Two-Headed Toy Frankenstein – An Interview w/ George and Ayleen of October Toys

photo by Roger Chang
For the past 7 years, the duo of George & Ayleen Gaspar have been following a passion-filled journey through the dark side of toyland under the moniker of October Toys. Not ones to be selfish, though, George and Ayleen openly welcome any artist who’s brave (or insane enough) to join them and often make it known while hosting their web series, Toy Break.

Their latest project, called OMFG! (Outlandish Mini Figure Guys!) is just as collectively driven with its origins in the October Toys forums. Beyond that, George and Ayleen are seeking to raise funds from the same community of artists and collectors to make OMFG! become a reality. With only two weeks left to their Kickstarter campaign, October Toys is well over budget, but still could use contributions to start planning a second series of OMFG! creatures.

Is it true that toys come alive when no one is looking?

George – No. That’s just a movie.

Ayleen – It must be. Otherwise how do they seem to get so dirty sometimes?

At what point was October Toys born?

Ayleen – We started October Toys back in 2004 with the goal of making fun, artistic toys. George had been working in the toy industry for several years already and we were really getting into the designer Qees then. We wanted to use our talents to contribute to the emerging designer toy scene which is where our Gwins entered the picture. Since then, we’ve spent our time prototyping figures for dozens of companies, expanding the Gwins, creating the ZOMBIE line, and now we’re working on a new community driven series called OMFG! (Outlandish Mini Figure Guys!).

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a small shop (marketing, production, sales)?

George – The biggest challenge is finding your audience or having the fan base find you. Luckily, today we have the internet so things like blogs and word of mouth spread more easily. As long as you treat the customers right, they’ll tell their friends and keep coming back.

Ayleen – Agreed. Marketing is probably the biggest challenge, but like George said, with the emergence of social networks and easily accessible information online, it’s a lot easier to connect with people who might be interested in our products. Go technology!

If you could choose any toy license in the world to make figures for what would it be and why?

GeorgeFight Club because no one’s made it and I love Fight Club. I have a man crush on Tyler Durden.

Ayleen – Good question! I would adore working on Edward Gorey toys. I think his characters would make amazing figures and might even introduce his artwork and books to a whole new audience!

Are there any plans for licensed figured down the road or do you prefer making figures based on original characters?

George – I am not opposed to licensed products and technically, all of the art toys we produce are licensed by the artist who created the design.

Let’s talk about your latest toy line, Outlandish Mini Figure Guys!. How did the idea for this series come about?

Ayleen – It was all born out of the creative genius that collectively resides on the October Toys forum. We have an amazing group of designers, sculptors, and fans there that, like us, love little figures. After this idea for a forum created line was brought up, around 40 character designs were submitted and then voted on by forum members to narrow it down to the final five for production. In keeping with the community spirit of the project, we posted it on Kickstarter to help raise the funds necessary for producing the figures. We’re basically using it as a pre-ordering system for the figures with some added goodies at different pledge levels like stickers, posters, shirts, and even custom painted prototypes. The response has been simply amazing and we’re already looking at expanding the color selection for OMFG! Series 1 and getting ready to start work on series 2 in the near future.

So who are some of the artists involved in Series 1?

Ayleen – We are super lucky to have an amazing group of artists from around the world contributing to the OMFG! project. Series 1 features design and sculpting work by Charles Marsh (aka Monsterforge) from South Carolina, Daniel Yu (aka Dory) from Singapore, Kyle Thye from Iowa, Ralph Niese from Germany, Dominic Campisi (aka The Evil Earwig) from California, John “Spanky” Stokes from California, and George Gaspar from California.

Can anyone submit an idea for future series or are their specific guidelines?

George – It’s open to anyone, just keep in mind the simple molding process of figures like MUSCLE men and Monster In My Pocket as a guideline.

Now that you mention it, how big of an influence were Morrison and Weems’ Monster in My Pocket?

Ayleen – Huge! George wasn’t into MIMP, he was definitely more of a MUSCLE fan, but MIMP is probably my favorite series of toys…ever. I remember collecting them when they first came out and everything about them was awesome – the monsters, the colors, the fact that you could battle them if you were so inclined. I think you can see a lot of their influence in our ZOMBIE series with the different colors and now in the OMFG! there is definitely a stylistic influence. I also loved the crossover of the MIMP Nintendo game, so maybe we can get an 8 bit OMFG! game going – anyone? 🙂

I’d be all over that! Haha, I’ll never forget the feeling of cracking open my first 4-pack and finding the Hunchback– he was my favorite! Do/did you have a favorite?

Ayleen – I’ve always been partial to the skeleton. The way his hand is positioned on a skull, I always thought he might be getting ready for some really cool version of monster bowling!

Are there any other toy designers that either of you admire?

George – I admire anyone that is making toys.

Ayleen – I think there is such a fine line between the term toy designer and artist now that you can’t really differentiate the two, so a lot of my favorite toy designers happen to be among my favorite artists like Scott Tolleson, Alex Pardee, Doktor A, Andrew Bell, Joe Ledbetter, Amanda Louise Spayd, Chris Ryniak, etc. I also love what Holly Stanway from A Little Stranger is doing with her Caveys, the Squid Kids Ink crew is making some really cool stuff, the Four Horsemen are constantly creating quality products for big name licenses as well as pushing the boundaries with their own Fantastic Exclusives, and Matt Doughty over at Onell Design is not only a toy genius but an inspiration. Really, like George said, I admire anyone who puts their art and their toys out there for the world to appreciate and consume.

What’s the strangest thing that either of you can remember doing as a kid?

George – My brother, a friend, and I gathered all of our toys for a “yard sale”, but we set them all up in the back yard so no one would know we were having a yard sale and we wouldn’t actually sell anything. Seems like an odd way to play with your toys, but we had fun. I also peeled all the bark off of a tree once for no reason.

Ayleen – I remember playing with the big yellow Barbie motorhome quite a bit and she would travel with Ken and my 12″ Indiana Jones figure. The strange part, though, is that I didn’t allow Ken or Indiana to wear clothing or leave the motorhome. They were only allowed to drive Barbie around and stay inside while she went out on her adventures.

Many thanks to Shawn Robare from Branded in the 80s whose original post inspired this interview to take place.

Written by Rondal

Rondal is the Editor-in-Chief of Strange Kids Club and a creative instigator who tackles each day with Red Bull-induced enthusiasm and a mind for adventure. Rondal has written for other sites including Rue Morgue, Fuel Your Illustration and Bloodsprayer. His obsession with horror movies, 80s animation and action figures is considered unhealthy by medical professionals.

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