If you've been into modding for a few years, you likely recognize names like Bill Owen, Paul Capello, Yoshi Deherra, and Russ Caslis. These, among others, are the Mod Gods that really shaped the art/sport of modding in the opening years of this millennium. They are authors, modding company owners, or simply uber modders. Up until a year or so ago, there is one name you likely had not heard; Stu "Kikboxes" King.
Stu King didn't even start modding until less than two years ago. Before that he was a web designer (yeah - weren't we all?). Now, Mr. King is owner (with Matt Kelly) of KikBoxes Computer Craft, Inc. , produces a monthly video show with Bill "MNPCtech" Owen in a Monster Garage style, and helped to start the Mod Nation . In between that work, he somehow pulled off some pretty slick full mods.
So, when the Mod Blog had a chance to bounce a few questions off Stu, I had to jump on it.
MB: I Gotta tell ya Stu, you came out of no-where like a rocket. First I see a good mod here and there, and then "BOOM" you guys are all over the place. What is driving you? I guess I mean, what do you think moved you so quickly to the forefront of the US modding market
SK: I think it's just high quality mods, original ideas and finished projects. When I started my first project, I had not been into modding long enough to have done a lot of online research. All the ideas for my first project came straight out of my head with almost no thought to what anyone else was doing at the time. I think people really appreciate well executed case designs and that is something I really pride myself on. I try to do something new and totally original on every project I tackle. If I am not pushing the limits of abilities on each project then I am not trying hard enough. The Ghost Rider Project is a great example of this. I have never done a lot of sculpture but I decided to do it for this one and it turned out great. The other thing is just "doing projects". I really cranked out a tone of projects in the first 2 years. The modders like Bill Owen are guys to actually get projects finished, that's key. It also helps to have a wonderful family that is willing to put up with your creative urges!
MB: I know you envision the Mod Nation becoming a clearing house for professional modding. Not to be negative, but that's a pretty daunting task. It has been a dream of many, but somehow a path never seemed to open itself up. What are the Mod Nation's plans to move forward with this?
SK: Look, there are a ton of people out there who are modders but within that group, there are a select few who are pushing the industry to the next level. These are the people who are making new and interesting parts, perfecting new techniques that no one has ever seen before and creating projects that are masterpieces. These are the people who inspire us and we want to show the world what they are doing. We want The Mod Nation to be the final destination for the serious modder. People who are willing to invest the time and money it takes to make their projects truly magnificent. The builders who really take pride in their work and like to share their knowledge with the rest of us.
MB: Sure, sure, but really, do you think it’s as simple as “if we build it they will come?” I don’t have to tell ya, a large number of modding related sites went either ghost or offline during 2006. It wasn’t a good year online for modding. What does Mod Nation have up its sleeve that the other sites lacked?
SK: I know there are a number of good modding focused sites out there. Many of them offer reviews, tutorials and all the things we have come to expect from mod sites. We aim to do something different. We really want to focus on premium content. Video tutorials, well written work logs and resources that modders can use in their own shops are things we offer now. However, there is also an element of fellowship that we want to nurture. The idea of a “Nation” of modders really has wide appeal. We are a nation without borders…if you are a modder of any stripe, then you are a citizen and have a voice. I think our slogan “One Nation Under Mod!” captures that idea perfectly. Even though the forum is only a few months old, we have attracted a group of modders who are very talented and knowledgeable. As far as any future plans and our “sleeves” go…we hope to launch our web site very soon, we plan to keep cranking out the video content and after Ghost Rider is complete, we have more Mod Nation projects on the agenda. Things are pretty fluid right now but that’s how we like it.
MB: I saw that the High Roller just raffled off for charity a few weeks ago. This is one of my favorite mods – Dream Machine worthy case really. I think I’m into subtle lately, and you pulled of a case that is obviously a mod and yet looks like it might be a high end production case. Did the fact it was for Xoxide change your approach?
SK: The High Roller was a bit of a departure for me. I wanted to make sure I did not over-design the project so I tried to keep the case simple and elegant. In the end, I spent way more time on the project than I ever expected. Polishing the doors was really time consuming but the finished product made all that work worthwhile. Xoxide.com decided to raffle off the project and it was a big success. The modding community really came through and we made some good money for charity. It went so well that we are planning to do it again and while I cannot give away all the details I can tell you it's going to be bigger than anything we have done to date!
MB: What's hot in your mind right now? What can we expect to see from Kikboxes?
SK: You can expect to see more and better projects as well as a new line of products from Kikboxes. I have an insatiable need to express myself artistically; modding is how I do that. The intrinsic need to mod will drive the new projects and the new products will help to finance the addiction. Look for an exciting new line of fan grills and radiator covers from Kikboxes this summer. Fresh new designs, premium quality materials and processes - Kikboxes in every way!
MB: Where do you see modding heading in the future? The definition of “mod” seems to be broadening. I can see good modders becoming set designers, custom product manufacturers and basically spreading modding out beyond computers - you?
SK: We can already see modding spreading to many areas other than just PCs. Game consoles are a great example of that. However, I believe that if you are a modder in your heart and soul you are going to mod anything and everything you can just because you can. I know guys who are building their own lamps, modding their cars and even their homes. I firmly believe that there is nothing that can't be made just a little bit better with a bit of customization. Each modder has his own signature, some are great model builders and others are great fabricators, etc. You see those skills on display in their work.
MB: Any final words of wisdom?
SK: Find your inspiration and explore your style. I spend hours digging around in salvage stores. I have a box full of strange things that have planted the seed of an idea in my head. There are many ways to be creative and I do not hesitate to explore them all. Be fearless. Don't hesitate with the Dremel, the first cut is tough but if you can work through the initial fear that you are going to wreck your case you are on the road to mod greatness.
MB: The Mod Blog, as you may know, typically ends with a “bit of bling”. Care to do the honors?
SK: No problem, this bit of bling comes from The Ghost Rider Launch Party at Mod Nation
Happy Moddin’ All!
This interviewed was conducted between May 17-21, 2007