Found July 19, 2010 on The Fan Hub:

As 27pitches.com readers know, I have a bit of an obsession when it comes to Jobu. In fact, I went through the exercise of giving each of the 32 MLB teams a preseason rating of 1-4 Jobus. I love the movie Major League and have always wanted to have a Jobu of my own; the only problem is that they have never been commercially available. Every six months or so I’ll comb the Web to try and find out if anyone has heard of purchasing a Jobu doll, but I usually end up on the same forums, finding others like myself who have yet to find anything but a T-shirt. (Go ahead, do a quick Google or eBay search yourself and see what I am talking about; I implore you.) So, as the years have gone by, I’ve waited for a break in the case, and about 2 months ago, that’s exactly what I got.

Facebook has a fan page for just about everything, and it was no surprise to me to find the Jobu fan page earlier this year. I figured if there were ever a shot to find any information on obtaining a Jobu doll, it’d surely be through this page. Turns out I was right.

I thought the best course of action was to post on the fan page and ask if anyone had ever purchased or heard of anyone purchasing a Jobu doll like in the movie. I was contacted by a fellow fan page member, who told me that “some guy in California” had made a set number of his own replicas a few years ago, and that he had purchased one of them. When this gentleman reached out to me, my heart jumped — this was the closest I had ever come to finding out any information about the existence of the Jobu doll. Unfortunately for me, the guy had no further info; he just knew that some guy had once made them and he had gotten one. Great. Back to square one. At least there was hope.

A couple more months went by, and as chance would have it, another member of the fan page reached out to me saying that he used to have a mold to make Jobu dolls. I told him that I had only ever heard of this one other guy from the fan page talking about the existence of the prop, and this gentleman said to me: “Yes, I’m the one who created them.” Sweet jubilation! I had found the Jobu creator. Better yet, he mentioned that he still had the mold and was considering working up another small batch! So after I expressed my most sincere interest in acquiring one of these elusive dolls, I thought that it would be even better if I could learn more about the story behind their creation and share it with you, loyal reader.

So, after many Facebook message exchanges, I was extremely happy to hear that Eric Councell, creator of our little voodoo friend, was more than willing to answer a handful of questions about how he got into making the Jobu dolls, what the process is like, and what kind of experience it has been like for him. So,with a heavy heart, just days after the passing of James Gammon, the raspy old fellow who played beloved skipper Lou Brown in Major League (“Throw ‘em the heater Rickyyyyyy!!!”), we pay homage through the artistic skills of a devoted fan.

1) I have to ask first, what makes you enjoy Jobu so much that you decided to craft your own? Are you just a fan in general of the movie Major League, or is there some kind of inside joke meaning between you and friends? I know you’ve mentioned to me before that you aren’t much of a sports fan, so your dedication to this cause it perplexing in that way.

I actually didn’t think much of the movie at first. It took a few viewings to really gain it’s cult status in my mind. My friends and I still quote lines from the movie to this day and none of us are baseball fans. As far as Jobu, I really have no idea why I pursued the prop years ago, but I’ll bet it was on a whim after viewing it one night. One of my talents is the ability to do extensive research on things. So it was probably a bit of a personal challenge to find the prop or replica.

2) The lack of a Jobu commercially available doll is something that has driven sports fans like myself crazy trying to find. I liken it to the Holy Grail of sports memorabilia. You’ve gone so far as to contact David Ward (The Director and Writer) as well as many of the crew involved in the filming of Major League. What was his reaction to your questions about Jobu and was there any assistance on his part to connect you with anyone who would care enough to try and locate or talk to someone about producing more?

Mr. Ward was very receptive to my questions, but unfortunately couldn’t be much help when it came to the prop. He did mention that he had been asked in the past about and really wasn’t involved in the props of the film. He knew the character I was referring to and got a laugh about my quest to find it though. He did provide a few leads, but both were unfortunately also unable to recall what became of Jobu. I never approached him about the issue of mass production since it really wasn’t my goal. The only person I was unable to get a response from was Dennis Haysbert (The actor who played Pedro Cerrano in the film who ‘owned’ Jobu). It’s possible that he has the prop.

3) The attention to detail with the stone Jobu dolls that you hand craft (above) is truly remarkable, especially given the fact that you have limited screenshots from the movie with which to gather those details. I mean, you even have the shot glass, egg glass, rum, cigar, etc. How did you go about creating the mold so accurately, and where did you possibly find the exact type of hair and costume to accurately depict Jobu?

Sculpting something three dimensional, such as a figure, from limited two-dimensional images is difficult indeed. In the hands of a more experienced sculptor, it would have come out much better I presume, and I claim no mastery of the art of sculpting by any stretch of the imagination. It’s something I did in my spare time. To make matters worse, the images from the different scenes in the film were shot with different lighting. If you study the images (which I did at GREAT length) it almost looks like two different statues. Also, I had no idea how Jobu was made. Was he a soft doll type prop, or was he a cheap, hollow paper mache figure picked up in Mexico, or was he a solid statue? There’s no way to be sure from the images alone and nobody from the cast I spoke with remembered or even handled the prop. I have a small talent for replicating things, and the sculpt I did was close enough to satisfy my needs (which was my main goal).

As far as the hair, I was fortunate to have a little experience. Prior to taking on Jobu, I had just taught myself to sculpt and make Halloween masks. I had a fascination with Michael Myers and began trying to sculpt that first. The Myers mask used in the original Halloween films was actually a 1975 Captain Kirk mask that was spray painted white, had the eye holes cut a bit, and had the originally blond hair spray painted black. It was by sheer coincidence that the leftover blond hair I had matched Jobu’s near perfectly, so I used it.

On a side note, Jobu was not my first venture into the hard-to-find prop department. About five years ago, Burger King began a new commercial campaign with the ‘King’ character dressed up and wearing this creepy head. I went on a massive search for a replica of that as well, but found nothing. For my second sculpting experience, I decided to replicate the Burger king mask and fans loved it. Once again, it ate into my free time and I couldn’t really sustain an assembly line. Six months after I began selling mine, Burger King began selling cheap plastic ‘king’ masks (the face with rubber band type). I believe I only made about 10 of them and shut down out of fear that BK would come after me for infringement.

4) We’ve emailed back and forth a bit about what a painstaking process this must be, as it is time consuming, prone to errors like bubbling, and requires the purchasing of materials in bulk, etc. Because of this, I know you’ve only created a limited number of Jobu dolls with the mold you made. How many Jobu dolls have you created, and when was the first stone batch created?

Well, the first batch was about 3-4 years ago. It basically went like this: during my search and communications with the Major League crew, I ran across a message board dedicated to prop replicas. There was a huge thread on Jobu, but nobody knew where to get one or where it came from. I posted a message stating that I would try to make a replica using my existing mask making skills and sell a few to use up the bulk materials that it would involve purchasing. I sculpted the head of Jobu only and made a casting out of thick latex. I subcontracted a woman in Canada, who made doll bodies, to make me some with African American tone hands and feet. I then subcontracted a local seamstress to make Jobu’s clothes, and went on a search for small cigars and wooden shot cups. The cups and cigars were not necessary, but they add value to the doll and were an appreciated touch. I cant remember the exact number, but I believe it was less than 20 that were made. My mold broke and I never made a new mold and moved on to other projects.

About six months later, I decided to do a different version, but this time would sculpt the entire prop and make it a stone statue figure (Editor’s note: the first picture in this post is the picture that Eric refers to here). The problem was, I had no idea how to do this since the process is very different from mask making. Needless to say, after MANY weeks of exhaustive attempts and wasted materials I finally got it right. These were hand painted, hand haired, and much more accurate than the first. I had intentions of doing a run of 30, but after receiving angry emails from folks who couldn’t afford the ebay bidding, I closed shop early. There was no way to please everyone.

I’ve been asked a few times why I didn’t just take advantage of the demand and pursue licensing, or just mass produce them overseas. It was the perfect time, 2007 and the playoffs were coming up. The tribe had a real chance that year. Here’s why….I wanted my statue to be as unique as the ‘character’ in the film. The statue is a solid, heavy item (~ 6 lbs) that feels more like an idol should feel than some plastic knockoff made in japan. The irregularities in the mold and the hand effort that I have to put to each statue as it gets cleaned up and painted from the mold makes each one unique. The fact that they aren’t mass produced makes them even more unique. If I were doing this for the money, it would be a different story, but I wanted to make something special for myself, and maybe a few fans along the way. That wasn’t going to happen in a factory. Also, licensing is a legal nightmare and I’m sure the demand is not nearly enough to pay for all the lawyers you would need to sort out the particulars. Once Hollywood gets it cut, I probably wouldn’t be left with much.

5) One of the gentlemen who was lucky enough to receive one from you first batch mentioned that an MLB player once contacted him and offered a large amount of money for the doll that you had created. Have any MLB players ever contacted you to in the same fashion?

As far as I know, the only folks who knew I made them were the few I contacted directly or buyers on ebay that bought directly from me. I did no advertising and really didn’t need to. I couldn’t fill demand with my one-man show and had no intention to try. If I had the opportunity to send one to the Indians (and not some guy in an office over there barely associated with the club), I would be more than happy to donate one.

6) Supposing that Paramount pictures or anyone else associated with the movie Major League never makes an effort to mass produce Jobu dolls, your version is the only one known to exist, making it quite unique and highly sought after by hardcore fans. Would you ever consider doing something like churning out 10 dolls every set number of years (5 years?), as some sort of underground, special edition release of an otherwise unattainable piece of memorabilia for those hardcore fans who are always looking?

That’s entirely reasonable. It’s hot out here on the west coast right now, which prevents me from using certain materials due to temperature sensitivity. Some materials I use need to be handled in a well-ventilated environment (my garage), so I have to wait for the weather to cooperate. But, I’ve only poured six so far and I’m already saying to myself: “*Sigh*…Now I remember why I stopped doing this.” : )

1) I have to ask first, what makes you enjoy Jobu so much that you decided to craft your own? Are you just a fan in general of the move Major League, or is there some kind of inside joke meaning between you and friends? I know you’ve mentioned to me before that you aren’t much of a sports fan, so your dedication to this cause it perplexing in that way.

I actually didn’t think much of the movie at first. It took a few viewings to really gain it’s cult status in my mind. My friends and I still quote lines from the movie to this day and none of us are baseball fans.  As far as Jobu, I really have no idea why I pursued the prop years ago, but I’ll bet it was on a whim after viewing it one night. One of my talents is the ability to do extensive research on things. So it was probably a bit of a personal challenge to find the prop or replica.

2) The lack of a Jobu commercially available doll is something that has driven sports fans like myself crazy trying to find. I liken it to the Holy Grail of sports memorabilia. You’ve gone so far as to contact David Ward (The Director and Writer) as well as many of the crew involved in the filming of Major League. What was his reaction to your questions about Jobu and was there any assistance on his part to connect you with anyone who would care enough to try and locate or talk to someone about producing more?

Mr. Ward was very receptive to my questions, but unfortunately couldn’t be much help when it came to the prop. He did mention that he had been asked in the past about and really wasn’t involved in the props of the film. He knew the character I was referring to and got a laugh about my quest to find it though. He did provide a few leads, but both were unfortunately also unable to recall what became of jobu. I never approached him about the issue of mass production since it really wasn’t my goal. The only person I was unable to get a response from was Dennis Haysbert (The actor who played Pedro Cerrano in the film who ‘owned’ jobu). It’s possible that he has the prop.

3) The attention to detail with the stone Jobu dolls that you hand craft is truly remarkable, especially given the fact that you have limited screenshots from the movie with which to gather those details. I mean, you even have the shot glass, egg glass, rum, cigar, etc. How did you go about creating the mold so accurately, and where did you possibly find the exact type of hair and costume to accurately depict Jobu?

Sculpting something 3 dimensional, such as a figure, from limited two dimensional images is difficult indeed. In the hands of a more experienced sculptor, it would have come out much better I presume, and I claim no mastery of the art of sculpting by any stretch of the imagination. It’s something I did in my spare time. To make matters worse, the images from the different scenes in the film were shot with different lighting. If you study the images (which I did at GREAT length) it almost looks like two different statues. Also, I had no idea how jobu was made. Was he a soft doll type prop, or was he cheap hollow paper mache figure picked up in Mexico, or was he a solid statue? There’s no way to be sure from the images alone and nobody from the cast I spoke with remembered or even handled the prop. I have a small talent for replicating things, and the sculpt I did was close enough to satisfy my needs (which was my main goal).

As far as the hair, I was fortunate to have a little experience. Prior to taking on Jobu, I had just taught myself to sculpt and make Halloween masks. I had a fascination with Michael Myers and began trying to sculpt that first. The Myers mask used in the original Halloween films was actually a 1975 Captain Kirk mask that was spray painted white, had the eye holes cut a bit, and had the originally blond hair spray painted black. It was by sheer coincidence that the leftover blond hair I had matched Jobu’s near perfectly, so I used it.

On a side note, Jobu was not my first venture into the hard-to-find prop department. About five years ago Burger King began a new commercial campaign with the ‘king’ character dressed up and wearing this creepy head. I went on a massive search for a replica of that as well, but found nothing. For my second sculpting experience, I decided to replicate the Burger king mask and fans loved it. Once again, it ate into my free time and I couldn’t really sustain an assembly line. Six months after I began selling mine, Burger King began selling cheap plastic ‘king’ masks (the face with rubber band type). I believe I only made about 10 of them and shut down out of fear that BK would come after me for infringement.


4) We’ve emailed back and forth a bit about what a painstaking process this must be, as it is time consuming, prone to errors like bubbling, and requires the purchasing of materials in bulk, etc. Because of this, I know you’ve only created a limited number of Jobu dolls with the mold you made. How many Jobu dolls have you created, and when was the first stone batch created?

Well, the first batch was about 3-4 years ago. It basically went like this: During my search and communications with the Major League crew, I ran across a message board dedicated to prop replicas. There was a huge thread on Jobu, but nobody knew where to get one or where it came from. I posted a message stating that I would try to make a replica using my existing mask making skills and sell a few to use up the bulk materials that it would involve purchasing. I sculpted the head of Jobu only and made a casting out of thick latex. I subcontracted a woman in Canada, who made doll bodies, to make me some with African American tone hands and feet. I then subcontracted a local seamstress to make Jobu’s clothes, and went on a search for small cigars and wooden shot cups. The cups and cigars were not necessary, but they add value to the doll and were an appreciated touch. I cant remember the exact number, but I believe it was less than 20 that were made. My mold broke and I never made a new mold and moved on to other projects. About six months later, I decided to do a different version, but this time would sculpt the entire prop and make it a stone statue figure. The problem was, I had no idea how to do this since the process is very different from mask making. Needless to say, after MANY weeks of exhaustive attempts and wasted materials I finally got it right. These were hand painted, hand haired, and much more accurate than the first. I had intentions of doing a run of 30, but after receiving angry emails from folks who couldn’t afford the ebay bidding, I closed shop early. There was no way to please everyone.

I’ve been asked a few times why I didn’t just take advantage of the demand and pursue licensing, or just mass produce them overseas. It was the perfect time, 2007 and the playoffs were coming up. The tribe had a real chance that year. Here’s why….I wanted my statue to be as unique as the ‘character’ in the film. The statue is a solid, heavy item (~ 6 lbs)  that feels more like an idol should feel than some plastic knock off made in japan. The irregularities in the mold and the hand effort that I have to put to each statue as it gets cleaned up and painted from the mold makes each one unique. The fact that they aren’t mass produced, make them even more unique. If I were doing this for the money, it would be a different story, but I wanted to make something special for Myself, and maybe a few fans along the way. That wasn’t going to happen in a factory. Also, licensing is a legal nightmare and I’m sure the demand is not nearly enough to pay for all the lawyers you would need to sort out the particulars. Once Hollywood gets it cut, I probably wouldn’t be left with much.

5) One of the gentlemen who was lucky enough to receive one from you first batch mentioned that an MLB player once contacted him and offered a large amount of money for the doll that you had created. Have any MLB players ever contacted you to in the same fashion?

As far as I know, the only folks who knew I made them were the few I contacted directly or buyers on ebay that bought directly from me. I did no advertising and really didn’t need to. I couldn’t fill demand with my one man show and had no intention to try. If I had the opportunity to send one to the Indians (and not some guy in an office over there barely associated with the club), I would be more than happy to donate one.

6) Supposing that Paramount pictures or anyone else associated with the move Major League never makes an effort to mass produce Jobu dolls, your version is the only known one to exist, making it quite unique and highly sought after by hardcore fans. Would you ever consider doing something like churning out 10 dolls every set number of years (5 years?), as some sort of underground, special edition release of an otherwise unattainable piece of memorabilia for the hardcore fans who are always looking?

That’s entirely reasonable. It’s hot out here on the west coast right now, which prevents me from using certain materials due to temperature sensitivity. Some materials I use need to be handled in a well ventilated environment (My garage) so I have to wait for the weather to cooperate.  But, I’ve only poured six so far and I’m already saying to Myself: “*Sigh*…Now I remember why I stopped doing this”. ;)

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1 Comment:
  • I have made a couple of jobu dolls and will be selling one soon. Contact me at ssuciu2000@yahoo.com if interested.
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