Bravestarr is a Filmation cartoon and toyline based on the concept of “a western in space” that premiered in 1987, predating Joss Whedon’s Firefly by 15 years. It was a short-lived series (it was, in fact, Filmation’s final series before closing their studio) with a small fan base compared to others of it’s era like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe or Transformers, despite it’s top-notch animation and storytelling. I personally think the series’s meager success was due to bad timing. Bravestarr came along “after my time”. I think that if it had been around earlier to tap into my generation’s steady diet of after-school cartoons, it would have found more success.
It was just a few months ago when I picked up the complete series of Bravestarr on DVD. I found it for sale for $10, and bought it out of pure curiosity; no nostalgia invested besides an appreciation for it’s fellow Filmation cartoons. I’m glad that I did. It was downright brilliant. The sarcastic banter between Marshall Bravestarr and 30-30, his “pardner” transforming cyborg mutant horse, was extremely well-written and actually funny. The moral of the story that became an end-of-episode staple for He-Man was kicked up a notch with lessons that were downright multi-faceted. They had topics that dealt with standing up for yourself and dealing with bullying that, quite honestly, every child should learn but would never be taught in today’s current political climate.
I have much more to say about that series, but I’ll save it for a future review. Let’s get down to today’s custom figure, Bravestarr’s main villain, Tex Hex!
Tex Hex is an alien zombie cowboy. (Really?) Really.
According to the commentary on the Bravestarr DVD, Tex Hex was originally conceived as a one-episode villain for Filmation’s Ghost Busters cartoon. (Not to be confused with The Real Ghostbusters cartoon. The rivalry between these two could fill a future blog all by itself.) The design department showed Filmation boss Lou Scheimer the design for Tex Hex, who was simply intended to be a ghost from the Old West, but it sparked an idea in Lou’s head. He knew this “Tex Hex” was meant for bigger things. He proceeded to spring an entire “western in space” concept from this character design.
As I started planning a Bravestarr collection of custom figures in my head, I intended from the very beginning that this set would be a part of the Masters of the Universe collection. Are they of a “shared universe”? Not officially, but some fans (like me) like to think so, and there has never been any reason not to… so there. One of the drawbacks to customizing with MOTUC figures is that they don’t really have much diversity in body types. The rivers of Eternia clearly flow with steroids. So while I wanted the Bravestarr figures to match and blend in with the MOTUC collection, I was having a hard time keeping them accurate and true to their original designs. Frankly, Tex Hex was a lanky dude, and I was having trouble finding a body to match him in the right scale. Then I remembered when DC Direct produced some Justice Society of America figures that were deeply unpopular amongst collectors because they were so oversized compared to DC Direct’s standard scale. We’re talking over a head taller than the average DC Direct figure, which managed to make them almost exactly the same size as the MOTUC figures. It was some serious synchronicity when I noticed that Tex Hex and the golden age Green Lantern (Alan Scott) were practically wearing the same outfit.
With a lot of carving, whittling, sanding and sculpting, I managed to conjure up an accurate Tex Hex body.
But what about the head? There was no such thing as a head sculpt that was going to be “close enough”. The best I could find was “New Adventures” Skeletor, but I was going to have to give him a layer of skin, a nose, some eyeballs, some hair, and a bad-ass handlebar mustasche.
Here is the complete, fully painted custom figure of Tex Hex, the first of my Bravestarr collection. I want to thank Evilmike for designing the 3D-printed Neutra Laser weapon, courtesy of Shapeways.