As a figure collector in South Africa, I find a lot of obstacles to being a collector of action figures, busts and statutes, some of the major ones is the expensive shipping costs, exchange rates and limited availability of the majority of exclusive pieces. I am glad to see that Hot Toys recently announced they will be having a stand at the upcoming rAge expo held in Johannesburg during early October in which they announced that there would be exclusive figures for this expo.
There’s obviously a significant customer base in South Africa for this international company to actually find value in having a stall in a South African expo and frankly I feel that South Africans will always be paying too much for most geek related merchandise unless alternatives or these companies allow licenses to local companies to manufacture these items.
I wanted to know if there were any n00bs out there actually making their own figures/statues locally of the characters they want and styled in the pose and outfit they prefer. Well I did find someone, and personally I think it’s awesome – I mean why not make your own or at least have fun trying to make a statue of your favourite pop culture icons? I spoke to local artist and sculpting n00b Jayk Botha on some insight into this craft.
Interview: Jayk Botha (Artist)
Company: Handmade Hero’s
1. Give us a brief background about yourself?
My name is Jayk and I work in construction, to some degree. I’ve always been keen to try out any skill at least once. I love working with my hands, creating things. Let’s just say I would not particularly flourish with an office job.
2. When did you start sculpting figures and why?
As a youngster, I always kept to my own space, finding creative ways to entertain myself, with anything from drawing to sculpting. I lost touch with it for some time, until one day my mother bought me some clay as a little joke. She said, “Remember when all you had time for was this?” Little did she know… I’ve always been a fan of comics and cartoons, and then finally, with major support and inspiration from my girlfriend, Handmade heroes was born in 2012.
3. Who is your favourite character and why?
Thirty-Thirty, aka “bad-ass horse man that lets Sarah Jane do all the talking.”
4. What materials go into making a sculpture?
Mostly clay, wiring and glue. But you will be amazed at what random things can add to a sculpture. Personally, I have used things from five-cent coins to straws.
5. How long does it take you on average to complete a sculpture?
Depending on the detail, it can take anything between one to two weeks.
6. How would someone contact you to order a custom piece for their collection?
7. What is the most difficult character you have sculpted and why?
Each one has their own set of challenges, but off the top of my head, I would say Usagi Yojimbo. Just to make him look good from all angles with the swollen brow, was a mission!
8. How much of pre work goes into choosing the character, pose and colours before you commit to sculpting the piece?
Quite a bit. First, you have to be certain about the character you want to create (apart from its humble beginnings, clay is not cheap). Pose is very important if you want the character to come alive, and action is also not always the best route to take. More is less at times (old, but good advice). And finally, colour always needs to be taken into consideration.
9. At what point do you consider a piece finished?
For me personally it is when you sit back and look at a model and think, “Wow! It’s staring back at me! I just brought that character to life!”
10. What projects are you working on currently?
I’m currently working on Lion-O. I’ll also be making the main characters from Toxic Crusaders, Thundercats and also Bravestarr
11. What advice would you give to a person who is interested in sculpting their own figures?
Be patient. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Be sure of what you want to make, a lot of time goes into it. Things can very easily go wrong. Practice. Plan properly. Be prepared to make mistakes.
12. Have you created any of your own characters and what was your inspiration behind it?
There are two or three, inspired by cartoons. Other than that, I made a character way back based on my sister’s pregnancy. I named it MOM, which is an acronym for Massively Overprotective Mother.