PLR EXCLUSIVE: Wayne Barlowe Interviewed About His Art, Toys & Creating The Power Lords


PowerLordsReturns Asks: What are your favorite Power Lords characters and why? Feel free to elaborate on the aesthetics and design of any specific figures you care to comment on.

Wayne Barlowe: Well, I like Sydot, Raygoth and Arkus. The vehicle/creature Trigore is also up there. I was a little disappointed in Raygoth’s chest – I’d have preferred that there be a clear panel or the like covering that nasty bit of reflective material but I guess budget didn’t allow. Trigore was pure me – all organic and rather unconventional. He or it is probably the most creative of the lot.

PLR: Power Lords has been described by many as “ground-breaking” and “ahead of its time.” One figure (Arkus) had nineteen points of articulation at a time when many popular figures like the iconic Masters of the Universe action figure line had only six. Who do we credit for these innovations?

WB: I think we have to give credit to pretty much everyone but me! While I’m sure we had discussion about articulation, I’m equally sure I was not making those decisions. It was most likely a combined effort between Ned and Len, the sculptor and Revell.

PLR: Did you have any input into the Power Lords comic book series by DC Comics, the video games or the board games? If so, what sort of input?

WB: None, Zip. Nada. I was as surprised as the next person when they came out.

PLR: Do you remember who it was that came up with the basic concept and the name for Power Lords?

WB: The umbrella concept and name came from Ned and Len, I believe.

PLR: One of the more unusual aspects of Power Lords are the freaky-looking, living vehicles. Did you have a hand in the design for those, and if so can you elaborate on some of the inspirations for those designs?

WB: Those were all me. I wanted to see vehicles unlike any I’d seen on the market before. So, I went very organic, even with the weird chariots. I was all about making the exoskeletal one very much like a trilobite, as I love ancient animals. My designs went through pretty much unchanged right down to the seats and instruments and antenna-like steering wheel. Ditto for Trigore.

PLR: It seems like Revell spared no expense putting these toys out and promoting them. Do you know if there were other Power Lords projects planned that never came to fruition?

WB: Revell did a lot to put the toys front and center in the minds of kids. I think we had talked about TV shows – not live action, animated. But it was not to be. Other than that, we just wanted to keep expanding the line.

PLR: Have you had any interesting or exciting Power Lords-related experiences over the past 30 years that you’d like to share?

WB: Other than the occasional person (and director) telling me they played with my toys when they were kids, not really. Of course those kinds of comments make me feel like I’m a 1000 years old but I was pretty young when I created the designs so I get over it pretty quickly.

PLR: How does it feel to know that many artists around the world were influenced by your creation as children, including members of Four Horsemen Toy Design Studios, and what is it like to know that Four Horsemen Toy Designs Studios are bringing them back to life after all these years?

WB: I am ALWAYS flattered and happy to hear that anything I’ve done as an artist has positively influenced someone. The work I do, sitting in my studio, all seems so abstract most of the time and so when I do hear about concrete evidence of being an influence it truly validates spending so much time hard at work. As for the Four Horsemen Toy Design Studios bring them back after 30 years I am truly delighted. It is a wonderful surprise. I’m already fantasizing about putting them on my drawing table!

PLR: You’ve mentioned that you did quite a bit of line-related work that has never seen the light of day, including a third series of figures that never got released. Do you have any unseen or lost art that you can share?

WB: I did find a really awful logo painting I did way back when for the line. I can probably be coerced into letting you and anybody with a strong stomach into seeing it. As for the third wave, I’ll have to go back into my flat file and see what I can churn up…

PLR: You’re a toy-collector as well as an artist. Can you talk about some of your favorite toys, past and present, and what it is about those toys that captures your imagination?

WB: I do collect toys and have a number of 1/6th scale figures, mostly movie figures and some spec ops guys. Nowadays I pretty much focus on Hot Toys figures. Incredible quality sculpting and the subject matter appeals to me. I do a lot of film work and having some of the better characters from film in my studio serves as fun inspiration. I also like some of the older toys and have all of the Zeroids, which were a particular favorite of mine as a child. As was Major Matt Mason, but I don’t have much of that line. I craved the Outer Space Men by Colorforms but apparently my hints to my parents were not obvious enough. I never actually got any. Until, that is, with huge thanks, the Four Horsemen brought them vividly and brilliantly back to life. 1968 was, in my opinion, a high-water mark for toys. I was ten. And I still remember things that came out around then that seemed so perfect and creative. Safety issues were less a concern then so you had Creepy Crawlers and Vac-U-Form and other delightfully incendiary toys. All terrific!!

PLR: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

WB: Seems like you guys pretty much covered it all and taxed my memory to the limits. Thanks for the fun interview!!.

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