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Thursday, 25 August 2016

Tony Szuta Brews Up Some Crazy Customs

Our friends at hobbyDB have been running a series of articles about diecast customizers on their blog. Some of the names will be familiar to Darthvaderr readers, but it's always nice to check in for an update. Here's their recent article on Tony Szuta of Brew City Customs. You can also see his complete online archive on hobbyDB.

brew city customs logo
You might not recognize Tony Szuta by name, but you have probably heard of his diecast studio Brew City Customs. The Milwaukee based artist says he started tinkering with diecast vehicles only recently (2009), taking it more seriously in 2014, but it sure looks like he's been doing this forever.
He started with swapping the wheels on a Hot Wheels Bone Shaker and has quickly moved onto more ambitious projects. His repainted models usually involve adding some texture, especially rust and dirt. Patina (often taken to the dingy extreme of that term) is a favorite theme for his vehicles. Many of them include extra added details, such as the for sale sign in this rusty bus or the tool rack on the Ghostbusters van. With its large smooth sides and iconic design, the Hot Wheels Kool Kombi is a favorite model of his.
brew city customs hot wheels kool kombi
The time involved "varies greatly depending on the work," he said. "I can knock out simple customs in a few hours. For more involved projects, many many hours." As for his most complicated custom so far, that would be the WWI Style Kool Kombi Tank. Just look at this thing!
Tony Szuta Brew City Customs WWI Kool Kombi
brew city customs hot wheels treasure hunt bookAs for other projects, "Right now I'm focused on 1:64 scale," he said, "but I prefer 1:24/1:25. I can't tell you the last time I built one, though." He works in full-size scale with his other passion project. Szuta is an accomplished photographer, shooting just about anything, but with a keen interest in cars. As with his customizing, the photography is a fairly new pursuit. "I bought my first DSLR camera in 2010. I don't really have a focus - I just like to shoot." You can see some of his model photos in 2015 edition of  The Hot Wheels Treasure Hunt Price Guide by Neal Giordano.
And he has a few other interests. "Old toys and local history... I'm working on projects focused on both subjects. I collect, and I've got a soft spot for the old tin toys. And I also have a small collection of vintage bug sprayers. Yes, bug sprayers. You read that right."
tony szuta 1936 ford coupe
Szuta has an amazing eye for photographing real cars, too.
He might sound like a busy guy, but consider this: His custom projects just happen to equal more family tome for Szuta. "My wife and both of my sons customize diecast. She focuses on hand painting the majority of hers. My oldest son has built quite a few already and is very proficient with the airbrush. My youngest son just started learning the airbrush."
brew city customs hot wheels kool kombi
Custom models by Tony's wife (left) and older son.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Chris Stangler: Snakes and Mongooses and Zombies, Oh My!

Our friends at hobbyDB have been running a series of articles about diecast customizers on their blog. Some of the names will be familiar to Darthvaderr readers, but it's always nice to check in for an update. Here's their recent article on Chris Stangler. You can also see his complete online archive on hobbyDB.

Chris Stangler head shot
Chris Stangler created his first customs in the early 1990s and has been modifying small scale rides ever since. He is one of the most respected diecast customizers around, known for mixing popular models with well-known themes and schemes from elsewhere in pop culture.

One of his favorite mashup series combines the familiar Snake and Mongoose drag racing colors with identical pairs of Hot Wheels vehicles. Even the most casual Hot Wheels collector should recognize the original red vs. yellow liveries, but Chris also works with the later blue and white schemes. These customs are sold in very limited edition pairs.
Chris Stangler Hi-way Hauler Snake Mongoose
Another popular base for his creations comes from Kustom City in the form of their super-stretched "Evo" vehicles inspired by Volkswagen buses and transporters. Chris has worked wonders with these models as well including his "Stangler Construction" Series.
kustom city breast cancer volkswagen bus
Chris recently started hosting his historic archive and his store at hobbyDB. You can read more about his work (as well as his upcoming models when he shares them) here.
Chris Stangler Kustom City Evo Snake Mongoose

chris stangler busted hot wheels
A number of Chris' customs come in a diorama, like this chrome gold Hot Wheels Passion. This casting is another model with nice, flat slab sides that provide the perfect canvas for his designs. 
The Hot Wheels School Busted is a recent model that hasn't been produced in huge quantities yet, but the versions produced by Chris are even rarer. It has a timeless design that works well with vintage or modern graphics. 
As for the future, he hints at big things on the horizon, but doesn't want to spill the beans just yet. "My big news would be that I'm working on some new designs that will be coming out this summer after I finish up some orders that are taking a lot of my time." he said. "I have big designs coming for the October Hot Wheels convention in Los Angeles, great 1-of-1 pieces that I will be doing for the Charity Auction."

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Let’s get this blog rolling again!

Hey! You still there?

Sorry I haven’t been posting much lately, since we’ve been busy working on other fun stuff like my sneaker collection. But we’re going to get this blog back on track starting now!

We're teaming up with hobbyDB to provide some articles and interviews about custom diecast. Their Social Media Guy Ron Ruelle, has been writing a series of articles about diecast customizers, and we’re going to share some of this content here. Recent profiles include Brew City Customs, Liberty Promotions, and Chris Stangler.

hobbyDB custom diecast
hobbyDB features official online archives and stores for several diecast customizers, such as Tony Szuta of Brew City Customs. 

If you aren't familiar with hobbyDB, it's a database of everything collectible, including every diecast vehicle ever made (eventually), including customs. If you’d like us to do a feature about you and your customs, contact us and we’ll be in touch!

Custom Hot Wheels
Designs by (clockwise from top left) Hadi Rochmansaya, Jimmy "Boxman" Chavez, Chris Stangler
New articles will start showing up in the next week, including some of the customizers you see in the photos, so check back with us! In the meantime, drop us a line, and then back to your workbench!

In addition to serving as Social Media Guy at hobbyDB.com, Ron Ruelle collects vintage Kenner Smash Up Derby cars, Johnny Lightning vehicles, and other toys that help recreate his childhood.

Custom Hot Wheels
VWs from Jim Powers and Jon P Wood