For the month of January we’ll be highlighting the work of Anthony Durso, aka The Toyroom. We originally interviewed Anthony in 2007, and thought it would be interesting to catch back up with him.
Anthony’s original interview can be found here:
The latest on Anthony and his customs can be found in the following interview:
EH: It’s been a little over four years since your last confession, er interview. Any changes on the personal/family front you’d like to share?
Pretty much everything has been status quo…everyone’s just a little bit older and I’m a little more tired. Plus, I have more toys in a finite display area so something’s got to give. I have to free up some space.
EH: I think that most people know you more for your custom packaging and playsets, but you have quite a lot of custom figures that you’ve done. Can you discuss some of your favorites since we first highlighted your work back in ’07? Did the ReMego offerings of the past couple of years make it any easier for you to make those a reality?
Hmmm, my custom figure output hasn’t been too prolific in the last few years. I’ve found myself doing less and less figures as I’ve been busier at work as well as doing a lot of custom box projects. There’s a lot of figures I wanted to do and have a bunch of heads for but I have to find time and really get back into the swing of things. The limited space in my toyroom has forced me to only make figures that I really want to keep. I still have to finish of my 70s era Legion of Super-Heroes, which was my biggest project. The Mattel Retro-Action didn’t really fill a custom hole for me…I did replace some previous custom figures (Luthor, Captain Cold, Black Adam, Shazam, Black Manta, Martian Manhunter) with the Mattel versions. However, Mattel never reached the point that they did something that was still on my drawing board unfortunately. The Twilight Zone figures from BBP have really filled a niche I would probably have needed to tackle at some point…at the very least a Don Carter/Bob Wilson two-pack featuring William Shatner was on my long-term to-do list. As was a Barnabas Collins figure.
EH: Shifting back to your ‘bread and butter,’ has your approach to creating your custom packaging changed as hardware and software has advanced?
My software really hasn’t changed too much as far as I’m concerned…there may be some upgrades and a few more new tricks here and there but it’s pretty much the same as four years ago as far as what I’m using. If anything I think my own comfort level as far as that software is concerned has grown as well as my design skills.
EH: One of my favorite pieces you’ve done is the Superman/Clark Kent changing booth using a Trek transporter. Have you ever considered doing a Batman/Bruce Wayne or a Hulk/Banner version?
That’s one I’ve actually forgot about! I don’t even have my own anymore! As far as others, I still have a few transporters laying around, but haven’t done anything with them. I do have a Hulk playset that was to incorporate a transporter/changer in it, but I put that on hold a long time ago in lieu of other projects that kept popping up.
EH: I am the proud owner of a couple of your dual bubble cards. Have you ever produced one with more than two bubbles? What’s the maximum if someone wanted to go crazy?
I’ve done three and four bubbles on a card. Four seemed to be the maximum because the weight of the bubbles and figures ends up making the card too heavy for the material used.
EH: Didahead Scott Adams has provided a really nice framework for custom displays, and I recall that you’ve done a few that were real homeruns. When you complete these, do you display them with the corresponding figures? If so, any pics you can share?
The only ones I still own copies of are my Fortress of Solitude, Justice League Satellite and the G.I. Joe Headquarters, as well as my non-Dida Batcave prototype. I have limited display space so it became necessary to sell the others off as actual orders for those playsets came in. The ones I do have are closed up as cases and just displayed like that. I have a lot of Dida parts in inventory so I hope to remake some of the playsets I had made for others for myself, especially the double-sized TV Batcave.
EH: I have to assume that one of your favorite projects would be the 1978 REIMAGINED catalog. If memory serves, we stalled after the voting and you picked-up the ball and ran with it. Can you share a little more about how that all came about, and how you were able to make it happen?
Can’t believe it’s been 3 years already since I got involved. Well, the project was originally announced at some point in 2007 I believe. After the voting was done and the winning entries were announced, a lot of the photography was done at Mego Meet ’08. It was about 5 months later when Megoscott stated that due to time constraints he wasn’t going to be able to complete the project and it would more than likely be shelved unless someone wanted to pick up the ball. I volunteered, having a background in catalog layout and design due to the day job, and figured it would be something I could knock out relatively quickly. I broke down all of the entries and decided what would be two-page spreads and what would be single pages. I looked to old Mego catalogs for a certain look as well as a writing style for all of the catalog copy. My original goal was to have it completed in two months. However, I too experienced some time issues and some bumps in the road. A lot of the delay had to do with reshooting of pics since everything wasn’t photographed at Mego Meet. There were quite a few customizers involved so there were a lot of hoops to jump through. And toward the end of it all it was decided to debut the Super Collector character on the cover of the catalog, so we squeezed that in as well. Everything was finally completed in March 2010.
EH: One of the most surprising things to me about the catalog in hindsight is how different the reMego offerings are compared to what we all chose to customize. Some of the most popular that made it out, as well as those on the way, weren’t really on too many people’s radar. From Twilight Zone and Doctor Who to SMDM and BSG, do you think those lines would have made the next catalog?
First I think it’s interesting to note that all of the winning published entries were 8″ format. No one did anything with 12″ or Micronauts for example. With that being said, a few of the REIMAGINED entries did actually make it as ReMegos. Flash and Green Lantern were represented with the Mattel Retro-Action. Some of the Star Trek figures have been done by EMCE. And Buck Rogers (which was supposed to originally be in the catalog but got cut because of space and photography issues if I recall) was done by ZICA.
As far as ReMegos that didn’t make the original catalog, I think that Flash Gordon, Dr. Who, BSG and SMDM all would have possibly made the next catalog. There were some customizers that were working on all of those properties before actual figures came out from BBP.
I don’t think Twilight Zone would have even been a thought for anyone. 1) In the 70s (when the catalogs supposedly existed) Twilight Zone wasn’t a hot property. 2) It was a black and white show 3) It had no continuing characters 4) On the surface, many of the characters are ordinary people in street clothes. Based on all of these elements, I don’t think anyone would have submitted TZ figures for the next catalog. BBP though has proved all of those theories wrong as TZ has become a pretty popular line for them.
I think Dark Shadows could have been a dark horse for the next catalog. It was still popular in reruns here and there in the 70s after the initial run ended. But I guess entry as a catalog submission would depend on if anyone wanted to tackle the headsculpts and the intricate clothing.
Obviously the most popular submissions will probably always be super-hero centric. So I could see additional DC and Marvel characters being added to a new catalog. For DC, I would guess more villains along the lines of those featured in Challenge of the Super-Friends. For Marvel, I would venture that some of the characters that started becoming popular in the late 70s, such as the X-Men, would be added to the WGSH line.
I wonder if we would have also received submissions based on movies such as “Grease”, “Sgt. Pepper” and “Alien”. And would the revived Trek line have morphed into one for “ST:TMP”?
And there could be expansions for lines such as KISS (different costumes) and Scooby Doo (more villains)
EH: Those are all great points. You’ve been involved in the hobby quite awhile. Do you think you’ll ever reach a point where you’re ‘done,’ or can you see yourself doing this indefinitely? Can we interest you in ReImagined II?
Well I think in the last year I have stepped back a bit and have moved a little off-center out of the spotlight, so to speak. The creative spark had wained a bit. But I’ve been still been doing packaging all along, I just wasn’t as high-profile about it. I’ve had a chance to reflect and recharge my batteries, so I think I’ll be around for awhile longer. We’ll seeJ
EH: Thanks again Anthony, both for your efforts on the catalog and for coming back for a second interview!
View the gallery for some of Anthony’s latest work.