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 Post subject: Mentalpower's customs - NEW: Green Man|Volcana|Icicle - pg.3
PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 9:04 am 
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Dear all:

It has taken longer than expected, but finally here you have the last wave of customs I've made.

I've been several years thinking that I had to evolve my customizing technique to include putty sculpting, but not daring to start. First because I was unable to find any good putty-like material. But one year ago I bought a box of Tamiya's Epoxy Putty. The problem was that I was waiting for a weekend where I would have several hours to sit down and start experimenting with it... but such a marvelous weekend never happened...

The thing that pushed me to start was receiving a cool Volcana head cast from BatStew, which was really good, but had some hair details missing due to bubbles formed during the casting process. For me it was clear that the only way to go there was to use the putty, but actually, to do it right, it required quite some ability, as some of the details I had to fix, such as one eye's lashes, were really tiny.

So I decided I needed to do some easier tests first. The result is three different customizing projects (there is a fourth one which I have not finished yet) which show incremental levels of sculpting ability with the putty material...


Classic Green Man

This is not an original custom, as I got the idea from a similar custom I saw sometime ago using a Metamorpho head for Green Man. But in that custom the hands were not modified appropriately (Green Man has three or four fingers, depending on the artist, not five). So I wanted to re-sculpt the fingers in both hands, which required some fine sculpting with the putty.

For the body I chose the Sinestro body from the JLU SDCC 2009 3 pack. The head was from a JLU Metamorpho. To keep the neck articulation, I carefully cracked the body open to avoid having to repaint it all later.

And here you have the result, after sanding down the ears in the head, sculpting the fingers and the ring in epoxy putty and painting only the head and the gloves:

Image

The only part of this custom that is really relevant for me is the hand sculpting, shown in more detail below:

Image


Volcana

Next custom is the one that has pushed me into putty sculpting... Volcana. Years ago I was one of the JLU collectors unable to get the JLU 3 pack with Volcana. And I waited... and waited again. But the only options I found was to pay a stupid amount of money for it in eBay.

When I saw BatStew's casts of the Volcana head, I saw it as the only valid alternative... to custom my own Volcana. So I ordered the head cast and then, few weeks after, it arrived. But as I mentioned at the start of this entry, the cast was good except for some bits of hair missing because of bubbles during the casting process. And none of my previous techniques and materials would do it this time.

So finally I sculpted the missing bits of hair with epoxy putty. I had several images from the JLU Volcana in front of me, to try to get as close as possible to the original. And it was far easier than I had expected! The body comes from a JLU Huntress, as you can see in the following picture:

Image

Once the sculpting was solved, the rest was just a matter of patience, specially to get those eyes right. I tried to reproduce the same eyes and mouth from the first Volcana released by Mattel (the one without eyebrows). I did not liked the eyebrows of the second version of the figure, so I did mines directly looking to several images of the character, to make it more show accurate. And this is the result...

Image

Image

I am really happy with the result, as Volcana has been in my wish list long time ago, since she appeared in the Superman The Animated Series show. The other character from that show that I wanted so much was Livewire, which I got just few months ago in eBay...

Image

Don't you think these two Supes baddies look really cool together? Beware Superman!


Golden Age Icicle

And to finish the post, here you have a project I had originally planned to do just after the Green Lantern Alan Scott custom: the Golden Age Icicle.

I was preparing it for Texgnome's JSA Custom Challenge at the Custom Justice website. But several deadlines at work made it impossible for me to get it finished for it in time. But actually I am glad it got delayed, if not I wouldn't had used putty for this one.

The body is from a JLU Atom figure. The head and the right hand with the ice gun come for DC Direct's Icicle PVC figure (from the JSA villians box set). The tricky part was to adapt the head to the body, keeping the articulation. The pin to connect it to the body comes from a discarded JLU Flash head.

Before I had started experimenting with the putty, I had painstakenly sculpted the chest and back details directly in the Atom body. It took several hours to get it right, crisp and smooth. I had also realised that although the head was the right scale, the neck was not properly proportioned. And I was wondering how to fix that when I started experimenting with the putty.

So I finally sculpted in putty the gloves, the boot tops and the neck (to change its proportions in a way that would match both the head and the body). The belt and belt buckle are made of paper, and the bag comes from the PVC figure. When I started to paint it all in white I realised that the opening between the front and rear portions of the torso was too visible, specially in the elbows, and thus I used putty to smooth it.

And the result is the following:

Image


Here we can see Icicle side by side with his archnemesis, Alan Scott...

Image


A funny thing when I placed the Icicle custom in the shelf close to Volcana, is that only then I realized how funny was to have there the guy with the freezing powers and the gal with the fire powers... putting them together they look as if they could become the perfect team.... fire and Ice...

Image

oops! Maybe fire and ice do not combine that well...

Image


I hope you have enjoyed the customs. I am working now on three more. Stay tuned!

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Last edited by mentalpower on Wed Feb 02, 2011 9:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mentalpower's customs - NEW: Green Man|Volcana|Icicle -
PostPosted: Sat Nov 13, 2010 9:36 pm 
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Fantastic paint work on Volcana.

All of these look great, but the clean painting you did on Volcana really sets it appart.


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 Post subject: Re: Mentalpower's customs - NEW: Green Man|Volcana|Icicle -
PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 10:12 am 
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Nice stuff man, digging all of em, (even though i don't know who Green Man is), but Icicle really came out well. Excellent job.

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 Post subject: Re: Mentalpower's customs - NEW: Green Man|Volcana|Icicle -
PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 10:30 am 
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Wow! Your Volcana is amazing.

(the others are just as nice, don't get me wrong, but having a production Volcana to compare to your custom really makes your work stand out.)

Amazing.

Looking forward to the next round.

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 Post subject: Re: Mentalpower's customs - NEW: Green Man|Volcana|Icicle -
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 2:49 am 
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Hi:

I've been reading your messages but was unable to answer as this week I had the final delivery of all the resultos of a international Software project I was coordinating... but now that I've suvived to it I can come back and answer your nice comments...

Sidewinder wrote:
Fantastic paint work on Volcana.

All of these look great, but the clean painting you did on Volcana really sets it appart.


Thanks for your comments, Sidewinder. For me the details are important, and I try to make the paint applications as clean as possible. It is that moment int he customizing process, when all my attention is given to make that line pass exactly where I want that makes this customizing experinece great to realief some tensions in my mind after a crazy week at work.

bnjmnrlyr wrote:
Wow! Your Volcana is amazing.

(the others are just as nice, don't get me wrong, but having a production Volcana to compare to your custom really makes your work stand out.)

Amazing.

Looking forward to the next round.


Thanks for the words, pal! It is funny that you and Sidewinder have a preference for Volcana... last week Volcana was included in the Custom of the Week competition at the Custom Justice website and it got only one vote!!

else3573 wrote:
Nice stuff man, digging all of em, (even though i don't know who Green Man is), but Icicle really came out well. Excellent job.


Thanks! Green Man I was a member of the Corps and then of the Omega Men. You can find more aboutthe character just looking at his profile in wikipedia, comicvibe.com or the DC wikia.

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 Post subject: Re: Mentalpower's customs - NEW: Cat Man|Aquagirl|Bucky - pg
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 10:04 am 
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It has taken a lot more than I thought to finish these customs, partly because I was very busy at work during Christmas, and partly because I'm getting a bit too obsessed with quality of my customs (I hope it shows).

So FINALLY here we have the finished...

Cat Man (from the Justice Guild)

I agree with An-Gel Sakura that one of the nice things about being a customizer is that when you get too fustrated about a particular figure not being produced, you can do your own. In this case I was one of the legion of people waiting for a Cat Man to complete the Matty collector Juctice Guild 4-pack.

This is a custom I've seen made several times, using a Kenner BTAS Batman. But all the versions I've seen fail at one basic point: the BTAS figure has flat shoulders to give room for the cloth cape. Without the cape the shoulders look odd. So I dedided that I would fix those shoulders. It was actually the first thing ever that I sculped with Epoxy putty, and I was really surprised how easy was mold it to the right shape compared to sculpting directly in the figure plastic (the nose and the pointy ears were trimmed and sculpted with a x-acto knife).

Image

The next tricky thing was to select the colours. I made several paint tests with this figure until I got the base colours that I liked. The belt button is made of a small slice of wood coming from a rounded toothpick.

Image

From there I only had to work more on the face and the chest logo, to had the painted lines exactly where I wanted them to be. And finished it all with glossy varnish for boots, gloves, logo and belt, and matt varnish for the rest. And the result is the following:

Image

Image

The last picture puts Cat Man side by side with the rest of the Justice Guild members released by Mattel. It is more or less in scale with Black Siren and Tom Turbine, the pain is that Green Guardsman with such small body and head. Mattel, next time use the big buck, please!

Image


Aquagirl (from the Batman Beyond TV show)

The base figure for this figure is the Mattel JLU Saturn Girl. The problem of the other Aquagirl customs I've seen is that very few people has fixed the feet. Aquagirl is barefooted, so the JLU female legs with heeled shoes are not really a good option.

In the process of finding some appropiate bare feet for the figure I found some 3'75 Indiana Jones figures which were on sale in a toy shop. One picked my attention: some apache guy that had bare feet articulated at the ankles. The moment I saw it I knew they were perfect for Aquagirl, so I bought two of them (in case something would fail in the process of adapting the feet to the JLU legs) and went home.

It was not difficult to pop the feet off the apache guy legs, and to cut Saturn Girl's feet. However I had to face three difficulties:

- the feet from the Indy figure are a bit too wide, too 'manly'. I've had to work a bit on them, sanding and sculpting them down to make them a bit more streamlined and girly.
- the pin that connects the feet to the anke is too thick and long to fit within the JLU female ankle. I had to carefully reduce the pins' lenght and thickness before drilling a hole of appropriate thickness in Saturn's legs.
- Saturn legs are of a horrible plastic, too soft. When I had the feet inserted in the legs, the pins were deforming the plastic. The only solution I had was to reinforce the ankles with putty, taking the opportunity to improve the proportions of the ankle to better fit to the feet in any of the positions.

The following photos show this stage of the process, also including the first colour tests... on this case only in the torso.

Image

Image


Then it was the time to sand it all arround. There was something I was not quite liking about the top of the hair. I went to see once the full Batman Beyond episode where she appears very actively, to see which was the proper shape. I also checked the attempts other customizers did. So the problem is that Aquagirl's top of the hair is rounded, while the JLU Saturn figure has a more 40's-style hairdo. So what I did was to sculpt the proper shape directly in the plastic until it got rounded.

Image

A side view of it shows the feet adaptation, and how I sculpted the top of the hair to make it more rounded:

Image

At this point the only things left were to paint it all and varnish it, a task I thought I would do in less than a week. How wrong I was. The problem with this figure is that the costume design is very basic, so any imperfection on the lines between costume and flesh shows a lot. This meant several takes on each of those lines so it would be close to perfection. Another difficulty was that the hair is really close to the figure's back and shoulders, so tipically each time I was doing some fixes to the hair, it would stain the green in the back and viceversa. Also I needed to do something with those eyes, I wanted to fix them, give them more deepness and make them a bit more sexy.

So it took lots of patience to go once and once again in a figure that looked finished to really work in all those problems until everything was really okay. Once I finished the painting I coated the suit with glossy varnish and the flesh with matt varnish.

And the result is the following:

Image

Image

As you can see, this figure has the remarcable ability to be the first JLU female that can stand by its own, without base! Amazing, isn't it? :lol:

Image

The side view above shows how the feet articulation really helps a lot to get a swimming position. I am very, very happy about this solution, it ended just as I had imagined it. So I hope you like it too.


Teen Bucky

For years I've wanted to have a Bucky figure in my collection. I was unable to get the Captain America and Bucky 2-pack from Toy Biz years ago, and then it became another project in my long list of planned customs.

When I finally saw the Hasbro Marvel Universe Bucky figure the first thing I thought was: 'Damn, what a pity this figure is not in the 5" scale'. But then I realised it could be in scale, if that body was not of an adult Bucky but of a teen one.

So the tricky was to find the right head that would fit the body. And I finally found it: George Wesley from the Pop Co. Harry Potter the Order of the Phoenix Deluxe Set.

Once the head was found, the rest was quite simple. I used the dremel to create a rounded hole to adapt George's head to the neck ball. Then I painted the eyes, mask and hair to match those of Bucky Barnes.

And here you can see the result...

Image

Image

To finish this post, let me show you a scale comparison shot, to see Bucky side-by-side other customs of mine.

Image

It is a pity that I could not get my Mattel Secret Wars Captain America figure to be part of this shot, but that figure is packed at my parents' place. I'll try to do that shot in the future.

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 Post subject: Mentalpower's customs - NEW: Onomatopoeia! - pg.3
PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 9:48 am 
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Hello:

This is a project I have been working in for the past 3 months. Speaking frankly, I was not totally sure that I would make it, as I was facing some problems and challenges with the epoxy putty (which I'm still learning to use).

This project started the day I read the "Batman: Cacophony" TP. There I learned about a quite recent DC supervillain, Onomatopoeia. For those of you that are not acknowledged with the character, here you have a summary (adapted from dc.wikia.com):

Onomatopoeia is a serial killer who targets non-powered, vigilante superheroes. He earned his name because he imitates noises around him, such as dripping taps, gunshots etc. He collects the masks of the heroes he kills, keeping them in a trophy room hidden behind a bookcase in his house. He almost killed Connor Hawke and the Joker, and has Oliver Queen and Batman as targets for his trophy collection.

Here you have some images of Onomatopoeia:

Image

Image


You can learn more about the character at

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onomatopoeia_(comics)
http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Onomatopoeia

Okay, so said all that, let me introduce you now my customizing project....


Onomatopoeia

When I saw Onomatopoeia for the first time it caught my attention, even though the costume is almost color-less. I thought it could look great as an action figure. So, after deciding that I wanted to do an Onopatopoeia figure, the first issue to solve was which body and trenchcoat to use as base. I made some quick search on Internet on other Onomatopoeia customs... and I was only able to find 3 customs, all made in the 6" scale and all of them using the Marvel Legends Gambit's trenchcoat.

So it was totally up to me to find a recipe for an animated-style, Onomatopoeia custom. Funny thing is that it took less than a minute searching in my custom fodder to get the base figure: Mattel JLU Scarecrow. Yes, the Matty Collector one. I know some of you guys really love the figure, but I didn't like it, so it was in my custom fodder. It has the right body and a well-proportioned trenchcoat. It is ragged at both the sleeves and the bottom, and this presented a challenge to my still-under-development putty modelling skills.

The first step was to change the head in the figure. For that I needed to crack open the body, and this implied to be able to take the trenchcoat off the figure, which was not as difficult as I had imagined. Then I cracked the body open and swapped Scarecrow's head for a JLU Obsidian head, which I chose as it was very close to the final shape of Onomatopoeia's head. This head swap required some neck articulation adaptation, and some re-sculpting of Obsidian's neck, which was broader than required for the thin Scarecrow body. (I have realised just now that I don't have photos of the cracked-open body, sorry guys!).

I also cutted off both Scarecrow hands, eliminating the ragged parts of the sleeves, and looked into my custom fodder for some substitutive hands. The ones I picked come from a Bandai Saint Seiya Cloth up Gashapon Andromeda figure. I chose those instead of some flat, feature-less hands as I thought the lines in the hands, when painted black, would simulate the seams in Onomatopoeia's leather gloves. And I sculpted the boot top lines, sole lines and heels directly in the plastic with a x-acto knife.

Then I sculped the head by adding some epoxy putty to get a rounded shape. I used several images from comicvine.com as a reference during this process, and I got it right quite fast.

Once I had the body ready, I went for the trenchcoat challenge. I tried to apply some epoxy putty to the ragged trenchcoat, but when it dried it usually fell off, unable to stay in place, as there was minimal surface to stick to. After considering several possible alternatives, finally I added two paper pieces on the inside of the coat for the putty to stick to. I hardened those two pieces in supergle so it would harden up a bit and make the bottom of the trenchcoat a but more rigid, as I saw clearly that the epoxy putty I am using is not elastic and doesn't cope well with blobbly, flexible bases.

The following pictures show this phase of the project...

ImageImageImage

Next step was to sand down imperfections in the hardened putty and to smoothen the parts where I had sculpted the plastic, such as the neck and the boots. During the process I had again problems with the putty: the smallest patches were peeling off while sanding, and sometimes the limit between the putty patch and the bendy coat would unstick. I had to apply superglue several times to all parts where the putty was not sticking properly to the coat, and then sand the glue rests.

ImageImage

As I had the body almost finished, I decided to coat it all in black and put the coat on again, as I was realising how fragile the putty patches on the coat were when stretched. And then I saw another probelm that I did not notice when the coat was off: the coat's neck was sculpted for a hunched figure, so it had a wider area for the head which was misplaced. this can be clearly seen in the following photos

ImageImage

In the pictures above you can see the problem. There is a wider space in the chest area, which was for Scarecrow's head and neck rope, which doesn't look right on Onomatopoeia. A second problem is that the neck collar is not fully sculpted, it dissapears at the top, as this was hidded by Scarecrow's hair. This was clearly something to be fixed. Also I coated the putty patches with some dark gray paint to see if they looked ok, and they did not, the putty patches showed below the paint. So I had to find a way to smoothen the patches even more.

To solve the neck collar problem, I went for the same solution I had used for the bottom of the coat. I glued two pieces of paper to the back of the coat to give a broader surface for the putty to stick to. And then I sculpted a new neck collar for the coat with putty, protecting the body below with a loose piece of paper. I am very happy how that went, I think I'm really getting used to the putty now.

ImageImage

The photo above also shows that I continued experiencing problems with the patches at the bottom of the coat. I went into several cycles of sanding, then painting to see if it lokked better. To avoid thinning too much the putty, sometimes I added a coat of superglue which would go over both the patch and the coat which, when sanded carefully, it would smooth the transition between the rubebry coat and the patch.

One critical phase of this custom was to get the white circles on the mask right. As in the case of the Aquagirl custom, Onomatopoeia's costume design is so streamlined that you have to get very clean lines and smooth paint applications to make it look great, as there are not lots of details to take off the atention. Painting those thin ovals was a pain, and it took several evenings to go once and once again on those lines, using a magnifying glass and the tip of a toothpick to work on them.

The following photos show a quite advanced stage of the custom, although the lines on the mask were far from perfect, and I was still fighting with the patches in the coat to become unnoticeable.


ImageImageImage


After several iterations on the mask lines and the patches, finally I got what I was looking for. So I applied a final coat of paint to all parts and varnished it. I chose glossy varnish for the black in the end to make it as dark as possible, as I've seen in other customs how matt varnish turns it into a dark grey.



And here you have the final result...

Image

I also prepared some accessories for the figure, namely a gun and a knife. I no longer remember where the gun came from, it was a blue plastic pistol in my custom fodder, possibly from the Playmates Star Trek line (Picard, Data or Beverly in 1940's attire). The knife comes from the Toy Biz Spiderman Punisher (the one I used to make my Black Adam custom).

Image

The following snapshot is a close-up of the head, so you can see the work on those oval lines. I'm sorry for the quality of the photo, I have brought my digital camera to its limits to get it.

Image


All and all, I'm very happy with this custom. It has really taken me lots of time to fix the various problems I faced but now that I see it finished I am very happy and proud that I was able to solve them.

The only thing that worries me a bit now is that Onomatopoeia may start hunting some of the non-powered heroes in my collection...

Image

Hey Gray Ghost, Watch out! He is hunting you!!

Image

Oh my! Will Gray Ghost survive to his encounter with Onomatopoeia? Will Gray Ghost's hat and googles end up in Onomatopoeia's secret trophy room? Tune in next week, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!

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Last edited by mentalpower on Fri Feb 04, 2011 4:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mentalpower's customs -NEW- Aquagirl|Onomatopoeia - pg.3
PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 4:27 pm 
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Awesome new batch! Thanks for posting


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 Post subject: Re: Mentalpower's customs -NEW- Aquagirl|Onomatopoeia - pg.3
PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:13 am 
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Awesome indeed. I'm definitely copying that Catman recipe.


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 Post subject: Re: Mentalpower's customs -NEW- Aquagirl|Onomatopoeia - pg.3
PostPosted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 7:37 am 
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Just popped in to see the latest, and I must say you are *killing* it. Great stuff, man!

Peace,

Chip

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 Post subject: Re: Mentalpower's customs - NEW: Green Man|Volcana|Icicle -
PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 7:21 pm 
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mentalpower wrote:
When I saw BatStew's casts of the Volcana head, I saw it as the only valid alternative... to custom my own Volcana. So I ordered the head cast and then, few weeks after, it arrived. But as I mentioned at the start of this entry, the cast was good except for some bits of hair missing because of bubbles during the casting process. And none of my previous techniques and materials would do it this time.

So finally I sculpted the missing bits of hair with epoxy putty. I had several images from the JLU Volcana in front of me, to try to get as close as possible to the original. And it was far easier than I had expected! The body comes from a JLU Huntress, as you can see in the following picture:

Image

Once the sculpting was solved, the rest was just a matter of patience, specially to get those eyes right. I tried to reproduce the same eyes and mouth from the first Volcana released by Mattel (the one without eyebrows). I did not liked the eyebrows of the second version of the figure, so I did mines directly looking to several images of the character, to make it more show accurate. And this is the result...

Image

Image


She looks amazing! It's because of you that i am attempting to do this myself. May i ask, what did you use as the neck swivel? Is that a screw? How did you not damage the head?!

Again, fantastic job!


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 Post subject: Re: Mentalpower's customs - NEW: Green Man|Volcana|Icicle -
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 12:28 am 
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bat313 wrote:

She looks amazing! It's because of you that i am attempting to do this myself. May i ask, what did you use as the neck swivel? Is that a screw? How did you not damage the head?!

Again, fantastic job!


Thanks for the comments, pal!

Yes, the neck swivel is a thick metal screw. The trick is to drill a hole in the head cast of the appropriate thickness. I use a vernier caliper (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caliper) to perfectly chose the drill bit thickness that matches the screw. I use my Dremel to drill the hole.

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 Post subject: Re: Mentalpower's customs - NEW: Green Man|Volcana|Icicle -
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 7:34 am 
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bat313 wrote:
May i ask, what did you use as the neck swivel? Is that a screw? How did you not damage the head?!

Again, fantastic job!

I received a real Volcana and her head was disconnected, so I used a plastic pin from the wrist joint of a 12" G.I.Joe.
viewtopic.php?f=32&t=18852
The Dremel hand drill is a must for any customizer.

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MY SWAP MEET: viewtopic.php?f=46&t=19728
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Last edited by An-Gel Sakura on Wed Mar 09, 2011 9:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mentalpower's customs -NEW- Aquagirl|Onomatopoeia - pg.3
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:10 am 
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ABS
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Joined: Tue Apr 22, 2008 1:27 am
Posts: 253
Location: Barcelona, Spain
^^ I also use plastic screws for other customs, but in the case of Volcana, with all that piece of hair, the head is quite heavy and I went for the safe option, a metal screw.

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Wanna see some of my custom figures?

Check http://www.actionfigureinsider.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=14514 (New entries! - July 10, 2012)


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 Post subject: Re: Mentalpower's customs -NEW- Aquagirl|Onomatopoeia - pg.3
PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:22 am 
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shirtless hugger
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Joined: Sun Nov 04, 2007 6:30 pm
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Thanks for the tips! I ordered my head last night so i have some time to decide!

Oh one more question, did you prime the huntress body or just paint right over it? Your paint job looks nice and flat. Also, did you seal it with something?


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