I am launching a new series here at the Factory called Customizer Spotlight. Each entry in this series will focus on the talents of one minimate customizer. The idea for this series came from comments that readers submitted in the Minimate Factory Poll that I held earlier this year.
I knew that the first person I wanted to interview for this series was Bob Harris. His customs are always amazing, and his love for the characters that he creates is evident in his careful attention to detail. Bob posted his first custom at the Minimate Multiverse in December 2008, and he has been posting regular updates ever since.
Bob is unveiling a new custom in this interview, and is even providing a free decal to make this character. Who might it be? Read further into the article to find out!
Luke: I am a big fan of your customs. It seems like you put a lot of time and thought into each one. How long does it take you to finish a custom on average?
Bob: Well, thanks a lot, Luke, I’m honored! It’s pretty hard to say how long a custom takes. It depends on what I am up to, what I have in mind. My choice of characters mostly depends on those I really like at a certain point and I keep them in mind, browsing through the database to find parts I could use. So the part on customizing that takes most of the time is just thinking about it. When it comes to the actual work, it depends on how complex the custom might be. For some, I just needed to get the right parts – which can take an awful lot of time, since you don’t really get minimates in Germany – put them together and do some repainting. That usually takes less than an hour. If I need to design decals, it takes way more, since I’m not used to it enough yet. The most complex customs I did so far also needed sculpted or modified parts. Those might take up to two or three days of consecutive work – if I do have the time straight away.
Luke: What is your favorite custom among the ones you have created?
Bob: Nice question. I’d go with two of the more complex ones. Hellboy on the one hand is a character I wanted to do for a long time, but it took me half a year to get my hands on all the Minimate parts I wanted to use for him. When I got what I needed I did decals for his face and chest and wanted to be as close to Mignola’s style as I could. And then I needed to sculpt his horns. I’m pretty satisfied with him, although I wasn’t able to include his tail(!). The other one is Dr. McNinja. I’m really proud of this custom, since it really looks exactly as I wanted it to look like. The toughest thing to do was his stethoscope, but I needed to include it somehow. So, McNinja and Hellboy are my favs so far.
Luke: You have always been happy to share your recipes for each custom you make, which I’m sure people appreciate. Do you have any general advice for new customizers?
Bob: If you check out my customs you see all I’ve ever done. I never customized any toys since I started collecting Minimates in 2008, so I’m still a newby myself. For that I can encourage everybody to just start doing it, browse through the awesome designs you can find in the Mutliverse’s custom section and see what people are able to do, be totally amazed and get some ideas on how to solve your own difficulties. Customizing somehow is my Zen; I can really relax while I’m painting or sculpting and I guess that’s something you should have in mind. If you can already enjoy working on your customs, you’ll be pretty pleased in the end. If it pisses you off, you should maybe think about gardening instead.
Luke: Do you ever go back to your older customs and make little tweaks? Or is each one finished once you have shared pictures online?
Bob: I’ve never done that, yet. Taking a picture is the last step, and I only do it, when I’m really satisfied with it depending on the parts I was able to use. But what I’m thinking about is maybe doing a completely new, updated version of a custom in case some parts are produced that might offer new possibilities. I don’t have any plans on doing that right now, but I can imagine it.
Luke: I know you are extremely busy at the moment, but do you have any upcoming customs in the works?
Bob: Oh, yes, I sure haven’t the time to do customs right now. But I have some ideas for characters I really, really like to do in the future and I haven’t seen made by others so far. Right now I try to come up with a small line of customs for next custom con and I really hope I’ll finish them in time. I won’t tell you what those will be, but I can say that it’s something at least characterwise I’ve never done before. And it’s fun! Although I love Marvel, I don’t feel like doing regular Marvel customs, since I’m pretty sure, sooner or later we’ll get what we want. So I stick with more or less Indy comics or stuff DST isn’t dealing with in the moment. I have some (Vertigo) comic characters and my first anime custom in mind for whom I’m already collecting possible parts, but I don’t see them made in the next months. On the other hand, there is Abe Lincoln almost finished sitting around here somewhere. He’s currently looking for a nice coat to wear and then he’s ready… to hunt some vampires!
Luke: Wow, Abe looks awesome! Do you like the general direction in which Minimates are heading, with more sculpted parts, body extensions, and tamp detail? Or do you long for the days of simpler Minimates?
Bob: I started collecting ‘mates when Marvel wave 20 came out, so I never had a somewhat emotional connection to the very pure and simple ‘mates of the old days. I really like the sculpted parts DST/AA are producing today and I’m almost a little disappointed when they release a vanilla mate. The biggest problem might be, that newer ones don’t really blend in to the older stuff. Just compare the two Bullseyes as an example, the latest one being one of my favorite ‘mates so far. But sculpted parts are often really useful for customizing. On the other hand, I don’t like the very new characters that are so heavily equipped with sculpted parts and body extensions, that it’s pretty hard to even recognize them as minimates at all, like the Battle Beast promo or the Iron Man 2 drones. They look cool, but not minimate-esque enough for me, while I think Iron Monger for instance still does. There is a thin red line that shouldn’t be crossed in my favor, but I can’t really define that line.
Luke: And finally, if Diamond Select Toys let you choose one 2-pack to be in the next wave of Marvel Minimates, which characters would you choose?
Bob: That should be a Spidey and Wolvie 2-pack! Just kidding. Who I’d really love to see, although I’m not a big fan of Marvel’s cosmic stuff, is an Uatu the Watcher and Beta Ray Bill 2-Pack. They are cool characters, have really nice designs and I’d like to see how DST/AA are handling those.
Thanks for taking the time to chat, and for providing that awesome Abe Lincoln minimate decal!
All decals on the Minimate Factory are for personal use only. They are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works license.