A Closer Look at MOONLIGHT SAMURAI Custom & Interview with Jan Calleja

Moonlight Samurai by Jan Calleja

Launching tomorrow March 24th is the first ever Skullhead Samurai Custom Show, curated by Jake Lee of Pobber Toys, with the exhibition hosted by FLABSLAB. We’ve had a look at the amazing customs & work-in-progress pieces for the show thus far, and today we take a closer look at the the fantastic “MOONLIGHT SAMURAI” from Jan Calleja, and as well have a little online chat with him about his inspirations and process for this build!

Don’t forget to check out more of his work covered #onTOYSREVIL, and as well his instagram.com/jan_calleja and facebook.com/jan.calleja.9!

“MOONLIGHT SAMURAI” by Jan Calleja will be available for purchase at the show!

(Above-left: Original Figure / Above-right: Initial Concept Sketch)

TOYSREVIL: What was your concept for the custom? Has it changed from your initial concept to final version? Or was it laser-focused all the way?
"JAN CALLEJA: The concept is a car-inspired design mixed with the original Skullhead Samurai toy. The only change that happened was during the first week of build. I usually have this stage as I really don’t do a definitive design from the start. I just have the story, or idea and from there I adjust as I go along. It might be because of availability of materials or ... perhaps a better way to execute the idea."

TOYSREVIL: Walk us through your customisation process for this piece, please :)
JAN CALLEJA: Well, as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have a blueprint design for this build also. After the ideation process, the first thing I did was revise some shapes at the side of the head to make way for a more car-fender-look ... but not too much as to alter the silhouette of the original head. Then came the stage where I changed direction of the build.

I planned to make it a long-robed samurai with a car-inspired head ... but ... I thought why not go on an all-out machine looking car-inspired samurai execution? Hence the boosters, exclusion of legs, and appropriation of the former head ornament into a sort of wing at the back.

TOYSREVIL: Vehicular Epicness and your works are inseparable, and is a hallmark of your art, IMHO. Was there any specific vehicle on your mind when you designed "Moonshine Samurai"?
JAN CALLEJA: Yes, it's the Oldsmobile (custom) rocket. This got my attention while at the local hobby shop. I thought the shape and feel of the car was perfect for my narrative, and for this beautifully designed platform toy.

TOYSREVIL: Any particular reason for the name “Moonlight Samurai”?
JAN CALLEJA: When I got the blank toy, I thought to myself, wow, a Filipino customizing a Japanese inspired samurai toy, designed by two western dudes. Hmmmm :)

Offhand I can always play with the "Samurai" design and just decorate it with my style ... but I thought maybe we can also play with the story of the whole exercise of ME customizing this toy ha ha ha. The "me", who doesn’t even drive, make a car-inspired design on a blank toy inspired by a Japanese icon ... and so on.

I first thought of the Italian Spaghetti Westerns or something to that effect. Some sort of bootlegging is in the story ... but none of the mediocrity attached to it. Until I saw the car at the local hobby shop and how I read before that it was used to run moonshine liquor. The shape. The story. The bad-assery attached to it. That was it.

The bootlegging narrative became the car that inspired me to juxtapose with Huck's and JPK's Skullhead Samurai. The former negative (personal) connotation became an homage to the duo's perfectly shaped vinyl toy.

TOYSREVIL: To call this a “showroom ready” piece of art is an understatement! What do YOU think of your own custom?
JAN CALLEJA: First of all, thank you very much for your kind words, Andy :) Well, aside from some changes at the onset of the build I'm quite happy with the way this turned out. This project presented some opportunities to try new production styles...like I used a different (but not new) paint technique, hence a noticeable "showroom ready" finish ... and some cool finishing stuff I recently learned from local scale model enthusiasts :)

Thank you very much! :)
Moonlight Samurai by Jan Calleja
Moonlight Samurai by Jan Calleja
Moonlight Samurai by Jan Calleja
Moonlight Samurai by Jan Calleja

(“Skullhead Samurai” is originally designed by JonPaul Kaiser x Huck Gee and produced by Pobber Toys)