INTERVIEW: Catching Up With Master Sculptor ROCCO TARTAMELLA
Capo Collectibles Is Born: Bouncin' Babes, Elvira, More!...
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Master sculptor Rocco Tartamella has been a very busy man. A veteran in the toy industry, Rocco has recently made the great leap forward from freelance sculptor to being the proud co-owner of a startup company: Capo Collectibles. We recently caught up with Rocco to get the full scoop, read on!
FIGURES.COM: Congratulations on your new company, Capo Collectibles! Going from freelance sculptor to running a collectibles company must be an exciting turning point in your life. Please tell us how this project came to be, who all is involved and just where did the name Capo Collectibles come from?
ROCCO: Thank you so much! Yes, we’re thrilled to be moving forward with our toys and collectibles company, it’s been a dream of mine for some time. As an artist I'm always creating, brainstorming, sculpting, it’s part of who I am, and though I enjoy that side very much, I’ve also gained a lot of business experience in the industry having helped to kick-start a few fledgling companies and projects into successful six-figure productions. So I’m very keen to see how far my partner and I can take Capo Collectibles LLC.
Rocco and his wife
I guess it all began at the beginning of this year; my wife and I had just welcomed our second son into the family, an exciting time for us; he’s a big boy born at nearly 10lbs, and it was great to see how excited our 4 year old was to meet his baby brother. After taking some time out for family, I checked my inbox to find some rather shocking and unfortunate correspondence from a former client. Without getting into all the details, this client ruthlessly came after us and caused a great deal of emotional distress at a very sensitive time in our lives. Though he seemed to have a personal vendetta against me, he unwittingly set us off on a most unexpected and serendipitous journey. I believe that with every challenge, and I have had my fair share of them, comes a blessing. As a result of my former client’s threats I, through a twist of fate, was put back into contact with some old friends - one of them being a brilliant contract lawyer Joe Veteri, Esq.
I've known Joe on and off for over a decade, and was introduced to him through friends from McFarlane Toys. Suffice it to say, we ended up talking about toys and collectibles and what we’d like to see in the industry. It was these conversations that eventually led to the creation of Capo. There’s a nice balance with Joe shoring up the legal side and I with the creative, with room for each of us to give input. Joe’s background is contract law, but he is also an avid comic art collector; He organizes and promotes a show dedicated exclusively to comic art, Comic Art Con. He is also an Overstreet Advisor, the comic book collecting price guide, and is co-owner of CVA Comics- a comic verification company. When discussing the name of our company, we wanted to pay homage to our Sicilian heritage, both of our families hale from the Palermo area.
The name "Capo" means Boss. We chose Capo Collectibles, LLC because with our company there is only Joe and I. We’re our own bosses; Capo Joe and Capo Rocco, we have a good time.
FIGURES.COM: You currently have listed a series of 7” busty bobble heads, appropriately called Bouncin’ Babes. What was the inspiration behind these (aside from the obvious) and what do you have planned for the series?
ROCCO: The Bouncin’ Babes Cheerleader concept really came to be when we were just having a good time throwing ideas back and forth. We wanted to create something fun that would have a broad appeal, didn’t necessarily need to be a licensed property but could still lend itself to licensing down the line, and had a unique feature – in this case a bobbler that “dances”. My wife and I started designing and we came up with the cheerleader’s fun, bubbly, sexy look, as well as, the unique double bobbling movement that I engineered.
As I mentioned earlier, we wanted our IP to have the flexibility to lend itself to licensing down the line, and we are happy to be releasing the Bouncin’ Babes Elvira Bobbler. We are also releasing an officially licensed Elvira Mini Bobbler with a more realistic styling. It has been great working with Cassandra Peterson and her manager, what an exciting opportunity this has been. Cassandra is a class act through and through and it was a privilege to have her input in the final look. We also have other licenses currently in the works, as well as a Halloween version of the Bouncin’ Babes Cheerleader. The Cheerleader will be available at Spencer’s Gifts. We are hopeful that the Elvira Bobblers will be available for this holiday season, pending licensor approvals, and will also be available at Knott’s Scary Farm where Elvira will be making appearances from September through November.
FIGURES.COM: Are original concepts going to be a driving force behind Capo’s collectibles or are you pursuing any licenses? If so, any you can discuss?
ROCCO: The market can often become swamped with manufactures going for the same properties, so when this happens we will be moving forward with our own Intellectual Properties such as the Bouncin’ Babes. We are definitely looking to acquire licensing whenever possible while still trying to grow our original ideas. At the moment, as previously mentioned, we are going forward with the licensing for Elvira, and have several other licensing agreements pending. Because we are still in negotiations we can’t yet discuss, but I’m so eager to share the news with you.
FIGURES.COM: Where can collectors purchase your product?
ROCCO: We hope to have most of our products available for purchase on Amazon.com, while we grow our buyers network. For a complete list of where to purchase, please keep checking back with our website. Currently the Bouncin’ Babes Cheerleader will be available at Spencer’s Gifts and Amazon.com.
FIGURES.COM: As a solo artist you created a series of hyper-realistic educational sculptures called Artist's Anatomy (read our review HERE). What’s the status of this project? Is this something Capo Collectibles will be carrying?
ROCCO: Artist's Anatomy has been my baby, so to speak, since we started working on it in 2009. As a sculptor, I love having tons of reference on hand and I could never seem to find enough when it came to anatomy. There’s always books and those wooden pose-able figures but I couldn’t find anything that had the full muscle displayed and in an easy to access format. So out of frustration and wanting to see some variety in anatomical reference models, I sculpted a manageable tabletop sized, 12 inch version for my personal use. When I saw how useful it was, I decided to make them available to other artists, who like me, were always searching for anatomical reference and needed something tangible yet easy to use.
We originally were hand casting each model, made to order, but just couldn't keep up with the demand, so Artist's Anatomy Male Model 2.0 was born. The model has the same look but with some added perks. The AAMM 2.0 now features magnetic parts and comes packaged in a no fuss collector’s box, designed by my awesome wife. You can easily remove the arms to study the musculature better and it’s just plain fun to pull his arms off every so often and watch them snap back into place. The AAMM 2.0 can be purchased from Amazon.com HERE.
We do have more figures planned including the Female Model 2.0. The original hand cast models have been discontinued, so if you were lucky enough to get your hands on them, they are not just cool looking art models, they are now collectors items as well!
FIGURES.COM: Last time we spoke you had a series of historical busts you were working on, based on our nation’s Founding Fathers and past presidents. Any updates on this series?
ROCCO: At this time Capo Collectibles LLC will not be carrying the Carved In History line of busts, as these were in the works before the company was established. However, the busts have gone into production and are currently available for this holiday season. We have plans to release 4 to 5 busts per year. For me, the busts are just plain fun to sculpt; I have a genuine interest in history and these sculptures have a special place in my heart. With this first release, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, will be available for purchase and come packaged with interesting facts on each box. Keep an eye out for them when you visit museum shops, as well! In addition, we are releasing a stylized Edgar Allan Poe Bust, in a larger scale. All of these are currently available at CarvedInHistory.com and Amazon.com.
FIGURES.COM: It sounds like you have your hands full working on projects for Capo Collectibles. Are you still available for freelance projects? Any time left for personal projects?
ROCCO: Without a doubt my hands are full on Capo sculpts, Artist’s Anatomy Models, Carved In History Busts, the Heart And Skull Jewelry lines, and numerous private commissions. I've made a choice to significantly cut back freelancing for other companies; however, my door is always open to private collectors and museums. Sculpting for me is not just something that I do, it’s a true passion. I have easily created over 1000 sculpts since I started over 13 years ago and there’s still nothing liking sitting down to a table full of clay, kneading and forming a figure or likeness from scratch. I will likely always have some type of personal project in the works whenever the inspiration strikes.
FIGURES.COM: Thanks so much for letting us know about Capo Collectibles! Any parting words for our readers?
ROCCO: I just want to genuinely thank you and all of Figures.com, readers and subscribers for all of the positive support. The toy business can be pretty cut throat at times and I’ve had my fair share of being kicked in the teeth by unscrupulous practices within, but I can’t begin to tell you how important it is for us artists to hear your positive feedback. Often, the bigger a company gets the quicker they forget the artists who helped get them there and sometimes it seems like you’re getting dragged through the mud every which way you turn. Then out of the blue, I’ll get a message from a fan telling me that they’ve been following my work from the Onimusha Series with McFarlane all the way through to my current works and product lines. I can’t begin to express how much I appreciate that. Just those few words can change everything, and I’m not just talking about me here. I mean we could all stand a lot more lifting up and a lot less pulling down.
So, thanks again, for the time, the support, and the opportunity to talk about some of the projects that are dear to me, as well as, being able to tell you about Capo Collectibles, LLC. We will be around for some years to come and are looking forward to revealing our up and coming lines.
For more on Rocco and his many projects, check out:
A very special "Thank You" to Rocco for taking the time from his busy sculpting schedule to do this interview. Keep up the awesome work!
- Interview by Jeff Saylor
Last edited by JeffSaylor; 05-02-2014 at 09:17 PM.
Re: INTERVIEW: Catching Up With Master Sculptor ROCCO TARTAMELLA
I am a fan of Rocco's work and feel very fortunate to have some of the limited Greek god busts and the Cyclops garage kit that he produced for an ancient mythology line he did several years back (What ever happened to that line BTW? I'd love to see it continued.)
One very talented individual.
Best of luck to him in this new venture!