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!”
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.
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.”
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).”
The Universal “Language”
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).”
“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.”
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.”
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!”
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.