Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI Empty Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI

Post by the89thchris on Tue Oct 02, 2018 2:26 pm

Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


Acquired Taste Industries is a custom action figure label created by codename: “Count Tastus”. I stumbled upon his art last year and I’ve been following the new releases intently. ATI’s designs are incredibly distinct; most feature a Star Wars figure blended with a second pop culture icon in a way that makes an interesting statement. All of that 3D design work is paired with some of the most striking original art I’ve seen done for custom figure cardbacks.  I asked the Count if he’d answer a few questions so I could share his work here. On TantiveXI we've got our fair share of custom figure creators and aficionados, so hopefully, you find this as interesting as I did. (And if you're not a member or not signed in, get your act together so you can see the photos.  rofl )

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]



Q: Given the art you’re creating now, I assume you had some experience with the vintage Kenner toys. Could you tell us a bit about your introduction to those toys, and do you collect them now?

A: Definitely. My first figure was C3PO, and I think I ended up with about a quarter or more of the vehicles and playsets that were released ANH to Ewoks/Droids, and more than half the figures. I played with all that stuff very often, and was as gentle as possible with it. "Playing Star Wars" was a much-needed escape. Friends and relatives were discouraged by my parents from buying me toys from other lines, they were told: "He has Star Wars, and that's enough." They were worried I'd want to start collecting other stuff in addition to Star Wars. Over the years I've poked and jabbed at the Hasbro stuff... Sith lords and apprentices, acolytes, assassins and inquisitors. Rebels figures. Favorite and coolest looking figures from the new movies. I open almost everything. My collection is in a disgraceful state, scattered and disorganized.

Q: For the uninitiated among us, how would you describe the custom figures you are making, and on the technical side, can you give us some insight into the work involved?

A: I carve and combine existing figures with other toys and objects, and sculpt on them with an epoxy clay. Sometimes just one figure is used, and it depends entirely on me whittling and sculpting it to look like something else. Sometimes I reduce the size of an object I need with special shrinking resin, and a series of molds are made before the real sculpt even begins. Once the sculpt is done I mold it in silicone and cast it in resin. I finish and paint the resulting toy casts and package them on a blister card myself, my editions so far number 18 to 36 of each character. Two of the four figures I've released were too oddly shaped for existing plastic blisters, so I worked with Sidekick Lab in Vermont to vacuum form custom blisters. Those same two figures needed oversized cards no print shop could or would do, so I ended up laminating the art to thick board and cutting them myself with an Xacto.


[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.][You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


Q: I follow a lot of figure customizers, guys who modify Kenner figures, sculpt their own, and guys who re-cast parts (that we’re all familiar with) to combine them in interesting ways. Do you think we're in the golden age of this subculture, or is social media making it look and feel more pervasive than it actually is?

A: A lot of guys that have been doing this longer than me would tell you the golden age has passed. It now seems bloated and silly to them, a thing that "everyone" knows about. The reality is that it's not a thing that most people are aware of. You and I, and many others are in a Star Wars toy bubble, while other people are in a political bubble, or a dog show bubble... As you mentioned, these bubbles are created by social media and the internet, each person has the ability to create their own focused reality and then be confined to it. Right now may well be the golden age of it. I believe the maximum impact and appeal of Kenner Star Wars based pop art has a limited window, and we are very much in that time.


[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.][You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


Q: What inspired you to create your first custom figure?

A: I'd wanted to make characters that were never produced in the Tick and Venture Bros figure lines, and figures of SW characters like Admiral Trench or Spiderbot-Booty Maul, for a long time. A ton of guys do screen accurate figures, I admire their work very much, but doing a one-off of an existing idea always seemed like too much time for too little payoff for me. When I became aware of the possibility of speaking the language of Star Wars through toys to say something new, and then making multiples of that toy the way other artists make a run of screen prints, I was electrified by it. I joined the FB group "Star Wars Customs Resins Bootlegs" out of curiosity, and it became my favorite thing in my stream. The day I saw Scott Cherry/Barbarian Rage's R2-SeeThru, sometimes known as the Xray R2, was when I made my decision to start doing it myself. I wrote down a big list of ideas for my figures, and found they were different than the things I'd already seen. I decided that my stuff would be different enough to justify its existence.

Q: There has been a lot of talk in the SW action figure collecting community lately about the “ethics” of using vintage figures to create customs. Since you are molding new figures this doesn’t really apply to your work, but do you have any thoughts on this? Should we be more concerned about preservation or are there more than enough loose figures out there to play with?

A: Here's my own controversial opinion on the matter... When I use vintage toys in my work they are always in played with to beater condition. The Tauntaun I used had been chewed by a dog. Even so I may be unusual among customizers and bootleggers because I do feel bad cutting into these things. I try to utilize as much of the figure as I can in multiple projects, similar to the Native American practice of using every part of a buffalo. I justify it to myself by saying that while this toy is being destroyed, it is giving birth to multiple mutant offspring.


[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


I understand and appreciate that the birth of Star Wars figure customizing was to make figures that Kenner skipped. Biggs. Desert Trooper. Luke in yellow jacket. Han in Stormtrooper disguise. Rebel soldier. As a fan of custom and bootleg figures, I get bored with seeing these over and over, just like as a surf guitar instrumental fan I get sick of hearing bands play "Wipeout". So in my own narrow jaded view, recipe kitbashes and characters that have been done over and over are a waste. I arrogantly and hypocritically consider these things to be unworthy uses of toys that are almost as old as I am.

When I see custom figures that are shamelessly sloppy, or don't make visual sense, I go from bored to angry. When a figure customizer brags about how little time the project took them, or uses that as an excuse for why it looks like shit, I get livid. There's only so many of these vintage toys in the world, and they deserve a level of respect. Beginners should practice on POTF2, prequel, and other modern figs.


Q: One thing that stood out to me about your work is the way you call back to the original Kenner card back design but make it feel like spiritual successor rather than a scan/edit in Photoshop. I think the best example is with “The Butcher” where the racetrack is replaced with a sort of Celtic pattern that is thematically in line with the figure. Can you tell me a little bit about your design philosophy and if you'd like to name any of your collaborators, please do.

A: Some of the ones we've done look very close to the Kenner card back, and we'll probably hop back and forth between those and the weirder variations like the Butcher. I love having the freedom to change up and experiment with the packaging. Most of my figures are Star Wars mashed up with another entertainment property, so being able to support and deepen those themes and the underlying meaning with the vibe of the art is a great tool.

The illustrator who created all the card art for my figures is my friend Matt Talbot of mattrobot.com . He is a stone cold pro. I'll send him a figure or some pictures of one, and we'll chat over the phone or lunch about possible concepts. From there he sends me a sketch, then a fully rendered version, and then the final. Last time, for Cappo Radix, it went straight from sketch to final, nailed it. His contributions go way beyond the art itself. He lightened the concept for the Ugna Lumpah and gave that creature more hope and dignity than I'd envisioned by changing the angle of the viewer, telling a variation of the situation we'd discussed. When I was having an awful time writing a description of the Butcher character on the back of that card, he suggested a medieval style song like "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" or "The Rains of Castamere" from GoT, which led me to write it as a poem. The guy has been a huge blessing. He's getting more and more well deserved recognition for his body of work outside ATI packaging. I live in fear of the day he can no longer squeeze us in. In an effort to take some pressure off of Matt I've attempted to work with two other artists. For different reasons both of those collaborations ended very badly, and Matt stepped in to save the day.



[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Q: When I look at your pieces together, they really feel like a collection. They’re all monsters of a sort, a Kenner Star Wars figure combined with new or recycled parts. Those parts, along with what we already know about the base character, offer some social commentary. There is no need to spell out your message, but is this a series? Does it have an end? And what’s next if it does?

A: I do think of it as a series and it's own satirical Star Wars-compatible universe. Each figure is saying something, but I try to make sure it's not too closely related to specific current events or passing trends. I don't want to create stuff that feels dated in two years. I also want my figures to be enjoyed by people who don't necessarily agree with me, and to work as feasible, appealing toy characters beyond the themes that inspired them. It will end when I run out of ideas that excite me, or if another kind of art demands all my time. In the short term I do have plans to make at least one HeMan type character in traditional 5.5" scale that I don't imagine would interact with the existing ATI characters. I will also do some completely original sculpts for toys unrelated to Star Wars. My eventual goal is to grow beyond "toy bootlegging" into my own "designer toy", or weird actual toy thing. There are mediums I'd like to explore that would surprise people, like plush or quilting, but that shit requires new equipment, new skills. One of the only things I like about the prospect of living a long life, growing old, is to have the time to learn and do all of these things.


[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


Thanks for taking the time to tell me about Acquired Taste Industries, I can't wait to see what's next.

Thank you for your support, and putting out your own great content! - Count Tastus

You can check out the Aquired Taste Industries store here: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
the89thchris
the89thchris
Tatooine Taisho

Posts : 2010
Join date : 2016-11-12
Yavin Honor : 4110
Age : 30
Location : Toronto, Ontario
Focus : Complete loose Kenner figures & a few MOC's.

https://www.instagram.com/thechrisporteous/

Back to top Go down

Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI Empty Re: Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI

Post by Commander Clint on Tue Oct 02, 2018 6:28 pm

That was a great interview. I've seen some of his work before and it's fantastic. clapping

I was also checking out the FB group "Star Wars Customs Resins Bootlegs", that he mentioned. They have some really cool vintage SW customs as well.
Commander Clint
Commander Clint
Jedi Shogun

Posts : 8558
Join date : 2015-02-23
Yavin Honor : 20593
Age : 49
Location : Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Focus : Canadian Items & cardbacks, loose variants

Back to top Go down

Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI Empty Re: Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI

Post by poncho on Tue Oct 02, 2018 10:10 pm

good interview :-)
poncho
poncho
Sullust Samurai

Posts : 559
Join date : 2016-06-10
Yavin Honor : 1583

Back to top Go down

Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI Empty Re: Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI

Post by the89thchris on Tue Oct 02, 2018 11:39 pm

Glad you found it entertaining, guys!

I have his last two carded and the first two loose. He has also been engaging with us a lot on Instagram so it was cool to feature him on here.

Also, I got to see some of those pictures of the molds that I'd never seen before. popcorn
the89thchris
the89thchris
Tatooine Taisho

Posts : 2010
Join date : 2016-11-12
Yavin Honor : 4110
Age : 30
Location : Toronto, Ontario
Focus : Complete loose Kenner figures & a few MOC's.

https://www.instagram.com/thechrisporteous/

Back to top Go down

Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI Empty Re: Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI

Post by poncho on Wed Oct 03, 2018 7:50 am

i want one of those umpa ugnaughts! there awesome
poncho
poncho
Sullust Samurai

Posts : 559
Join date : 2016-06-10
Yavin Honor : 1583

Back to top Go down

Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI Empty Re: Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI

Post by the89thchris on Mon Oct 08, 2018 5:41 pm

I agree. You can really appreciate the changes he made to the head sculpt on that blue one.

I think his typical run was somewhere around 20-30 for all of the carded ones, so I missed the first two in that form.
the89thchris
the89thchris
Tatooine Taisho

Posts : 2010
Join date : 2016-11-12
Yavin Honor : 4110
Age : 30
Location : Toronto, Ontario
Focus : Complete loose Kenner figures & a few MOC's.

https://www.instagram.com/thechrisporteous/

Back to top Go down

Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI Empty Re: Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI

Post by the89thchris on Wed Oct 31, 2018 11:18 pm

Looks like the Count has just joined the forum! At the Ontario Collector's club meet-up at my place last week, quite a few people were interested in the ATI pieces. rockon
the89thchris
the89thchris
Tatooine Taisho

Posts : 2010
Join date : 2016-11-12
Yavin Honor : 4110
Age : 30
Location : Toronto, Ontario
Focus : Complete loose Kenner figures & a few MOC's.

https://www.instagram.com/thechrisporteous/

Back to top Go down

Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI Empty Re: Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI

Post by the89thchris on Thu Jul 18, 2019 1:58 pm

Check out the latest from Acquired Taste Industries! This gem is an SDCC exclusive being sold at the DKE Toys booth:

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
the89thchris
the89thchris
Tatooine Taisho

Posts : 2010
Join date : 2016-11-12
Yavin Honor : 4110
Age : 30
Location : Toronto, Ontario
Focus : Complete loose Kenner figures & a few MOC's.

https://www.instagram.com/thechrisporteous/

Back to top Go down

Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI Empty Re: Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI

Post by Nico on Thu Jul 18, 2019 4:38 pm

Wow, That's well cool, will keep an eye out for one of them rockon
Nico
Nico
Tatooine Taisho

Posts : 3015
Join date : 2015-11-27
Yavin Honor : 8163
Location : Wirral(UK)
Focus : Loose variants (Lando)

Back to top Go down

Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI Empty Re: Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI

Post by ChristianC on Fri Jul 26, 2019 8:15 am

Very cool.....
ChristianC
ChristianC
Tatooine Taisho

Posts : 2923
Join date : 2015-02-24
Yavin Honor : 6188
Location : The Netherlands/Sydney
Focus : Luke Skywalker (all outfits) - MOC, loose variants and bootlegs

http://vintagestarwarscollectors.com

Back to top Go down

Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI Empty Re: Developing an Acquired Taste – The Custom Action Figures of ATI

Post by the89thchris on Fri Jul 26, 2019 5:18 pm

Modern Star Wars is seriously lacking in the "Metal" department lol in a way it wasn't in the 90s rofl

I like this stuff because it has an edge to it that were not likely to see come back to the official SW universe.

Also there is something nice about the fact that it references parts of Kenner sculpts but its not a direct re-hash of any particular figure, if you look closely at each piece there is a lot of original work.
the89thchris
the89thchris
Tatooine Taisho

Posts : 2010
Join date : 2016-11-12
Yavin Honor : 4110
Age : 30
Location : Toronto, Ontario
Focus : Complete loose Kenner figures & a few MOC's.

https://www.instagram.com/thechrisporteous/

Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top


Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum