Harry Potter Skele-gro bottle review

juno

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I recently bought two of the Skele-gro bottles from Hotshot. (http://www.therpf.com/f13/hp-cos-skele-gro-bottles-list-closed-118790/) One was a gift, and one was for me, so I decided to remain anonymous on the purchase so that my friend wouldn’t know I’d gotten her one. (It’s her fave Potter prop.) The half up front was a little disconcerting, as I don’t know Hotshot, but there were a lot of folks welcoming him to the board, so I assumed he was a known quantity. He delivered the bottles in a timely fashion, via priority mail with tracking and insurance.

My bottle was well packed with a form fitting spray foam insert. However, one of the arms had broken off. This happened to a lot of folks’ bottles, and it isn’t a big deal. I was surprised that he’d foam-filled it (a way to save on resin – I assumed $85 meant it was a solid resin piece). What was a big deal, was the amount of air holes (innie bubbles) and goobers (outie bubbles) the piece was covered with. The bottom decal hadn’t been trimmed enough, and so there was decal material crumpled up by the hand. The spraypaint had that weird effect that sometimes happens when primer dries as it hits the piece. The base was warped (I’ll come back to that later) and the skull looked like it had been repaired but poorly painted over. I was completely disappointed.

I e-mailed Hotshot and he quickly responded that after so many bottles, one sometimes slips through the cracks. He told me to send it back and he’d send me another one. I paid for return priority shipping with insurance and tracking. I didn’t wait terribly long for a new bottle, and it arrived packed as before, and this time the arms were intact.

However, again there were goobers, air holes, and poor painting (there were even a few paint brush hairs left in the paint), seemingly no semi-gloss clear coat, warping at the base and a hole in the back near one of the ribs. I again sent Hotshot an e-mail. This time, he replied that the hole was poked (I’m not sure if he was implying that I poked it or the postal service did. The hole was in the back where the insulation sat, and the carton was undamaged.) The warping was meant to make the piece look like hand-made pottery (this warping isn’t present on the real prop), paintbrush bristles “happen,” and that I was being picky about the air holes and goobers.

You can view photos of the bottle here: Skele-gro - a set on Flickr

The bottle looks good from about five feet away. I had friends happen to be over both times, and both times the comments were, “That almost looks nice.”

He said he couldn’t do a return because “I've shipped this twice, and lost a bottle out of it( the first one was tossed and parted out)”. (Remember, I paid to return ship to him, so I’ve now spent about $95 on this replica. Also, the first shipping would be part of the purchase price.) He offered to send me a kit so that I could paint it myself. I could keep or return the bad bottle as I saw fit.

I wasn’t ecstatic, but I wasn’t unhappy. I told him I would take the unfinished kit and assumed I would keep the bottle. After all, I did pay $95. But I did add that if he was going to refund my return shipping fees I’d return it. He then replied again, offering me different options. He would send me the kit and I’d keep the bottle (what I thought I’d agreed to), send back the bottle and he’d send me a kit plus refund the difference. He also wondered why I would want to keep the bottle if I didn’t like it. Well, I had made my decision to keep it before he’d offered to refund the difference.

I want to note that our conversation was consistently polite. Hotshot wasn’t rude, even when implying that I was scamming him. The conversation ended when he said he needed to sleep on it.

I’m just going to keep the bottle and just chalk up the expense to a lesson learned. I just expected more for my $85 / $95. If I saw this piece in a store, I wouldn’t spend more than $40 on it. Instead, I paid artisan prices for an assembly-line piece. With the RPF, I assume that the people making things love props as much as I do, and understand that we’re a detail-oriented bunch. I pride myself on making things that I would be happy to put on my own shelf, and I will gladly refund or replace or attempt to repair any problems someone has with my work.

Now, normally I wouldn’t take all this to the forum. However, I did a little searching around and was made aware that I’m not the first one to notice Hotshot’s poor assembly-line practices:
Rhett Martin - HotShotDraw - AWHotshot (BANNED) - Community - Ghostbusters Fans Forum
Anyone else got stung by a crappy proton pack kit? - Page 2 - Community - Ghostbusters Fans Forum (Read this post in particular: Anyone else got stung by a crappy proton pack kit? - Page 2 - Community - Ghostbusters Fans Forum)

Hotshot clearly has talent, but I think his quest to make money off his replicas gets in the way of making truly beautiful things.
 

Boogeyman13

Sr Member
I received my bottle over the weekend. I noticed the dent in the bottom of the bottle, and thought maybe it was an issue with the cast, and explained it away as being a hand made thing (which apparently was the intent. :)) It was a gift for my wife and she's happy with it, so no issues there.

I was giving it a closer inspection, though, and discovered that there were a couple small chips and cracks in the resin right at the top of the bottle, where it looks like the foam hadn't fully filled in? Also, there was a piece of epoxy or something laid over a section of the interior of the top piece that wasn't sanded or smoothed. I can only assume was due to more cracking. However, the resin skull piece does a pretty good job at covering it all up, so I figured it wasn't worth turning into a thing.

I do like the fact that a custom base was included, though, and overall, it looks pretty good. My only concern is that I don't know how fragile it is, and I'm afraid of accidentally holding it too hard or having it fall over, because I don't know how sturdy that resin is (from the above mentioned damage on top, I'm guessing not very), and all that's underneath is foam.

It's a shame to hear that others have had some problems with this run, but it seems like Hotshot's genuinely trying to solve problems as they arise. And it overall does look very nice, IMO.
 
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Wolfie

Sr Member
I was disappointed in the fact its basically a piece of foam as well. for close to $90.00 I too was expecting a bit more substance from it. The resin skin is bubbled in two - three places. My arm was broken on arrival also and had pulled away a little piece of skin.

Also have lots of goobers but I TOTALLY have a similar collapse hole like you do, not far from the same place. I do have 2-3 places where if I touch the thing hard enough, its going to poke the skin through.


While I understand there was a lot of work in it, i certainly wish there'd have been more too it. I feel like I cannot touch the thing or its going to be in pieces. Him offering the base is a nice gesture to fix the fact the head is a solid piece and causes extreme top heaviness , but then a base isnt at all part of the prop.

I'm glad to have it, but I'd love to see more improvements made by others or even Hotshot himself. The bottom isnt even finished, just raw foam for example. It does seem like something I'd buy at Wizarding World for $40.00 , I have to agree.

I bought a kit form because I want the prop badly, to see if I can assemble it myself and also reinforce and clean the item and paint it myself in such a way that I'll sell the original and keep my buildup/paint job if it turns out looking better. I figure thats easier than dealing with returning and complaints. Just see if I can build it up better to my own view. While that wont fix certain issues, it might make me feel better :)

I'd love to get in on his book but wary at this point because again, I'm afraid it would just get stabbed through. The bottle sculpt not being perfect doesnt bother me that much, nothing is ever spot on with out being cast off an original. While a bit oversized I think those were awesome , regardless... I just think the process in which the items are made from the sculpt leaves more to be desired.
 
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ATL Kenobi

Sr Member
.... What was a big deal, was the amount of air holes (innie bubbles) and goobers (outie bubbles) ....
I didn't know those types of defects had names, but mine has them as well as some mold flash amongst the vertabrae which I'd've thought could easily have been removed before it was painted. Being as tall as it is, the bottle is in the back of my HP display, in the corner, so hopefully it won't fall over.

ATL
 

Funky

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Though I didn't buy one, I went to another RPFers house last week that DID buy one. I have to agree with Juno and Wolfie 100%. The thing was too fragile to touch, unbalanced and really felt my buddy paid WAYYYY too much.
He agreed.
On another note, I do have one of Hotshot's Ghostbusters goggles and belt gizmo and they are both sturdy,look fantastic and I could not be happier with both pieces.
What does this say to me? It says that on the two pieces I received he's "perfected" the process on making them and turns out good pieces. I feel the bottle just isn't quite "there" and that he should take this opportunity and great feedback to perfect and tweak the piece. He's obviously on the right track with the bottle as it looks great, it just shouldn't be handled. With a little more work I personally feel that he he is capable of putting out a nice hero Skele-gro bottle. (let's call this one a "stunt" version :))
 

Gideon Vanguard

Well-Known Member
I'd like to say I'm relieved I wasn't the only person who received a Skele-gro bottle that seemed more like a second than a finished product but this one time I would have rather remained in the minority. I'm not attempting to bad mouth Rhett in any way but the following presents my opinion of the bottle.

My bottle did arrive rather well packed in it's spray foam coffin although one arm broken free at the shoulder socket (may have even been caused by the foam hardening around the bottle). Saying I was a bit disappointed when I pulled the bottle free of it's packaging and found the bottom to be raw expanded foam is an understatement. Raw foam is not generally something I expect to find in a finished product especially if its the base upon which it is meant to stand. Having to clean up little foam "crumbs" everytime I pick up or move the bottle only helps to serve as a constant reminder of its semi-finished state.

The upper half of the bottle has several dozen tiny bubbles along the rib cage and has several unsightly seams/flash along the spine. The back of the "neck" ring also has the extremly obvious seam right along the second E of the raised Skele-gro lettering that seems common to everyones bottle.

The lower half of the bottle seems to suffer from the too little resin and too much expanded foam complex. While it is cylindrical in shape I wouldn't exactly call it a cylinder. The surface would be best described as rippled, it has both sunken in and ridged areas (I can post a photo if anyone is interested). The bottle tends to tilt to the right side (even without its head topper) because the sidewalls were so thin along the one edge that most likely they chipped off while the bottom was being sanded smooth so instead of a nice crisp resin edge its only beveled foam. I recognize the fact that the base (when it arrives) will hide this edge but unfortunately it's non-canon to the movies so I would never display it in this matter.

It seemed everyone was showering Rhett with glowing reviews so I opted not to cause a ruckus seeing how I was no stranger to apoxie sculpt and could resculpt the base. Some careful work with a hobby knife would also solve most of my seam and air bubble issues. The only problem I would face was I was going to need a new set of water-slide decals for the lower half of the bottle to really make it right. I sent Rhett a PM on 9/25/11 explaining that I wasn't satisfied with the raw foam bottom and would be sealing it with putty but wanted to know if I could get another set of labels. As of this date I have yet to get a reply. Honestly I have been rather busy myself the past few weeks (spent a week in Luxembourg, closed on a new house) so I really haven't followed up on it either. I saw the listing in the junkyard for the Skele-gro kits and wished he had offered them in kit form in the first place. I have gotten other odds and ends from Rhett in the past but I'm afraid this is my first-last finished prop. Sorry if I rambled but I figured I would share my experience.

-JG
 
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epilepticsquirl

Sr Member
What was a big deal, was the amount of air holes (innie bubbles) and goobers (outie bubbles) the piece was covered with. The bottom decal hadn’t been trimmed enough, and so there was decal material crumpled up by the hand.
...paintbrush bristles “happen,” and that I was being picky about the air holes and goobers.
Paintbrush bristles "happen" when you use a .97 throw away chip brush.

The artwork on the bottom decals is just a really bad resolution, the gray border just screams out at you.

A shame considering the potential that could've been with a little more TLC.

Hotshot has done some great work, but this really falls short on his mark.
 

Kerr Avon

Master Member
The bottom of the bottle shows the foam? It wasn't a resin bottom? If so, that's totally unacceptable. With more care on the buildup, I think it'd look better too, but really, that bottom is just bad build up.
 

Stivie

Well-Known Member
As this being my very first purchase/prop here on the RPF it has put a little bit of a sour taste in my mouth and might not being doing it again anytime soon. I do think it was priced a little high for the end result and then to have an unfinished kit available only a few weeks later for $30 dollars cheaper didn't help either. I do agree with the others on the unfinished foam and will hopefully rectify it myself soon.
 

juno

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I think he's just moved on to drumming up sales for his next replica.
 

Alan Castillo

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
He said he was replacing the bottles with upgraded ones, for those who were not happy with theirs Juno. I think you qualify :lol.

(It's in the bottle sales thread).
 

Wolfie

Sr Member
Yeah, I do believe he's taking the thread to heart, so some good will come of this thread. He posted he'd be correcting all the complaints and offering replacements.
 

Mxlplx

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I'll throw in my 2 cents here.

I ordered 2 of them, and display them proudly in our Potter collection.
I think Rhett is a very talented individual, and has done a remarkable job with this bottle.

That being said, I completely understand why he chose the foam filled vs. solid cast. That sucker would have been 10 lbs. other wise. I think a happy medium could have been found with just a thicker walled bottle.
I may try my hand at carving out the foam and putting some resin or putty in there to sturdy it up.

Yeah, there could have been improvements, but hey, this is the first run of a brand new, never been attempted before product.

All in all, a fine piece for my collection!
 

Pookie

New Member
I have never bought from Hotshot but my husband has, and I am shocked. I have heard nothing but great stuff about him and his work. I sm sure he will rectify any complaints:)
 
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