Get to Know: Toy and Action Figure Designer Anthony Watts

Anthony Watts is a ZBrush artist, graphic designer and lots more with Happy Worker Toys & Collectibles. Today he shares with us some of his inspirations, art work and some insights in toy and action figure design.

What led you to product design?

I have always been fascinated by toys and collectibles, especially action figures and miniatures, but I didn’t start my career until much later in life. I spent most of my career as a digital designer but I only started working as a professional in the collectibles industry about six years ago when I joined Happy Worker Toys & Collectibles.

What are some inspirations?

I am very much inspired by stuff I was into as a kid; Dungeons & Dragons, Masters of the Universe, Heavy Metal Magazine, Star Wars, Judge Dredd and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics, 80s/90s fantasy miniatures, and artists like Frank Frazetta and John Blanche.

What mediums do you work with?

I am mainly a ZBrush artist. I am also an avid figure and miniature painter – I started painting miniatures when I was about 12 years old. Other than that, I do a lot of graphic design work and have done quite a bit of packaging for toys and collectibles.

What was the first/favorite piece you ever designed and for who?

The first piece I got to sculpt professionally with Happy Worker was a vinyl figure of a character called Spearton from a mobile video game called Stick War: Legacy. It was a simple project but I learned a ton during the process. My favourite project was the Hereditary Gingerbread Treehouse Kit for A24 Films. I sculpted the pan used to bake the gingerbread pieces so you could make your very own treehouse scene from the film.

What goes into a good design?

Most people would start with 2D sketching, but I am not really great at drawing. First I will gather a ton of references and inspiration, then start sculpting by roughly blocking in shapes in ZBrush and getting a silhouette together that I can move around and look at from different angles.

During the rest of the process I will usually 3D print the model and check that details are reading well etc. It probably takes a bit longer than working from turnarounds but I enjoy finding my way to the final result.

What do you love about your craft?

I really love working on a model and having a physical object you can hold in your hand at the end. It is a really satisfying feeling – something I never felt working on website design for example. I also really love seeing the reaction from fans on things that I worked on.

Are you a collector or were you growing up?

I was crazy for Masters of the Universe as a kid. I was the perfect age when it came out and collected as much as I could for a long time. I was also really into the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons action figures from LJN Toys. I don’t have any from way back then but I have started to collect them again. My prized possession is a wingless Tiamat which is probably one of my favourite childhood toys (and I am still on the hunt for the wings).

Is there anything you’d love to design that you haven’t yet?

I have done some concepts for vinyls and action figures and I am working on doing some physical art toys based on them. I’ve dabbled in sculpting miniatures and statues but I always seem to come back to action figures.

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Dean Haiden
Dean Haiden
24 days ago

Your story is very inspirational. I am going to share with my 19 year old son who loves to draw and use his digital drawing pad. Any advice for my son and opportunities in this arena of collectibles and artistry? He collects Funko Pops and loves the WWE and Anime.

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