The life of a console crafter – Interview

In the past we have had a few interesting interviews, ranging from the manager of a series of eSports bars, cosplay fanatics, to experts in creating houses and interiors in The Sims. This time we’re taking a closer look at a pro crafter, who likes to customize retro consoles, making them very unique. Jeffrey Van Hove created many different consoles already, and we’d love to learn more about his future projects and how he started this particular hobby.

Could you tell us a bit more about yourself? What do you do on a daily basis?

My name is Jeffrey Van Hove, father of two (a girl and a boy), 35 years of age, I live in Belgium with my awesome girlfriend and kids. I’m an independent “Creative gun for hire”. I used to work in gardening for more than ten years, as a garden architect. Now I do this on my own, combined with all kinds of creative projects people want to commission me for. I build lightsabers, toys, action figures, props, replicas… You name it, if I can build it, and you can afford it, I’m your man!

Are you an avid game collector?

Avid would be a strong word, but I do have a fairly decent collection of games and consoles. My personal preference goes out to everything handheld. I collect Game Boys. I’m also a big fan or Beat ‘Em Up games, so if I can score those for a decent price (on any console really) I grab them. I love playing fun and original platformers and recently learned to enjoy some of the classic RPG franchises as well. As a kid, the only console my parents bought me was the Sega MegaDrive. I still own my original to this day, and try to expand my collection with cool titles for that console. The purchase of my SupaBoy made sure I’m now on the hunt for SNES titles I loved playing as a child when I was at a friend’s house. Pokémon is my guilty pleasure. I love playing the old and new games, and I’m a level 40 Pokémon Go geek.

We heard you do something special with old school consoles? Could you tell us a bit more?

Yes, I love turning old systems (Game Boy, GBC, NES, SNES, N64, PS 1,…) into one of a kind, dedicated consoles. I’ve made Crash Bandicoot, Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy, Jurassic Park, Metal Gear Solid,… PlayStation 1 consoles. I’ve pimped old Game Boys with a Zelda or Pokémon theme. I’ve converted SNES, NES and N64 systems into Zelda, Jurassic Park, Donkey Kong themed consoles.

Why did you start doing this (and when)?

I started doing this a few years ago, when I purchased an old NES console at a yard sale. It was badly discolored over the years, and some 90s kid put stickers all over it. I took it apart to clean and test. Everything was still working, so the idea came to try and restore the outer shell. During the restoration process, I decided to not just try and bleach it back into its original state, but build something completely new and unique in the Zelda theme. People liked it so much, I was asked to make more with different types of systems.

Doesn’t this take a lot of time?

The time frame depends greatly on the design and the amount of detail I put into them. A simple repaint takes 6 to 8 hours. But the ones I love doing the most are the ones on which I sculpt and add 3D effects. Those sometimes take days to build. This reflects in the pricing when I sell them of course.

Where do you get your inspiration?

My inspiration I get from in game experience mostly. If I don’t know a game, I first try to find and play it. Sometimes clients contact me with an idea or theme of their own. That works for me as well. If someone wants this certain system customized, they can contact me with an idea or theme, and we’ll work from there. I love thinking out of the box with both design and materials.

Is it something everyone can do?

I think so! But you need certain requirements: you need to be handy to take apart a console. And you need the skill to paint and sculpt. All of those things can be learned with a lot of practice. Then you also need an idea, that’s the hardest part most of the time.

Would you love to make this a full-time profession, or would it spoil the hobby?

I’m not doing this full time, and I don’t think I could. It’s more than a hobby for me already, but if I would be building consoles all day, the fun of it would be lost I’m afraid.

Do you have any specific goals for your crafting?

Fame! Haha, no. I love posting my work online, talking to people about it and getting feedback on what I build. My goal is to make more cool stuff for fans who are looking for a unique piece to add to their dedicated gaming collections.

Which projects are on the horizon?

At the moment, I’m working on a SNES Donkey Kong Country system and a Zelda Game Boy. A friend contacted me asking if I could build him a dedicated Game Boy in the Home Alone 2 theme, so that’s happening soon. I’ve also been brainstorming about tackling the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme on both a Game Boy and NES console.

Anything you wish to say to the gaming community?

Please check out my work both on Facebook and Instagram. Look for Jevaho Creations and let me know what you think! Also, if anyone out there has any ideas for future projects, just contact me and we’ll talk. I love chatting about ideas and commissions.

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Ibuki
Ibuki


Aspiring ninja.

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