The most asked question Jerry Macaluso gets these days is "How does your family feel about you being in the porn industry?" To which Jerry always answers "I’m not. I just make toys." Because, while it is true Jerry is the driving force behind the Adult Superstars line of figures being made by Plastic Fantasy his main line of work is as the owner of SOTA Toys sculpting and design studio. While SOTA toys may not yet be a household name to all collectors, you have certainly seen their work, and most likely own some piece they have worked on. With licenses as diverse as: Alien vs. Predator, Battle of the Planets, Duke Nukem, Elfquest, Enter the Dragon, Final Fantasy, The Grinch, House of the Dead, Lord of the Rings, Mage Knight, Magic: The Gathering, Micronauts, Playboy, Quake III: Arena, Resident Evil, Scooby Doo, Space Channel 5, Tenchi Muyo! The Tenth, Trigun, Year Without Santa Claus, and with a resume sporting work for Palisades, Diamond and Resaurus you can see they are building quite a reputation for themselves…and not just because they make naked toys.
Their attention to detail, and spot on recreation of some of our favorite properties make them a powerhouse studio that many companies are taking notice of. You’ll be hearing a lot more about SOTA toys. They’re a company to keep your eye on.
And now, 20 questions with Jerry Macaluso:
1. What is your current title?
- Owner/President/Art Director/Sculptor… Plastic Fantasy Inc and SOTA Sculpture and Design
2. How would you describe your job?
- Endless but a lot of fun. Hectic… For Plastic Fantasy I do all of the licensing, conceptual work, budgeting, scheduling, even most of the packaging designs and advertising. I also have to go to all the adult industry parties and make sure everyone knows us..Yeah that’s tough, I know…For SOTA I still try to sculpt at least one piece a month. We have amazing sculptors here but I still find I need to go back in and add some "pizzazz" to most of the pieces before I consider them worthy of submission to whoever hired us for the piece.
3. Where is your current base of operations?
- Los Angeles California… wouldn’t have it any other way
4. How long have you worked for this company?
- Since I started it about 4 yrs ago. I started SOTA around 1997 with my first gig being with ReSaurus and the Duke Nukem Series 2 line (never released). Before that I "Ghost Sculpted" a bunch of stuff for other toy sculptors including the Beta Ray Bill figure for Toy Biz (Which I’m very proud of).. Plastic Fantasy started in 2000 when I was kickin’ it with my friend Jenna Jameson and we were looking at an issue of Toy Fare where someone had made the comment that someone should do figures based on Adult Film Stars…
5. How did you get into this field?
- I own a special effects company and started prototyping for ReSaurus just for fun. I was friends with a couple guys who were free-lance toy sculptors and they kept giving me so much work to do that I eventually realized I would be better off taking the jobs myself. I’ve been sculpting professionally since I was 17 for the film industry.. I got into that because my nextdoor neighbor was working as a special effects guy.
6. How many figures have you helped to create/design/produce/market?
- Somewhere north of 100.
7. Of those figures/toys, what was your favorite?
-That’s almost impossible to say. I can narrow it down to a few though.
1) My Incredible Hulk that Marvel won’t give me a license to release. Every year we display it at San Diego Comic Con and hundreds of people tell me it’s their favorite hulk they’ve ever seen, I’m very proud of that.
2) Cyber Enforcer from Duke Nukeum , it was never released but it kicks.
3) Soldier Zombie for Palisades Resident Evil line, its by far the best zombie figure anyone’s ever done AND it was actually released, and finally…
4) The NEW Jenna Jameson figure, its everything the last one should have been and more.
8. What would you say is the hardest part of your job?
-The balance between making a great product and making a cost effective product and trying to make high quality pieces without going broke. It’s AMAZINGLY expensive to put these things into production. Then dealing with the factories in China is ridiculously difficult. Thankfully Ken Lilly from Palisades walked me through the best way to get your point across and make sure they do things the way you want.
9. What would you say has been the biggest or most significant change in the industry while you have been a part of it?
- Unfortunately its a negative change and that’s the dozens of companies who are simply trying to make a quick buck. They aren’t fans at all. At Sota we do a lot of prototype work for outside companies and I’m always hearing about the bottom line but rarely do I hear about making the product the best it can be. But don’t get me wrong there are some great companies out there who are also big fans, Palisades probably being the #1.
The general quality of sculpting and painting has improved tremendously…to the point where when you are walking down the toy aisle and see McFarlane’s always amazing stuff it just doesn’t have any impact anymore because its expected to be that good…of course that makes the bad figures look that much worse…you know who you are.
10. What do you predict as the biggest break through for the future of the industry?
-Porn Figures!!! Umm no not really… BUT, I think scanning (even though it’s a few years old) is the latest breakthrough and it still amazes me that every figure out there based on a real person/character is not scanned. There’s no excuse to sculpt an actor’s face anymore and no one can get the accuracy a scan can. Yes you DO have to go back in and give it some ‘life’ but that’s what a good sculptor is for. For the future? Hopefully it’ll be that kids will want cool toys that don’t have licenses attached (keep paving the way Stan). I want to do dinosaurs and extinct mammals that have lots of articulation and amazing sculpts .
Also, the prices in Hong Kong have come down making it more feasible to make low volume niche products that would have never seen the light of day half a dozen years ago.
11. What is your favorite toy/figure/line from ANOTHER company?
-My latest favorite is the Dragons Lair figures. They’re PERFECT. I had a Dragons Lair machine when I was a kid so it’s been a long time coming. Some of the others are Stan Winston’s new Realm of the Claw , McFarlane’s new Darkness from Legend and going a little further back McFarlane’s Heap figure. I dig monsters. Palisades Muppets are beautiful but I’m just not a huge Muppets fan. Also Fewtures DevilMan Series and McFarlane’s Tortured Souls. For older products it will always be Micronauts.
12. What’s the silliest statement/suggestion you’ve ever heard or made in a meeting?
- We were designing some prototypes for the new Spiderman movie toys and someone asked if we could give Spiderman a mouth even though his head is covered with a mask. The product manager wanted to hinge Spiderman’s jaw so it looks like he’s talking… ugh… He’d look like Pac-Man!
13. If you could pick any toy/figure from early in your career to re-do what would it be?
- The first Jenna Jameson (sorry) and Mystery Men (sorry again).
14. What is your favorite toy from childhood?
- Micronauts – hands down. I have every single one of them including Ampzilla on the wall behind my desk. Most are mint in box.
15. What is the worst job you ever had (pre-toy industry)?
- Here’s where everyone hates me… I’ve never had a "normal" job so I can’t say I’ve ever had a ‘worst’ job. The film industry is fun, the toy industry is fun.
16. What is your proudest achievement to date?
- Having Plastic Fantasy be successful when soooo many people told me no one would buy porn toys and the overwhelming success of the Jenna Jameson figure. We were mentioned on Jay Leno and Ted Koppel what more could I ask for?
17. What did you want to be when you grew up?
- Special Effects Makeup Artist…still doing it. Check out SOTAFX.com.
18.What’s the last movie you saw?
19.What one word would you use to describe yourself?
- Eccentric or Lucky – I make toys, hang out with porn stars and live in sunny California.
20.Would you rather hang out with a guy named "Chuck" or a guy named "Stu?"
- Disco Stu of course Thanks to Jerry for his patience.