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Meet Trevor Grove – Sculptor of the Goonies 2019 figures

February 24th, 2019 | by Fred
Meet Trevor Grove – Sculptor of the Goonies 2019 figures
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I recently posted a blog post about the new amazing Goonies figures by Neca. If you have not seen this post, please follow this link !

Today, meet Trevor Grove ! He is a very talented sculptor who worked with big names in the statues/toys industry such as Sideshow or Neca on various licences (Lord Of The Rings, Indiana Jones, Star Wars…)
I just wanted to know more about his work on the Goonies with a few very simple questions.

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Fred – Could you please introduce yourself ?

Trevor – I’m Trevor Grove, I work as a freelance sculptor for the toy and collectibles industry and I’ve been doing that for over 10 years.
I’m typically hired to work on portraiture in various smaller scales, though I’ve done a pretty wide variety of projects over the years for a variety of companies.
I make my work in hard wax mostly, a common medium in the toy business. Many prototypes are made digitally, now, but a few of us still do things by hand in wax and clay.

F – How closely did you work with Neca / Warner Bros on the sculptures ?

T – As a freelancer I work remotely with companies on their projects. So Randy Falk, art director at NECA, approached me to sculpt Sloth and Chunk and then I began. Typically I do a first pass at a wax portrait and then show Randy so he can decide if the expression choices are what he’s after for the product. In the case of Sloth and Chunk I tried to capture the joy of those characters. The tone of the movie tends to lead me in expression choices, and this felt like the right path for “The Goonies”. Randy agreed, and we kept going in that direction! Once the portraits were developed, which can take about a week for a smaller face, we also decide to add in their pirate hats as an optional accessory.

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After my work is developed enough for nice photos, the piece is submitted to a license owner for approvals, in this case Warner Brothers.
We fortunately didn’t get any notes for changes, but it’s common to work with a license owner in the end to make final changes before a piece is approved to move to the next stage of pre-production.

I only work in the industry as a sculptor, so once the sculpt is approved, it’s then ready to be molded in silicone and cast into resin for final prototypes which are then painted by additional artists.

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F – What is your process ?

T – My process doesn’t change wildly from project to project.
I work in a great hard wax that’s made by an artist named Ralph Cordero. He sells it privately through his website, and it’s been a popular blend of wax in the toy industry for years (known as TMS wax). It’s very hard wax, and holds detail better than anything else I’ve tried over the years. For these tiny little heads, it’s an essential part of capturing the likeness, for me. Every artist prefers different things in the mediums they work in, so the same results can be achieved using clay or softer wax, it just depends on the preferences of the artist.

When I sculpt a portrait, I start by gathering photo reference. I’m typically sculpting film characters, so there are usually some photo stills to be found while searching the internet and additionally the film itself is a great help for reference. You cannot have too much reference. Finding every angle so that you’re not guessing is essential. Once I have reference in place I just begin sculpting in whatever scale I’m tasked to work in. These toys fit to specific figure bodies, so that gives me a good starting point for scale.

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Sculpting in wax requires heat, and I heat a variety of metal loop and dental tools with an alcohol torch to carve the wax into the desired form. The rest just takes careful study, care, and most importantly time. Nothing happens quickly for me, I have to be dedicated to each project to find a result. The more you do this kind of work the more natural the process flows, but when working on likenesses, you have to expect the unexpected. Some likenesses flow quickly, others take tremendous pains to even get close. I never know what project will be difficult and what project will be kind to me. In the case of Sloth and Chunk, both characters were a real joy. The ideal project. I’m always grateful when I can find a character in the wax with reasonable efforts, rather than the extreme efforts it sometimes requires.
Once the likeness is in place, I can move to detailing and finalizing the work. In the case of Sloth and Chunk, I first sculpted their little pirate hats so that I could test fit them to their heads prior to finalizing details.

F – Are you a fan of the movie ?

T – Yes, absolutely ! I was born in ’87, so I had to grow up with the movie on VHS. A shame to have missed the theatrical run, but I missed so many great movies, unfortunately. My love for “The Goonies” felt like an extension of my love for “Indiana Jones” and all things Spielberg-ian. A lot of films at that time in my life just feel as though I always knew them. I can’t recall the first time I saw them, they’re just in my blood now, and I’ve never become cynical about any of the ones I loved dearly as a kid. Nostalgia certainly paints things in a flattering light sometimes, but despite that, I feel like films of the 80’s were at a place of creativity and that specific kind of practical production quality that nothing now can come close to without simply being some kind of imitation. There are some great modern movies, no doubt, but I long for the qualities of those older films.

Follow Trevor’s work on his facebook page !

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