Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Interrrogation: Happiness Bastard.


I'm pretty picky when it comes to designer toys. Happiness Bastard's Pewkies kicked me in the groin with delight. Kewpie dolls mixed with Universal horror icons; what could be sweeter?

Unfortunately, Happines Bastard's toy runs are super duper small and he sells out quickly. I'll do my best to post when the new Pewkie colorways hit his shop.

Thanks to Happiness Bastard for taking the time to answer my questions.

1. Who or what is Happiness Bastard? Are you a squad of hearty toy-making soldiers or a single badass? Where is your HQ?
Happiness Bastard is me, Bernhardt, just Bernhardt like Prince or Cher.  I chose the name because I saw it as the title of some old pulp paperback and love the thoughts is conjured up, I also think it may have been the name of the ultraman hero on this show called Shin Chan (I think that's the name).  I made my first toy (Shedorah) when I moved to Louisville Kentucky about 2 years ago.  It had been in the works for awhile but I was too broke to pull it off until I got settle in Louisville.

2. Talk about the roto-casting process. What materials do you use? Was it hard to learn or are you a roto-casting savant?
Roto Casting is a great process, it allows you to use alot less material than a solid cast would and eliminates the need for a vacuum pot.  The final product is a hollow cast piece that is pretty close to something that you get produced in a factory.  I spent at least one solid year studying casting in general, I poured over the mold making handbook on lunch breaks at a string of jobs I hated, and would stay up all night planning in my mind a good way to execute a great mold.  I found that Smooth on made a starter kit which was a huge help.  For about $80 dollars you get all you need to pull off a decent silicone mold, I had too buy 2 because I tend to think big (Shedorah is about the size of a bowling pin).  The resin I use is made specifically for rotocasting because it gels and then hardens, I am starting to experiment with other types and so far the results are great.

I don't think it was hard to learn the process, but I studied and planned and tried to really have the bugs hammered out in mind before I began.  Like anything you learn as you go, I still make mistakes and will always be my worse critic.  Either way it always ends with me having a cool new piece of plastic.

3. Who are your toy/art influences?
So many!!!!  I really love bootlegs and old dimestore toys.  The shabby and random paint jobs and mismatched colors and generic packaging are a huge inspiration for what I do.  The Pewkies were actually inspired by an old toy called Monster-niks, they are basically a troll doll with the head of Frankensten, Wolfman, and King Kong.  I had always wanted to do something with the soakies and I had wanted to make kewpies with gross heads so it just came together that way.  I am big on Kaiju, love the bizarre old ultraman characters and the like.  

As far as art goes the list is long and varied, I have always been a fan of Charles Burns, I would love to produce something like the teenage plague figure he did years ago.  I also really like Archer Prewitt's  Sof' Boy stuff, and definitely am inspired by the packaging and goodies he made up to go with it.  The prints I make, I like to think are half Gilbert and George and half Famous Monsters of Filmland.  I like to gravitate towards things with bright colors and dark subject matters, anything between garbage pail kids to Ivan Albrecht.  I see and consume so much that it is hard for me to settle on one particular. I have new favorites everyday. 

4. Can you talk about your 4" Vagina Mary? Who was the model? It really is a thing of beauty. The marbling is fantastic as well.
With the Mary there isn't much to say, its a found piece that I recast and has sort of took off.  The original is plaster with metalic paint, I can't find another one anywhere or any info on the original, its too good not to be put out there.  I am really happy how the marbled ones turned out, I think the marbling matches its texture very well.  I have thought about making them scented also but that may be too much.  
5. Universal monsters, talk about them.
I think the universal monsters are almost a gateway drug for counter culture.  They have been around forever as far as our generation is concerned, my grandmother is almost as old as Frankenstein.  They are fairly accessable and from there god only knows how far a horror kid can grow and in what direction.  

One of my favorite toys as a kid were the 4" Remco universal monster figures and I pined for the whole set of aurora monster models.  The soakies seem to be the next logical step for that collection.  I would really love to do a Dracula soaky head based on the Remco figure, Dracula isn't really my cup of tea but that figure has a great expression.

The old toys were simpler and much cooler than the highly detailed figures they put out today. They were fun and had imagination, not to mention marketing was not as sophisticated as it is now.  Todays toys are so protective, They wouldn't release a bubble bath bottle with a wolfman dripping blood from his mouth for a kid to have at bath time and are based on movie or TV show and then are gone as soon as the movie is gone or the show is off the air.  The Universal Monster toys didn't really start happening until long after the movie was out of the theater and its still going strong today for kids and adults alike.

6. What is your favorite possession?
I have alot of really great stuff, art, toys, etc., I love it all, but my favorite thing to come home to is my dog Belvedere.  He is awesome!
7. What is the next project for Happiness Bastard?
My head is always full of ideas, right now there are some new colorways in the works for the pewkies, I am really excited about the frighting lighting set.  Also I have some new Pewkie heads in the works that are based on a series of cut out prints I did last Halloween that should fit well with the original sets, as well I am dying to make a gorilla head to fit on them.  I did do a set of small one inch Pewkies as junk mold that I may release.  As well looking for some artists to collaborate with for some painted versions and packaging.  I am also working on a figure called fright wig based on an old skull pencill sharpener I have and love.

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