Creative Gympie business is strong with The Force
A LONG time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a humble reporter met a props maker who has worked on lots of movie blockbusters including Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.
OK, so it wasn't that long ago, it was only earlier in the week, but the rest of that statement is essentially true.
Gympie resident and prop maker Bentley O'Toole is also a massive movie fan, and admits to being a big Star Wars fan to boot.
With today being Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with you), it felt like the perfect time to talk about his business venture with Gympie Trading Post owner Annette Anderson.
Bentley makes models, especially Star Wars models, which Annette then sells for him to eager collectors.
And business is booming.
Bentley's full-size resin model of feisty little astro-mech R2-D2 was only on the showroom floor for 12 hours before being snapped up by a collector on the Gold Coast for just under $3000.
That's a bargain for the six weeks' work that went into making it.
But that's not the only 'droid' in Bentley's repertoire.
"I'm the only person as far as I know doing battle droids,” he said.
"I'm working on a full-sized battle droid and next I hope to make a life-size C-3PO.”
Annette's happy for Bentley to make whatever he likes because there is plenty of demand for it.
"He's making me a Marvin the Martian (Looney Tunes character) next,” she said.
The Gympie Trading Post in Bent St is a treasure trove for any movie fan, but for Star Wars fans there's a Tusken Raider and Stormtrooper mask up for sale, along with a life-sized Yoda (from Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, which any fan will tell you is the definitive Yoda) and a bust of a battle droid from Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
He also had a life-sized replica of an Ewok warrior from Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, but he too was snapped up not long ago.
While Bentley is fully immersed into this celluloid-inspired wonderland, Annette admits she's a little perplexed by it all.
"This is a whole new world to me,” she said.
While she might not be impressed by Bentley's tales of standing in the cafeteria queue next to Samuel L. Jackson at Sydney's Fox Studios during the production of Episode III, this reporter hung on every word.
"I knew a few people involved with Attack of the Clones so I was petitioning all through that to get work on Episode III,” Bentley said. "I had the connections but it was a pretty lengthy process and I didn't come on board until the third one.”
Bentley can make models of pretty much anything any movie fan might want and is currently repairing a Boba Fett costume for a client.
He rattles off in quick succession a list of his models on a quick tour of his studio space: "I've got Michael Keaton's Batman suit. That's a Cylon helmet from the original series of Battlestar Galactica. This is a cast of Michael Jackson's teeth from his Thriller film clip. This is the mould forthe battle droid blaster Padme uses in Episode I (The Phantom Menace). This is the helmet from TheRocketeer.”
As for the likelihood of another R2-D2 coming to Gympie, don't rule it out.
"If I haven't got it, I'll make it,” he said.
Better start saving my pennies ...
To really get into the spirit of StarWars Day, drop in and check outsome of Bentley's creations at Gympie Trading Post until 1.30pm today.