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.
Welcome to the October edition of the Artists Corner. This month, we're happy to focus on fellow Oregonian, Slade Fiero. Slade has been a customer since the early BlackOpsToys eBay days and made the leap with us to purchasing from our web site. My first experience with Slade was while packaging product up and stamping envelopes and realizing that at least twice a week I was sending a package to him. Slade has artistic talents that go the wide distance from 1/6 scale customizing to oil painting to leather work.
Slade lives in Astoria on the Great Pacific Northwest Oregon Coast. “My town is the oldest settlement this side of the Mississippi and had the very first United States Post Office this side of that great river.” Astoria was a town before Arizona was a state. Founded in 1811, Slade lives not even ten miles away from where Lewis and Clark made the fort that they lived in for two years before they went back to the East Coast.
Slade describes himself as a semi-retired artist. “I have made my living at art all my life.” Regardless of what medium or form, it is all Slade has done for the last 30 years.
He started collecting 1/6 scale action figures when he was about eight or nine-years-old. It all started when his parents started buying him GI Joes. As Slade tells it, “I was born in 1960 so Joe was the guy I got to hang out with for those formative years.” As the years passed, his collection of action figures fizzled out and then in 2001, Slade began playing Ghost Recon and he started buying 1/6 scale figures again. For more than 10 years now, Slade has been buying, collecting, building, customizing and trading 1/6 scale action figures and his love of the hobby is still going strong. “My Mom thinks I spend WAY too much money,” he says.
Slade's favorite project is typically the one he's working on, so his favorites change as often as he changes projects. His latest project is making “a ton of Battlefield 3 figures.” He goes on to say that making the Russian character from Battlefield 3 was the most challenging because there are so few parts out there to use for the uniform. He tried to get the “standard” look for both the United States and Russian soldiers and then when he was done with the originals, he started making duplicates.
One of his favorite things is making variations on the uniforms. “It's a great hobby to have, but at times can be quite the obsession trying to find specific parts and pieces,” he explains. One thing Slade explained was that in terms of customizing clothing, he never “weathers” anything. He makes so many figures that when he runs out of pieces to use, he starts taking older projects apart to make new ones. “I don't weather my gear because I might use it again for something completely different,” he says. “I'll put on four different pairs of pants to find the right one.”
He does the same thing with head sculpts, shirts, weapons and gear. He says sometimes he gets lucky and puts some thing together that work the first time, but he often goes through tons of things just to make a single figure and then once he gets a good combination of parts together, he typically makes another one so that he has a pair. “I usually make the new one with a little variation but basically the same,” he explains.
When I asked Slade if he's sold any of his work, he said he recently sold his custom Dexter Morgan figure from the Showtime drama Dexter. He said it was both a happy and sad moment to sell the figure, because it was one he kept in a special place in his house so he could see it a lot when he walked around. Of all the figures Slade's customized in recent years, the Dexter figure was among his highlights.
As for other hobbies, Slade is first and foremost an artist, so anything he can get his hands on is fair game. He enjoy all different forms of art so he's never lacking things to do. When he is not in his art studio, he is a PC gamer and spends a bit (I'd venture to guess more than a bit) of time killing the enemy online. He belongs to the local car club and enjoys racing around the summer at sanctioned Auto Cross Events.
Slade takes advantage of where he lives and enjoys fishing on the Columbia River. He has a nice record (vinyl) collection, so he loves “getting to spin my turntable for my friends.” He has a vast music and movie collection, considers himself a movie buff and loves foreign films. Slade has also built every computer he's ever used for the last 15 years. As he explains it, “being a PC gamer I've enjoyed putting things together the way I want them to be.” And as you'll see in the photo gallery, Slade works with metal, plastic, rubber, oil paint and almost any other medium he can get his hands on. He's a jeweler, sculpted for a company in San Marco, California and remarkably he has been a tattoo artist for over 25 years.
In the photo gallery below, you can see Slade's work on 1/6 scale custom figures, leather work and oil painting (including the backdrops for the action figure pictures). Slade has also made an action figure video tribute for his father that is available on YouTube.
Because being an artist is his primary hobby and his profession, Slade's love of art spills over into almost every single thing he does.
The 1/6 Artists Corner questions and answers from Slade:
- What is your favorite movie? One of my favorite movies of all time is a French Film called Angel-A (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0473753/). I have hundreds of movies so it's hard to chose just one but that is a truly wonderful film.
- What is your favorite holiday? My favorite holiday is when my family comes to visit. Most recently in September for my birthday. I appreciate the normal holidays but nothing is as cool as when Family comes to visit. I've lived in a different state than any of my other Family members that when they come that's truly my favorite holiday.
- What did you want to be when you grew up? What I wanted to be when I grow up was someone that never wanted to grow up. I didn't. I play video games, draw pictures, play with GI Joe type toys and keep a smile on as much as possible. I've worked hard in my life to be able to relax some. I didn't ever have any children because I am one. Even at 52 there is a lot of me that's just a kid; exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up....
- What profession/job would you never want to do? I never wanted a normal job. More than anything I couldn't stand having to wear a suit to work or carry a briefcase. I never wore a watch cause I didn't want my life guided by time. I never wanted any job that would require me being there any time before noon.
- What was the last music concert you attended? Out of all the concerts I've been too Pink Floyd was probably one of my favorites. I grew up listening to their music so getting to see them live was awesome. They put on a huge show.
- xBox360 or PS3? I am a PlayStation 3 kinda guy! I've been using Sony products for years in terms of graphics display, so the PS3 was just the normal choice for me.
- If you were a weapon, what kind of weapon would you most want to be? If I was going to be a weapon it would have to be about a billion Nanobots. In the future someone with a gun won't pose any threat to a cloud of nanobots that infiltrate your system from every hole you have in your head. How do you fight a cloud of mist?
- If you were a menu item at a restaurant, what would your entree be called? "The Luscious Licious Piece de Resistance" and I would be very expensive ;)
- What is your favorite curse word? I don't have a favorite curse word, I like them all. It always depends on the situation to have the appropriate word. I guess that would be my favorite then, the one that's most needed at the time.
- Do you have a Zombie apocalypse escape plan? My Zombie Apocalypse plan would be to head back home to Wyoming where the family ranch is. Wide open space to see for miles anything or anyone that's heading your way. It's by the Snake River so we've always got water, plenty of food and lots and lots of big guns with hunting scopes and lots and lots bullets. Live out my days living Wild and Free.