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Industry Insider #1
Subject: Taesung Harmms (Alpine Miniatures)
Date: August 2006

This is the first in a new series of features for TimeLines which we're calling Industry Insider. Every so often, we'll interview and profile a well-known personality or manufacturer in our hobby. The subject for our inaugural Industry Insider installment is Taesung Harmms, owner and principal sculptor for Alpine Miniatures.

Taesung is a 34-year old artist born in Seoul (South Korea), but now living and working in New Jersey. He's an active participant on several internet forum sites, and is a member here on TimeLines (username: Taesung). Taesung started out by selling several original sculpts to other manufacturers, who released them on the market. However, he now sculpts exclusively for his own line of figures (Alpine Miniatures), which has become very popular in a short period of time. Not only have AFV modellers embraced his figures, but many historical miniaturists find his sculpts to be of high enough quality to stand on their own. With this popularity, has come business success. Alpine Miniatures has now grown to a point where it is no longer a one man operation based in his home. He now has a separate studio/office for Alpine Miniatures, as well as a full-time employee to help him keep up with demand for his products.

Hello Taesung, and thanks for participating. I'd like to start off by finding out a bit more about your background and involvement in this hobby. How long have you been involved in scale modelling and figure painting? When and why did you turn your attention to figures?

Hello Gray and TimeLines members. Thank you for considering Alpine Miniatures to start off this new series. I started building 1:35 scale AFV models and figures to go with them when I was a child. Back then, my results were mostly toylike, as is the case with most children involved in scale modelling. I returned to the hobby seriously in 1998 as an adult and I quickly discovered how important figures were for the display of AFV kits and creation of vignettes. I began to sculpt my own because I found it to be both satisyfing and necessary to make my work truly original and unique.

So from there, it wasn't much of a leap to marketing your own figures for sale... When did you decide to found Alpine Miniatures? Why?

Alpine Miniatures was started in 2004. Like others in the hobby, I used to dream about turning my hobby into a business, so one day I just decided to do it. Fortunately, I'm not expecting to become rich, or I'd have had to look elsewhere.

Taesung at work sculpting a future release

Once you'd made that decision, how did you prepare for the launch of your business? Is it now your full-time job as well?

Yes, it's now my full-time job. I used to work for a graphic design company in New York city, but I hated it. I hated to deal with all of the pseudo-designers there and I hated being treated like a nothing more than a computer operator. I studied sculpting and drawing in school, so I knew I could do that fairly well. While still working at that graphic design company, I slowly prepared myself for the launch of Alpine Miniatures. Once all of the elements were in place (i.e., paperwork, machinery, initial masters, packaging, etc.), I quit that job and threw myself into this new enterprise.

That must have been an interesting resignation speech. Now that you work for yourself, I'm sure you have plenty of free time. How do you spend that time? Do you have any other hobbies?

Very funny. Since I'm married, I barely have any free time! Between the demands of my wife and Alpine Miniatures, I keep pretty busy. I spend all day casting, packaging, processing orders, and responding to e-mails. Then I come home and sculpt figures in the evening. Occassionally I can find time to play golf or tennis. Whenever I can, I love to get together with my old friends and have a few drinks. That's my oldest hobby.

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