Richards All Blacks Grogg Blogg November 2017
For me it's always been about the All Blacks. In 1972 the New Zealand touring side landed in Britain determined to revenge the only test series defeat by the British and Irish Lions in their history. And determined they were. Wales had made up the core of that wonderful Lions team coached of course by the rugby genius Carwyn James. For the All Blacks an opportunity to put the record straight lay in front of them in the possibility of a grand slam tour.
In our dreams!
For my father and myself it presented a once in a lifetime chance to see as much of this legendary team at first hand and we saw almost all the games the tourists of 1972/3 played in Wales. This presented a challenge as I was a thirteen year old schoolboy and Dad was a self-employed craftsman who had been inspired by the heroics of Gareth, Barry, JPR, Gerald, Mervyn and co.... in the "land of the long white cloud". He made sure I missed school to see the midweek games probably guessing quite rightly they would have more impact on my career than my maths lessons!
All the games I saw stand out in my memory. Cardiff at the Arms Park, a brutal encounter, Gwent in Ebbw Vale where we stood with a very young Tommy David on the terraces as he protected us from the rowdy crowd with his impressive frame and a game that no one really saw when the mists descended on the national stadium and East Glamorgan fell to the All Blacks might. But of course, the game that stands out for me is probably the greatest club match in Welsh rugby history. So much has been written about 9-3 but for me personally it was a road to Damascus turning point. Dad couldn't make it to Stradey Park that day, so I had his ticket and I travelled with a group of people who worked in the shop at the time. I had no idea what I was about to witness and probably didn't quite realise the relevance of that game until many years later. I can remember the atmosphere and the wonderfully partisan crowd. Being allowed to wander freely and then invade the pitch at the end of that epic encounter is something I'll never forget.... nor will I forget having my foot trodden on by a giant, unhappy All Black forward as he left the field! I was trying to get as close to captain Delme as possible. Many times I've searched through the grainy footage of the King of Stradey being chaired from the field that day... I know I'm in there somewhere.
I'm in there somewhere - honestly!
And then of course I was brought back to ground with a bump. Dad, with the help of his friend and patron Byron James managed to get two tickets for the Welsh game. As a naive schoolboy I assumed Wales would win comfortably. After all I had seen Llanelli beat New Zealand so the whole of Wales would have no trouble. I was about to learn the hard way the difference between a midweek tour game and a full test match. It was my first international and my first time at the old Arms Park. Our seats were in new north stand behind the posts at the Taff end and that day we saw all the action. The infamous Keith Murdoch scored in front of us but JPR was denied by the referee in the same spot for a double movement... I still think the great man scored. The try Wales did score was a classic. John Bevan had a huge impact on the '71 lions tour equalling Tony O'Reilly's British and Irish Lions try scoring record of 17 tries. He was dubbed "Thunder on the left" to Gerald's "Lightening on the right". On that day he lived up to his title arching outside the defence leaving Joe Karam and Grant Batty clutching at air. But New Zealand were not to be outdone on the day and they snuck it by three points. I was devastated. I honestly believed that my presence had brought us bad luck and I was some kind of jinx.
"Thunder on the left" in action.
Over the next 45 years I came to understand it was nothing to do with me being there.... rather the determination of each New Zealand player not to be a part of a team that loses to Wales, such is the rivalry between the two countries. It did however have an upside for me. Dad could only get one ticket for the famous Barbarians game at the end of the tour which spurred him to buy our debentures, a huge investment for him at the time which payed us back many times over. My father ensured I didn't miss another home match in Cardiff for the next fifty years.. what a gift. I wasn't alive the last time Wales beat New Zealand and barring a few very close calls its been one-way traffic but the competition between us has inspired many great Groggs over the years. Figures of Keith Murdoch, Sid Going, and the great Colin Meads were some of my favourite subjects in my teens and they were the first non Welsh figures we made at the Groggshop. We have seen many great All Black sides in Wales over the years, but none have had quite the impact of Ian Kirkpatrick's Seventh All Blacks on myself.
'Pinetree' Meads & a very early Sid Going Grogg.
I will be going to the Principality stadium again on Saturday travelling more in hope than expectation..... I learned my lesson well. Before I leave the shop I will take a quick look at my favourite piece of memorabilia... John Bevan's sock from my very first international... the one he wore while scoring that fantastic try all those years ago. John generously presented the pair to us in the 1980s and I split the socks giving one to dad and framing mine. Below it is a black and white picture of the man himself thundering past the All Black cover.... it's sure to get my blood pumping and who knows........ for Wales and New Zealand.... once again history beckons!
Precious memories & my sock!
Richard's Grogg Blogg November 2017
Apologies for my Grogg Blogg neglect, only two years has passed since the last one, whoops! The problem seems to be the speed of life these days. As you get older time just whizzes by. Things are also getting busier on the Grogg front and in the rugby world. This year in particular we were still recovering from the Six Nations and domestic and European competitions, both compelling and dramatic, when the British and Irish Lions tour gripped us and had me coming into work late scratching my head!
In the end I thought the result was a fair reflection even though it must have been frustrating for the players. I thought the Lions were magnificent and I don't think anyone could have predicted the end result. Most pundits had us losing the series three nil, so a drawn series has at least shown that northern hemisphere rugby is on the up once more.
On the Grogg front it has been difficult to keep up with all this activity. No sooner would an idea for a new figure come to me than some rugby incident would change all that and a rethink was in order. As regular visitors to my studio will testify there are many pieces "under wraps" waiting for circumstances to change enabling me to finish them. I can remember in the seventies and eighties in what seemed like vast periods of time through the summer being encouraged by Dad to diversify and make different things. This produced some weird and wonderful pieces which I am sometimes reacquainted with by their lucky owners.
We have been fortunate recently to acquire some figures which have particular relevance to the development of the Groggs. Simon has a good eye for these rare things and I was particularly pleased when he found an old Celt, made by me in my early teens. We only have one surviving piece like this in the museum which is an unusual double figure of a dead Roman and a victorious Celt. The one Simon found is also unusual in two ways. The first is that there is some coloured glaze on it for decoration... something that we stopped using in late seventies preferring to use paint. The second notable feature is the cheeky R before the "Hughes Wales" signature... something which obviously got past my father which didn't happen very often. It's funny to think I made a variety of these Celts for 50p a piece in the seventies for extra pocket money but loved every minute of it. I didn't do it for the money at all, if only dad had realised!
The other piece I was delighted to be reunited with, if only for a little while, is a very large handmade JPR belonging to the great man himself. It was one of the earliest figures I was allowed to work on independently and as a result is slightly leaning forward, characteristic of some of my early figures. Up to this point Dad would start a figure and I would model the face and hands, my favourite bits! Dad didn't trust me to make a complete piece as I would impetuously rush to the interesting face and hands neglecting that the legs were often too thin and soft to support themselves. This resulted in an inevitable collapse and a lot of wasted work on my part. This figure did make it - just! I like to think the slight leaning shows some of JPRs brooding intent... well that's my excuse anyway. He has returned for some TLC in the form of a red paint makeover. As collectors know we don't do repairs but for my favourite subject we have made an exception. We heard the paint was so faded on JPR's back people thought he was wearing an English shirt!
'Holding back the years' Richard reunited with his JPR made aged 17 ~ Cathy starts the restoration.
Back to the future and I have many interesting ideas for next year. Some are already in production and can be seen in my workroom, some just in my head. As always these will change as events unfold throughout the Autumn Internationals and into the Six Nations. Some however are set in stone, or should that be clay! I am determined to make at least two things which are long overdue and should have been made in a timelier fashion. More of that in the New Year... For now, we have the little task of Christmas, the Southern Hemisphere giants and the mighty Georgians to contemplate. Good luck to Wales and all the new talent - I already have my eye on a few new faces so let's hope they get a chance to shine. It's going to be a hectic few months but win or lose I'm determined to enjoy every minute of it -something else that comes with age!
I hope I won't take this long again giving you an update from my studio,
🎅Have a Groggy Christmas and New Year🎄
The Old Celt is on display in the museum for Christmas, please pop in to visit him!
Richard's Golden Grogg Blogg Christmas 2015
Looking back on our special year I can't believe we've packed so much into it. It seems a long time ago Wales were recovering from their traditional slow start to the six nations by beating the mighty Irish in Cardiff. They did it with such determination that it turned Wales' campaign around. Super Saturday was insane and Wales were a little unlucky. I'm sure if all the games had kicked off simultaneously Wales would have won the championship....but what do I know?
From the six nations our concentration turned to our fiftieth anniversary and especially the dinner for which we were creating 10 desirable pieces to auction for our two charities on the night. We had alot of fun in the process and were tempted to keep some of the rare figures ourselves so we knew we'd made the right choices. Carly threw everything she had into the evening and her hard work and faith paid off. Sandra's special efforts were also much appreciated by our Grogg hungry collectors and the whole evening was a great success. It was great to spend time with our heroes, old friends and loyal collectors all in one room together. Our only regret was it couldn't have been on a larger scale.. maybe for our 60th! Once again I'd like to thank everyone for turning up and joining in our celebrations. It was a night we will never forget and I know Dad would have loved every minute.
Next came our TV appearance. The shop has been featured on TV many times over the years on news, current affairs and sports programmes and even Blue Peter back in the seventies but we have never had a programme dedicated to the shop alone. "A Groggs Life" eventually aired on the 15th of September and the response was amazing. Don't get me wrong.. I expected a few extra phone calls but I wasn't prepared for the amount of positive feedback we had following the ITV show and then the S4c show "Y Groggs Yn 50" a few days later. We saw so many new customers who loved the programme and then couldn't wait to visit the shop. We were blown away by the response and I'd like to thank Rhodri for his vision and the sympathetic way he dealt with his subject. I must admit I was a little nervous about seeing the end results but was delighted with them both. "A Groggs Life" told our story and "Y Groggs Yn 50" had a little fun with it. Thanks again to Rhodri for his patience...it was a great experience for us all.
Following that of course was Rugby World Cup 2015! World Cups are always tricky things for us because no one can predict what's going to happen and so it was with RWC 2015. In my mind England, the hosts, had a huge advantage and I honestly couldn't see them not qualifying - which left Wales with problems from the start...and then the injuries began! What Warren Gatland and his staff achieved with our beleaguered squad was nothing short of a sporting miracle. I guess he may be ultimately disappointed but I think given the circumstances Wales were magnificent. Including all the newcomers Wales dug deep and qualified from the "Group of Death". And then there was Dan Biggar...what a player.. what a man. If I get chance I owe Dan a Golden Grogg...cometh the hour cometh the Dan I suppose!
If in the end it couldn't be us then the 'Other' Dan and his old buddy Richie and their sublime All Blacks deserve nothing less than going down in history as the only back to back winners of the World Cup. Japan brought the whole tournament to life with their incredible last minute win over the twice world champions South Africa and among the many and varied rugby supporters we saw throughout the tournament the Japanese were the happiest ...they deserved to be. I've told a lot of Japanese rugby fans I'll be revisiting their country for the next World Cup in 2019...I hope I get to keep that promise! We also caught up with our old friends Graham and Raewyn Henry who, along with the other AB supporters we saw were a little nervous about the quarter final with France in Cardiff...they needn't have worried. In the end it was a brilliant tournament and rugby was the winner...I loved every minute.
New 9" Record Edition Richie McCaw is coming along.
And so to Christmas.. which came early this year hot on the trail of the World Cup. Luckily our canny collectors have learned to start putting their orders in around October to guarantee their Groggs. A wise thing to do because this December we've struggled to keep up with demand despite the sterling efforts of our small production team. I hope we haven't let too many people down. I'm already working on next year's projects. I have a lot going on in my mind about new figures but those ideas will stay there for the moment ...until we see what the Six Nations brings. For now I'm working on three new 9" pieces.. a new Richie McCaw including inscriptions commemorating his records and achievements, a Mathieu Bastareaud sporting his brand new dreads and of course the hero of Japan, Ayumu Goromaru complete with his unique stance and finger strapping!
Please be aware we are not taking pre-order for Mathieu Bastareaud as yet, once he is available for pre-order we will let you know.
Finally I have kept my promise - I said before the World Cup that if Wales got out of their group I would make our coaching supremo...Warren Gatland. I don't know why it's taken so long...2 Grand Slams a 6 Nations Championship and a winning Lions Test Series during his tenure, what was I thinking. Thank you for staying with us Warren, I'm sorry it took so long!
Gatland is now ready to order online here
Congratulations also to Chris Coleman and the Wales football team on their Qualifying for Euro 2016. I wasn't born when Wales last played in a major tournament and didn't think it would ever happen again. Messers Bale, Ramsey and Williams and Co. have changed all that keeping the whole of Wales on the edge of their seats. France 2016 here we come!
Once again thank you to all our wonderful collectors who keep us happy in our work, thank you to our painters, casters and grinders who keep the wheels of the Groggshop rolling and thank you to the World of rugby for keeping us inspired and a big thank you to everyone involved with us during our 50th anniversary year, you have helped to make it a truly golden year!!!!
Here's looking forward to 2016 and time for me to start cooking the Turkey!
On a sad note we were all shocked to hear of the sudden death of the All Black rugby Legend Jonah Lomu. We knew Jonah had been unwell for some time but it came as huge shock to hear of his passing. I can remember the first time I saw him play and it blew my mind...I just wanted the All Blacks to keep giving him the ball. I first made a Grogg of Jonah during the 1995 World Cup in South Africa which will be remembered for many reasons but for me it was Jonah's World Cup. He took the rugby World by storm and became a household name almost overnight. Wales were struggling at that time and Jonah was a welcome distraction. He was the perfect subject matter for me and was kind enough to let us know he loved his Grogg when it was presented to him at Ieuan Evan's Testimonial Match at Stradey Park. That showed to me the other side of Jonah, his kindness and humility at a time when he was quite literally the biggest name in the sporting world. Our love and best wishes go to his family. He will never be forgotten - especially in Wales.
Richard's Exclusive Grogg Blog (Fan Page) Q&A
Obviously growing up in a household with your Father making what were to become Groggs it is natural that you would have had an awareness of the work he was doing and develop an interest. At what age would you say you became immersed in working with Clay?
From the time I could hold clay in my hand. My father would tell people “I showed him how to stick two pieces of clay together and he took it from there!”. I can remember either being up the mountain ( our own version of ‘Blue Remembered Hills’) or being in the shed at 26 Llantwit Road with Dad playing with clay. We didn’t think what my father did was different or unusual so it was natural we did the same.
You have been working as the lead sculpture now for a number of years having taking over from your Dad, we know from the history of the shop that this was always intended to be a family business but at what point did you decide that this was something which you wanted to do as a career and were there ever any doubts in your mind or desire to want to do something else?
It’s strange but I always wanted to make things and it just seemed like a fun way to make a living. My mother wanted me to go to Art College but my Dad thought as I had already been working professionally as a sculptor through my weekends and school holidays that I would be wasting my time in Further Education. I certainly have no regrets about beginning work full time at 17. I had vague notions of becoming the next David Attenborough but when you’re in an environment as exciting as the Grogg Shop it was an easy decision to make.
As a child you must have crafted a number of pieces (no doubt for fun) do you remember some of the early pieces you made and do you still have any of them?
As most kids do I tended to focus on animals as subjects. I had always been interested in wildlife but after my Dad took me to see King Kong I became obsessed with gorillas. I can’t have been very old but I can still remember Kong’s face filling the screen at the local cinema as if it was yesterday. I’m lucky enough to still have some of these early pieces in the museum.
What was the first Grogg that you made which went on sale the public? Why in particular did you pick this piece?
Back to gorillas - I went on a school trip to Bristol Zoo in 1971 and saw a baby gorilla called Daniel in his mother’s arms. As soon as I got home I made the piece which was photographed by the Pontypridd Observer. It was sold for about £2 - my first sale at 12 years old.
You must of felt a huge sense of pride when your Dad handed over the reigns to you, how did you feel when your first piece went on sale and what was the reaction to the piece like from both your family and collectors?
It didn’t quite happen like that. When I left school I had already been working with clay to earn pocket money for a long time. I took over making the faces straight away because I loved it. My father sometimes found it frustrating if he couldn’t get a likeness so he was happy for me to take over. It was all quite organic in that sense with no formal hand over as such.
Dad kept modelling, just not likenesses. As I remember it, the general rule in the early days was to enjoy it. If we had nothing scheduled we were encouraged to make what we liked, hence the film stars and musicians. The public hadn’t seen anything like it before but to us it seemed normal that people would buy what we made. It’s only now I’m older I can see how lucky we were to have an audience who appreciated what we were doing.
Groggs have changed significantly over the years, moving from the early pieces crafted by John which were highly caricature based to the extremely detailed, superbly accurate pieces produced by yourself today. At what point was the decision made to move in this direction and how was it received within the family?
Actually what Dad started making was not intentionally meant to be caricature, it was just his style. I grew up working in the same style and then decided to push the boundaries a little. Dad wanted me to stick to the Groggy format but I was keen to push myself. Our collectors seemed to agree with me and both styles flourished side by side.
In my mind the way the Groggs look now is the way I would have preferred them to look back then. It was simply a matter of technique. Now, to a certain degree, we have the ability to make whatever we like. The old clay method was much more restrictive artistically, so it was never a ‘line in the sand’ moment, more like a ‘suck it and see’ approach.
Over the years you have produced so many fantastic Groggs, it must be difficult to choose but what would you say your favourite Grogg is or the one you are most proud of? (Maybe because of complexity or level of detail)
It is hard to choose one because I am usually most interested in the piece I am working on right now, in this case the Action George North. I should be working on other things but I’m loving the pose! I usually say the 16” Eric Cantona is my particular favourite as it showed what could be done with the new material.
The Bryn Terfel Falstaff is also a piece which really shows what can be done in resin and wouldn’t be possible in clay. I do love to see old things I’ve forgotten I made.
The large Clint Eastwood is something I wish we had in the museum and I’m also glad no one could afford (or carry) the Pontypool Front Row I made in 1978. It’s one of the very few pieces to have never left the building!
A lot of the early Groggs were based on players with huge amounts of character in their appearances, things that made them stand out and instantly recognisable. A number of players have been Grogged several times over the years in various different guises, Is there a particular person which you love producing pieces on?
Over the years my particular favourite was JPR. Dad enjoyed making Mervyn Davies, Dai Morris and John Taylor but I loved JPR’s character. He had it all: rolled down socks, flowing hair, headband and best of all were the blood and scars.
The Pontypool Front Row was also a favourite subject of mine. Dad also loved front rows bit his era was the ‘71 Front Row. By the time the ‘Viet Gwent’ arrived on the scene I was luckily the one who got to make them. Given the choice, I would make a front row over any other position as I find them such a fascinating subject.
You have been very fortunate to meet so many legends of the worlds of rugby, football and stage and screen is there anyone with whom you have been completely star struck by when you met them?
As a child, meeting JPR, Gerald and Gareth et al used to leave me speechless. They were like gods to us kids and that reverence has never worn off. The one person I was particularly pleased to meet was George Best. I was very nervous when he visited the shop but he was surprisingly quiet and a real gentleman.
You have produced Groggs for various people over the years, from what we see it appears some people are aware they are being Grogged and for others it may be a surprise. Do you ever have concerns over how the Groggs will be received by the individuals in question and have you ever had any negative responses to the Groggs?
It used to give me sleepless nights. Obviously when you spend all your life making figures of your idols the last thing you want to do is upset them. However, I know it’s impossible to please all of the people all of the time but I hope most players realise that when we make them we are paying them the highest compliment we can. All in all we have been very lucky and if anyone has been unhappy we don’t get to hear about it. Also, as I’ve got older it doesn’t worry me quite so much!
There are so many candidates out there for future Groggs so it must be extremely difficult to decide who to create next. Obviously events such as Wales winning Grand Slams or the Lions winning the recent tour of Australia help to push you in the direction of whom to Grogg but outside of this what is the general process that you follow when deciding who to immortalise in clay?
Over the years the decision who to make has become less and less a personal one. Today it is driven more by the public. One thing players know is that if we’ve grogged them it’s because they appeal to the public in a special way.
We would love to be able to make every player who gets a Welsh cap but it simply isn’t possible. Obviously if I see someone who I think would make a great figure it helps but it doesn’t always make commercial sense.
We all have an input in the final decision before I go ahead and start a new piece. From that point it can take months or in some cases years to finally bring a new Grogg into the collection. It is a situation which is continually changing and can be frustrating to us and collectors alike, especially when I make rash promises!
Is there anyone that you haven’t Grogged yet who you would love to? Maybe a childhood hero or someone who you admire now?
I feel I haven’t done justice to David Bowie, a huge influence on me as a teenager, but I have actually made him at least four times.
I do joke that a 60 foot statue of Neil Jenkins should be situated on Pontypridd Common overlooking the town but I don’t think I’d have the time to do it!
Meanwhile, I have plenty of projects in front of me, including our 50th Anniversary plans, which is exciting to think about.
One idea I would love to revisit is Great Artists. I once made a Vincent Van Gogh for my father’s birthday which has never been seen on display and I did start a figure of my hero, Auguste Rodin, but it ended up like most of my ‘great ideas’ in the unfinished section of the museum. Who knows when I retire I might find the time to make a Picasso or a Leonardo Da Vinci. I think they would look great in Grogg form.
Once you have decided who to Grogg what’s the creative process that you follow from having the idea right the way through to the finished piece?
Firstly I start with research. I always refer to photographs even if I have made someone twenty times. You always see something new and that’s why the Groggs have changed so much over the years. I don’t usually draw first unless it’s a piece made from imagination like the mascots or the Lion’s Roar.
Once a pose is decided upon I will check with our mould makers that it is physically possible to mould although this doesn’t always stop me from making a difficult piece to produce!
Then the fun bit starts. I love starting new figures whether they are of someone I’ve made before or a new character. It will take about 2-3 days to get a likeness and then the hard graft begins. I can sit still for about 20 minutes before I need to wander off and refresh my eyes. That’s why the master figure takes up to 8 weeks to complete before it is moulded. Obviously more complicated pieces, like the 16” Muhammad Ali or the Bryn Terfel Falstaff took over 6 months each to complete so it’s a sliding scale. Even the minis take a long time as they have as much detail as a 9” Grogg and my eyes aren’t getting any younger.
During this time I will constantly refer to photographs and very rarely make it up as my father would. His approach was much more laid back than mine. Creases are a particular bugbear and I can get lost in them for hours. When I am finally happy the master is fired in the kiln at close to 1000 degrees. This is always a nerve racking time as any air trapped in the figure could cause an explosion which could destroy the piece. To ensure this doesn’t happen I will drill the master with holes and keep my fingers crossed I haven’t missed an air pocket.
Everything being being well I will give the master a final smoothing over and the rest is the mould maker’s problem! This used to be my issue once as I made my own moulds for the clay figures, but it was extremely fiddly and time-consuming so I’m glad it’s no longer my job. This frees me up to spend more time making new things which keeps me and our collectors happy. After the figure is moulded the master copy is destroyed because of the process. I have managed to keep two original masters (which are on display in the museum), but they rarely survive in one piece.
Each piece is then cast in resin, the whiteware piece is fettled by hand removing any seams and finally the hand-painting can begin. This process uses washes of skin tone and is finished with brushes sometimes only a few hairs wide. The painting is so often the making of a piece and really brings them to life. Seeing the first piece painted is one of my favourite parts of the process and I’m glad to say I can safely put my trust in our small band of very talented painters. That is really only the short version of our process and is far less convoluted than the old clay method. If I ever get time I maybe I will write it all down!
With the fantastic reception that the World of Groggs has received from those who have been Grogged and of Course the Collectors, you have been given a number of pieces of memorabilia such as shirts and boots from the players and also have had some pieces donated to your museum. If you had to pick one piece from the museum and one piece of memorabilia as your favourites what would you go for?
Our collection of memorabilia, which started with socks, has now reached over 150 match-worn shirts encompassing the world of Rugby Union and some football as well.
We are proud to own shirts from many rugby-playing nations and many legends of the game, such as Sid Going, Graham Mourie, Francois Pienaar, Andy Irvine, Richard Hill, David Campese, Robert Paperamboude, not to mention the Welsh ones.
In more recent years we have been presented with shirts from the stars of the modern era : Adam Jones, Jon Fox Davies, Ryan Jones, Leigh Halfpenny, Sergio Parisse, David Pocock and our own Captain Fantastic, Sam Warburton as well has his old school mate Gareth Bale.
However, my personal favourite would be a Neil Jenkins shirt from the 1997 Lions Tour of South Africa. I couldn’t believe it when Neil presented us with his match-worn shirt, torn collar and all, from a famous tour which Neil did so much to make a victorious one. It is very hard to make a choice but as everyone knows, Neil is a particular favourite of mine and a Ponty boy to boot!
During your time being associated with the Groggshop what would you say your fondest memory or proudest moment is?
What makes me proudest is continuing to run a small family business and maintaining our standards of craftsmanship, as well as keeping Groggs designed, created and made in Wales.
Over the last 50 years there have been many opportunities to make the business larger and to increase our output, but in the end we decided that mass production was not for us and I’m proud of that and our product. Less is more in our eyes.
Another memorable moment was when my father and I were made honorary ex-players of Pontypridd RFC, a great honour for us both. I just hope they never need my services! There have been many fond memories, mostly rugby related. Great matches, Grand Slams and cup finals. These were the days that kept us inspired and motivated, and they still do.
The shop has done a huge amount of work over the years and created a number of pieces specifically to raise money for various charities. These pieces have recorded extraordinary amounts of money with keen collectors hoping to own some of these unique pieces whilst of course contributing to such great causes. Does it surprise you the amounts of money that some of these pieces achieve?
Sometimes these special figures go for less than they are worth in our opinion but that’s not what it is about. As a small family business we have to be selective with our charities but as long as we can contribute we are happy to get involved. Over the years we have realised it is probably better if our collectors have access to the exclusive figures reserved for charities rather than auction them at functions but we still do both.
Following on from the above question there is of course a huge collector fan base of yours and your Dad’s work and as a result a very active second hand market for Groggs with pieces sometimes reaching well over 3 times their original retail value. What are your thoughts on this market and the prices achieved and how do you feel this is impacting on you as a family business?
It is fascinating to think that when I create something it has a life beyond the shop. When we put a price on a figure we try and value it as fairly as we can so to see the values increasing once they are sold is strange but satisfying. It is pleasing to know your work continues to be appreciated as time goes on.
What are your hopes for the future of the shop? With some of the recent additions to the family have you any thoughts about handing over the creative reigns at all?
With two new additions to the Grogg family, if they showed any artistic leanings I would actively encourage them to join our creative team. As for the future of the shop, we just all want to carry on Grogging for as long as we can - no plans for early retirement!
The shop is entering its 50th year in 2015. Do you think your Dad ever imagined in those early days working in a shed that you would have all achieved the worldwide acclaim and success which you have seen today?
Short answer is yes! Dad was a real optimist and saw Groggs conquering the world. I’m the complete opposite but I don’t think either of us could have foreseen the Internet and the impact that could have on a small business like ours. To think I can start a figure and someone in Japan or New Zealand can watch as it takes shape is amazing.
Finally, having spoken to you recently about the blog and getting your views and approval on what we are doing, you admitted to me that sometimes you are so engaged with what your work that you don’t have the opportunity to really see what is happening out their with those who are collecting and hear the plaudits or feedback from those who love what you do. If you could say anything to those who support what you do, including your amazing family what would it be?
I’d like to quite simply thank you all. In my opinion, an artist can receive no greater compliment than someone buying their work. Our collectors are our priority and we rarely make a decision before considering them. In the same vein it is great to see directly what is happening with our work and to know it is appreciated so much is it’s own reward. Keep on Grogg Blogging!
Thanks to Rob Van Der Steen at the fan page 'The Grogg Blog' for allowing us to use the content for our website.
Richard's Tribute to Ryan Jones on his Retirement
I make no excuses for telling Rugby fans and Grogg Collectors from around the world that Ryan Jones is one of the nicest people I have ever met...rugby prowess apart. It's a question I get asked frequently.."Who's your favourite player?" but it's one I 'm always reluctant to answer for obvious reasons...It's like admitting you have a favourite child.. but with Ryan I'm happy to make the exception. Indeed it was proof of his unselfish nature that he chose to come to our 50th Anniversary Charity function on the day he was forced to announce his early retirement from the game due to injury. Most player's heads would be so far in the shed after receiving news like that they would be buried in potting compost but Ryan bit the bullet and made an appearance. Needless to say his interview with Phil Steele was received with rapturous applause. I hope it helped to remind Ryan of the affection he is held in not only with rugby supporters but also his peers in the sport.
On the rugby front I can remember Ryan bursting onto the scene as part of the much missed but ill fated 5th region the Celtic Warriors. Ryan's distinctive look and barnstorming runs made an immediate impact on Ponty and Bridgend fans alike and he soon became a permanent fixture in a very talented team. His appearance as a late substitute on the Lions tour of New Zealand, following Wales's dramatic grand slam of 2005, was one of the few highlights of that tough test series. From there Ryan went on to become one of only three players of his generation to win three Grand Slams a feat also matched by JPR Williams, Gerald Davies and Gareth Edwards. Ryan deserves his place in this rarified company.
My own favourite memory of Ryan is the way he steered the relatively young team of 2013 from a difficult opening defeat to Ireland to three away wins and finally THAT Championship win in Cardiff against the old enemy. Ryan was injured for that final game but to me it was his elder statesman qualities that brought out the best of Wales in those three tricky away matches setting up the Grand Finale.
Whatever Ryan chooses to do from here I'm sure he'll be successful...his charm and personality will see to that, but he will never be forgotten by a grateful Welsh public as one of the greats of the modern game. And don't forget Ryan if you ever find you do have a little time on your hands you will always be welcome at the Groggshop to talk over those Glory Days and visit your many Groggs, shirts and that first Grand Slam winning scrum cap!
Richard's Grogg Blogg March 2015
What can I say that hasn't already been said about THAT game. In the week leading up to the match I was wavering between wild confidence and resigned pragmatism but I was so glad I that I finally decided to go to see the match live. The last time I saw Wales beat Ireland in Cardiff was in 2005 with Dad and was special for a different reason namely our first Grand Slam for 27 years. Last Saturday was a different kind of pressure and Wales had a lot to prove - but how they fronted up - the contact was brutal. I was very impressed with Wales after the win over South Africa in the Autumn but this Welsh side has gone up another gear and I feel there is more to come. The period of defending in the second half which eventually led to Scott Williams' game changing try was something I'd never witnessed before in its intensity. The crowd was incredible - I'm still hoarse today but at least I can say I played my part! One fellow supporter to my right told me he hadn't seen Wales play live since he was 12 years old - 52 years ago-what a game to choose for his return. I told him he should come to more games in the future!
As to the player’s themselves it's difficult to pick out individual performances as they were all outstanding - subs included. Poor Jonathan (Jiffy) Davies had a truly impossible task of naming a man of the match - at least five names come to mind but I can't argue with his final choice of our Captain fantastic, Sam, who gave one of his greatest performances in his record breaking game. One player who did stand out for me was Luke Charteris probably because I still haven't finished his figure started quite a long time ago. I hereby vow to rectify that anomaly immediately! Dan Biggar came through his firing in one piece and is on his way to be moulded today with Rhys Webb hot on his heels and then the Mighty Luke!
Richard finally gets to grips with Luke's scrum cap.
So I have my work cut out for the next few weeks not forgetting the "Field of Dreams" Anniversary piece but it’s great coming to work with a smile on my face. Let's hope we can keep up the pressure on Ireland and England on Super Saturday but whatever happens I would like to thank the Men in Red once again for making us all here at the Groggshop happy in our work!
*If you haven't already pre-ordered Luke, you can do by emailing email@example.com
Richards Grogg Blogg Update January 2015
Just a quick catch up - (and Happy New Year btw!) - to let you know what I'm up to at the moment. I've just started work on a 9" Limited Edition Liam Williams soon to be followed by Dan Biggar and Rhys Webb in the 9" size. I know people are keen to know about the Anniversary piece but although I intend to start it soon, I think it's only fair some of the 'new' players are Grogged, so if you can be a little more patient with me and all will be revealed.
The 9" Action George North is almost ready for the kiln - fingers crossed for a successful firing - as it's been a complicated piece to finish. Much depends on the result of the Wales v England game in our plans for the year so I won't say too much until that momentous clash is decided! Needless to say we are all hoping for a great start to Wales' year. Well that's all for now, if you are interested in pre-ordering any of the above please drop Carly an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cheers for now!
Richard's Christmas Grogg Blogg 2014
Well it's been another crazy year at the Groggshop- no changes there.. The ups and downs of the rugby have kept us on our toes but as they say - it's never boring! The Welsh boys finally came up with the big win which they thoroughly deserved. I was lucky enough to be at all three major Autumn internationals and I've never seen a Wales team try harder to win. Against South Africa they finally broke the dam - here’s hoping they continue to play with such intensity and focus- it was an immense performance. Being at that game buried an old hoodoo for me as I missed the only other time Wales beat the Sprinboks. My daughter Sophie went with my Dad in 1999 to witness Graham Henry's Wales defeat South Africa for the first time in History. As you can imagine my daughter has never let me forget it so I was doubly glad we beat them again! With our 50th anniversary year coming up and a World Cup it makes the prospect of 2015 a mouth-watering one. The nerves are already kicking in about "The Big One" on February the 6th! As with any campaign we couldn't wish for a better opening fixture- I can't wait.
As to new Groggs a lot of players have put their hands up for Grogg selection. There were five ungrogged players who started the Autumn tests -all of them would make terrific Groggs. I have begun working on one player already and of course I will also be making a start the Anniversary piece very soon but it will remain another closely guarded secret until next year. There will be one or two surprises to be announced after the Christmas holiday and Carly will keep everyone updated as usual on our social media about those- so keep watching the internet for updates.
Finally a big thank you once again to our moulders, grinders and painters for their stirling efforts this year in keeping our collectors happy. Many thanks to our collectors themselves who I'm sure will be looking forward as keenly as us to 2015 and last but not least to the men in red -our main inspiration-keep up the great work boys- let's hope next year is a golden year for Wales as well as the Groggshop- you never know!
In the meantime...Have a very "Groggy" Christmas and a Happy New Year,
World of Groggs
Richard’s Grogg Blogg Autumn Update
Just a quick note to let everyone know what’s happening as things are getting very busy at the shop already. I’d like to start by thanking the Welsh Rugby Writers Association and especially Barri and Mary Hurford for their hospitality last Tuesday night. As usual a great night was had by all and we had a chance to meet friends old and new and also discuss our secret plans for next year’s celebrations. We were delighted to be seated on the Award Winners table and I had an interesting chat with Alun-Wyn Jones and Geraint Walsh about beards – sounds nuts but I need to know this stuff! We also got to meet the parents of Leicester’s Owen Williams who told us Owen has a Grogg of Neil Jenkins as Neil is his idol – great taste Owen! The proceeds of the evening went to the Welsh Rugby Charitable Trust and as the raffle prizes were supplied by us we were more than surprised to win back the rarest Grogg of the evening – the unique ‘Red Card’ Nigel Owens.
Simon was over the moon with his luck but we convinced him it would be nice to auction it on our website for the Trust as we did with the Gethin grogg earlier this year, Carly will post the details online. I was personally surprised and delighted to be made an honorary life member of the Welsh Rugby Writers Association.This means only Dad and I, as non writers, have been honoured in such a way.
On the Grogg front Trigger has been painted and will be coming through soon and the Mini Tipuric is being moulded as we speak. This means I have time to start our projects for the Anniversary but as they are secret for the moment it may look like I’m not doing much in the run up to Christmas! I am putting the finishing touches to the Action George North which is looking good (if I do say so myself!)
So for now its full steam ahead for Christmas – remember not to leave it too late to order your Groggs in time for the big day. Here’s hoping Wales have a great Autumn Series it’s going to be tough but I am feeling positive after seeing the very exciting team selection today. I can’t wait until Saturday comes! But for now back to the studio to open a fresh bag of clay!
Richards Grogg Blogg
Apologies for the long lay-off but things have been busy here as usual and with the new season already upon us an update is long overdue. Personally I'm so happy to see the rugby kick off again - new competitions, new faces and hopefully- new Groggs. Wales in particular are looking good and were very unlucky in South Africa. I can't wait for the Autumn internationals and I have a feeling we can do something special with this squad of players..no pressure Warren! Our old friend Graham Henry assured me this week Wales were looking good and he ought to know!
On the Grogg front things have been very busy. I have managed to do the hardest part of my job and finish things off whilst doing the best part of my job - starting new figures. The three British and Irish Lions -Shane, Ian Evans and Tommy Bowe have finally been "Lionised" which almost leaves us with a full test side. Munster, Ireland and British and Irish Lions legend Paul O'Connell will be added to the collection next week leaving only two positions left to fill (see if you can guess who they are!) and before anyone asks...yes I intend to make them both- eventually. That will make it the first time in our history to have made a complete British and Irish Lions team!
I have also completed our NEW Christmas decoration, no apologies for mentioning it in September as this will hopefully keep everyone happy in December! As to the new figures I am working on at the moment rugby fans will be pleased to hear that as Sonny Bill Williams is on his way to Wales with the All Blacks this Autumn I felt it was time he was "Grogged". I have noticed reading feedback from collectors on the Grogg Blog and other social media that requests for Sonny appear regularly so I was pleased to hear he will be back with the New Zealand side this Year. Thanks again to Robert Van Der Steen for the interview on his Grogg Blog. It was an interesting process and got me thinking about projects old and new- even if it did take me over a month to get it written!
On the mini front Richard Hibbard was to be our new mini for Christmas but I've decided to make the Ospreys and Wales super flanker Justin Tipuric in time for the festive season -scrum cap and all. My other project this year will be Trigger from Fools and Horses - resplendent in his famous blue suit and holding his beloved sweeping brush he will make a great addition to the set.
As to next year the big Five O is almost upon us. I must admit it makes me a little nervous to be celebrating a Golden anniversary in a World Cup year, challenging but very exciting. I have a few ideas for commemorative pieces already but must keep them to myself for now.
For the World Cup the plan is to finish the mascot collection by making the mascots for the countries I haven't made who are taking part in World Cup 2015. This makes for an interesting list of critters including the "Manumea" for Samoa (look it up!), a Sea Eagle for Tonga, an Oryx for Namibia, a Lynx for Romania, a Wolf for Georgia and the last spot is still to be decided between Russia and Uruguay. I'm rooting for Russia as I love making bears-sorry Uruguay nothing personal!
Last but not least it was great to be able to re-unite the British and Irish Lions front row of 2009 in a Blues strip. As our collectors are aware due to the pressure on our small group of painter’s club strips have become a little thin on the ground however we thought this was a rugby event worth celebrating. I can only think of one other club front row to represent the Lions and they were the legendary Pontypool front row in 1977. Here's hoping the "Blues Lions" can emulate their illustrious forebears.
Well the new season kicked off with a bang last weekend and the adrenalin is pumping once again so it's time to crack on and get my fingers back in the clay...
Cheers for now,
World of Groggs
Richard’s Grogg Blogg March 2014
Hi Grogg Fans,
Sorry for the long layoff in my blog but things have been a bit busy here with new arrivals and the Six Nations all at the same time! I would like to formally welcome James John Rees to the team or JJR for short – a cross between two of Wales’ greats. He’s settling in really well and we are all gradually getting back to normal with lots of new and old projects on the go.
Carly, James and Simon
On the Grogg front, I have finally finished the Action 9” Sam Warburton. It turned out to be a lot more complicated than I’d anticipated but I hope you’ll all think it’s worth the wait. Paul James is next in line but I’m not forgetting another Welsh forward who played a ’big’ part in Wales’ Six Nations 2014 in Luke Charteris. As Grogg collectors will know I started Luke quite a while ago but I am now determined to finish him – scrum cap and all! Other ‘new arrivals’ will reflect the Six Nations and first on the list is a commemorative 9” ‘Most Capped Welsh Player in History’ Gethin Jenkins. This will probably be another Action piece and will incorporate an inscription reflecting Gethin’s outstanding achievement. Gethin has been a true rock for Wales over the years and I can’t wait to get started on this piece. Also recognising Ireland’s achievements as Six Nations Champions a 9” Paul O’Connell (long overdue) and Johnny Sexton will be this summer’s projects. Both players have been outstanding for different reasons this season and it will be nice to add their names to the other great Irish players in our collection. It has also been decided that in recognition of Brian O’Driscolls amazing achievement in becoming the most capped rugby union player in history, that a NEW figure of the Leinster, Ireland and British and Irish Lions legend will be made. As most Grogg collectors will know our original Brian O’Driscoll 9” is no longer available having reached its Limited Edition but we find it unthinkable that there would be no ‘BOD’ in the Grogg collection. The new figure will incorporate an inscription referencing Brian’s achievements in the game including most capped player in history and highest try scorer in Irish Rugby.
Obviously a lot of new Welsh players have put their hands up for Grogg selection but I feel it’s only fair to finish what I’ve started before making too many promises. Let’s just say I’m keen to start one or two straight away but will have to keep my tinder dry or grow a new pair of arms! Looking back on the tournament I think winning our 3 home games this season – two of those by record margins – was in the end a fair reflection of just how tough a competition the Six Nations has become – no easy wins – no unbeaten teams – and a year is a very long time in rugby. I would have taken that result at the beginning of the season considering Wales’ massive input on the Lions Tour. Some of the boys must be shattered and we would all like to wish both Leigh and Sam a speedy recovery.
On the Football front I was delighted to add Wales, Arsenal and former Cardiff City star Aaron Ramsey to our ever-growing list of Welsh Soccer Groggs. Indeed with players of the quality of Gareth Bale and Aaron in the Wales side the future looks bright!
Once again for updates, announcements and Groggy news keep in touch on Twitter or Facebook. New pics of Work in Progress will be added soon so watch this space.
South Africa here we come!
Cheers for now,
World Of Groggs
Richard's Groggblogg Monday
March 18th 2013
Well now the dust has almost settled and I think I finally understand what I have witnessed it has been decided by us all at the Groggshop to commemorate,what has been described as Wales' finest hour, in traditional fashion by making a double figure celebrating the Welsh teams record win over England and back to back Championships. Entitled "Better than a Slam" it will feature both captains, Ryan Jones and Gethin Jenkins holding aloft the six nations trophy.Exactly when it will be available will be announced later but I will be starting work on the master figure today. As our collectors know this process itself takes a few months and the hand painting of each piece will mean a lengthy delay as with last season's Grand Slam Sam. We can only hope you can be as patient once again in helping to celebrate this outstanding achievement.
On a personal note I would like to say thank you to all the players and coaching staff in the Wales camp for the experience of a lifetime....what a game and what a performance! I thought Wales would win ....I was actually looking forward to the game - I had faith! But I didn't dream it would be quite so dramatic and clinical in the end. Wales were superb. In my 50 years of supporting Wales I've witnessed some remarkable rugby matches..1979 Wales v England, Wembley 1999 not to mention Grand Slam and Triple Crown deciders but this was on another level ,for all the reasons expressed by players and coaches this weekend. I have my favourite players but I won't mention names as Wales played as a complete unit - for each other- from one to fifteen , bench included ,each man gave his all under the most intense pressure- they deserve to be very proud.
Well they've done their bit now I have to do mine....as always we will keep you updated on Facebook and twitter as this very special piece develops but please remember patience is the watchword as our heroes in red have shown!
Depsoits are now being taken here http://www.groggs.co.uk/shop/new_products/1_93_0_956/betterthanaslamdeposit6-8monthdelay.aspx or by ringing the shop directly 01443 405001
Richard's Groggblogg New Year 2013
Hi Y'all and a happy new year to all our collectors - I hope you all had a 'Groggy' Christmas.I had a nice restful break and I'm ready for the fray once more!
I know it's been a while since I've had time to write my blogg so I have quite a bit to catch up on. Last year was such a rollercoaster it now seems like a long time ago. We were still painting the Grand Slam Sam’s in the middle of the Christmas rush so thanks again to everyone for their patience - we hope it was worth the wait! This did however slow up on the progress of new figures meant for Christmas. Some lucky collectors did manage to get their hands on Uncle Albert which once again I have made a little bit too complicated to be an easy piece to paint - I just can't help putting in that little extra detail I'm afraid!
In January 2012 I started a 15" limited Edition Shane Williams, designed to commemorate his retirement from the international game. Due to the Grand Slam the figure has been worked on sporadically and as a result kept (mostly) a secret but we can at least now announce it's existence. No date has been set for it's completion but details of the figures numbers and strips available can be found here:
- Diolch Shane – Wales Ltd Ed 145 Price - To Be Confirmed
- Barbarians - Ltd Ed 11 Price TBC
- Lions 2009 - Ltd Ed 11 Price TBC
- White Ospreys - Ltd Ed 11 Price TBC
- Black Ospreys - Ltd Ed 11 Price TBC
- Neath - Ltd Ed 11 Price TBC
On the new Grogg front I am currently working on 5 new 9" limited editions. To complete the Wales World cup team 2011 there is Luke Charteris –wearing his scrumcap this will be the tallest 9" figure ever made! In the 2012 Grand Slam side Alex Cuthbert has also been started. Wales' Nemesis and Aussie captain Fantastic David Pocock becomes the first Australian I have made since David Campese back in 1984. In the World of Football Man Utd fans will be happy to hear I have made quick progress on goal machine Robin Van Persie. The ultimate 9"Shane Williams will also be available soon to replace the last of the action Shanes which are now nearly all sold. Also in the pipeline is a new 9" Lt. Ed. of Wales’ record captain Ryan Jones. Ryan's original 9" figure reached it's limit quite a while ago and as Ryan is celebrating his Testimonial this year it seemed an ideal time to remodel him complete with headband and new hair cut! Some special editions of this figure are promised reflecting Ryan's chosen charity for his testimonial so watch this space!
On a personal note I would like to thank everyone for their flattering comments on my painting of Wales' Captain Sam Warburton. We are still a little unsure of what will come of it as it was only originally intended to help show off Sam's World Cup jacket in the shop but it does seem a pity not to do something with it- we shall see!
Well it's going to be a long and exciting year with the Six Nations almost upon us and a Lions tour to follow in the summer- Myself I can't wait- It's strange how you forget the harm it does to your nervous system being a rugby supporter! I will try to keep calm long enough to finish these exciting projects and as usual to keep up with developments please feel free to call in or keep tweeting.
Well the clay calls - Here we go 2013 ‘GROGGLAND STYLE!’
Richard's Grogg Blogg
Grand Slam Blogg
It's 7.30am on a Monday morning, the sun is shining on the Welsh flag bunting outside the shop and I've never been in work this early before!
What an amazing weekend and what a way to end it all! To be fair it's been an amazing 7 months to be a Welsh rugby fan. From the highs and lows of the World cup to this stress inducing Six Nations it's been a fantastic ride. It's all very well to believe Wales deserve to win trophies but the guts and determination this young team has shown since the semi-final against France, to prove that run was no one-off, has been nothing short of inspirational. The whole squad and coaching staff should feel proud the way they have kept their cool in what we all know is the most intensive rugby atmosphere in the Northern hemisphere (or Wales as we call it!)
Every player we have met in the build up and during this championship have behaved in a mature and relaxed fashion which was an example, to me, of how to re-act under pressure- let’s see if I can keep that example up now!
Work today will begin on Sam’s left arm-i.e. adding the Six Nations trophy. Initially we had hoped it could be priced at £200, but as usual I have got carried away and made the figure a little too complicated. We hope collectors will understand that due to the extra work involved and the complicated painting of each piece that the final price will have to be £250 with the limit rising to 500 pieces as promised.
We couldn't have wish Sam ill but I couldn't believe it when injury forced him to lift the trophy in his left hand (get well soon Sam by the way)! Also on the way in various stages of completion are Jonathan Davies and Rhys Priestland - last week I was too jittery to finish anything so I also started work on Toby Faletau, which I think will make a great Grogg when complete. All these pieces of course will take time but I promise we will work as hard and fast as we can to keep everyone happy but patience is the watchword here. Please go easy on Cathy and Carly as they have to explain my artistic vacillations to our eager collectors!
Once again thanks to our wonderful team- everyone from 1 to 15, bench included, has been outstanding. So many players have come of age during these 5 games - I just can't wait to see them play again - sorry boys, I know you must be knackered - cos I am and I was just watching!
Well – let’s put the fingers to good use now and crack on....
Here we go,
Cheers for now
Tribute to Mervyn Davies
It was with great shock and deep sadness that we heard of the passing of our old friend and Captain Mervyn Davies. As many, rugby fans and Grogg collectors will know we have known Mervyn since the birth of the rugby Groggs back in the late 60's. It was great characters like Mervyn who inspired my father to make the historic change from the giants of Welsh mythology to the Giants of Welsh rugby. Mervyn became, along with J.P.R., Gareth and Gerald, my father's favourite subjects but it was Mervyn who stood out. With his distinctive mop top, headband, bandito moustache and beanpole physique he was a sculptors dream and it wasn't long before I was following suit and joining in the fun. Our style of modelling seemed to be made for Merv's on field persona but it was the way he embraced what we were trying to achieve that endeared him to us most of all. He took being 'Grogged' in good grace and as the true compliment it was intended to be. It didn’t matter to Merv how 'Groggy' those early figures were and his comments were always supportive and generous. Indeed it was a huge compliment to us when Mervyn chose to use a Grogg figure of himself on the cover of his autobiography. We felt we had arrived!
This weekend has helped to bring the news into perspective and brought all the memories of the Glory Years flooding back. Mervyn would have been delighted with Wales' success -it was a great shame that he missed the final play but I imagine he knew it was coming; such was his knowledge of the game.
On a personal note it's strange to think that Mervyn was only 12 years older than me on his many visits to the shop. As a child he always seemed the epitome of wisdom and maturity when he must have been only a young man himself. I was particularly grateful to have Mervyn 'sit' for the bust I made of him in 2008 - a rare event and a happy memory. Mervyn was many things - a great rugby player, a great captain. A great raconteur when talking of the game he loved so much. Above all, to us, he was a true friend and when the times were hard he always had our best interests at heart. He was the best number 8 I have ever seen and he will always be, to me, the archetypal Grogg and the greatest of men.
World of Groggs
Richard's Twickenham Triple Crown Groggblogg
Well - We did it - Only just but we did it. Jeez -what a game, I'm getting too old for this. One good thing was I braved it out and watched it live, (there was talk of walking the dog until it was all over!)I lasted it out up to the point where Scott Williams scored and then I lost it. With the time we had stored on our sky plus I fast forwarded to what I thought would be the end of the game to relieve the tension only to run out of time just on the TMO decision. So cheating fate didn't work again -when will I learn! The Gods were with us however and what can I say about this team-no-one flinched -it's as if they knew their chance would come. So many outstanding performances - Adam, Gethin, Ianto, Ryan, Mike, George, everyone played their part and once again Leigh Halfpenny. Again, Leigh, in any normal side, would have been an obvious Man of the Match, he took such a hammering but remained as cool as a cucumber. But this is no normal side and Captain Sam was incredible- as someone put it "the Richie McCaw of the Northern Hemisphere". What a player and what a leader. Standout period for me was the ten minutes after the yellow card - Ironically I think it actually helped to galvanise Wales and won us the match.
All of which begs the question -"What am I going to do about it?"
Well having been in a similar situation in 2008 when Ryan and Wales won the Triple crown in Dublin but subsequently went on to win the Grand Slam. We intend to follow that precedent and start a figure of Sam raising aloft the Triple Crown trophy and wait to see what happens in the next three weeks. Either way the first ever Twickenham Triple Crown will be commemorated in traditional Grogg fashion -limited to only 300 pieces and rising to a limit of 500 pieces should we go on to win our remaining two matches. This is the only way we can keep everyone happy and personally I can't wait to make Sam again- smiling this time, complete with bloody eye, bandages and of course that elusive sliver ware. It should be a fitting tribute to the way this Welsh team has conducted themselves from the build up to the World Cup to now, especially Sam. The only issue will be, as always, one of time. We have no plans to change the way we work as we feel our collectors appreciate the effort that goes into each Grogg figure we make but it will mean a big pinch of patience must go into this Groggy celebration mix!
Right - time to get my breath back and get the clay out - "Super Sam" here we come!
£50 Deposits are now being taken, price to be confirmed (expect around £200). To place your deposit go to this link http://www.groggs.co.uk/shop/new_products/1_93_0_922/triplecrownsamdepositcomingsoon.aspx or ring 01443 405001.
Richard gets to work!
Richard's Six Nations Grogg Blogg Feb 6th 2012
What an incredible start to Wales' Six Nations! Again I have to hold my hand up say I thought with all the injuries and the Irish regions form in Europe that it was a game beyond us - how wrong could I be - and I promise here and now never to doubt again!
Wales were cool, controlled and showed experience beyond their combined years. When they needed to step up a gear Ireland simply had no answer to Wales' firepower-Amazing. From 1 to 15 Wales stood up so it seems a little unfair to pick out individuals but how can I not mention the 'Great North Star'. George seems to grow with every game and his play was simply sensational - I can't wait to see him play again. I also thought Mike Phillips was coolness personified and he "marshalled" the game like his old Ospreys rival Justin. Ryan Jones was outstanding again and Leigh Halfpenny should be re-named Gold Soveriegn - what a kick - What cajones - I couldn't watch. Ireland must be shell-shocked, they must have thought the game was won but Wales never looked worried. The one piece of play that summed up their performance for me was the driving play from the kick-off after George's try. From thier own 25, two half breaks from Rhys Priestland and we were back in the kill-zone - no panic - just super cool!
Well roll on next week - I'm going to be a busy boy but just like during the World cup I'll be getting up for work early all week!
Cheers Wales and thanks again,
(Quoth the raven-Nevermore)
PS. Watched the game again last night with a cooler head - Jon Davies - the Scarlet exocet - what a player!
Apologies for the delay in my update but I’ve been a very busy boy. I had to hit the ground running after the New Year but I have finally had five minutes to catch up, so here goes.
The good news on the Grogg front is that as well as completing the Richie McCaw and World Cup, I have finally managed to finish a Mini Leigh Halfpenny which will be available soon, complete with his famous scrum cap! As Grogg fans will have noticed I have also remodelled Leigh’s 9” Ltd Ed which was long overdue for a makeover as Leigh has changed a lot in the last 3 years. This was modelled before Christmas but, like the Huw Bennett Grogg, had to be kept ‘under wraps’ as it wouldn’t be available until now.
I was very relieved to see the ‘Captain Fantastic’ Richie McCaw finally fired and painted. As with all these projects the idea seems great at the time but I tend to forget that adding little details like ferns instead of grass all has to be modelled and not just thought about – ho hum, such is a Grogg makers life. Anyway, I was very happy with the end result and especially pleased with Richie’s scars and scratches which, I feel, just add that bit of ‘bloodied but unbowed’ appearance and sums up the great mans character.
As you will be aware from the many new additions to our Signature Wall of Fame over the Christmas build up, my list of new figures is quite long but I am finally making a start on the next players in line, starting with Scarlets duo Rhys Priestland and Jonathan Davies. Dan Lydiate will be finished very soon and will be followed by his Dragons team mates Luke Chateris and Toby Faletau. Luke’s Grogg is planned to be the tallest 9” Limited Edition ever made, a record held, I think, by Jonah Lomu at the moment (check that out!) and should be a great figure. He certainly impressed us with his signature – 9 feet from the floor, which he would have been even higher had his hand not been in plaster at the time!
On the soccer front we were delighted to meet Wales and Swansea City defender Ashley Williams, who will make history becoming our first Swansea City Grogg. As we have explained to Ashley this will be a little later in the year but I will do my best to start him ASAP. I also have two more ‘secret projects’ on the go involving two Legends of the modern era but I have promised under pain of TORTURE (“we haven’t really” – Carly), not to reveal anymore until dates, numbers and prices have been fixed. As usual Carly will keep everyone informed via Twitter and Facebook on these exciting developments!
I also can’t wait to get started on Uncle Albert of ‘Only Fools and Horses’ but will have to wait until I’ve completed some of the projects above first!
Well once again the Six Nations are upon us and it looks wide open again this year. Ireland are looking strong and France are an unknown quantity with a new coach but here’s hoping Wales can follow on from the World Cup and get our nerves jangling again. It’s a shame we are picking up injures – best wishes and speedy recoveries to Jamie, Rhys, Gethin and Dan, I’m sure they will play a part this season.
So let’s batten down the hatches and hold on to our seats as the roller coaster ride starts again – have to stop now as I’m feeling rather queasy already!
Cheers for now and fingers crossed (not mine of course!)
Grogg Blogg Nov 2011
What a week we had last week! A third of the Wales team that beat Ireland in the Rugby World Cup visited us here at the Groggshop, signed the Wall of Fame and had their photo's taken for their up and coming Ltd Ed figures. It was great to meet them all - each one a credit to their families, regions and Wales. I feel inspired to get cracking and have already begun working on Dan Lydiate and Huw Bennett. I was particularly glad to be able to finally make Huw as he should have been a part of the celebrations from the 2008 Grand Slam, better late than never I suppose.
I must try not to make them all at once, however tempting it might be to make all six players straight away. Once again I must remind collectors these figures will not be ready until will into the New Year no matter how fast I work!
Big thanks also to our old friend Phil Bennett, President of the Scarlets, who presented George North with a special pair of George's new Grogg in Scarlets and Wales' World Cup Strip. Phil met George at Parc Y Scarlets on Monday and the Scarlets and Wales star was delighted with his figures. Thanks again Phil.
Slow but steady work continues on Richie McCaw and the World Cup. The detail on the cup will be the slow part but the end result will be worth it I'm sure. Our last Grogg available before Christmas - Wales premier Referee Nigel Owens has been moulded and we should have the first finished piece for him to see soon. Nigel makes Grogg history in being the first ever referee we have made as a Limited Edition. Well with the World Cup over we are straight back into the European Cup - Good luck to all the regions this weekend - I'll be glued to the TV as usual. In the meantime Cathy, Carly and Simon have been busy decorating the shop which is getting us all into the Christmas mood - however there is no truth in the rumor that I'll be dressing as a Christmas elf this year - forget it!
Cheers for now,
'Richie' Grogg - In honour of Richie McCaw
Richard’s World Cup Grogg Blogg 24th Oct 2011
Well the party is over for another four years and what a rollercoaster ride it was. Who would have thought Wales would be the team everyone was talking about and who would have thought France would make a game of the World Cup Final. I guess the end result was the right one but I still think Wales v New Zealand would have been a great final. Congratulations to our old friends, Graham and Raewyn Henry – I know how hard they have worked – it must be such a relief at last for the best rugby team in the World to be World Champions again.
On the Grogg front as promised and in time honoured fashion we will, of course, be making a special Limited Edition of ‘Captain Fantastic’ Richie McCaw holding aloft the Webb Ellis Trophy. This will be limited to only 301 pieces, reflecting the total points tally of the All Blacks in their campaign 2011. This figure however will not be available before Christmas but orders can be taken and reservations made. We will also be adding the World Cup to the Kiwi Mascot as a tribute. I am currently finishing the Nigel Owens figure which will be the last new Grogg made in time for Christmas, not forgetting George North has been moulded and should be available soon in limited numbers.
Obviously with Christmas upon us here I would urge people as usual to order early and to please be patient, our small team will do it’s best to accommodate your needs!
Once again a big Congratulations to New Zealand - World Cup Champions 2011 and many thanks to Wales and our player of the tournament Sam Warburton for making the last 6 weeks such a bumpy but exhilarating ride!
Cheers for now,
Pre-orders and deposits for the McCaw and Cup can be placed here...
Richard’s Grogg Blogg – World Cup 11th Oct
Well – Here we go again! What a weekend and what a performance from Wales. True to my word I watched the game live and apart from feeling physically sick before kick-off (you would think I was playing!) after Shane’s try I calmed down a lot and after Mike’s amazing try I was so calm I thought I’d fallen back to sleep and was dreaming. I thought Wales showed incredible control and self-belief which is why I was so calm I guess and now the cup is almost there in our grasp. We can’t dismiss France I know but I feel good about this one for a change.
On the Grogg front – as you know - we have decided to complete the team which is something we have only done twice before. The first was in 1999 after the Wales v England game at Wembley and the second was after the 2005 Grand Slam but I think Saturday’s performance probably eclipses these and I can’t wait to get started. Please be patient as it will take a while to make all seven figures but I know they will all make great Groggs.
Once again Congratulations to Sam and the boys and all the coaching staff – it’s great coming to work with a smile everyday! Right – deep breathes and get the clay out!
Richard’s Grogg Blogg – World Cup Update Oct 3rd
Well what can I say – Wales have done it in style – surviving the ‘Group of Death’ and unlucky not to top the group. Personally I couldn’t have asked more from Sam and the boys – I think they have showed true grit and class in equal amounts and I can’t wait for Saturday. I must admit to one indiscretion – not watching the Samoan game live. I unfortunately witnessed both previous World Cup games in Cardiff and was so traumatised by those losses that I checked the score before watching the game this time. I’m glad I did – I don’t think my blood pressure would have coped! Congratulations to the team and coaching staff – now it’s everything crossed and anything can happen. I must admit I have loved every minute of the whole World Cup and will be at a loss at what to do at 6 in the mornings from now on!
On the Groggs front, I’m busy trying to finish Rodney and Nigel Owens but will also be starting a 9” figure of George North today. I know a lot of new players have put their hands up but George’s rise has been meteoric. I can remember seeing him play for the Scarlets the first time and thought he was like a cross between John Bevan and Jonah Lomu – not a bad mix. The World Cup being such an open competition now we will want to see what happens over the next two weeks before making any more announcements. In the meantime I’ll try and concentrate and get some modelling done – and I promise to watch Wales V Ireland live no matter how tough it is!
Come on Wales!
Cheers for now,
16th August 2011
Richard’s Grogg Blogg Update Aug
Just a quick catch up on our busy weekend. Wow – what a game on Saturday! I was pretty confident about Wales’ chances but the game was truly extraordinary. It reminded me of the Famous ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ when Muhammad Ali soaked up George Foreman’s relentless punishment for 8 rounds only to turn it around right at the end when Foreman was literally ‘punched out’. Congratulations to all the players and ‘Captain Sam’ especially. The only down side is the rising injury list – Morgan Stoddart last week and now Matthew Rees and Gavin Henson who was looking very sharp, our sympathies go to them all – they will be missed, however I think, all in all we should feel much more confident about our chances in the ‘Group of Death’.
Jan Gethin, Richard and Rugby Writer Carolyn Hitt. I know what I'm getting Rich this Christmas! - Richard thoroughly enjoying the game!
Richard's unique Frosted Beard Grogg - Richard and Richard
Our display at the International Players Bar in the Millennium Stadium
Many thanks to the WRU for their kind invitation – Dad and I will get used to being spoiled. The Grogg news on the day was involving a permenant display in the newly refurbished International Players Bar at the Millennium Stadium which includes over 50 Grogg figures. We also had chance to finally catch up with Man of the Moment, Richard Parks, who was the Guest of Honour. We took the opportunity to present ‘Parksy’ with a unique ‘frosty bearded’ 737 Grogg which he was delighted with. On new Grogg news the ‘Man In Black’ Sam Warburton is sold out - but I have started work on a Mini Sam and have almost completed the other ‘magnificent 7’ in Mini Richie McCaw!
On the Club front two Ponty Mini’s are also taking shape in Dafydd Lockyer and Wayne O’Connor who I think will make great Groggs.
Meanwhile I can’t wait for the Argentina game on Saturday – woo hoo!
Cheers for now Richard
2nd August 2011
Apologies for the long gap since my last catch up but I have been a busy boy. Great to hear the World Cup is finally making the press and we are all looking forward to Wales’ warm up matches- especially the Wales v England game in Cardiff which Dad and I have been invited to by the WRU! We are doing something special for that day which we will let you know about nearer the time. In the shop Carly has made a World Cup display including all the current Mascots, globes and bunting of all the World Cup teams regaling the shop front – very impressive. On the Mascot front the USA Eagle is finally ‘fully fledged’ and becomes the 14th figure in the collection. The remainder will include :
1. The Namibian Oryx
2. The Russian Bear
3. The Georgian Wild Boar
4. The Romanian Lynx
5. The Samoan Manu-Mea
6. The Tongan Turtle
I can’t wait to start some of these but have promised to finish the Barbarian Merino Ram first. On the 9” Grogg front I have been busy finishing work started some months ago including ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson, Sergio Parisse (our first Italian Grogg), Javier Hernandez (complete with pea!) and I am also very close to completing a long awaited Soccer Legend in Sir Bobby Charlton who will be available in a number of different kits so watch out for announcements on low Limited Editions.
For intrepid rugby fans I also hope to have the Mini Richie McCaw ready in time for him to make the long trip home in time for the World Cup, should anyone need an appropriate rugby gift designed to fit in your hand luggage! Obviously we will be responding to performances during the RWC as far as new Welsh players go and of course making something special to commemorate the World Champions 2011 – whoever that turns out to be! Personally my money is on our old adversaries, New Zealand although I have been very impressed with Australia’s timing once again.In the meantime I have put new batteries in my alarm clock and I can’t wait for all the fun to kick off!
Looking beyond the RWC and with Christmas in mind plans for a Rodney to accompany Del Boy have been approved including some new Welsh rugby Mini’s.
A special mention must go to our old buddy Richard Parks whose amazing and unique achievement has been duly acclaimed by rugby fans and the general public alike. To help Richard raise funds for Marie Curie Cancer Care we are making 100 Mini Parksy’s complete with Polar beard and his 737 rugby strip. Please help celebrating his outstanding and historic accomplishment with a commemorative Grogg – the profits of which will go to Marie Curie.
Well the clay calls –back to the wheel,
Cheers for now,
Howdy Grogg Fans,
Sorry about the ‘long time no speak’ but I have been very busy – honest! Firstly, I have just managed to finish ‘The Lions Roar’ in time for the 1971 reunion dinner to be held at the Vale Hotel on the 19 th of May. As promised I have had a bit of fun including the black eyes, missing teeth, scars and rake marks on him to reflect one of the toughest tours the Lions ever made. It took a little longer than I thought but I hope you will think it was worth the extra effort when it’s painted. The No 13 of 71 is being auctioned on the night of the dinner which is being held to honour their Captain – John Dawes.
On the Wales front the Six Nations was a bit up and down but personally I would have taken 3 wins from 5 at the start of the tournament given our injury problems. As you know Sam Warburton is now available and Bradley Davies is following quickly on his heels. Sam’s Grogg was featured on S4C’s ‘Pethe’ which did a profile on the Groggshop this week. Many thanks to Grogg collector Neil Jones who did the interview for us – I thought the shop looked great even though I’m getting to look more like my Dad everyday!
Use this link to watch Pethe
With the World Cup in mind we are waiting for the Welsh squad to be announced before making any more new 9” Ltd Ed’s but there are some obvious candidates so keep us informed of your wish lists! On the international front I have bowed to public pressure and think it’s time I made a Grogg of Sergio Parisse – especially after Italy’s heroics against France!
On the soccer scene Kenny Dalglish is next in line in the 9” Collection but I was recently inspired by the colour footage of Man Utd beating Benfica in the 1968 European Cup Final to produce only 7 of the 15” George Best figures in that iconic all blue strip. The figure will include an inscription reflecting not only the games score but the fact that George was voted European Player of the Year that season. Also, depending on results, an idea to make the 4 greatest Man Utd Players of all time standing together in the shape of Mount Rushmore but ‘full bodied’ has been discussed. The top four players were voted by Man Utd fans themselves as Ryan Giggs, Eric Cantona, George Best and the legendary Bobby Charlton who is long overdue to be ‘Grogged’! This should make an amazing piece and I can’t wait to start it but I have to be patient for a few weeks more! On the boxing front – I haven’t forgotten Mike Tyson as I have a deadline to complete him before June. The Mascot range will soon include the USA Eagle and I have been told that a Spanish Bull, Romanian Lynx and a Russian Bear are all possibilities to be confirmed.
Congratulations to Dale, Paul and the whole Pontypridd team on winning the Swalec Cup. This success guarantees at least one new Grogg in our Ponty Mini range and may be more. Ponty have been amazing this season fighting the cause on 3 fronts and we feel their efforts deserve Groggy recognition.
Well I can talk the talk but now I need to walk the walk – lots to do – back to the clay.
Cheers for now, Dicki
Firstly congrat’s to the Welsh Team after their great win in Murrayfield. As many Welsh teams will testify – not an easy place to win especially when you're under pressure! I thought all the established players were outstanding and the new players are really making an impression. Let’s hope the boys can keep the momentum going for the trip to Rome – I’m sure they can. Unfortunately the 10 figures we made of Hooky to celebrate the win sold out within an hour of being announced – you have to be quick on the draw!
Talking of which I have finally come to a decision about our 40th Anniversary piece of us moving to the Danygraig Arms and making it The Groggshop. As many fans will know our Anniversary coincides with the 1971 Lions Tour of New Zealand – still the only Lions Tour to ever win a test series there. In our minds the players from that tour were pivotal in the development of the World of Groggs, so we have decided to celebrate that double Anniversary with a Limited Edition Action figure of a rampant British & Irish Lion. It is intended to be approx 12” high and Limited to only 71 pieces. No 71 will be reserved for Auction at the 71 Lions Reunion Tribute Dinner to John Dawes at the Vale Hotel on May 19th 2011. As you can see from the sketch – the lion is going to be pretty spectacular and will bear the scars and bruises of what was an unforgiving and unforgettable Tour. The piece is to be called 'The Lions Roar', more details to follow soon.
On the Work In Progress scene I have finished the 9” Action Adam Jones in which we will have the first one through later this week and I have started Martin Castrogiovanni and Paul O’Connell in the World Cup Mini Series. The Fijian Palm Tree is also almost complete (2nd time around!) and we will be watching the Italian game very closely as we hope some new Welsh Groggs will be appearing very soon.
Don’t forget to check out Facebook and Twitter for special announcements – at the moment a ‘Wondergoal’ Wayne Rooney is being launched. Well fingers crossed (not mine as I have to keep them busy) and BUONA FORTUNA WALES!
Cheers for now,
Well here we go again - no rest for the wicked. We all had a busy (if a little stressful) end to the year (snow & flu included) but it was great to meet up with some old friends from New Zealand in Graham and Raewyn Henry which helped to make up for not beating them! It was nice to have a visit from All Blacks legend Ian Jones from Sky Sports and current star centre Ma'a Nonu who were both very charming. We also had some great memorabilia donated from Ma'a, Ryan Giggs and especially from Wales and Spurs star Gareth Bale with his match worn shirts - meeting Gareth has almost converted me to a Spurs supporter!
Ah well in the field of opportunity it's plowing time again as my old friend 'Shakey' used to say and after a great break over Christmas (Happy New Year BTW!) I'm raring to go. As you can see from Work In Progress there are quite a few projects already started. The Mini World Cup Series is going to be a welcome and long overdue addition to our Miniature Range. The idea is to pick one player from each major nation and get them made before the World Cup kicks off in September. I've made a start with Richie McCaw and Sebastien Chabal (two obvious choices) but need some help with Scotland and England so your input as usual will be vital! The proposed list is as follows
New Zealand - Richie McCaw
Australia - David Pocock
South Africa - Victor Matfield
Ireland - Paul O'Connell
France - Sebastien Chabal
Italy - Martin Castrogiovanni
England - Lewis Moody ?
Scotland - Chris Patterson ?
I have also started on the last 4 missing Mascots which are Fiji (Palm Tree), Tonga (Turtle?), Samoa (Dove) and the USA (the Bald Eagle). The Palm Tree is already on it's way, it's only taken 3 years! On the Limited Edition front our favourite tighthead is being Grogged for the 5th time with the Action 9" Adam Jones. I love making Adam despite all the work in the curls which seem to be getting longer every season! Fingers crossed for the 4th of February - things going well we will be adding some new names to our 9" Welsh Collection. I'm already too wound up to even think about the England game, we had to start with that one didn't we! Good Luck to all the boys involved and everything crossed. Not forgetting it's the 40th Anniversary, 1971-2011, of Dad moving his studio from Llantwit Road to the dis-used public house the Danygraig Arms which is now known as the Groggshop. We will be creating something special to mark this milestone. We have a few ideas and will make an announcement when we've decided so, as ever, watch this space!