9/1/10

Naruto Shippuden Custom: Minifig Head Selection

Naruto Eyes
Although I'll be focused on the Shippuden variation of Naruto, there are many different looks the character takes on in the manga and anime series. One recurring theme in the story focuses on the eyes and the power signified by them. Naruto himself has times when his eyes change based on which state he's in - nine-tails stage, sage mode, or just plain Naruto. Because of this I may want to consider a style of minifig eye that can be used to express the different states. The Exo-Force eyes come immediately to mind, but may not be the only solution.

Another design choice to be made is whether the figure will be best expressed as a 'fleshie' or in the classic yellow hue. I've heard many prefer the classic yellow, not only for its nostalgic tie to the LEGO brand, but also because the yellow heads have a broader range of emotion in the facial expressions. Although I would prefer to have a wider emotional range, this may be a challenge to effectively pair blond hair with the yellow skin tone (although the Collectible Minifigure series shows it can be done).

One goal I have as part of this entire process is to explore multiple avenues to see what types of effects work 'best' for a given design. Right here we have several considerations just for the head alone:
  • Fleshie or Classic Yellow
  • Hair Type
  • Bandanna
  • Facial Expressions
If we choose a pre-existing flesh head to modify, then our emotional range is reduced; however, we could decal over a flesh head using any expression we want. If we go with Exo-Force heads, we have the larger eyes, but still a limited emotional range (again we could always decal a unique design with Exo-Force style eyes as an alternative).

I've compiled a series of minifigure heads that I feel best express the character of Naruto. These pictures are taken from the BrickLink Catalog.
You can easily peruse the catalog by going here and choosing 'parts' for the item type field and 'minifig, head' for the category field. I find that setting the view to 'thumbnail gallery' helps when browsing.

I continue to be drawn to the Exo-Force heads, so that's the direction I'll head for now.

Now that I have a head type in mind, I'll want to create a 'wanted list' in BrickLink to help me identify a store that might have a wide variety of Exo-Force heads in the quantities I'll need. To do this I'll follow the same steps in the catalog as before, but this time I'll only look at the parts released in 2006 (year Exo-Force was released). Clicking on part 3626bpb254 (Ryo), I now have the option to add this piece to my wanted list.

Now, to make life easier you are going to want to create a project specific wanted list and not just add these parts to a generic set. This is accomplished by clicking on the radio button that says 'New Wanted List'. Give the list a name and proceed.

You can then add other project specific parts to this wanted list. In my case I'll add a selection of other Exo-Force heads. Once you've added the items of interest to this project specific wanted list, go back to the 'My Wanted List' tab and change the drop down box from '-All My Wanted Lists-' to 'My [Name] Wanted List' and clicking 'Go!'. This will take you to a listing of all items in your list for this project. Clicking a product type category will show you all of the stores that carry said products, their quantities, and prices. You'll have to compare across this list, but given that the number of stores here is limited, it shouldn't be too difficult.

I'm going to hold off on this for now, as I'll likely have other minifig parts to buy before I'm done. In the meantime, I do have an Exo-Force head in my personal collection that I can play with in the interim. Here you can see although I only have a partial torso and leg assembly, the head fits the concept quite nicely. Before I put some money against these items; however, I'll need to further explore other design elements. Namely, the hair and bandanna.

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