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.
This month’s Artists Corner features someone that has had a strong relationship with BlackOpsToys over the years. Eric started his own 1/6 figure business about 12 years ago, and has expanded in the last few years to doing custom designs. We took some time to have a little Q&A with Eric Rodriguez about some of these topics, as well as some photos of a few of his custom designs.
Billy (BOT): Where do you live?
Eric (Red Planet Toys): As Ed Norton said: “Garden spot of the world! Brooklyn, USA!” (No, not the actor. If you thought it was him, you must be under 20).
Billy: What do you do for a living?
Billy: Do you consider yourself primarily a collector of 1/6 scale figures, toys, etc? Or would you consider yourself an artist first, who happens to collect also?
Eric: If it’s cool and I can fit it on the shelf, it’s in my collection. When I started collecting I just saw myself as a collector. Although I studied art in high school, I didn’t really see myself as an artist until about a year or two ago when I started focusing on custom figures.
Billy: How/when did you start Red Planet Toys?
Eric: I started Red Planet Toys a little over 12 years ago. I actually started it because I wanted to have my own business and I figured why not sell something I love.
Billy: How has that evolved over the years?
Eric: When I started RPT, I sold only boxed and loose 1/6 like most dealers. I wanted to do something different, so I got together with a sculptor and started offering custom headsculpts. I then started adding kitbashes which then evolved to custom figures.
Billy: When did you first start buying 1/6 scale figures? Was it for business or for personal customization use? What was the first figure you customized?
Eric: I discovered 1/6 collecting with the introduction of 21st Century Toys‘ carded Vietnam sets. I wasn’t a military collector at all, but I was always fascinated by detailed miniatures and 21C’s gear was great. My early figures were really just kitbashes. I think my first attempt at “customizing” were my Saving Private Ryan figures. This was the first time I added waterslide decals to the helmet, custom lift-the-dots to the gear and some light weathering.
Billy: What are your best artistic customization techniques? (Without giving any trade secrets away, of course)…
Eric: I have no secrets. I use sand paper to give the clothing a lived in look and pastels to dirty the figure. Alot of it is just practice. I’m definitely learning as I go along. One thing I do that I feel makes a big difference in how the clothes hang on the figure is I put the clothes on the figure, completely wet the clothing with a spray bottle and then put the figure in a fetal position. Once the clothes dry it gives them that natural lived-in look.
Billy: How does your family feel about your hobby?
Eric: Honestly, my wife is rather neutral about it. She’s not really interested in it, but doesn’t disapprove of it. She knows it’s my creative outlet.
Billy: What is your favorite project so far? Tell us a little bit about your favorite project and include any pictures?
Eric: My favorite project? Hard to choose, but I did have fun working on my Blackbeard pirate. That was my first ever figure in that genre. I once again collaborated with Gustavo Bautista Ponce, who is an amazing 1/6 leathersmith, and Skiman’s Workshop, who has currently been painting all my head sculpts. Unlike my military figures, I went a bit more creative on this one. It’s my interpretation of Blackbeard.
Billy: What are you working on now? Photos?
Eric: I’m working on quite a few figures at once right now. Currently on my work desk are The Punisher, Tuskegee Airman, Vietnam SEAL and a few cowboys.
Billy: Have you ever sold any of your work?
Eric: I’ve sold quite a few of them. Recently I sold a WWII US African-American Tanker and a Devil Anse Hatfield. I was recently commissioned to do a WWII 82nd Airborne Paratrooper.
Billy: Other hobbies?
Eric: Sadly, I don’t have much free time, but when I do, I ride my motorcycle.
Billy: The 1/6 Artists Corner questions and answers from Eric:
- What is your favorite movie? Gladiator
- What is your favorite holiday? Christmas
- What did you want to be when you grew up? A movie star
- What profession/job would you never want to do? Porta-potty cleaner
- What was the last music concert you attended? Mark Anthony
- xBox360 or PS3? Not a gamer
- If you were a weapon, what kind of weapon would you most want to be? Samurai sword
- If you were a menu item at a restaurant, what would your entree be called? Hmm. Can’t think of anything witty.
- What is your favorite curse word? F*ck
- Do you have a Zombie apocalypse escape plan? Sadly, I do not.
Eric’s Photo Gallery: