Expert tinsmith, die-maker and metalwork artisan, Jonathan De Guzman, takes a break recently in his workshop in the Philippines. De Guzman’s work has evolved from creating tiny Christmas tree ornaments to fabricating intricate 1:6 scale vehicles, weapons and accessories. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
OUCH. As with many great artists, De Guzman has had to sacrifice for his art and livelihood. But unlike Van Gogh’s intentional ear amputation, De Guzman lost the tips of the fingers on his left hand in a “power press machine accident.” Regardless, he continues to produce the world’s greatest metal miniatures in 1:6 scale. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
1: A skilled manual worker who makes items that are functional or strictly decorative. Artisans practice a craft and may through experience and aptitude reach the expressive levels of an ARTIST.
An Artisan Becomes an Artist
A few months ago, eagle-eyed TJR Field Reporter, Kent Williams, alerted us to an incredibly talented, “up-and-coming” customizer in the 1:6 scale hobby: Jonathan De Guzman. After reviewing a wealth of online information regarding De Guzman’s work, we noticed the phrase “master of metal” was repeatedly used to describe him. We’re happy to report that his unique sobriquet is well deserved. From his origins as a “tinsmith and die-maker” in the Philippines, the humble De Guzman has since evolved into something much greater and his fame continues to spread around the world. According to Field Reporter Williams:
“I’m sure readers of The Joe Report will enjoy learning about this awesome custom scratch-builder and his 1:6 scale, all-metal masterpieces. I first heard about him over in the pages of Fine Scale Modeler Magazine (FSMM) of all places. I thought they were more interested in the smaller scale 1/24 to 1/72 scales, but I’m not going to argue with their decision to feature Jonathan’s work!”
Jonathan’s workshop and tools are simple and basic, while the customs he creates are anything but. Here, an old, tattered chair sits next to his well-used drill-press, waiting patiently for “The Master” to return. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
From Humble Origins…
Intrigued, we contacted De Guzman in his workshop in the Philippines and he confirmed that indeed, he is “a tinsmith making seasonal ornaments for export, and a die-maker for press machines.” Okay. That’s all well and good. But Jonathan’s skills clearly elevate him above such simplistic description. Whether he realizes it or not, he truly is an ARTIST of the highest caliber. Jonathan’s chosen medium is metal, and HE—is its master.
…To Worldwide Acclaim
Word of Jonathan’s expertise continues to spread among fans and collectors of 1:6 scale, but it’s only a matter of time before other groups, businesses and organizations learn of him as well. In fact, ANYONE interested in commissioning miniature museum-quality vehicles, equipment or weaponry will find his abilities highly intriguing.
You see what he sees. De Guzman’s ordinary tools include a hammer, pliers, soldering iron, etc. There are no secrets behind Jonathan’s success. Only hard work and great skill. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
A sampling of De Guzman’s superb miniature swords in perfect 1:6 scale. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
We asked Jonathan to tell us a little more about himself and how he works:
“Please pardon my not-so-good-English. Thank you for looking at my work. I really appreciate that. I’m 37 years old and known as ‘Fullmetal’ on the various online fan forums. I am a ‘mold and die-maker’ by trade, and am also scratch-building scale models. All of my custom works are produced on commission based on an hourly rate. I work with the help of machines such as press drill, angle grinder, soldering iron, scissors, files, and sets of pliers and cutters. I use tin, brass, steel, aluminum and steel plates for my medium, sometimes adding wood, acrylic plastics and anything else that can be found in my backyard or at the junk shops here. I use lead solder and ordinary welding for assembly.”
A closeup of De Guzman’s new 1:6 scale “Humvee Gunner’s platform.” (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
With his busy 1:6 scale customizing business, we wondered if Jonathan ever had free time to enjoy the very hobby he was now working in, and he replied:
“I am not a collector myself (for now), but I’m trying hard to become one! And I don’t keep copies of my work, aside from the excess that Sir Dave and I haven’t sold yet. By the way, ‘Sir Dave’ (Davinator65 on OSW and SSF forums) is my Korean friend. He is the one who helps me sell my customs. He is also the one taking commission works for me, as I am not so good in English. In fact, I am having nosebleeds here (lol).”
De Guzman’s children happily pose next to his first 1:6 scale masterpiece, a Vietnam-era M113 CAV armored personnel carrier. The all-metal beauty was quickly snapped up by a happy collector in Spain for $4,000 plus shipping. WOW! (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
This view of Jonathan’s M113 reveals a rear loading ramp for troop access. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman) Click to enlarge.
The Universal “Language”
Jonathan produced THREE of these astounding Simba APC vehicles at 1:32 scale. When he was all done, the process had so drained him that he swore off working at that small of a scale for good. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman) Click to enlarge.
Despite any language difficulties, De Guzman’s work speaks volumes by itself. Perhaps his most famous 1:6 scale custom to date is also the first one he ever made, a Vietnam-era M113 ACAV armored personnel carrier (see photo above). Sold for a whopping $4,000 + shipping, the all-metal masterpiece remains something fans around the world regard with awe and respect. We asked Jonathan for a quick rundown on the M113 and any other custom 1:6 vehicles he’s produced in recent years:
“The very first scale model I built (believe it or not) was the all-metal 1:6 scale M113 ACAV. I started by buying a 1:72 scale Tamiya model kit as reference. I’ve also ventured into 1:35 and 1:16 scale customs, making tank sprockets and a set of three 1:35 scale Simba APC vehicles used by the Philippine Army (view all photos of the Simba build process by going HERE).”
The view of Jonathan’s M113 reveals a fully finished interior with a wealth of details, all hand-crafted (no robot welders or computers) out of solid metal. THIS, my friends, is art. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
“After all that hard work on the 1:35 scale Simbas, I felt really exhausted and decided 1:16 and 1:35 scale model building was too small and hard for me. I no longer accept commissions in that scale. After I posted photos of the 1:6 scale M113 on the OSW forum, response was so strong, it confirmed my future was in 1:6.”
Inside the M113, there’s plenty of room to arrange 1:6 scale troops. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
Even the deck plates of the M113 utilize the correct scale pattern. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
A top-view looking down through the gunner’s station. Stunning! (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
The treads, sprockets and wheels were ALL hand-made and then painted and weathered by Jonathan. Absolutely amazing work from stem to stern! (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
Exotic PKM tripods, Russian night-scopes and custom ammo cans like these require the skills of a true artist such as Jonathan De Guzman in order to pull it all off correctly. Remember—it’s ALL hand-made! (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
1:6 Perfection Isn’t Cheap
Creating intricate custom works in metal is an expensive proposition and commands top-dollar prices from serious collectors. So we wondered about De Guzman’s customer base and whether or not if, during these tough economic times, such expensive commissions were difficult to obtain. Jonathan replied:
“To be honest, in the beginning, it was really tough. Only one man, Enrique Royo Pastor, from Spain, was buying my customs. Business has grown significantly since then, but if I am given any opportunity in your article to thank someone, other than David Park, I would like to thank Enrique, and of course, all of the great members of the OSW, SSF and OSP forums.”
We can’t imagine how Jonathan makes tiny 1:6 scale sunglasses. WOW! (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
With Friends, Anything is Possible.
Jonathan’s friend, David Park, took the opportunity to chime in with his own opinions of De Guzman’s work, saying:
“I met Jon when he was trying to sell his M113. He wanted money very badly, and was offering to sell his M113 for a mere $2000. I said I would help, and long story short, we ended up selling it for $4000 + shipping. Later, he showed me some weapons he had made in 1:6 scale and I was impressed. I remembered a collector in Spain. He bought several of the weapons and we became friends. His name is Enrique Pastor. Anyways, Enrique bought all of the weapons Jon had made. He was the sole clientele for almost a year. Then slowly, other commissions started to come in, and then more and more. Now, Jon is fully booked-up out to about 2~3 weeks. Jon is a great guy and a great friend. Thank you so much for writing an article about him. You could not have found a better guy to write about!”
Superb weapons in miniature even include this samurai sword, scabbard, and display rack. According to De Guzman, “The scabbard is made from wood, cut to shape by a saw, then cut in the middle for the blade. I cut a piece of wood that lays with the pattern of the scabbard, then glued it and used an angle grinder to shape it. Then, I used files and sandpaper to make it all smooth.” (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
Jonathan’s ultra-realistic harpoon gun in perfect 1:6 scale (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
Jonathan’s amazing all-metal 1:6 scale ammo cans. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
Although rescuers were too late for this poor Joe, Jonathan’s superb all-metal rescue stretcher is an exact miniature duplicate of the real thing. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
De Guzman’s intricate, metal/leather/rubber 1:6 wheelchair w/ oxygen bottle and bell. Can you IMAGINE the level of skill required to create this beauty from scratch? (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
All-metal, fully functional 1:6 scale rescue tripod. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
Even simple props like a 1:6 scale crutch look better made of real metal. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
Jonathan’s 1:6 scale nunchuks made of real metal and wood. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
Jonathan’s superb 1:6 scale miniaturization of Han’s deadliest claws from the film, “Enter the Dragon.” (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
How about a 1:6 scale jail or prison cell for the “worst of your worst?” (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
If you have a 1:6 scale cannibalistic serial killer in need of transport, what better way than with one of Jonathan’s outstanding human “dollies?” Don’t forget the fava beans! (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
Highly realistic machete weapons at perfect 1:6 scale. (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
With Jonathan’s superb custom 1:6 scale metal billy club, your Joe’s will soon be ready to RUMBLE! (Photo: Jonathan De Guzman)
Bottom Line: Jonathan De Guzman’s all-metal 1:6 scale customs are probably the best available anywhere in the world today—bar none. Yes, some items can seem expensive, but the actual cost per piece varies greatly depending on the amount of work involved. For what you get, his work is actually priced very reasonably. Remember, this sort of custom product is all created by hand, and upon completion, each unique work becomes an instant (and valuable) collectible.
Mark these words: As time goes by and Jonathan’s fame and popularity inevitably spreads, we can foresee the day (very soon) when Jonathan’s rates will begin to rise. So, if you have a custom 1:6 project in mind for the Master of Metal, it would be wise to “get in line” sooner than later. Ordering seems to be a fairly informal process, and either Jonathan or David can help you through the steps involved. Our thanks to “eagle-eyed” Field Reporter Kent Williams, and to Jonathan’s friend and assistant, David Park, for their help producing this article. And our sincerest wishes for a rewarding 1:6 scale career to Jonathan De Guzman. We look forward to seeing his next great masterpiece! Contact Jonathan via email HERE. Or contact David HERE.