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FullyVisual Metal Toys

by CH Contributor in Tech on 29 September 2009

by Jeremy Brautman

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FullyVisual makes heavy metal, but it's not for listening. The brand started as a side project among friends and quickly evolved into a line of part toy, part art and all metal collectibles.

Today, FullyVisual drops its latest figure—an update on Huck Gee's Skullhead. Savvy toy collectors know that Huck Gee pieces tend to have an availability window of approximately six seconds. FullyVisual's designer Jamie Mathis is quick to point out that as a medium, metal lasts longer than vinyl which may explain in part what makes these 100 figures so highly covetable.

Mathis combined his experience making metal belt buckles for the apparel industry with an interest in art, now boasting an enviable artist roster and releasing a new limited edition sculpture roughly every month. He makes the hand-crafted pieces in editions of 100 or less in silver, gold, copper and nickel. For Gary Baseman's Clown Cone #2, Jamie combined several metals into one fantastic figure. To achieve colors that exist outside the metal spectrum, he collaborated with Japan's Gargamel crew and master of toy customization Paul Kaiju.

A relative newcomer to the designer toy community, which focuses chiefly on vinyl, metal adds a new aspect to the field. FullyVisual pieces carry a significant heft, sometimes tipping the scale at a pound of metal each.

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To get a sense of what goes into each figure, we chatted with Jamie during a break in his busy schedule.

Can you describe the process of making metal figures?
The artists send drawings of the figures. From those turnarounds, the figure is sculpted, a mold is made and I cast the pieces. I pour lead-free pewter metals, then dip each piece. Some are plated or brushed to look shiny or older. Each artist picks the colorways.

What's it like working with artists who are your friends?
Most of the artists I've worked with are close friends or close friends of friends. I try to faithfully reproduce their vision in metal. Gary Baseman's figures are really specific to his pieces, so it's interesting to have the paintings to refer to. Artists can be highly specific, but there are of course some limitations to the medium.

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What's coming up next for FullyVisual?
Amanda Visell and I are continuing the saga of her [sold out] mini wargroup figures in the next couple months. I'm also doing another piece with Huck Gee. This one will be as big as a baseball and limited to 100 pieces in four colorways. I'm pretty stoked about an upcoming project with Joe Ledbetter. There's nothing like it that's ever been done in vinyl, metal or wood. And I'm doing a project right now with Switcheroo that will change the way collectors look at things. It will take them to the next level. In a word: mechanical.

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Speaking of mechanical, we heard you collect motorcycle parts. Tell us about your own collections.
Yeah that and also skate decks, kaiju, my friends' vinyl toys and art...and one of every Circus Punk ever made.

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