Collecting Posts

Tim Bruckner, Man of DC Action Figures!

A couple weeks ago we introduced you to Tim Bruckner, who spent about 20 years sculpting DC action figures and statues for DC Direct (now known as DC Entertainment) and other companies. We barely scratched the surface of his stories, so here’s a look at some of the design processes he went through in his career.

tim bruckner dc artistHis sculpting roots go back to his childhood. “I used to take those wax bottles with the juice in them (Nik-L-Nips) and play around with the wax and create all kinds of sculptures,” Bruckner said. He showed them to a neighbor across the street who happened to own a jewelry store. “He was impressed enough that he hired me as an apprentice when I was a teenager,” he laughs. That lucky break led not only to honing his finer wax sculpting skills, but also an understanding of the molding and casting processes.

tim bruckner robin

This Robin paint master is for sale on hobbyDB right now.

For those of you who collect model cars, the original sculpting is usually a subtractive process, where the artist starts with a block of some material like acetate and carves away the bits that don’t look like a car. “Figure design is an additive process,” said Bruckner. “It starts with a blob of wax, and I shape it into the character mostly by adding material.”

For those of you who collect figures, he’s now selling some of his rarer pieces on hobbyDB as the_Sculptor. These include production pieces as well as various stages of preproduction models. It’s a chance to own a bit of DC history as well as a one-of-a kind original piece for your collection.

tim bruckner dark knight

You can get this Batman action figure directly from Tim Bruckner.

Another difference between the two types of collectibles: Model cars are often sculpted with details such as the grill and windows in place. How those are divided into separate pieces is usually determined at the factory instead of by the artist. In addition to the original wax figure, Bruckner had to determine points of articulation, and how to separate the figure into multiple parts. “For poseable figures, I create a fully-functioning prototype with the joints worked out.” If that sounds complicated, yeah, it is. “After you’ve done several of them, that part gets a lot easier,” he said.

Much of the diecast world is headed towards 3-D modeling and prototyping, which has its advantages in speed and accuracy. “Since a statue of a character is organic in design, it’s still somewhat common for sculptors to make their molds the old way. “With the advent of 3-D design, that skill set is evaporating,” he said. “Hopefully digital sculpting and hand carving can coexist.” Even for static statues, he has to figure out what parts can be molded as one and what needs to be a separate part.

tim bruckner red skull

It may look finished, but this is a hand-painted prototype available from Bruckner.

Many of his figures are interpretations of drawings, which may have varied thought put into how a particular feature would be rendered as a real-life object. Sometimes an item like a hand, which might be molded in a different color, becomes a separate piece.

After approval of the shapes, Bruckner was responsible for painting the master from which the production pieces would be colored. “These statues are hand-painted in the factory, believe it or not. My painted prototypes were usually pretty spot-on,” he said. “They have to rely on a perfect example to copy, so it needs to be very accurate.” A lot of color breaks, such as the logo on Batman’s chest, are rendered in relief or as grooves or ridges to make coloring easier. A close look at his Red Skull master shows how much intricate detail can be involved.

tim bruckner supergirl

These three stages of the development of the Supergirl statue are for sale together.

In some cases, they are only part of the model, but otherwise, it’s really hard to tell them apart from the finished production piece. He has even listed a 3 stage set of Supergirl prototypes that really show how the process takes shape.

tim bruckner dc dynamics

tim bruckner

This Joker from the DC Dynamics line is from Bruckner’s private stash.

Those color breaks and separate molds can lead to some great opportunities for design. “My favorite statues are the DC Dynamics line,” he said. For those, a character such as the Joker is seen rising from a raging swirl of green slime. The shapes themselves are lively, but he was able to use translucent material for the goo, adding to the realism. “Being able to work with clear materials for water, smoke, or flames really helped make these even more realistic.”

Speaking of lively, dynamic shapes, there is a lot that goes into deciding every nuanced detail of a character’s pose and facial expression for these figures. We’ll take a look at some of the designs and decisions that go into the final product in an upcoming article.

A Collection of 10 of the World’s Largest Collections

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

One comment we at hobbyDB hear a lot is “do you get to play with toys all day?” (The answer, sadly is no.) Another is “you must have the world’s largest collections of (Hot Wheels, Funko Pops, video games, etc.)” Also, no, but most of us do have a pretty good collection of something or another. We all geek out about some kind of collectible culture here. It’s sort of a requirement to be part of the hobbyDB project.

Which got us to thinking… who does have the world’s largest collection of bobblehead dolls? Or diecast cars? Or baseball cards? Or Barbie dolls? So, we did a little digging. Most of these figures have been verified by some organization, such as the Guinness Book of World Records, and exact numbers might not be up to the minute, as one trip to the toy store can add several more to the totals.

The hobbyDB database has a pretty good start documenting some of these (and some of the most complete data on the internet on others), but we are always looking for collectors and experts to contribute their knowledge to make it even more complete. If you’re interested in getting involved, let us know! We also are running a WeFunder campaign if you want to really get involved!

bobblehead hall of fameBobbleheads, Nodders, Wobblers – Just over a year ago (February 1, 2019), The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum opened its doors, a project started by friends Phil Sklar and Brad Novak of Milwaukee. They have collected over 10,000 bobbleheads, wobblers, and nodders, dating back to some of the earliest sports models from the 1960s. While most of the collection is on display at their gallery, they often loan out part of the exhibit for special events. If a particular team is visiting the Milwaukee Brewers for a baseball series, figures related to that team might be on display at the ballpark.

As far as individual collectors with a focus, Philip Darling is credited by Guinness as having the largest gathering of sports-related bobbleheads, with over 2,300 of them, with an emphasis on hockey.

largest model car collectionDiecast VehiclesNabil Karam of Beirut, Lebanon, has a documented collection of over 37,000 diecast model cars of all brands and scales (37,777 at most recent count). Many of them are on display in some 400 painstakingly assembled dioramas. He says he has a weakness for Porsches, so it’s likely he has the largest collection of models of just that marque.

As far as single brands go, Mike Zarnock, well known among diecast fans, is said to have the world record for the largest Hot Wheels collection. But at an estimated 20,000, it’s just that… an estimate (a really big one though). He is verified as having the collection of the most models of different cars, at 8,128 (and if he’s been to the store in the last few days, he’s probably picked up a few more). The hobbyDB database shows over 40,000 distinct Hot Wheels variants, so Zarnock is halfway there! And if you have a collection of your own, you can utilize the hobbyDB tools to organize, manage, and track it.

worlds largest hot wheels collection

 

worlds largest funko pop collectionFunko PopsPop! figures have only been around a handful of years, so the largest collection isn’t as massive as some of the older toys. Nonetheless, Paul Scardino of Virginia had amassed a documented 4,475 of them by the end of 2018. Considering how many have been released since, that number has probably expanded.

If you’re really into Pop! figures, check out poppriceguide.com, part of the hobbyDB family. As the name suggests, it’s probably the most complete Pop! reference online, and has current, accurate pricing information.

worlds largest lego collectionLego sets – To be technical, this record also includes some other brands of building toys… Frank Smoes of Melbourne, Australia has 3,837 complete plastic building sets. He started building his collection in 1980 and estimates there are over 1.2 million bricks and at least 8,000 Minifigures in the collection.

The most complete collection of just Lego products is likely the vault at Lego’s headquarters in Denmark. They have preserved at least one copy of virtually every set ever released by the company, locked safely away for preservation (though it would be fun to play with some of those).

Video Games – Antonio Monteiro of Richmond Virginia has 20,139 games in his home. Not just the games, of course, where’s the fun in that? He also has over 100 consoles and computers to actually play the games on. Guinness said the collection was so big it took eight days to count before they verified the record.

world's largest license platesLicense Plates – Peter and Tamas Kenyeres of Hungary have amassed a collection of 11,345 license plates over the years. The oldest plate in their collection is from Austro-Hungarian Empire (1900). They also somehow acquired a plate that just says “B7,” which was a Hungarian minister’s plate from 1945 to 1948. 

But wait… Paul Franke of San Diego has since compiled a collection of over 22,000 plates, twice the size of theirs… but it hasn’t been verified by Guinness yet. It’s possible someone reading this right now have a bigger collection than that. If so, please contact us!

Since hobbyDB is located in a state with one of the most iconic license plates, this is a topic dear to our hearts!

worlds largest funko james bond collectionJames  Bond MemorabiliaNick Bennett of Leigh, Lancashire, UK, has a collection of all things Bond-related totaling 12,463 gadgets and other goodies at last count. Not just toys and action figures, but actual movie props in some cases. And yes, he keeps them in a secret lair in his basement.

hobbyDB is putting together the world’s largest collection of, well, collectibles, at least the largest online. Even better, because we include everything collectible, we can cross-reference any collectible that’s related to another by even the most obscure strand. The examples above are some areas where we have a pretty good start on documenting everything, but it’s collectors like you who help us complete the set. So, if you see some gaps in the hobbyDB project, please help fill them in for us.

Soon, we’ll look at some other giant collections, in areas where we really could use an expert or several to grace us with their knowledge and jump-start those parts of the database.

If you want to be a bigger part of the hobbyDB family, here’s your chance… Learn more at our Wefunder profile. We thank you!

Hot Dog! You’ll Relish These Oscar Mayer Wienermobile Collectibles

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Hey, kids! Do you relish the opportunity for a job that lets you ketchup in your career? Oscar Mayer is looking for Wienermobile drivers, but only if you can cut the mustard! Okay, terrible buns… er, puns aside (and repeating them frequently is part of your duties), it’s quite frankly a fun job. Side note… yours truly was a candidate for this very gig in the early 1990s, but I got roasted in the interview.

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile collecitlbesIn any event, the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile is an enduring icon of promotional stunts that has been loved for decades. There are actually several of them that roam different regions of the country. As big as that fleet is, there are even more Wienermobiles in smaller, collectible form.

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile whistlesWiener Whistles  The earliest Wienermobile collectibles were whistles, given out to kids at promotional appearances. They are usually molded in the red “meat” color instead of the tan “bun” color. They have a couple of small holes that can be covered to produce different tones. There have been several variations over the years including a sort of pan flute version made of a pack of hot dogs (technically not a mobile sausage, but let’s go with it) that offered enough notes to play the famous jingle, which is now stuck in your head!

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile bankBanks – After the whistles, the earliest Wienermobile models were plastic banks… well, sort of. Starting in the 1950s, there was a 1/25-ish scale model molded in a bun colored base and a meat-hued sausage. And as it rolled, a flat sculpture of Little Oscar bobbed up and down from a slot on top. Later releases of the same model ditched the driver, with the slot now serving as a place for your savings deposit. Banks have been updated with recent designs in the real fleet, so there are several different generations available. One thing they have in common… most of them are unbranded as far as what toy company produced them. They are simply “Oscar Mayer” offerings.

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile Hot WheelsHot Wheels – One of the rare exceptions to the unbranded mass-produced tube-steak vehicles comes from Hot Wheels. The first variant from 1993 was accurately colored, as most have been since, but there have been a few exceptions. A silver chrome version came out the next year. Also, NASCAR themed variants, while featuring correct body colors, have displayed different graphics and logos. The rarest Hot Wheels variant is likely the Micro Vehicle version from 1996. This short-lived series of half-sized cars was designed to compete with Micro Machines. It’s like one of those delicious cocktail wieners in that red sauce your parents used to serve in crockpots at parties. (And no, this one doesn’t count!)

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile ornamentChristmas Ornaments – Another example of a branded Wienermobile is the Hallmark Christmas ornament from 2001. Accurately scaled, it’s a nicely detailed model and with a push of a button, plays that jingle. There have been other, more traditional ornaments, usually unbranded as well.

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile dispensersCondiment Dispensers  One of the most abstract Wienermobile models is this ketchup and mustard bottle set. The red top holds 4.5 ounces of ketchup, while the yellow base holds 11 ounces of mustard. (If you’re from Chicago, that ratio should be NO ketchup ever and ALL the mustard!) Functional and delicious!

Oscar Mayer Weinermobile Mold a RamaMold-a-Rama – This collectible brings back the smell of childhood for a lot of collectors. No, not the aroma of hot dogs on the grill… the scent of hot, waxy plastic, fresh out of the Mold-A-Rama machine. Insert your money, watch the gears and gizmos crank, and take in a whiff of the still-hot plastic toy that pops out. These machines were first made in 1962 and appeared mostly in the midwest and Great Lakes area. Several of these technical marvels are still in operation around the country including ones at the Field Museum and Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. And despite the last machines being manufactured decades ago, new molds are occasionally installed, including one for the 1952 Wienermobile at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

If you meat Oscar Mayer’s requirements and can take the intense grilling of the interview, you should apply for the gig driving the Wienermobile here.

And if you want to see more, or know of any collectibles we don’t have in our database, this is the link you’re craving!

LEO Challenge Coins is the Latest Official Archive on hobbyDB

leo collectibles leo collectiblesLEO Challenge Coins is the latest collectibles company to host an Official Archive at hobbyDB. Louis Gregory runs the company who make custom coins and pins when he’s not acting as Uncle Louie on The Goldbergs. Their coins cover many different subjects and styles, and a bit of the pop culture mojo from that show crosses into the offerings from Leo Challenge Coins.

Challenge coins started off as military accessories, an informal means of showing one’s identity as a member of a particular branch or unit. The concept expanded into Presidential souvenirs, and eventually pop culture icons. So, if you want to show how hardcore you are as a Ghostbusters enthusiast, you can pull out the Ecto-1 license plate coin to demonstrate your loyalty. If the person you’re talking to does the same, well, then you should have a lot to talk about.

leo collectiblesThese coins started out as round metal tokens, but over the years, have become less coin-like. In fact, many of them aren’t even close to round. The most “coin-like” feature would still be the two-sided design, however. LEO also offers quite a few political coins and pins, spanning the spectrum from Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump. 

leo collectiblesleo collectiblesBut true to nature of The Goldbergs TV show, many of them are pop culture and 1980s retro themes. In addition to the aforementioned Ghostbusters coins, there are items related to Knight Rider, Mr. T,  various sports figures, and wrestler Bill Goldberg (no relation, although he has appeared on the show). There are other wrestling tie-ins including replicas of championship belt buckles for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and more.

leo collectibles“We also recently launched our products from our Britto collection,” he said. “We started collaborating Romer Britto who is currently the world’s number 1 pop artist.”

Louis isn’t the only member of the Goldberg “family” to embrace hobbyDB. Adam F. Goldberg, creator of the hit show, recently discovered hobbyDB and has signed on as a financial backer. He is also documenting his extensive toy collection on the site.

leo collectiblesWhile a company’s website might show current products or only ones for sale, hobbyDB archives permanently document older items as well. Also, everything is cross-referenced with other collectibles in the hobbyDB database, which makes the list even more valuable to collectors. We’re happy to add LEO Challenge Coins to the hobbyDB database.

 

What are We Thankful For at hobbyDB? A Lot, Thank You!

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

As we spend our long weekend preparing the turkey (or the tofurkey) while enjoying football and avoiding politics (or avoiding football and enjoying politics), this is the perfect time to reflect on the things that make life great. Here at hobbyDB, we have much to be thankful for.

Geek Culture. (And Nerd Culture, Fanboy Culture, Collector Culture…) It’s what drives the collectibles world. But the best part is when we talk about the things we go crazy for, we don’t judge each other. What’s the real difference between someone who collects vinyl art figures of obscure cereal spokes characters or someone who tries to snag one of every vintage Hot Wheels Redline button ever made? They’re the same person, really (Okay, that person is me. I do both. Along with license plates, lunchboxes, Star Wars action figures…).

thanksgiving collectiblesThe companies that keep making all those wonderful toys and collectibles. Some of us collect toys from old, defunct brands, which results in a finite set of items and variants to find on the road to “completion.” Reaching that final destination can be bittersweet. So thanks to companies like Mattel, Kidrobot, Funko, Hard Rock Cafe, and thousands more who ensure that our hobby of collecting never really has an expiration date.

Architect Charles Haertling. He was the Frank Lloyd Wright of the Denver area, known mostly for his wild mid-20th-Century commercial buildings and churches as well as some very unconventional house designs. In 1969, he created a strange, curved, multi-level, rounded building for an eye surgery clinic in Boulder. That building is now known as Tatooine, the home of hobbyDB’s global headquarters (and other fine companies as well). The walls are loud primary colors, very few of them are parallel or perpendicular, and it’s the perfect space to feel creative and playful at work.

Al Gore (or whoever invented the internet). At least, he sort of claimed he did on the campaign trail in 2000 (but let’s avoid politics, right?). Regardless of who deserves credit for our online world, hobbyDB couldn’t exist the way it does without it. Heck, we even have a European office and a South American office, and the camaraderie with those friends thousands of miles away is the same as it is with the person sitting at the next desk.

thanksgiving collectiblesthanksgiving freddieThe hobbyDB family. That includes you, our Users, our Curators… In addition to the fine folks who work here, none of this is possible without those of you who log in daily and make hobbyDB even better. From the Users who add to our database, to the Curators who expertly ensure our data is correct and complete, to our Advisory Council who shine their experience like a guiding light, you have helped build an amazing resource for collectors. And of course, our Marketplace has become a great place for Buyers and Sellers to come together. So, thank you all!

The holidays themselves. As much as we enjoy coming into the office at hobbyDB, there’s something to be said for the occasional long weekend. We love to celebrate various holidays around the calendar, and what better way than to look at some of the holiday-related collectibles out there?

As for my family, it’s turkey meatloaf, football all day, no politics allowed, and lots and lots of slots! Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Interested in becoming an even bigger part of the hobbyDB family?  Learn more at our Wefunder profile. We thank you!