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Why is there a bootleg action figure market?


On an episode of my art podcast, I was talking with Scott Pyburn about how he has joined the ranks of a group of creators that make bootleg action figures.
So I thought I would take the opportunity to ask him "Why is there a bootleg action figure market?"

My first thought about creating bootleg toys is that you put it out there and would just get a cease and desist email? 

Here is what Scott had to say about it: 
The point of it in a sense is just creating something fun that inspires you.

For me, part of the reason I got into this was I wanted to create figures that are from films that I grew up in the 80s that I loved!

I got into the [bootleg toy] scene and realized it's more about kind of the mash-ups and the twist ups and stuff that's like you cross this with that. 

How is Scott making these action figures?

I had this little muppet figure of the Swedish chef. It's a torso figure and then I had this Robbie the Robot. So one of the figures that I'm working on right now is this Swedish chef as a Borg. So instead of Borg, it's Bork! 


So these are [made from] resin. These are the actual plastic from the figures from like the borg and I ordered these accessories from the Swedish chef from the palisades figure. I kind of cut them down and combined them and what I'm going to do is I'm going to put magnets in it to give him magnetic articulation. So he's going to be able to magnetically put the different attachments on. He's got the cleaver in one hand he's got the mallet tenderizer and another hand you know. 

I even worked up a [backing] card, it's a lot of work! 

I have a pressure pot and the compressor you cast the resin in the molds you put it on there you screw it down you pressurize it to about 30 40 pounds of pressure and it takes all the air bubbles out of the cast. 

So when we pull this figure out of the mold [which] is silicone two-part silicone. When we pull him out of the mold it should be a perfect cast. No air bubbles on the surface of the figure nice and smooth. 

Now obviously I'll paint this figure because I'm casting him in black plastic. I'll paint the shirt, I'll paint the face I'll paint the hat and I'll paint the apron. 

How long does that take to do?

Well, it's a very labor-intensive process. Building the mold I use the Pringles can for this. Then it takes about four hours for this particular silicone to set up in the pressure pot. It takes about 10 minutes when you cast the resin. 

Then I've got to clean up all these figures, sand them down. I've got to clean up all the accessories. 


I've made this spatula. I had to actually put some more holes in. I actually drilled holes in the mold because the corners of the resin weren't getting down to the corners of the spatula. because you can see that's almost paper-thin. But if you cast it under pressure it pushes all that resin down into the thin spots of the mold. 

I'm only going to do an addition of 10 of these.

What have sales been like?

The first figure I did was this Yoda and it was the child from the Mandalorian show on Disney. I put him in carbonite. So again always basing these on using older figures or actual figures that exist. The carbonite mold was basically a Donald Duck in carbonite. 

I casted the box, then I got the figure of the Yoda and I actually put him in in the carbonite. I made a gang mold, I did like eight casts so I could pour eight at a time. So I did an addition to 25. 

How many did I sell? Two.


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