One comic-related hobby that I always see examples of online, and think how cool it is, is the whole action figure customization thing. I'm not talking about the sculpting out of whole cloth thing like Jesse321 does (which is just phenomenal, but well beyond anything I could do) but rather taking an existing figure and modifying it to be a new character.
I've been thinking for a while how cool it would be to try to make some figures for some of the Legion World characters, but never really in any serious way. This past weekend, though, I was in a craft supply store with my wife and started looking at the acrylic paints and sculpting clay. I realized how easy it is to find all the things I would need, and how reasonably priced it all is and thought, “You know what... I think I'll give this a go!"
I am not really a sculptor, but what I am is an insane person who loves obsessing over details, so I think I can make a fair attempt at it. I'm going to start with just trying to make a single figure and, if it turns out nicely and I enjoy the process, I'll continue on with some more.
Since I don't really own that many action figures of my own (and the ones I do - Legionnaires - I ain't chopping up) I decided that I should probably use base figures that meet a few parameters:
- They should all be part of the same line. If I wind up liking this project and want to continue, I'd want them to all have the same scale and a similar look and feel.
- There should be a ton of different figures available, and have both human and aliens represented.
- They should be easily obtainable, and reasonably priced.
- They should have limited articulation (I'm sure Spider-man with 84 points of articulation is cool and all, but I think that would be a nightmare to try to take apart)
So with all that in mind, I decided probably the easiest and cheapest group of figures to work with would be Star Wars figures from Hasbro. I hopped on eBay last night and bought my first victim. Let's see if you can guess which Legion Worlder I plan on making first :
I should be getting the figure in about a week, and I'll post pictures throughout the process. I'm really excited; I think this will be a really cool challenge.
So... guess who showed up at the Nihil house tonight:
I chose this particular figure for my first foray into customization, because the resemblance was already pretty close to the target that I want to achieve:
Even apart from the overall body shape, there are several key details that I think will help me out as a beginner.
The gloves are pretty much fait accompli, as is the general boot height (though I need to reshape them a little). Though the torso needs a lot of work, there are at least general lines that I can take advantage of for building out the midriff and chest. The above pic doesn't show it well, but there is also a fantastic line on the face to guide me with the beard.
So, first things first, off to the kitchen for a little disassembly:
Boiling water? Check.
Future Lardy? Chec... wait... what...? You're not putting me in... ahhh! Glug... glug...:
This is to soften up the plastic to remove the head and limbs without breaking them. It's actually very easy.
Convincing Pippin that I'm not making dinner? A little harder:
Remove the figure after about one minute in the water and, working very fast so the plastic doesn't harden:
You just... POP:
Repeat for each of the arms and legs and soon you've got him right where you want him:
The tutorial I'm using says you can also pry apart the torso, but I think... for my first one... it might be easier for me to visualize what I want if I leave it together.
Up next: Slice it up, grind it, sand it down... oh, no!
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Well, before I start building up the bits that I'm missing, I need to take away the bits I don't want.
Since this is my first time trying this, I wanted to start with the easiest of the limbs - the left arm:
The original figure was dressed in a jumpsuit, but I need to somehow make it look more form fitting, like spandex. The main thing I need to get rid of is that pocket, and then I can work on smaller things like the folds.
But first things first, before I start sanding away, I actually have something super-easy I can do... that glove notch that Lardy has on the inside:
Like I said, easy. Two quick slices with an X-acto knife, then just scoop it out. Now... more difficult, that pocket:
For that I used a dremel with a grinding bit. At first I was all gentle with it, afraid I'd take off too much, but once I got the feel for working at such a small scale, I was more confident and just ground that sucker down, trying to get it as near as possible to the level of the upper arm.
Next up, the longest part... the sanding:
I used two different types of sanding approaches. on the right is just sandpaper (100 grit) which I used to actually get rid of the unwanted ridges and stuff, and on the left is a sanding pad which I used to blend to give it a smoother appearance.
Sanding takes forever. At first I was worried that I would kick up all kinds of dust and plastic fumes but - while that may occur with prolonged dremeling - this is soooooo slow going that just sitting with a towel on my lap is more than enough protection.
So, as to not neglect the family, I moved operations to the living room and just idly sanded for a couple hours while watching TV.
Pippin was very interested:
Probably because he thought it was a treat.
In the end though, I got the look I was going for: a softer, more "fleshy" arm that looks as though it's in skin tight fabric as opposed to something more "blousey":
I can probably get a little smoother around the crook of the elbow, but, hey, not too shabby for a first try.
As all the limbs are made from the same type of plastic, I won't post pics for each one. I'll just put up the next update when I have all four done and move on to the torso, which is a harder grade of plastic.
By the way, where's the real Lardy? I feel like he's either going to love that I'm doing this... or want to kill me.
Well, it's too bad the poor fucker will never be as handsome as the real thing!
That's Porkins from Episode IV, isn't it? Never realized they made a fig of him! Must...have...figure!
Seriously, I'm a HUGE Star Wars nut and find it extremely cool that you're turning a SW fig into Lard Lad! I have a pretty fair collection of figs myself, many of them MOC from the time they started making new lines of them around the time the special editions were released. And, of course, I have many, many play-worn classic figs from my misspent youth still.
Can't wait to see how he turns out and to continue seeing the process! (Me, I'd never have the patience to do all that, but I sure admire your work!)
-------------------- "Suck it, depressos!"--M. Lash
From: The Underbelly of Society | Registered: Jul 2003
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