Now that we have a shape that seems more or less defined, it’s time to go deep into the characters we want on the toys. Right now we really want to incorporate the history of India into these adorable little fellas, to give another level of depth to the character and identification with each person. Everyone has such amazing stories, and hopefully we can teach people a little something about them.
Personally, I like the ancient warriors throughout history. I’ve always had a thing for ancient warriors, from Samurai to Spartans to Soldiers. (I’ve also always had a thing for alliteration.) There are so many great eras of warriors here to choose from, we may pick some from each to get a full line.
There are some amazing people throughout history, and we may have some trouble narrowing them down.
Emperor Ashoka, the first unified ruler in Indian history, who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent stretching from Afghanistan in the West to Bangladesh in the East in 230 BC. He became a Buddhist after he abandoned all war during a brutally bloody battle. His Lion symbol is now the national emblem of India.
Prithviraj Chauhan, a Rajput king from 1100 CE and an excellent archer skilled in the art of ‘Shabdabhedi Baan’ (to be able to aim and kill just by following sound) who became his capturer’s nemesis by killing him in his court after his eyes were burned out with hot iron rods.
Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh guru who established the ‘Khalsa’ – a military order of saints in 1699 in response to religious persecution by the Muslim rulers, giving present day Sikhs their identity.
Rani LaxmiBai, queen of Maratha state Jhansi and a symbol of female bravery who was one of the leaders of India’s first mutiny against the British in 1857.
From Left: Shahrukh Khan as Ashoka, Prithviraj Chauhan's statue in Ajmer, Guru Gobind Singh, Rani Lakshmibai
We are also looking into some mythological warriors that are even more fantastical, like Drona Charya,who gave the power to end the world to his brightest student, or the Pandavas – five brothers who take on their half-brothers in the greatest battle written in Indian mythology. The Pandavas include Yudhishthir, who gambles away his kingdom, his brothers and even his wife in a game of dice, yet is described as just and compassionate; Arjun, who can pierce the eye of a fish with his arrow while looking at its reflection in a pool of water; and Bhishma, who is as quick with anger as he is with food.
Whichever character we choose, one thing we’ve discovered is that we need to convey a lot of emotion with these little guys. They are small, and need to pack a big punch when you first see them. So we really need to focus on the faces. I drew a bunch of simplified faces with a similar look. It’s similar to both urban vinyl and anime styles, and when it mixes with the Indian craft and aesthetic, we’re hoping it makes something amazingly unique.
It’s certainly an interesting experience working with such a small group of people who are so enthusiastic about making these toys the best they can be, and that know so much about Indian history. I can’t wait to see how this all comes together.