September 15, 2006

THE BIRTHPLACE AND DEATHPLACE OF FIBERGLASS ART


Everyday the FAST corporation in Sparta, Wisconsin makes these United States just a little more fun. They've surrounded us with hundreds of colorful, giant fiberglass statues that are scattered among the nation's mini-golf courses, zoos, motels, amusement parks, restaurants...basically all the places I want to be.
Who can you turn to when college students kidnap the local Shoney's Big Boy?
Who can manufacture pure hometown pride in the form of a pair of eight foot milk jugs?
Who can transform your school mascot from a mere face on a sweatshirt into a tangible behemoth that can sport real shaving cream, eggs and underpants?
The FAST corp can. (because they mix it with love and make the world look good.)

When I first became aware of FAST (short for Fiberglass Animals Shapes and Trademarks) I immediately sent away for their full-color catalog. Upon its arrival I tore open the pages, eager to choose the perfect monstrosity for my front yard. I couldn't have been more delighted with their assortment, but I quickly realized that I would need to toil many more years before I could afford a single clown trashcan or even their smallest hobo. I filed the booklet away in a pile of broken dreams. But now, with the advent this blog I have a reason to dredge it up once again. I wish to share some selections from that catalog with lucky, lucky you. (Note: prices are from 2001. Click on the images to enlarge.)


I always begin to tremble when I see that cover.


I can't tell..is he serving ice cream from the vat he's standing in, or is he just relaxing in a hot tub full of soapy pirate water? (Pirate in tub: $7,665)


Here's an impossible choice.
(Miner: $12,600 Lumberjack: $12,600 Pirate: $4,935
Pheasant: $22,900 Horse: $5,000 Flamingo $29,000 Get them all= $87,035)


This just makes me think.. "why not?"
(price unlisted)


It's like a little glimpse of heaven.
(Ghosts: $1,575 ea. Gorilla: $13,200 The 25 foot version of that gorilla is their most expensive figure at $38,700)


It's the Shoney's Big Boy and the Shoney's Goose and the Shoney's Parrot and the Shoney's Pony.


Remember the second commandment. Remember the second commandment. Remember the sec....
(Frankenstein head: $4,725)


It looks as though the hunter has become the hunted! Ha ha ha ha ha!
(Creature: $6,000 Fisherman: $4,700)

Many more wonders await you on their online catalog.

But that's only half of the story!
Surprisingly, the people at FAST aren't perfect. In what could be interpreted as an act of penance, the employees surround their own workshop with dozens upon dozens of their own failures. It's known as the FAST fiberglass graveyard. I was there in 2001 and I have the photos to prove it. Readers, I present you with a look at the what I like to call
The Land of Misfit Fiberglass!!

(click each photo to enlarge)

To the common eye, every piece appears to be flawless. In most cases the craftsmen (who adhere to an incomparable standard of excellence) are the only ones with knowledge of each item's impropriety. Just an example... in the photo above, the elephant's molded harness was originally sculpted to look like Bycast leather (a product usually constructed by rolling a film of colored polyurethane onto a glued surface) in reality, this type of leather would be far too weak for such a hefty task. Thankfully, newer models of the statue feature a fiberglass rendition of a harness made from a more durable material. Still this rejected pachyderm stands as a constant reminder that research is of utmost importance.


They should rent out laser tag sets and just say that the bees are part of the challenge.


Nobody steals the giant cherry on his watch.


This guy just needs a gun in his hand and he'll look like an off duty cop who heard his front window break just as he was putting on his flip-flops.


Would you please come pick up your order Mr. Spielberg.


This is either the most disheartening or the most uplifting photograph ever taken. I can't decide which.

I tell ya, they broke the mold when they made the FAST Corporation. However, FAST puts all of their molds over in this field...


And yes, everything does come to life at night.

Upon seeing the boneyard, onlookers often beg the question.. why?
Is this forest of faulty monuments a form of self-punishment? Or could it be that a daily drive through one's own history of mistakes is the ultimate path to excellence? Well, could it? Now do you see what I'm getting at? Now who's the "crazy" one? I see that my work is done, for I have made it irrefutably clear as to why FAST.. is simply the best!

12 comments:

The CDP. said...

I'm from Wisconsin, and I've always meant to visit this place. We also have M. Shetl's here in Oshkosh, which manufactures some surreal fiberglass goodies.

Love the Spot and the Blog. I strongly appreciate and respect the amount of work that goes into these pages. Keep Retro Culture alive!

Kirk D. said...

You're fortunate CDP because there are so many fun places in your state. The Dells for Pete's sake! House on the Rock! Those are some of my all time favorites (and I'm destined to blog them at some point) I've never heard of M. Shetl's but you can bet I'll look into it now.

If you ever visit either place make sure to snap plenty of pictures and put them on flickr or something and let me (us) know.

I wish I would have taken about a hundred more photos of the graveyard, but that was back when I was still using film and photos weren't free. I hope to return someday.

I appreciate the kind words! I'm glad you're enjoying it.

The CDP. said...

The Dells and House on the Rock are reason enough for me to never leave Wisconsin. The next time I visit either place, I'll take (and share) my photos.

It's M. Shettl, by the way; I misspelled it.

(thecdp.net)

chuckbaris said...

I will covet that frankenstein head until the day I die my friend. And when it isn't burried with me, my ghost will be disapointed and come back to haunt you kirk D. You and your children and your children's children. The curse begins now.

Rozum said...

Those ghost trash can covers, big Frankie's head, so many to choose from.

What the thought process was behind the Mighty Mouse/elephant combo is a mystery.

great post!

Herva said...

BPY... Best post yet. Those in other countries who have less than positive things to say about the US shouldn't see this, as the jealously would surely overwhelm them and true war would break out. I stil think Todd needs to buy/build a 40ft Frankestein....

Todd Franklin said...

I want to live in the Land of Misfit Fiberglass! I hope to see some cheesy fiberglass this week!

Herva said...

...oh and clearly the pirate is about to put some lead in that lady's skull because she's touching his cream.

brainwerk said...

I love these. I live in Minnesota and we have many scattered here too. Any time I see a Paul Bunyan I pull the car over for pictures. My wife is rolling her eyes while I am instantly transformed into a ten year old snapping pictures like mad. In the last month I’ve went out of my way to take pictures with a GREAT Paul Bunyan in Bemidji, MN and a HUGE Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, MN. I want to get pictures with my son and these because they are slowly disappearing…

Lotta said...

Yea, you put one amazing thing on my list of sites to see! I never new this was in WI. Thanks for sharing!

Mr. Kimberly said...

I love that you visited both the fiberglass and Vegas sign graveyard. As a lover of roadside attractions, Wisconsin getting higher on my list of places to visit. F.A.S.T. is now on the list, thanks to you.

Because you are a kindred spirit, may I recommend the following Georgia attractions: The Lunchbox Museum & Larry Hall's "Empire City" - River Market Antiques Mall, Columbus, GA, The Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum, Madison, GA and Georgia Guidestones and Elberton Granite Museum - Elberton, GA.

Kirk D. said...

Brainwerk- I sure hope you visit the Corn Palace regularly too! I still haven't visited Mt. Rushmore so I'll be headed for your neck of the woods before long.

Lotta- you bet. Wisconsin is so great for stuff like this. And as I've said before the House on the Rock is the ultimate.

Mr. Kimberly- Ah, yes..Wisconsin. Sadly they just shut down the Wisconsin Dells Wonder Spot, but again I say unto thee The House on the Rock is reason enough to visit WI.
Wow, thanks for the list of Georgia attractions. You're timing is great because I'll actually be vacationing there in June. I'll definitely investigate your recommendations!