Articles:
Gremlins in the Garage!

Interview with Richard Hamecher
by Ed Martinez
Conducted in 1996

Let's start with a few background questions, if you don't mind, such as how did Screamin' first get started?

RH:My name is Richard Hamecher. I'm married and have a couple of grown up children. In my spare time, together with my wife, I enjoy long motorcycle rides. My background is that I used to run one of the largest silk screen T-shirt printing companies in the country. I was doing that back in the seventies when the T-shirt industry really took off. Later, I sold the company, and I met my one-time partner Daniel Fay. Together we started Screamin'. Daniel Fay is no longer with the company. We had a long, successful partnership. There were many good times. He has moved on now to other projects.

What was Screamin's first kit and how did it come about?

RH:Screamin's first kit was Freddy Kruger. At the time, we were in communication with New Line Cinema when the first Freddy Kruger film was about to come out. We bought up the license and produced our first kit. Freddy is what put Screamin' on the map, so to speak. Elvira was next. The third kit was Jason, from Friday the 13th. Number four was the Werewolf, our first and only original design kit. Number five was the first Pinhead Cenobite from Hellraiser (sculpted by Thomas Kuntz). Then came Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the Vampire from London After Midnight (Lon Chaney Senior, also sculpted by Tom Kuntz). The eighth kit was the Chatter Cenobite from Hellraiser (by Tom Kuntz). After that came the Butterball Cenobite and the Female Cenobite, both sculpted by Jeff Brower. Then we released the Rocketeer, sculpted by Randy Bowen. We also did the Red Dragon of Krynn, from TSR Games, and the Cryptkeeper, from Tales from the Crypt.

I understand this was about the time you started developing the Star Wars line of kits. Why don't you run down a list of characters that are currently out.

RH:We started with Darth Vader and then we did C3PO. We did Han Solo, Storm Trooper (which was very very popular and remained very popular; a very visual character.) Then we did Yoda and Chewbacca and the Tuskin Raider, and Luke Skywalker. We also have a few new characters in the works, but I don't like to talk about them until we release them. so you'll have to wait for a press release on those. We also during this period of time got connected with a company in Japan named Kaiyodo.

Please tell us about that.

RH:I met the People from Kaiyodo because they were interested in producing a Freddy Kruger model kit in 1/6 scale for the Japanese market. They needed to get our permission to do it because we had the rights to Freddy.

You had the worldwide rights?

RH:Yes. I guess you could say we controlled the worldwide rights for Freddy.

So they needed to come to you.

RH:Right. So we sublicensed them to be able to do a Freddy Kruger kit in their market. When they sent us a sample I looked at it and thought there's an opportunity for us to develop a second line in 1/6 scale. It would give us a chance to expand the company, not just in different genres, but also in different areas. A different scale was a different price point also. We made an arrangement to bring in their 1/6 Freddy kit and put it out as a Screamin' kit, putting it in a Screamin' box, etc. We continued on with that with Jason and then with the Star Wars line. I went to Japan, I think in 1985, and had a very good meeting there with Kaiyodo. They're very gracious people.

Tell us a little bit about your trip to Japan. Did you have to bring an interpreter with you or did they have one?

RH:I don't know what anyone else's experience was like, but they basically put me on auto pilot. I was picked up from the airport, taken to a hotel. They looked after me, made sure I was fed, that I was entertained, right down to pouring my refreshment at dinner. Whether it be wine or beer they wouldn't allow me to pour my own beverage. They were extremely gracious and generous people. We worked hard which is the Japanese way. We drank a lot of tea. Business was always accomplished with some degree of ceremony.

At one time I understood that there was possibly going to be a 1/6 scale Pinhead created in Japan.

RH:Well, there was talk of that and we even got it to the sculpting stage. Kaiyodo had a sculptor do a prototype but we were never pleased with the results. So it went on hold because a lot of other things came along. There was a flurry of other activity; there was the Mutant, there was Ash (from the Evil Dead series), there was Dracula and Frankenstein and Betty Page, and Flash Gordon and Ming the Merciless. Many things happened and that tune never carne around on the guitar again.

But there exists then the prototype.

RH:The prototype does exist. I would certainly never exclude the possibility, but if Screamin' is to do a 1/6 scale Pinhead, it will be sculpted by one of our own sculptors. If it does happen, it will be before the end of the year. I think that Hellraiser is the kind of thing where you have to be a Hellraiser fan to sculpt a Cenobite character well. The Screamin' Cenobites speak to that. They've been sculpted by Jeff Brower who is an avid Hellraiser fan. He sculpted the new Pinhead, with the pillar of souls, the female, and Butterball. He does an excellent job. The Chatterer was sculpted by Thomas Kuntz, who also sculpted the first Pinhead.

Tell us a little about the Mars Attacks project.

RH:The Mars Attacks project came about partially through the suggestions of Jeff Brower, who we've used very often, and who is also involved with our mold maker doing intermediate steps with the prototype to make the production mold. Jeff always suggested dioramas. He perceived the need for dioramas. And that was always discussed with us, for example we came up with the pillar of souls for Pinhead, we put some snakes in with Yoda, you know kind of gradually felt the need to do dioramas. Betty Page certainly came with a scene. (In fact all three Betty Pages came with a background scene.) Also, we wanted to do more in Science fiction. Science fiction is very hot. We got feedback from our foreign distributor in England who kept telling us how hot science fiction was in England. We also talked about doing something different from the science fiction that has already been done. The Predator and Aliens had that slick science fiction look.

So after looking around at what was out there, it was no secret that there was going to be a movie based on the Mars Attacks cards.

RH:So after looking at a few of the cards, we said, boy, these are some pretty good images to base kits on. The nostalgic look of science fiction and the fact that there was going to be a movie; everything seemed to fall into place. So Topps was approached, the license was available and off we went.

Did you have any access to the pre-production designs from the movie so the kits would be similar?

RH:No, the kits are based on the cards.

Will there be any kits based on the movie once the movie is available?

RH:It's always possible.

At this time, how many Mars atttacks kits are out?

RH:Well. if you count the plaque, which most people seem to overlook. I don't know why, but if you count that there should be a total of eight kits. There's two leaders and one is called Plan Of Conquest, one holding a skull ln his hand. His other hand is on top of a dome which covers a human head. Then there's Target Earth where the leader is holding a dagger which is pointing at the earth. Then there's two attacking Martians. The other one is an Air Assault Martian. Then we have the two diorama scenes which are Slaughter In The Streets and No Place To Hide. Those scenes both included a Martian. You could get the Martian separately or with the diorama. And then Terror in the Sky which I think is real hot, a real neat flying saucer - It's the neatest flying saucer on the market in years. It's a big piece, it's about 14 inches in diameter.

I understand that one of the continually requested kits over the years has been the Shape, Michael Myers, from John Carpenter's Halloween.

RH:Yes. that' s correct. As a matter of fact we have just completed that kit and have announced its release. We have a special offer for a limited amount of time only. Until June 15 1996, you can order the numbered Pre-release Edition Package of the Michael Myers/Halloween model kit. It Includes 1/4 scale Michael Myers model figure and is molded in "Halloween Orange." It standes over 18" tall in a menacing pose with his arm extended over his head holding a kitchen knife. Included in the kit is a Jack-o-lantern and a mylar blade. The package also includes a Judith Myers Headstone as seen in the first movie. It's an exacting replica; Judith Myers headstone, with the engraving "Old Beloved Daughter" and appropriate dates. This headstone is included at no charge in the pre-release edition. The stone will be available later at a cost of $10.96. You can order by phone (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express) (518) 432-4582. Limitied to 250 numbered kits. The total cost for the pre-release Package is $70.00 plus $5.00 for shipping and handling, or a built and painted kit for a total of $170.00. N.Y. State residents must add the appropiate sales tax. Or contact us on the world wide web at http://www.screamin.com.

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