Are you a horror fan (and if not, why are you here?) and you want that extra special gift for that extra special person, but you’re of the opinion that the Hallmark people can go kiss the fattest part of your ass before you dish out any money for a stupid card? Well then the Undead Teds might be just what you’re looking for!
The Undead Teds are the creation of artist Phillip Blackman. 45-year-old Phillip, from Suffolk, England, had long been a fan of film director George A Romero, creator of some zombie movies you might have heard about, and he combined this love with training in theatrical and special effects make-up, and a moment of inspiration, to make teddy bears – with a difference. When I first heard about them, I went to www.undeadteds.com and contacted Phillip for a quick interview.
“About three years ago, I hit on the idea of making zombie teddy-bears,” Phillip told me in an interview. “The inspiration came from a rather obscure in-joke between my partner and I. She had a terrible cold at the time and we’d been talking about a gift for a friend’s baby. With a very stuffy nose “teddy-bear” kept coming out as “deady-bear” and we joked about zombie teddies that creep from under your bed at night to feast on your brains while you sleep. Being an artist and illustrator (See www.biro-art.com) I couldn’t just leave it at that so after a few false starts and I produced my first Undead Ted.”
Phillip initially tried sewing bones and organs out of felt, but felt his sewing skills weren’t up to it. So to properly transform the kids’ toys into Undead Teds, Phillip sculpts the bones, teeth and other organs by hand, from polymer clay or latex, then opens the bear’s carcass, takes out some of the stuffing and fixes the gory details in place with glue. Finally, he paints on the blood and adds a layer of varnish for a wet effect. Some designs, including the Valentine Undead Ted, have a strong wire frame retrofitted to ensure they keep their pose and don’t fall over.
“I’m getting faster now,” Phillip assured me, “But each Undead Ted still represents something upwards of six hour’s work. They used to take me days to make!” He prices them individually depending on size, complexity, materials used and time taken.
And the Undead Teds, with their mix of the cute and cuddly and the gory and gruesome, were an immediate hit. “People’s reaction from the start has been variations along the lines of ‘That’s Horrible! I want one!’ The demand has been phenomenal and took me entirely by surprise. I simply cannot make them fast enough. As soon as I list a batch of six to eight in my store they sell out in under a minute. People set alarm clocks and take time off work so they can get online at the right time to try and snag one. I’m humbled by people’s enthusiasm for my work and hugely thankful to them.”
Phillip’s typical customer is in the late twenties the early thirties range, according to his Facebook stats. “People don’t buy them for their kids of course, they’re not toys after all, but they do buy them for their partners and significant others. The majority are either bought by women or bought by men as gifts for women, a fact I was quite surprised to discover!”
And they definitely aren’t for little children, though not so much because of how they look as because they contain small toxic parts and aren’t suitable for rough handling (if they get a little dirty, a gentle pat with a wet cloth will suffice rather than a trip in the washing machine).
“I can and do ship to pretty much anywhere,” Philip assured me. “A large percentage of Undead Teds have gone to the States and Canada and a few as far afield as Australia.” He has also had customers send him teddy bears to be customised, though this arrangement isn’t viable for overseas jobs in case the Customs people have some unreasonable
Though he’d love to set up his own shop it’s not possible with him doing the work himself. Until then Undead Teds are available through his Etsy store (http://www.etsy.com/shop/undeadteds) and occasionally through Ebay, and though demand remains high people who follow him in various Social Media platforms are alerted when new Undead Teds are available.
My amazement for the level of detail and craftsmanship Phillip puts into his work remains high, and I wish him continued success in the work! I’d get one myself now, but I’m afraid my cat might get jealous… or eaten…
Written by Derek “Deggsy” O’Brien