Sunday, 2 May 2021

We're in the final twenty four hours of Weta Workshop's pre-order window to reserve their limited edition Lara Croft The Lost Valley Statue. While we know the statue will be incredibly rare, we don't know quite how rare. The final edition size will be determined by the total number of orders made during their pre-order period. However a statue this size, by such an iconic company, which takes several hundred hours to produce does not come cheap, and if you want one of these, you're going to really want one.
Excluding shipping costs and applicable taxes, the statue will cost $1,499.00. If you're interested in learning more (and about their Payment Plan with the cost spread out between two to six months) visit the Weta Workshop store!

With the 25th anniversary in mind, the team took inspiration from one of the most iconic levels in the series, that memorable Lost Valley moment in the original game. Originally teased at San-Diego Comic-Con 2020, the full announcement of the 1:4 scale statue was made in October, coinciding with the twenty-fourth anniversary of the original game's launch. The original concept wowed fans and collectors but it's only in this recent video that we're seeing just how much work is going into this magnificent beast. 



Following work on their previous statue, "Queen of the Jungle" for "Shadow of the Tomb Raider", Crystal Dynamics approached Weta Workshop to create something special once more for their twenty-fifth anniversary. As work began on the project, Gus Hunt (Senior Concept Designers at Weta Workshop) created three digital sketches of what the statue could be. The team voted on the piece they wanted to expand upon; a design featuring Lara battling two raptors across treacherous terrain, with dynamic and action-driven at the heart of the plans that followed. A 3D model was then created to get an idea of the scope, with real-life actors, traditional wire and clay models, and photographs used as reference. The biggest challenge for the team was the distribution of weight, to create a stable statue that looks like a snapshot from a scene mid-action.

The upcoming statue won't be the studio's first exploration into Tomb Raider merchandise, having already produced three incredible props for the launch of "Shadow of the Tomb Raider". The work they do is of exceptionally high quality, with a portfolio featuring a full-scale bow, Lara's necklace carved from jade inside a wooden puzzle box, and an impressive limited edition 1:4 scale statue of Lara wading through the jungle. 


Back in 2016, while celebrating Tomb Raider's 20th anniversary, Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix created a special commemorative lanyard. In addition to being available for purchase at the Square Enix Store, the lanyard was also available at international events which celebrated the milestone alongside the re-release of "Rise of the Tomb Raider".

The lanyard was adorned with little pixelated Laras from over the various years and some of the artifacts that she uncovered throughout the past two decades. Recently, to celebrate the new 25th milestone, Crystal Dynamics have released the full original set, along with some background designs and some new additions.

As well as featuring the Laras from each AAA instalment, the collection also includes "Lara Croft Relic Run", "Lara Croft GO", and the upcoming "Tomb Raider Reloaded". There are also five artifacts included in the bundle; the Scion, her trusty ice pick, her jade necklace, her dual pistols, and her bow. (There's a Lord of the Rings joke in there somewhere.) A pixelated badge featuring the 25th-anniversary logo can also be downloaded, along with twenty assorted backgrounds featuring a mix of the images against a bright blue background.

All of the images can be found on the brand's Flickr account, with the characters and artifacts also sporting transparent backgrounds to allow fans to incorporate them into a variety of uses. 


Sunday, 25 April 2021

 For the past couple of months, Rodrigo Martín Santos, an avid "Tomb Raider" collector, webmaster of "Tomb Raider Collection", and Guinness World Records 2015 owner for the "Largest Collection of Tomb Raider Memorabilia" has been writing amazing articles for the Tomb Raider 25 website.

In the "Treasure Hunter" series, he takes a look at some of the exciting and unique merchandise he owns for that month's featured game.

The articles started back in March for "Tomb Raider II" and have since featured rare treasures such Lara's belly piercing created for a promotional campaign by Koch Media Germany, golden statues for Tomb Raider III's release party at the Natural History Museum in London (UK), a 9k gold Golden Tornarsuk Mask Replica, and Rhona Mitra's Lara Croft outfit.

Negatives from Nell McAndrew's E3 1998 photoshoot.

The articles are rich in details too, providing greater context to the pieces he spotlights. For instance, Rodrigo talks about the Tomb Raider album created with Rhona Mitra which had recorded in Jamacia and on the Amazon River. It's clear that the passion he has for the items goes beyond the rarity value, instead the articles show a strong appreciation of the history they represent.

We're looking forward to reading more as the celebrations continue throughout the year. In the meantime, if you haven't already, make sure to check out Rodrigo's articles for "Tomb Raider II" and "Tomb Raider III" on the milestone website! 

Saturday, 24 April 2021

[6th April 2021] After establishing the latest incarnation of Lara Croft with Crystal Dynamics' Narrative Team for "Tomb Raider" (2013) and "Rise of the Tomb Raider", Rhianna Pratchett's recent project is something quite a bit different! Lately, the writer has been working with the incredibly talented Sketchbook Games on "Lost Words".

While the game has already been out for a year as a Google-Stadia exclusive, the team has recently celebrated the arrival of it on Steam, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, releasing it to a larger audience.

The story follows Izzy, a young aspiring writer who loses someone close to her. She tries to work through the grief by writing a fantasy story in the pages of her journal, with the game bouncing between the two realities. Through this, the player explores her emotions and struggles as she deals with her loss.


In an intimate interview with Rebekah Valentine at IGN, Pratchett reveals that she's felt that she had "a lot to say about loss and grief and the intersection of loss of memory, grief, and memory and how we keep people alive by our memories and how we keep a part of them inside us." Alongside being the writer, she was also closely involved with Lost Words' development, given the small and close-knit dev team. "It is sad. But it's also joyful. It's about love." You can read the full interview on IGN


"Lost Words" is a beautifully designed game that tackles the topic of grief and complex emotions seriously, an attitude that has won them numerous awards already. The game is a mix of puzzles with watercolour pastels and a bright, bold platformer that packs a punch. The game is available at £11.99 on Google Stadia, Steam, GOG, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, aged seven and up.


Sunday, 18 April 2021

[April 6th 2021] In a new video, Weta Workshop revealed how they're bringing their upcoming "Tomb Raider" statue to life. If you're looking forward to seeing the work that has gone into their latest piece, this is definitely a video for you. 


With the 25th anniversary in mind, the team took inspiration from one of the most iconic levels in the series, that memorable Lost Valley moment in the original game. While we've only seen prototypes and sketches of the finished product, we are excited to see what this amazing team does next. 


Originally teased at San-Diego Comic-Con 2020, the full announcement of the 1:4 scale statue was made in October, coinciding with the twenty-fourth anniversary of the original game's launch. The original concept wowed fans and collectors but it's only in this recent video that we're seeing just how much work is going into this magnificent beast. 

Following work on their previous statue, "Queen of the Jungle" for "Shadow of the Tomb Raider", Crystal Dynamics approached Weta Workshop again, this time to create something special for their twenty-fifth anniversary.


As work began on the project, Gus Hunt (Senior Concept Designers at Weta Workshop) created three digital sketches of what the statue could be. The team voted on the piece they wanted to expand upon; a design featuring Lara battling two raptors across treacherous terrain, with dynamic and action-driven at the heart of the plans that followed. A 3D model was then created to get an idea of the scope, with real-life actors, traditional wire and clay models, and photographs used as reference. The biggest challenge for the team was the distribution of weight, to create a stable statue that looks like a snapshot from a scene mid-action. 



It's a seriously impressive piece, and while we don't have a solid release date or price just yet, you can register your interest on the Weta Workshop website! The limited-edition run will be determined by pre-order amounts, which will be open between Apr 19th to May 3rd 2:00pm (PDT) 2021.


The upcoming statue won't be the studio's first exploration into Tomb Raider merchandise, having already produced three incredible props for the launch of "Shadow of the Tomb Raider". The work they do is of exceptionally high quality, with a portfolio featuring a full-scale bow, Lara's necklace carved from jade inside a wooden puzzle box, and an impressive limited edition 1:4 scale statue of Lara wading through the jungle. 


[April 5th 2021] As part of their continuing celebrations for Tomb Raider's twenty-fifth year, Crystal Dynamics have recently published a newly redesigned box art cover, this time celebrating Lara's third adventure. For the piece, the studio teamed up with Paul Kwon, a Digital Artist whose previous work includes the League of Legends franchise.


Paul has been working in the games industry for over fifteen years, original working at Blizzard Entertainment before moving to Riot Games, where he worked as a Senior Concept Artist on League of Legends for the past decade. Though he describes himself as a "mostly self-taught artist", he also refined his skills at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena (California, USA).

For his latest piece, he worked with Crystal Dynamics to imagine the Tomb Raider III box art in his own style. There are a few different variations of the original box art, although the most common features Lara posing with duel pistols in her classic outfit with London's St Paul's Cathedral in the background. For his take, Paul took inspiration from the Nevada levels with Lara's camouflage outfit. The background represents the game's more mystical qualities and features the four meteorite artifacts distributed across the globe which Lara attempts to track down.


Speaking about this latest work, Paul states"Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider series has become one of the most iconic characters in the video game industry. For my reimagining of Lara, I revisited her outfit from Tomb Raider III and gave it a modernized twist to the design while still capturing the original essence.


"The pose is quite simple with the dual pistol that we are all familiar with. Yet, I wanted to depict her caught in the moment of stillness surrounded by digital fragments of artifacts amidst the holographic desert setting. The style of the background and the abbreviated title are heavily leaning towards the simple, technical and graphical designs to give that modernized look for the whole illustration.


"In terms of the style and execution, I went with the flow of what I’m most familiar with and tried to reminisce the character with some design sensibilities in mind."


You can download the full piece on the Tomb Raider 25 website!




Sunday, 11 April 2021

[April 31st 2021] In celebration of Women's History Month, last month Crystal Dynamics announced that they had purchased the rights to the anthology, "Women in Gaming: 100 Professions of Play". Following the result of the deal, the book is now available to download and read on the studio's website.

"Women in Gaming: 100 Professionals of Play" celebrates women in the gaming industry, explores their personal journeys, and helps inspire future developers. There are a number of informative features within the book including interviews, tips, essays, and diary entries about their typical day.

The writer behind the book is Crystal Dynamics' own, Meagan Marie, who is the Senior Community & Social Media Manager for the studio. Lately, she's been in charge of overseeing the "Marvel's Avengers" and "Tomb Raider" community events alongside her team. The book was published in late 2018, making it one of the last published works by Prima Games before its closure in early 2019. 

In a joint statement posted on the Crystal Dynamics website, Studio Heads, Scot Amos & Ron Rosenberg wrote “it’s with great pleasure that we are releasing the book 'Women in Gaming', written by Crystal Dynamics’ employee Meagan Marie, to the public. We look forward to seeing how it inspires even more women to thrive at making great games throughout the industry. This is more than just a book to us, it’s a personal mission of our company. At Crystal Dynamics we are privileged to have women leaders and directors across the studio from creative development to technical, operational, and financial department roles.

Many of the women on our team are doing incredible things like leading the production of our games, building our game heroes and enemy characters from the ground up, shaping the vision for our world art, directing our narratives, expanding our brands, planning our studio’s future roadmap and so much more. We are constantly inspired by their contributions and believe that they are essential to making Crystal Dynamics the place for all who love dedicating themselves to making great games with great people.”
In the same press release, Crystal Dynamics' Director of Human Resources, Dionne Hubbard added that “Meagan Marie’s 'Woman in Gaming' is a smart, deep dive into inclusivity and equality. The topic is not only relevant to me but also to Crystal Dynamics, where these tenets are championed and promoted. These are inspiring stories that every woman in gaming or aspiring to be in games should read.”

On top of purchasing the publishing rights, the studio has also donated two hundred physical copies of the book to Girls Make Games, an organisation that helps raise the next generation of designers, engineers and creators by organising educational and inspiring summer camps, workshops and game jams.