TULSA, Okla. (KFOR) – There are people who stumble into Eric Lee’s home office and wonder if he’s on some kind of permanent break.
“I have stories of people coming in here while I’m doing animation and thinking I’m slacking off,” he chuckles.
But he really is working, honest, sculpting what looks like a Wiley Post figure in virtual reality.
While working he tells us, “I like the idea of hiding the shape of Oklahoma in these figures.”
He is an animator by trade and a lifelong collector of little action figures.
Lee recalls, “Little rubberized guys called Muscle Men. They were Keshi guys.”
When someone suggested he model a figure based on Tulsa’s Golden Driller at the local fairgrounds, he took up the challenge and went further.
“I did a sculpt of him, posted it on Instagram, and everyone was like, ‘Hey. where can I get one of these?'”
Will Rogers seemed like someone most people knew.
Wiley Post followed when Lee saw a picture of him with his space helmet on.
Eric says Post reminded him “of a regular Iron Man.”
Eventually, he settled on five figures to place in a package.
Will and Wiley, the Golden Driller, famous U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves and the Buck Atom character that stands outside the Tulsa store that carries his name.
“How was it received,” asks an office visitor about his OKIES line?
“I think people were excited,” Lee replies. “It’s a great launching point to start talking to people about Oklahoma history.”
We found these sets at the Ida Red outlet in Tulsa.
Eric has boxes of these lying around in case someone orders more, but he’s got other ideas in the works too.
“I did Chester Gould,” he tells us, “Gary Busey, Belle Star. Everybody I meet tells me I need to do this person and this person.”
Lee does take breaks from his labors to actually play.
There is a drum set and electric guitar close at hand.
He still likes to play with his action figures too.
After all, ideas for an increasing population of OKIES are coming all the time.
“Folk art meets pop culture,” he smiles.
You can find some original OKIES at Ida Red stores or the Buck Atom shop in Tulsa.
Lee also just shipped an order to the Literati Booksellers in OKC.