A. Quinton — May. 21st 2011
Two years ago Tom Spina made collectors and werewolf fans everywhere jealous with an incredible Underworld: Rise of the Lycans display. After giving us all a year off to recover, he and his accomplices at Tom Spina Designs and Gotham FX are back to make you clutch your face in envy with this gorgeous restoration and display of a screen-used werewolf costume from 2010’s The Wolfman.
I got in touch with Tom after some rather interesting photos appeared on the Tom Spina Designs Facebook page, and to stop me from asking “Whatcha doin’? Can I see?” via email every five minutes, he swore me to secrecy (real easy to do) and then gave me the scoop. He and his colleagues had just taken on a client who had a Wolfman suit from the Del Toro / Baker movie. “We’re doing a custom mannequin for it,” he said. “Custom base, making new feet (didn’t have any) and claws. Rich Krusell [of Gotham FX] is doing the head (we brought a test shot of it to Monsterpalooza). The client’s got the full Benicio torn wardrobe as well, which will go over this when we’re done.”
So the folks at Tom Spina Design and Gotham FX collaborated on the reconstruction of the missing parts. Rather than going over the details here, I want to direct you to the project page on Tom’s site – there are progress shots and notes galore, as well as detailed credits. They’ve also put together a two-minute video that shows the process (and a very happy, very lucky client).
In addition to sharing all of these details, Tom was kind enough to answer a few questions about the project.
What are the biggest technical challenges you face when adding new, from-scratch components to an existing piece?
Blending our work with amazing original costumes like this is definitely a challenge. Sculpting new pieces and trying to capture the look and style of the originals is probably the most difficult part. Rich Krusell of Gotham FX did an amazing job with the head and teeth. He’s a super detail oriented guy and put in a lot of extra effort to get the head just right. A great artist and friend!
Matching colors and hair can be tricky as well, depending. In this case, we had a good sample size for the hair and matching went pretty well.
I don’t recall seeing any publicity photos of the pedicure Rick Baker gave the Wolfman – did you use any reference materials when sculpting the feet, or did you create an original design?
Most shots of the actors in costume showed them wearing sneakers! Eventually, we found some reference for the feet in the DVD behind the scenes galleries, as well as some photos online (apparently taken of an original pair of feet and hands on display some where). We did our best to get those looking as close to the originals as we could.
Did the client provide you with any guidance in terms of the pose or the base? How involved was he in determining what the finished project would look like?
The client definitely helped us with research and finding reference. He and I talked through the basic direction early on and came up with the pose and base together. The pose was pretty much set right out of the box… I called it the “Wolverine just popped his claws out” pose! Soon as we hit on that, we knew that was the look to shoot for. I gave a few options for the base and he chose the burned wood floor look. He has a good eye though. When we were just about done, he had a few good notes for tweaks to the hair styling (on the head) that I feel really helped nail the look.
He also had a few words to say about the origins of the suit and clothes, and about what it was like to work on a suit designed by Baker and Elsey:
…if I’m not mistaken the fur suit and gloves are from a stunt player and the tattered costume is Benicio’s. The costume itself was really incredible! The hairwork on the body and arms was exceptional. It’s always wonderful to see work by folks of that caliber and an honor to be asked to display them. We just hope our display does the costume justice.
Yeah, Tom, I think it does! Well done to you and everyone at Tom Spina Designs and Gotham FX! Here’s a close-up shot of the head Rich Krusell and the Gotham FX created – to see the rest, click here.