Mr Blank the Monster Maker?!? (part one)

I will be debuting my first “bootleg art toy figure” very soon, it’s actually all still in the works but I was excited to tell everyone about what I’ve been working on since Oct…

First off what is this “bootleg toy” thing all about? Well, I’ve definitely used things like: pieces of barbie dolls, electronic toys, baby doll heads, and other pre-existing toys in my own art for as long as I can remember. I once painted a picture that had barbie pieces, reshaped with a dremel to look like body part of a corpse with exposed bone and flesh, hanging by strings from a picture frame. I’ve even taken photos of a “baby doll skull” for a tshirt design, and more… So making art that co-opted pieces of already existing “corporate art” is no stretch for me but it wasn’t until more recently that I discovered the world of “Bootleg Toys“, aka “Bootleg Figures” depending on who you’re talking too…

It all sorta started years ago when I saw some work my buddy Dain Marx (from Buzzard Guts toy company), did with bootleg art figures. I loved them, so I asked him if he would create a line of figures for my vaudevillian-freak barshow called the “Carnivale Of Black Hearts“. I wanted each of the characters of my insane traveling troupe of misfits to have their very own figure design that looked just like them to sell at shows. Fast forwarding to more recently, Dain needed help making and designing the packaging artwork for his figures which he does all himself with a little help from Bel-Jeans print shop in downtown Athens… and so I offered my photoshop skills as in-house artist for his Buzzard Guts toy company. Check out this logo I made for him based on the Lucas Films logo:


After working on a hand full of projects together we began to rift on ideas Dain already had floating around in his head for some time now of a parallel world based on the question: “How cool would it be if all movies at the VHS rental store were like Star Wars???” (aka #auniversewhereeverythingiskindoflikestarwars). Dain had some movie ideas already, I came up with a couple of my own, and for the most part we just bounced ideas back and forth so much it’s hard to know where some of the idea came from. We’ve ended up creating a whole line of movies posters featuring well known Star Wars characters as fictional characters in real movies from the 80’s. I’ve gotten at least ten movie poster thumbnails put together in Photoshop and Buzzard Guts has featured them on the back of the cardbacks for the “Say Utinni” and “Alien Empire” releases, both of which Sold Out completely.

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The posters were even featured on “Toy Geeks: Behind The Counter S1E37” (see video below, at 21m 52s) where they focused in on a couple of their favorite movie posters like the “Pee-Wee Pio’s Big Adventure“, “Teen Wookie” and “Fettface” which was the one I thought up and whipped together last minute before sending it off to the printers.

So far Dain has already created and released figures for the “Say Utinni“, “Alien Empire” and “A Life Day Story” movies, and has a few more in the works that should be out soon. But while working on the posters I came up with my own idea for a figure for one of the movies. With a few spare parts from Dain’s pile of Star Wars figure parts and some sculpey I created my very first bootleg art toy for the movie “Force Ghostbusters“. You see, there’s a far out theory that Yoda was actually a force ghost the whole time when Luke first met him in the remote swamps of planet Dagobah (see video below)… So I thought it’d be funny to do a mash-up of Yoda and Slimer.

Using only a head and two arms from an old Yoda figure, a bit of white air dry clay for the teeth, and a wad of “granny smith” green sculpey… I made a Yoda/Slimer which I’m planning to name “Grand Master Jedi Slimer“! Check out the pictures I took during the process:

For my first try I was using only the air dry clay. But, as it was “air drying” it started to crack pretty bad:

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Dain talked to Eddie (another figure creator friend, aka TripleBummer) and he said he uses Sculpey. So I got the green Sculpey instead:

I was very happy with the finished piece, check it out in this short video clip:

Since then I’ve gotten some other materials to work with like “Apoxie Sculpt” which I’m going to test out soon on a figure idea for Rat Babies which will be based on a character from the the upcoming VHS release of the album and short film entitled “Speak Hard Answers“… And so begins my bootleg toy designing career!

Next? Dain will be showing me how to make a mold of the Yoda/Slimer figure so that we can cast it in resin. But you’ll have to wait for Part Two of this blog to see what happens…