CM: Any Personal Info you are willing to share: (married? Kids? Pets? Occupation? Where from? Other hobbies,/Interests?).
AS: Born in Denver, C.O. Lived in NYC since the age of 1. Divorced once, swore I'd never do it again but am now engaged. No kids, just a persian cat named Princess Leia and my beloved nephew and niece. Occupation: Multi-Media Production, mostly audio and film/video. Other Hobbies: Ceremonial Magick, the Occult and Internal Martial Arts.
CM: How did you get started collecting mego?
AS: I've actually never stopped since I was a toddler. After Mego went out of business I would still find their toys in cut rate stores and such for many years (MOC Hulk in Toys R Us as late as '86 and a mountain of Aquaman vs Great White Sharks at an Odd Lot around the same time for $2.99 each - probably my worst "If only I'd known" moment in life) and then get used toys for next to nothing in various flea markets and some of the many cool vintage toy shops that used to flourish here in NYC. It's always been a rotating collection, hunt them down, move on and sell'em, start to miss'em, hunt them down again. The Thrill of the hunt and reuniting with old friends is why it never gets old.
CM: What is your favorite original mego figure and line?
AS: WGSH. Probably a tie between Aquaman, as he had the least accessories to lose and I just loved his colors (not to mention I did most of my playing in the bathtub) and Green Goblin. I remember finding a MIB Goblin in a hardware store in Brooklyn of all places in the 5th grade and having to explain that I used him for voodoo to keep the kids kids in my class from making fun of me for still playing with dolls when I bought him on a lunch break and brought him back to school. After I discovered him I remember being terrified someone would buy him before I could get back with the dough, even though he'd been sitting there dusty for years. Little did I know I'd still be getting that feeling 25 years later with auctions and whatnot.
CM: What is, in your opinion, the biggest "hole" in mego's original lines. (what figure or figure line is missing that should have been done).
AS: A Star Wars line would be the obvious. I always dreamt of a Battle of the Planets line. Green Lantern, Flash of course and more villains all around.
CM: What motivated you to start customizing?
AS: With the advent of Ebay my interest in Mego renewed with a fervor. Seeing how high some of the auctions for customs went and having a background in practical special FX and costume making I thought "Gee, I could do that". I had customized toys as a kid but that mostly consisted of cutting the heads off of Star Wars figures and melting them onto other bodies.
CM: What was your first custom?
AS: First Mego custom was a Ditko Doctor Strange.
CM: How did it come out? (looking back on it now)
AS: Pretty good I guess. I went so far as to clean up an old blister and print up a custom card which no one really did back then. Everything was custom boxed or loose. A lot of people really dug it which led me to follow in Paul Clarke's steps and get the blisters professionally reproduced and most of my customs were carded from then on. If I was short on time having them carded covered up any of their short comings as well. Rip open one of my customs and there's a good chance you'll find them held together with bubble gum and scotch tape in the back, LOL!
CM: What have you done/learned that has improved your customizing skills?
AS: The main thing is that I've always tried apply new techniques to the craft, no matter how crazy they may seem. I've always thought "If this works for that, why not for this?". If I can shrink down Robin's head for a Titans custom, why not his booties as well. I mean, who would've thought that you could bring the color back to a faded head with plasti-dip? or shrink things down with acetone. It helps to be fearless in the face of defacing very valuable toys. It's not as scary nowadays with all of the great repros floating around.
CM: What areas of customizing is your strongest points, or favorite things to do?
AS: Probably sewing costumes. I knew about pattern making and such when I started and it's not as time consuming or frustrating as sculpting. There's a lot more room for error as well.
CM: What resources make it easier for you as a customizer? (is there a source for parts? Information? Etc. that aids you more than anything else?).
AS: Well, living in NYC one is just a subway ride away from pretty much any resource you could need. Once again, having a background in costuming and special effects made it a snap to sew anything or cast any parts I could ever need and if time ever got short the good Doc Mego has always been a blessing.
CM: What is your favorite custom you've done and do you think it's your best work? If not, what do you think is your best work?
AS: My favorite would be the Doctor Strange or my first Bucky which I sacrificed a real Speedy head to. My best work would probably be the last one I did which was a Yellow Jacket.
CM: Why do you choose the projects you choose?
AS: I've always tried to make my customs as Megothentic as possible and as such it's been a cross between doing the dolls Mego never did but everyone wanted and just doing the obscure characters that I loved as a kid and never had a toy of. Aside from customizing I think a big part of collecting is getting those toys you never had as a kid but always wanted.
CM: What are your favorite customs others have done and why?
AS: Well, the one that really got me started was Jim Hampton's Atom. That was the one that got me obsessed with capturing the Mego style. I really dig the far out customs, like Austin Hough's Movie Captain America. I like that he'll do a whole line like his Avengers and such. One I saw at MegoCon which was a black and white George Reeve's Superman, not sure who made it though. I love so many but some others that stand out are definitely Matthew Jaycox, Dean Verga and Laurie Halbritter.
CM: What is on your "to do" list in the near future?
AS: Right now I'm working on a 9" TaskMaster who was an old villain from the Avengers. I recently did a custom of Aleister Crowley and that got me planning a line of Mego "Dark Shadows" figures to get away from the Super Hero thing for a change.
CM: How do you think customizing affects the mego collecting hobby?
AS: Well, there's only so many figures to collect or enjoy that were made by Mego. If you're a toy junky like me the customs help keep the flames fanned and if you customize then seeing the work other people are doing is a constant source of inspiration.
CM: Any tips or words of customizing advise to new customizers?
AS: Get your fabrics from thrift stores and yard sales if you want that authentic Mego vibe. They just don't make spandex like they used to.
CM: Do you sell custom figures or parts? If so, why?
AS: Not for a long time. I got very sick for about three years and nearly died around 1999 from that mrsa form of staph that's killing people left and right now. When western medicine did nothing for me but take all of my money (every cent I ever made selling customs went to doctors) I went to a chinese herbalist that charged me $25 and cured me in four days with some nasty tasting tea. She made me stop making toys and doing FX to keep me away from toxic chemicals as my immune system was so compromised from antibiotics. By the time I was well many people had started reproing cards, etc. I'm working on a film right now based on my own comics and between that and trying to scratch out Manhattan rent there's just no time.
CM: What does your family/friends think of your mego custom work/hobby?
AS: At first they thought it was weird, until they saw how much money some would sell for. Seriously though, they've always been very supportive of my art but I think the thing they found most interesting was seeing it shrunken down to 8". It made me a bit of a god to my nephew who was born shortly before I started. Now that he's old enough to be trusted around them however, he's more into Play Station "Smack Down", ugh! What'ya gonna do?
CM: Thanks for chatting with us Anderson!
AS: I'd like to just say that this hobby has given me a life time of pleasure and introduced me to so many amazingly talented, creative and interesting people. It was so nice to find out that I wasn't the only one that was haunted by dreams of stumbling upon some hidden gold-mine of these rare magical toys, only to wake up going "damn, it was only a dream". Megos are more than just a hobby, they're an obsession. I always felt that repros were the key to fulfilling those dreams and now people are bringing them to life. If someone could just repro that Great White Mego Shark I could die happy. Love is the law!