Degree Miniatures is a family owned company that was established in the late 90’s by myself, David Grech. Being a family run company, let me invite you into family.
One of my hobbies is wargaming. Back in the eighties I used to cast my own soldiers in lead and as I progressed I built myself a centrifugal machine which gave better detailed castings.
Copying is one thing, creating your own range of figurines and branding it as my own was another thing entirely, an exciting venture.
I set up my own company, DeGree Miniatures. Residing in the small island of Malta, immersed in military history with exotic regiments such as ‘Cacciatori Maltesi’, ‘The Maltese Light infantry’ and the range of Grand Masters with all their splendor. I was hooked, I invested in proper mould vulcanizers and pneumatic centricast machinery. Looking back to the first original sculpting I have to admit they were not what one would call ‘great’ but they sold and with each new sculpting project came improvement. It was the golden days of Ebay and internet selling.
My first trade stand at the SSM scale models exhibition
Such unheard of regiments from the Island of Malta were selling like pastizzi. Alongside came other commissions. Model ships for restoration, a memento for retiring AFM officers, a Malta Republic coat of arm for Dar Malta in Brussels, map reliefs, restoration of the Duilio in 1/48 scale to mention a few.
I have always been a fan of comics, particularly ones featuring Tintin or Asterix. Recently I tried my hand at sketching cartoon figures which lead me to creating a character named Baguette based on French soldier during the Maltese blockade. A role not far from home as it is often played by myself as a French re-enactor. The caricature style of Asterix with their oversize heads and thin legs further influenced my sculpting as I developed my own artistic interoperation.
Then came six wise men. What better subjects to choose for caricatures than our political leaders. But who, and what shall the story be? Shall I portray Borg Olivier with Gonzi? The younger generation do not know Mintoff smoking his pipe with the large square spectacles. They are more likely to recognize him in a green anorak and a Lenin style cap.
The scenario was set, it’s l’istrina and the president invites the politicians for a drink. An exclusive party for ex prime ministers and party leaders of Malta’s more prominent parties. Here we meet - Dom Mintoff, Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici, Eddie Fenech Adami, Alfred Sant, Lawrenze Gonzi and Joseph Muscat as they were in 2012. Then I wanted an additional twist, a dog. The dog here represents those who in some way or form bark at their masters to get their own way.
Year 2000.The original modest collection.
Creating the collection - I downloaded all the available photographs of the characters so that I could formulate an image in my mind. It had to consist unmistakable physical traits such as posture, features and body language while not wanting to ridicule them with exaggerated features but wanting to enhance their individual particularities.
I then placed them in an imaginary context, near each other - as they would be at the president’s reception. Just imagine the heated discussion - Mintoff storming out of the room fuming, Alfred Sant indifferent checking the time, Karmenu insisting on Malta’s neutrality and Joseph eager to prove himself to his elders. Outnumbered 4:2 on the side of the nationalists Eddie assures Gonzi that he can overcome what ever the labor party can throw at them.
Then there is the dog, gnashing his teeth. But at whom?
This was the idea behind the collection of politicians. Question is how would you play out the scenario?
On a personal note, I also have a wife and two kids. Anna my wife, hates comics and is afraid to sail in winds of more than 2 knots but she supports me and endures my monologues. James whom I have designated as Marketing adviser pushed me through great expense to produce a niche quality product. His main interests are very expensive cars, watches and Apple products. Last but not least Sarah. She's studying Physiotherapy and has diagnosed me with a Delusional disorder!