1992, Space Marine Drake.

  • Year:1992
  • Size: 5 inches.
  • Product Line: ALIENS. Produced by Kenner (Tonka).

This hand painted hard copy of Smartgunner Drake is complete and lacking only its accessories.  It was most likely used in promotional photos and possibly displayed at expos and conventions.  It may also have been used as a paint master to provide a definite color and finishing guide for retail figure.

Images courtesy of Scott Morrissey

While prototypes of figures can be uncommon and difficult to find, considerably more rare are the inhouse custom made tools required to make them.  Here is a fine example of such a tool.  This item is a paint mask for Drake’s right leg.  It’s effectively a hinged, clam shell stencil that allows part of the figure to be painted in detail – in this case, the camo pattern on his pants.  Each head, torso, limb or other body part may require multiple masks for different colors to be applied.  Applications would be sprayed and layered, with each pass needing a separate mask. 

As such, over a dozen masks for each figure, especially human figures, would not be unusual for a character with a lot of detail.  The hardcopy figure at the top of this page was hand painted prototype but the full production retail figure, manufactured in quantities numbering in the thousands, would have used masks such as this to optimise production speed and maintain accuracy with each figure.

Images courtesy of Derek Ho

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