Mars-1 is a science fiction based figure created by San Francisco based artist Mario Martinez (who also is called Mars-1). This vinyl piece is his first jump into the toy world and it's making quite a splash. Its design, a marriage of organics and robotics, is based on an early painting by the artist and caused quite a buzz at last year's Toy Fair. Personally, it was my "pick of the show", and I was very excited when I got my hands on it this past month (birthdays rock!).
The design of this toy is exquisite. The sphere shaped body is broken by the arms, legs, and back fins which stops the eye from moving around in circles and directs it out and in to the composition. Also, attention to detail is evident in the way the yellow gaskets flow from head, to elbow, to ankle; again directing the eye across the piece. Clearly this is made by an artist who thought out the design with artistsí sensibilities. Okay, enough artsy-fartsy talk.
This vinyl has six points of articulation: shoulders, elbows, and the legs twist in weird directions. Like most vinyl, that's not a lot but enough to get some great poses for display. The sculpt is solid with raised levels giving the impression of seams in the suit. There are also divots and gaskets cut in. The hands and arms are sculpted to look almost gaunt in their appearance (Has he been in this suit for long?). Finally, around the face and arms are black bumpy areas giving the impression of a cushion around the soft flesh. The paint is applied by hand in such a way to give him a weathered look. It's what Lucas called "the used future". This means he looks a little worn, like he's been around the stratosphere a few times, but he's so out there he can't be from our time. He has mud splattered on his legs, and little scratches and marks on his body. There's also shading added to the arms, hands, and face. And what a face! With the lack of mouth and eyes (theres sockets but no eyes) Mars-1 looks cold and calculating. Also, painted on the body are designs, logos, and a serial number. The logos are from the companies who helped produce the figure: Strangeco (lightning bolts on back) and Recon (barbed wire on front). The designs on the sides are interesting swirls. I don't know if there is significance to them or not. The serial number on the back gives the impression that there were 73,839 of these made, but I know there were only 400. So the number must be there to add fuel to the fire of your imagination making this not just a toy, but an actual creature.
And that's idea behind Mars-1: an open ended one where we fill in the blanks. The figure has science fiction roots for sure, but that's all we get. We don't know what planet he's from, what his mission is, if he is one of many, or anything. This allows the viewer, or owner to create their own story to go with the figure. Mine goes like this: Mars-1 is a man, or used to be one. He was a brilliant scientist who designed a containment suit for exploration of planets and moons. The suit was almost intuitive as to what the wearer needed, symbiotic if you will. Many doubted the scientistís plans and scoffed at the idea of a single manned space exploration. Shunned by his peers, he was forced to create and test the suit himself. Sadly on his maiden voyage, during entry into Mars' atmosphere, the suit became permanently bonded to the scientist. Saddened and ashamed, he is never to return home and instead continues his unending search for scientific discoveries, which he stores in his suit: never to be read by another person. I know, tragic. But you get the idea. Anyone who has an appreciation for science (fiction or otherwise) would enjoy this figure because Mars-1 would speak differently to everyone.
This version is the original green (400 pulls), but there is also a blue variant (200 pulls), and the Artist Special Edition in gray (only 100 pulls). Personally, I appreciate the limited runs of the blue and gray, but the green has a better feel to me and is my favorite.
Being a lover of science fiction, urban vinyl, and using my imagination; this figure is one of my favorites, and I recommend checking it out before it's gone.
Mars-1 has his own web site. Check it out: www.mars-1.com Strangeco always has something interesting cooking.
You can pick up this green version or the blue variant at kidrobot. Ningyoushi carries this and other designer toys too.
The figure itself is produced by Strangeco, in conjunction with street wear label Recon and HK toy brand Three Zero.