H. Eric 'CORNBOY' Mayse
Place of birth: Muncie, In.
How did you get started in toy design: Pure dumb luck. At my wife's insistence, I had moved with my family (Corinna and our three sons Chris, Nick and Mikey) to New Jersey to attend the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Arts. After moving there, I worked in a machine shop to make ends meet until school started. While working at the machine shop, a co-worker told me of a small studio that made toy trucks and dolls. He said that they'd probably want to see my portfolio and he gave me their number. I called and then went there for an interview. I was floored when I got there and this little shop that had supposedly been making toy trucks and dolls was actually none other than McFarlane Toys (at that time they were known as 'Todd Toys')! The first line of Spawn figures had just hit the shelves and I'd told my wife, just a couple of weeks before, that I'd love to get the chance to work on toys of that caliber someday. Needless to say, I was overjoyed. I started working part-time for McFarlane Toys while I was going to the Kubert School, and eventually left the Kubert School in order to work full-time at McFarlane. That's where I met up with the other three Horsemen- Chris, Jim, and Eric - and we decided to step out on our own to try to start our own company. Mattel happened to be looking for a design team like ourselves at the same time that we were looking for a company to do work for. Like I said....pure dumb luck.
Length of time in the toy industry: About 7 years total. Roughly 4 years at McFarlane Toys both full and part time. And then the Four Horsemen Toy Design Studio has been up and running for a little over three years now.
Job title and description: Designer/Fabricator. Fabrication is is the art of taking a pre-existing material and shaping it into something else. Kind of like sculpting with a material other than clay. Some materials that are commonly used are styrene plastic, urethane plastic, Ren (a porous urethane based material), machinist's wax, and - in times of dire need - any old hunk of solid material I can find laying around. Sometimes fabrication also requires a bit of clay sculpting added in. I once saw a guy pick old corn chips up off of the floor of the studio to use them as a textural element on the wall of a playset once. Don't believe me? Check out the Spawn Movie Alleyway Playset. The rough, cracked areas of the wall started out as Tostitos! Mostly fabrication involves things like accessories, weapons, mechanisms, and articulation. But, it can also involve the creation of certain body parts for a character. Usually these body parts are more mechanical in nature, and would be a bit harder to sculpt than the normal organic body part. In the case of Trap-Jaw, his big mechanical arm and all of his accessories were fabricated. I have worked on figures where the whole upper torso of the figure had to be fabricated in order to house an internal mechanism.
Favorite plaything as a child & why: It's kind of hard to list just one. I'd have to say it would be a toss-up between the Mego 8" Super Heroes figures (especially the Fantastic Four!) and the Mego Micronauts. We weren't the richest of people when I was growing up, so there was no way my parents were going to be able to afford to get me the whole line-up of Micronauts for Christmas. A friend of mine was also a big fan of Micronauts and he was in the same dilemma I was, so we decided to pool our resources. I asked for half of the line and he asked for the other half. We were like brothers at the time, so we considered the figures 'both of ours'. The bad part about this is, he and I went through a destructive stage at about the same time and most of our toys met their demise at the hands of a firecracker when we discovered cars and girls (not necessarily in that order). My deceased Mego Fantastic Four figures were finally replaced a couple of years ago, but at a heavily inflated price when compared to the originals. I really dug Masters of the Universe when it originally came out, but by that time I had temporarily stopped collecting toys, opting instead to spend what little money I had on girls and my car. Boy, was I stupid. I later got a pretty decent collection of loose, but complete, MotU figures together by picking them up at garage sales, flea markets and toy shows.
Favorite playthings currently & why: Again, I can't really narrow it down to just one. I'm really digging DC Direct's Justice League Maquettes. Beautifully sculpted, and nearly exact renditions of their animated counterparts. I'm pretty hooked on Lego's Bionicles too. They're very Micronauts-like. Speaking of which, I'm really looking forward to Palisade's soon to be re-released Micronauts figures. Absolutely true to the original figures, with a few added goodies to boot!
Best part about your job: I love toys, so it's just a thrill to be able to come into work every day. But other than that, I'd have to say that one of the coolest things is to see someone else's interpretation of your designs. To see how Mike Young Productions and Mattel have gotten together to take our original MotU re-designs and transform them into an animated character is astounding. And when Val, Emiliano, and the rest of the crew over at MV Creations put pen to paper to take our re-designs and re-imagine them in comic book form, it's almost as if the characters are going to leap off of the page.
Worst Part about your job: Probably being away from my family so much. This job often requires lots of extra hours and a lot of LAAAATE nights. We have pillows and blankets at the studio for just such an occasion.
Number of figures/playsets/toys you've been involved in: I'm not even sure I could count them all. I had at least a small hand in the creation/design/production of most of the figures and playsets produced by McFarlane Toys from about the 5th or 6th line all the way up through 'Nitro Riders'. All of us here at Four Horsemen Studios are involved in some way in the creation/design/production of almost every single toy/statue/playset that we've done for Mattel to date.
Stand out toy you've worked on in your opinion: Probably the Trap-Jaw figure from the new 'He-Man and the Masters of the Universe' line for Mattel. It's the first figure in this line that we had to do an extensive amount of fabrication work on. The whole right arm, all of the accessories, and all of the little mechanical doo-hickeys all over him were completely fabricated. Trap-Jaw is one of those figures that allowed us the challenge of incorporating the sculpting with the fabrication, and it seems to me that it came together pretty well. I'm extremely happy with the results.
If you could have any super power, what would it be & why: The ability to warp time around myself. I could speed time up when I'm sitting at some sort of boring seminar, or I could slow all time around me down when there's an impending deadline, and it doesn't look like I'm going to make it. Plus, just think of the fun you could have by stopping everything around you while you're still able to move about freely. Heh heh heh...