Clarksville, Ark. --- Q: What do these things have in common? G.I. Joe, Hulk Hogan, Luke Skywalker, Gene Simmons from Kiss, Spider-Man, and Ozarks President Dr. Rick Niece.
A: They are all action figures.
Action figures? Even Dr. Niece? Yes, even our beloved president, turned into miniaturized 3-D movable art (with bendable joints), thanks to the hobby crafting of Sociology professor Dr. Jesse Weiss.
Dr. Jesse Weiss poses with the action figure Dr. Jesse Weiss.
“I’ve always liked toys,” says Dr. Weiss. “I started a collection of action figures in college, a mishmash of superhero and sports star figures – everyone from Michael Jordan to Batman – and rock stars.” He points to the bookshelves in his office, which also contain incredibly lifelike figures of Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, and Joey Ramone of the Ramones.
“Then one day I noticed that you could take them apart without destroying them,” he says. “I always enjoyed painting models as a kid, so I started making new characters out of the parts, professional wrestlers or movie characters that didn’t already have action figures based on them.”
Dr. Weiss says once he mastered using a dremel tool to be able to carve the figures, and sculpey, a clay-like product that hardens when heated, he was able to create new hair, beards, and glasses. “I did one of my dad, my brothers and myself,” he said. “Since then I’ve done Dr. Niece, Dr. [Sean] Coleman, and some others. It’s kind of random – you can’t really do one for everybody. I have done a few on commission through eBay, though.”
The Dr. Rick Niece action figure, still in its "original" box.