Just in time for Halloween, three custom action figure makers and friends got together to give the world something magical. Something the world was missing. The toy in question? A custom G.I. Joe action figure, inspired by Cobra Commander in the 1987 animated film. Called Coco, the toy hearkens to Cobra Commander deevolving from a man to a snake after his punishment.
If you watch the above embedded video of my original review, you’ll know that the paint and sculpt are just incredible. Matt and the guys’ work is seriously stellar, and none of the articulation is affected by the customization. This is something that repeats in Matt’s other work– I have a custom Zarana figure that he sent to me earlier this year and it’s perfectly articulated and playable in spite of any new additions to the original toy-skeleton.
I got together with Scorched Earth Creations‘ Matt LeCroy, a well-known custom action figure artist (specializing in the 3.75 inch scale, ala G.I. Joe) to discuss this Coco figure and how it came to be.
Hi Matt! Thank you for giving Toy Wizards this interview. Let me first just say that this figure is beautiful. Who was involved in getting it created and this project off the ground?
Matt: There are three key players in bringing this action figure to life. It was myself, Jason Luckey, and Dennis Carbaugh of Level 7 Studios. I sent Dennis my prototype figure, broken down piece by piece, and he created the molds. Dennis is the man responsible for pumping out the plastic. Jason is the business man/distributor and the brain child of this project. He came to me and asked me to sculpt the “Once a Man” Cobra Commander. And I was born to to this! It only took me a week and a half to sculpt it because I was so excited about it. We made 50 of these figures, and while Dennis never made a run this big, he was ready for it.
What was it about this character and this moment that made you guys know this was the character you had to create?
Matt: It was really that simple, but there’s just so much more to it. We’re all such long time G.I. Joe fans and this is a character that we wanted so bad as kids and were just never able to have.
How long did the project take once you decided the team and your roles?
Matt: It took one year.
Did this project overlap any of the exclusives you made for Joe-Fest or any other commissions or projects you take on?
Matt: I was juggling a few personal projects, but no, my work for Joe-Fest figures didn’t overlap.
Let’s talk about that claim sale that you guys just did. So, you and Jason and Dennis all did your part. The figures are painted, assembled, packaged, and ready to go. Jason puts them all online in that post in the Joe club. And they were just GONE. How did you feel about that reception?
Matt: People were freaking out in a good way and it was unbelievable how fast they went. I’ve done several exclusives that went pretty well, but they’ve never gone this quick. I didn’t even get to see the first Facebook post before they were all gone. Originally, we were planning on making 100 of these Coco figures. But it didn’t work out, because I really wanted that Halloween release. We pushed for it and we did it. Making a custom O’ring isn’t hard in general, but the work that we did for this piece was hard. But it was a labor of love. And we did it.
So after Dennis made the plastic pieces, he sent them to you to paint, sculpt, add rivets, then Jason assembled and packaged and then they were ready to go?
Matt: That’s right!
You have to understand that people love this toy so much that my social media platform grew after I showed it off. Do you understand how amazing that is?
Matt: I love it! That works for both of us!
Are you guys going to collaborate again and make more figures?
Matt: Right now we’re in the calm after the storm. We’re basking in the calm right now, but we’re just getting started.
Matt, thank you so much for giving me your time and telling me a little more about the production process of this incredible custom figure. I’m so delighted I was given the chance to check it out, review it, and talk to you about it. Is there anything else you’d like to say before we wrap up?
Matt: I just want to say that all I want to do is make toys. In fact, I can’t discuss this project without talking about my mentor Bill Merklein. You can’t find him online– he’s 73 years old and lives in Connecticut. But he approved and gave me his blessing every step of the way. He was a Hasbro toy designer who created many of the toys I loved in my childhood. We became friends, and while I was designing this Coco figure, I sent him photos of my progress every step of the way. Once he gave me his blessing, I knew we were doing this right.