Peter Goral is the creative genius behind Killer Bootlegs, an independent bootleg toy operation based in Rockford, Illinois. His 're-imaginings' of classic toy lines often combine various body parts and accessories from a wide variety of vintage action figures, which are molded and then cast in resin. But these aren't just simply cheap rip-offs... they are highly refined pieces of art.
Vividly painted and oozing with nostalgia, the creations of Killer Bootlegs are extremely eye-catching, expertly crafted and ultra wicked.
Upon discovering some of these gems, I had to find out more about the man behind their conception. Fortunately, I recently had the opportunity to ask Peter of Killer Bootlegs some questions...
What were your favorite toys and cartoons growing up?
My favorite toys as a child were GI Joe and Star Wars action figures. But, I played with anything 3.75" and could be mixed into play with my GI Joe and Star Wars figures. I really liked the odd knockoff figures made by companies Lanard and Remco. But, if I had to pick a favorite, it'd be Storm Shadow V2 (1988). My favorite cartoons were, GI Joe, Thundercats, He-Man, X-Men, and Scooby Doo.
Which action figure series made the biggest impact on your childhood?
GI Joe: A Real American Hero and Star Wars POTF 2. It's all their fault!
When did you you decided to start making your own custom action figures?
I decided to start making my own figures back in the fall of 2009. At the time, I was working a 1st shift job and my wife worked on 2nd shift. I would get off work and have a ton of time on my hands and be home alone most of the night. At first, they were just one-off kitbashed figures that were held together with Super Sculpy and super glue. I didn't get into the molding and casting aspect for maybe a year or two later.
Did you find the processes of molding and casting difficult to learn?
I have to admit, it was a lot of trial and error. There really weren't any instructional videos online at the time. I didn't have customer reviews or anyone with past experience to tell me which products worked best for what I was attempting to do. It was difficult, but eventually I got a handle on what needed to be done and figured out what little tricks make the difference in the end.
What was the first action figure that you created?
The first action figure that I created was called, Shifty Megatron. He was a one-off kitbash made with a vintage Star Wars Ewok lower body and Boba Fett torso, GI Joe Talking Battle Commander Overkill head and I think Jurassic Park Velociraptor arms. I repainted him a few times, before he was eventually mounted on a screen printed cardback, framed, and shipped to Australia where he now resides in a private collection.
Can you describe the process you go through?
I generally start with molding some of the action figure parts that I will use as my base to work off of. I have found that working with a resin casting is much easier than the actual part itself. I sculpt, cut, sand, and glue parts from other, toys, castings, and sometimes really random pieces of plastic together to achieve the desired look and feel of a vintage action figure. I make multiple molds, depending on the size of the run to speed up the casting process. Most times, I'm casting several hundred individual parts, which all need to have the vents/pour spouts trimmed off, be sanded/cleaned/polished, and then ultimately everything is painted. I like to have a blank canvas to start with when it comes to the paint application, so I cast everything in bright white resin. I apply washes, rubs, airbrush parts, and then hand paint all the details.
Which action figure(s) are you the most proud of making?
I'm proud of everything I have made. But, some of my figures that instantly come to mind are...
and Star Warhol.
What are you cooking up now?
I've got quite a few things left up my sleeve for the second half of 2015. You guys will just have to wait and see..
Do you have any tips for aspiring action figure bootleggers and toy creators?
Focus and have fun. They are only toys...
Make sure to visit Killer Bootlegs' official website for more info!
. . .