Perseus & Pegasus
Long before “CG” became virtually synonymous with special effects, film makers used a number of tricks and effects to create elements not possible to bring to life on camera. Men in large lizard suits attacked miniature towns, large mechanical ants crawled from the desert and stop motion monkeys scaled the Empire State Building.
The undisputed king of stop motion is Ray Harryhausen. Building on the shoulders of industry inovators, Ray developed a style and look for fantasy creatures that is how most people remember fantasy films from the 60′s. His films tended to revolve around classic mythology. For me, his best work is the Skeleton battle in “Jason and the Argonauts.”
Sadly, some of his last Stop Motion work was on the 80′s film “Clash of the Titans.” With Industrial Light and Magic leading the way, the next generation of movie special effects pioneers was on it’s way. One of Harryhausen’s biggest fans, Phil Tippett, would help bridge the gap between the traditional stop motion animator and the CGI one. Without this old school knowledge, “Jurassic Park” would have never had the WOW factor that it did.
At the time of “Clash of the Titans” release, Mattel released a limited line of action figures and accessories based on the film. One of these items was a boxed set of Perseus and Pegasus. (For more on this line, including unreleased items, check out Plaid Stallions Clash of the Titans page.)
Perseus was played by Harry Hamlin before he played a washed up actor on “Veronica Mars,” or even a determined attorney on “LA Law.” Clad in not much more than a short toga, there wasn’t a lot of costuming here.
Of course, this figure does do a pretty decent job of capturing Hamlin’s trade mark tresses. At the time, long hair was in and that can be seen in this film. Considering the time period he hails from, the head sculpt on this figure does a decent job of capturing Hamlin’s jaw line and determined brow.
Much like Mattel’s Battlestar Galactica line, Perseus shared common legs and arms with the other human in the line, Thallo. These are pretty generic with light detail on the wrist cuffs and boots.
In general, the figure is pretty much what you would expect to find in the early eighties for a 3 3/4″ figure. Five points of articulation with a fairly low detail sculpt in a neutral pose.
These figure all came with one common accessory, a sword. The sword is cast in a metallic fleck gold tone to the realism. That’s about where it ends. The sword doesn’t really seem very similar to the one in the film to me. Also the blunt end makes it look fairly non-threating. Kind of like a Nerf sword or kindergarten scissors.
Perseus and Thallo each came with shields, as well. There is an eagle on the front and two clips on the back. These clips would attach to the figures arm, or like I have Perseus in the top picture, around their neck. He had his shield slung over his back in part of the film, so this seemed natural to me as a kid, as I recall.
The main accessory for this Perseus was of course his horse, Pegasus. The mythological winged horse that helps Perseus in his quest is brought to life in plastic here.
Unlike a number of the other horses I have in this scale from around the same time frame, this one is completely unarticulated. The wings are made from a rubbery material and will bend, but that’s bout it.
The horse does seem to be well sculpted, however. I almost wonder if somebody sculpted a horse in art class and drug it out to be resurrected as Pegasus. Our hero fits well enough on his back, but you can almost tell that neither piece was really made to consider the other. Perseus looks okay on Peggy’s back, but not perfect.
The wings pop out, but your horse would have large square holes in the side of it. Speaking of looks, my Pegasus has yellowing showing where the halves were glued together. It’s not a huge deal, and I’m not really surprised by a nearly 30 year old figure.
In general, I never remember Clash of the Titans figures being a huge hit. I was the only kid I remember that even had any. Of course, I was also the nerdy kid that checked out mythology books while still in grade school. And I think that is why this line and film captured my imagination.
I’ve been fascinated by special effects since “Star Wars” came out, and this film was a big screen epic that had moving mythological creatures that were like nothing else I’d seen. To Ray Harryhausen, thanks!
The figures, like the film, fit a small niche in the collector’s world. Today, it’s nice to look back a reminder of a film that was the quiet end of the stop-motion era.