The market for collectable figurines and statues based on popular game characters has become a booming business, and one company answering the call of fans is Pop Culture Shock Collectables.
On December 3rd, the company will release their latest creation: a 1:4th scale statue of Street Fighter III main character Alex. (Yes, that’s right—while the game featured Street Fighter legends Ken and Ryu, Alex was actually the game’s main protagonist.) Bringing this new representation of Alex to life was the job of Pop Culture Shock Collectables founder Jerry Macaluso.
Macaluso is no stranger to the world of creating figures. Beginning as a professional toy designer in 1995, and moving on to the manufacturing side of the industry in 2001, Macaluso started Pop Culture Shock Collectables in 2008 due to a desire to craft higher-quality products.
“Back in the mid 90‘s—when I was first getting started—video game action figures where the big rage,” Macaluso told me. “I was sculpting figures from Quake, Duke Nukem, Gex, Crash Bandicoot, and many others. As a gamer myself, I loved being able to connect with the characters on a more personal level—and that led to a reputation in the toy industry as my being the go-to guy for video game characters.”
Macaluso’s connection with Street Fighter began in 2001, when he was laying the groundwork for a line of figures based on the series for now-defunct Palisades Toys. The company’s deal with Capcom ended up falling through, but a representative from the game developer contacted Macaluso about potentially doing a line for Street Fighter on his own. Macaluso jumped at the chance—and the results were a series of 20 characters that helped establish his connection to the Street Fighter community.
“Its been overwhelmingly positive and sales remain strong,” Macaluso said when I asked him how Street Fighter fans have reacted to his current line of statues and busts based on the legendary fighting franchise. “Demand is so high that some of the earlier statues are now commanding up to $2,000 on the aftermarket. The one thing that can be frustrating is that there are so many different incarnations of the characters—so you can never please everyone. One person may love Ryu’s look from Street Fighter Alpha, and another may have preferred his look from Street Fighter IV. So, I try to mix up the looks from different games.”
Getting the chance to connect with Macaluso about his work in the videogame collectables market, there were two questions that I was really curious about. With a series such as Street Fighter, there’s so many choices of characters you could make products for—so how do you choose which ones to focus on? And then—such as the case with his company’s latest project, SFIII’s Alex—what thought goes into picking which pose you’re going to go with?
Macaluso told me that when it comes to the former, it’s a combination of three things: character popularity; the “buzz” around characters and which ones fans are most asking for; and finally, a more selfish decision—which characters Macaluso himself wants to use as the basis for a new project.
And what about Alex’s pose?
“Sometimes the pose jumps out at me instantly, as with Alex,” Macaluso said. “The pose he is in is—in my opinion—the only one for him. Then there are others where we go through design after design after design, and I’m never sure if I’ve chosen the right one. A good example of that is Blanka. He’s tough, as his most recognized poses do not work very well for a statue.”
There’s one other thing I wondered about Macaluso, and his work on all of Pop Culture Shock Collectable’s products. Of course, there’s a lot of “business” to the business of selling these tribute to gaming’s most famous faces—but what about the artistic side of the process? I asked Macaluso what makes him love creating his projects on a more personal level—and how much room he has to express himself as an artist when working with characters made famous by other companies.
“My favorite part would be art directing the sculpture of the character—especially if that character hasn’t been represented in 3D before,” he replied. “There’s something about seeing them come to life that is really cool. As far as sticking to official designs, there are so many versions of these characters illustrated in so many styles that it’s impossible to say what is ‘official’. Thats one of the best things about Street Fighter: there is a lot of room for creativity in our development process.”
Pop Culture Shock Collectable’s 1:4th scale Street Fighter III Alex statue goes on sale at 3pm Pacific on Monday, December 3rd, exclusively through the company’s website. For information on how to pre-order Alex—or to check out Pop Culture Shock Collectable’s other products—head over to popcultureshocktoys.com.