When I first started managing the Mega Bloks community, one of the first names that I heard mentioned amongst fans was Goodwill Hunter. His handle had reached almost legendary status on the Mega Bloks forums and social media. So as I got to know him better, I decided to peek behind the curtain and see exactly what ingredients are needed to make a custom-building legend.
“You must be rich!” is a common reaction from fans when GWH posts his latest custom build. And he is ‘Rich’. Rich Bubik from Milwaukee, Wisconsin: husband, father of two girls, creative supervisor at a national shipping/packaging company, and devoted collector of video games – his 20-year collection currently includes over 6,000 unique games for almost 50 different game systems.
In fact, that collection is what led him to custom building with Mega Bloks in the first place, not so long ago in 2011: “The original Mega Bloks Warthog set caught my eye during a video game hunt in my local Goodwill in late 2010. I like to display game-related toys and memorabilia along with my game collection, so for 3 bucks, I decided to give it a try!”
“I was surprised by how much I enjoyed putting the Warthog together and how good it looked on the shelf. I started hunting for other Halo sets, and one day found an opened Wraith set at Goodwill. It was missing some pieces, which started me wondering what else I could make with it. I enjoyed using the Revenant against Wraiths in Halo, so I downloaded some pics of one and started building my own Revenant.” The picture (above) was shared on the official Facebook page for Collectors and the community responded extremely positively. “I was hooked, and I’ve been custom building ever since!”
Of course, ‘building ever since’ is relative for somebody who gets almost all of his sets second-hand or at deep discounts. “I sometimes go months without buying a set, but will then buy them in bunches when I find a good deal. I rarely buy a set that is new or full price. I enjoy the hunt almost as much as gaming or building, which helps give me the patience to keep looking.” With a little patience and accepting imperfect packaging or missing parts from pre-opened, second-hand sets allows you to pick up a lot of sets over time on a budget, as evidenced from the piles of boxes in his basement (above).
But the local Salvation Army can only have so many used Mega Bloks sets, right? “In addition to Goodwill, I keep a close eye on eBay and Craigslist for used lots. I also closely monitor the Sales forums on Spartanbloks and The Bloks Forum. And at the risk of giving away one of my best sources, I can’t recommend Amazon’s Warehouse Deals highly enough. Pictured above are some of my finds from just this past week: a Probuilder helicopter set from Goodwill for $6.99 and an original Hornet set with a sealed but creased box that I watched gradually drop from $130.00 to $30.00 on Warehouse Deals, then pounced when it suddenly plunged to $12.00! For me, that’s fun!”
According to Goodwill Hunter, when discount sets are the goal, it actually helps to create customs out of the parts you have on hand, rather than try to find specific sets to build something you have in mind. “The Broadsword custom (above) became a possibility after I picked up a trio of Shortsword sets on clearance from Target. Once I know what I want to build from the parts I have, I print out as many reference images from as many different angles as I can find. From there, I choose a place to start and try to copy it using blocks as closely as I can. Sometimes it goes front to back, top to bottom, side to side, or a combination. Sometimes I actually end up with separate sections that have to be knitted together at the end.”
Over time, as you find more discounted sets and build more customs, you’ll end up with a ton of extra parts. GWH has converted a toy tub rack into a set of block bins, and has everything separated by color, shape, size or function. On the carpeted floor of his family playroom, he is able to spread out, and by the end of a build, the entire floor is usually covered with small piles of blocks. It’s surprisingly little space for a custom builder, and he wishes he had a more dedicated space to both build and display customs.
He still keeps almost all of his custom builds intact. “I keep them in my gameroom, which used to be a 10’ x 12’ bedroom that now houses most of my classic video game collection and Mega Bloks custom builds. Fitting 6,000 games and numerous models in a space that size requires maximizing the available space. To that end, I converted the closet into shelving and covered the remaining walls with custom-built floor-to-ceiling shelving units. Keeping all of this contained in one room is challenging, but it helps keep the wife happy!”
So of all the sets Goodwill Hunter has created, which is his fave? “If I had to pick a current favorite, I’d probably go with the Scarab. If for no other reason than that build seemed to catch the eye of the designers at Mega, and led to the honor of touring the HQ, meeting the design team, and contributing in a small way to the upcoming Signature Series Scarab set.”
Of course he can’t just have one fave, right? “I like them all for different reasons. I guess that’s why I don’t sell them or take them apart. [Among others] I like the Spirit for the structural challenges that had to be overcome, the Reactor for its detail, the Nightingale for the name, the Infinity for its size, and the Mastodon (above) for all the people who have said they could see it used in a Halo game.”
Which build was most challenging and why? “The figure-scale Vulture (above) is nothing but angled surfaces, intersecting in unusual ways – no other build comes close to matching the number of times I had to tear apart and rebuild. I also decided to build it around a pair of Wolverine missile launchers, so the main missile batteries could actually be fired. This caused many appearance and structural problems that had to be overcome.”
Have you ever given up on a build before completing it? “The UNSC Infinity actually started as a Halo 3 version of the Forward Unto Dawn. I completed the front portion of the ship before realizing that I didn’t have nearly the number of gray blocks that I would need to complete it. Looking at that portion, however, and the number of large gray plates I had on hand, made me realize that a custom build of the Infinity might indeed be possible.”
Goodwill Hunter recently became the first Elite Builder in the Global Builders Community. But at the end of the day, he’s just a family man with a lot of creativity. A small building area plus a keen eye for discounts helps feed his natural creative instincts. With just a small collection of Mega Bloks sets, any creative individual could start making sets that impress. Get started now and don’t be shy about sharing your creations with us today. You could be the next Global Builders Community Elite Builder!