Small scale, big dreams
Mike Skram II
For Mike Skram II, seeing Star Wars at the El Rey Theatre in 1977 was “a life-changing moment.” Skram, 46, is a modern-day Geppetto of sorts, and mastermind behind MS 2 Designs, aka Mike Skram II Designs: 1/6 Scale Figures and Miniatures. The Chico man has successfully carved a niche, combining his hobby with a developing career in the world of miniatures. One highlight was working on HBO’s skit comedy show Funny or Die. Episodes from his skit, Brick Novax’s Diary, were compiled into a film, which won Best American Short Film at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. He also writes reviews on one-sixth scale action figures for Black Ops Toys. For more on Skram’s creations, find him on Facebook.
How did that trip to see Star Wars with your family change your life?
I was so fortunate to have been a kid in the 1970s. It was such a great decade for films and TV. There was so much science fiction, fantasy and horror film stuff that a kid with a vivid imagination could sink his teeth into. For the last 37 years, I have been tinkering with kit-bashing, scratch-building and fabricating miniatures. Combined with past exposure to many a Godzilla film, as well as the sci-fi B movies of the 1950s, I came away with a strong desire to learn about how these imaginative miniatures in film were created.
How else did your family encourage your interests?
My dad introduced me to the science-fiction, fantasy and horror films that he had been into as a kid—the classic stuff that was being rebroadcast on late-night TV on weekends. We would watch Creature Features with host Bob Wilkins, out of the San Francisco Bay Area. It was the most fun a kid could possibly have. I loved it.
Describe what goes on in the One Sixth Warrior Forum.
In 2003, I discovered the online resource called the One Sixth Warrior Forum (www.onesixthwarriors.com). It is a discussion forum and a hosting site, where the subject of one-sixth scale—or “Sixthscale”—is king. Finding the OSW really did feel like a coming-home moment for me. I found myself surrounded by like-minded people with very similar backgrounds and skill sets. This has led to job offers, as well as invitations to one-sixth scale trade shows and exhibitions—just imagine ComiCon for one-sixth scale action figures. Today I work designing one-sixth scale action figures and accessories for a company called Cal-Tek (www.caltekonline.com). I also head up research and development for ongoing and upcoming projects, and design most of the packing boxes for the figures.
How has this evolved into honoring veterans?
One of our newest things I work on are figures based on actual folks who have served in the military. There is one gentleman in particular—a highly decorated U.S. Army ranger—who I have been lucky enough to get to know. He is one of the most humble, kindest folks imaginable. It is an honor for me to have the opportunity to design a figure based on him. My hope is to be able to explore and create new ideas, to feel the enthusiasm for making something from nothing. That is what got me started back in the 1970s, and has fueled me ever since. I am blessed. Thank God for dreams and dreamers.