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Making It Real: Tyke

Posted by: Casimir at 11:51 am on Saturday, January 28, 2012

Since I started sharing my customs on-line, I’ve met some amazing people, and made some great friends. I can recall some instances more than a decade ago when some young punk was pestering me with questions about customs, and kept insisting I look at his creations. Well, that “young punk” turned out to be the same age as me, extremely talented, damned funny, and an all around a swell guy. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to present my good friend Tyke Smyers (unfiltered).

First, what’s your secret identity? What does Tyke Smyers do when he’s not customizing toys?

I’m a high school teacher of Mythology, British Literature, and Short Story/Novel. I’m also an annoying husband that’s bad with money.

How long have you been collecting toys?

My Mom and Dad spoiled my brother and I year round since the first Micronauts figures and Stretch Armstrong!

When and how did you start creating customized figures? Who or what was an early influence?

I remember falling in love with BTAS that aired on Sunday nights (prime time)… I wanted to start making figures that didn’t appear in the Kenner lineup but did in the cartoon. I was attending ASU and discovered Casimir’s work….we became online buddies and Casimir began to molest my creativity (in a good way).

You work in several different styles. I’ve seen Timm-verse stuff, Masters of the Universe, Star Wars, Transformers… Battle Pope! What motivates you to tackle a specific character in a specific style?

Whatever makes me tingle inside! If my ADHD or obsessive-compulsiveness inspires me to make a certain figure, I’m all over it (usually after setting aside four or five projects half completed).

Do you prefer sculpting/shaping/assembling a figure, or painting? Why?

I prefer painting because… well… I’m good at it.

What is your preferred paint?

I remember I started out SO LONG AGO with Enamel… it never truly dried and became messy….I use the cheap acrylics bought at art stores. I patiently apply 2-3 coats of the acrylic to a figure.

How do you manage your time between customizing and “real life?” More importantly, how does your (awesome) wife handle your habits, er, I mean hobbies?

Yes, my wife is indeed awesome! I am fair in balancing my time between the love of my life and “hobbies”, so there’s no need for “toleration.” :)

You’ve been around long enough to see changes in the hobby (personnel, attitudes, technology). What changes have you perceived?

I’ve found (and hate) that the hobby has evolved into unhealthy competition. On some sites I see that 90% of customizers are set in their ways and try to outdo each other and allow jealousy to set paths before them. Very unhealthy. Very un-fun.

Given that many of your customs are based on licensed properties that have long since passed, the ending of the JLU line by Mattel probably won’t affect you much. Will you continue to work in whatever style suits you?

“I’m the President. I can do what I want!” I will do whatever I want to do….whether it’s a Battle Pope that insults Disneyboy, a FOURTH WORLD custom in JLU-scale, or a vintage-style MOTU figure that nine people will like. :)

Given that you work primarily in “vintage” styles, do you maintain a supply of appropriate parts?

OH HELL YES. Somehow I’ve accumulated TONS of fodder that fill three bins! One is full of JLU stuff, another of MOTU parts (thanks to my pal, Brent), and another full of SW and Indy stuff (some thanks to a guy named Stew).

Is there a “typical” process for figure creation for you, from idea to finished product? Or is any such process too organic to be defined?

Yeah! Fill a cup with magic juice, consume magic juice, dump a bin out in front of me, ingest another cup of magic juice, and then fall asleep amongst emptied contents of toy bin.

I’ve seen photos of your toy collection, and the great room it’s stored in. What lines do you collect, regardless of customs? What’s on display in the Smyers’ home?

Thanks! It’s a room that I painted to be a Castle Grayskull type room….the North and South Walls are Castle Grayskull walls….the East wall is night-time, and the West wall is day-time. Inside the room are displayed Flash Gordon vintage and Alex Ross, all of my vintage SW, some modern SW, vintage He-Man, and tons of vintage Transformers. BTAS and STAS and FOURTH WORLD figures are displayed, as well as my SUPER POWERS and the DCUC SUPER POWERS figures.

What do your friends and family make of your collection and customizing?

Family sees the collection as worth far more than it actually is…..friends are usually intoxicated when visiting so the collection room’s door is locked!

Do you have a dedicated workspace? What’s it like?

In my collection room! Just a table on wheels in the room! When the weather is nice I put the table outside and do the work outside.

Do you have any other hobbies or interests you’d care to admit to?

Other than toy-making? I love to read and make babies. Well, ONE baby. NO MORE! (Girl is due May 10th 2012.)

Any final thoughts you’d like to share?



About the Author: Casimir
Not satisfied with the limited options available at retail, award-winning customizer Cason Pilliod has been crafting his own toys since he was a child. His passion for toys merges with his background as a theatrical prop designer, allowing him to find unique customizing solutions, which he shares with the ever-growing customizing community via Inanimate Objects. Cason is also an armchair pop-culture historian, Swing dancer, DJ, daddy, and was once a Muppet wrangler, so he's got a unique spin on life. He also worked for Microsoft once, but let's just keep that a secret.




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