The Warbringer Takes Wing: Behind the Scenes of the New Kier Premium Format Figure

There are few Court of the Dead fans who haven’t fallen for Kier, the Underworld’s very own fallen angel. As a helpless young child, Kier was cast out of Heaven and left to perish. She was rejected by the Heavenly Host for her imperfections, but the Alltaker rescued her and nurtured her back to health; an act of kindness and compassion that Kier pays back with unflinching loyalty. Kier is Death’s Valkyrie, First Sword of the Underworld… and when it comes to the Celestial Realms… Death’s Warbringer.

As a fan favorite, Kier was among the first figures released in the Court of the Dead collection. The Kier: Valkyrie of the Dead Premium Format™ Figure launched in October 2014, limited to only 2,500 pieces worldwide. The sold-out figure is among the most sought-after Court of the Dead collectibles.

Meanwhile, Kier’s story – along with the rest of the Court of the Dead universe – has continued to grow. It was not long before our imaginations were ignited with new visions of Kier that we wanted to bring to life…

The Kier: Death’s Warbringer Premium Format™ Figure went up for pre-order on January 4th. From development sketches to solicitation, this new battle-ravaged version of Kier took over 19 months to create. In this depiction, she displays an explosive amount of revenge-fueled rage that will shake both Heaven and Hell as they clash with Death’s adopted daughter.

We’re thrilled to take you behind the scenes to show you some of the process and collaboration required to bring our second version of vengeance personified to life.

What was your approach to Kier for this second iteration of the character?

Kier’s first version displays her as calm and stoic in nature. With the new version, we wanted to express a side to her that we’ve talked a lot about but haven’t really shown: her rage.

– Rachel Roubicek, Designer

How is this Premium Format™ version of Kier unique?

Kier has a fairly hostile attitude towards the Heavenly Host and a sure-fire way to express that hatred was to have her screaming bloody murder while raising the disembodied head of some poor angel. Also, we wanted to give a little sneak peek into the aesthetic designs of the angels (as well as the demons, with her exclusive). There’s more of them to come later!

– Rachel Roubicek, Designer

What was the design process for Kier’s new armor and weaponry?

With the “Warbringer” title, we wanted to show Kier suited up for combat, so the addition of the greaves and a sleeve came to be. A combination of metal and bone is iconic for Underworld armor, and we kept the color schemes similar to her original breastplate for a cohesive look. We scrapped the cape for this new version because we wanted to expose her wings, or where they would have been, to show that no matter what, she is an angel herself. So, y’know, get that personal conflict in there.

– Rachel Roubicek, Designer

How did you continue telling the story of Kier through sculpture on the Warbringer statue?

While sculpting the second Kier piece the most important thought in my head was keeping true to the first rendition of her, while letting out the wild warrior that she is. The previous Kier sculpt pose depicted her strong, in-control elegance with her hidden BADASS-NESS just below the surface. This one lets it all out!!!

– Mark Newman, Sculptor

What were some of your inspiration or reference points when you approached the sculpt of this figure?

The concept and art direction by Tom Gilliland (Sideshow Chief Creative Officer) and extensive concept art done by Rachel Roubicek (Sideshow Designer) laid out the feel for the sculpture. I took that information and brought it into the 3rd dimension by trying to give her a wild, savage, “berserker”-type flair as she displays the trophy of her latest kill.

– Mark Newman, Sculptor

What is the story behind Kier’s pose and environment?

One of the first ideas was to have her standing on the headless body of the fallen angel, but that felt a bit crowded and complex for the piece, so we simplified it by adding the broken feathers at her feet indicating the fierce battle that just occurred. Showcasing her strong athletic body to me is one of the most important parts of the story here; accented by some new aggressive bits of battle armor.

– Mark Newman, Sculptor

What were some of the biggest challenges when making such a detailed figure ready for casting and production?

The biggest challenge was cleaning up all of that blood! Parts came in literallydripping with gore. A lot of alchemy and incantations are actually involved in the process. I had to grind down the corpses of fallen warriors in order to the make the bone meal that the figure is (mostly) cast in – and that stuff is hard to get yer hands on. This is all true.*

– Chadwick Andersen, Mold and Cast

*Editor’s Note: None of this is true.

What are you most proud of contributing to the new Kier statue?

With this new Kier statue, I tried a different approach to painting the blood. [The blood stains on her hands and feet look] less as though she’s covered in blood up to her knees and elbows, but more as though the blood stains are under her skin and gradually engulfing her, the more she kills. I think it feels more like it’s a part of her now, something that’s consuming her, rather than something she can wash away.

– Kat Sapene, Painter

What challenges did you face while painting the Kier: Warbringer figure?

Kier is wearing new armor elements in this statue; a lot of it is made of bone. So it was important to make sure that those pieces of armor fit to Kier’s cooler color palette. It required tweaking a few of the colors that we would normally use on pieces like Xiall. But it also allowed me to play around with new colors for bone elements. So you’ll see that her shoulder pauldron, while made of bone, has much cooler colors. Something more fitting to Kier.

– Kat Sapene, Painter

What changes did you bring to Kier this time around?

This time, Kier is in full battle mode! The cape is no more, but we’ve given her skirts some fun wear and tear.

– Tim Hanson, Cut & Sew

What do you feel the hand-crafted cut and sew elements bring to Kier?

Using mixed media brings a unique life to a piece. For this version of Kier, we get to show the grittier, warrior side of her. Her fully-posable skirts have been weathered and shredded to reflect that battle-worn awesomeness.

– Tim Hanson, Cut & Sew

How is this Kier unique from the previous iteration?

In this version of Kier, we see her with her war face on. She has new armor. We also see her in a great victory pose – holding up the severed heads of her enemies! She is defiantly in battle-rage mode, compared with her more elegant pose in the first figure iteration.

– Jesse Lincoln, Project Manager

What aspect of the Kier: Warbringer figure are you most excited about?

I am most excited about Kier’s removable mask, with its own stand. I like that you now have cool little display for her mask if she choses not to wear it. It’s a standalone piece that really shows off the glory of her mask. It’s a nice little curio for your cabinet.

– Jesse Lincoln, Project Manager

How will you approach the packaging design for the Kier: Warbringer statue?

Kier is in full-on, raging battle mode in her Warbringer figure interpretation, so the packaging should either reflect that, or off-set, her vivid decimation of the celestial forces. Anger can often be conveyed by using warm colors and bold type treatments, so combining those two things with an action-packed illustration of our favorite revenge-thirsty, destroyer-of-angels would probably get the point across… On the other hand, it’s pleasing to contrast the complex visuals of our figure with a simple black box and an elegant type treatment. I explore a range of options for packaging and select which is working best.

– Ricky Lovas, Sr. Brand Designer

What aspect of the Kier: Warbringer statue are you most excited about?

It’s nice to present Kier in a moment of rage and vengeance. Most of our Court of the Dead collectibles thus far have been more museum-like poses, but now that we are getting into second versions of some of the key characters, we can show a little more of their personalities and emotions. The severed angel head is a nice nod to her origin, as well.

– Ricky Lovas, Sr. Brand Designer

What has been your favorite part of shooting the new Kier: Warbringer figure?

I love Kier, and to see her in her new armor is pretty exciting! She’s inspiring! I also love messing around with the Court of the Dead color scheme.

– Cassie Fuertez, Photographer

What is most important to you to capture with Kier when shooting in the studio?

As much as I love the colors of the Court of the Dead, I always find it a challenge to get the right amount of colors to convey the right meaning for that character, without it becoming overwhelming. I wouldn’t want the rich colors to distract from the piece, or the story I’m trying to tell.

– Cassie Fuertez, Photographer

Countless souls helped to bring this new depiction of Kier to afterlife, and now she is available for pre-order. Hosts of Heaven and Hell, beware! Kier: Death’s Warbringer shall have your heads!

If you are looking to add Kier to your crypt of collectibles, click HERE. For more curios from Court of the Dead, click HERE.