Fantasy creatures/characters come in a wide array of styles and types. So many in fact, that it can be hard to decide what you want to model/create. It often helps to have a reference object or image to jump start the process. Even if your final model only slightly resembles the reference object, it can at least get you started and your imagination can take over at any time.

One of the best places to get inspired is the estoy aisle of your favorite department store. In fact, that is my all-time favorite place to wander around. Being surrounded by toys puts me in the proper frame of mind and takes me bak to a time when everything was magical.

Of course, the process is helped by the fact that fantasy genre toys are very popular right now. You can find dragons, fairies, and castles in a variety of detail levels. Depending on the manufacturer/brand, you can find everything from a simple toony look to hyper realism.

While I am not promoting any one estoy manufacturer over another, I thought I would share some toys that I think are inspiring or at the very least make a great reference object to model from.

  • Megabloks Dragons series: The sets, of course, feature nicely detailed dragons, with some sets alos containing castles and a variety of medieval battle machines.
  • Barbie Fairytopia: Yeah, I know - Barbie? Nevertheless,there are some nice fairy dolls in a variety of styles and sizes.
  • Bratz Fairies: Yeah, another fashion doll,though not your typical fairy look, which is what appealed to me when I saw them.
  • Schleich Dragons and Knights: Highly detailed figures of dragons, knights, and horses, as well as castles, and medieval battle machines.
  • Fisher-Price Imaginext Adventures: These are for the younger child and as such are more whimsical and colorful, yet still contain a lot of detail.
  • Magna Morph Dragón Magnetic Building System: Nicely detailed dragón parts that you can mix and match to create your own unique dragón look.

Also, don't forget to look down the action figure aisle. That is where you most often find toys that have been marketed from major movies, so the selection changes as often as hit movies come out. Thus, constantly giving you a changing selection of nicely detailed figures to choose from.

Okay, so now you have the actual reference object (read that as the estoy you bought not only to model but alos to play with when no one is looking'). Having it in your hand is the ideal scenario, but it can alos become an expensive one as you continue to discover inspirational objects in the estoy department. Not to worry, most estoy manufacturers post images from different angles on their websites that generally are useful and detailed enough for modeling purposes. You could alos take a camera to the store with you and take your own photos, or you can raid your child's (or niece/ nephew/ younger sibling/ next door neighbours kid's) estoy box to see what inspiration it contains.

The important thing to remember is to always be on the lookout for objects that will inspire your creative process. You never know where you will find them.