Archive for the ‘Hobby blog’ Category

Scott Johansen and Edgar Allen Poe

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

Originally published July 5, 2006, at GJSentinel.com.

Edgar Allen Poe

“EDGAR ALLEN POE”
Sculpted by John Dennett.
Produced by Moohead Models, Mooheadmodels@aol.com.
Designed to be the same size as the classic 1/8 scale Aurora monster kits.
Made of resin, 13 parts. (Parts breakdown: Chair legs, 4; chair with Poe, 1; Poe legs, 1; Poe’s hands, 2; base, 1; cat, 1; book stack, 1; inkwell, 1; post with raven, 1.)
$90 plus shipping.

Edgar Allen PoeEdgar Allen Poe wielded the pen behind some of literature’s creepiest moments. Here’s one most readers will recognize:

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore-
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”
- “The Raven,” 1845

Or how about this:

With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once – once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eve would trouble me no more.
- “The Tell-Tale Heart,” 1843

Poe’s work was responsible for the kind of chills bound to earn the respect of monster-model-lovers such as myself, so I’m one of many who took notice when Scott Johansen’s Moohead Models reissued John Dennett’s classic “Edgar Allen Poe” garage kit.

Scott, 43, lives in Frankfort, Ill. He describes himself as “happily divorced for 14 years.” He is still friends with a former girlfriend and considers her daughter his own stepdaughter. Scott works as a millwright in a Ford assembly plant in Chicago.

“I’m sure there are those out there that will ask, ‘What the hell is a Moohead?’ ” Scott wrote in an e-mail. “Well, that is simple. My stepdaughter nicknamed my dog that and it stuck. So the company is named after my dog! LOL.”

Boy and Tiger

Q&A WITH SCOTT JOHANSEN OF MOOHEAD MODELS

Resin the Barbarian: I know this is a licensed reissue of John Dennett’s Poe kit. Can you tell me a little about the background, such as when it was sculpted and who originally marketed it? Did John sell it himself or through another producer?

Scott: The kit was originally produced by a gentleman named Mark Stehlik. Those of us that were in on the early days of the garage kit hobby will remember him. I had lost track of Mark for several years and then through a series of coincidences I was put back in touch with him. He had given the rights to the kit to a friend of mine and we are producing it together.

I believe it was originally available in 1993. Shortly thereafter, Mark disappeared for over 10 years! I am glad to have been able to reconnect with him. Anyone that knows him knows what a character he is!

RtB: I think the raven in the kit will be familiar to anyone who knows Poe’s work. What about the cat? Are there any other things in the kit I should recognize from Poe’s work?

Scott: That is all for now. We are discussing updating the base at some point with a plank missing and a “Tell Tale Heart” in its place. I can’t say this will happen for sure but it is possible.

RtB: What led to you becoming the producer of this kit?

Scott: See above! LOL.

RtB: What other kits have you produced or do you plan to produce?

DestroyerScott: Well, other than the “Boy and Tiger” and the “Destroyer” kits, there are a few projects in the works and in the planning stages. One will be a small Muttley figure that used to be a dog toy! I have cast them up and sold them at shows for $10 but now we’ve actually cleaned it up and it will be remolded with a small base.

I also have an Igoo the rock ape kit that was sculpted by Shawn Nagle. You can see a pic in the latest Kitbuilders or a few AFMs ago.

My next project is under way and all I can say is it’s a BIG one! I also am planning some bases for the Aurora/PL Monster Rods.

RtB: Do you produce kits entirely on your own, or do you have help?

Scott: I do all the work myself. It takes up a lot of time and room is at a premium but I manage.

RtB: How much of your time to producing kits require in an average week, and what basic steps are involved?

Scott: Depending on the kit, it can range anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes per kit. I have to set up all the molds and pour the resin into all of them. Some of them I have to pre-fill and that takes a little more time.

RtB: Obviously, you are interested in model kits. Where did that interest begin? Has it been a lifelong thing? Perhaps a childhood interest that was revived in adulthood?

Scott: Oh definitely! Back when I was a kid, there were no toys based on the Universal Monsters so if you wanted a figure the Aurora kits were the way to go. I sort of got my interest back around 1981 and discovered John F. Green. The rest is history?

I went to my first WonderFest in 1993 and have gone every year since.

RtB: What’s your “grail” kit?

Scott: Well I don’t really have one that I’m looking for but I have a few that I own already. The list always changes, but no matter what the Janus Dracula diorama and the Horizon Joker (first one) will always be two of my favorites.

RtB: Anything else you’d like to add?

Scott: Nothing other than my hat is off to those of you that actually have and/or make the time to build and paint these kits. We may all want to be great painters and builders and some of us are and some of us aren’t, but either way you are enjoying the hobby! I haven’t built or painted anything in about six years! And long to do so soon! Happy modeling!

Brutto and Baklar from G-Force

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

Originally published June 29, 2006, at GJSentinel.com.

Brutto

“BRUTTO”
1/4 scale resin bust; 7 inches tall.
Comes in two parts.
$45 plus shipping.

Baklar

Baklar“BAKLAR”
One of the “Demons of Dance”; two more “Demons” (“Mubat” and “Krakor”; see pictures below) will come out this year.
1/6 scale kit, 13 inches tall on its base.
Made of resin, with 3 metal bells on the hat.
$90 plus shipping.

Both produced by G-Force.
Sculpted by Robert Blair.
Kits pictured painted by Scott Herel.

Much of Robert Blair’s sculpture is the stuff of nightmares … but in a good way. In addition to the jester and dancing demon above, he’s created a frightening assortment of clowns (including the Joker), scarecrows, a Dryad and much more. I don’t know what fires an imagination like that, but it gives our hobby an edge that’s sometimes surprising.

Demon of the DanceI like both of the pieces above, but “Baklar” is my favorite of the two. The thing just looks so flipping happy about being creepy. So I e-mailed Robert to ask him if there is a story behind the “Demons of Dance.”

“There really is no back-story about these pieces,” he answered, “I just thought it would be cool to sculpt these evil jesters in different ballet poses. We have all these Royal Winnipeg Ballet books at home, my sister-in-law was a dancer with them. Just the idea of these evil, dark horrid jesters in these graceful ballet poses was hilarious! I think it works very well.”


Gary White, 41, of G-Force was also impressed by pictures of the “Demons” when he saw them on Robert’s Web site, and he made a deal to produce them as garage kits.

As garage-kit producers go, Gary is one of the veterans, having been in business since 1988. He lives in Acton, Ontario, an hour west of Toronto, with his wife, Shari. His “day job” is in construction; he works on heating, ventilation and air conditioning, plumbing and other mechanical systems.

Gary WhiteQ&A WITH GARY WHITE OF G-FORCE

Resin the Barbarian: Despite their originality (or perhaps because of it), these aren’t the kinds of kits I generally expect to see on people’s “grail” lists. What made you decide to produce these?

Gary: I liked them as soon as I saw them. They are different to the same old Frankenstein, Predator, etc. I also liked the feel that the poses have and the eeriness of the whole look.

RtB: G-Force has been in business more than 15 years. How many kits have you produced in that time? Care to share some highlights?

Gary: G-Force is up to kit No. 43. Some did well, others did not. I like most of the kits. I guess my favorites are “Capt’n Johnny,” “The Goblin King,” “The Old Guller’s Daughter” and now all the “Demons.”

Demon of the DanceRtB: What does “G-Force” stand for? Is the “G” for “Gary”?

Gary: No, Not Gary. I get asked that question all the time, people think my name is Gary Force. G-Force came from my early days of selling Star Wars toys. You know, the “Force,” plus G-Force is associated with acceleration and power, so I thought G-Force would be a good name.

RtB: Where do most of your customers come from?

Gary: Most of my clients are U.S.-based, then I would say Canada and Europe.

RtB: Do you consider your journey to WonderFest this year a success? Have you been before?

Gary: Wonderfest was great. I was at Wonderfest No. 2 and No. 3 when it was held at the old hotel. I never returned because it was too hard to get through U.S. customs with product for the shows. I finally got a broker, and this time I was only held up at customs for two hours.

RtB: Do you build models yourself? If so, what do you most enjoy doing?

Gary: I used to build models, but now I have no time as I do all the molding and casting for G-Force and other clients. My main collection is “Blade Runner” models.

I have about 40 different ones including over 20 Spinner Cars, 10-plus Deckards, several Blasters and other characters and props from the movie. There are still a few kits and busts I am looking for, like the ones Jim Maddox did. Hopefully I will track them down soon.

G-Force actually has a new “Blade Runner” kit available that was debuted at Wonderfest. It is Deckard walking with broken fingers. There is also an accessory base available with Sebastian’s Kaiser, a trunk and a pile of toys.

G-Force has been around the hobby for a very long time. We are still producing high-quality kits and enjoying it. I hope we can continue in the hobby for a very long time.

G ForceI don’t know if people realize that we also do high-quality vacuum molding and bubble-free pressure casting, and have been for over 14 years. I only mention this because I know there are companies out there who are always looking for molds and castings but don’t look outside the U.S. Please don’t forget to look up and use your IMAGINATION AND BEYOND.

Sam Greenwell’s Umber Hulk

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

First published June 23, 2006, at GJSentinel.com.

Sam Greenwell\'s Umber Hulk

“UMBER HULK”
Inspired by the Dungeons & Dragons character.
Sam Greenwell\'s Umber HulkSculpted by Sam Greenwell, who also painted the kit pictured. (“Krylon primer, gel stain, done.”)
Produced by Greenwell Studios.
10 inches tall; 15 resin parts.
Price: $110 plus shipping; e-mail contact@greenwellstudios.com if interested.

Not long after I discovered garage kits, I discovered eBay. It’s easy to find a ton of problems with the online auction giant, but it’s often the best place to watch if you want to find a model kit that’s out of production for a decent price. It’s also where you’ll occasionally find new pieces, which is what happened to me when I happened upon Sam Greenwell’s auction for the “Umber Hulk.”

Sam Greenwell\'s Time BanditWhat is an “Umber Hulk”? I had no idea, but it looks like some kind of bug. A NEAT bug, and a big one, too. Maybe part gorilla. So I looked it up and found out it was part of the D&D role-playing game. I’m one of those geeks who’s never played D&D and still don’t want to start, but at least I’m more interested now than I was.

This sculpture comes to GK fans courtesy of the talented hands of Sam Greenwell, who thinks the first of his sculptures to be produced as a garage kit was “NomadAx” for Jayco Hobbies in 1995.

Sam, 36, lives in Georgetown, Ky. He is married and has two kids, a 10-year-old daughter and 6-year-old boy.

Sam Greenwell

Q&A WITH SAM GREENWELL

Resin the Barbarian: My parents both come from Hazard, Ky., a town I loved when I was small but haven’t visited in about 26 years. Have you ever been there?

Sam: No. My best friend growing up was from Hazard but I’ve never been there myself. I think the closest I’ve been would be Pikeville.

RtB: The “Umber Hulk” is, for me, the latest example of a resin kit I like that leads to me finding out more about the source material. What drew you to sculpt this character? Are you a D&D fan? Did you consider the market potential or just want to do it?

Sam Greenwell\'s Umber HulkSam: I wanted to do a cool monster so I flipped through monster books, I have a LOT of monster and creature reference books, and chose that one.

RtB: I’ve been doing a little Web surfing for pictures of the Umber Hulk. While most of them were consistent about a few things (such as the mandibles), there were also many differences. Kind of like there are different interpretations of many comic-book characters, depending on the artist. Is your sculpture based on any particular vision of the Umber Hulk, or is it your own interpretation?

Sam: A little of both. I got it from the artwork in the newest “Monster Manual” for D&D. I think it’s the newest one, it’s from 2000. I added a few changes myself, like making its head a little smaller in proportion.

RtB: I know you once had aspirations of penciling comic books. Did you do your own drawings of the Umber Hulk before sculpting it?

Sam: Nope.

Sam Greenwell\'s ThorRtB: Like the figure itself, what I see of the base seems to have a lot of nice detail. Where is the character supposed to be in your sculpture?

Sam: I don’t really know. I guess you can say he’s in his lair, surrounded by the bones of his victims. I was just going for stuff that looked cool. If I tell you I raided my wife’s jewelry box and the bones of a KFC meal, it doesn’t sound nearly as cool.

RtB: When you sell your pieces as resin kits, do you do your own casting?

Sam: In the past not always, but we’ve gotten our own mold shop up and running so we’ll be doing our stuff from now on.

RtB: I read in a 2002 interview that you called your company Acornboy Enterprises. On eBay, your member name is “acornsam.” What’s with the interest in acorns?

Sam: It started a LONG time ago as a joke on my wife’s then-stepbrother, but “Acornboy” has been with me for so long that it’s grown way past its origin.

RtB: I read an old interview (again at deathcookie.com) that said you were popular in Japan for a while. Do you often hear from fans there or other parts of the world?

Sam: I hear that my work is popular in other countries from friends overseas, but I have never heard from any fans outside of the U.S.

RtB: I know, of course, that you sculpt regularly, but garage kits from you aren’t terribly common these days. What do you have available right now as model kits, and what can fans expect to see from you down the road?

Sam Greenwell\'s FlygirlSam: Yeah, I haven’t really done much in the way of garage kits for a few years, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t wanted to. I’ve been sort of overwhelmed with working for clients rather than on my own stuff so I haven’t had the time.

This year I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to get more of my own designs out there as kits, and also as prepaint statues. Right now, we’ve got the “Umber Hulk,” “Calliope,” the updated version of my “Time Bandit,” and within a week, the “Flygirl.”

I plan on having at least 10 kits for sale by the end of the year, as well as at least one as a prepainted statue.

We’ve also got a line of Norse gods that I’ve been working on for a few years now.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot the Zodiac series that I started in 1996, I’m working on those again.

There’s going to be a LOT, this year and next. I’m really excited about what we’ve got planned.

RtB: Anything else you’d like to add?

Sam: Not really. Just thanks for the opportunity to do this interview, and take care.

Want to read more about Sam? Click HERE for a terrific interview.

Joe Simon’s Blue Boy and Neo Nazi

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Originally published June 16, 2006, at GJSentinel.com.

Blue Boy

“BLUE BOY”
A companion piece to the PSI “Hellboy” bust.
1/3 scale resin bust, 13 inches tall.
Nine parts.

Neo Nazi

“NEO NAZI”
1/6 scale resin model kit. About a foot tall.
Nine parts.
Both sculpted by Joe Simon and offered through 3rd Eye Design.
Price for each is $100 plus shipping.

Joe SimonJoe Simon must be one of the busier garage-kit sculptors around, judging by the number of companies he works with. In addition to the kits he makes for his own company, 3rd Eye Design, Joe works with GEOmetric Design, CultTVman, Kitbuilders Magazine, Model Giants, PSI and more. He’s the kind of sculptor who can produce more wonderful work in a year than half-talented kitbuilders like myself could actually hope to build and paint.

Joe, 33, lives in Bangkok, Thailand. He moved there from Minnesota almost four years ago after a friend invited him to Malaysia for Chinese New Year; he planned to stay a week and “see the world from a different view,” now he feels at home there.

Joe’s not married but has been with “the boss” about three years. She’s “10 years younger (and) dreams of taking over the world,” he wrote in an e-mail. “She started with me!”

Joe says he comes from a huge family and plans to leave carrying on the name to the rest of the bunch. “I never wanna stop being a kid myself, playing with clay, paint and guitars!” he wrote.

I’ve been watching for a chance to get in touch with Joe for several months now, and his new “Hellboy”-related kits gave me the perfect excuse.

Q&A WITH JOE SIMON

Resin the Barbarian: I’ve never actually read the “Hellboy” comics, but I like the movie a lot. Can I safely assume these kits represent the characters as shown in the film?

Joe: I have to honestly say I didn’t read the “Hellboy” comic either, didn’t know much about the characters till the movie came out … I was hooked instantly!

HellboyVisually the characters inspired me.. that’s why I’ve done three sculpts so far, and hope to do more. More than likely, I will stick to the movie version on those also.

RtB: These are pieces you are selling through your own company, so I guess that means no one commissioned you to make them. What drew you to this subject matter?

Joe: Originally Jerry Buchanan of PSI Kits had commissioned me to sculpt a 1/3rd scale Hellboy bust. After watching the movie a hundred times for reference, like I said, I got hooked and just wanted to do more or characters.

RtB: You seem to be one of the busier sculptors working in the garage-kit industry, and you work with a variety of kit producers. In fact, I’m one of many fans who’s been waiting for months to see GEOmetric Design release your “Night of the Living Dead” piece. How many hours do you put into sculpting in an average week, and what hours of the day do you work?

Joe: Luckily I do keep pretty busy, hope it stays that way too! I appreciate people putting out their hard-earned money to buy something that was created by my hands. It still boggles my mind sometimes.

Space GhostEven more, I love seeing what those people make of the kit after putting their touch to it when painting it up! I rarely have time to paint anything up myself, so I only have a handful of my own sculptures on display.

As far as hours I put in, it all depends on the clients’ request date, how many pieces I am working on simultaneously. I do work every day at the least six hours but sometimes will sit in my dented chair 16, 18 hours. Sometimes the piece just doesn’t wanna leave your hand!

RtB: Let’s say I wanted to start producing GKs of my own and I wanted to commission you to sculpt something like the “Neo Nazi” for me. You know, a detailed, 1/6 scale figure. About how much would you charge me?

Joe: This is not a question I can really answer, each piece is so vastly different that pricing depends on the amount of time that must go into that piece, and the difficulty of it. For example, I will charge more for a likeness than for a general face … Likenesses take time.

RtB: What was your first garage kit?

Joe: Wow, I am not even sure I remember. Honestly, I think it was a microFly for GEOmetric Designs.

RtB: Is there any particular subject matter you most enjoy sculpting? And do you have a preferred scale?

BatmanRtB: The thing I dream about is having time to do things that come from my own imagination. Unfortunately that doesn’t always pay the bills. In general I’m a sci-fi movie freak so anything with creatures fantasy, horror is fun for me.

RtB: What do you think you do best as a sculptor?

Joe: For me, it’s hard to answer. I think there are many areas I can improve on … I know what I’ve been told, that I am good at likenesses, crisp clean pieces, proportions, but again that’s what I’ve been told but do not feel that way myself.

RtB: Is there any subject matter you reject as a sculptor?

Joe: I don’t mind most subject matter. I will not do anything that conflicts with my own morals, so guess there’s not much I won’t sculpt.

Seriously, I don’t want do anything that offends people. I want people to look at my sculptures and get inspired, the same feeling I get when I look at some of the work out there, guys like William Paquet, Casey Love, Steve West, Gabe Perna, Sam Greenwell, Andy Bergholtz, just to name a few!

DominiqueRtB: What can we look forward to seeing from you in the near future?

Joe: Lately I have been trying to concentrate on my own creations when I have a bit of spare time. I’m hoping to put out a few kits a year just to keep my imagination flowing. I mean, I enjoy doing subject matter that exists, but also there is nothing more satisfying than to have something that is born of you, knowing you imagined it and then realized it!

RtB: Anything else you’d like to add?

Joe: Just a thanks to anyone that has ever purchased any of the kits I have sculpted. I am truly grateful those people for helping me to make this my way of living!!!

Nocturna Productions

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Originally published June 14, 2006, at GJSentinel.com.

Yesterday, I had a Q&A with sculptor Dave Grasso, discussing the upcoming reissue of his classic “hatted” Nosferatu kit through Nocturna Productions. Today, I have a Q&A with Cindy and David Fisher, the folks behind Nocturna.

Pretty much anyone involved with garage kits knows the background of David Fisher and his partner, Terry Webb, because most everyone involved with the kits has discovered their magazine, Amazing Figure Modeler. If you’re not familiar with it yourself, or even if you just haven’t read it before, click HERE for a fantastic write-up.

Cindy and David live in Tennessee. They met in art school and have been married for 24 “terrific” years.

Nocturna ProductionsQ&A WITH CINDY AND DAVID FISHER

Resin the Barbarian: Anyone who’s interested in the work of David Fisher finds out quickly he’s a fan of Nosferatu kits. Cindy, are you also a fan of the character?

Cindy: Most definitely, but not as obsessed David! I love silent movies in general, from Harold Lloyd to Lon Chaney. I find them fascinating as an art form and as period time capsules.

RtB: As I recall (and my memory may be failing me), Nocturna was introduced as a company run by Cindy, but plainly David is involved as well. What role do each of you take in the company, and do the products you sell reflect both of your interests?

David: Nocturna Productions is completely Cindy’s company, but I obviously help with advice and my connections to sculptors in the hobby, as well as the graphic design of ads and packaging.

I’ve also sculpted bases for kits such as the Gothic base, Skull Pit and Lab Base, which Nocturna has produced throughout the years.

As for Cindy, Nocturna began as a simple business created to help Mike Hill sell his Hammer bust series in the U.S., then she commissioned a sculpture from Mike of the “Curse of the Werewolf” which was in production until just recently when the third set of molds wore out. Then she commissioned a set of silent horror super-deforms from sculptor Rick Force. Most recently she worked a deal with Staffan Linder to re-release the Swede Creations Nosferatu, and will soon release David Grasso’s Nosferatu as well.

I guess she does everything but cast the kits!

Staffan Linder\'s NosferatuRtB:I presume the reissue of the Swede Creations Kinski Nosferatu was a success for you; I know it generated a lot of buzz last year. Is that part of what inspired you to approach Dave Grasso? What else led you to do this?

Cindy: It has been very successful, the kit is such a beautiful sculpture, and even modelers that aren’t Nosferatu fans seem to appreciate it. So many modelers missed out on the kit it needed a second run, and with the addition of Staffan Linder’s new base, it’s an impressive work of art.

The kit is temporarily out of stock due to the loss of our resin caster, but we’ve struck a deal with a new caster who should be up and running within a few weeks, which will time out perfectly with re-releasing Dave Grasso’s kit.

David has always admired Dave Grasso’s sculpture, and over the years, many modelers have contacted him about how to find one. After the success of Swede Creations’ kit, David thought it was worth a try to approach Dave Grasso about letting me handle a re-release of the piece. The timing was perfect since he had already been thinking of another run of it himself, so another much sought after kit gets a second life!

Nocturna’s Grasso Nosferatu

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Originally published June 16, 2006, at GJSentinel.com.

David Fisher\'s Nosferatu

“COUNT ORLOK”
Sculpted by Dave Grasso.
Phil Sera\'s NosferatuSoon to be reissued by Nocturna Productions.
1/6 scale (a little more than a foot tall), made of resin, with a piece of jeweler’s chain holding the lantern.
Price: TBD.

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, many garage-kit makers and builders love the vampire – Graf Orlok – from the silent movie “Nosferatu, A Symphony Terror.” Why should a pale, rat-toothed creature be such a draw to GK fans? I’m not certain, but I suspect it has a lot to do with two people: David Fisher of Amazing Figure Modeler and sculptor Dave Grasso, the subject of today’s e-mail Q&A.

Dave GrassoIn 2000, Fisher wrote an article in issue 21 of his magazine headlined “Nosferatu: Land of the Rats.” The piece was a look at more than two dozen Nosferatu garage kits and remains a valuable, though slightly dated, summary of the subject. In it, he said of Grasso’s “hatted” Nosferatu: “…the face captures the old man features of the character better than any other I’ve seen. The features and accuracy are incredible, and the expressive hands are exactly what is needed to cure my Orlok fever. The pose is classic, the detailing superb.”

Coming soon from Nocturna Productions, the company run by Cindy Fisher, David’s wife: A much-anticipated reissue of that Grasso Nosferatu. More about the Fishers later this week.

VampirellaNow, Dave Grasso. If you’re interested in the subject enough to have read this far, it’s a pretty good sign that you’re familiar with Dave’s work even if you don’t know it. He’s a special makeup and creature effects artist currently finishing up on the third “Resident Evil” movie at Patrick Tatopoulos Studios. He worked at Stan Winston Studio about nine years. Other titles on Dave’s résumé include “Jurassic Park,” “Batman Returns,” “Terminator 2″ and “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

Dark Horse Invisible ManGarage-kit hobbyists will also know Dave for his first Nosferatu kit, the Invisible Man he sculpted for Dark Horse and a Vampirella based on artwork by Sanjulian. He also did a few toys for Stan Winston Creatures and many maquettes for studios he’s worked with over the years.

“I’ve always wanted to get back in the garage-kit world (I’ve had other ideas for kits in the past), but was always to busy with film and toy work to pursue it,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Dave lives in California and has a wife and kids.

“My dad was and still is a great one for starting my interest in this hobby at such a young age,” Dave wrote. “My mom is also amazing in that she and my dad supported me in my decision to pursue special makeup effects all the way.

“My wife is also very supportive and quite creative as well, and my son is where most of my inspiration comes from. He loves the hobby as well.”

Dave Grasso

Q&A WITH DAVE GRASSO

Resin the Barbarian: How long ago did you create the Count Orlok sculpture?

Dave: I think I started it in ’94, put it on the shelf for a long while, and finished it in ’97.

Dave GrassoRtB: Does the original sculpture still exist, or only castings?

Dave: The original sculpture does exist, in fact, I’m remolding the original sculpt again so the quality won’t change from the first runs.

RtB: This is your second Nosferatu kit and I know it has been out of production for a few years. What led to the decision to reissue it? Who approached whom with the idea?

Dave GrassoDave: I’ve wanted to reproduce it again for some time now, and recently, David Fisher got in touch with me about releasing it through Nocturna. He’s been great to deal with and has been very patient with me and my hectic work schedule.

RtB: What, if anything, is going to be different about the reissued version of the kit?

Dave: The character himself I decided not to change at all. I figured everybody would want it just the way it was. I am doing a new base for it that should be a little more interesting, but not detract from the figure.

Dave GrassoRtB: When do you expect to have it ready to deliver to Nocturna Productions?

Dave: I’m still playing around with the base, so as soon as that’s complete, then I’ll be able to ship out some masters to David Fisher.

RtB: It seems that the thrust of your work is creating state-of-the-art special effects for movies. What drew you, as a sculptor, to “Nosferatu,” a silent-era movie?

Dave: Well, I’ll try to keep this short. My dad used to bring me home the Universal Monsters Aurora model kits after his work day and also an occasional Famous Monsters issue or horror movie book … I was about 6 or 7 at the time.

One of the horror movie books had a small picture of Nosferatu standing in the open gateway to his abbey with his classic long, bony fingers and nails. That image still pops up in my head now and then and he will always be the creepiest-looking vampire on screen.

I also got into silent films at an early age as well, I was watching “Nosferatu,” “The Golem” and “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” when I was 8.

So much for keeping it short.

First Grasso NosferatuRtB: Is there any chance your first Nosferatu kit will also be reissued?

Dave: I really hadn’t planned on it because the main reason I did the hatted Orlok was that I grew to dislike the first one I did. I wanted to do a much classier version of him.

I know it was keys that he was holding in the film, but I decided to do a lantern instead, just a little change.

RtB: Are you steadily involved in the garage-kit hobby (collector, builder, etc.), or do you simply return to the hobby from time to time as a sculptor?

Dave: I haven’t been involved in the hobby for a while now, but it’s cool to see that it’s still alive.

RtB: I know David Fisher once called your second Nosferatu kit one of the best Orlok kits ever made. Now it is a highly prized garage kit. What do you think about the popularity of your piece among this subculture of hobbyists?

Dave: Wow….I really wasn’t expecting that kind of response when I did it. It’s cool to see how many Nosferatu fans there are out there. I have to give a very big thank you to David Fisher for the incredible praise, I’m very grateful to you and everybody else that just loves Nosferatu the way I do.

RtB: Is there any chance that you’re squeezing sculpting new garage kits into your heavy workload? If so, can you tell me what’s in the works?

Dave: I actually have two pieces that I try to work on when I can which is hardly ever. One of them is a small diorama based on an H.P. Lovecraft story, and the other I can’t say what it is just yet.

Dave GrassoThere are a few others that I definitely want to do after these are done. Two of them are from early 1920s cinema as well. The Lovecraft piece I want to do as a series, one diorama each from three of my favorite stories.

RtB: Would you like to add anything else?

Dave: I’m just blown away to see that there is still interest in this kit, and I have to thank all the Nosferatu fans out there that like it enough to want to have one. I was going to do another one based on a particular scene from the movie, but there seems to be a flood of Nosferatu sculpts out there right now. I’ll probably hold off on that one for a while.

Again, thanks for the interest, guys.

And from me, a thanks to Mike Nordstrom for helping me get in touch with Dave.

Batman Begins by Scott Whitworth

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Originally published June 8, 2006, at GJSentinel.com.

Batman Begins

Batman Begins“BATMAN BEGINS” BUST
• Sculpted by Scott Whitworth of Formation Designs.
• Produced by WebbHead Enterprises.
• 1/4 scale, about 10 inches tall.
• Two resin parts.
• The kit in the pictures was painted by Steve Riojas of Denver.

Back in my preschool days, late ’60s until about 1970, the world was all about the campy “Batman” TV series. While grown-ups were laughing at those silly “POWS!” and Robin in tights, little kids like me were taking the show dead seriously and making capes out of bath towels.

Move to my elementary school days and Batman was still an important character, but he was the Batman, a dark hero battling villains such as the maniacal Joker and the exotic Ra’s Al-Ghul.

Jump to college. Comics remained an occasional interest, but mostly as bathroom reading and the only titles that came into the house were stuff Dad found at garage sales. In 1985, I was buried in pretending to do homework and most of the fiction I read was what my teachers assigned. That’s when I happened on a story in the newspaper about Frank Miller’s “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns,” a four-issue series about the Batman coming out of retirement in his 50s. Like millions of others, I checked them out and loved them. Those comics were hugely popular, as was the follow-up “Batman: Year One,” also written by Frank Miller and presented in four issues of the ongoing “Batman” comic book.

Batman BeginsOf course, Warner Bros., owner of DC Comics, couldn’t help but notice that the Caped Crusader was more popular than ever and decided to make a movie. Tim Burton’s original “Batman” – starring Jack Nicholson as the Joker and Michael Keaton as Bats – debuted on the big screen in 1989 and generally pleased fans like me, even though the story pretty much fell apart in the last hour. It was followed up in 1992 by “Batman Returns,” featuring Michelle Pfeiffer as an interesting Catwoman and Danny DeVito as a disgusting Penguin. Fans are split on that one; I didn’t care for it and found Joel Schumacher’s follow-up – “Batman Forever” (1995), with Val Kilmer as the title hero and Chris O’Donnell as Robin – an improvement despite the forgettable villains and increased camp. However, I’ll never forgive Schumacher for the fourth movie in the series, “Batman and Robin” (1997), a film that failed so spectacularly further Bat-projects were shelved for years.

Scott WhitworthThose of us who liked Frank Miller’s vision of Batman found things to enjoy about some of these Batman movies, but it wasn’t until summer 2005 – when Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins,” starring Christian Bale, debuted – that we got the movie we’d been waiting for. “Batman Begins” takes some of the elements that worked in the previous movies, but its larger influences came from the Batman stories of the ’70s and Frank Miller’s Dark Night of the ’80s. Not all Bat-fans were thrilled – the Batmobile, called the “Tumbler” in the movie, seems to be a particular point of contention – but many were, including me.

Now, sculptor Scott Whitworth, working with Terry Webb of WebbHead Enterprises, has something new for fans of “Batman Begins” in the form of the bust that’s the focus of this entry. Like most garage kits, it’s available as an extremely limited edition for hobbyists and only for a limited time.

Scott, 33, of Phoenix has made a lot fans in the garage-kit community in the last couple of years, thanks in particular to the work he has offered through Formation Designs, of which he is the owner, sole operator and sculptor. He also works as a computer graphics artist. Scott is married; no kids yet, but he and the wife look forward to the day they’ll have them.

Scott sculpted the Batman bust in Super Sculpey’s Extra-Firm Gray Sculpting Compound; let’s take a look at that process before this week’s e-mail questions and answers.

Sculpture takes shape

Q&A WITH SCOTT WHITWORTH

Resin the Barbarian: Can I safely assume that you liked the movie “Batman Begins” and that’s what inspired you to create this bust? And, how long ago did you start work on it? I seem to recall seeing pictures of it on your Web site late last year.

Scott: I thought the movie was great. I think Tim Burton did an amazing job with the first two films, never really cared for Joel Schumacher’s take on the third and fourth films, I think Christopher Nolan’s approach was refreshing and created a much more realistic tone to the film.

BatsFunny thing is, I was never really inspired to sculpt the character after seeing the film until I was contacted by WebbHead Enterprises and asked if I’d be interested in sculpting a “Batman Begins” bust. Of course, my first response was, “When do we start?” From there I had my concept artist sketch up the discussed design and about five to six weeks later the piece was finished. I was first contacted near the end of August and wrapped the piece up around early October.

RtB: At the first glance of my untrained eye, this sculpture looks pretty simple. Then I start to notice things like the angle of the bat ears, the symmetry of the emblem on the base, the folds in the clothing, the ridges on the cowl… What detail of the Christian Bale Batman look was most difficult to re-create in clay?

Scott: Actually, the original idea for the piece was to be a simple upside down triangle, arms crossed as seen in the final piece. We toyed around with some different ideas as you can see in the concept design, but in the end we went back to the upside-down triangle design.

I can honestly say that I really never confronted any difficulties with this piece, which is something I wish I could say about every piece I do. When I finally started the piece I was so excited about doing it everything just came together. Also, it didn’t hurt that Christian Bale is one of those actors who has very definitive facial features, which makes replicating them in clay that much easier.

RtB: This is kind of a standard question, but the answer is still usually interesting: What other sculptors do you most admire? Did you discover their work before you became interested in sculpting yourself, of did you gain an interest in them after you got involved? (I ask this because of a personal experience. When I returned to the hobby a few years ago, I had no idea who the well-known kitbuilders were, but now I do and I follow their work avidly, looking for tips I can incorporate into my own work.)

Scott: This is a funny story, I never considered sculpting and had never even heard of Super Sculpey, pretty much the only material I use, until one day I had picked up a copy of Wizard magazine, issue No. 35, and saw an article about this guy Randy Bowen. In it, he had sculpted Frank Frazetta’s Death Dealer, the Predator, Frankenstein, etc. I was so blown away by this I ran out to my local art supply store and picked up a box of Super Sculpey. The rest, well we’re here today…

Now, who do I admire? Well, of course there are the old masters Michelangelo, etc., etc., etc…

My greatest inspiration has come from Mark Newman. Not only is this guy down to earth and generous, this guy has a traditional style that most of us can dream of reaching for. So, other than Mark Newman there are Takayuki Takeya, Tony Cipriano, Steve West, Mark VanTine, Jarrod and Brandon Shiflett, Ray Villafane, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say friends like Gabe Perna.

Eight and a Half TailsRtB: What goes through your head when you sit down to work, looking at a lump of clay and knowing you want to turn that into something like this Batman bust, or perhaps an Eight and a Half Tails” or “Cyber”? Are you excited about what you expect to see taking shape or do you feel intimidated?

Scott: The train of thought I always try to maintain is the final result as well as dissecting it as I move forward. I think about the final result and then break it down to the armature, the basic form, the lines/curves, the textures, and so on. I try not to let any possible piece intimidate me. I try to use the principles I learned reading all of those Burne Hogarth books and that is everything is made up of simple geometric forms. From there, it’s just adding all of the fine detail.

RtB: When you were 10 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? And how old were you when you realized that you weren’t simply interested in art as a pastime, but that you wanted to seriously pursue it?

Scott: I grew up in the automotive capital of the world, Michigan, and I knew at a young age that I didn’t want to spend my life grinding the hours away. I was raised with a passion for sci-fi, horror, and fantasy films thanks to my mom and dad letting me stay up late watching movies that were probably inappropriate for me at the time. I told everyone I wanted to work in films and the typical response was, “That’s just a dream!?” and 10 days after I graduated college I was working at Digital Domain working on “X-Men” and later working on “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Red Planet.”

RtB: What are you working on now?

Scott: I have a couple pieces in the works. Unfortunately, I can only share one. Cable is the garage kit I’m currently working on; the other four pieces I’m working on are commissioned pieces that I can’t disclose.

RtB: Do you have any long-term hopes or plans for your career as a sculptor?

Scott: My long-term plans are to raise children with my beautiful wife and sit in my studio and sculpt. I’ve been very fortunate with my career working in the film, video game, prepaint, and garage-kit industries. Although I’m still doing the computer graphics, I’ll continue pursing a career in sculpting. No matter which path I stay on, I’ll make sure I’m happy.

William Paquet’s Nosferatu

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

Originally published June 1, 2006, at GJSentinel.com.

Paquet\'s Nosferatu

Paquet\'s NosferatuPAQUET “NOSFERATU” BUST
Based on the 1922 silent classic movie “Nosferatu, A Symphony of Terror”
• Sculpted by William Paquet
• Produced by Tower of London, available from X-O Facto
• About 1/2 scale, 11 inches tall
• Made of two resin parts; casting by Mark Brokaw of Earthbound Studios
• Price: $120 plus shipping
• The “Nosferatu” kit pictured was painted by Steve Riojas of Denver

Back in the silent era of movies, director F.W. Murnau turned actor Max Schreck into Graf Orlok, one of the most memorable vampires ever put on screen. Unfortunately, instead of coming up with a story of their own or paying the Bram Stoker estate for the rights to “Dracula,” the filmmakers simply swiped the story. That led to all kinds of nasty legal entanglements, and for years it was a challenge to see the movie.

These days, “Nosferatu” has moved into the public domain, and in addition to being able to find cheap DVD copies of it all over the place, it’s one of the most popular subjects for garage model kits, one of the latest being the bust pictured above.

That piece and the others pictured are the work of sculptor William Paquet. William’s name is one of the first I learned when I got interested in garage kits, because he’s the creative talent behind some of the most sought-after kits ever produced. Of course, I’ve been watching for an excuse to contact him to do an e-mail Q&A ever since I started doing these profiles.

William, 41, lives in Virginia. He’s got a wife, Laurie; daughter, Valerie; a border collie named Rex; and two cats, Clovis and Vincent. Considering the frightening nature of much of his sculpture, I had to ask if there were any tell-tale hearts beating in his home. “No corpses under the floorboards,” he told me, “but a decent collection of animal skulls, including a crocodile and a bear.”

Paquet\'s monsters

Q&A WITH WILLIAM PAQUET

Resin the Barbarian: Wasn’t the Nosferatu sculpture originally intended to be a very large, full figure piece? If so, why didn’t that work out?

William PaquetWilliam: Time. The piece as it originally was intended is about 80 percent complete, but finding the time in my schedule to complete it has been difficult,

RtB: Does this bust represent a specific moment in the silent movie “Nosferatu”? If so, what is the character doing at this moment?

William: There is a scene where the vampire is walking through a courtyard. At first the camera shows a long shot, and then the view pulls into a close-up of him. He stands there and slowly turns his head as though listening to something. The portrayal is so stiff and creepy that his look there always struck me as very unsettling.

RtB: To my amateur eye, your work looks like an extremely accurate representation of Max Schreck in the movie, so I presume you use books, photos and/or videos as references. Do you keep images pasted up on the walls around you while you work?

William: I have some horror anthology books with a few decent images which I did use, but most of the reference was straight off a DVD on still frame. Not the easiest way to work, but printed material on the film is so rare that it was the only choice I had.

Paquet\'s NosferatuI did want to get as accurate a portrayal as I could, but the art director in me is always there so I will sometimes alter things slightly. That’s why he has no hair behind his ears. I don’t like it visually. To me it looks out of place and haphazard, and just breaks up the clean yet freaky shape of his head.

RtB: You are considered one of the “pioneers” of garage kits. What was the first of your sculptures sold as a kit, and what led to you creating it?

William: The first sculpture I made was a zombie stormtrooper from a movie called “Shock Waves.” Why I made it is solely because of my appreciation of the movie and the great makeup designs that Alan Ormsby developed.

RtB: I’m betting that these days you make a lot more money creating the sculptures that get sold as prepainted statues than you do making Nosferatus and the like for kitbuilders such as myself. Is that true? And if so, what keeps you coming back to garage kits?

William: There is certainly a lot more money to be made from creating sculptures for the prepainted statue market than from garage kits.

Paquet Sin CityI do enjoy the work of sculpting comic-book-based characters, but I am a die-hard horror freak. If given the choice, I will always choose to sculpt a zombie, freak, monster, corpse, etc. first. Unfortunately the market for that genre within the pre-paint business is slim at best, so the work that is available, while not my main area of enjoyment, still is fun and does pay the mortgage.

I have stepped away from garage kits for different lengths of time at different periods within my career, but you’re right … I do keep coming back to them eventually. There are several reasons for that.

Firstly, I started my career with GKs, and so there is a strong element of “coming home” when I do a figure for that market. Secondly, when I decide to make a sculpture on my own, I have carte blanche to do whatever I choose. I can create any character, in any design, and the only art director for the project is me. It’s the best of all worlds. The only thing that would make it better was if the market for the items was bigger, so that I could do more.

I’m currently working on a series of monster designs to be released as prepaints in the near future. I have no idea how the market will react to them, but if all goes well perhaps I will be able to devote more time to the genre that I love.

RtB: I did a Q&A with Mike Falcigno a few weeks ago and he spoke of you in glowing terms. How do you recall meeting Mike?

William: I got a package one day, that contained semi-nude pictures, a pair of old boxers, and a tube of lipstick. It was from Mike, and I thought, “Wow, what a sweet guy.”

OK, sorry … here’s the real answer -

Paquet\'s GrampaI got a call one day from Mike inquiring about buying some of my work. We chatted a bit, and he seemed like a decent guy. We traded phone calls for quite some time, got to know each other, and found we had a lot in common.

We met face to face the first time shortly before I moved from New Jersey, to here in Virginia. I had called Mike one day, letting him know that I had a bunch of stuff I wasn’t interested in packing up and moving, so he drove down form Connecticut. We had a lot of fun hanging out. Mike went home with a carload of kits, and I didn’t have to pack so much for my move.

Mike is like a creepy little brother. Stranger than me, and that’s saying something.

RtB: I’m sure you’ve encountered your share of unique characters, probably even a few true oddballs (no, I don’t mean Mike and I hope I don’t mean me). Would you mind sharing a memorable story about meeting a fan of your work?

William: I wish I had a juicy story for you but I don’t. Are there oddballs around? Sure. Most of the folks I meet at shows or through business transactions are very nice. Fans don’t usually gush or shower praise, but mostly just talk about what they like that I have created. It’s a real treat to meet the people that enjoy my work.

Paquet\'s MummyFrequently collectors will request that I sculpt something that they want for their collections, or offer very kind words about a favorite work of mine that they own. It’s rewarding to hear from people that what I make with my stinky mitts, is often beloved by them or sometimes even the pinnacle of their collection. Combine that with the fact that I’m doing what I love to do, and it doesn’t get much better than that.

Although there was that one time that someone called from Mike Falcigno’s cell phone at 3 a.m., saying only, “Play ‘Misty’ for me”…

RtB: Anything else you’d like to say?

William: Absolutely … I’d like to thank anyone out there that has liked my work enough to lay down their hard-earned dollars to buy it. You people allow me to work at a craft that gives me great satisfaction, and allows me to pay my bills every month. Without the collectors, I’d be a guy doing this in limited spare time after getting off work at whatever job I could find that would pay the bills.

So, to any and all that have kept me off the streets, dancing for nickels, THANKS!

Godzilla Ghost with T’s Facto

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

Originally published May 25, 2006, at GJSentinel.com.

Thanks to “kiryu” and “raydrz” for the suggested questions.

Godzilla\'s Ghost by T\'s Facto

Godzilla\'s Ghost by T\'s Facto“GODZILLA GHOST”
Inspired by the original, 1954 movie “Godzilla”
• Produced by T’s Facto
• Sculpted by Takashi Yamawaki, popularly known as “T”, who also painted the piece pictured
• About 15.75 inches tall
• 51 parts (see below for a breakdown)
• Made of resin
• Price: 29,000 yen (about $260 U.S.)
• Shipping to the United States would cost about $37
• Scheduled for release in June

Frankly, the giant-monster (kaiju) movies from Japan are often pretty cheesy stuff. People dressed in rubber costumes stomp on neat scale-model buildings and fight each other. The best I’ve seen of them are fun and have some wonderful moments; only the very worst are so bad you can’t enjoy them at least a little.

Godzilla\'s Ghost by T\'s FactoFew are what I would define as truly “great” movies, although I do get a chill from post-attack scenes in the first Godzilla movie, made when the nuclear bombings in Japan were a recent memory.

Model kits based on this material are often some of the most dazzling you’ll see, and this week’s subject – “Godzilla Ghost” from T’s Facto – is the latest to floor me, coming from a sculptor whose works often make me wonder just how much I want to overheat my credit card on my hobby.

Full-time Godzilla\'s Ghost by T\'s Factosculptor and kit seller “T” (Takashi Yamawaki) is 38 years old, unmarried, and lives in Saitama prefecture, just next to Tokyo. His mastery of written English is wonderful, judging by our e-mail exchange, which is great because I couldn’t have written this entry based on my nonexistent skill with the Japanese language. For the record, I had to do some minor editing in the Q&A exchange below, but not as much as I’ve had to do with some native English speakers in more than 15 years of newspaper experience.

“T” says he worked at International Hotel as a bartender in Singapore from the ages of 20 to 35 and learned English from his Chinese girlfriend. He moved on to sculpting three years ago.

Godzilla\'s Ghost by T\'s Facto

Q&A WITH TAKASHI YAMAWAKI, A.K.A. “T”

Resin the Barbarian: This kit represents Godzilla at the end of the first movie, when he is destroyed underwater. As I recall, the skeleton is not clearly seen in the film. What did you use as reference material?

T“T”: There was a movie in 2002, “Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla.” “The Monsters Inc.,” which is a sculpting team, made the skeleton model for this movie. I have a reference book of this movie. I used it.

RtB: Where did you learn how to sculpt?

“T”: I did not learn how to sculpt from anybody. Self -education.

RtB: What inspired you to get involved with sculpting kaiju model kits?

“T”: I have a pet monkey which is very small. I bought a vinyl Godzilla toy and put it in the monkey’s cage. But it had terrible looks and poor painting. So I fixed it. Repainted, remolded…

That was the beginning. Since that happened , I started to buy the kaiju model kits and fix fix fix. Then finally, I wanted to sculpt by myself.

Godzilla\'s Ghost by T\'s FactoRtB: I assume you enjoy kaiju movies. What is your favorite?

“T”: My favorite kaiju movie is the 1954 “Godzilla.” This is the best! Very artistic movie. And also I love “Gamera 1999.”

RtB: What is your favorite character to sculpt?

“T”: I like to sculpt Godzilla but don’t want to make it ordinary. I love to make it spikey and really look evil.

RtB: What inspired you to revisit the subject of the Godzilla skeleton, after having already released a smaller version?

“T”: After the smaller version sold out , I had so many requests to resell it. But I do not have a master form to fix the silicone. Since that time, I had a plan for this big version. And it should be the 1954 G Skeleton. I want them to believe that it is still standing.

RtB: How do you feel about the latest Godzilla movie, “Final Wars”? Do you think the lack of new material will affect the popularity of kaiju kits and future releases?

“T”: Well , I think that was OK for the kids. When I was a kid, I was always so happy to see the G movie. But for adults , I believe they had same answer which I have now. We grew up and think, “The old G movie was better than the new one.”

I think a new Godzilla movie will come up someday. And then the latest one will become popular like as usual. The same thing will happen for the kaiju kits.

Finally, I’ll tell you that my next release kit will be G vs ? from “Final Wars”!

Frankenstein’s Monster by Mark Newman

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

Originally published May 18, 2006, at GJSentinel.com.

Mark Newman\'s Frankenstein Monster

Mark Newman\'s Frankenstein Monster• Produced by Mark Newman Sculpture Inc.
• Sculpted by Mark Newman, who also painted the kit in the photos
• Scale: About 1/5; the figure is 15 1/4 inches tall
• Material: Solid resin
• Number of parts: Five, including the base
• Price: $150 plus $12 shipping in the United States

Fans of monster models could fill whole shelves with the Frankenstein Monster. I should know, I’ve done it.
The Monster, first pieced together in the pages of Mary Shelley’s novel and reborn time and time again on both the big and small screen, is arguably the most popular subject for fans of figure models. This is particularly true of the Universal Studios Monster, first embodied in 1931 by Boris Karloff. A flat-headed, neck-bolted Universal Monster was the first monster model released by Aurora in 1961, and the kit was so popular that the company followed it up with more monsters that were released and re-released over the years.

Horizon Original made a great Universal Monster kit, as did Billiken, GEOmetric Design and more. MANY more.

However, the Universal Studios version of the Monster isn’t the only one to win fans. Plenty of other visions of the creature have also kept kitbuilders busy over the years. Click on the “popular subject” link above for a good sampling.

Mark Newman\'s Frankenstein MonsterSome of those monsters represent the unique visions of their creators. That can be said of this week’s subject: “Frankenstein’s Monster” by Mark Newman, 43, of Oakland, Calif.

I’ve known Mark’s name for a while now, having heard time and again from hobbyists with a longer garage-kit background than my own 4 1/2 years, who considered him one of the best sculptors in the field. They usually spoke of him in terms of someone who had moved on from GKs to other works, and on the rare occasions they came up on eBay, his kits were at the center of bidding wars.

Then, a few months ago, Mark sort of reappeared on some Internet forums, and not too long after that he started asking people about the Frankenstein sculpture he was working on. “Would you consider buying this if it were a kit?” he asked.

Of course, the answer was a loud “Bring it on!”

As one of the Frankenstein Monster’s many longtime fans, I figured I just had to e-mail the mad doctor behind this latest version.

Q&A WITH MARK NEWMAN

Resin the Barbarian: How many versions of the “Frankenstein” story are you familiar with? (i.e. the Mary Shelley novel, various movies and comic books and so on.) And, which version is your favorite?

Mark NewmanMark: I’m not really sure how many versions of the classic “Frankenstein” story there are. But I always liked the original movie with Boris Karloff. That monster makeup design, to me, is still one of the coolest ever put to screen.

RtB: For some reason, I look at this piece and wonder what exactly the creature is thinking; where it is going, or where it’s coming from. Does your sculpture represent a specific moment in the story of the Monster?

Mark: In my sculpture, I wanted to portray the Monster making his first steps. Finding his balance. Lumbering along in this strange new awkward assemblance of a body.

RtB: This isn’t a terribly gruesome kit, but with its staples, raw flesh and blood, it’s also not for the squeamish. For lack of a better word, is there a point you reach when you decide it’s just “gross” enough without going too far?

Mark Newman\'s Frankenstein MonsterMark: I don’t think it is necessary to have too much gore in this particular piece. The thought of this being dead body parts reassembled and brought back to life should be enough without being gratuitous.

In the 1931 movie, there wasn’t much “gore” at all. To me the whole point of the character, the sympathy would be lost if shown with too muck gooey gunk all over him.

RtB: This is a hard one to phrase: It has been my impression that you were inactive in the garage-kit hobby for several years, possibly because you’d grown discouraged when recasters stole some of your works, or possibly because you’d moved on to other kinds of sculpture. Then, you started to get active on a couple of forums and even startled some hobbyists by revealing that you still had available a couple of your more sought-after kits (“Moonsinger” and “Neil Andrythal”) for great prices. Am I correct in my perception? And if so, what drew you back to sculpting the Frankenstein kit for the GK market?

Mark: I’ve always loved to create these kinds of sculptures. I always wanted to design and sculpt my own original characters or my own take on a classic “public domain” character.

In the model kit hobby, it’s very hard to sell original characters. It seems to me that most collectors like to collect their favorite characters from their favorite movies. I never really wanted to sculpt that.

I started to get very busy sculpting for the “mainstream” collectible market. I had an opportunity to design and sculpt my own wildlife figurine line and licensed it to Hallmark to produce and sell. I was making good royalties and keeping really busy.

When I was asked by Thomas Blackshear if I were interested in sculpting a line of figurines he was designing called “Ebony Visions,” knowing and respecting him and his work, I jumped at the chance.

Mark Newman\'s Frankenstein MonsterThe line became a huge success and still has a big presence in the gift industry.

The little time I had between “Ebony Visions” sculpts, I was sculpting action figures for some toy companies. Character design and maquette sculptures for video game companies and film projects. All this work left me little time to sculpt my own model kits.

Just recently I’ve found some time to bust out and make some kits. I never make me a lot of money at this but I love doing my own thing without the dreaded “approval process.”

RtB: What are you working on now?

Mark: I’m still working on the “Ebony Visions” line. I’m also working for Bowen Designs sculpting some Marvel characters. I just recently started working with Tippett Studio on a film project but that’s all I can say about that.