UK Artist’s Love of “Product Design From a Less Cynical Time” Results in Creation of Unique Art

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The “EYES” Have It— These stunning (life-sized) sculptures of a pair of VERY famous faces appear to have begun a “stare-off” at the home of UK artist, John Barton. Their amazing likenesses were hand-crafted and are now being sold to collectors around the world. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

Are you talking LOOKING at me?

Robert De Niro may have been talking to himself in the film, Taxi Driver, but you might be saying something similar to a familiar face—with repositionable eyes—mounted up on the wall of your “Man Cave” or “Joe Room” someday soon. Thanks to UK artist, John Barton, a pair of new 1:1 scale head sculptures (or “busts”) based on the heroic visage of Palitoy’s most famous fighting man are now available for purchase. We contacted Barton and he kindly provided the following intel:

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TJR: Absolutely amazing work, John. We LOVE your new toy-inspired busts!

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“I’ve invested a fair amount of time and effort on these so I’m really grateful to receive such positive feedback.” 

In addition to setting on a shelf or table, Barton's busts are designed to hang or mount up on the wall as shown above. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

Just hanging around— In addition to setting on a shelf or table, Barton’s art busts are designed to hang or mount up on the wall as shown above. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

TJR: Please tell us about your new “Man of Action” (MoA) sculptures. What initially prompted their creation? What were your inspirations?

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“I’ve always had a keen appreciation for good design and illustration, which is perhaps why I was so drawn to Action Man in the late ’70s and early ’80s. The packaging illustrations by David Barnacle are classics (is there a book available featuring his work?).

My inspirations come from multiple sources: a love of pop art, ephemera, product design from a less cynical time (’70s action figures weren’t ‘ripped’ on protein drinks), classic cinema posters (of which I am also a fan) and my own childhood.

This ultra close-up reveals the quality and craftsmanship of Barton's MoA busts. Just look at those eyes! (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

I SEE YOU— This ultra close-up reveals the quality and craftsmanship of one of Barton’s MoA busts. Just look at the paint-job and those amazing eyes. Outstanding! (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

TJR: Where else do you draw inspiration for your work?

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“Toy and model shops used to be full of outstanding packaging design. Tamiya produced beautiful product illustrations and graphic design, Airfix box paintings were action-packed (now sadly retouched and sanitized) and of course, Action Man’s boxes. They’ve always set the tone for ADVENTURE!”

YES! The eyes are poseable! You can make your MoA look in any direction. AMAZING. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

YES! The eyes are poseable! MoA can look in any direction. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

TJR: How did your work and interest in 1:6 scale action figures come together?

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“I’m a graphic designer. I’ve always loved creating things in three dimensions (as well), so the creation of my ‘Man of Action’ sculptures was bound to happen one day. I’m now what I’d call a ‘professional creative.’ I still turn my hand to graphic design and photography, but my real passion is for art.”

Left, Right or Straight Ahead— The choice is YOURS. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.l

Look Left, Right or Straight Ahead— The choice is YOURS. (Photo: John Barton) Click to enlarge.

TJR: What else should potential buyers know about your MoA sculptures?

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“Each is handmade to order and is intended for display, NOT play. Many hours go into the creation of each piece and no two are the same. It was really important to me that the eyes were positionable. It would have been so much easier to create the mould and castings without eye sockets, and have static eyes, but I’m stubborn and I refused to compromise on this.

The eyes are independently positionable from inside the head allowing each MoA to stare intently in any direction you wish. My initial thought was to engineer an inner ‘eagle eye’ mechanism, and for a one-off this would be fine, but it’s just not replicable in numbers at a sensible cost.

As each piece is made-to-order, every customer is kept fully informed of progress with emails and photos. I may even create other versions and special editions in time. I hold out the vain hope that as a handmade, numbered piece, my MoAs will one day become collectibles in their own rights.”

Your Barton Bust will instantly become the focal point of any room. (Photo: John Barton)

Your “Barton Bust” will instantly become the focal point of any room. (Photo: John Barton)

TJR: What kind of response have you been getting from AM collectors so far?

“I only posted the MoA to a couple of forums for the first time yesterday and I’m really humbled with the positive reception received so far from aficionados. Thank you ALL for your enthusiasm and support!”

Bottom Line: Our sincerest thanks go out to John Barton for his assistance with this article and our best wishes to him in all of his future endeavours. We know quality work when we see it, and these new busts of his are top-notch—all the way.

Who knows how long he’ll be creating them? For that reason alone, we highly recommend you contact Barton SOON if you’re interested in adding one (or more) to your collection. For complete information on cost, shipping and options, visit his website HERE. These handsome lads would make stunning gifts for any fan who believes that he (or she) already owns “one of everything.” Talk about your “limited-editions.” This is it!

Artist John Barton poses with two of latest creations. Absolutely superb work! (Photo: John Barton)

Artist John Barton poses with two of his creations. Absolutely superb work! (Photo: John Barton)

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3 thoughts on “UK Artist’s Love of “Product Design From a Less Cynical Time” Results in Creation of Unique Art

  1. Nice work and article. I’m glad the artist didn’t compromise on the eyes. I guess the potential is also there to make a flocked-hair version, though I’m sure the costs would surely rocket.

    I grew up with Palitoy AM figures and agree with the sentiments in the interview. One of the things I love about late ’60s, ’70s and ’80s toys is not just the toys, but the packaging and artwork that came with them.

    The AM line is very true to this. I think the same can be said for many of the toy ads.Please take a look at my French Action Man ads: Group Action Joe: http://thevintagetoyadvertiser.org/category/action-joe-2/

  2. kneonknight says:

    These are definitely unusual and quite interesting. I’m hoping Mr. Barton will someday do a version with the longer sideburns as was found on some of the Footballer figures, as well as bearded versions. Also, if you happen to read this, Mr. Barton, you might want to post some photos and details over at The Trenches. Here’s a link if you wish to do so:

    http://www.thetrenchesforum.com/forumdisplay.php?4-The-TRENCHES-Community

    I am looking forward to seeing more of these in the months and years to come.

  3. These are very cool, but the price will put most off. $600 or so before shipping. I’d need real flock for that kinda price!

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