Underground Legion Creator “Having Fun and Using Imagination” Working in 1:6 Scale
What is it about GIjOE fans and collectors that makes them so talented and creative? Is it that they all grew up imagining and then reenacting exciting exploits and adventures in their living rooms, bathtubs, backyards and “outer space?” Did GIjOE’s original, wide-open “universe of possibilities” enable those fans to adeptly move in any creative direction they wished, ultimately producing versatile, open minds that are now able to produce their own custom action figures, equipment, vehicles and dioramas? The answers to all those questions is—of course—YES (duh).
“Joeheads” are indeed a talented bunch.
In fact, some of the most creative work being produced by anyone—in ANY hobby—is taking place on a daily basis in the workshops and “Joe Rooms” of fans around the world. Armed with well-honed imaginations, these amazing men (and women) rise above financial and/or physical limitations to utilize their unbelievable modeling and/or other artistic skills to show the rest of us how a child’s toy line can continue to be a worthwhile, entertaining and creatively satisfying pursuit for millions of individuals—many of whom are now well into their “mature” adult years. <snicker>
Readers of The Joe Report are already familiar with the names and faces of many 1:6 customizers. We regularly feature their myriad accomplishments within our pages, and proudly showcase their work in an ongoing effort to inspire and expand this segment of our beloved 1:6 scale hobby. Today we’ll discuss another talented customizer, Todd Zingales (shown above) of New Hampshire.
Todd’s use of broken, cast-off, or otherwise unwanted items will remind many 1:6ers of a fellow customizing compatriot, Gary Stair, of Pennsylvania. As you may recall, Stair also prefers to work with older, broken, “cast-off” items; repairing and then combining them with “found” (i.e. free) objects or things he may have purchased for pennies on the dollar at local thrift stores. (See five previous articles on Stair’s works HERE).
Zingales’ and Stairs’ low-dollar approach to customizing should provide some comforting reassurance to other aspiring kitbashers out there who feel they can’t “afford” to customize their ideas. If you follow the example of these two talented penny-pinchers—you can make anything!
We asked Zingales if he’d share his personal insights and inspirations for the 1:6 work he’s creating, and in the following commentary (exclusively to readers of The Joe Report), he replied:
“I started a small company to make custom 1:6 scale custom items using recycled items that most people would just toss in the trash. When you look at the world with a 1:6 scale eye, it’s amazing what you can find that you can reuse. The base section of my first hovercraft is from an old slide projector part that was found at our local recycling center. The other pieces are a combination of hand-carved plastic items. The round, top section is from the top of a plastic tank I purchased at Goodwill. Most of the time when starting a project, I’m not really sure what the final design will be. Having fun and just using my imagination is how many items have ultimately been made.”
“I decided to make a second hovercraft with twin motors and make it a sit-down version instead. Each creation is custom painted using two types of paint to give it ‘texture’ and help hide the many colored plastic items that have been used.”
“I also make many different items using broken GIjOE vehicles that I have found. Many of those items cannot be repaired due to the heavy damage to the item. Each project can take from 2 hours to 3 days. It all depends on the size of the craft.”
“Many people ask me why I sell my custom items. The answer is, to me, it has always been about the next build, not keeping everything I create. I also love that an item that is handcrafted is now part of someone else’s personal collection!”
“I have met some super people from Chicago to Denver and am part of many cool Facebook clubs as well. Creating custom 1:6 items is a wonderful hobby. You can see most of my custom creations on Facebook over at the Underground Legion.” —Todd Zingales
Bottom Line: Take a good look at the everyday objects around you. Make mental notes of their sizes, shapes and potential usage. Don’t keep your creativity locked up in a “brain cage.” Let your imagination flow free and it’ll take you to wonderful places where you can create with your mind—AND your hands. Once you’ve produced something you’d like to show off, please contact us here at The Joe Report. We’d love to share it with the rest of the 1:6 world! Our sincerest thanks to Todd Zingales for his generous assistance with all the text and photos in this article. You can visit Todd over at his Underground Legion on Facebook HERE.