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 some 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.
…That’s some. Other’s like Weird Luke + his label ‘Resin Trash’ outta Gowanus, New York, U.S.A; take bootlegging to a higher level: they sculpt EVERYTHING!
(Photo below of Weird Luke in his hometown of Gowanus, NYC)
To this end i shot Weird Luke of ‘Resin Trash’ some questions to try to peel back the psyche and process involved in being a degenerate, underground toy-sculptor.
Get to know Weird Luke + ‘Resin Trash’ in the interview below…
Getting to Know ‘Weird Luke’
Name + D.O.B?
Luke Gibbons-Reich, Born June 22, 1993.
Describe a memory from three stages of yr life – age 10, age 15 + age 20…basically trying to piece together Weird Luke’s pivotal moments. Toys, games, women, kids, school, college… ANYTHING keep it dirty…
* Age 10 –
At age 10 enthusiasm for toys hit its peak and never came back out of the red zone. It’s gone up and down slightly since then but as of right now I still have at least as much enthusiasm for action figures as I did then. The one toy that comes to mind most when I think of being 10 years old is the deluxe version of ‘Beast Wars Megatron’. He was all red and red chrome with a few black details and he turned into a dragon. To be precise he changed from a robot with a dragon for an arm into a tank that was also a dragon and THEN he turned into a dragon. The design was so much more awesome than it needed to be and that toy set the high water mark for all of my future creative works.
I always try to improve the ideas for my toys. One of my favorite ways to make toys is to take two properties I love, be they existing toy lines, movies or comic book characters, and to combine them into one even more awesome entity.
For example, ‘Mortal Kombat’ is cool, but what if the fighters were also Soldiers from World War Two? And Dolph Lundgren is awesome, but what if he were also a Giant robot? The possibilities are endless. I think it’s important to never stop pushing yourself to do more and better, because once you stop you inevitably start to backslide.
* Age 15 –
At 15, I guess I was halfway through high school. I went to a special ed. School; ass-end queens, it took at least an hour to get there on the school bus each day. It was a pretty cool setup though, not a lot of work, small classes, and teachers who (mostly) weren’t idiots.
One time when it snowed, I made a snowball the size of my chest during my lunch period and brought it inside when the bell rang. I threw it down a flight of stairs at a group of kids waiting in line to use the vending machine. It exploded all over the floor, and the custodian pulled me out of class to make me clean it up. I pretended not to know how to use a mop, and ended up skipping a class or two before the custodian told me to cut it out. Good times.
* Age 20 –
I’m around that time now, so I guess the rest of the interview covers this one. I’ll use this space to show you a picture I drew – ‘Uberklaw’:
Why the name “Weird Luke” as yr handle?
A friend of mine who I met when I first started going to punk shows called me Weird Luke because he thought I was weird. That’s really all there is to it. He was right though.
(Photo below of Weird Luke wall creepin’ in Gowanus)
Why the name “Resin Trash” for your statue/figure brand?
In my senior year of high school, I was required to find an internship where I would work instead of attending schools on Fridays. I only inquired about one internship, and I landed the job without having to explore any other options; and so I began my internship under ‘The Sucklord’. Initially ‘SL’ said that although he wanted to, he wouldn’t be able to take me on as a payed assistant after the internship was over.
Then on the last day of the internship, He told me that he could actually pay me to work for him over the summer. and so I spent a couple days each week working for 5 dollars an hour cleaning up resin castings with an Xacto knife. It’s the only job I’ve ever had (technically it’s not even a job) and I made somewhere between 25 to 35 dollars a week.
When I first named my brand ‘Resin Trash’, I was only intending to pull a ‘Suckadelic’ move and steal from those who I thought were better than me, then change it just enough so they wouldn’t recognize it. I’m sure ‘SL’ would be proud, as it’s his best and only trick of the trade.
However, as of recently I’ve begun to see the monicker in a different light. Instead of directly ripping of ‘SL’ I now see it more as paying homage to the man who taught me just about every useful skill I know. But instead of getting all wishy washy and spewing his praise like so much puss from a zit, I payed him tribute in the exact same way he did to George Lucas: By robbing him blind.
Why the name “V8Special” for yr art blog?
The car Mad Max drives in the films ‘Mad Max’ and ‘Road Warrior (Mad Max 2)’ is referred to as the “V8 Pursuit Special” in the first film, and “The Last of the V8 Interceptors” in the second film. ‘Road Warrior’ is the best movie ever made, but “The Last of the V8 Interceptors sounded to pretentious to use as the name for a blog, so I used the less grandiose of the two.
(Picture below of a self-portrait by Weird Luke)
“0% quality guarantee”
“Fuck Traffic!” (For context, I live in New York City and this phrase is most often shouted in the direction of cars driving along a road that intersects my walking route as I walk in front of them.)
‘The Plasmatics’; ‘Cülo’ (The best punk/hardcore band playing shows right now); ‘The Ramones’; ‘David Bowie’; ‘Who Killed Spikey Jacket?’; ‘Motörhead’; ‘The Misfits’ (as helmed by Glenn Danzig); And just about any band on the NYC label ‘Toxic State’.
Favorite TV show(s)?
I don’t watch a whole lot of TV, but when I do I like ‘Beavis and Butthead’, ‘King of the Hill’ and ‘Superjail’. I watch ‘The Walking Dead’, but that doesn’t mean I like it. I’m just too devoted to the comics to skip it, and I need something to hate anyway.
Favorite sport(s) + teams?
The Viet Cong. They make for the perfect sports movie story. The scrappy underdogs take on the reining champions and stop them from building a giant stadium in the middle of their town. The Viet Cong lose the game, but they make the championship team look so bad in the process that they loss all of their fans.
My favorite movies of all time are: ‘Road Warrior’, ‘Terminator’, ‘Bloodsport’, ‘Rambo: First Blood’, ‘Predator’, ‘Army of Darkness’, ‘Die Hard’, ‘Aliens’, ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, and ‘Labyrinth.’.
My favorite new movies are: ‘Rambo’ (the new one), ‘District 9’, ‘The Man With the Iron Fists’, ‘The Expendables 1&2’, ‘The Last Stand’ (Schwarzenegger’s new flick), ‘Judge Dredd’, ‘Plantet Terror’, and most recently ‘Zero Dark Thirty’.
Favorite action figure(s)?
Holy shit, where do I even start? My favorite toy line is ‘G.I. Joe’ regardless of the figure’s release date. The new ‘…Joes’ are amazing, the ‘Pursuit of Cobra’ line has some of the best action figures I’ve ever purchased. The new ‘Alley Viper’ and ‘Snake Eyes V54’ are my two favorites from the line. But nothing beats the aesthetic of the oldschool 80s ‘G.I. Joes’. My favorite old school ‘…Joes’ are ‘Beach Head’ and ‘Wild Weasel’.
I also really dig ‘M.U.S.C.L.E’; and ‘Battle Beasts’, but I only buy them used, since they’re too expensive otherwise, and I don’t care about mint condition and I don’t have a single toy that I’ve left in it’s packaging.
‘The Four Horsemen Outer Space Men’ line is really sick too. It’s the only toy line that I actually collect, everything else I just buy a figure here and there, whatever suits my fancy. But I buy the convention exclusive ‘Outer Space Men’ every year at New York Comic Con. I still need the ‘Beta Phase Inferno’ and ‘Astronautilus’ from NYCC a couple years ago.
However, my absolute favorite toys are all figures I’ve made under the ‘Resin Trash’ brand. My favorite things are always things that I’ve made.
What do your friends + family make of the whole perpetual adolescence/ Peter-Pan/man-child aspect of toy art + toy collecting?
When I was in high school, some of my friends would make fun of me for it. They thought the figures were cool, but I think it was weird for them to have a friend who still bought toys while they were getting in to music and trying to get laid.
Now that I’m the only one of my high school friends making money doing only what I like, with the added bonus of having dropped out of art school two semesters in, I think they respect it more.
Both of my parents are really supportive, and always have been. My dad was the one who introduced me to the hobby aspect of toy making, since he built model cars and planes and that kind of thing. I would go to the hobby shop with him and buy ‘Tamiya’ military model kits. He taught me how to build them, and when I wanted to do a little more with the models and I got into ‘Warhammer 40K’ he supported that too.
Once I got into sculpting and resin casting, he helped me work through the more difficult parts of the mold making process. My studio is actually the basement storage space for his workshop, he’s been letting me use the space for the past six years or so. Hopefully he won’t change his mind about that anytime soon.
(Photo below of Weird Luke’s basement studio)
General Art + Toy-Art Questions:
Kit Bashing Vs. Self Sculpting?
Self sculpting all the way. Anyone can kitbash an approximation of their character, it takes a true artist to create a figure from scratch.
Favorite ‘other’ toy artist?
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 in their bedrooms)
Short answer, no it doesn’t.
My largest sales come from when I make a figure for a punk band and they take it on tour with them. they always sell out of the toys, and they don’t promote it at all. They just have my shit on the merch table, and it sells itself on merit and aesthetic alone, no hype involved. I hate viral marketing, and I’m glad that my toys are mostly being advertised by word of mouth from punk to punk.
That said, I can’t deny the power of the internet when it comes to reaching a larger audience. I absolutely despise ‘tumblr’, but I have to use one because that’s where I advertise my figures. It’s the best form of free advertising I’ve seen when it comes to art and toys.
Unfortunately, Only one percent of ‘tumblr’ is actually creating art, the other ninety nine percent are just trapped in an endless loop of reblogging ‘die antwoord’ .gifs and photos of food. It’s like an inverse of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ situation.
One percent is producing all the content, and ninety nine percent are posting scrapbooks of all the things they sort of like in the hopes that someone will like the same things as them and then they’ll be cool and popular. It’s like how the big business people saw occupy, except it’s actually true.
In the end, ‘tumblr’ is fucking asinine, but it’s the easiest way for me to advertise my work without paying for it.
Worst aspect of the online nature of toy sales? + Best aspect of the online market for toys?
The worst aspect of the online toy business is not getting to be face to face with the people who buy my toys. I like to find out what makes my customers tick, because the idea that someone would buy one of these things is fucking baffling to me.
The best aspect is reaching a much broader audience than I could otherwise. Like, I have people ordering figures from me who live in Germany, Canada, the Philipines. Hell, you live in Australia and you’ve bought my figures! That would never have happened without the internet.
Specific Weird Luke Art Questions:
Describe the method of making a ‘Resin Trash’ piece?
The “Resin Trash Method” Goes something like this:
First, an idea for a figure hits me, then I spend a day or two sculpting it, pour the mould over the course of two or three days, Then I do some test castings to pick the right color, cast the edition, Then clean them up and paint them. Then I post the figure on ‘tumblr’ and in my ‘bigcartel’ store and wait for people to buy it.
Do you consider what you are making to be ‘art’, ‘design’, re-hashed crap?
Art for sure. It’s just not good art. I hate good art.
When did you first start making ‘art’ (drawings, sculpture anything)?
I’ve been making art for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, me and my siblings would make figures out of ‘Super Sculpey’. We made entire worlds of characters.
However, I didn’t start to make art that I liked until I was in high school. I know a lot of people who are just naturally good artists, but that wasn’t the case with me. I had to work really hard to bring myself up to a level of skill that I was happy with, and I still don’t think I’m very good. I always feel I can improve.
Any formal art training? You and I have discussed your anger at formal art school… Care to elaborate for those playing at home?
I had art classes in high school, which I really enjoyed. In my senior year, I was good friends with my art teacher, and I would skip classes to go down to the art room and work on my figures. I sculpted the dead astronaut figure in my high school art room while I was supposed to be in math class or something. I went to art school not because I wanted to, but because I felt obligated/pressured to attend some form of college, and it seemed like the best option out of a lot of shitty options.
When I actually got there I learned that the only difference between art school and normal school is that you expect normal school to be boring and that makes it easier to deal with. I expected art school to be interesting and exciting as well as informative, so you can imagine my disappointment when it turned out to be the artistic of equivalent of math class.
Pointlessly structured and seemingly endless, not to mention incomprehensible. The only classes really I enjoyed where those that had nothing to do with what I was trying to do.
First semester art history was great because I had teacher who didn’t act like he just climbed out of his coffin after sleeping for a thousand years, and because I already knew everything we covered in class due to my childhood fascination with the ancient myths all of the artwork was based on. For once I was one of the smart kids in class, and I did it without even opening a textbook. I’m genuinely surprised that I passed the class though, as I completely skipped the final paper which I’m pretty sure accounted for our entire grade.
Luckily, my art history professor liked me because I was the only person in the class who always had something to say about the lecture, and he was sick of teaching classes to a room of silent, note taking, grade obsessive robots, so he passed me.
Second semester I took a class called history of narrative cinema, which was intended for film students, so I’m not really sure why they let a fine arts student take it. Regardless, the class consisted of watching movies and talking about them, two things that I excel at.
There was a test at least every half semester, but I don’t think I ever got below eighty percent on one of them, since they were just to make sure you had actually been watching the movies. I got some of my best grades there out of any class I’ve ever taken.
Why + when did you start making toys?
I started making toys in eighth grade, because I wanted figures of characters I had come up with and none of the toy companies were making anything close.
Favorite medium to make toys outta?
I make all of my figures out of ‘Magic Sculpt’. It has great detail retention, and its super durable.
You have so far made a sculpture/figure for NY band ‘Crazy Spirit’ + you have mentioned making one for ‘Perdition’, and other bands on ‘Toxic State’ records soon too. Explain the why + how these came about?
(Photo below of ‘Resin Trash’ – “Bat Boy” figure in multiple colourways made for NYC band ‘Crazy Spirit’)
These are all bands that operate out of Brooklyn, NYC. I’ve been going to shows with the guys in the bands and going to their shows for a couple years now. Sometime last year I showed the guys in ‘Crazy Spirit’ some of the figures I’ve made and asked if I could do a figure based on the artwork in their demo LP. They said sure, and a few weeks later I came back with the ‘Bat Boy’ figure.
They loved it, and bought twenty of them to take on tour and sell. Those figures sold out, and they bought twenty five more to take with them on their european tour. The figures sold out there too. Now I’m just trying to do figures for all the bands I like.
I was last in New York back in 2003, and even then CBGB’s had closed, and the Bowery was dying… What’s the ole’ Rotten Apple like to live in these days? Or do ‘real people’ only live in Brooklyn nowadays? Is Brooklyn changing too?
I never got to go to CBGBs, I was too young when they were still doing shows there. For the most part, Manhattan is fucked. There’s still parts of the lower east side and some other areas, but those are kind of shitty too. Brooklyn is only marginally better, Williamsburg is a fucking cesspool of non-new yorkers and other hipster trash, and it feels like Park slope is expanding into Gowanus a little more every year.
There are still good parts of Brooklyn though, and all of the shows I go to are in Brooklyn. The last time I went to Manhattan for a show must have been a couple months if not a year ago. “Real people” aren’t relegated to any one part of NYC, they live where ever they can afford to. That where ever just happens to be mostly in Brooklyn.
All that said, NYC is always changing. It always has been and it always will be. There will always be those who move in and take up all the previously good areas with their trust funds, and their trendy clothes, but that’s been happening since before NYC was NYC. How do you think the Native Americans felt about English settlers moving in and buying up all the good real estate?
The first white Americans were also the first hipsters. Bottom line is, there will always be shitty idiots moving into NYC and fucking things up for those who were there first, but there also always have been. The only thing that never changes about New York is that it’s always changing.
Specific Sucklord Questions:
How did you hook up with Morgan/‘Sucklord’? I know you were his intern. How did that come about, and how did you even know about him? (Same weed dealer?)
See question number four. The only thing that I didn’t cover up there was that I met him at ‘New York Comic Con’ about a year prior to the internship. We spoke briefly, but didn’t really make any significant connection.
When I asked him about the internship, I already knew a little about resin casting and toymaking, but not nearly enough to strike out on my own. So in working with him I had a mentor to teach me all the things that would have taken me at least twice as long to figure out myself.
Q) What was he like to work with…
* as a bootleg-figure-overlord –
He was great. He pushed me to do stuff that I was either too nervous to try, or never would have thought of.
* as a movie director –
In a word, he’s inspirational. His zero budget approach to filmmaking served as the inspiration to a movie I’m working on now. I can’t reveal too much, but it’s set in Gowanus and there are mutants.
* as a mentor in the hustle –
What can I say, He taught me everything I know, and whatever he didn’t teach me from the start he at least taught me how to do right.
(Photo below of Weird Luke, ‘The Sucklord’/’Vectar’ + ‘Baron DarkOwl’ on the set of ‘Toy Lords of Chinatown’)
What did you ‘take away’ from working with Morgan/‘Sucklord’?
Everything I know about toymaking, I learned at ‘Suckadelic’. More than that, I gained the ability to walk away from the grade “A” clusterfuck that is art school, and not get demolished by the realities of trying to work as creative type in the real world.
‘Sucklord’ gave me the skill to create a product that people will buy, and the knowledge of how to market it in a way that makes them want to buy it. So now I can make art on my own terms AND sell it, all while sidestepping the retardation of the art gallery world.
There seems to be a real split personality to Morgan + ‘The Sucklord’, were Morgan is just yr nice typical nerd; were ‘Sucklord’ comes across all fuck-you- badness. Do they often bleed into each other?
I would definitely hesitate to call Morgan “Nice.” The thing is, the ‘Sucklord’ isn’t an alternate personality, He’s a specific facet of Morgan’s personality isolated and magnified to an extreme. When I hang out at his studio I see all of the character that he plays condensed together in one glowing, sneering ball of toy making energy.
At a ‘Suckadelic’ event, Morgan will narrow it down to just the few traits that sell the most toys and get the most press. He’s a master of his craft.
BEST Morgan as Morgan moment?
We were sitting in his studio, and he was about to put on a CD when he turned to and said “This CD was made by a monkey.” For context, the CD had a drawing of a monkey dressed as a scientist on the cover. (This isn’t actually the best story I have about Morgan, It’s just my favorite.)
BEST Morgan as ‘Sucklord’ moment?
When I was first getting to know him I asked how old he was, and he told me he was forty I said that he looked a lot younger than that, to which he responded: “Yeah, that’s because I play with toys all day.”
When I E-mailed him about the internship, I said something like: “Hey, my school’s making me do an internship, I already know a little about toymaking and you don’t have to pay me.” to which he responded:
“Sounds good. I am looking to expand my production capabilities and hand off some of my casting work, so you may be a useful minion. I have a few helpers already, but no official interns. I imagine you are going to be doing this for school credit? What do I have to do/ provide to make this look legit to the school?
You do realize you are submitting yourself to a salacious world of dope smoking, bootlegging, partying and supervillainy, be warned…”
Anything on the horizon you would like to hype man?
I just released the Gowanus Mutant figure on my online store.
(Photo below of ‘Resin Trash’ – “Gowanus Mutant” piece)
The alternate colorway of the Crimson Ghost figure will be available as soon as I finish drawing the header card. The Black Death figure will be priced at $25.
The ‘Perdition’ Action Figure is coming out in early April, and the ‘Sad Boys’ Action Figure should be released around the same time.
(Photo below of ‘Resin Trash’ – “Perdition” figure)
I’ll also be doing a collaboration with Alex Heir who’s work can be found www.deathtraitors.com
There are a couple other punk band figures coming down the pipe, as well as a few other top secret projects. Keep checking resin-trash.tumblr.com for updates as they happen.
(Picture below of the Resin Trash – ‘Street Trash’ figure)
(All photos from Weird Luke’s Facebook page OR V.B.D.B.C.T)