Dark Horse Featured Customizer
Featured Customizer for March 2010
Opinionated. Stubborn. Obnoxious. And that is just what his friends and supporters say about him. Dark Horse's work speaks for itself. It is always of the utmost quality craftsmanship. Not only can you tell that he put tons of thought and care into each project, but you can tell he goes out of his way to push himself to get better in the process. He doesn't play it safe and stick with the stuff he's comfortable doing. A look through his customs in the gallery will quickly show the he will tackle any type of figure, any genre, or any character. If he has to learn a new trick in order to make his vision happen, bring it on. That kind of personality is contagious and forces other customizers to step up their game.
Which style of figures do you enjoy customizing the most?
I enjoy customising action figures/ vehicles/ playsets in pretty much every scale and style ever released. Right now I'm into 12" stuff (though by the time you read this I reckon I'll be bored of them!). My favourites are usually whatever I'm doing at the moment. I think I have at least some form of mental retardation in that respect, because stuff that I'm not working on at the time drops off the planet as far as interest goes. I think I prefer RoC style Joes at the moment (even though I still have a hate on for the lack of back screws). I just love the detail, accessories and articulation of them. I've found the torso's crack open easier too!
I like SW, Indy and Terminator stuff a load as well, but no matter which way you look at it, they can't compare to Joes. 1:18 has to be the best scale, imo. Other scales cannot combine as many plus points as 1:18 does.
Although I did a few LBC's in the mid/ late 80's, it was really Evilface that got me into hardcore Joe customising. It's an honour still that he accepted me to feature stuff on his site way back when. Evilface is the grandfather of Joe customising, and to have figures posted alongside his is just awesome.
What brand of paint do you prefer?
I think I was one of, if not the first guy out on the customising boards that ever used Citadel paints. Not many people know that Games Workshop's first store was just down the road from me, so by luck and convenience, I started using their paints waaaay back in the 80's. They've gone through so many processes over the years and the product is so much better now, even if the price is extortionate. It still rubs off very easily if you don't have a good primer though. I always use acrylic spray primers - white, grey or black, and I always use a spray sealer to ensure durability. I have to make my figure's paint as durable as factory releases or otherwise I feel it's a fail. What good are action figures if you can't play with them? ;-)
Where do you find inspiration for your customs?
Absolutely everywhere. In fact, I don't think there is a single thing in the world that hasn't inspired me (you're talking to a guy who actually made joe scaled turds lol). One time, I was inspired by an advert for cough syrup on the side of a bus! It's safe to say that pretty much no matter what I'm doing, I'm thinking about customising. It may sound sappy, but it really is the only constant thing in my life. I just love action figures. I find that with a potential infinite amount of figure designs, I'll always have something to look forward to, even if I don't know what it might be yet. I feel a finished custom figure always delivers the same excitement and buzz every time.
There's been times where I've been out and about - even doing important things - and I've got an idea in my head, dropped what I am doing and rushed home to get started! I have a great gang of friends as well, and sometimes they'll find all types of weird shaped objects and challenge me to incorporate it into figures/ vehicles. It's amazing what transpires from those challenges!
What do you consider to be your best tools of the trade?
Well, as many say, you simply have to have a Dremel. I think it's the most important thing involved with customising besides the figures themselves. I only use three attachments - a cutting disc, the small multi way drill bit, and the diamond shaped sanding head. Everything I have ever done with a dremel has used those three attachments.
For sculpting, I have proper sculpting tools (the ones that are like brushes, only with rubber shaped ends), tooth picks and any other curiously shaped material that can be pressed onto modeling putty to get interesting textures.
For painting, I use citadel brushes of pretty much all sizes.
What is your strongest area when it comes to customizing?
That's a tough one. I've been customising for so many years, and I'm still learning. My first customs were Mego headswaps... I think I could barely walk when I was doing them! I always say LBC's are the best customs... what could be better than a custom that anyone can copy EXACTLY? ;-) But back to the question, I think one of my strongest areas is in the finish. I find too many people rush, or just don't care about the final result. With all my proper customs (not background dio fillers etc), I make sure they are at the very least as durable as factory figures. I think it's such a shame when you see a custom posted by someone that looks great, but you know will fall apart as soon as you touch it. Some folk might remember the Mark VII Indy tank I made - I actually used that as a rollerskate to make sure it was ready for play!
I'm always trying to improve my sculpting also, but I still suck at headsculpts. I'll never be in Jose from Tri-Gate creation's league. He's one of the best sculptors in the industry, in my opinion. He's been giving me pointers that help a ton, but I just can't get the heads right. Hopefully I'll get there some day.
I think my parts selection is pretty good too. A lot of folk comment about my customs that they'd never have thought to use a certain part in certain circumstances.
I also think an overlooked skill in customising is balls. The ability or inclination to hack up an expensive or hard to find part, or just to take on a massive task. I made a Mad Max car custom once, and the base die cast car was $150.
I have nothing but total admiration for guys who take on and complete massive scratch builds etc.