Originally published March 30, 2006, at GJSentinel.com.
Doesn’t this look like a happy fella?
Meet “Bubba the Redneck Werewolf”, a 1/6 scale resin kit from the wonderful folks at Resin Realities and Wolf’s Den. The kit’s sculptor is Mark VanTine and it comes unbuilt in four resin parts; the one in the pictures was painted by Saul Alvarez. Bubba – who is also the star of his own comic and soon a movie – will be available in kit form for only a limited time; the price is $65 unbuilt or $75 for an assembled “bronzed” edition, plus shipping.
Sculpting Bubba “was a fairly straightforward job, which I both designed and executed,” MVT told me in an e-mail. “When finished, I sent it to John to do his thing.
“I’ve been working with John for over 10 years now, and over the years we’ve both learned to trust each other enough to allow the other to do their job. That’s the best way to work, if you ask me.”
The “John” he’s referring to is John Diaz, president of Resin Realities, a person known and admired by garage-kit fans around the world. I’ve known John for a few years, mostly because we’re both members of the Clubhouse modeling community, and I’ve also done a few transactions with him. I finally got to meet him face to face in the dealer room last year atWonderFest in Louisville, Ky. It was amazing; I approached John’s table with a bit of trepidation, wondering if I should bother to introduce myself; before I could decide, and while I was still several steps away, he picked out the name in small type on the tag I was wearing, gave me a big smile and started a conversation. Being able to make people so comfortable, so quickly, is a rare gift.
Here’s what John had to say about Bubba in particular and producing garage kits in general recently through e-mail:
Me – What can you tell me about the character Bubba the Redneck Werewolf? (I wasn’t even aware of the comic until last week or so.)
John – Bubba was a character created by a friend of mine, Mitch Hymen. The story goes that he was a dogcatcher who was bitten by a dog that had been infected due to cosmetic testing in a lab and escaped.
Bubba likes to drink beer, drive a 4×4, has a hot girlfriend named Bobby Joe and is extremely jealous of anyone around her. He is more of an antihero as he really only cares about himself and just ends up beating and eating guys who cross his path. He has a sick sense of humor and is a redneck through and through. A fun read should you get the chance.
The comic was released sporadically due to finances and was mostly in black and white and has a major cult following. The new issue being released will be in color under a new label. There will be a feature film done sometime this year and there’s a good chance I’ll cameo in a bit part.
Me – How did you get involved with producing garage kits, and how long have you been doing it?
John – I have been doing garage kits for about 14 years now. I was a collector first and once I discovered how unique and cool it was, I was hooked.
Back in 1992, the availability of certain merchandise – be it toys or models – was scarce or nonexistent for some characters and films. Resin garage model kits filled that need for the collector. It was like trading and selling to a few fans, and sometimes you’d make a buck and sometimes you’d be lucky to break even.
The bottom line was that you were getting these cool figures that were never going to be produced due to whatever reason or lack of interest or profit potential the larger companies had. Some of those companies were watching what we were doing, though, and we are directly responsible for the high quality of the toy and statue industry today. They basically watched us garage-kit producers and used us as product research. They knew they had the resources (money and license). So they hired the sculptors who started out doing garage kits (through which they honed and developed their talent) and began their own companies.
Look at any of the big-name toy- and statue-producing companies and I can name many of those sculptors who worked in the garage-kit industry first. So the bottom line is that we serve a real purpose here and enjoy what we do.
Me – You are a well-known person among garage-kit fans, and I think your involvement with GKs has taken you to places around the country. Can you share one or two favorite memories about life as a GK fan and producer?
John – Being a producer, you get to travel a bit doing the various shows. I have been to Florida, Virginia, Kentucky and New Jersey, to name a few. You also get to meet some very interesting people and celeberties at these shows.
One of my fondest memories was at a Chiller show in Jersey. I was to bring Tom Savini as a guest to the show to help promote a new kit. I had hired him to sculpt a Fluffy kit, an updated version of the crate monster from the movie “Creepshow.” It was a large 1/4 scale figure. Tom had explained to me no one had ever approached him to sculpt a garage kit before and he’d be thrilled to do it. He did his best and sculpted an updated version of the beast with less body hair, atop the crate in a menacing pose.
I was thrilled to be working with one of the guys who was not only a great person but a top special effects makeup guy in horror film history. He also co-starred and cameoed in several films, including “Knightriders”, the original “Dawn of the Dead” and “From Dusk Till Dawn,” to name a few. Here he was working for me and hanging out with me at a show. HOW COOL IS THAT?
Another great memory was a couple years ago back in Kentucky at the WonderFest show. The guest of honor was none other than movie special-effects legend Ray Harryhausen. This was big, as Ray rarely if ever did these shows. The lines to get his autograph were hours long and me wanting one but being stuck behind my dealer’s table, it was not going to happen.
Ray would take breaks and just walk around the dealers’ room, looking at the various kits. I was surprised to see him not only stare at my table but take the time out to begin a conversation with me. He was mesmerized by several of the kits I was displaying for sale. He had taken notice of the gypsy woman Wayne “the Dane” Hansen had sculpted and particularly the bust line I had of the Bride of Frankenstein series. We had the Bride and both doctors (Frankenstein and Pretorius) displayed; the monster wasn’t sculpted yet.
Ray asked if he could pick them up and look at them and said SURE. He loved the way they were presented and sculpted. He asked if I take checks; jokingly I said the answer would normally be “no,” but for him I’d make an exception. We both laughed and he said he’d be back.
He came back later with his wife to show her and she was equally surprised and showed great interest. He asked if it was the painted ones I was selling. No, I said, they were just for display and my personal pieces. He looked at me and asked if I would sell the painted ones and I said I didn’t think so. So he smiled and said he’d be back .
He was set up with John Ulakovic from Janus Co. and I had discussed with Mark VanTine (the sculptor) and my painter, Saul Alvarez, what I should do. Saul and MVT suggested that I give him the busts and Saul would paint another set for me as a replacement. I agreed, but I wanted an autograph (LOL), so we sent John of Janus the message that I would sell the busts to Ray, nothing else.
So John comes to the table with Ray and a crowd is following at this point in hopes of getting his autograph. So he says, “I’m here to buy these busts,” and he pulls out his checkbook and asks “How much will it cost?” I joke with him (“I hope you have a lot of money”) and we laugh. Saul and Mark are standing next to him as he picks up the kits again and is staring at them, reciting lines from the film and telling Mark how exquisitely he thinks these were sculpted. Mark is in heaven and I’m in awe that he comes to my table when there are over 200 hundred other kit dealers there and this legend in film history is like a little kid in a candy store drooling over the kits I had produced.
So he says how much and Saul tells him it will cost you a check for $1 plus sign some autographs. He gives us a surprised look, saying “What, all you want is a $1?” We respond its the least we can do for a legend such as you and thank him. He was genuinely touched and very appreciative of the gesture.
We then proceeded to have him sign some photos and had several taken with him. Now I didn’t have to worry about waiting in line, LOL.
So, in closing, although the financial reward is not always there in garage kits, the lifetime experiences and memories can never be taken away.