Fans of action figure artist Charlee E. Flatt originally created this site to showcase Charlee’s phenomenal achievements. We felt there should be a place where people can learn about the artist and his art, and where fans, collectors and admirers could meet one another to share our mutual awe, inspiration and desire.
As a youngster in the 1970’s, Charlee Flatt enjoyed playing with the wonderful, poseable 8-inch action figures made by the Mego Corporation. But, he was dissatisfied with the number of characters they produced. He wanted more, and they simply weren’t available. What did he do about it? Although he was just a kid, Charlee began to make his own action figures (ref. Tomart #33).
Captivated by comic book super heroes, Charlee began crafting new characters by simply modifying existing toys. He’d take the head from one action figure, add the costume from another, and complete it with boots and accessories from yet another. In no time, he was cobbling together his own humble representations of characters he could not find in stores.
Clearly, he was on to something.
Motivated to continue and to improve, young Charlee developed a style all his own. Over time, he pioneered new methods of creating parts and accessories, enabling him to make virtually any character he could imagine. Charlee sculpted his own heads, painting them with unbelievable patience. He crafted his own costumes, sewing vibrantly colored fabrics into meticulous outfits of his own design. As his art matured, the creative Mr. Flatt incorporated more and more original components, wrought from a variety of materials, into his work.
What began as a hobby pursued purely for his own enjoyment had become an obsession. As an adult, Charlee improved in every category as he strove for perfection in his action figure creations. He sought to capture the essence of each character. Before long, Charlee found himself not just sculpting new heads from scratch, but actually creating new body components as well, so each figure would represent a given character with as much physical accuracy as possible.
Using plastics and resins, Charlee created broader chests and shorter legs, new hands and more muscular arms, and much more. Rather than putting a goofy grin on every face like Mego once did, Charlee sculpted expressions of fierce action and intense emotion. Using a host of complex techniques, Charlee applied multiple colors of various paint in layers designed to evoke a natural, lifelike appearance. No longer satisfied with fabric and plastic alone, Mr. Flatt added details honed from wood, cast from metal, and detailed with leather, spandex and more. He didn’t know it at the time, but Charlee Flatt was breaking ground in what is now respected as an entirely new medium of three dimensional art: Original poseable character figures.
Charlee Flatt’s original works are now the envy of many a character fan. Crafted by the artist’s hands one at a time, these masterpieces are a very rare commodity. These are not mass produced toys. Flatt originals are not stamped out by a factory. These items have never been available in stores. In fact, most of Charlee’s works were made either for himself, or as a rare gift to a friend, or a fellow fan or collector. A modest few were traded away for one thing or another, and those are the figures most likely to change hands today.
With a multitude of toy collectors and character fans hot to own what many consider “the ultimate” poseable representation of a given character, Charlee Flatt original works now command big money – if you can find one.
Since each figure is an original work, few characters were translated into figure form more than a handful of times. Many characters were crafted just one single time – often solely because of the challenge it represented to the artist.
Because he is so “in tune” with the nuances of comic book art and interpretation, Charlee occasionally developed more than one version of a character. At times, he reached back to pay homage to an early look that a character may have long-since abandoned. Sometimes he sought to illustrate a character’s unique appearance in a specific adventure, or the character as depicted by a particularly innovative artist. Occasionally, Charlee wanted to capture an interesting, specialized costume, or the appearance of a character in a medium other than comics. Once in a while, Charlee was inspired to create a figure of a character with no basis in comic books at all.
Charlee Flatt’s motivation comes from many different sources. We, his fans, can only gape in amazement at his achievements, and reach deep in our pockets to try to add some of his thrilling artwork our own private collections.
Here, we seek to document and catalog Charlee Flatt’s work. We created a place where collectors can proudly list the pieces they own, to the envy of the rest of us. Most of all, we are pleased to offer a Charlee Flatt Photo Gallery where we display as many detailed images of this amazing man’s unique art as we can assemble.
We know Charlee’s work inspires legions of action figure customizers who are busily crafting their own figures. We say, “Look here, for your inspiration!”
Written by Calvin Weaver.