CUSTOM – Toys “Eyes Only”
I’ve spent the last year customizing figures from the Impact line of comics and I have a count of 20.
I decided the !mpact Comics were such a huge part of my childhood, I wanted to make as many figures as I could. I even began finding the issues on eBay. What a nostalgic time that was.
The Original Shield
I went into a toy store just to look around and someone must have returned this figure. I was thrilled. It was one of the Batmen I was originally using. So I snatched him up and looking at my list, next up was The Original Shield.
Take off all the crap and fill in the traps and belt area with Sculpey. Then roll out some more clay and shape the gauntlets and boots. There’s no detail to cut here like the first Shield figure, so that makes things nice and neat.
I shaped the ear covers then I molded the hair myself, and it came out better than expected.
I made sure to paint the red and white design before adding the chest shield, looks more uniform this way. Now comes the really cool part. The chest shield came out great. I rolled out the Sculpey and cut it as one piece. I slipped it over his head and then added the collar around the neck.
Last I painted the figure and then added the star stickers, silver in color, just like all the other Shields.
Take a Superman figure and remove the cape, and fill in the slots that held it in. Mold the pants like before. Again I just did the zipper and pockets, and then I moved down to the pant legs, giving them cuffs.
For his metal skin I made sure to use a flat paint, otherwise the gloss metallic seems to never dry. The eyes and hair are just a darker metallic paint than the body. Easy.
The figure ended up being too easy and too simple. I went ahead and painted one forearm flesh, just to give him the appearance of changing from man to hero.
Finally! A different base figure! Grab yourself a Superman and let’s get started. And there’s good news… I just saved a bunch of money be switching my… Wait, no… I figured out how to do a popped collar.
I gotta say, when this version of Blackjack came out I loved him. He was so cool. Now he’s just okay and I try to remember why I liked his costume so much. I guess taste changes with age, this was almost fifteen years ago mind you.
Okay, with the Superman figure all you have to do is pull, tear, or cut off the cape and fill in the slots on his traps.
The head was simple, sand down the sides and back of the head where the mask would be, careful not to harm the ears since they stick out on the mask, mold over Kent’s face and make a couple indents for his eyes.
For Blackjack I sanded down the belt and started work on the arms. He may be a buff guy, but rather than show off like most heroes he chooses to wear a puffy, girly shirt to hide his muscles. I just lined his arms with Sculpey and then molded the tops of the gloves.
Next I did the shoulder points, just two separate pieces molded to fit. After that I did the collar. It was easier than it should have been. I rolled out some clay, cut it, formed a half cone and simply attached it.
I moved on to the boots and built the tops up a bit, and for the spades on his knees I rolled out a thin layer of Sculpey and cut them out individually, and gave them a dab of glue to hold them in place while I dried the clay.
The American Shield
Okay, they discontinued my primary Batman line, but released a new line using the same mold with a few slight differences. He has a lot more articulation, but this isn’t a big problem. The figures are the same height and build. Also in this line is a Superman, this comes in handy as well. You still have to remove all the same bits you did on the other figures, and in the case of The American Shield; I kept the head and left the cape.
**For the head I just molded over the mouth and build up the hair from scratch. I also molded and glues the ear covers. The character in the comics is terribly scarred so I make a few dark pink scars around the eyes. They’re hard to see here, but try to trust me when I say they’re there.
You need to fill in the space where the original belt fit, but this time just build a new, simpler one in it’s place, rather than making it flush with the heroes stomach.
For the gloves I roller out the Sculpey and instead of painting a blue circle with a white star in the middle I made the blue stand out a bit, as per the comic book design, and then painted the stars. Batman’s boots are perfect so I didn’t have to adjust them at all during this process.
The chest shield on this figure was easy, but not very effective. Because it covers the cape it has a bad habit of cracking right at the shoulders. I found it best to make the front and back separately and attach them, like with the first Shield.
I painted the figure, careful not to crack the chest shield. Looking back I should have popped off the head and cape first. Then mold the figure, painted him and THEN reattach the head and cape, molded the chest plate, and painted that when I was done.
I have to admit I never really liked this character or his costume, something about heroes and capes I think, but made him anyway since he was part to the !mpact universe. Now that the figure is done I find myself looking at it thinking: He is kind of a cool looking hero.
**Note: The first time I did this figure I used a Batman head and molded the hair myself. When I moved he was damaged and I replaced it with a Superman head. I followed the same recipe, including the scaring. This is a better way to go all around.
Here’s another desperate attempt to get me through to payday. I’m actually happy with this figure. I used the head, torso, and legs of a WildC.A.T.s Zealot figure, the hair came from Voodoo of the same toy line. I wanted very muscular arms so I dug up some spare Martian Man Hunter limbs. I was afraid they might be too huge but when she was done I was pleased.
The Zealot body needed a lot of sanding and when I was done there was a lot of filling in and rebuilding to do, especially on HER left leg. I also had to scalp Zealot in order to fit the hair on.
The only molding that I did to this figure was the belt, and I attached the belt straps with superglue. Don’t ask where the belt straps came from, I have no idea.
Compared to the men in the series she should be a little taller or at the very least the same height, but she’s not. Just one more reason I wanted to have her arms muscular.
I think the reason this figure didn’t suck was the paint job. It’s an easy costume design, but the jaguar print came out nicely.
Remember, earlier I said something about getting desperate for materials? This is the proof. I was out of Batmen, I hadn’t discovered the Superman figures yet, I didn’t get paid for another week. So I went rummaging. I found a headless Robin figure, coincidently from the same Batman line I have been using. I then scraped up a TJ Superboy head and a TJ Superman cape.
I sanded down the pouches on the shoulders and gloves. I used Sculpey to make the boot flaps, chest plate and the folded collar, attached to the cape. I sanded down the sides of Superboy’s head a bit and glued on the Sculpey ear covers.
The stars on Dusty’s chest were painted on rather than the stickers I used for the other Shield characters. They were too big and didn’t look right. The rest was just a matter or red, white, and blue.
Okay, since there are a lot of W.E.B. agents I had to decide which one to do first. Eventually, with time and money, I would like to do them all, or at least most of them. In the final issue of The Crusaders all the heroes were transported to another planet. The agent that got trapped there with them was Buster, so I went with her.
It’s tough to find a female figure that sizes up with the Batman and Superman figures I was using for my !mpact project. I ended up using a She Dragon figure from the Savage Dragon/TMNT toy line. The hair, cut down a bit, came from some random X-Men Storm figure. The only cutting I had to do to the figure was the Mohawk and a little on the boots.
I used Sculpey to smooth out the ridges on her torso, and made a little W.E.B. symbol on her chest. I built up the boots a bit and added the kneepads. Next was the belt with a few pouches, and the flaps on the front and back. After that, I cut out and shaped the shoulder pads then attached them.
During the painting I used white to give the suit some detail, otherwise it would look too plain. The green and black web pattern was just random lines drawn. I gave her a more natural skin tone, rather than the green skin of She Dragon.
Her visor is removable, as shown above. It’s just clear plastic, cut, folded and painted green.
As a side note, make sure she stands right before you add the belt and flaps; hip joints are hard to move once Sculpey dries.
Since Fireball was first seen in The Fly, I went with him next. A very easy figure to make but I’m not completely pleased with how he turned out. I was getting desperate for materials at this point and I think it starts to show with this custom.
I used the same Batman figure as the Black Hood; so I had to remove the usual items as well as the webbed fingers and those damn feet. This is the first time I used a different head, it belonged to Gambit I think. And the cape was from some DC Total Justice figure if I remember correctly.
Fireball doesn’t really wear boots so I had to keep the legs slimmer, you can see where I sanded down Bats old boots
Once I gave him new feet and a new head; I made the chest plate and did my best to attach it to his mask and the cape. For his symbol I drew it out on paper first and attached it with clear puzzle glue and then painted it. The saved me from having to actually paint it on and chance screwing it up.
I gave him a few coats of off white (not pure white) and orange. And that was that.
Now… What would I have done differently? Don’t get me started on using the right kind of Batman figure. I would have used a different cape, longer. He would probably have a different head. Something that had a more youthful look to it. I would have also worked a little harder on the mask, making it look more like the cover image.
Aside from these few things… Fireball was done. Five down… a hell of a lot more to go.
One spare Batman left… until I went out scrambling for more.
At this point I decided the !mpact Comics were such a huge part of my childhood, I wanted to make as many figures as I could. I even began finding the issues on eBay. What a nostalgic time that was.
Okay, this figure was a tough one. Like before a Batman was used and all the unnecessary attachments should be removed, see previous posts on what those are.
This time keep the head off until the body is finished. Using Bat’s mask as a guide, lump on some Sculpey and shape it best you can to give you figure some hair. Then flatten out two tiny clay balls for his ear coverings and BAM! The head is done.
Moving on to the body, fill in the belt hole. Once this is done take a deep breath. The gauntlets are rolled out clay and sized, put them on and do the same with the boots. Cut the design in the boots as best you can. I did it after the boots were attached, but you can do it before. It’s up to you to decide what’s easier for you and what YOU think will look better in the end. Now that this is done, stop… Go do something else. The next part, for me, was frustrating.
The Shield’s chest plate was tough. I still haven’t found an easier way to do it. I’ve done at least six figures that require a chest plate and I think I’ve done them all differently. Here’s how I did this one:
First I tried rolling out the whole shield, shaping it and cutting a hole for the head. This worked okay but not great. For this figure I rolled out, shaped the shield, but instead I cut it in half and attached it in two pieces, connected it and then put the collar on afterward.
For painting I gave the figure a white base coat and painted it all red. Then I did my best to recreate the costume design. The silver stars on the front (and three more on the back) are stickers with clear puzzle glue to keep them flat.
And now out to the store to hunt down the discontinued Batman figures that work so well.
After The Fly turned out so well I decided to move on to my number two guy from !mpact Comics, The Comet. I wanted to make his to scale with The Fly, lucky I had two more Batmen from the same series. As before, I removed all the unnecessary parts: belt, glove spikes, cape and cowl. This time I replaced the head right away and build the traps and neck first. Then I filled in the missing piece of his waist where the belt was, as with all batmen figures from this line. I didn’t sand down the boots for this figure either, couldn’t tell you why. I rolled out some Sculpey for the wrist bands and once all the small stuff was done all I had to do was the head. For this I dug up as many pictures I could; back view, front view, and most importantly the side view. I wanted it to be as accurate as my abilities allowed me to be. Basically I just lumped some clay on his head, shaped and smoothed it out until I was more or less satisfied. Making sure to mold the chin guard and visor as close to the comics as possible. I used the heat gun to set the Sculpey, very handy tool if you’ve never tried it, but you can use what ever method you feel comfortable using. I’ve had too many custom figures fall victim to my oven for me to trust it again. The paint job was fairly simple, only three colors (two of them fairly dark) to use and the costume pattern wasn’t a hard one to copy. I didn’t use a base coat of white for this figure, his colors were dark enough, and I didn’t think it would make a difference. One more !mpact hero down… A hell of a lot more to go.
This was the figure that started my !mpact phase of customizing. At first he was an experiment to see if my wife’s heat gun would be a safer method of baking the Sculpey I use (in retrospect, I don’t recommend this brand. It looks great at the start but over time it begins to crack badly). I looked around for a left over figure that I didn’t mind getting ruined, found one: a Batman. As you’ll see in the posts to come, I really like this particular line of Batman figures. Remove the rubber belt, shave off the spikes and ears and you have a fairly plain figure to work with. Next I decided on a figure that I’ve always wanted to do and never have. My favorite character from this particular comic line: The Fly. Looking back, he was a good choice for this little trial run. With the simple features of the base figure there was little molding to do, but enough to perform a decent test. With all that decided, let the customizing begin…
First I started with a basic Batman figure. I removed the rubber belt and cowl. I had to pop off the head in order to do this. I then shaved off the bat ears and the spikes on the forearms. Figure prep was done. I thought that working my way from the inside out would be best so I first molded the three sided amulet on the chest. Followed by filling in his waist where the belt used to be. Rather than Dremel down the tops of Bat’s boots I build over them, the bigger calves look more like the comic character, to me at least. I sculpted the big round eyes while the head was detached. This was easier for me. I gave them a dab of superglue just in case. Next was the more tricky part. When you remove the rubber piece that held the cape you remove the figures neck as well. So I rebuild the traps and neck and attached the head. For future reference when using this figure you can remove the cape holder, cut it away from the neck and replace the neck, leaving only the traps to rebuild. On the back of the figure I formed a piece to hold in the wings (made from markers and the clear plastic from the figure’s package) Again I put a little superglue to hold them in place after drying. At this point you can bake you figure dry, or use a heat gun, hell a blow dryer might work for all I know. The figure was a pretty simple paint. I first painted him white as a base color. I used most of the figures natural features to apply the blue and yellow. And there ya have it, The Fly