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Disney Infinity: Bringing Chewbacca to life

by Sean P. Aune | September 25, 2015September 25, 2015 12:20 pm PDT

Disney Infinity Concept Chewbacca

Disney Infinity is in its third version now, and the Star Wars crew has arrived as part of the latest expansion. With that comes all new figures, but have you given any thought to what it takes to actually bring those little figures to life?

TechnoBuffalo was given the opportunity to sit down and speak with Jeff Bunker, Vice President of Art Development for Disney Infinity, Avalanche Software, to speak about what it takes to translate iconic Disney characters into the figures you see in the store, and it’s not a quick and easy process in the least.

“If you’re talking about from when we’re first talking about [a figure] until it’s on the shelf, you’re generally talking about a year,” said Bunker. From the time his team is first told which figures they need to create for the next release, until it’s in your hands, a full calendar year will pass. During that time, there are a lot of things that have to happen to realize a figure such as Chewbacca.

“The pre-production section – when we’re doing the concepts, the sketches, and that kindĀ of stuff – we’re working on that two to three weeks. And then doing the sculpt we work on that for about two weeks.” While you would think that might be the end of the road, it’s not. The first sculpt is just to see how the character works in the Infinity style. “Then we work on the pose for about three weeks, and then there is probably four to five weeks of working on engineering the figure with the factory to get the manufacturing worked out.

You’re looking at three months or more for each figure to even be close to being ready, and considering how many figures are released at any given time, that’s a whole lot of work going on.

The design process begins with a series of drawings that tries to bring the character to life. “We ask our artists to create really fun caricatures of that character. When we find one that is true to proportions and appealing, the next step is to simplify and to find the fewest number of planes and surfaces to define that character,” said Bunker. In the case of Chewbacca, which the folks at Disney Infinity PR were kind enough to provide us with the exclusive image you see above of him from concept to figure, it was all about remembering who he is as a wookie. “Unconsciously when we first started doing caricatures of him, he was more Yeti like, he was more ape like. Lucasfilm was pretty quick to remind us, ‘You know Chewbacca, in reality, is a guy with a suit on. There’s a real guy inside of there. So he should be standing up more erect, not like a monkey’ or something like that.”

And at the end of the day we ended up with a figure that resembles one of the most iconic images of the co-pilots of the Millennium Falcon.

han solo and chewbacca

This wasn’t a coincidence that he ended up so close to this classic photo as Bunker and his team of artists take iconic poses into consideration while designing. After they work out the basics of the character for how it will work in animation in the game itself, they then set out to find the right post for the figure. “We try to find the most iconic pose for that figure that we can think of that would only be appropriate for that character to do. If we create a post that we can put 10 different characters on, that just doesn’t work for us.” Bunker went on to add, “We’re trying to find that thing that ‘oh I remember that scene,’ the thing that is entirely right for that character.”

During our conversation with Bunker it was very clear that a lot of thought and love goes into the design of each figure they release for Disney Infinity. What may appear as just a simple lump of plastic on a shelf has had a lot of careful thought put into it that makes sure you get the most enjoyment possible out of it whether it be using it in the game or just proudly displaying it on a shelf.

Chewbacca, along with several other Star Wars figures for Disney Infinity 3.0, will release next week on Sept. 29.

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Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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