Well these last few years i have gotten into the seedy, degenerate world of bootleg-action-figures-as-art. “WTF?” I hear you say… Well… BASICALLY dudes collage existing action figures, into ‘new’ art-pieces. How? By taking apart existing action figures, casting the necessary ‘parts’ wanted, adding a bit of extra sculpting to the casted parts, then BAM! A new ‘bootleg’ art piece is created. Simple to do, BUT damn hard to do well.
Once of the best in the game is KILLER BOOTLEGS, run by Peter ‘Wheatstraw’ Goral outta Loves Park, Illinois, USA.
To this end i shot Peter some questions to try to peel back the psyche and process involved in being a degenerate, underground toy-bootlegger.
(Photo below of KILLER BOOTLEGS ‘Frankenfett’ piece)
Get to know Peter Goral + ‘Killer Bootlegs’ in the interview below….
Name + D.O.B?
Peter David Goral born February 14th 1985 (Valentine’s Day)
Describe a memory from three stages of yr life – age 10, age 15 + age 20…basically trying to piece together Mr. Killer’s pivotal moments. Toys, games, women, kids, school, college… No first kiss though, keep it clean(ish)?
* 1995 age 10 –
Started seriously collecting POTF Star Wars toys, and keeping them in the package. I also bought my first vintage figure, “Walrus Man” Ponda Baba.
* 2000 age 15 –
I had my first experience with LSD. I was also kicked out of private school.
* 2005 age 20 –
moved to Chicago, Il
Note I saw you posted photos of yr self dancing-up-a-storm on St. Patrick’s Day 2012! – Irish blood man?
My family has a very strong Irish heritage. My grandfather, Jerry Goral had been the leprechaun in the St. Patrick’s Day parade for many years, this past year he past the torch me.
(Photo below of Peter as a leprechaun, dancing up a storm at the St. Patrick Day Parade)
“To murder every action figure ever produced”
Wu Tang Clan, Slayer, Aesop Rock, El-P, and Rage Against The Machine
Favorite TV show(s)?
The Simpsons, American Horror Story, Pawn Stars, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Big Bang Theory, and 80’s cartoons on Netflix.
Favorite sport(s) + teams?
I have no interest in organized sports.
Star Wars trilogy and prequels, Duh!?
Favorite action figure(s)?
Favorite action figures would have to be Storm Shadow (1984) and Trilogo Boba Fett.
(Photo below of KILLER BOOTLEGS ‘Man Inside the Mask’ figure – revealing Jeremy Bulloch as ‘the man in the mask’ AKA Boba Fett)
What does your woman make of the whole perpetual adolescence/Peter-Pan/man-child aspect of toy art + toy collecting?
My wife, Heather fully supports my toy addiction and understands that this is who I am. When we got married, the action figures and me were a package deal. As long as my collection is organized and displayed tastefully, she doesn’t mind at all.
I have 2 children. Kaylee Rose (5) and James Joseph (1)
What do your kids make of the toy art + toy collecting?
James is too young to understand why they’re are thousands of action figures in the house, he thinks they are all his. Kaylee has her own collection of “pink” Killer Bootlegs and thinks dad’s toys are “dope”. Lol
(Photo below of Kaylee Rose Goral reppin’ KILLER BOOTLEGS)
Have your kids ever got involved with your art?
Kaylee has helped me make bootlegs numerous times. She thinks it’s awesome that her dad makes toys, and brags to all of her friends. Kay actually came up with the name, “Sharkgut”.
Religious? – have to ask caus of yr brilliant ‘BuddhaFett’ piece – photo below:
I was raised Catholic, but as an adult have no religious beliefs. I believe in the Star Wars universe more than the Bible.
Specifics on Toys + Art:
Do you consider what you are making to be ‘art’, ‘design’, re-hashed crap?
I definitely consider what I make to be art. Art, by definition is, the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination. I put alot into my figures, and spend a considerable amount of time on each one.
When did you first start making ‘art’ (drawings, sculpture anything)?
I’ve always been artistic in nature. Some of my earliest memories are of making art.
Any formal art training?
As for formal training, I have had none, outside art class throughout school.
Why did you start making toys?
I started making toys, because I’m a huge collector of toys. My life has always revolved around toys, so i guess it just kinda came naturally.
When did you first start making toys?
The first toys I made were kitbashed G.I. Joe’s when I was very young. I remember taking them apart intentionally, just to put them back together. I also remember crudely painting figures different colors.
Why the name “Killer Bootlegs”?
I picked the name, “Killer Bootlegs” as an ode to Kenner Toys. I mainly utilize vintage Star Wars figures in my art. I thought, as many people do, that my bootlegs could only be described as, “killer”, as in cool, rad, gnarley, ect.. Once I designed the logo, it was official.
Killer Bootlegs motto is, “To murder every action figure ever produced.”
(Photo below of various colour-ways of the KILLER BOOTLEGS ‘Ewoking Dead’ piece – a mutant, zombie Ewok basically, complete with fur + blood + dead, soulless eyes)
Favorite medium to make toys outta?
My favorite medium to make figures out of is vintage action figures and super sculpy. I prefer silicone for my molds, but use urethane ever now and then, and resin. I use dye to color the resin, but have been airbrushing alot of my figures lately.
Kit Bashing Vs. Self Sculpting?
I prefer kit-bashing, to self sculpting, but i tend to do a large amount of both in my work. I like kit-bashing, because it makes the figure recognizable to peolple who grew up in the same generation as I did, liking the same cartoons, movies, and comics. I make toys, the way I want to see them made. It’s just an added bonus that everyone else likes them as well.
Favorite ‘other’ toy artist?
David Healey is a genius.
Do you think the market for art toys only exists due to the internet? (as it spurs desire with all the posts and updates on blogs, + it allows easy sales to the whole world by creeps from their bedrooms, to other creeps bedrooms)
Yes, I do believe the market for “art toys” exists due to the internet. I spent a few years making toys and doing shows, before I really got into the whole Facebook, Twitter, and toy blog aspect of it. It helps create a “hype”, I guess.
Worst aspect of the online nature of toy sales? + Best aspect of the online market for toys?
I really can’t think of a reason to knock online sales. My fans are great and love y stuff. I just wish I could meet more of them personally to thank them. Although, I have become wonderful friends with people from all over the world, through the sale of my Killer Bootlegs.
General Art Questions:
Thoughts on ‘Disney’ buying Lucasfilm? Basically, can anyone ‘rape’ Star Wars more than George Lucas anyhow?
I think that Disney buying Lucasfilms is a good thing. I have been obsessed with Star Wars for the majority of my life and the influence it has had on me echoes throughout. More movies = more toys.
Is glow in the dark all that’s its made-out-to-be? OR is clear way better?
Glow in the dark is awesome, so is clear though. I’m going to have to say I’m undecided on the matter.
(Photo below of KILLER BOOTLEGS ‘Sharkgut’ Glow-In-Dark version)
Describe the method of making a ‘Killer Bootlegs’ piece?
I generally start out with a vintage 3¾ action figures and an idea of how to pervert it in a way that is culturally relevant. From there I sculpt whatever can’t be achieved from action figure parts out of super sculpey, a few trade secrets later and I have a solid piece that I can then mold. I generally use silicone for my mold material, but have used urethane in the past. I use custom made mold boxes that i designed, Legos® are for amateurs. Lol.
Then after all is set and ready for casting, I proceed to cast a multitude of colors and blanks for airbrushing. Once I pick a suitable colorway for production, I cast the amount of the run.
Why all the hype surrounding Bobba Fett anyhow?
Boba Fett is a fucking badass. Hands down. As a child, I preferred him to other characters, based in his color. It sounds funny, but green has always been my favorite color, and still is. I would assume the rest of the world digs him because of the mystery that surrounds him. Given his limited screen time, it allowed for you to make up your own tales of what he did throughout the galaxy and shit like that. I know thats what I did as a shorty. Lol..
I could talk about this subject forever. Have you seen my Boba Fett collection. It borders on being obsessive compulsive over the dude!
(Photo of Peter’s Bobba Fett collection below)
Is the rise of ‘art’ toys an illustration of the changing nature of ‘art’? OR just a bunch of nerds with too much $$$ and time?
Haha. I plead the fifth!
Peace, pot, and microdot.
Peter Wheatstraw, mass murder, deranged psychopath, and CEO at Killer Bootlegs.