CHERRY TARTS

photos and figures by Mike T. Cherry

Last modified: Saturday, January 6, 2001 6:41 PM

 

I'm not a religious person, but I feel I have a fairly well-developed and balanced sense of ethics which have grown out of my experiences and lots of independent thought. It can be murky territory and we sometimes stray from the path, but I believe it distills to a simple guiding principle which happens to coincide with a religious one: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." A.K.A. The Golden Rule. This isn't simply religious wisdom: It's a basic real-world survival strategy. If you're a jerk to other people, chances are they'll treat you the same way, and maybe clobber you just for the heck of it.

This is expressed in my position on recasting, and other activities which hurt people. It's wrong to buy a copy of someone else's work and make copies of that to sell without compensating the original artist or securing permission. It's wrong because you would hate for this to happen to you. Not only is it wrong, but it's illegal: The legal system exists to codify our moral judgments, and right things which are morally wrong.

I have a different position on matters related to nudity and profanity (and buxerotica). I see these as "victimless" issues-- issues of aesthetics, not right or wrong. Our current moral and legal judgments about these have grown out of cultural tradition, not out of anything intrinsic. Profanities are just words: All the real content is in how they're expressed, and how we interpret them. Although we may not like what we see or hear, we should be able to tolerate it and move on. Everyone's entitled to their own world, as long as it doesn't infringe on yours and it doesn't involve victims.

 

The art of customizing runs head-on into these types of issues. It's true that customizers rely on manufacturers for the raw material of customizing. The manufacturers in turn rely on industrial processors for their raw materials. And it's true that some "customizers" recast parts. This steps on some toes because the value of the "products" being created rely so heavily on work appropriated from the manufacturer. However, a skillful artist like Mike Cherry uses a retail-priced, tax-paid stock figure as a basis for creating original characters. The lineage of the stock figure is virtually impossible to detect, except for perhaps the articulation, where exposed. The primary value of those figures doesn't come from the articulation; it comes strictly from Mike's artistry.

In this case, the manufacturer loses no revenue (in fact, this may actually result in increased sales), and it's unlikely that the manufacturer would be reserving this avenue for future product enhancements, despite demand-- that probably wouldn't fit their self-defined corporate image. So it's a victimless "crime", if it's a crime at all.

A manufacturer might be justified in stifling businesses which use a product in a way which damages the manufacturer's corporate image. That would require a direct usage of their recognizable product. In this case however, the underlying figure is a raw material representing a generic female form. No attempt is made to capitalize on the distinctive look and costuming which the manufacturer has added to the basic human form. In a sense, its original manufacturer is therefore largely irrelevant-- it's just a female figure-- not a particularly good one either--and soon there will be better ones on the market.

It's no secret that the legal system can be used by concerns with huge financial resources to bully individuals with lesser resources. It doesn't matter whether the case has any merit or not. The sheer imbalance of financial resources is reason enough to avoid a protracted legal battle. Unfortunately, the law can be manipulated to subvert its moral underpinnings through the skillful work of highly-paid experts.

One is left with the question of what motivates a "Cease and Desist" order in this case, and where the actual "wrong" is. Clearly, the manufacturer is not losing money. If it's about damage of corporate image, a case could be made against anyone selling a custom figure using their figure as a base. Especially if it came with a gun, since some folks find those offensive.

There are a lot of other services which might be considered illegal under this interpretation of manufacturer's property rights. Is it legal to assemble and paint a garage kit for a customer? It is legal to offer automobile customization services? Are paid clothing alterations legal? Shouldn't we be signing "Acceptance of Terms" agreements whenever we purchase anything?

In trying to sort out the right and wrong of it all, I notice that there's one other "victim" who apparently doesn't rate consideration by the manufacturer-- the customer who doesn't find the manufacturer's stock product appealing, and whose only avenue for remedying that has been closed by the manufacturer. Gee thanks, Big H... You've won my loyalty!


Photos were nabbed from Mike Cherry's postings at alt.toys.gi-joe, 03/99 - 11/99. I hope he doesn't sue me.

Visit his website at:

www.miketcherry.com.

He's got other great stuff there. Apparently, he can't post these pictures of his own work there, for fear of getting bullied by the sharks. That's absurd, isn't it? But if I were in his shoes, I might just continue making these lovely ladies... discreetly of course... because it's fun. I don't think that's illegal, is it?

 

THE ART OF MIKE CHERRY
  1. "Amazon Mercenary Force"
  2. "SFC Ruiz"
  3. "Fallschirmjaeger Girl"
  4. "Major Musil, USMC"
  5. "Freckles"
  6. "SWAT Girl"

 

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WARNING: Some pics on the next page show more exposed female doll nippleage than this website usually does, but in the interest of accuracy in reporting, I'm compelled to provide these examples. You should be over 18 years old to safely risk exposure to this kind of material. If you're not, you shouldn't be here anyway! GO HOME.

Shaddup and show me the moneymakers