Monday, 19 June 2017

Toy Customizer: Joe Amato

Interview with Toy Customizer: Joe Amato
 

Toy customizing has quickly become an ever-increasing hobby thanks to adult-collector toy lines, and the slow pace at which they release new product. There’s nothing stopping you from creating your very own ideal action figure. Today we are talking with a guy who goes by the name of Joe Amato from Joe Amato Custom Creations.

Joe Amato will make you any custom action figure you can think of. Original characters, Masters of the Universe, TMNT, Star Wars, DC, Marvel, or anything else!

MOTU!: Hi Joe and thanks for taking time out to do this interview with me. Ever since I saw your custom work, I became an instant fan. You have made some awesome customs over the years and your work is just getting better and better.

Joe: Thank you for asking me to be part of this interview! And I really appreciate the compliments I have a lot to learn still, and try to improve with each custom I do.

MOTU!: So Joe, how did you get started doing action figure customs?

Joe: I seen a custom on EBAY of a figure that was never released for the vintage 80’s Masters of the Universe line, and I wanted to try and make a figure that I always wanted as well, but never got back then. From there, it just snowballed and I had people ask me to make them figures as well.


Battle Damaged Faker

MOTU!: How long have you been customizing figures?

Joe: I have been customizing for just around 7 years.

Loyal Subjects Anti-Eternia He-Man, Slime Pit He-Man & Battle Damaged Faker

MOTU!: You do a lot of sculpting on your figures, not just the same old repaints seen elsewhere. What materials do you generally use to "make the magic happen"?

Joe: You find some materials work better for different parts, whether it be sculpting a face, hair, armor, etc. But using anything from Green Stuff, Apoxy Sculpt, or even Super Sculpey can get the job done.

Clawdeen

MOTU!: Your paint jobs are very well done. Can you tell us a little on your technique for getting a sweet paintjob that gets past the pesky joint rub problem?

Joe: Thank you! As for the pesky joint rub, alight sanding of that area can usually take care of that problem most of the time.
 
Mini Comic Trap Jaw
MOTU!: Any horror stories of something gone horribly wrong?

Joe: When I first started doing customs and trying to figure how to “secure” figures in the custom packaging, I had a custom break during shipping. Since then I use a new technique to guarantee the figure will stay secure in it’s custom card back without moving.
 
Crossover Custom Thundarr The Barbarian
MOTU!: On the opposite end of blood loss, what has been your favorite custom to date? Not necessarily your favorite character, but one that just turned out exactly, or better, than you planned.

Joe: My favorite custom project was working on a couple that was getting married, and wanted me to make a custom action figure of their significant other. The best part was she did not know I was making a custom action figure of her, and he did not know I was making a custom action figure of him. Then when they were exchanging gifts, they gave each other the surprise of their life!
 
New Adventures of He-Man - PrinceAdam
MOTU!: Do you have upcoming MOTUC customs that you're excited to be working on, or planning out?

Joe: I am working on some Thundercat customs that I cannot wait to finish up, along with customs for the people who pledged for the Power of Grayskull Documentary!

Thunderian Battle Cat-Man
MOTU!: Where can people see more of your work? Also, what is the best way for someone to get in touch with you for commissions?

Joe: You can view my work on my Facebook Page at Joe Amato Custom Creations -
www.facebook.com/Joe-Amato-Custom-Creations

For custom work, you contact me at: mijafre@sbcglobal.net
 
Slime Pit He-Man
MOTU!: Thanks Joe, great talking with you! We look forward to seeing more sweet new customs from you during 2017.

Joe: Thank you for letting me be part of this great Q & A! And 2017 will be a great year!
 
Super-Mario
 

Friday, 2 June 2017

Custom Torak Review

Custom Torak

Heroic Hero of Pre-History
 

I am a very big fan of the Pre-Eternia, Grayskull Era and I am also a big advocate that all the concept figures should be made into the MOTU Classic Line. I am actually not sure why this hasn’t happened yet. Maybe it’s because of some licensing issues or it’s just that there is so many other more important characters that hasn’t be made yet, and they are getting preference, for example The New Adventures Figures.

It’s for this reason that I decided to go the Custom route to get these figures into my MOTU Collection. I already own a Custom Guerr-Or and I now decided it’s time that I get a Custom Torak Figure.

Here is a little history behind Torak.

Torak was the first hero Mark Taylor had created as the protagonist for a male action figure line. He was a Gladiator / Caveman type feel to him, brandishing a short sword and helmet. He could be viewed as the earliest version of He-Man from a drawing, and could be one of the many “He-Men” that existed between King Grayskull and Prince Adam.

 


1979 – Torak (He-Man) & Early Skeletor Concept, by Mark Taylor

Aug 15, 1979 – Category Management Teams Memo

The early He-Men – Art by grimbot on Deviant Art
 
The prototypes in the pic is one of the 3 original prototypes Roger Sweet used to pitch the idea for the MOTU Line to Mattel's Management, more exactly the one based on Mark Taylor's drawing (Torak). The other 2 were all Roger Sweet's design.

 

MOTU 30th Anniversary Art - Torak by
happymonkeyshoes

Original Message from happymonkeyshoes

2012 marks He-man and the Masters of the Universe's 30 years in existence. As many know, I am a huge fan, and wanted to mark it in some way. So Each month I will be celebrating with a character drawn for those who have kept the series going in some form. To start this is a merit of the first drawing before He-Man existed by Mattel creator Mark Taylor and he named this fellow TORAK - Hero of Pre-History. He’ll never see it, but without Torak we may never have had He-Man!

Torak Recipe:

The body that I used was a Vykron body with the Normal He-Man Head. Paintwork and Armor was done and made by the very talented Frikkie Stroebel (Blue Hands Customs).



Weapon: The Sword of Ancients.

I decided that the perfect weapon for Torak will be The Sword of Ancients as it appears in the Mask of Power episode. I think it’s the perfect weapon that fits in the Pre-Eternia Era and Torak will be the perfect hero to wield the Sword of Ancients to defeat the Evil Powers of Skeletor.

 



Even though Torak is a custom figure, I believe that he deserves his rightful place between the Heroic Heroes of Eternia.

 


Together with Guerr-Or, Vikor and Vykron, Torak can now defend the Secrets of Castle Grayskull!!!!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Toy Collector: Daniel Dixon


Interview with Toy Collector: Daniel Dixon

Welcome to my Fifth interview segment, where a collector answers 13 short questions. The same questions will be given to every collector appearing in this segment.

I’m really excited to welcome South African Masters of the Universe Collector, Daniel Dixon onto the blog.


MOTU!: Before we start with the magic 13 questions, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Daniel: Yes, No problem. I’m a South African living on the south coast in a place called George. I am in the automotive industry selling second hand vehicles. I’m married to a awesome wife and I have three kids.

MOTU!: 1. What inspired you to collect?

Daniel: I would say my fascination with fictional characters. Since I can remember I always loved the idea of good versus evil and good always prevailing. Obviously MOTU was my very first experience into these worlds and therefore I enjoy Motu the most.


MOTU!: 2. How long have you been collecting?

Daniel: On and off for about 11 years, but extensively for about 4years now.


MOTU!: 3. What do you collect?

Daniel: As it stands now I collect a lot of Motu stuff, I also recently bought some of the new The Loyal subjects figures which I am still waiting for. I collect Marvel legends, TMNT figures, some DC figures, comics and Hotwheels.


MOTU!: 4. What’s your grail and favorite piece in your collection?

Daniel: I really truly don’t have a grail. My whole collection is my grail. I do own a comic with the 1st appearance of wolverine which if I had to select one item it might be this comic but I love my whole collection.


MOTU!: 5. What collectors inspire you?

Daniel: The type that use their hobby to develop friendships. Ive made so many friends over the years and I enjoy sharing my passion with others who also enjoy it. Jaun Vermaak, Dewald van Tonder and Jeremy Price just to mention a few.


MOTU!: 6. What is your most embarrassing moment as a collector?

Daniel: I cant say that I have one, I’ve taken almost two days thinking about this one and I cant think of anything. I’m really sorry, normally these types of questions create some laughter but I am spoiling the party.
 

MOTU!: 7. What is your favourite MOTU Filmation or 200x Series Episode or MOTU Mini Comic and why?

Daniel: Filmation, diamond ray of disappearance. I love how He-Man breaks that diamond with his bare hands.


MOTU!: 8. What would you change about the collecting community?

Daniel: Not much. I believe each to his own. In any community you will find people getting on well with certain people and with others you just don’t click.


MOTU!: 9. Forums or Facebook groups?

Daniel: I like both, I’ve obtained some nice stuff using both.


MOTU!: 10. What MOTU character do you most resemble?

Daniel: Definitely Adam. He seems to be very incompetent to others and even himself, but within him there lies a greater power that often comes out.


MOTU!: 11. Is there one thing that collectors may not know about you?

Daniel: I’m sure there are a lot of things :P but one thing I can mention is that I sing and play guitar in a church band.


MOTU!: 12. I notice that a lot of collectors also collect comics (myself included). What do you think is the common factor that draws some people to both of these hobbies?

Daniel: comics bring the characters we love to life in a way.


MOTU!: 13. And finally, what is it about the hobby that has kept you collecting for all of these years?

Daniel: the fact that the people behind the scenes just keep making it better and better for the fans.

MOTU!: Well thank you so much for joining me today Daniel. It has been an immense pleasure and I’m sure my readers will enjoy reading your answers as much as I have!

Daniel: Awesome job Cobus. You are definitely doing your part in keeping the collectors together. Thanks to you for allowing me the opportunity to share my side of the story.




Tuesday, 2 May 2017

How to look after your Masters of the Universe Figures


How to look after you Vintage Masters of the Universe Figures:


I got this article from a friend of mine when I started collecting Masters of the Universe Figures a couple of years back. I am not sure who wrote it and I don't know who I can credit it to, but this is a very useful article and one that I have followed to insure that my MOTU Figures stays in great condition!!

Remember Vintage MOTU figures are more than 30 years old and they are very fragile, especially the legs. The first thing that usually breaks is the rubber cord that connects the leg to the body. Don’t pull on it or bend the legs to far over please!!!!

Taking good care of your action figure collection is easy. It takes very little time, and will help your collection last longer, making for nice displays and maintaining their collectible value. Just like any collection (stamps, coins, comic books), action figures can be susceptible to environmental factors and aging. A few simple steps will help keep your action figures looking like new.

Why Do I Need to Care for My Figures?

The materials that action figures are made from are far from indestructible, and can, over time, show signs of aging. Paint can chip or rub off, the plastic can become discolored or dirt, grime and dust can build up.

Your Action Figures' Most Dangerous Enemies:

· Direct Sunlight: Too much direct sunlight can cause the plastic to become faded and blotchy.

· Heat: Intense heat, usually in conjunction with direct sunlight, can cause the plastic to become soft and misshapen.

· Humidity: High humidity can cause the paint on the action figures to peel and chip, can cause decals to fall off and joints to loosen, causing your figures to have a hard time maintaining their poses.

· Dirt and Dust: Dirt and natural oils from your fingers can cause a grimy buildup on your figures if handled too much. Dust, while not really harmful to the figure, can build up and make for a less than pleasing display.

How Do I Care for My Figures?

Here are a few simple steps that will help to keep your collection in great shape. It's smart to get into the habit of regularly maintaining your collection, perhaps by setting aside one day a month to devote to the upkeep of your figures.

Helpful hints:

· Keep your figures displayed in an area where no direct sunlight can reach them. If they're displayed on a bookshelf or display case, make sure they are set in an area of the room farthest from any windows that allow in a lot of sunlight.

· Keep your figures stored or displayed in a room that keeps an average comfortable room temperature. Do not store your figures where excess heat can affect them, such as a garage or an attic. Nobody wants a melted collection!

· If you're storing your figures in boxes, use sturdy plastic storage containers with lids that seal on in order to help keep out excess humidity. Consider sealing each figure in its own zip-lock plastic bag before they're put into the container. Cardboard boxes are not ideal for storage as they let in heat and humidity as well as often contain acids that over time can destroy plastics and discolor paint.

· Fight off dirt and dust build-up by handling your figures carefully. If they do get dirty, most figures can be cleaned by letting them soak in warm soapy water and scrubbing gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Dust can be easily removed with a can of air-propelled dust remover like you'd use on computer equipment and keyboards.

"Mint In Package" Action Figures:

If you choose to keep your figure in their original packaging, the packages themselves require some care. The materials used by the toy companies are meant to be temporary and thrown away after the figures are removed, therefore they often use cheap materials that were never meant to be kept for a lifetime.

Common Dangers to Packaging:

· Heat and sunlight can cause the plastic bubble that encases the figure (called a "blister") to become extremely brittle which can lead to cracking. Also, heat and sunlight can cause the glue that holds the blister to the cardboard backing (called the "card") to loosen, making the blister fall right off of the card and now your figures can be considered "loose" whether you like it or not.

· Direct sunlight can wreak havoc on the printing inks on the card, bleaching and fading the graphics in a matter of weeks and destroying its "mint" value.

· Be mindful of the backing card as it's made of inexpensive cardboard that can easily bend, crease or peel apart if handled improperly or dropped. Also, your finger's natural oils can cause the inks on the card to discolor or bleach if handled too often. All of these things will lessen the mint value of your figure, as other collectors look for these problems when buying or grading a "mint on card" action figure.

Enjoy Your Collection!

Following these few simple rules will help you to better enjoy your collection, make it more impressive when you show it off and keep their resale collectible value high and hopefully profitable down the road. 

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Toy Collector: Peter W



Interview with Toy Collector:  Peter W!

Welcome to my Fourth interview segment, where a collector answers 13 short questions. The same questions will be given to every collector appearing in this segment.

I’m really excited to welcome Canadian Masters of the Universe Collector, Peter W onto the blog.


MOTU!:  Before we start with the magic 13 questions, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Peter: Hi, there! Thanks for asking me to be a part of this segment! I’m married to a wonderful woman and we have an amazing 17 month old little girl. I have a full time professional career that is very fulfilling and I love playing and listen to music – especially heavy metal. I also run my own blog, Electrified Porcupine (
www.electrifiedporcupine.com) where I take a look at all the different collectible, figures, and music I purchase and I blog about WWE wrestling (it’s my soap that I’ve watched all my life and I can’t get out).

MOTU!: 1.  What inspired you to collect?

Peter:  I don’t know if I have a specific inspiration for collecting, but maybe it’s more of an obsession that started out as a kid. I had almost all the vintage MOTU and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I was a child (as well as a plethora of other various figures – thanks Mom and Dad). I sold most of everything when I was 12 in a garage sale because I was trying to get my own money for video games and music as it was of more importance to me at that point in my life. The collecting bug, whether it was music, movies, games, or toys, has always been a part of me.








MOTU!: 2.  How long have you been collecting?

Peter:  For my “adult” collecting life, it actually started when I was probably 16 or 17 when the new Star Wars: Power of the Force line started to make their appearance in stores. I saw Boba Fett and bought it immediately, not thinking anything more of it. It was a cool figure and the first Star Wars figure I had seen in a store in a very long time. Then I went back and got Darth Vader because, well, he’s Darth Vader. Remember how buff those other figures were? The proportions were nuts!

After looking at the back of the card for a week or two and seeing the other characters, I figured it wouldn’t hurt just to go out and get the rest of the set. I did and I was hooked back into collecting toys. I continued on with all the Power of the Force figures they released and grabbed some McFarlane stuff that was blowing everyone away in the 90s (like the Movie Maniacs line as I’ve always loved horror movies). It hasn’t stopped from there.



MOTU!: 3.  What do you collect?

Peter:  I collect MOTUC, Star Wars 1/6 scale figures from Sideshow Collectibles and Hot Toys, horror movie figures by NECA, and TMNT stuff from NECA, MegaBloks, and DreamEX. 

I recently got back into collecting 3 ¾” Star Wars figures when The Force Awakens came out. I left collecting Star Wars figures in that scale just before they started Revenge of the Sith figures. I regret missing out on the Revenge of the Sith line (and would still like to score myself a complete collection), but at that time, I was putting myself through higher education and didn’t have the money to keep collecting every single figure, so I just stopped completely with Star Wars. At that time I was also collecting Playmates’ line of The Simpsons figures and I could really only afford to collect one line so I stuck with them. I still need some of the later waves to complete that collection.

I really can’t wait to see what Super7 is going to do with MOTUC! I have one set of the reissues coming along with an extra Ram Man. If any extras go on sale on their site in March, I’ll probably break down and get another set. I just couldn’t afford two full sets at the time.

I may start slowly getting into tracking down carded vintage MOTU figures because those figures (and Star Wars) were my main toys when I was growing up. I just know once I get my first vintage MOTU figure mint on card, it will open a whole new can of worms and I don’t know if my wallet will like that.



MOTU!: 4.  What’s your grail and favourite piece in your collection?

Peter:  That’s tough. If it’s MOTU, it’s hard not to say Castle Grayskull as who would imagine that in this day and age that we actually got one in scale with the new figures. I JUST got the very first King Grayskull this week, too, as I had never gotten one when they first went on sale, so that’s a very important piece for me, too. I still need to get Twistoid and Rotar as I missed out when they went on sale, so currently that’s my grail of completing my MOTUC collection.

For other lines, the Sideshow Jabba and his Throne and General Grevious are both highlights for me. The Bespin Luke with the additional bonus Vader mask that Hot Toys released years back is now something I want to save for because it goes for quite a bit of money now.



MOTU!: 5.  What collectors inspire you?

Peter: I think the community as a whole inspires me and that’s what really led me to starting Electrified Porcupine. I have read (and continue to read) excellent articles/features/pictorials from writers and contributors over at TheFwoosh.com, TNI, Itsalltrue.net and The Toyark. I have also been inspired by Matt over at Dinosaur Dracula, Michael Crawford and his toy reviews, and I’ve liked the work Pixel Dan has done. All those collectively, plus reading the passion of fans on various sites, led me to start Electrified Porcupine and share my passion for toys and collecting.



MOTU!: 6.  What is your most embarrassing moment as a collector?

Peter:  I don’t know if I’m embarrassed by anything I’ve done as a collector but I’m sure others who have gone shopping with me may have been embarrassed in the past as I’m rummaging through the pegs looking for figures when kids are also in the aisle trying to look at the figures, too. Or maybe it’s when my friends or my wife go to the checkout with me and the cashier asks if the figs are for kids and I tell them they’re for me. I really don’t care, though, because none of that bothers me.






MOTU!: 7.  What is your favourite MOTU Filmation or 200x Series Episode or MOTU Mini Comic and why?

Peter:  For the MOTU Filmation episode, it would have to be “Song of Celice.” For some reason, that episode, its characters, and plot have stuck with me ever since I first saw it on TV. I rented the VHS tape numerous times when I was a kid (until someone made me a VHS copy). I was thrilled when Lizard Man was actually released because I had wanted a toy of him since this episode. I hope they finally release a Celice figure one day.

I can’t say I have a favourite mini-comic because many are awesome but to pick one off the top, I would have to be “Masks of Power.” I love the art, the story, and the demons that end up wearing the masks. I think many in the collecting community are hankering for those demons to finally be made into action figures.





MOTU!: 8.  What would you change about the collecting community?

Peter:  I’m not sure I would change anything and here’s why: people have the freedom to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction in any way and it can bring about good ideas, discussions, and debates. The people who personally attack others without having the knowledge of the “behind the scenes” stuff can actually make you realize that you don’t want or need to be that kind of person in the collecting community. 

I totally understand the frustration behind MattyCollector’s 2016 year but to attack members for their thoughts or perceptions (or their frustrations that they’re allowed to have over it), boggles my mind. Then again, I’d rather have people spout off what they want to rather than be censored. People have the power to ignore it or not respond back to anything they choose.   




MOTU!: 9.  Forums or Facebook groups?

Peter:  I lurk on some pages and FB groups but I don’t post very often. I like to read people’s opinions on things but use my own site to express my thoughts. I can be pretty sarcastic and online that may be a seen as a negative because it’s easy to misinterpret the tone of what is being written and I see people blow up at each other because of that or simply because the opinion of one doesn’t match their own. I don’t need to get caught up in any of that, so I just read the banter.




MOTU!: 10.  What MOTU character do you most resemble?

Peter: HAHA! I have never been asked this question or even thought about it. I think I’d leave that up to the people that know me well to answer. 





MOTU!: 11.  Is there one thing that collectors may not know about you?

Peter:  I spend hard earned money on my collection and I feel I should be getting my money’s worth, so I can have harsh opinions when things aren’t right with a certain product (see my thoughts on the Club Grayskull Evil-Lyn figure as an example, and that was toned down from my original draft).  

I guess most people wouldn’t know that I love sour candy, am an avid gamer (although being dedicated to my site and having a toddler kinda has put gaming on the backburner over the last year), and I try not to take anything for granted. I try and see the glass half-full in life.

I also have bought, since the beginning of MOTUC being available, two of every figure. I’ve purchased three or more if the figure had a second (or third) head, so I could display all the possible options on my shelf. I keep one in the box to display and place a figure posed in front of the boxed one. I have no idea why I had the notion to start doing that. Perhaps I expected the line to go for a year or two and it would look cool. When I realized the line was heading into its third year, I couldn’t just stop buying like that because I had already come so far. Now I have almost absolutely no room in my man-cave area – which my wife totally supports (thanks, baby!).

I’m doing my best to get better at photography and editing the pictures. I also started doing videos for my YouTube page I started last year. I embed them in my articles (when applicable) so people can enjoy my articles for entertainment purposes or to help them decide whether or not they want to spend their hard earned money on a product. I need to get better at them – but I enjoy writing more than talking on camera.




MOTU!: 12.  I notice that a lot of collectors also collect comics (myself included). What do you think is the common factor that draws some people to both of these hobbies?

Peter:  Both are entertainment mediums that people use to escape the stress of everyday life. Comics provide a world where people engage in amazing stories and are captivated by the art and characters. People connect to the characters and the stories and like to show what they connect with through something tangible by purchasing action figures or other collectibles.  

Some people enjoy movies, TV shows, food, books, board games, “reality” TV show garbage, or any other form of entertainment and connect with those in different ways outside that specific medium as well. People who enjoy specific movies and TV shows also buy collectibles or action figures from those mediums as well, so comic fans doing the same with action figures or collectibles is no different.




MOTU!: 13.  And finally, what is it about the hobby that has kept you collecting for all of these years?

Peter:  My wife laughed at me the first time I said this but it’s so true: I think collecting action figures is like collecting little pieces of art. Sculptors bring these things to life and a team of people work on the logistics to get these things to us. As adults, we can appreciate all the hard work that goes into these things and the companies are trying to provide the best product they can. That’s why I also have such a mint on card/mint in package collection. I love the art and design that go into a lot of packaging that’s used to bring these items to us (just look at what NECA has done with their “Ultimate” line – beautiful).

I think that’s also why there’s such rage online when something isn’t delivered as well as it should be (like the recent Black Series Princess Leia or certain MOTUC products): there’s passion from a very dedicated group of people. I know that the majority of us in the collecting world want to provide constructive criticism and not spread negativity, but I’m sure there are cases were the negativity/anger is definitely valid for some people based on specific criteria. I guess the final point of this rant is that we’re not owed anything as collectors – we should be grateful we get anything at all made from our favourite brands and characters. If you don’t like it, vote with your wallet.




MOTU!:  Well thank you so much for joining me today Peter. It has been an immense pleasure and I’m sure my readers will enjoy reading your answers as much as I have!

Peter:  Thank you very much for asking me to answer these questions. I had a lot to reflect on here. I hope your readers also check out my website and also chime in on my MOTUC features. All my social media is linked to the main page, so if anyone also wants to like and follow on FB, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as subscribe to my Youtube channel, that would be great! Cheers and thanks again!