Geek Services SA – Altered State (Repairs & Customs)


This part of a feature series where we showcase some of the most talent creators and service providers South Africa has to offer.

With everything from custom figures to bespoke cakes – let us show you the magic that’s practically next door!


You know how the story goes…

You have an epic piece in your collection and the cat the cleaning lady or an upset spouse does the worst and breaks it.

Your heart shatters just like your will to live.

Well in our first ever feature in this new ongoing series we had a chat with Lars Nielsen of “Altered State”.

So Lars, tell us a little more about yourself . 

I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you.

Just kidding.  Not much to tell really.  When I’m not in my garage creating, I’m spending time with my wife and 5 year old son or working in my “normal” job of selling natural stone tiles and cladding but my ultimate dream is to sculpt full time.

(I’m an) Avid collector of pop culture collectibles, mostly comic, movie and gaming characters, however I’m very passionate about my music and supporting the local metal scene, so a large part of my collection and my creations are inspired by this.

 Where does the name Altered state come from?

It was actually a very spur of the moment choice.  Like most of my ideas, it came in the early hours of the morning while busy in my workshop (I make it sound so fancy but it’s actually my garage workbench that I have re-purposed).

I had been wanting to give my hobby an identity of its own for a while but was struggling to come up with a fitting name.  One of my favourite albums is Arise by Sepultura, and one of my favourite tracks on the album is, take a guess, Altered State.   And that is how it happened.

I thought it was fitting as most of my work involves altering objects, whether from a ball of clay into a statue, a broken statue into a fixed one or even repaints.  Nothing leaves my garage in the same state that it arrived.

How did you discover your powers? 

Lol.  No super powers here, just a lot of practice and determination.  

I was very into building model kits as a kid (very badly now that I look back on them!) and as money was a bit tight back then had to figure out to fix my toys very early on as there was no chance of my folks getting me a new one when something broke :D  

I had pretty much got out of it until a fellow collector posted some pics of his broken statues a couple of years back on one of the groups.  I offered to fix them, he thought I was crazy.  I fixed it and the rest is history.  

The sculpting side started off much the same.  I purchased a vintage Toy Biz Thing model kit from one of the markets in Cape Town and on getting home discovered that his feet were missing.  I figured how hard can it be and purchased my first block of clay.

Well whats amazing is that you give items we thought are history a whole new lease on life! As a whole, what sort of services do you offer? 

I don’t think I have turned anyone away yet so I may be a bit of a sucker for punishment having repaired everything from high end statues to vintage porcelain porridge bowls :D

I guess you could narrow it down to repairs on resin and cold cast porcelain statues (action figures to a lesser degree), custom sculptures and customisation (including customised Funko Pops, custom repaints etc).  I am always keen on a challenge.

What’s the most “challenging”, or toughest repair you have ever done?

They all present very unique challenges from sculpting missing pieces from scratch, tricky paint matching etc. Really difficult to pick out a single one, but I’d have to say all the cape repairs I have done.  Especially Superman as red is a nightmare to match up.  Metallic Red is especially painful.  Repairing hands and creating missing fingers is also something I do a lot of.

Everybody knows how Funko Pop! Vinyl Figures are “THE” thing among collectors over the last few years. Tell us more about your custom Pop! Vinyl Figures.

Okay, so imagine being able to get a statue or Pop of your favourite character in a certain pose or from a certain scene of your favourite movie. Now you look around and realise that NONE of the big companies have made it.Well, that’s where I come in!Basically the only limit is your imagination (and your budget! wink wink)I have done some pretty interesting custom Pop! figures recently.

I have to say the most interesting and fun (though challenging) things has to be finding a way to communicate the vision of a client in this form while still managing to keep the POP! aesthetic in place – from the features right down to the box!

Is your custom build service limited to Pop! Vinyl Figures or would you take a stab at custom statues and figures?

I have done quite a few custom figures and “Altered State” limited release items, though I’m still waiting on that commission of a statue!

It’s pretty big overseas with some amazing artists whose custom pieces go for quite a bit but I think it is something that hasn’t really caught on in South Africa yet.

The way I see it, why settle for number X of 5000 pieces when you can have number 1 of 1!

Tell us more about the Altered State limited release items 

Although most of my custom work is one off, I do mold and cast some of my work in resin.  As each one is hand painted with the same care as the original they are all pretty much limited release.  So far I have made a Deadpool bust and have the Pop! customisation service.

I do have a few ideas in mind and products in development so be sure to follow me on Social Media.

Okay, so that brings us to the awkward part – what kind of pricing are we looking at? 

It really depends on the amount of work involved and the time it will take.  Repairs generally from R 250 upwards.  With custom work it is much the same.

My custom Pops are generally priced from R700 – R1500 depending on the level of customisation required as well as other add on items like a custom box and interchangeable parts for example.

With that being said though, nothing is cast in stone – I’m a collector as well and I know how expensive the hobby is so I am always happy to come up with ways of fitting into my client’s budget.

What sort of turn around time are we looking at? 

Again it depends on the amount of work involved and how my work bench is looking.  Besides the actual sculpting and painting of custom pieces there is quite a bit of planning and research that goes into each piece.

A big part of what I do is keeping my clients posted every step of the way with progress photos etc.  Its part of the fun and excitement and I try make it a great experience for them whether I’m doing a repair or creating a one a kind piece.

Sounds great, so for repairs, how does one get one’s stuff to you?

Postnet to Postnet is normally the quickest/safest/cheapest option for out-of-towners.

If you’re in the area I have great consulting hours and have even been known to make house calls :)



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In the meanwhile, and for more great content  be sure to follow  Zaid “DarthZadyBun” Motala on his Social Media platforms as listed below.


About Zaid Motala

Zaid Motala
Zaid "DarthZadyBun" is an artist, writer, traveler and collector who lives his life by striking off one bucket list item at a time.Powered by chocolate and forever in search of well priced lucks he finances his adventures by dispensing (mostly) legal advice.