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Old 12-07-2007, 06:41 AM   #1
JDH
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Phase Four: The Randy Interview and Forum Q & A

STATUEFORUM: Well, here we are again at the dawn of another Bowen Designs Marvel 'phase', the latest stage in a collection that (by the end of Phase Three) totals more than 200 mini-busts and more than 100 statues, representing more than 150 distinct Marvel Comics characters. If someone had told you all this when you started the ball rolling a decade ago, would you have believed them?

RANDY BOWEN: Yes, I think so. I think even back then I would have been more likely to think it was possible. Looking back though, I am amazed that (given all the hurdles of licensing etc.) we've been able to pull it off.

SF: To get the boring stuff out of the way first, and avoid months of forum confusion, could you set out the specifics for us on how long his phase will last, in terms of dates for pieces to be solicited and released.

RB: The next Phase will end March 2010. That is when the last pieces will ship-out. it's going to be very busy…

SF: Are you still shooting for a rough 'One statue, two busts per month' regular release schedule, supplemented by the occasional exclusive?

RB: Pretty much. Although, as anyone can attest, this is an inexact science at best.

SF: You get asked this every time a contract comes up for renewal, but - assuming the sales figures stay rosy throughout the phase - have you reached the point where you see it as a swansong? Or is the excitement still there enough for you to look at it as 'If you keep buying 'em, and Marvel keep approving 'em, I'll keep making 'em!'

RB: I've given up trying to predict what will happen. I thought it was all going to be over years ago. Every time I complete a phase, I go though a period of exhaustion, and relief that it's finally over. The main thing that keeps us going is the appreciation from the fans, and the fact that we feel we owe our employees a livelihood. I would like to take a break for a couple of years after this phase. At least a break from doing strictly Marvel characters.

SF: With recent pics of fringe characters you've been working on - Odin, Simon Garth Zombie and Death - creating such excitement among fans, can we expect Phase Four to be an 'All bets are off - anything can happen' kind of deal?

RB: Exactly. Doing characters like these is all about having fun. It takes just as much (if not more) work to create obscure characters like these as it does the popular mainstays. I think it would be a pretty boring collection though if we only stuck to the top 5 characters in the Marvel Pantheon.

SF: Now that most of the really big crowd-pleasers are done, will it be a phase in which characters you personally have always wanted to sculpt, or see sculpted, get the focus?

RB: Yes and no. We'll still need to do some of the popular characters, but they may be an obscure version of that character to keep it interesting.

SF: When you talked about phase three, you mentioned things like 'team completion' and giving some of the bigger characters another look. Looking back, how well do you think you accomplished your goals from the start of phase three? Do the same goals apply in phase four? If so, to a greater or lesser extent?

RB: Hmmm. Well, I think that is a question that I'll let the collectors answer. It's difficult to get around to completing some of the teams, simply because there are a lot of team members, or the remaining characters are incredibly obscure. We're still going to try this time though as well. In fact we're going to be starting some new teams as well. Some will be released in groups of three as Triple Pack mini-busts.

SF: If you designed a teaser poster for Phase Four, what image would you use?

RB: Maybe a close-up shot of my face, with a big question mark over my head!

SF: What would the tagline be?

RB: I don't know...Maybe that would be a good question for a contest? (laughs)

SF: Hmmm, good idea…

Now, the club and website exclusives continue to be a bone of contention among fans every time they come out - some love them, others hate them. Do your plans for phase four include as many such exclusives as phase three, even more, or fewer?


RB: I don't really know at this point. This is stuff that's not really planned. We don't do it to piss people off. I usually release a varianty exclusive based on request from the forum. It seems like we'll never really be able to please everyone.

SF: Will they by and large continue to mainly be variants, or could we see the occasional character being released only as an exclusive?

RB: We've got a pretty wild character list this time round. There's going to be some obscure stuff that could only sell in small quantities anyway. The club exclusive is the perfect venue for these odd-ball types of pieces.

SF: Are you prepared for the barrage of international complaints that would ensue?

RB: (Laughs) ...As always! But hey - that's what your American Pals are for!

SF: Do you foresee edition sizes falling any lower for 'non-variant' runs, or do you think the rough phase three level of 1,000-1,500 for fringe characters will hold for now?

RB: I'm not sure. There are some interesting impending factors that will affect the edition sizes. If all goes well. The editions will stay about the same. Overall, they might reduce a little, but again, there are a lot of mitigating factors involved.

SF: You just knew you’d be asked about what those ‘interesting impending factors’ might be…?

RB: Well, at this time, I can't really say. Later all the facts will come to light.

SF: With the aforementioned characters Odin, Death and Zombie all shaping up to be statues, do you always intend to provide a mini alternative for pure bust collectors? Or could phase four end with some characters only released as statues?

RB: There's no hard and fast rule. There will be some statues that will not be busts, and vice versa.

SF: Will phase four see more 'Spidey vs Venom' style double pack versus statues from BD? Does the licence give you any greater flexibility for other innovations?

RB: Hard to say at this point. There will be a first though in this phase. This will be the first time that we release a multi-pack for the full-sized statues. It will be a very limited and expensive piece. But a must-have for people who are fans of this particular group.

SF: Obviously it's too much to hope for that you'd give us 'the list', but is there any chance you could let us know how many characters are on it? Do you submit a list that is the exact size of your plans for the phase, or do you make it longer to allow flexibility? Are there some characters that are on every list?

RB: Yes- it is too much to hope for Jess! (laughs) I'll say this: There are dozens of characters on both lists (full-sized and mini-busts). The lists are larger than past lists to allow for flexibility. You can bet that some characters are on every list.

SF: Without wanting to turn this into a 'will you do Willie Lumpkin?' type interview, there are a few characters who, going back years, you have given a very strong indication fans would soon see. Picking just two, is there any chance you could give any update on these to put years of discussion to bed:

Goliath II - way back on your own site forum, during phase two, you said the Hank Pym Goliath had his head turned for complementary display with Giant-Man and the future Clint Barton Goliath, planned to have his head turned the opposite way. Did Goliath II slip through the cracks?

Firelord - At one point, possibly again as far back as phase two, interest was gauged in a statue. But so far he's yet to turn up even as a bust. Is the character still in your thoughts?


RB: I appreciate fans’ curiosity on these, but I'm simply not ready to discuss which characters will make the cut. Everytime an announcement like this is made I get comments like: "You're doing_______________before____________!!?? How could you?! ________________________is far more deserving than blank! You suck!

SF: Probably the main explanation for characters like this falling by the wayside is that there are so many others to get to at the same time. But have there ever been any weird or offbeat reasons why a character that looked all set to make it, ended up out in the cold?

RB: Sure. It usually boils down the approval process. That can delay things greatly. Also, when I sit myself down at the beginning of a new phase, I pick out all the characters that I personally want to sculpt myself; many times I am far too optimistic about my own sculpting speed, and a lot of characters get held back.
For example: I always focus more on the full-sized statues more than the mini-busts. So a lot of characters that I personally wanted to sculpted for myself (as busts) get pushed back, and ultimately don't make the cut.

SF: While we're covering past information that has fuelled forum conversations for years, you mentioned once that you were unable to produce a Black Knight statue because another company has the licence. Is this still the case, and is it something that happens often? Are there any other characters you've wanted to do, but been told you can't?

RB: Yes. This is a point of contention that I can't really go into. Sorry.

SF: Speaking of difficulties faced by particular pieces, is there any chance you could fill us in on the exact problem that precludes a Howard the Duck piece? When new fans ask after the character, people give wildly different explanations for the proposal being a dead duck - here's your chance to clear up the confusion.

RB: In the past I had asked if I could do Howard the Duck. I was told that there were legalities as to why he couldn't be done. Now I see another company has produced a Howard the Duck piece. So, I'm not really clear on where the truth lies...

SF: Besides Howie, there are a number of licensed characters some fans see as key to the Marvel Universe, the rights to whom no longer belong to the publisher. Have you ever considered pursuing separate licences to produce 'Marvel style' mini-busts and statues of characters like ROM, Conan, Red Sonja and the Micronauts?

RB: Yes, in Phase 5! (Laughs)

SF: If you were starting the Marvel line now, would you prefer to use the same scale or would you go larger?

RB: I'd go smaller. They would be cheaper and more would fit on a shelf.

SF: Interesting. Do you think in this respect you are a victim of your own success, and are maybe losing sales simply because collectors are running out of room?

RB: I don't really feel like a victim at all. When we first started this category of collectibles, no one else was doing it. I knew then that if these things were successful that people would eventually run out of room. That’s why we went smaller than larger. I'm amazed that this venture has lasted this long. It seems that there is a "turn over" in our collector base. In other words, there are more collectors each year to replace the people who drop-out. We've lost sales from when we started, because there are simply more of these types of items being sold, by multiple companies. Again, we used to be the only game in town.

SF: On a related note, how many divorces do you think have been caused by the ever-growing size of the Bowen Designs Marvel collection?

RB: There are 17 documented cases. Columbia University conducted a study a couple of years ago, so the data may have changed slightly since then.

SF: You have stated several times recently that there will be no more chrome pieces from Bowen Designs, with the very important rider 'unless we can find a factory that can do flawless work'. Are you actively searching for such a factory? How likely do you think it is that one will be found during phase four?

RB: I think what I said was that our current factory will not produce anymore chrome pieces for us. There are loads of factories that would be happy to do so. We need to find a factory that can do the absolute best job at producing chrome pieces.

In case you didn't know: Statue collectors are about the pickiest bunch of knuckleheads around (and deservedly so)! (Laughs).

People expect that the sculpture they've waited months, and shelled out a lot of bucks for- will be perfect. So far we've not been able to find a factory that can produce: PERFECTION. And like O.J....we're still looking.

SF: The growth of the online statue collecting community has led to an increase in the number of fans able to supplement their collections with one-off or limited run customised or commissioned sculpts of characters. As someone who started off in garage kits, what do you think to this seemingly growing trend? Are you impressed with a lot of the work out there? Do you worry that it adds extra competition to what is now a much more saturated market?

RB: What do I think of it? Hmmm... For me it's a double edged sword. Sometimes we've actually been able to pick-up a piece (for production) that was initially created as a garage kit. This is the upside. It's a great time-saver. The down-side is as you've said: It adds to the saturation of the market. We pay a small fortune for the right to produce these Marvel pieces. It can be annoying when someone can hire the same guys as Bowen Designs to get a custom done, and sell them for a profit with no money going to the licence holder. The other bad part is that sometime these pieces are then recast cheaply in Thailand or South America.

SF: Has it made the 'talent-spotter' side of your job easier than it used to be?

RB: Not really. I scan the Internet constantly looking for guys that are good sculptors. Many times I'll see a fantastic sculpt. The thing that you don't always know is: how long it took this person to create the piece? It can be the greatest sculpture in the world, but if it takes a guy eleven months to sculpt something else, it doesn't do me much good.

SF: I think it has been pretty well established these last few months that you are not carrying on a dual (triple?) identity as the very talented Kucharek Brothers. But have you ever been tempted to pull a Richard Bachman, and see how well-received one of your sculpts would be?

RB: Yes. I've actually done that before, but it wasn't for the purpose of seeing how well received a piece could be.

SF: Does that mean there are recent Randy Bowen pieces out there yet to be discovered?

RB: Ummm...yes.

SF: And let the hunt begin! Let’s end with a quick word association, featuring enduring hot topics from Bowen section discussion: I'll say a word, let me know what comes into your head in three words or fewer:

Chrome:


RB: Headache

Arms:

RB: Necessary evil

Variants:

RB: Spice

Exclusives:

RB: Feeding frenzy

Cable:

RB: (puke sound) OK we'll do it...

Wolverine statues:

Never want to see another!

Pie:

RB: MMMM...PIE....

SF: Finishing on that note, is there any additional message you'd like to send to your fans?

RB: Thanks for all the suggestions and for sticking with us all these years. We promise to make this Phase an interesting ride, with as few debacles as possible!
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Old 12-07-2007, 03:07 PM   #2
Crom
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Phase Four: The Randy Interview and Forum Q & A

Here is what I was able to put together.

Abomination Full Size Statue

No, the Abomination statue will not be one of the first statues of Phase 4.

Valkyrie Mini-Bust & Full Size Statue

Clay (Moore) is better at sculpting females than me, but I am going to try doing Valkyrie.

Both. (FS & mini-bust)

Death Full Size Statue

Sneak Peeks Soon.

Club Exclusive Busts & Statues

More special pal stuff-yes.

Chrome

We're still trying to find a place that does good chrome.

Deathlok Full Size Statue

Don't be surprised...if it's an early release...

Jean Grey Full Size Statue

YES

M.O.D.O.K. Full Size or Mini-Bust

OK

Professor X Full Size Statue

YES

Versus Sets (ala Venom & Spidey)

There could be more.

Phase V

Too soon to say, but I doubt it.

Wendigo Full Size Statue

Yes.

Emma Frost Mini-Bust & Full Size Statue

Who said there was no Emma?

Firelord Mini-Bust

Yes. (There is a chance)

Unusual Characters Getting Produced

Devil Dino and Guardians OTG to name a couple

Jack of Hearts Mini-Bust

YES

Warriors Three Mini-Busts

You are going to be happy campers.

Kurse Mini-Bust

You are going to be happy campers.

Frog of Thunder Mini-Bust

You are going to be happy campers.

Ka-Zar & Zabu Full Size Statue

You are going to be happy campers.

Original Human Torch Full Size Statue

You are going to be happy campers.

Beta Ray Bill Full Size Statue

You are going to be happy campers.

Luke Cage Full Size Statue

It's one of the first on the list. Mark Newman will be the sculptor.

Conventions in 2008

No conventions.

Wonder Man Original Outfit Mini-Bust

Kachow! It means something better than badabing!

Thundra Mini-Bust or Full Size

Stay tuned

Enchantress Mini-Bust or Full Size

Stay tuned

Bowen Design Coffee Table Book

After Phase 4

Bucky Gold Full Size Statue

Yes, as soon as we complete FS Aunt May and Paste Pot Pete in gold chrome.

Mister Sinister Full Size Statue

He's on the list...

Mini-Bust Giants - Bill Foster, Clint Barton, or Erik Josten

A GRAND IDEAR

Super Skrull Full Size Statue

Kachow! It means something better than badabing!

*Please note:

When I use smiley's and other emoticons in my answers, it does not necessarily mean that it's a "lock". It just means that there is a possibility.
When you see sneaks you'll know it's really happening...

- Randy


The below listings each got a

Nova Full Size Statue

Fantatstic Four Villain Mini-Busts

Angel Full Size Statue

Quicksilver Full Size Statue

Dormammu Full Size Statue

Destroyer Full Size Statue

Electro Full Size Statue

Eternity Mini-Bust or Full Size Statue

Mockingbird Mini-Bust

Wonder Man Full Size Statue

The below listings each got a

Squadron Supreme

Werewolf by Night Full Size Statue

Morbius Full Size Statue

Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider Full Size
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