Making his mark with monsters

Nelson artist's creations make waves overseas

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 12:02 11/08/2014
Mapua Wharf.
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
TOP DRAWER: Artist Smeagol of Nelson with the 10kg polymer clay model that won him third prize in an international model making competition.

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A young Nelson father who goes by the moniker "Smeagol" has an enormous collection of toys, but they're not for his son.

The vinyl figurines are custom designer toys imported primarily from the United States.

Varying in size, the toys fill a guest room and march out into the lounge, crowding into a corner in the kitchen where they are dismembered and customised.

Smeagol, who preferred not to use his real name as he had been involved with street art in the past, first got into creating art with toys when his girlfriend worked at The Portal toystore in Christchurch. She ordered him toys by American brand Kidrobot before he started experimenting with the "DIY" toy Munny, which comes with a pen and stickers.

"I started realising that they were cool, but I could do better."

To make his unique creations, Smeagol cuts holes in a blank Munny toy to pick out the sections he plans to modify. He then sculpts new features onto it using professional-grade polymer clay, which he rolls flat using a pasta machine, and sets the clay in the oven. The large Munny toys are cured using a heat gun as they stand nearly half a metre tall.

Smeagol sands down the surfaces on the toy before carefully finishing it with spray paint. Depending on the size of the project, each toy can take up to a month of attention.

One gruesome creation, "Gonnaherpasyphalaids", has been sent to feature in a group art show called The (In)action Figure Show at New York's Clutter gallery. Another, equipped with a layered skin and large teeth, came third worldwide in the people's choice section of Kidrobot's online Munny Munth competition.

Smeagol sells his work and takes commissions.

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- The Nelson Mail

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