There was a lot of cool stuff to see at the Orlando Vulkon event last weekend, and one booth that really caught my eye belonged to the Toxic Underground guys, who were there showing off their zombie Star Wars gear, along with a bunch of other neat and creative pieces. I sat down with Anthony Carbone and talked about the sorts of things he’s been putting together, as well as future plans he has for his fan-made collectibles.
You can see more photos and info about their zombie scout trooper gear at www.ZombieTroopers.com.
Mechazilla: What caught my eye when I went into the prop room was your using action figures to create dioramas. How long have you been doing that?
Anthony Carbone: I just started doing it about a year ago. I have boxes and boxes of figures, and I custom make models, but I love the action figures. Everyone collects them, so I wanted to do something where you can show what you can do with these, so that people can get ideas from it. That’s basically what I like to do, because I have so many figures and I have to cycle them out somehow. I’d rather not sell them just as the figures. I’m more into the aesthetics of it.
Mechazilla: It’s definitely a unique way to display them. How did you get started with it?
Anthony Carbone: I think about what I would like to see, you know? Like with the Alien and Predator one, I’ll take the figures and I’ll kind of base the displays on the figure poses. I don’t want to make them look-You know how you can take an action figure and make the arm go up like this, and it just doesn’t look right. So I’m kind of just using their basic forms, and then I run with that. I wanted to do a really big fight scene but do it the way everybody wants to see one, instead of the ones that you see in the movies.
Mechazilla: I saw you made some really cool looking trees for that one.
Anthony Carbone: Yeah, that’s all made out of sculpted epoxy. I build aquariums, and all of those trees are made of an epoxy. It’s a two part urethane, and when you blend them together it makes sort of a sculptable Play-Doh. Then you can texture it and do whatever you want with it.
Mechazilla: About how long does it take to put something together like that?
Anthony Carbone: A couple of days. I’d say maybe six working hours. I move fast on them.
Mechazilla: That’s a good turnaround time. I saw you have the Alien and Predator, and you have a Conan display and some Star Wars-
Anthony Carbone: The funny thing about that Star Wars one… I did that Star Wars one about three or four months ago, and I just saw the ad for the Clone Wars coming out, and there’s a scene that looks exactly like the model where all the Clone Troopers are running up into the line. And I’m like, “Look man, hey! I didn’t even notice that.” So on the website I’m saying, “Based on a scene from the film.” [laughs]
Mechazilla: What are your biggest fandoms that you’re into collecting?
Anthony Carbone: I’m really into the horror and sci-fi. I’m an old school guy. I like the older 60’s and 70’s movies that I grew up on, the classics.
Mechazilla: How long have you actually been collecting figures yourself?
Anthony Carbone: Wow… Thirty years? Thirty-five years?
Mechazilla: So you’ve probably got a pretty big personal collection built up of your own.
Anthony Carbone: Yes, I do. Most of this stuff here is from my and my partner’s personal collections. And we’re just now branching out onto this stuff, the Zombie Troopers.
Mechazilla: That’s definitely a unique take on it. I’ve seen the Marvel Zombies and stuff like that, but this is the first time I’ve seen Star Wars zombies.
Anthony Carbone: Yeah, it’s funny that we did this and we premiered it at the Supercon down in Fort Lauderdale. We weren’t sure, but we were like, “Let’s try.” Because you know how people are very nitpicky about their fandoms-Star Wars and Star Trek and so on. It’s gotta be accurate, but I was just messing around with it. But the response has been overwhelming. I know there are Biker Scout clubs on the internet that have been e-mailing us left and right, “Can you do this? Can you do that?” It seems like it’s working out good for us.
Mechazilla: What conventions do you go to? Do you go to Dragon*Con, for instance?
Anthony Carbone: No, I have not in the past, but we’re planning on going up. We’re going to the Screamfest in Orlando this year, and we’re going to have an Orc. We’re doing a Lord of the Rings Orc booth. We’re going to sell weapons and swords and axes and bones and stuff like that. That’s more the genre I’m into.
Mechazilla: That’s great. I was just thinking they’d eat this kind of stuff up at Dragon*Con.
Anthony Carbone: Yeah, that’s what we were told. And like I said, this is something new. I haven’t done a convention in twenty years. It’s been a long time, so we had these, and we sell these on eBay, and Paul was like, “Hey look, come to Vulkon. Bring it up.” So it was a weekend to come up and hang out. We’re not the normal sorts you’d see at a Star Trek convention.
Mechazilla: Your booth definitely drew my eye in the dealer room, and then I knew I wanted to talk with you guys when I went over to the model room and saw the dioramas.
Anthony Carbone: Yeah, see, that’s what I like to do. You see the models in there, and they’re beautiful. But I know everyone has action figures, everyone has toys. I have models and stuff, and I just wanted to show without even painting the figures or anything and by putting them in realistic displays how it could make them look. Instead of spending four or five hundred dollars for a nice model, you can get one for not even a third of the price.
Mechazilla: What was the other one I saw in there with the soldier? Was that from Spawn?
Anthony Carbone: That was Al Simmons. Good eye!
Mechazilla: That looks fantastic. Do you have anything in the works that you’re putting together right now?
Anthony Carbone: Yes, I’m doing Halo and Gears of War. I’m hitting the video game market now. I’ve got a really neat Halo one. Also I’m using a twelve inch Star Wars figure, the Clone Trooper, and I’m going to make one of the tanks from The Phantom Menace. I’m going to have a blown-out one on the ground, and I’m going to have the Clone Trooper sitting on the turret. What I’m trying to do is make something like the old fashioned war dioramas and war models that show the soldiers just after battle, where they’re injured or dirty or having a cigarette or drink. I’m going to do that with Star Wars armor. It’ll kind of romanticize the two fandoms together. I’ve never seen that done, and that’s always been my favorite, looking at old war dioramas. With Star Wars, everyone loves the armor. When you think “Star Wars,” you think Stormtroopers, Vader, you know. So that’s what I’m doing there. And I’m going to do one after the Hoth battle.
Another thing that I’m going to be doing is making wall plaques. They’re going to be from famous battles from Star Wars, like the Battle of Geonosis and the Battle of Hoth. We’re going to have it like someone went to the battlefield and grabbed something and kept it as a souvenir. So I’ll have like a blown-out droid head with a lightsaber hit on it or a blown-out Clone Trooper helmet, and then you’ll have a little plaque on it saying, “During the Battle of Geonosis” or something.
Mechazilla: So those will be in 1:1 scale?
Anthony Carbone: Yeah, 1:1 scale. And I’m doing a rancor skull, like a trophy mount.
Mechazilla: Wow, that’s huge.
Anthony Carbone: Yeah, that’s going to be 1:1 scale, too. Doing something like that, I wanted to because the size is what’s going to make it impressive. Especially on something like that, you know. I’m a nitpicker for the details. I like to really get it right. Granted, the size is probably going to keep people from buying it because there’s nowhere to display it, but there’ll be somebody out there.
Mechazilla: That’ll definitely be a piece to see. I’m really impressed by everything you have on display here this weekend, and if I make it to Screamfest I’ll look out for you there.
Anthony Carbone: You won’t be able to miss us, believe me.
You can see more shots of the action figure dioramas in my Flickr set for the convention: