Originally published June 16, 2006, at GJSentinel.com.
A companion piece to the PSI “Hellboy” bust.
1/3 scale resin bust, 13 inches tall.
1/6 scale resin model kit. About a foot tall.
Both sculpted by Joe Simon and offered through 3rd Eye Design.
Price for each is $100 plus shipping.
Joe Simon must be one of the busier garage-kit sculptors around, judging by the number of companies he works with. In addition to the kits he makes for his own company, 3rd Eye Design, Joe works with GEOmetric Design, CultTVman, Kitbuilders Magazine, Model Giants, PSI and more. He’s the kind of sculptor who can produce more wonderful work in a year than half-talented kitbuilders like myself could actually hope to build and paint.
Joe, 33, lives in Bangkok, Thailand. He moved there from Minnesota almost four years ago after a friend invited him to Malaysia for Chinese New Year; he planned to stay a week and “see the world from a different view,” now he feels at home there.
Joe’s not married but has been with “the boss” about three years. She’s “10 years younger (and) dreams of taking over the world,” he wrote in an e-mail. “She started with me!”
Joe says he comes from a huge family and plans to leave carrying on the name to the rest of the bunch. “I never wanna stop being a kid myself, playing with clay, paint and guitars!” he wrote.
I’ve been watching for a chance to get in touch with Joe for several months now, and his new “Hellboy”-related kits gave me the perfect excuse.
Q&A WITH JOE SIMON
Resin the Barbarian: I’ve never actually read the “Hellboy” comics, but I like the movie a lot. Can I safely assume these kits represent the characters as shown in the film?
Joe: I have to honestly say I didn’t read the “Hellboy” comic either, didn’t know much about the characters till the movie came out … I was hooked instantly!
RtB: These are pieces you are selling through your own company, so I guess that means no one commissioned you to make them. What drew you to this subject matter?
Joe: Originally Jerry Buchanan of PSI Kits had commissioned me to sculpt a 1/3rd scale Hellboy bust. After watching the movie a hundred times for reference, like I said, I got hooked and just wanted to do more or characters.
RtB: You seem to be one of the busier sculptors working in the garage-kit industry, and you work with a variety of kit producers. In fact, I’m one of many fans who’s been waiting for months to see GEOmetric Design release your “Night of the Living Dead” piece. How many hours do you put into sculpting in an average week, and what hours of the day do you work?
Joe: Luckily I do keep pretty busy, hope it stays that way too! I appreciate people putting out their hard-earned money to buy something that was created by my hands. It still boggles my mind sometimes.
Even more, I love seeing what those people make of the kit after putting their touch to it when painting it up! I rarely have time to paint anything up myself, so I only have a handful of my own sculptures on display.
As far as hours I put in, it all depends on the clients’ request date, how many pieces I am working on simultaneously. I do work every day at the least six hours but sometimes will sit in my dented chair 16, 18 hours. Sometimes the piece just doesn’t wanna leave your hand!
RtB: Let’s say I wanted to start producing GKs of my own and I wanted to commission you to sculpt something like the “Neo Nazi” for me. You know, a detailed, 1/6 scale figure. About how much would you charge me?
Joe: This is not a question I can really answer, each piece is so vastly different that pricing depends on the amount of time that must go into that piece, and the difficulty of it. For example, I will charge more for a likeness than for a general face … Likenesses take time.
RtB: What was your first garage kit?
Joe: Wow, I am not even sure I remember. Honestly, I think it was a microFly for GEOmetric Designs.
RtB: Is there any particular subject matter you most enjoy sculpting? And do you have a preferred scale?
RtB: The thing I dream about is having time to do things that come from my own imagination. Unfortunately that doesn’t always pay the bills. In general I’m a sci-fi movie freak so anything with creatures fantasy, horror is fun for me.
RtB: What do you think you do best as a sculptor?
Joe: For me, it’s hard to answer. I think there are many areas I can improve on … I know what I’ve been told, that I am good at likenesses, crisp clean pieces, proportions, but again that’s what I’ve been told but do not feel that way myself.
RtB: Is there any subject matter you reject as a sculptor?
Joe: I don’t mind most subject matter. I will not do anything that conflicts with my own morals, so guess there’s not much I won’t sculpt.
Seriously, I don’t want do anything that offends people. I want people to look at my sculptures and get inspired, the same feeling I get when I look at some of the work out there, guys like William Paquet, Casey Love, Steve West, Gabe Perna, Sam Greenwell, Andy Bergholtz, just to name a few!
Joe: Lately I have been trying to concentrate on my own creations when I have a bit of spare time. I’m hoping to put out a few kits a year just to keep my imagination flowing. I mean, I enjoy doing subject matter that exists, but also there is nothing more satisfying than to have something that is born of you, knowing you imagined it and then realized it!
RtB: Anything else you’d like to add?
Joe: Just a thanks to anyone that has ever purchased any of the kits I have sculpted. I am truly grateful those people for helping me to make this my way of living!!!