Toys are art– there is no disputing that fact. Even if a doll or action figure is aimed toward children, it first started out as a concept. A premise. A design. A sculpture. It was painted, scrutinized, repainted, and sometimes redesigned long before it landed in the hands of a child who would chew on it, love it, play with it, worship it, and tell stories using this plastic vessel in their hand.
Toys continue to inspire collectors as we get older. And put into the hands of an artist, an old toy can be reborn into a customized masterpiece. Today on Toy Wizards, we are going to shine a spotlight on one of the rising stars in the customizing world– Kevin Breaux of Castle BROskull. I was introduced to Kevin’s fantastic work and it is Toy Wizards honor and pleasure to learn all about his journey into toys and customizing them. Several of you out there are already familiar, and we’ve seen his pieces when you show off pictures of your collections!
In his own words, Kevin shared the story of Castle BROSkull and what inspired him to begin making beautiful custom art pieces out of the toys we loved as kids and hold dearly and revere today. I can identify with his story– my mother’s own passing was the catalyst to my entire internet writing and content creating career. So yes…this one strikes a chord with me.
Art often begins from deep emotions.
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Just over three years ago, my mother died.
You know, I feel like I was a child in the best age to be a child. The 1980’s. I was there enjoying all the best cartoons and toy lines right as they were being released.
My mother was always around, and she spoiled me through my childhood with tons and tons of toys. GI JOES, STAR WARS, TRANSFORMERS, GOBOTS, BATTLE BEASTS and much more. I had a good…no, great, childhood.
But I was stupid in college. I sold at least half of my toys (joes, transformers, motu) to a comic book store for maybe $200 in store credit. Yeah…dumb…but this was before eBay. And there was no real outlet for selling stuff except stores like that.
But I did not sell everything. I kept some of my favorite Joes, and a lot of the stuff that I deemed “not worth selling”. Those things stayed at my parents’ home when I moved across country.
Maybe a week after my mom passed, my dad started filling large priority mail boxes with my old stuff and started shipping them from PA to OR. At first, I was overcome with feelings of nostalgia. Some of these toys I had clear memories of and had not seen for 30 or more years. For example, my dad sent me my Micronauts, which I think were given to me in the late 70’s during one Christmas. (maybe 1980.)
Box after box arrived. Stompers, Rambo, KO Motu, Megos, Robo Force, Match Box Cars, and more. I decided to join a bunch of FB toy groups to ask for advice on selling things. For the most part, I meet good people. And started selling things pretty quick. While I was on the groups, I started to realize there was a real void of artists. I went to art school, so I started to wonder, could I become a custom toy artist?
This was when I saw someone paint a Grayskull. The person was doing it for fun and mostly spray painting it one color. I was like…you know what…that looks like fun. And I have a bunch of ideas how to take it to another level or two.
So, I bought a Grayskull off ebay. It was dirty, covered in spider eggs and mold. I had to wash it in the laundry room sink and let it soak.
After it was clean and dry, I started to work my magic. I primed the Grayskull. Let it dry a day and then started applying layer after layer after layer of paint. It took a week of painting and drying. Then I added moss, treasures, MOTU weapons, and skulls…I decorated it up! I made it RAD!
When it was done, I showed it off in the FB toy groups and people were amazed. They loved it and I got tons of friend requests and likes. I was told I should make more and sell the one I had just finished. I actually did not sell this one for a while. I kinda wanted to keep it. I never owned a Castle Grayskull when I was young. And with all these toys my dad was sending me, my desire to collect again was reignited. So, I keep it a while. And ordered more shells.
It was not long after that I got two commissions from two very well-known toy collectors/sellers on FB. They each wanted a castle done a very specific way. It was in this moment Castle Broskull was born. I needed a name for my company, and I needed to funnel all the attention I was getting on FB to a new page. Yeah, it’s a play on my name BREAUX which sounds like BRO and combined with the first project I did: a Castle Grayskull.
I was…I am an author. And suddenly all my social media friends were toy people. I had more followers on my Broskull page than on my Author page. LOL!
My first year taking commissions was crazy. I could hardly keep up. I never rush my projects. I take time. I put LOTS of time in. More than most people. I add extra steps to make my projects look amazing and be one of a kind. (Lots of copycats out there, I see you! lol)
During that first year, I had a production line of projects going. I would prime three, start one, then get to the final stages and start the next. It took that year for me to learn how to do my projects more efficiently.
That first year I did a lot of Grayskulls (maybe 50). And a lot of Joe vehicles. I really enjoy custom painting and styling Joe tanks. Especially the MOBAT. Man, that thing is versatile and so much detail comes up with you paint it. I mean not as much detail that appears on a Snake Mountain when painted right. But still…the MOBAT might be my favorite project to do.
During year two, I was really cooking. I took my projects up another level and was getting them done in a good pace and still getting lots and lots of commissions. I saw a much bigger variety of toys for projects. Star Wars vehicles, Transformers, Marvel figures and more were arriving each week. I met some amazing people that year too. Lots of cool collectors who I have become friends with to this day. Guys who have my back and promote me all the time. I really appreciate them.
I also started meeting people who were out there wanting to help and give back. Amazing people like John from Scareglow’s House FB group. When I saw his kindness, I started giving away projects or free commissions with his help.
The start of my third year taking commissions, the pandemic was in full effect. Therefore, I celebrated my anniversary with giving away projects to first responders. This was a really enjoyable time for me. I got some fun new requests from people who I had never worked with before. And those projects went to homes with people who really appreciated them and were extremely thankful for my time. My time? I just paint toys; they were the ones helping people.
Seriously, I love putting projects into the hands of collectors who will cherish them. And largely that is what happens. I have sent things all over the world and some of my repeat customers have huge collections or displays with my projects as their centerpieces. Making collectors happy is what this is all about. I do not charge tons of money. I barely cover supplies, and never cover my time. I’d rather get the return business and see people doing videos with my projects in their hands praising my work.
I am currently halfway to my 4th year anniversary. I just reopened to commissions after holiday break and have a bunch of things on my list already. I love when people send me something new that I have never done before. I always discount those projects.
Side note. Back to my mom passing and my dad sending me lots of stuff. A bunch of years ago, I bought a GI JOE Mauler to celebrate finishing a novel I wrote. I had all the pieces for it but one of the two antennae. Those antennae are hard to find and expensive. It really bugged me I was missing a piece. I had an eBay search saved and tracked that piece for years and years. Well, in one of the last boxes of stuff my dad sent me was a bag with a handwritten note from my mom. It basically said it was pieces of toys that she did not know where belonged. Random parts essentially. I opened this bag and one of the first things I saw was the antennae to the Mauler. YES…my original Mauler, which I sold long ago, its original piece. I was shocked. I grabbed that piece and ran over to my new Mauler and put it right into the spot it belonged. I believe inthings and I don’t believe in things, but in that moment, I felt like my mother had sent me a message. It kinda felt like a mini miracle.
Thanks for taking time to read about my business: Castle Broskull. The RADDEST customization out there.
Kevin James Breaux