A Destro-KAWS Companion Custom Reveal and An Interview With Motorbot


A KAWS-Companion turns "international arms dealer" with this (G.I.Joe-themed)
DESTRO-custom by Motorbot, commissioned by a private collector! *coolness*

I've long admired Kevin Olson aka Motorbot's customed-creations, and with this exclusive first-peek reveal of the Destro-Kaws, I'd managed to grab a quick chat with Kelvin, about his craft and inspirations - CLICK THRU to read, as well as a look-see at a little collection of his past customs.


MOTORBOT: I'm 28, holding down a day job delivering furniture. I have a degree in painting. I actually learned to draw by copying comic books and learned to paint from Bob Ross and William Alexander. I grew up watching them on pbs and started doing little paintings when I was 10 or so. I had aspirations to draw comic books but it never panned out, and a few years after college I discovered toys.

Every day I put in 8 hours at the day job, spend some time with the family and then stay up till the wee hours of the morning making toys and watching cartoons.

TOYSREVIL: Late-night/early-morning cartoons can be pretty trippy LOL (Japanimation slays me) ... How did it all start? When did you first get sucked dived into the realm of toy-customization?

MOTORBOT: I fell into the vinyl toy world a few years ago after seeing a review of the first big Dunny show in an issue of Juxtapoz. I tracked down Kidrobot, joined the message board and became obsessed with toys. My first custom was a Madl (the tv head one), and from there it just kind of snowballed. People liked my customs and I started getting commissions and show invites.

MOTORBOT: 3 years later I have a steady stream of commissions and shows and have a huge project with Jamungo. There's no production toy yet but i can't complain about being busy.

[WIP of Motorbot x Jamungo: MummyBud Halloween Project for Budscribers!]

TOYSREVIL: "Busy is Good", I always say! But "No production toy"? With the intensity you put into your customs of other toy-platforms, I would definitely be looking forward to seeing some of your own original creations, IMHO.

MOTORBOT: I actually have a few things kind of in the works. One potential project could lead to me making toys full time but I'll just have to wait and see if it pans out.

No one is knocking down my door to produce my toys, so going the DIY route seems like my best option. There's nothing really concrete yet, but don't be surprised if you see some resin figures in the next year.

TOYSREVIL: Motorbot-Resins? Now that's what I'm talking about! Be sure to keep us in the loop, yeh? ... What inspires you? What gets your customizing juices going? What are you influenced by?

MOTORBOT: As for influences, it's all over the place. I might see something in a store that will give me an idea or see something on tv or in a book. I look at other artists but I have to keep myself in check. I'm a chameleon and will see something and think "Ooh, I want to make one of those". - and I don't want to be labeled as a hack. I don't have a true style because I get bored easily, so if I stuck with one idea or theme I'd just burn myself out on it in no time.

[Above: different custom-styles / Below: Insect-themed customs]

TOYSREVIL: From your earlier work to your current more sculpt-based customs, there has been a few re-occuring motives and concepts - ie Metal, Wood, Food, even Insects (loved them both) and more recently Mummies/Zombies - any particular reason why these concepts are predominant in your work?

MOTORBOT: There's very little reasoning behind what I do. I just do things that are fun for me. The wood and metal pieces are just fun to do. Both have kind of evolved as time has passed and there's more creation involved. It's not just mimicking a style or finish, it's trying to create a little character within the confines of substance. I'm forced to use the rivets and seems as facial features or details on a body. At the same time I have to try and keep each one unique so it isn't just a parade of the same little character.

TOYSREVIL: Personally, I see them more of belonging in the same Motorbot-created little Universe - like the Woodland World has all matter of critters and warriors made of wood etc, IMHO. And what I really enjoy, are your Food-based customs! I remember posting and knowing about you from your Labbit Ham a whiles back :)

MOTORBOT: The food is more like me challenging myself. It's me seeing how realistically I can copy something, and with each one I try to get closer and closer to a perfect replication. I really like the food because it's very light hearted and playful. It's the same techniques I would use to make a zombie, but it's something that anyone can enjoy.

If I can find a place to host it I want to do an all food themed show. I've got at least a dozen toys I'm holding in my brain just for the show

TOYSREVIL: Read that, gallery-owners? Dude, if I could, I'd hold a "Custom-Buffet" show for you here in Singapore! LOL ... The one key thing i''ve enjoyed about your customs, are the FORMS and TEXTURES - in both maintaining (and add character) and/or deconstructing the original forms, and of the distinct textures you apply on the figures' surface ... How do you decide or conceptualize a custom? What do you look at or consider?

MOTORBOT: I spend a lot of time just looking at the toy. My daughters get to play with toys before I paint them, so they're just around the house, and I constantly see them from different angles and in different situations until an idea hits me and I know what to do with it.

MOTORBOT: The whole process is very organic. I don't make sketches I just see a picture in my head and start working. The toy just evolves as I work on it. I'll try something and it won't work so I have to try something else which usually turns out better. The original Ham labbit was the result of me completely screwing up a paint job the night before I had to mail it out.  Nothing ever turns out exactly as I envision it, but that's part of the fun.

MOTORBOT: I'm glad you mentioned texture because it's something that has become very important in my work. I can't stand perfectly smooth toys. There's so much unused space. Texture adds character and dimension and makes every inch interesting. You must have texture.

TOYSREVIL: Too true - textures is what makes a piece "alive" - be it a tangible-surface finish, or perhaps one may argue a painted "textural" finish - personally, a tactile product in the literal hands of a collector makes the difference(regardless if he/she's gonna store it in a display shelf thereafter, yeh? :p) ... Any particular custom (or series of customs) you are most proud of?

MOTORBOT: The "Maiden of the Forest" and the various Maw figures are probably my favorites right now. I really would like to have some kind of theme or story tied to my toys and I think the Maw especially is a step in that direction. Plus creatures are fun. It's like playing spore in real life. If and when mini figures happen don't be surprised if they are somehow creature related.

TOYSREVIL: Stories are what gives a (toy) creation "purpose", I reckon, and I always appreciate a little story with the creation (but that's just the comicbook-devourer that I am) ... Currently, what is your customizing material of poison? And what's your essential tool you cannot do without?

MOTORBOT: Magic Sculpt. I use it all the time now. I've easily gone through 20 pounds of it in the past year and a half

My essential tool us a little sculpting tool I made from a piece of wire and electrical tape. I use that thing constantly.

TOYSREVIL: What sort of evolution do you or have you seen yourself go thru? Has your customizing techniques changed thru these years, since you started?

MOTORBOT: I sculpt a lot more. Most of my pieces involve some sculpted element, when it used to be just a paint job. I'm more into making the figure my own instead of just slapping paint on a blank. There are a lot more people customizing toys now, and I don't want to just fall into the faceless herd of people that bought a dunny and a bottle of paint.

Doing more sculpting has kind if opened my eyes too. I would love to do sculpting work for a toy company, and as I improve perhaps that becomes more of an attainable goal.

TOYSREVIL: Admirable goal. Is there anything / any material in particular you'd like to work on, or any techniques you've yet to try, but would love to?

MOTORBOT: Fabric. I am no good with fabric. Huck (Gee) does some really amazing stuff with the costumes he makes for his toys, and I would really like to try my hand at that.

Also, I'd like to mess with some 1/6th scale figures. Kenn Munk has made some crazy 1/6 figures and Ashley wood keeps releasing insane figures too. I have some naked 1/6 figures sitting in a drawer that I want to do something with, but I don't know where to start. Maybe you can give me some pointers

TOYSREVIL: .. you are too kind, sir ... and Dude! 1/6 is my life! LOL (more on that laters). Tell us about the Destro-KAWS-Companion custom.

MOTORBOT: An awesome collector contacted me around christmas last year with the idea and I jumped at it. I found a companion on sale and was off and running. It's taken longer than I would have liked but I've learned you can't rush these things. If you rush it then the quality gets sacrificed, and something like this needs to be perfect.


TOYSREVIL: And he is effin awesome! The collector who Destro is going to - is a lucky duder, no doubt! Thanks for your time and trouble (and "patience") Kevin - and in closing, as we begun, WHO IS KEVIN OLSON?

KEVIN OLSON / MOTORBOT: Just some dude that got lucky. I get to make toys and have a handful of people that like and appreciate them. I also have a wonderful wife and 2 little girls that adore me.

Thank you to the wild little toy world. Thank you to everyone that has bought or commissioned a toy from me, or has popped onto a message board and left a nice reply. And thank you to everyone who is currently or has patiently waited on a toy. You are all awesome.

[Check out MOTORBOT's creations on his blog and flickr]