Art Whore

Art Talk – Michael Woods of ‘Falcontoys’

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Michael Woods of ‘Falcontoys‘ is a new gun in the resin art game, constantly producing creations of amazing beauty.  Works that are technically perfect, brilliantly designed, and just damn fun.

Importantly a ‘Falcontoys’ work is always going to fire up those brain signals that leads to one thinking “whoah”.

(Picture below of some of the ‘Falcontoys’ releases)

Falcon Toys - group of toys

With an impressive 2013 behind him – a gallery show with ‘Clutter’, an exclusive release with ‘Novelty Haus’ and collaborations with artists such as Bob 242 – and a big 2014 ahead, now is the perfect time to get to know Michael Woods and ‘Falcontoys’ by reading the interview below…

Basics/Getting to Know

Name + D.O.B?

Michael Daniel Woods, April 10th 1978

City, State n Country you’re Repping?

Fort Worth, Texas, USA.

(Pictures below of the Gumball resin piece by ‘Falcontoys’)

Falcon Toys - Gumball 001

Falcon Toys - Gumball 002

Falcon Toys - Gumball 003

Describe a memory from three stages of yr life ….basically trying to piece together Mr. Woods’ pivotal moments. Concerts, art, action-figures, women, school, college… ANYTHING man.

* age 10 – pre pubes:

Damn, pre-pubes huh. OK. My earliest memory was 1980. That’s right I was 2, believe it or not, I remember going to see Empire Strikes Back in the theatre. There was snow, it was white, and then I fell asleep. That’s really all I remember but it was the beginning of the journey.
Somewhere in the next couple of years I received my first Star Wars figure, Yoda. Green was my favorite color and he looked awesome, simple as that. After that I couldn’t get enough Star Wars figures and I was a little pissed I had missed out on earlier figures that didn’t show up in stores as much.
This was the beginning of my lifelong passion for toys. I probably played with toys until around age 10 or so. My grandmother, who I lived with, let me know it was time to stop playing with toys so I boxed them up and got ready for pube rage.

* age 15 – pube rage:

I was sure I was going to the NBA by the time I was 15. And had I reached 7 feet I probably would have but 6’2” was my limit and being white and slow also anchored my professional basketball aspirations.
Listened to rap and grunge at the time, yet the only concert I made it to in my teen years was Weird Al Yankovic, which I’m oddly proud of.
I dated a lot but had one on and off girlfriend for years that I eventually married.
By 18 I started working at a mail order (the internet was still young) vintage Star Wars toy company. It was a badass job. I had access to hundreds of old 80’s toys that I would customize and collect.
I’ve been a collector ever since.

* age 20 – acceptance of pubes:

I was married and had twin girls on the way shortly thereafter. The marriage didn’t last but those two girls changed my life. I had never loved anyone or anything like that before. A true gift from God, times 2, literally.
Collecting picked up. What was a Star Wars shelf became a Star Wars wall. What was a Star Wars wall became a Star Wars room. One room eventually became two and it also spills into my office/lab a bit now.

(Picture below of Michael Woods ready to make some toys)

Falcon Toys - Mike

Personal motto/quote?

More of a creed really. You don’t have to accept what others accept to accept others. Love them for their differences. Cherish how they see reality.
And the classic “If you don’t [have] something nice to say…”

Favorite band(s)?

Too many to list but to name a few: Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, NIN, Tom Petty, Jimi Hendrix, The Cure, The Beatles, and Eminem. They all have more than 3 songs I like.
Pretty much any 80’s music, classic rock, or 90’s rap will do.
I listen to a lot of dubstep/trance/dance/club whatever while I’m painting.
Not much of a country fan. (yes, I know I live in Texas)

Favorite TV show(s)?

Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers, Tosh.0, used to watch wrestling more but now only the occasional PPV.
I know BB is over but it obviously made an impact.

Favorite sport(s) + teams?

Dallas Mavericks are my favorite.
I pull for any of my home teams though.

Favorite movie(s)?

Damn man, that’s tough. I love movies. Original Star Wars Trilogy, Indiana Jones, Goonies.
I love any 80’s horror.
I like older effects and makeup, Aliens, Predator, The Thing, Elm Street movies, Lost Boys, Fright Night (the old one) Evil Dead.
Newer stuff, Matrix, 300, Anything Kevin Smith. Anything Batman. Comic movies.etc…

Favorite books and comics?

My favorite is Batman. I like Hulk too.
Any horror comics. Hack/Slash, old EC stuff.

General Questions

Company motto?

“I got your “falcontoys” right ere’!”
(You have to grab your crotch and yell it in an Italian accent. Go ahead, I’ll wait.)

(Pictures below of the Sam Sushi figure by ‘Falcontoys’)

Falcon Toys - Sam Sushi 003

Falcon Toys - Sam Sushi 001

Falcon Toys - Sam Sushi 002

What are your thoughts on Disney owning everything Star Wars?

“Well luckily I have shifted my collecting efforts more toward vintage action figure variants cause with all the merch they’re going to be shoving down our throats I would go broke.” That was my first thought. I don’t know.
I hope they will leave it with some dignity and respectability.
I tend to find the best in things so whatever they do I’m sure I will be finding the good in it and leave the bashing to others on the interwebs.
At least the Star Wars franchise is alive and kicking. That’s a good thing, for now…

What are the worst aspects of working in resin?

A lot like working in porn I imagine, it’s sticky and you shouldn’t rub your eyes until after you wash your hands.
Seriously, air bubbles can be a pain. Quick curing resin can screw with you too. And it can be brittle.
All of these things can be dealt with though.

What, to you, are the best aspects of working with resin?

With a little bit of idiot college (YouTube) you can learn to make lots of things. So the learning curve isn’t extremely difficult.
Clear resin can become pretty much anything with the right additive.

Are art-toys for the kids?

I think they can be. It really depends on the toy and the parent of said child.
Some parents are more lenient, some toys are meant for mature audiences.

(Picture below of Mike’s nephew playing with a ‘Falcontoys’ Death Vapor)

Falcon Toys - Art Toy + Child

‘Falcon Toys’ Art Questions

Favorite ‘other’ artist(s)?

This is tough because again I have so many and I will inevitably omit someone I admire.

Worst aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?

First, I like the word(s) “art-hustle”. I won’t pretend that I know exactly what it means but I like it.
So far I haven’t ran into any issues with anyone or anything. I’m sorry I really don’t have much to complain about.
If I have to pick something I would say that I have had a few ideas that I have had to shelf because someone realized them before me or they have recently used a part of say an old figure I was planning on using.
Sometimes I feel like I have to keep moving or “hustling” to make sure the ideas I have get out there before somebody inadvertently beats me to the punch. Sometimes there is no way around this so you gotta dig deep.

Best aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?

The people. I have enjoyed meeting new people from other artist to clients.
Everyone I have interacted with has been great.

Do you consider what you are making to be ‘art’, ‘design’, re-hashed crap?

The first time someone said “artist” to me I was taken aback.
It’s not that I don’t think its art it’s just that I didn’t ever think of myself that way. It’s a humbling word. It would be insulting to people I consider artist that do the same thing I do (much better I might add) not to call it art.
I think design is art and I think re-hashed crap can be art.

(Picture below of the Yazu figure from ‘Falcontoys’)

Falcon Toys - Yazu 003

Falcon Toys - Yazu

Falcon Toys - Yazu 002

When and why did you first start making ‘art’ (toys, drawings, paintings, anything)?

When I was customizing toys when I was 18 I just wanted toys that were not produced in my collection.

Any formal art training? Or pivotal moment/influence?

I have no formal art training. My mother painted when I was a kid so I had a bit of influence growing up. I think creation written into our DNA. I’ve ALWAYS wanted [to] make SOMETHING.
Watching sci-fi and horror movies growing up was another influence. I wanted to create what those creature effects and makeup artist were making. I looked at it very scientifically.
I have always thought there is a sequence to making things that good and I want to figure it out.
Hell, I’m still trying to figure it out. I think that maybe what drives me.

Why + when did you decide to go in on the art hustle?

I was inspired roughly a year ago.
As a bootleg Star Wars toy collector I hunted high and low for pieces to add to my collection. Traditionally the pieces I looked for were non-licensed toys from other countries, “real bootlegs”(that’s one of my favorite terms).  I have items from Poland, Mexico, Turkey, Brazil, and Hungary in my collection.
I stumbled upon a figure called Mutant Jawa. The particular figure came in a vast array of colors and a contrasting colored vinyl cape. As unique as all that is it had Yoda arms and legs too.
I thought “Damn that’s awesome. Why didn’t I think of that?” Well I bought it and it hangs in my collection. This was a Killer Bootlegs creation. At the time I wasn’t thinking art. I was thinking “I want that hanging on my wall”
After that I thought maybe I could make things that people wanted to hang on their walls and put on their shelves.
Falcontoys was born years before in my early 20’s. I used to make custom card backs to re-card vintage figures or custom figures for that matter. It died out when I became a father and life got busier and busier.
Falcontoys was resurrected by a Mutant Jawa. Thanks Pete…

(Picture below of the ‘Falcontoys’ gateway drug, the Mutant Jawas by ‘Killer Bootlegs‘)

Mutant Jawa Bootleg Resin Figures by Killer Bootlegs

Describe the method of making a ‘Falcontoys’ piece? (dot point all o.k.)

It starts with inspiration from the world around me. Movies, TV, toys, and other artwork.
I look at art every day. I am amazed by what people come up with and the techniques they use to realize their visions.
Most of the time ideas come to me when I’m half asleep in the morning and I quickly jot them into the notepad on my phone (right now there are 42 ideas for art toys on the list).
Other times I see a toy and I think “that has the same shape as…” and then I write it down. And then I get request via email.
The rest is standard. Kit bash, modify and sculpt if required, cast a mold, pour resin, paint repeat.
I still love making card art and packaging too. I do a lot of that at my desk at work……after all my daily work is done….maybe…

(Picture below of Michael hard at work making toys)

Falcon Toys - making a toy

Toy Questions

What are your thoughts on ‘The Sucklord’, and his role in the art-toy scene?

He has a vision and he makes it happen. You have to respect that. I really like his work. I have one of his Uzay Pink Stars in my collection.
I’m relatively new to the art-toy scene. I would hate to speak out of place but from what I can tell he seems to be a lot of people’s inspiration.
He’s been doing it longer than most and you can see a lot of what he does (style wise) showing up in other peoples art.
My opinion (it’s only an opinion) is that he has made it easier for unknown toy artist to break onto the scene and be taken seriously. That is pioneering my friend and that typically equals hard work.

What are your thoughts on Peter Goral and ‘Killer Bootlegs’? – I ask as he has been making major moves lately in the scene.

Another visionary and a gifted artist.
I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with Pete on multiple occasions and he has helped me with several dilemmas I’ve ran into.
The art scene needs people more than willing to lend a helping hand, hell the world needs that.
An artist willing to share what they know to make others around them better artist is someone that is confident in their abilities.
As for his work, next level stuff.
He’s constantly sharpening his tools and setting the bar. Acrylic backers, tackling niche pop culture without fear, and he’s even got a cool logo (I have Kenner font jealousy).
I can’t say enough good things about the man. I’m inspired and I hope to collaborate with him sometime.

Is the rise of ‘art’ toys an indication of the changing nature of ‘art’? OR just a bunch of nerds with too much $$$ and time?

Can you ever have too much money and time??? I certainly have not made it to that level.
My opinion (if anyone is interested) is that our society has become more accepting of adults collecting toys. Most adults don’t sit down and play with their toys for hours on end, (if you do, no worries, no judgment here, we are still in the circle of trust) we simply display them.
That’s what makes art toys great. It’s a combination of the images of childhood mixed with the grit and grime that we enjoy as an adult. It’s having our cake and getting to eat it too.
Some people may not admit it and say they don’t care but acceptance isn’t a bad thing.
It certainly makes it easier to explain to loved ones why you spent $150 on an action figure you don’t plan to open and play with, “Yes, I know it’s a lot of money dear, but honey, its art and it will look fantastic on the mantle in our den”.

What are your thoughts on the current rise of mass-production in the resin-art world, and the move away from hand made pieces? The 2012 Designer Con Suck-con figures as an example…

I feel like if you can get it to the masses and people love it, then do it.
I hope I understood the question right. If anyone out there has a factory in their basement that wants to help me mass produce these Breaking Baddie figures hit me up.
I’m one of those rare nerds with not enough time!!

(Picture below of Michael Woods work room and art desk)

IMG_2939

Do you think once an artist has re-used a piece of pop-culture, it becomes harem for another artist to use it/spoof too? …I am thinking of ‘The Sucklord’ + ‘Boba Fett’; ‘The Mark Ultra’ + the hangman mask head, etc.

This is a great question! There are several schools of thought in play here.
1) Imitation is the best form of flattery:
I don’t think, and I certainly maybe wrong, that artists are sitting around saying “Hey! He’s using Ironman’s head! I use Ironman’s head on my toys! What a copycat!”
Aren’t we all bootlegging here? I say take it as a compliment.
2) It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation:
I say if you feel good about what you’re making, make it. But at least try to be a little original.
Popular helmets = instant cash, I get that, just try to mix in something someone hasn’t seen in awhile.
Honestly, I don’t think anything I make isn’t inspired by something or someone else but I am trying my damndest to stay away from parts that others are using.
I get request[s] for Boba Fett stuff constantly! Do you know how many Boba Fett’s are in my permanent collections?! Its north of 100; I love Boba Fett!
But when I think of Boba Fett and art toys in the same sentence I think Suckadelic.
I don’t think it’s harem to use previously used parts because sometimes you need to, but I want what I do to stand out so I try my best not to.

Favorite toy/figure? (I’ll allow self promotion)

Tough one. I would say the vintage Micro Star Wars line. Fantastic little playsets with easily chipped painted die-cast figures.
Honorable mention: Mad Scientist Alien Autopsy and Monster Lab, anyone? Anyways, they were badass.

What does your wife/girl/woman/family make of the whole perpetual adolescence/Peter Pan/man-child aspect of toy art + toy collecting?

I have the most supportive girlfriend anyone could ever have.
She has a strict “whatever makes you happy honey” policy. Unwavering support.

What was it like being a part of the recent ‘Clutter: In-Action Figure No. 2’ show were you debuted your Breaking Baddie 2-Pack?

It was an unbelievable honor. I was blown away that I was asked to be a part.
So many great artists were there and to be displaying something beside them was really special.
Funny thing was I wanted to get on Clutter’s radar so I was about to send them a Gumball just as a gift so they would know who I was. Then out of nowhere they emailed me and asked me to be a part of the show.
Mind Blown! I sent them the Gumball anyway as a little thank you but it was cool they contacted me first.

(Picture below of the ‘Falcontoys’ Breaking Baddie 2-Pack)

Falcon Toys - 2 pack

How did you and ‘Novelty Haus’ come to team-up for your Cosmonaut + Zuck unique colourways?

Noel at Novelty Haus contacted me out of the blue because he liked a few of the figures I released and he told me he wanted to work with me.
To quote him “I’m on a constant search for talented artists to work with to help push them to create, I’d love to work with you because I think your figures are beautiful.”
You have to love someone that reaches out to aspiring artist like that.
That helped legitimize what I do.
Thank you Noel!

(Picture below of the ‘Falcontoys’ exclusive releases for ‘Novelty Haus’)

Falcon Toys - Novelty Haus

The Future 

Any collaborations on the horizon?

Speaking of Novelty Haus, I am working on a carded 2 pack for them right now.
I have a “secret 80’s alien project” with Bottleneck Gallery that I am trying to pull off. We’ll see on that one.

Any major projects you want to hype man?

I have a lot of projects planned for 2014. My Incredible Zulk figure releases 2/14/14. BOB242 provided the tiny tanks for that Zulk to crush. Thanks Bob.
I am doing a carded release of Gumball. I designed the cardback and then had UK watercolor artist Alastair Eales (look him up, and commission him to paint you something) paint it for me.
They are getting printed now by Sidekicklab and I’m hoping to get them rolling in March.
I have a huge They Live figure that will be out later this year and I have another popular horror icon that will release after that if all goes well.
If you have read this far thank you for the support. You are amazing.

(Picture below of the upcoming ‘Falcontoys’ Incredible Zulk figure)

IMG_4798_400w

Links

  • ‘Falcontoys’ – site
  • ‘Falcontoys’ – Instagram
  • ‘Falcontoys’ – online store
  • ‘Falcontoys’ – email: falcontoys@hotmail.com

Falcon Toys - Breaking Baddie Sticker

  1. Bruce Kowalik

    good read. Never sell yourself short. You’ve got a rare talent and others appreciate it. If it weren’t Rare – everyone could and would be doing it. Cheers bud, bk

    • Art_Whore

      …thanks for taking a read Bruce!

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