Saturday, October 6, 2012


Greetings and welcome to another one-on-one interview with the artists that continue to make this hobby so great.

Modelmaker Tony Barton, from York, UK, is known to many for his highly-detailed and historically accurate figures.

Mr. Barton makes 
archaeological models, fake food, illustrations, wargame figures and has reconstructed medieval painted hangings, as well as 1/6 accessories.

His work varies from year to year depending on commissions from museums,  but his economic basis is the wargame figures, which he sells steadily and provides a small income.
Mr. Barton, what is your artistic background?
I started with a lump of Plasticene at age four.  I was also encouraged by parents to draw and sculpt.

I studied biology and was encourages to becomea biological illustrator, which I never fancied.  After University I moved to York, when I quickly got work in the archaeological world and stayed with that.

How did you get into making 1/6 scale figures?

A friend nearby brought across a 1/6 figure and asked me to make something for it.  I got intrigued and bought a couple of base bodies.  That was about ten years ago and I haven’t stopped since.

As a very young man, I visited a collector in London who owned an original 1/5 scale figure by Rousselot, the French master.

I stared at it for hours, trying to work out how he had made it all and decided that one day I should attempt something similar.

Most of my sculpting has been of very small figures, which still a good training, but always in the back of the mind was the large figure.
What was the first 1/6 scale figure you made?
Actually, a Paleolithic hunter about 35 years ago for a museum, but that was long before the modern 1/6 industry arose and it had a papier-mache body. Those early models taught me how to use Polymer Clay, which I have been working with ever since and which is the basis of all my sculpting.
My first use of an articulated plastic body was a WWII Soviet, based on the 21st Century Toys figure.

Your work is focused on a specific era.  What is it about this era that interests you?

Actually, it covers quite a big period, from before 1500 to 1945.

I’m engaged, in a loose way, in making a representative selection of British soldiers covering that whole history.  I concentrate on British figures because it’s what I understand, rather than from any narrow national predjudice, but our history is so rich it’s hard to leave it alone.

Detailed accuracy is obviously a major part of your work.  Typically, how long does it take to create a figure from research tp construction?

Often several months.

Like most of us, I get enthused with a sudden idea, then put figures aside until I can get everything needed together.   

The actual research is mostly done in a few days, since I have a big library, and various experts I can consult. With some subjects it can take some time to locate an original item or an illustration of it .

The Web is also now a fantastic resource, something I would not have said a few years ago, but you still need the books, something I have been trying to tell younger people for ages.

The Web is shallow, books are deep.  Books describe the evolution of uniforms and equipment and allow proper understanding of their origin.

I have a well-equipped workshop, though it’s far too small.

Many projects need pieces sculpted and then cast in metal or resin, which of course means patience while you get that done.

I work in cloth, leather, tin, brass, steel, plastic and sometimes wood, as well as sculpting clays.

Which figure has been your most challending and why?

Any of the mounted figures, due to the work involved in making the horse and saddlery.  I have just made an 18th Century Dragoon, which has taken over 100 hours to complete . The research was also lengthy because the original saddlery for this period is hard to find.
The most difficult thing with any figure is the humanity.  Authenticity of uniform and equipment is essential, but it must be human first.  I frequently make heads, which I discard, and the search for the perfect face takes more time than almost anything.

Of the many figures you've created, do you have a favorite figure and/or era?

The last figure I made!  The love affair lasts until I get well into the next one, at which point there is a subtle shift of allegiance.  After about three months it’s possible to be more objective about any particular figure and judge whether it should stay as it is or be improved.

Are most of the figures you make specifically for clients or are they for your personal collection?

There are very few for clients because mostly they can’t afford the proper price, so I make them for myself.  I make them for the pleasure of making them.

In the last couple of years I have gotten a few proper commissions for whole figures.  Also, the accessory sales are a helpful and growing income supplement. My plan is to become a one-stop shop for those who want to make serious historical figures and need the correct equipment, which I make in the first place for my own projects.

For the figures that are part of your collection, what inspired you to want to create that particular figure?

Generally a good illustration in a book or a particular historical event that I have been reading about.

There are quite a few very talented customizers in the hobby today.  Do you have a favorite and why?

Several favourites.

Mohawk 03, for the astonishing life he breathes into some of my older and least convincing heads.

Mondo/Weylen, for doing something entirely original from a Chinese perspective.

Vettius 64, for his brilliant concepts.  He can conjure objects that are not there.

I could go on.  I also have a lot of things I don’t like, but silence is the best policy.

Besides 1/6 forums like the One Sixth Warriors, where else might fans be able to view your work?

As well as my website, Antheads, I post the figures on all the major forums.  My tutorials, mostly to do with WWII, are also on The Sixth Division and OneSixScale.
For as long as you have been doing this, what inspires you to continue?

Can’t stop!  I am very easily bored and have to have something to make to keep my hands busy.  So I press on, though obviously commercial museum projects which pay proper money can take over for long periods.

In closing, can you tell me something about yourself that fans may be surprised to know?

Yes, but it’s private! :)