Wednesday 1 September 2021

Wrestling, toymaking, and working in Japan. The Covid era.

 I've been back in Japan for nearly two years now. I arrived a few months before Corona hit and feel very lucky that I did.

I was the most contented I'd ever been 5 years ago. A beautiful place to live in the country by the sea, more toy work coming in then I had time to keep up with... Some big things changed and eventually the sheds and bungalow that made Bigmantoys so possible was no longer sustainable - bad lodgers, a couple of big promises that never came to fruition... Just then, Japan called like it knew what was happening - a paid tour and flights back with my old wrestlig promotion Triplesix. I sold everything I owned but a few boxes of my favorite books and toys and got myself a job in Japan (a self sponsored Visa is a nightmare to get unless you're here first).

All of a sudden I went from a self employed hermit in the sticks of England to a fully employed (as in I have a 9 - 5 job plus my other stuff) pro wrestler again. Amidst a global pandemic, no less. I never stopped taking digital sculpting commissions but was content enough with that and wasn't promoting my toymaking at all.

I bought a resin 3D printer on a whim and that was it. I'm not getting a job with Four Horsemen anytime soon but I am the type of guy that if you give me the slightest means to make and sell toys, I will carpet bomb the planet with my work. I will do it until I die. I also discovered some great apps on the phone for sculpting that have doubled my sculpting time. A lot of my stuff is sculpted on the train.

So that's it. Bigmantoys was hit with a chance lightning bolt and it came back to life, with all of my old customers and some new ones. Vinyl is already funded and underway. It is the most rewarding thing in my life.

It has been a weird time. I have been by myself for years with no real vision of the future. I have spent more time staring at the sea than I probably have talking to people. Now I live in Tokyo and ride the train past a giant Godzilla on the way to work and am wrestling regularly for a few companies.
Despite my previous lack of interest in personal promotion, I've accepted it as part of the game and you'll see me on my own Instagram now which I never did before.

The passing of my (and many people's) dear friend Ralph Niese last year blew my brain into the cosmos for a long time. I still zone out and shed a tear sometimes when I have enough time alone with my thoughts. I'm glad I got to spend some time with him the previous summer and see his smile again. A lot of us stumble around in life looking for an answer or our true North. Ralph inspired all kinds of people not only with the brilliance of his art but also his absolute authenticity to who he was and what he wanted to do. 

While I live in a metropolis and move from morning to night, there's a bit of my soul sitting in Ralph's kitchen in Leipzig while he smokes, or sleeping on the empty beach on a sold day in Sussex while my morning resin pours cure, or just having the most fun imaginable with Luke and is family at Goodleg. All of these experiences are part of why I will always make toys. Whatever's happening in the background, like weight training, it somehow fits my life perfectly. Some of the deepest bonds I have with people are from my time in toymaking.

Anyway. My focus is on my micro figure line #bmtepic and scaling up production. I will absolutely get out of the city again before too long and find a bit place to use as a base of operations. I have so many solid ideas that need to get done. The journey is so rewarding that it's hard to care about the destination.

Wednesday 1 April 2020

BMT - Not dead. More like cocooned.

I live in Japan now. In a small apartment with a full-time job and professional wrestling on weekends.

About 18 months ago, it became clear that I wouldn't be able to afford the rent on BMT studios (a large bungalow in the countryside with lots of sheds) without getting a lodger in. I did that twice and they each took turns ruining the place. It made it impossible to work properly at home. During this time, I got paid to come back to Japan for a reunion tour with my old wrestling company and felt like it was fate that I come back.

Between then and now I spent a few months between addresses, staying occasionally with Luke at Goodleg/Underworld Muscle in Germany and working on our Wo-Dan project, using the buck I sculpted for the PAGAN line. I also had 2 of my more successful ideas ripped off within a month of their release and realised that the Instagram movement for likes-at-any-cost is only getting worse and collectors do not care. I don't blame them - it's not the consumers job to have an interest in the history behind an idea.

Anyway, I'm still doing digital modelling commissions here and there, and as toymaking is my happy place, I will be producing again myself or getting into mass production as soon as logistics allow. I am perpetually on that mission.

That's what's going on, in case you were interested :)

You can follow the bigmantoys twitter in case you'd like to keep up to date on my wrestling adventures.

Friday 2 August 2019

Who's making resin toys now?


With a few rare exceptions, indie toymakers are not getting hits on their blogs. There are a handful that made it with Blogger and  a web store back in the day and keep it going but since Instagram, everything has changed. It's the first time I've felt the tug of changing tide against what I thought worked.

Seven years ago, having the gumption to spend money on a pressure pot and work out what size baggies you needed was a big deal. Bootlegs and original resin pieces were lumped into the same category. I enjoy sculpting so that's what I've put my time into.

A thousand or so new resin artists later, and everything is different. You can never produce too many Skeletors or Boba-Fetts. That's the trump card. So, you know, eff that. Now, here are some a-ma-zing guys doing MOTU repro: Viktors Vintage, Master English, MOTU Molder Baz  and about five or so more making really crisp work. My friendship with Austin Richards (Gold Dober) was the thread that held my interest in super-nice casting work. I will always have love for crispy clean casts in clear red resin.

The most inspiring to me over the past few years have been artists like ThatDamnJo, Jimmy Rommel, Eddie in the City, Vincha V, Underworld Muscle, Musculoids, Therojo, Better Days (off the top of my head). Prolific sculptors that make new universes. Also, it seems to be the final beating heart of original art in the resin toy scene. It's encouraging to see it. Keeps me buying the occasional bottle of silicone.

Then there's the old guard. The ones that were about before craft-beer and NWA hoodies ever came into contact with splashed resin. Resin model kits, statues, that kind of thing. Home-made Horror is one of my favorites. He makes really animated static sculpts of classic horror scenes. Eddie in the City kind of walks the line of that. It's minifigures that are not trying to be edgy or Japanese style. Straight up 2-3" painted (usually) resin pieces in a western comic style. Very cool.

So I'm thinking about where I want to fit into this all. For the time being, I'm getting by on Z-brush commissions and 3D printing. I will be in Japan this time next year - back in the world of professional wrestling and also earning a proper wage with a day job. That means less time and more money = outsourced production. I would really love to grow Pagan as a vinyl or PVC line but if people are getting Super 7 5.5s for $4 in Target... I'll need to think.

Saturday 3 November 2018

PAGAN - 5.5" Resin Action Figures from a world of the Darkest Fantasy.

The line I've been planning for 6 years has been released as a seperate brand for a few months now. Aside from the 3 main characters released so far, there is a new unique figure or variant released every single Monday.
I'm using every trick I know to make these the most playable, and unique MOTU-inspired line I can. Huge 3D printed accessories, pewter weapons, deluxe blister cards and affordable clamshell packs, chains, fabric, original sculpting, interchangavle heads, cauldrons, ruins - and that's only what's been created so far!

PAGAN is set at around 3000 BC. Although the magicks of Wizards and Priestesses mean that time is not a straight line. Some of the demi-gods of the PAGAN world venture into Christian times and prehistoric, to make use of weapons and beasts their enemies might not yet know.

Although there are no heroes as we understand in this world, there are protaonists more noble than others. Powaslayyve is the only character so far to make a name for himself using purely brute strength. Honorable in combat, and not yet sullied by the politics and scheming that results in so much dark magic and bloodshed of innocents.
Priestesses and Witches are to those seeking power as water is to a dying man. Indeed, behind every warlord is a coven or group of many women of great power. Whether it be poisons, charms, or future sight, these women command a powerful grip in the PAGAN world. 
It should be noted that this is not a toy line for those that are easily offended. Aspects of expolitation horror movies, black metal, and adult comics are liberated in this line. There are already plenty of vanilla barbarians out there - this is for people that were around for the gritty stuff in the 70s and 80s and want a toy line that goes as dark. 

There is already a selection based on the characters of the 1st series in store at

Saturday 14 July 2018

Big business principles for the little guy (such as the artist, or toymaker).

I thought I'd take a few minutes out and further alienate the hipster collecorship by showing what a mddle aged nerd I am and talking about the principles I leanred working in sales, IT and tech, and translating them to the hand-to-mouth artisan existence I'm currently enjoying.

1: When being your own boss, be the toughest boss you've ever had.

It's Saturday night. I've turned down two different social things because I'm behind on my target. The best boss I ever had was an absolute savage. He made people cry. However, he was completely transparent about how businesses really work and what it takes. I made more stuff happen working under him and relised that I had double the energy I thought I had. I had days where I'd be falling asleep with a headache and have to try and grab a nap at a park before chugging more coffee and asprin and getting back in the office.

I realised that if I could do all that for him (as many of us do in our jobs) why couldn't I do that for me? You know you're legit when you've pulled 60 hours like a trooper and even if you didn't get all you wanted to done, you know what your best looked like.

2: Give your product every chance of success. SOMEONE will want it.

I've talked about "Emperor's new Clothes" syndrome lots of times. New guy makes bullshit and puts it on Instagram. You wouldn't even take a photo of it, it's that bad. But he believes in it and loves it  He presents it with pride and tells you exactly why it's good. You see where he's coming from. You think it's good too now!

Look at some of comics that make it! Half the chicks on comic covers in the 90s looked boss eyed with different sized boobies. People got paid for that!!

Day of the Slug has sold next to nothing in the States. I was disappointed on its launch and started on something else. A few shares on Facebook to a few new people later and I was selling a few sets a week. good enough for me. Took a bag of them to conventions and handed a few out. Someone did a vid revew, someone posted them on their IG, and a year after release I was having to re-make the molds I was churning out that many.

I know artists that are good enough to sculpt for legit toy companies here in my home town that never even photograph their work, let alone think of selling it. Don't get embarassed. Flop it out!

3: Sweat your assets.

Selling IT solutions, there were a few principles that especially one-man-band artists could use. One is the principle of using a new tech combined with old junk (ancient laptops running software from a powerful new server) to make money-in to money-out ratio (return on investement) good.

My 2 casting set-ups, laptop, knock-off Wacom, and 3D printers cost a total of 700 pounds (about $1k US). and most of this has been with me for at least 4 years. My sculpting workflow includes 3D printing, PLASTER waste molds (why do that with silicone!?) and recyclable wax and clay. Much like the ugly but effective old trucks that are used in communist countries to enable commerce of the lastest tech, the cheap ugly plaster and rusty old tools and buckets I use to make the plaster shells for my silicone matrix molds are cheap, will last forever, and end up contributing to the same product.

4  Big strokes! Let the executive in you support the starving artist you.

In craft and life. I use large tools to speed up work before I get started with little bits. An ancient giant file, a belt sander, big craft knives, a soldering iron for sculpting wax (before moving to a hot pen for the details). Your time and energy and precious. You have to prioritise what's worth it and remember, the fact you spent 60 hours making something the hard way unfortunately means as much as someone casting something in clear pink that they sculpted in an afternoon. It's shelf porn, and it won't move people like fine art. By all means make the fine art as without it, art toys is a phrase that really means nothing, but no one remembers martyrs (well, maybe Christ), so give the artist you a chance by using some hustle.

5: Take the opportunity to Pilfer a Goat. (From the Chinese war-guide "The 36 Strategems".)

While you're focussed on your big moves, little opportunities may pop up. So take them. About 50% of my work isn't even related to releases. Blank pulls of stuff I released in the past, commissions (guaranteed money now vs. money later). It's not greasy - it's survival. The biggest, coolest franchises and companies are squeezing the pips with everything they can on the side because they know hard-core collectorship isn't something they can always count on. You can make TRUE art and stipend yourself with a on office job, or make TRUE art and side-hustle to make sure your art is given every chance it gets and more studio time.

No one's as classy as they appear and most of your favorite atheletes probably take steroids. It's survival!

6: Recycle everything.

Materials and work. I recycle silcone, I add bulking agents to materials, I make matrix molds, I take ruined molds and use them as templates for wax roughs. If people want something I made years ago, I want to help them have it if I can. A lot of my characters (and molds) have endured for years longer than I thought they would. So it never hurts to remind people that they're there to help them keep going.

Friday 18 May 2018



 I've been full time toy making for two months now. Enjoying the process of brushing up all the crafts involved in toymaking without a real goal. Making one-offs is fun and can pay the bills but I have really missed building on something.

I worked out that I've had about 60 releases since I started and something like 40 original sculpts. I like all toys which means I had made figures in almost every scale and material.
 BMT HARDCORE is a format of 60mm tall thick SD rubber keshi. I plan to release every original character I've ever created as well as completely re-sculpt some of the stuff I kitbashed or even bootlegged in the early days of Bigmantoys.
This is me taking everything I've learned in the past 5 years and putting it all into one epic line.
The figures are digitally sculpted, 3D printed, copied in wax, re-sculpted by hand, and finally cast in indestructible PU rubber.

The header cards are spray painted stencils on cardstock. Everything from Zbrush to putty to spray paint comes together to make these. It's my proudest output so far and with the workflow I'm using, I'll be able to keep bringing out new releases.
 Rather than a random splurge of casting, these figures will have limited runs of each colour so that as the line continues, people will know exactly how many of everything is out there, and how possible it is to get a complete collection. I don't just want the sculpts to be awesome, I want people to have holy grails from the line for their collection
 What's even cooler is that I have already agreed on incorporating several characters from the lines of other indy toy companies (ones you will know and love) into the line.

An expanded universe of BMT and the coolest other lines out there all in the same format.
Finally, these are going to be affordable!
There's no paying 3rd party licences, gallery or convention expenses. These are made 100% by me in my little studio in England.
All you're paying for is the toy!

Monday 2 October 2017

Re-attaching the creative nerve endings.

If you're one of the 300 or so people with a vested interest in garage toy makers, you may have noticed my complete abscence from toy blogs, and little posted on social media.
A few things have happened. I've got a day job in the games industry. I'm not working as an artist but as an admirer of the craft, it's quite cool talking with people who've worked on games I've spent a lot of time playing myself. BUT it's a proper bloody job. I can't fuck about. Just as when someone gives me money for a toy, I owe them 100%, I have to give back to this company. I'm not the best sculptor, or the best producer but I like to think Bigmantoys had a work ethic that gave it a degree of "success".

So I made that Maniac Cop statue and went quiet. Other massive personal changes have attacked my free time. I know full well I could just glue a Trump head to a Ninja Turtle, fart out some resin copies, and get covered on all the hipster websites but its an unfun game when its that easy.

I've got money saved up for the first time. I have pitched, got very close, and failed to design and mass produce a few licenses I love. I'm in talks for more. I don't know which if any will work, but I can guarantee it'll be something I would collect for the price.

In the meantime, my minimal profit Shapeways shop is keeping the pulse going with regular releases, exploiting the strengths of the 3d printed medium.

Last week was s full color range of Mortal Kombat and Double Dragon minis.
Much more to come.