Hollis’ Todd Zingales creates ‘kit bashing’ with the toys of yesteryear

HOLLIS – Todd Zingales has taken getting his love for nostalgia and vintage G.I. Joes and brought it into the 21st century.

Kit bashing or model bashing is a practice whereby a new scale model is created by taking pieces out of commercial kits. This can range from cars to robots to action figures and perhaps another million different possibilities.

“I started my collection when I was nine-years-old,” he said. “But after grow-up, you lose all your toys. All the things that you once loved all disappeared.”

When he tried to find a vintage 1964 G.I. Joe, he knew it wasn’t going to cost what it did back in the ’60s. What was once five or six buck, can fetch hundreds of dollars.

“I’ve always been interested in drawing, painting, model building and I was doing a lot of dioramas,” Zingales said.

“That’s how I got into it. My collecting help my get the stuff I had when I was a kid. But my collection grew and I knew I had to do something with it.”

Zingales started building action figures and began telling people that he enjoyed making and recreating action figure toys that so many people today collect and trade – just take a look at Ebay as one example.

“If I made a little money along the way, I would continue to build my collection,” he shared. “But then it just spooled into something completely different. People were like, ‘That’s really neat. I want this custom piece made.’ That’s how it started, with a love of my childhood toys.”

Sometimes Zingales will find a piece that needs a little love and he restores the action figure or piece to its original splendor.

“Say you find something at the flea market but it’s broken,” he said. “It needs repair but I can re-flock it, which is putting the hair back on it, I can repaint it and I know how to restring it. But for the craft part of it, I use all recyclable products.”

Zingales will go to the Goodwill Store in Hudson and will buy, by the pound, pieces that people are throwing away. That’s what he builds his models with.

“One day I found an old projector and built a sort-of toy spaceship from it,” he said. “I use recyclable pieces and if I find a vintage piece, I’ll turn it into something different. And there are a lot of collector’s my age who are into this stuff.”

As a kid, Zingales was a fan of the G.I. Joe “Adventure Team.” Instead of the traditional G.I. Joe army action figure, the “Adventure Team” G.I. Joes were explorers and the like.

“My theme for creating has always been adventure,” he stated. “It’s like ‘Search for the Mummy’ or stuff like that. That’s how I kind of build them.”

Zingales gets a lot of response from people, asking him about flocking. That’s when you take the fibers and put them into a bottle and shake it, which creates static electricity. When the bottle is squeezed, it sprinkles down the fibers onto the glue on an action figure’s head and creates the appearance of hair.

“It’s life-like,” he said. “I have people who want bald G.I. Joes or G.I. Joes with a beard. It all depends.”

Trading action figures and accessories or parts is very common and there are conventions for toy collector’s in every shape or form, so naturally, there is a convention for action figure collectors.

And while some action figures are 8” or 12″, Zingales can create an original out of putty and clay. Zingales will then paint and customize the piece. Often, the customer will send a picture of what they’re looking for and Zingales kicks up his creativity and does the rest.

Kit bashing is more prominent that you would expect. Zingales said there is “a ton of Facebook pages” dedicated to the art and to collecting and rebuilding action figures.

“And they’re not dolls,” Zingales said with a laugh. “They’re action figures. When I first started building dioramas, and they were pretty huge, my wife said, ‘Okay. You have to get rid of these.’

I had built a toy missile launcher. So I went on Ebay and started selling them. And now I sell a ton on Ebay.”

Zingales still has a crew of 400 – action figures, that is – as part of his collection.

“Holding that action figure makes you feel like a kid again,” he said. “Some of these action figures and accessories are worth a fortune. There are crazier things to trade and sell.”

For more information, visit Todd’s Facebook page, “Underground Legion.”