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Points of Articulation

Rustin Parr
Saying Goodbye to Eddie Wires

Eddie Wires was the first toy industry artist I ever really met.

At the San Diego Comic Convention International in 2001, I was making a pest of myself at the ToyBiz booth, coming by almost hourly to look longingly at the world-changing two-ups of the Spider-Man Classics toyline. By Friday my omnipresence had led to me striking up a sort of awkward comradery with Jesse Falcon, who confided that he would be unveiling a new line called "Marvel Legends" on Saturday, so I should come by to check out the Hulk prototype he'd have on display. With an excited fervor I rarely approach these days I hurried to the booth Saturday afternoon, tucked away in the southwest corner of the Marvel booth, and fought through a small mob waiting for the unveiling.

Seeing the mass of fans at the front of the table I chose the side approach and angled my way up to Jesse. At last there was only one guy, hair slightly peppered with gray and arms tattooed, between me the infamous Product Manager. The guy in front of me was talking to Jesse, incurring my jealousy, when suddenly - he handed Jesse the Hulk. There it was! And my god, it was magnificent. Jesse recognized me and motioned me closer to gawk at the figure. I commented on its beauty and what a great job he did. Jesse said, "don't tell me, this is the guy who painted it" and gestured to my former jealousy-causing nemesis.

My immediate thought was "oh my god... people paint these! This is their job, to just paint action figures. To determine what they look like before I get them in hand." It was as shocking and obvious as the revelation when I first was introduced to the notion of a "toy sculptor." These are simply things I had never conceived. I was too desperate for the figures to even really contemplate that they had to come from somewhere, and that meant they had to be crafted by individuals, by humans. And this epiphany is racing through my mind - on top of the revelation of a figure that would clearly change the future of action figures - while I'm looking into the face of the man partially responsible for this, and all I can think is that he looks like the dude in the rat costume from Beakman's World. I stammered for a moment, then stuck out my hand and introduced myself. Shaking the painter's hand I told how great the figure looked and how jealous of his job I was. He thanked me and said I wouldn't feel as envious if I knew about the hours - we laughed. This is how I met Eddie Wires. He died Wednesday night.

Eddie was the kind of guy that everybody loved and nobody had any bad feelings for. I never really spoke directly with him again after that first introduction that I can recall (a side-effect of my nerdy shyness) but the fondness between professionals was always clear when Eddie would sit on action figure panels at SDCC. I think it's especially telling that at least three major company frontmen, Jesse Falcon at ToyBiz, Ken Lilly at Palisades and Chuck Terciera at Diamond Select, are fiercely loyal to Wires, making him the go-to man for what is sure to be a large portion of your collection. In fact, for as long as I can remember, DST doing a Minimates panel at SDCC the lineup has consisted of just Chuck and Eddie, resulting in a regularly insightful and entertaining panel. Eddie was also a really funny guy who would just as soon tease a question-asker as go into "brass tacks" descriptions of the business of toys. It's that openness, and warmness, that has me unable to sleep tonight. I didn't really know Eddie Wires but I absolutely feel like I've lost a close friend.

I really can't put into words the kind of loss that I'm feeling but his passing has definitely had a significant effect on me. Loss is the key word. I've lost one of things I look forward to most every year at SDCC. I've lost my first connection to the art of action figures. Most majorly, I've lost one of the great artists of this industry, this business for which I have such an incredible passion.

Eddie wasn't just a painter, he really was an artist. Just looking at the color, shading and effects he was able to express on mass produced, small-scale playthings created on the other side of the planet and having to do so while working within confines like time and budget... it's mind-boggling to consider the talent we as a community are now without. Certainly all prototypes, hand-painted by the master, look better than production pieces, but seriously, go look at some of your figures that Eddie was responsible for and really see his economy of usage. How three or four single colors used in the appropriate relations and varied application styles give the impression of 10 or 20. The man was truly a genius. And now he is gone.

He didn't walk away, like Jerry Macaluso or Digger, or transition into lower-profile work like Phil Ramirez or Steve Kiwus. Eddie is gone. He won't return to the collectibles world like the others, he won't move into more traditional artforms, he won't just give up and sell shoes for the rest of his life. Eddie is the first of our Pantheon to fall. He is the first of the rockstars to die, the first god to disappear. And maybe that's part of why I am so affected by his passing - just as he opened my mind to the idea of all of the work beyond sculpting that must go in to producing an action figure, he has now opened my eyes to how finite this microcosm of ours is, how fragile our system can be and how much the genius must be appreciated.

Eddie will always be in my mind and my heart, and fortunately he'll never truly be gone as we all have pieces of him in our rooms, on our shelves, and around our desks. Ed Wires was a great human and a prolific artist. He maintained Art in the face of Commerce and made everyone feel included.

Eddie, you didn't know me but I will miss you more than you would imagine.

There's no way we could make a list of every toy Eddie Wires worked on. A good 90% of our Reviews page probably came from his table. For a look at just some of Eddie's work and legacy, visit his website.

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