GREAT FALLS — If the Montana State University Bobcats win a national title on Saturday, fans, players and coaches alike will be in search of memorabilia to commemorate the historic moment. And that’s where the man behind Big Sky Customs comes in, creating one of a kind keepsakes that recipients cherish forever.
In the basement of his home in Great Falls, Rob Brown curates an intricate, highly detailed world. He makes custom sports figurines of every size, shape and color and his works are in high demand.
“I did models and stuff, and I saw an article in a Beckett card magazine that showed a man who had customized sports figurines,” Brown explained. “My son at the time, Jacob, was playing for the Great Falls High Bison. And I thought, I could do that so I ended up just making some figurines of him.”
And that’s how Brown’s hobby became a passion, and now it’s a growing business called Big Sky Customs. He makes one of a kind figures: commissioned, hand crafted, detailed, each one a masterpiece.
“If you just sat down and were able to work on one, it could take anywhere from say 10 hours to 30 hours, depending on how much work I had to do on it,” Brown said.
Brown makes all kinds of figurines, for all different sports and teams but he has a special place in his heart for the Montana State Bobcats.
“I'm an MSU alumni, Class of 1981. In about 2005 I got a hold of some people I knew that were involved in the Triangle Classic,” he said. “And I told them I can make some of these Bobcat players and offer 'em up to you guys. And they took me up on that.”
Over the years, Rob has created roughly 80 custom Bobcat creations. And a few he got to hand deliver to players, to rave reviews. He drove to Calgary to give one to former MSU and current Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Alex Singleton who was playing for the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders at the time.
“I mean, they're obviously super badass. It's one of the coolest figurines I've gotten. I got to pick a play that I wanted, a moment that kind of embodies your time,” Singleton said. “I have one from Montana State and one from my time in the CFL. So to be able to have those it's really special. It's really cool. More than just a picture.”
And to Brown, that’s the best part of the process - seeing the reaction when people lay eyes on their custom.
“It’s pretty cool, especially when their eyes get wide. Because you take 'em apart and you work on them in parts and you stick them back together and then you got the final product in front of them and when they see it, it’s cool,” Brown said. “I try to generally make them for high school kids or families or the people themselves, because you find that it means more to them.”
And if Montana State wins this weekend, you can bet he’ll take great joy in crafting some Custom Cats.
“What the Cats have done this year has been awesome,” he said. “I’ve done a lot, so I wouldn't be surprised.”
Brown says he currently has about 60 to 70 commissions he’s working on, so turnaround time is approximately a year. For more, visit the Big Sky Customs Facebook page.
The FCS championship game will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 10 a.m. (Montana time) on Saturday, January 8, 2022.