Hopefully you’re picking back up from Part I of our interview with Dave from Slayer Design Studios. If you missed it, be sure to check it out here to find out more about SDS. In addition to our main interview, we opened the questions up to members of the Fighting 1:18th and they supplied their own questions.
Below are the burning questions that have SDS fans curious about the past and future of Slayer. Learn a bit more from Dave as he gives insight into things such as how well naked action figures sell, tips on learning to cast yourself, and a breakdown of their own casting process in layman’s terms.
Q17: How long have you been making molds and casting?
Dave: 7 years now.
Q18: What precautions need to be made when working on casting?
Dave: The SlayerCons are the best place to learn the “Do’s and Don’ts” of molding and casting. We plan to make some videos showing step-by-step for building pressure pots to making molds to making cast product. Again, it’s a time thing holds us back.
Q19: How do you go about weeding through all the request/suggestion threads and deciding what parts will be made?
Dave: It comes down sometimes—no, most times—to what the artist wants to do. We do listen to everybody, and try to keep chipping away at our request list. Some months we are better then others, but we will keep doing so, and hopefully folks will notice.
Q20: What are some of your favorite sculpts you’ve provided? Or what were the most hated or least profitable?
Dave: To be honest, some of my favorites are the ARAH (GI Joe: A Real American Hero) O-ring sculpts. I am still a diehard ARAH guy. I love all the sculpts, but ARAH—for me—is my true love.
I wouldn’t say any of the sculpts are hated, sometimes they just have not been put into the right customizer’s hands and given the chance to show what they can become.
Q21: For say, the single sculpt of a head, how much time and money on average do you put into casting and molding? What about time spent each week or amount of casts done in one stretch?
Dave: This one is a little tough to answer, considering we are a pre-order system. What I can say is we have to make a master mold, and run that 5 to 10 times. Then we check our sold products to see how many of head number X sold. For example, if it sold 51 copies, we make a gang mold with 10 heads in it. This will allow for us to knock it out faster. While some heads sell like crazy some, sell very few. This is why for us having the preorder system helps us from wasting time and money on products that may or may not sell, and work on what does sell.
Q22: You’ve dabbled in diorama parts in addition to helmets, attachments, and even weapons. Any plan on moving into vehicle weapons or other similar items?
Dave: Yes, and even vehicles themselves.
Q23: Are there any sculpts that you either wanted to do but haven’t gotten around to, or ones that just never worked out and were a pain in the ass to cast?
Dave: We can mold anything, but some of the larger dio stuff really gave us some trouble. The biggest reason is that once it’s cast, the product—if it has defects—can’t be melted down and used again. It’s just lost.
Q24: Are there any item that just didn’t sell and you thought it would? What about your best seller or worst seller?
Dave: Nude female torsos! Man, those sold better then anything else. Damn pervs we have in this hobby. (Laughs.)
No, they’re the worst seller to be honest.
Q25: Materials that you use: are they easy to find locally, or are they a specialty item that you have to buy online, or in bulk? What suggestions do you have for folks wanting to get into casting, or a good place to start?
Dave: We use Smooth-On product. There are so many great products that they make, with new ones added all the time. It’s very expensive to get into doing molding and casting work, but it really is something all customizers should learn. You have a good amount of things to buy: a pressure pot, a compressor, rubber, resin, and a place that you can control the climate. Too hot, and you can’t work with the resin. Too cold, and it won’t set right. So many factors to learn, but once you do, there’s nothing like being able to cast a whole figure, and then make 20 more.
And that wraps up the Q&A. A very special thanks to Dave and his crew for giving us his time for this in-depth Q&A.
If you’re a customizer, or curious about modifying your own figures and want to learn more, check out the wide range of original sculpts at their store. They’re also more than happy to help out with any further questions you have. Drop them a line or join up in the discussion at their forums.
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A special thanks to the members of the Fighting118th.com for submitting their questions and Dave for taking the time to help us with the article. Also, thanks to all the other sculptors and casting studios out there for making customizing a bigger, more creative world for everyone involved.
Very insightful Interview! Thanks for giving us so much good information Dave.