Faces of Kansas City: Giving action figures their start - KCTV5 News

Faces of Kansas City: Giving action figures their start

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We all know Kansas City is well-known for its fountains, boulevards and barbecue, but now we might be able to add one more item to that list - toys.

It's an office unlike any other in Kansas City where familiar faces seem to be staring at visitors from every corner.

"So we've done work on Predator, Star Wars, Batman, Lord of the Rings," said Adam Smith.

Muhammad Ali is here. So is Frankenstein, Freddy Krueger and Leather Face.

"That's an older version of Harry Potter, without his glasses on and this is the villain from Harry Potter," Smith said.

It's a veritable who's who at Adam Smith Studios in the West Bottoms.

"These are all pieces that actual sculptors have sculpted in fragile clay, so we turn the clay originals into durable plastic prototypes," Smith said.

The prototypes are then manufactured into toys in China. The end results are packaged, collectible toys that are shipped all over the world.

"It's very cool, although I suspect it's adult nerds that collect this more than kids," Smith said with a laugh.

For the last 10 years toymakers have sought out Smith for his expertise with molds and castings.

"We pour the resin, set the molds down into the pressure pots and put them under pressure to force air bubbles out of the mix," he said.

It's a process that can be labor intensive and tedious at times.

The studio is a beehive of activity with sculptors and artists all striving for perfection. They never know if the project they're working on today might someday wind up on a store shelf just down the street, or halfway across the world.

"One of the toy companies, Neca Reel Toys, gives credit to all the people involved in the project so my name is on the box so it's neat to go into the store and see that," Smith said.

In a studio full of characters, there is one who is more colorful than all the rest.

"Percy the parrot is the foreman of the shop," Smith explained.

The studio mascot became a member of the family after attacking a customer in the parking lot.

"We gave her a Band-Aid and took a box to the parking lot and there's this parrot strutting around looking up at us, so we caught him in a box," Smith said.

So who knows, that action figure lying on the floor of your child's bedroom that was probably made in China very well may have gotten its start in Kansas City.

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