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Industry Insider #2
Subject: Jeff Meckley (Think 180 Studios)
Date: November 2006

This our 2nd installment of the Industry Insider. This month's subject is Jeff Meckley, owner and principal sculptor for Think 180 Studios (soon to be Twist Box Modern).

Jeff is a 38-year old artist and Steelers fan born just south of Pittsburgh, in Washington (Pennsylvania), but now living and working in Kentucky, just a few miles south of Cincinnati, OH. He's an active participant on several internet forum sites, and is a member here on TimeLines (username: JeffMeckley). Jeff started by sculpting for Michael Roberts Ltd., who released several of his modern Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) subjects in 1:35 scale. However, he now concentrates on sculpting for his own line of figures (Think 180 Studios), which is filling a niche for OIF/OEF subjects for both AFV modellers and historical miniaturists. In slightly less than 2 years, the name Think 180 Studios has become well-known within this niche, and soon Jeff plans to expand upon his offerings under a new brand name (i.e., Twist Box Modern). For now, Think 180 Studios is a home-based business, while Jeff juggles the many demands on his time. In addition to modern OIF/OEF subject matter, Jeff also has an interest in WWII German subjects, a fact which is confirmed by a quick review of the kits released to date under the Think 180 Studios brand.

Hi Jeff, thanks for the interview. Let's start by finding out about your background as a sculptor. Do you have any formal training?

I started sculpting while I was attending the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. It continued when I became a professional sculptor on staff at Hasbro Toy Company. This was an incredible experience because I was challenged to hone my skills quickly, in order to meet the strict deadlines and the quality demands of the highly-skilled sculptors that I was working with. In short, I had to learn to be very good, very quickly!

What were you working on at Hasbro? Were you also an active modeller during this time?

For Hasbro, I sculpted subjects for their Star Wars, GI Joe, and Jurassic Park lines, along with a lot of other not-so-essential lines. I've also worked on the Dragon Ball Z and Samurai Jack lines. However, through all of that time, I was always a modeler, working mostly on figures/conversions and armor.

What is the difference between sculpting for toy companies and sculpting for historical miniatures? What's the same?

The difference is size, detail, and creative freedom. Sculpting historical miniatures requires a more precise representation, but of course, there is more freedom since I sculpt my own subjects. When I sculpt toys, I am given strict guidelines as far as size, design, gesture, etc., so there's not much creative freedom. For example, I can't put an M4 in the hands of Darth Vader, if you know what I mean.

A view of Cincinnati from the Kentucky side of the Ohio River,
just a couple of miles north of where each Think 180 Studios kit is produced.

Do you enjoy one more than the other and do you still sculpt for toy companies?

What I enjoy about both is the process of sculpting. It really stokes me! Currently I am sculpting game tokens for "ľopoly" games. These are legit knock-off Monopoly games, for a company called Late for the Sky.

Are there many other modelers working in the toy industry? For example, both you and Alan Ball sculpt for historical miniatures companies, as well as toy manufacturers.

Not as far as I know. I have not met any other sculptors that are in both fields.

Do you prefer sculpting toys? Presumably the pay is better, but is it more or less stressful?

The pay is much higher in toy sculpting, but getting paid on time is not worth the hassle. One thing I don't particularly like about sculpting toys is setting the articulation in action figures. This is enough to make me forget about it for the rest of my life.

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