Immediately identifiable by his psychedelic color palette applied to original designs steeped in nostalgic influences, Dave Harrigan is most well-known for his illustration and design work, though he has applied his aesthetic to an action figure-inspired art toy oeuvre, the newest addition to which is Dr. Cynder (2017). And not only is Dr. Cynder the debut piece in the Skull Buddies series from Harrigan’s Scarecrowoven alias, but it also furthers the artist’s world that his Yugla the Glorg inhabits. In fact, in reference to his non-client-based works, Harrigan admits that “pretty much everything I do is in the Glorgoverse”.

A Brief History of Scarecrowoven’s Yugla the Glorg

The assymmetrical, multi-eyed face of Yugla the Glorg made its public, sculptural debut as a hand-painted, non-wearable resin mask at Stranger Factory‘s Bewitching III exhibition in October of 2013, but it would be the following year before several action figure renditions granted insight into the creature’s full alien appearance. With a consistently menacing look to these mysterious entities, they were presented in several non-articulating variations, not just differing in coloration and attire but even the number of their limbs. All cast in resin, hand-painted, and personally assembled by Harrigan, the most notable versions, all of which were realized in 2014, were the Yugla the Mystical Glorg, Yugla the Warrior Glorg, and Yugla the Furious Glorg editions.
“I think if I look at my career at 2014 and now,” Harrigan admits that “it’s easy for me to see what a different kind of artist I was then and am now”, referring specifically to his shift since then of “focusing on a lot of client work in both toys and illustration”. And it is this career trajectory that has resulted in Harrigan’s designer toy art movement contributions becoming more infrequent, and his “Glorgoverse” remaining mainly unexpanded upon. That is, until the creation of Dr. Cynder.

Dr. Cynder debuts as Dr. Snyder

But before Dr. Cynder could properly debut, a prototypical form titled Dr. Snyder would appear in December of 2016 at two exhibitions in one-of-a-kind renditions, specifically at Clutter Magazine Gallery’s Gift Wrapped and MF Gallery’s 2016 MF Toys Show.

Featuring Gill-man inspired arms and legs on Dr. Snyder, Harrigan believes that “it goes without saying this one has a firm base in the world of MOTU”, or Masters of the Universe, in the “overall form of the figure”. And this MOTU-based body topped with a horned skull head would remain for the Dr. Cynder evolution.

Scarecrowoven’s Dr. Cynder

Adding further nostalgic elements to Dr. Cynder, the piece’s finished form not only referenced Masters of the Universe but also had its feet attired in Transformers inspired boots and a translucent vinyl cape reminiscent of those that adorned Kenner’s Star Wars line. And even though Dr. Cynder was created in an edition of 50 pieces, Harrigan emphasizes that “each one is really one-of-a-kind”, as he “basically painted every single one uniquely”.

Beyond the differing color applications, each Dr. Cynder piece has been hand-modified by Harrigan with “battle damage” on its horns, which was actually the result of a “happy accident”. In order to complete the Masters of the Universe inspired appearance of these pieces, Harrigan wanted to employ a similarly sized backing card as that toy line, but he admits that the “horns ended up being too big to fit in the [plastic] bubbles,” or blister packaging, “so sadly I had to go through each beautifully casted horn and cut it so they would fit,” using an X-Acto knife to “cut little bits out” and a drill to “make the horns a little hollow”.
Having debuted at the initial Five Points Festival in May of 2017, sharp-eyed collectors might’ve noticed that Dr. Cynder‘s arms are very similar to that of the Glorg, making the connection between the two all the more apparent. Concerning their relationship, Harrigan refers to them as “enemies in the same way that Luke and Vader or He-Man and Skeletor are”, before specifying that “Yugla is kinda picking up after the destruction Cynder has done to humanity” as the Evil Surgeon of Dreams, a title that stems from “his insatiable hunger to attack and vivisect people’s dreams”.
With Yugla now recognized as a hero within the “Glorgoverse”, this will hopefully be followed by further revelations as the Skull Buddies series continues, Dr. Cynder having been listed as “#1 of 5” in the line. Though, Harrigan notes, the second piece in the series is “not the same style figure, more of a Star Wars Kenner kinda guy, but a Skull Buddy nonetheless”.

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