Atikokan, Ont. man embraces love of movies through foam prop replicas
Jamie Young of Foamtastic Creations will be sharing work, knowledge at Thundercon in Thunder Bay this weekend
A life-sized R2-D2. A light-up proton pack. A four-foot-high Imperial AT-AT walker.
There's not much Atikokan, Ont., prop replica maker Jamie Young, who works with foam, won't try.
Young is the mastermind behind Foamtastic Creations, and he builds detailed and accurate reproductions of famous movie props out of repurposed foam floor mats.
"For me, it's reliving part of my childhood," said Young, who's appearing at Thundercon in Thunder Bay this weekend. "It's holding on to some of the fun from when I was a kid, the innocent times."
"I think in this day and age, with all the trouble that's going on, a lot of people like to try to hold on to that as much as possible," he said. "And for me, also, they just look cool."
Young launched Foamtastic Creations about seven years ago, but had been building prop replicas before that. He first became aware of foam as a building material through a prop-building online forum he was a part of.
"There was a lot of people that started building Iron Man costumes using foam floor tiles, the anti-fatigue mats," Young said. "My wife and I had just moved into a new house, and there was a pile of them in our basement, so I figured I'd give it a go."
"I found the medium very useful and versatile, and I just started building from there."
Easily repaired, light to wear
There are pros and cons to using foam, Young said. On the plus side, it's cost-effective and durable and easily repaired.
He uses the example of the R2-D2 replica, which he's taken to his child's school a number of times.
"I don't mind kids touching them and hugging them, and if they get damaged a little, I can just cut out that little tiny piece of foam and replace it," he said.
It's light to wear, but doesn't breathe well, so something like a replica full suit of armor gets very hot.
But there are limitations as far as strength goes.
Showing work at Thundercon
"It's hard to make certain things a certain size, because the foam will bend," he said.
In any case, Young said, when he's finished, the replicas look very good.
"I do have some people come up to me and they look at the item and they can't believe it's foam," Young said. "Which is a real big complement. I love hearing that."
Young will be showing off some of his work and sharing his knowledge at Thundercon this weekend, including demonstrating how he does it during a 45-minute live build of a Stargate Atlantis puddle jumper ship model.
He's also more than willing to help other builders with their own projects.
"I answer any and all questions," he said. "Even people who are building their own thing, if they are stuck or want some advice."
"I share all my techniques and tricks," Young said. "That's the way I learned, by people sharing their info."