CreatureCantina interviews TOM SPINA!!

by Bill Cable
on 2018-09-05, 07:30:10

Over the weekend I was presented with a singular opportunity - an invitation to visit Tom Spina Designs, the studio where Mr. Spina (rhymes with Cantina) does his restoration work. It was a very private, hush-hush affair... so hush-hush that I can't even tell you about the stuff I saw! I had to sign an NDA on pain of death, or worse, confiscation of all my C-3PO collectibles! It was a treat, though, to see artist at the very top of their game put so much care and effort into their craft.

While I can't tell you anything about the place, I was able to ask Mr. Spina a selection of questions and to shoot a few photos of the lobby to the studio. So please enjoy our interview with Tom Spina!! Image

CreatureCantina: Regarding your Custom Character Studio, is this just for the creatures, aliens, etc…or will you be accepting orders for the human characters (Luke, Han, Leia, etc…) as well?

Tom Spina: Right now, we're focused on creatures, droids, puppets and maquettes. Perhaps one day that may lead to more human characters, but that's something for the future. Image

CC: Can you do characters from "The Clone Wars" as well considering that was only an animated film?

TS: We can currently create pieces inspired by the theatrical live-action films, nothing animated just yet. Image

CC: Do you have to get approval from Lucasfilm/Disney depending on what character is requested, or do you have "free reign" to do any character that is asked for?

TS: Every licensed product must be approved by Lucasfilm, and that applies to all of our custom work as well. Though we're very lucky to have partners there that are as excited about this work as we are, and have great respect for the fun, niche characters that so many fans love. Image

CC: Any word on if the "Magic Wheelchair" project will be done again at SWC?

TS: Nothing official yet, but I'd absolutely love to see that happen and I know the folks at Magic Wheelchair ( - please donate today!) are excited about future opportunities too! Image

CC: Any idea if yourself and Pablo Hidalgo will offer another "Secrets of the Cantina" panel at SWC?

TS: We'd love to! We've been updating our research since the last show and actually have a 2 part version of it that could be a lot of fun there. We're debuting updated versions of that and even a Holiday Special panel at Fanx Salt Lake Comic Convention this weekend (9-6-18 through 9-8-18)! Gonna be a blast! Image

CC: Any plans to re-create the classic vehicles/ships from the films in addition to the characters?

TS: I love drawing inspiration from the ships for our decor and furniture line, but EFX is doing a great job with the models they have in the works so we don't need to get into those right now. Image

CC: With the popularity of the Mandalorian skulls, how about doing something with what was believed to be a Krayt Dragon skeleton as seen on Tatooine in Episode IV?

TS: Would love to! One of many things on our lists of potential creations. Image

CC: Have you ever had the opportunity to work with any other Star Wars licensees (Anovos, Sideshow, Gentle Giant, etc…) on any projects?

TS: We've been so lucky over the years. We've actually worked with all three! Pretty amazing companies, each in their own unique ways, and all run by folks who are fans and as obsessed with this stuff as we are. For Side Show, we prototyped a cantina band bust, as well as their life-sized Boba Fett. With Anovos, we've done a few prototypes and others that aren't yet public. For Gentle Giant, we got to help them make 50 life sized Chewbaccas last year. Crazy cool project! Image

CC: What factors determine if/when a project goes from the concept stage (like the Sarlacc table), to the production stage (like the Han Solo in carbonite coffee table)

TS: So, it's an interesting thing. We have a lot of concepts. I mean, a LOT. Most are so niche, we'd probably only find one or two people interested. But those can be the most fun! We posted just a few to give fans a better idea of what we mean when we say "custom." It's beyond a different fabric or color on a chair, you know? We really mean CUSTOM!

The Sarlacc is something I see as pretty niche. So it's not necessarily a concept of a potential product (as I don't think it'd have a broad enough appeal to support a run), but more a bit of concept art for a cool, individually sculpted custom piece. All it'd take there is for someone to be serious about commissioning that as a custom piece and that'll come to life.

CC: Any hints as to what you may be unveiling next year at Star Wars Celebration???

TS: No spoilers yet, but we have a lot of fun things cooking! is not affiliated with Lucasfilm Ltd. or any of its licensees... damn them to hell. Can't they see a golden opportunity when they see it? Buy us, you fools! You already own our souls and all our money... buy US!!! This site uses Google Analytics. It does not collect or share any additional user data.
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