“Not-so-undercover agent” Brian Otnes, aka as one as one of the three “PoP associates,” poses for a quick snap next to a stand-up display for “Welcome to Marwen” before entering the theater to attend the film’s sneak preview last night—somewhere in Austin, TX. (Photo: Kim Otnes) Click to enlarge.
As we teased about late last night, Patches of Pride (PoP), the creator of (some of) the 1:6 scale patches used in the film “Welcome to Marwen,” had dispatched three of its most trusted associates to an early sneak-preview screening at a theater somewhere in Austin, TX. It turns out the three “associates” in question are actually family members of PoP’s head-honcho, Mark Otnes, and as such, were only too happy to be sent on a quixotic search for evidence of the use of PoP’s products in the production. Reviews of the film were mixed, but “sightings” of the company’s tiny patches were confirmed and unanimous. Of the three PoP associates who attended last night’s showing, The Joe Report was able to track down two of them, and both were able to provide us with their reactions to the movie itself as well as recounting experiences of attending the event.
Intrepid TJR Field Reporter and PoP Associate, Brian Otnes (Photo: Brian Otnes)
We begin the first of our two exclusive interviews with Brian Otnes (BO)—
TJR: How were you able to see “Marwen” ahead of its release this coming Friday?
BO: “We’re members of “The Sly Fox Club” (see website HERE) and we received three FREE tickets from them.”
TJR: Lucky you! Well, the #1 question fans of Patches of Pride have been asking is—do Mark Otnes or PoP receive any sort of screen credit at the end? Yes or No?
BO: “No. We stayed all the through (the credits) to see if there was one, but there was no credit line for either. Did the movie producers promise one?”
TJR: No, that was always just “pie-in-the-sky” thinking. PoP never expected any official credit.
BO: “Well, it’s interesting—if you watch it, they have a whole lot of modeling credits. Some of the people you may recognize, who knows, but they’re probably all Hollywood-based people.”
Screenshot from a Welcome to Marwen preview (Photo: Universal) Click to enlarge.
TJR: Any “sightings” of PoP products in the film?
BO: “Yes, a few. But Steve Carell’s character was the only American figure we saw, the rest were all Nazis and then the girls. I wondered about the Jeep too, but wasn’t sure if PoP had anything to do with it.”
TJR: Probably not. But two of the patches on Carell’s action figure are clearly PoP’s and the sergeant chevrons on the “G.I. Julie” doll are also PoP’s, as are—quite possibly—some of the German figures’ patches. We won’t be sure until we get to see the film ourselves (this Friday). You saw PoP’s other patches though, right?
BO: “Oh yeah. We saw them—for sure! Now let me ask you something—one of the Nazis has a stylized swastika tattoo on his arm. I don’t want to ruin the movie for you, so I’ll be careful of what I reveal here, but there’s a shot toward’s the end of the movie where Steve Carell is shown putting a waterslide decal—of the same swastika—on a figure’s arm. It’s an actual decal like PoP’s ProSeries decals, along the lines of a custom decal that Patches of Pride would be able to make. Watch for it! You get to see him actually apply it to the arm. I was thinking, Oh! I hope that’s PoPs, because that’d be a PERFECT promo for them!”
TJR: Very exciting! PoP does create a TON of custom waterslide decal orders, body tattoos included, but I can’t recall creating that particular design, so I’d have to say I doubt PoP created it. But who knows? We won’t know for sure until we see the movie on Friday!
BO: “Well, I’m sorry if it turns out it wasn’t PoPs, but that’s something the movie people probably had to create themselves or special order—from somebody, somewhere.”
TJR: Agreed. Hogancamp is a real 1:6 kitbasher too; a real scrounger. Perhaps he found the decal included with an old model kit somewhere. We really can’t say for sure at this point.
BO: “I guess not. We looked VERY closely for anything else that could’ve been made by PoP. We were hoping maybe some more American soldiers would come in, but it was always the girls who saved him.”
TJR: Well, the original working title was “The Women of Marwen,” until October, I believe. Somewhere along the line they decided to change it to, “Welcome to Marwen.”
BO: (Laughs) “Frankly, I don’t think either one of them are a particularly good title.”
TJR: What was your personal reaction to the movie? Good? Bad? Or..?
BO: “I didn’t particularly care for the movie. We all like Steve Carell and were pulling for it to be a good movie and for us to enjoy it and all, but it just wasn’t that good. Fans of Patches of Pride will be very interested in Hogancamp’s modeling of the city and all the photos he takes, and his show at a gallery. The transitioning between the real world and the doll world was very well done too, but I think they could’ve done it just ONCE and it would’ve gotten the point across. It would have been better as a conventional drama, one wherein you see him dealing with his PTSD after the assault, and his daily life after it all happened. The going back and forth between his two worlds was just done too many times and didn’t really help the story.”
TJR: Very interesting observations. Thanks for all the great intel, Brian!
Our second exclusive interview is with Laurel Wilson (LW)—
TJR Field Reporter, Laurel Wilson of Austin, TX (Photo: Laurel Wilson)
TJR: Please tell us about your not-so-secret “mission” yesterday to the movies.
LW: “We went to see “Welcome to Marwen” with a particular mission in mind. Our mission was to pay extra close attention to the dolls in the story and to look for anything that might’ve been made by Patches of Pride (yes!). Then, we stayed through all the credits, but (sadly) we didn’t see any mention of Mark Otnes or Patches of Pride (whimper). I guess they couldn’t give credit to everyone, but PoP’s contributions WERE very important to the film, too!”
TJR: What were your impressions of the film?
LW: “Overall, I liked it. It took me a while to ‘get’ where the story going and what it was going to be about. The main character was always having fantasies, making the plot a bit difficult to follow, at times. It turns out the film is based on a real story and that the characters are all based on real people. They also transitioned from the real world to the imaginary world of Marwen a bit too often. What would’ve worked better, I think, would’ve been to have spent longer in each world, instead of jumping back and forth so much. You know, give viewers a feeling for what was REALLY going on in this man’s life, not so much the fantasy storyline. It could’ve been improved as a film, but to me, it was a very INTERESTING story and we’re taken along on the journey of this man’s return—to the world.”
Bottom Line: With only two days to go until it’s premiere, “Welcome to Marwen” looks to be an exciting and (hopefully) enjoyable film for fans and customizers of 1:6 scale action figures. Our sincerest thanks today to Mr. Otnes and Mrs. Wilson for their generous contributions to this article.