The Four Horsemen announced Friday that the Gothitropolis Kickstarter action figures had reached the shores of the Americas. While I am really excited about all the birds — Minotaur The Duck, Griffon, Eagle, Raven, White Raven, Cardinal, Phoenix, Owl, Rooster, Falcon, Vulture, Flamingo — I’m most excited about Quetzalcoatl.
A little history may be in order. While the Mayans have been waiting for the return of Quetzalcoatl since time immemorial, I’ve been waiting for Quetzalcoatl since 2009. It was five years ago that the Raven won The Fantastic Exclusive Fan Vote and The Four Horsemen started asking fans to suggest variants in the line. As a member of their fan boards, I was the one that first suggested that instead of another bird, one of the variants could be Quetzalcoatl, the Mesoamerican deity often depicted as a feathered serpent.
On a personal note, I’d long wanted a Quetzalcoatl to help fill out my “God Squad” – an action figure supergroup of my own invention — that consists of Baal (The Four Horsemen’s Xetheus) Ganesha (The Four Horsemen’s Ramathorr) Rama and Hanuman (Kridana) and maybe Horus and Anubis (Represented by the Four Horsemen’s Scarabus variants Horos and Anubos.) I felt that group needed some representation from the Americas and I was bound and determined to make it happen.
So I dusted off my mediocre photoshop skills and posted a mashed up image (It’s so embarrassing that I’ve hidden as a link on this page) as well as picture after picture of Quetzalcoatl reference art that I’d culled from The Net to the Four Horsemen’s Fantastic Exclusive Fan Forum. I wanted to make sure the Horsemen’s eyeballs were bombarded with the coolest Quetzalcoatl images I could find. I figured it was an uphill battle but lo and behold, when the chosen variants were announced Quetzalcoatl was among them! I would finally be getting an exquisitely-detailed and plentifully-articulated action figure of my favorite Mesoamerican deity.
But then it seemed that The Fates began to conspire against my ever getting my beloved Quetzalcoatl. Oil (and therefore plastic) prices rose precipitously, raising both shipping and manufacturing costs. When the Four Horsemen received their quote from the factory, they found that tooling costs had doubled and the individual price per figure had quadrupled.
There was no way a small company like the Four Horsemen was going to be able to shell out the kind of money required to produce their own in-house brand, so it looked like hundreds of hours of work by The Horsemen and over six months of voting by fans would be going down the drain. The Horsemen and their fans were left weeping, wailing and gnashing their teeth.
But then Kickstarter.com (a company that started pretty near Four Horsemen headquarters) ended up coming to the rescue. Launched in 2009, the same year the Fantastic Exclusive 4 fan voting wrapped up, the crowd-funding website quickly became a powerful tool that would provide a way for fans to make the Gothitropolis Ravens a reality after all.
In February of 2013 I traveled to Four Horsemen Headquarters in New Jersey to visit them and attend Toypocalypse 3, their third annual Four Horsemen showcase / fan appreciation party held during Toy Fair. Before the opening of Toypocalypse at Toy Tokyo in New York, I watched as the Horsemen worked day and night to prepare for Toy Fair and Toypocalypse. Everyone was excited about seeing The Four Horsemen’s new Castle Grayskull, but I was equally excited about the two-up prototypes of the new Gothitropolis figures they were working on at the same time.
(The Raven Prototypes show up 2 minutes into the first video above)
The prototypes the Horsemen prepared for Toypocalypse were magnificent. They looked amazing adorning a vintage bird cage and perched atop some custom made display bases created by Jim Preziosi. Tucked up on the wall next to the prototypes on the wall was a Kickstarter Logo, which was how The Four Horsemen discretely announced their plans to start their Kickstarter project.
As my excitement began to mount for the Four Horsemen’s Gothitropolis Kickstarter, so did some nagging doubts. What if they didn’t meet their goal? And what if they barely met their initial goal of $60,000 but the stretch goal of $85,000 needed to get Quetzalcoatl didn’t get met? That would be the cruelest of all fates as far as I was concerned.
I had been disappointed once before when I pledged for a Rama figure in hopes of getting a Quetzalcoatl figure that was a stretch goal on an earlier Kickstarter by Go Go Dynamo that was only able to reach 21 percent of its funding goal. Go Go Dynamo’s efforts were extremely professional and the project was a worthy one, but it had still fallen short. I didn’t want the Horsemen’s Kickstarter to meet the same fate so I was nervous. At the time, $60,000 seemed like an awful lot to have to raise. It would be unprecedented as far as action-figure-related Kickstarters went and no one had ever raised anywhere near that much before the Horsemen attempted it.
I shouldn’t have worried. The fans came through and the Kickstarter blasted through all of their stretch goals so fast that they had to add new ones. I was finally going to get a Quetzalcoatl! When the Kickstarter ended in August of 2012, the Horsemen had ended up raising an unprecedented $303,666 from 1510 different backers!
Then shortly after the Kickstarter was successfully funded there was another pleasant surprise when Eric Treadaway told me that their Quetzalcoatl figure would bear my name. This was a great, unexpected honor and incredibly gracious of the Horsemen. Since my nickname is “Iz” I figured they would call it “Q’izacoatl” or something, but Eric assured me that his name would be much more obviously related to mine and sure enough, when the Horsemen released a preview of the figure’s card, I discovered that his name was Iz-Ra-Mirrus. My nickname and my last name had been immortalized in plastic (as least phonetically) and Quetzalcoatl became even more special (at least in my eyes!)
One final worry remained though. Right before the figures finished production the Horsemen put them up for preorder on www.storehorsemen.com and I started to worry that the Horsemen might get stuck with a bunch of Iz-Ra-Mirruses that they couldn’t sell. I was sure that if they were left with a bunch of unsold Iz figures everywhere, they’d surely start cursing my name. Quetzalcoatl was a serpent after all and was quite different from all the other avian offerings and people generally seem to prefer birds to snakes. Luckily these fears were unfounded as well. Not only did the Iz-Ra-Mirrus figures sell out almost immediately, they sold out faster than any of the other Gothitropolis figures. Quetzalcoatl was a hit!
So a year and three months after the Kickstarter funded, you can see probably why I am so excited that the birds and my namesake have finally made it to New York. All indications and all of the photographs the Horsemen have shared with us along the way indicate that these figures are top notch in every way. They’ve been produced by the same factory that gave us the award-winning Scarabus figure, so plastic, paint applications, quality control and articulation should all be stellar. I can’t wait to get my hands on all of these guys!
And the other great thing about getting all the Gothitropolis group figures, is that now that they are at the port awaiting clearance by Customs, it clears the way for the Four Horsemen’s next epic new Kickstarter — Mythic Legions! The Horsemen vowed not to start their second Kickstarter until they delivered on their first, so folks like me have been waiting for the Mythic Legions line to debut since last February. If you loved the first Kickstarter make sure you check out the www.mythiclegions.com for information about the Four Horsemen’s next Kickstarter. It features Knights, Barbarians, Skeletons, Dwarves and Orcs and the Horsemen hope to launch it on Kickstarter sometime in January of 2015.