awesome the materials and processes involved in this are. And how adorable the fierce little toys are, of course.
We finally have all six characters down to the last detail, and wow, they look beautiful! I don’t want to spill all the beans at once so I’m only going to let out the final designs for the three new characters today. Soujanyaa already spoke about their stories here, but just to remind you, our three new characters are Sharabha, Jambavan and Bali.
Here’s a little storyboard for each of them
Bali and Jambavan are more emotive than Sharabha or the birds, almost to the point of being cartoonish. Sharabha is more stylized, and has these beautiful overlapping curls which make it the most complicated character we have till now. We want to go with the right balance of stylization and emotion in our characters and it looks like we’re pretty close. I was really apprehensive about the artisan painting Bali’s angry eyes, but he’s done a wonderful job of it (his Bali looks angrier!)
The carver showed us the first round of characters, and boy are they a beauty. These will make great collectibles for some lucky buyers. Feel free to click them to make them bigger and see the detail.
These aren’t all of the characters, and they still have some work to be done, but just check out that detail! Bali’s angry brow reaching over his eyes. Jatayu’s feathers seem almost art deco. And the curls in Sharabha’s mane, not to mention his fangs, don’t even get me started. I’m amazed at the quality, and I can’t wait to get these out there.
You know that the toys are carved from wood, painted with lac (which is made from tree sap), and polished with tree leaves. The thing I haven’t been able to convey, however, is just how awesome and unique this finish looks. It’s honestly unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It has a depth to it, a shimmering quality that changes based on the light. The closest thing I could possibly compare it to is looking at Jupiter.
I made a video of me playing with one of the pieces to try to convey what it looks like. I just wish I could convey how awesome it feels.
Today was by far the most successful day of our stay in Varanasi. We met the most skilled painter – artisan I’ve come across on this entire project (I’m so happy I could dance around trees as a Bollywood Extra right now). Young chap called Sanjay Prajapati, and he just gets it man. Look at the Bali face he’s painting in these photos.
He’s meticulous, careful and completely focussed on what he’s doing. Each line and curve is carefully measured by his brush and then reproduced on the piece. I suggested that he first make an outline of the basic shapes with one colour and then start filling in the colours one by one, instead of finishing each shape seperately. This seems to work very well. Unlike most other craftsmen, he is not perturbed by three very curious people sitting on his head while he’s working (I suspect this is because he’s young and hasn’t yet the ego that experienced artisans have).
As an example, compare the black Jatayu he painted with the blue one we got done from the previous painter.
Need I say anymore?
We spent the entire day with him today in shifts, trying to get as many samples done as possible because we leave tomorrow afternoon! Just as we’re nearing our goal, we’re short on time! Scroll below for some more pictures of stuff he did today.
We’ll have the final samples ready soon! Hopefully by tomorrow!
With Garuda, Jatayu and Vasuki on track we thought we might as well start working on the other characters that we have in mind. Initially we had Bali, Jambavan and Narasimha but eventually we realised that Narasimha is no longer a little known hero as almost everyone here knows about him. But again he had such amazing features…..who could have ever thought of changing into a half lion and half human and hanging around with claws so lethal, just to get rid of one guy….it became a tough decision to take for us to not work on this character. So we went deep into Hindu mythology and came across characters that were twice as great as Narasimha but least popular amongst all. Now we have this new character called Sharabha.
Sharabha is a part lion and a part bird….and he is a beast. He is not any ordinary beast but one that has eight legs. He can supposedly clear a valley in one jump which definitely beats the other cool mythological creatures. He is also considered the incarnation of the Mahadev (Shiva) which could subdue Narasimha, the fierce manifestations of lord Vishnu.
In Ramayana, Bali was the half ape ruler of Kishkindha, the kingdom of the apes. He was invulnerable to any enemy because he had received a blessing where whoever came before him lost half of their strength to him. He was the kind of guy who would toss the mountain peaks around and catch them himself…purely for fun.
Jambavan was the half sloth bear king of the bear kingdom. His strength was unmatched, once battling the god Krishna for 28 days straight he realized he was fighting god and ended the battle on friendly terms. He was also a brilliant military strategist, leading an army of monkeys to victory over Ravana, the demon king, in the most epic battle in the book of Ramayana.