These little guys took between 40 minutes and 2 hours each, totalling around 50 hours of work.
I like action figures. I have a small collection of them. I’ve noticed that you can buy Albert Einstein figures, Nikola Tesla bobble-heads and The Simpsons even brought out a Stephen Hawking figure based on his appearance in an episode. However, I thought it’d be really cool if there was an entire series of them, based on all of the people who’ve contributed to our understanding of the world and the universe it sits in.
The figures are all based on Star Trek: TNG and Star Trek: DS9 figures (primarily Odo from DS9, and Picard as Dixon Hill from TNG), and have been heavily modified in Photoshop using Liquify and a great deal of digital painting. Unfortunately, the figures aren’t real. I wish they were.
I realise there are a *lot* of scientists that I’ve missed! I did make a few rules for who I’d include in this selection, which are:
the scientist must have been alive at some point in the 20th century. This is a practical consideration, as it really narrows the field down, and it eliminates a lot of the more outrageously-dressed characters, allowing me to work with mostly dudes in suits. No scientists famous for major medical breakthroughs. Primarily because medical heroes is a category all of its own, and there are hundreds to choose from. I’ve included Alexander Fleming here, because he was primarily a chemist, and because his discovery of penicillin was not a discovery made in the course of trying to cure something.
A few notes on specific figures:
Einstein: Probably one of the less perfect faces, but I think it captures the spirit of Albert quite effectively!
Schrodinger: This is the third version I’ve made of Erwin. He was troublesome, because it’s really difficult to nail his usually morose expression, yet colourful clothing choices.
Oppenheimer: Seriously cool lookin’ dude, by the by.
Stephen Hawking: I’ve tried, wherever possible, to represent these people in a positive way, and in their most recognisable appearances. Hawking took a lot of effort, because I wanted to make sure he was recognisable, but drawn with respect. His wheelchair is made largely of Mega Bloks parts, with a few Star Trek: TNG accessories. (The headrest is a tricorder or two.)
Benoît Mandelbrot: Couldn’t resist the temptation to put an image of the Mandelbrot set on Benoît’s tie. See also: Roger Penrose.
Paul Erdős: If there’s one person from this image you go and look up, make it Paul. He was one of the most prolific mathematicians of all time, and famous for his bizarre personality. He also invented the self-titled Erdős Number (head to Wikipedia), a number assigned to his co-authors, and their co-authors, denoting their connection to Erdős himself. Combined with Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, the concept has now been extended to allow people to have an Erdős-Bacon number, provided they’ve co-authored a paper with one of Erdős’s collaborators *and* performed on film with a co-star (or co-star of a co-star) of Kevin Bacon!
Roger Penrose: I’m sure Sir Roger doesn’t wear ties with Penrose Tiling on them, but I couldn’t resist.
Carl Sagan: One of the first figures I created (along with Michio Kaku), showing how the style changed and evolved over the various scientists.
Dmitri Mendeleev: BEARD.
Hans Bethe: HAIR.
Richard Dawkins: I’m really happy with how the sweater turned out.
Jacques-Yves Cousteau: Probably the only one on here that doesn’t really fit, as he’s more of an explorer and conservationalist than a scientist, but hey. I had plans to include Bob Ballard alongside him to make the oceanographers into more of a “set”, but I ran out of time. Maybe in the next one.
Nikola Tesla: It’s Nikola Goddamn Tesla!
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Why did you create this? A bunch of reasons. For fun. Because I started it and couldn't stop. Because I love action figures and have a collection of them. Because I love science and have a huge respect for the people I've represented here (and many, many others). Because an image like this will hopefully encourage people to explore the achievements of these awesome people and learn more about how the world and universe works.
Why is there only one woman? This is clearly a subject of some controversy. There are a bunch of reasons/excuses, not the least of which is that I honestly didn't think too hard about it, because I was flat-out manufacturing images of little scientists with no logical pattern to how I chose them. However: 1. Because Madame Curie was extremely difficult, and I'm not at all satisfied with the end result, so I wasn't confident attempting another. 2. I'll admit, once I had the man-in-a-suit template down, I was fairly eager to keep using it. 3. Because, statistically, they're in the minority. I'm not suggesting by any degree that their work is lesser, or that they shouldn't be recognised for their accomplishments, but when you punch up a list of "most recognisable scientists", "most famous scientists", etc, which is basically how I chose most of these (with the exception of a few personal favourites), there just aren't many women. Just to point out: I only have one African-American scientist, one Indian scientist, one Hungarian mathematician. For the record, Mae Jemison was on my list, as was Florence Nightingale and Valentina Tereshkova. I have a LONG list. If I make a second one of these, you can count on them being there. Unfortunately for this collection, there are only so many hours I can spend drawing little people.
How did you choose them? Pretty much at random. I picked a bunch that were instantly recognisable. I picked a few that weren't. I picked a few personal favourites. I picked a few that just had really interesting appearances, as an artistic challenge. It was very much a names-out-of-a-hat approach, based on a really long list of people. I've read a lot of suggestions for people I've missed in the comments, and almost every one was on the list -- I would have loved to have made more. I've been accused of having too much time on my hands, but unfortunately it's just not true.
Poster? Actual figures? I'm afraid not. This image is fan art, and like all fan art, I have no right or intention to make any money from it, this means I will not be creating posters, and I will not be pursuing any crowdfunded campaigns to make these figures into a reality. This image was created a) for fun, and b) to raise awareness of these awesome people and of science in general. While I have no doubt that many people are considering claiming this idea as their own and creating these figures as a product based on the buzz this has generated, I'd like to re-iterate that I have zero intention of making money from this concept.
The names and images of the people in this graphic are the property (and in many cases trademarks) of the individuals or the estates that represent them. The original action figures were designed by Playmates Toys. This image was not endorsed by any of the individuals or estates of individuals depicted, nor Playmates Toys. This image is intended strictly for educational and entertainment purposes.
Where's Darwin? Galileo? Ada Lovelace? Aristotle? Archimedes? Copernicus? Unfortunately, these people weren't alive during the 20th century. I had to draw the line somewhere, and the 20th century was it. This was motivated partly by the fact that a lot of the figures would have similar attire, which made the job more manageable, and partly because I began the project pretty aimlessly by creating a bunch of people who were coincidentally alive during the 20th century, so it ended up being a convenient rule to follow.
Where's Bill Nye? Bill was on my list of people to create figures of. I didn't get around to it. I had intended this "collection" to have 50 figures in it, but I had other commitments, ran out of time, and put it together with only 30. Bill Nye is awesome, and he'll be included if there's ever a Volume II.
Where's my favourite scientist? Why haven't you represented X field of science? There're only 30 scientists here. There are millions throughout history. If I make another one of these, there'll still be people I leave out. Sorry.
Image updated, 26 November, 2012: Fixed incorrect birth year for Stephen Hawking. Added drop shadow beneath text for Subrahmanyan Chandresekhar, as his description was difficult to read. Also fixed spelling in his name (so sorry!). Added "20th Century" to the title.
Why is Dawkins on the list? His greatest contribution is popularisation of science, but he didn't really do anything revolutionary. I do not see Pavlov, I do not see Milutin Milankovic, I do not see Louis Pasteur, I do not see Newton (how on earth did you manage to make scientists action figures and miss Newton? O.o )
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`anmari has been spreading her infectious positivity throughout our community for over 6 years. Throughout this time Ana has been at the core of all things devious, passionately developing an eclectic gallery, helping organise devmeets, participating in chat events and also recently completed dedicating her time as a Community Volunteer. We are absolutely delighted to bestow the Deviousness Award for May 2013 to `anmari, congratulations! Read More