ZombieGuide Interview

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Do you remember how your first custom came to be?

Yessir! First custom was in 1991. The year I got back into GIJoe full time, after a 2 year hiatus. I came across the Red Star figure at retail, and immediately recognized him as Col. Brekhov.

While I was happy with the figure itself, I knew with some minor tweaking it could become an actual Brekov figure, easily. I'd wanted an Oktober Guard set since the first appearance of the characters back in issue #6.

In the mid to late 1980s, I was an active painter of Warhammer models, figures and maker of dioramas, so I already had plenty of experience. I also used to do many commissions at the time for vinyl kits, resin kits and Warhammer/lead figures. I had not attempted a custom GIJoe before, but I figured it couldn't be too hard. I was wrong.

I broke out my paints and went to work. I painted Brekov exactly like this. However, what killed me was while he LOOKED great, the paint would chip anytime you moved him. It was a great paint job, but not an effective toy. My paint job destroyed EVERYTHING that made a GIJoe figure what it was.

I went to work, and for the next 2-3 years, I tried a billion different methods to come up with something that resembled a 'factory finished' looking figure, with a custom paint job, that would look perfectly at home standing next to any actual production figure, that would have NO brush strokes, and retain posability. My method takes about 2 weeks for the actual 'non-chipping' process to set in, and every now and then, you CAN still screw up and get a chip. It is rare, but it can happen... hence the 99% chip proof method as I call it.

Some examples: Dusty

Video showing off how well it holds up, also embedded below.

Once I perfected the method, I went ahead and made the whole Oktober Guard, as well as Pythona. I owned the same type of business back then as I do now, so I displayed these customs at toy convetions, and DeSimoe GIJoe shows all over Los Angeles. Along with showing them off came many requests for a set, so I started making more figures and selling them. I eventually branched off into other toylines, IE Star Wars, Star Trek and others, and sold many to high end Star Wars collector Steve Sansweet. My customs helped pay my rent throughout the 1990s, but it all started with Red Star, in 1991.

Since then I've made and sold well over 1000 customs, about 80% of them GIJoe.

Which would you- who are we kidding, how do you make a figure 99% chip proof?

I've happily shared my method with friends over the years, but I don't publicly give that information out. I can honestly say that's the one question I'll always not answer. The reason being is that my customizing is part of my business, and it's the one thing that sets me apart from most customizers. Perhaps one day. :D

I've done many, many, MANY commissions over the years, but I actually have stopped and will only do the stuff that I want to do from now on. Doing commissions really burned me out on the hobby for many, many years.

You got to be an extra in the GI Joe Retaliation movie, what was best part of that experience?

Started as an extra and evolved into a principle, but more on that in the future.

Good question, and a long answer. I kinda felt like GI Joe came back to me on some cosmic level... if that makes any sense. I've been good to it over the years, and it came back to me big time in 2011/2012.

I, along with our own CabanaJack live just outside New Orleans. CJ's cousin has been working in films for awhile, and passed on the information to CJ that GI JOE 2 would be shooting in NOLA in the next few months.

CJ mentioned that he was going to try to get signed on, and asked if I'd like to join him, which I did. We both ended up getting signed on to Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter shortly after. I went ahead and got my name and photos out to all the various casting companies in the area, and within a day had been signed on to several more features: 21 Jump St, Stolen and HBOs Treme.

Over the next few months I took pretty much every gig I was offered to get my name out as some one who was reliable, easy to work with, and learning everything I could, just to get on JOE 2. Since I'm not an actor, had no experience, and no training, I had to learn a lot on the job. It was fun and informative.

Finally, late July 2011, the casting calls goes out that GI JOE 2 will begin looking for people. Lo and behold I get the call that I am invited to come to the casting office to meet with the director, who will be hand selecting all the 'greenshirts' and Cobra Troopers for the movie. As luck would have it, I had to be out of state on the day this was to take place.

I put the call in, and explained I would NOT be available, but would take anything that should come up along the way. Not a week later, I got a call that someone had bailed out, and if I would be interested in 14-21 days on the movie as a Cobra Trooper. Of course I accepted. I ended up with just over 3 weeks total. Since I played a bad guy, the majority of my time was with the main bad guys -Firefly, Storm Shadow, CC, Zartan, etc and very little time with the main Joe characters.


There is A LOT more to this story, and maybe we can do a much longer interview about it AFTER the movie comes out, because I legally can't say too much at this time.

As a direct result of going after the JOE 2 gig, I've been able to work nearly 30 productions so far, and growing. I've been able to get gigs as background, extra, featured AND principle parts, and am now SAG eligible. Made a few bucks, been able to work with many A level Hollywood childhood heroes, and had a blast doing it. Thanks goes out to CABANAJACK, who got me in the door in the first place.

To sum it all up though, the BEST part of the experience was being able to PLAY GI JOE FOR REAL. Well, as real as possible... :)

If you were forming a JoeCustoms multiplayer video game team, who would you have on it and why?

This in an interesting, yet disturbing question. We'd have to have all the regulars: Chief, Kilcarr, GITrekker and Beav of course. Everyone from JoeCustoms for the most part are LIFERS. Everyone has been around for years... over 10 in many cases, my own included.

I consider many, if not all the JC members part of my online 'virtual family', It already IS like a multiplayer video game. But with less shooting.

JoeArmory.com caters to a lot more than just Joe fans. What has been the strangest item that you have sold?

Well, as most Joe fans that shop JoeArmory probably AREN'T aware, JoeArmory is a small part of a much, much bigger business. I've been in the collectibles biz since 1991, and had a storefront back when in lived in CA.

These days, we have, I would guess, somewhere around 500,000 items in our warehouses, and about 50,000 of those items are up for sale on various venues at any given time. Between Amazon, eBay, Yardsellr and our retail space we offer a mind boggling assortment of movie memorabilia, antiques, toys and music/TV/animation collectibles... It's a lot, and I truly love what I do for a living. I don't plan to ever stop. I love going out and finding new items, and I love being able to get these items into the hands of people who will love and cherish them in their collections.

Strangest huh? I don't think there's really an answer for that. What's strange to a movie poster collector on JoeArmory.com like a 1983 Snake Eyes crotch isn't strange to a Joe fan. A Joe fan might find it weird that I've sold vintage Kentucky Friend Chicken paper cups to advertising collectors. It's all relative.

I can share a disturbing story though: One of the most popular items we sell is 8x10 celebrity press photos, and 4x6 candid celebrity photos. Back in 2001, we were shipping about 5,000 a month of these things...it was the largest portion of my business back then. Around mid-October, our mailman dropped off our mail, and among them was a package we had shipped out, marked UNDELIVERABLE. Upon looking at it, it was a 4x6 Sarah Michelle Gellar 4x6 photograph, sent to the 35th floor of the World Trade Center. It was shipped the week of Sept 11, 2001, and obviously never arrived. The person it was made out to, I never was able to contact him, and since have looked up his name on the lists of people that were killed that painful day, and his name has never appeared. So I'm hopeful he got out.

I still have the letter.

What other customizers inspire you?

I would have to say the #1 person's work that I find AMAZING is Kevin Watts/KrymsonSith666. He goes for the same goal I do -which is a production look, and hits a home run every time. His ideas seem to be right alongside everything that I find GI Joe to be. He mainly focuses on ARAH, but lately has dabbled into 25th territory.

I'm also a big fan of Chad & Matthew, because who isn't? They never cease to amaze me over the years with their approach to the hobby. I was a big fan of theirs long before I ever joined the site, and now, years later, having had the chance to meet them in person several times, and spend time with them, I'm an even bigger fan. Can't say enough good things about these guys, or their work.

IWBeta I'm a big fan of as well. His are the only customs I've ever actually attempted to purchase during one of his auctions. Usually I just make my own, but his work on the 25th stuff the past few years has been breath taking, to say the least.

These are the guys that immediately come to mind, but there are many, many others that I find inspiration from. Even if our styles or use of parts aren't the same, sometimes the ideas only can send me running to make my own version.

Which custom of yours are you the most proud if and why?

There are probably too many to list. Any time a figure comes out FLAWLESS, ie absolute perfection in my opinion... a perfect blend of parts, perfect paint aps, etc THOSE are the ones I go ga - ga over.

This General Hawk figure would be a good example: Patton Styled General Hawk

I didn't have a major interest in it, just something inspired by a cancelled 1995 image from YoJoe.com, and holy crap! It came out terrific.

Which figure parts have you found to be the most useful?

I get tons and tons of parts in every month. The parts I always save are Red Stars, Headmans, Baroness and anything from the 82-83 Joe figures.

I like to do Russian figures, and Red Star has a nice, basic, authentic uniform.

82-83 guys are perfect for Action Force figures... something I was inspired to do after a JC group project.

What hobbies outside GI Joe do you enjoy?

I consider what I call my “Wannabe Hollywood Career” a hobby. It's a bonus that they pay me. I turn down about 50% of what I'm offered, BECAUSE it's a hobby. If it were something I really wanted to pursue as a career, I'd accept everything.

I also spend a lot of gaming. XBOX specifically. Thankfully I've made a lot of friends at JoeCustoms over the years, so the two hobbies have conjoined in that I play with a lot of JCers on a regular basis. In addition to enjoying the game, it's a great social outlet to exchange ideas, make trades/deals and just talk Joe.

On the homefront I hike and travel a lot with my wife and kids. We just picked up a set of kayaks, something long overdue, and will be visiting Costa Rica for a 10 day trip in about a week.

You get an offer you can't refuse for your entire collection, what one figure and one vehicle do you negotiate to keep?

Hmm. I guess this is kinda of a "what's your favorite vehicle question", which is pretty hard.

I guess it would probably be the Tomahawk. As as kid, this vehicle made an appearance in every adventure.

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