The Black Ops Toys Artists Corner is where we focus on people in the 1/6 hobby who make amazing art out of 1/6 scale action figures. Oftentimes you’ll hear that toys are to be left brand new, in the box, in order to be worth anything at all. But we believe that taking these 1/6 scale action figures out of the box and painting, weathering, gluing, sanding, cutting, stitching and photographing them makes them more valuable to us (THE ARTISTS). The figures are more than just pieces in a box, kitbashing artists make the figures come alive. These are the artists we focus on.
Don lives in San Francisco, California and he is married with children. He works for a tax firm by day and in his spare time he enjoys kitbashing 1/6 scale action figures, taking photos and sharing them with his fellow collectors on his web site www.dbtoyz.com. Many of the photos he has shared with Black Ops Toys are also available on his web site and there are dozens more photos there to check out.
Don got started collecting action figures when one of his friends showed him Jay Aquino’s web site (www.minitroopers.8m.com) and collection of action figures. After that, Don went out and bought his first ever 1/6 scale figure from 21st Century Toys. He purchased the Navy Seal Night Ops figure. He went on to buy box sets from Toys R Us and 21st Century from their World War 2 line, SWAT figures and Vietnam releases back in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
“Then the hobby was on the back burner,” Don said.
Even though Don wasn’t actively collecting in the early 2000′s, Jay Aquino’s web site and collection was still an inspiration for him and in 2003, Don asked Jay to do a Navy Seal kitbash for him. “I would purchase these modern bashed from him, and purchase loose parts as well,” Don explained. Then with Jay’s guidance and support, Don tried his hand at making his first kitbash. From then on he was hooked on creating his own kitbash figures using reference photos and other collectors’ bashes as inspiration for his work.
His main interest lies in creating modern military bashes. “For some reason, I like the genre,” Don said. “It just seems so cool to create and have a lot of fun with it.” Now, eight years after getting started on kitbashing, Don still enjoys the hobby, but more than anything, he enjoys all the relationships and friends he has made in that time.
Like many collectors, Don’s family has come around to understanding his love of 1/6 scale action figures. He got married in 2003, when he was taking a break from the hobby, and then a year or so after his marriage, his love of the 1/6 collecting slowly resurfaced and his wife began to notice. He’d had his first born child by then, so obviously being a dad took up a lot of his time. But as Don gradually became more active with the 1/6 collecting and kitbashing, his wife began to ask why he was doing it. She didn’t understand how a grown many could play with “dolls.” Some of his close friends also began to wonder about his new hobby. He tried explaining why he enjoyed the hobby to them. “I had to repeatedly and consistently tell them, they are not dolls, they are action figures,” he says with a smile.
As the years passed, though, Don’s oldest son became interested in the 1/6 world of collecting and kitbashing. “That’s really awesome,” he said. He shares the hobby he loves with his son and they both enjoy it. Now his family and even his wife have come to support him and for that Don is very appreciative.
His favorite projects, and the ones he enjoyed the most, are the kitbashes he’s done with his friends. Don belongs to a mini-group, along with Jay, and together they have kitbashed the Seal Team 7 from Act of Valor, the Green Berets in Afghanistan, and more recently, Jay and a few of Don’s other friends did the Seal Team 6 DEVGRU group. “That was a lot of fun,” Don smiles. “Just hanging out, sharing ideas, and just talking 1/6 and what not. Nothing really beats that.” Lucky for us, they plan on doing more of that in the future, which is good for collectors and 1/6 hobby fans, because the pictures (gallery below) are quite amazing.
As far as Don’s personal favorites, his Seal Team 5 platoon bash and the Seal Team 8 Tears of the Sun bash are by far his favorites. For him, it was worth all the time he spent to complete those kitbashes, and he couldn’t have done it without the generosity and support of a handful of friends who helped Don with the photo projects.
Right now, Don is planning a few more group kitbashes with his friends, and some individual projects as well. He’s working on a CAG DELTA, MARSOC, a set of SEALS, a US Air Force STS/CCT, and maybe a few more SEALS. “Yeah, can you tell this is my favorite subject,” Don jokes. Most of his current projects are waiting on gear to arrive, so he can finish them, but he assures me that when they are done, he will get photos up on his web site.
Though Don hasn’t sold any of the kitbashes he created for himself, his work was noticed by actor Jon Huertas, who commissioned a figure. Huertas played Sgt. Espera on the HBO series Generation Kill and is currently playing Detective Esposito on ABC’s television show, Castle. Huertas contacted Don after he saw a kitbash Don and his friend did of a couple other guys from Generation Kill. Huertas asked Don if he could create a character based on him. “I was honored and accepted his offer,” Don said. “We met up in San Francisco, had lunch, and did the exchange. It was an awesome experience.”
Don’s other hobbies are spending time with his family, enjoying San Fransisco Giants baseball and other Bay Area sports teams, because his son loves to collect sports memorabilia. All that collecting can be hard on the pocketbook and can take up a lot of time, but Don manages to keep everyone in family happy and collecting.
Don’s photo collection of his kitbashes is impressive and if you like what you see in the photo gallery in the Artists Corner, I encourage you to check out Don’s web site (www.dbtoyz.com). You won’t be disappointed.
The 1/6 Artists Corner questions and answers from Don:
- What is your favorite movie? Tears of the Sun
- What is your favorite holiday? Christmas
- What did you want to be when you grew up? Doctor
- What profession/job would you never want to do? Coroner
- What was the last music concert you attended? Oasis (Brit band)
- xBox360 or PS3? PS3 all the way
- If you were a weapon, what kind of weapon would you most want to be? Sig Sauer P226
- If you were a menu item at a restaurant, what would your entree be called? Special Jumbo Lumpia
- What is your favorite curse word? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
- Do you have a Zombie apocalypse escape plan? Yes, i have a special wand, like Harry Potter’s, and it has powers to give life to all my 1/6 troopers, they will protect me and family from all living and non-living threats, foreign, and domestic. =)