Our first interview is with Sébastien Bontemps also known as Elvis1976. Mr. Bontemps, 37, hails from
Brussels . He studied illustration for 5 years and works
as a Graphic Designer. He’s worked for
ad agencies such as DDB Brussels, Saatchi & Saatchi Brussels, SIGN Belgium and, most
currently, Ogilvy Brussels. Brussels
Ok, before we start talking about custom figures, how did you come up with the name Elvis1976? Are you an Elvis Presley fan?
I like Elvis Presley, but not that much. The name came from a friend of mine during a party. I was looking for a name for some DJ sets I did at that time. He suggested the name Elvis, sayin’ that I looked like him. I still don’t think I look like him at all, but the name stuck.
How did you get into this hobby?
I got into the hobby 5 or 6 years ago with the first Joker figure released by DC Direct.
Do you remember what was the first figure or item you customized?
The first figure was that very same DC Direct Joker.
What made you decide to customize it?
Well, I wasn’t that happy with the way it looked, so I began by repainting it and then put some real hair, etc… When I look back at it, man it looks so horrible!
You've worked on a lot of different characters from Jason Voorhees to Wolverine. What is your favorite character?
Wow, that is a tough question. I can’t choose one character specifically, but I would say my Batman line and Rogues line are among my favourites.
What is it about these particular characters that make them your favorites?
I don’t know to be honest. I’ve always liked the Batman universe since I was a kid and those figures are a perfect example of why I like to build figure. I don’t have to follow a specific scheme. Those characters were drawn by so many artists and I kinda give my own interpretation of them.
When creating your own version of a well known character such as Batman, what is the process? Do you sketch it out and plan it or do you create it as you go along?
I don’t sketch on paper, but most of the time I have a precise idea of what I want to build. Most of the times I get the ideas while browsing on eBay or looking through my parts bin.
Can you give me an example?
Well, for example my latest figure Mr. Freeze is the perfect example. I built it piece by piece with what I found in my parts bin. It just built itself! I love to find parts! That is one of the things I like the most. I love seeing something that nobody else would have thought about. For me, putting together a figure and assembling the parts is like drawing.
Your custom versions of well known characters are very popular with your fans. Have you considered doing a completely original character?
I’m not that interested in an original figure line. What I like is to take something that exists on paper and translate it into my own vision. Like all the different versions of Batman and also my vision of all the Rogues.
Recently one of the 1/6 companies started offering "weathered" versions of their figures? Do you think other companies should do this as well?
To be honest, I like weathered figures, but most of the collectors like their figures fresh and clean. I like to weather them because I feel that it gives the figure a more realistic look.
Do you think that this will help the hobby?
I don’t think it will help the hobby, but I don’t think it’s good or bad either. Weathering is a tricky thing and takes a lot of time. The key is to not make too much, otherwise it will just look dirty and horrible. 3A is selling weathered figure which is great, but to me they are a bit overdone.
Last year you had your first
show showcasing your work. Tell us
about that. New
That was an awesome experience. I was really happy to showcase my work and also to meet in person a lot of my friends on Sideshow Freaks. When I look back at it I can’t look at a single figure that I showcased. LOL, I think I have come a long way since that show and I like the newer figures I’ve made way better.
You've collaborated with a few sculptors on some of your custom figures. How did that start?
Well it just started like that. I can’t sculpt, so I’m always looking for good headsculpts. I would say that the guy I’ve worked with the most is Rocco (Rocco Tartamella). He’s a great guy to work with and he works really fast. I don’t have to explain a lot to him. He gets exactly what I want and he’s very motivated.
Is there a particular sculptor you would like to work with?
I would love the work with Andy Bergholtz. I love his style of sculpting. Everything he has done is just beautiful.
Who is your favorite customizer?
Hmmm. Tough question. Serang is probably the one I like the most because he creates characters that nobody has ever made.
Besides "Is that for sale?" what is the most common question asked by fans?
LOL. How much are you asking for this and that is very common. A lot of “how to” questions as well.
Early this year you offered a limited edition Batman Year One figure. Are there any plans for more limited edition figures? If so, can you give us a hint?
There will probably be another Batman, but since Sideshow is working on their DC line, I’m not sure about that. I think I prefer to work on “one-of” pieces.
What can we expect to see in the coming months? Is there anything special that you’re working on?
I’m currently working on Skeletor from Master of the Universe.
To see more of Mr. Bontemps amazing work, check out the Sideshow Freaks Forum.