How did you get into customizing?
I have to give credit to the 25th figures, Larry Hama, and Joe Customs for my start into customizing. When I heard about the 25th Anniversary figures, I started looking all over the internet for anything Joe related. During my search I actually stumbled upon Joe Customs. Wait!?!?! You can do that to your toys? I became fascinated by the idea of doing conversions to not only G.I. Joe figures but to toys in general. Even though I made bases, vehicles, and what not out of cardboard, lego, and other materials, I had never done anything like that to any of my toys when I was kid.
I started collecting G.I. Joe again as soon as the 25th figures were released. About the same time Larry Hama's Storm Shadow comic was out. I loved the new design of Storm Shadow and knew the only way to have a figure of him was to make one myself. I used to paint Warhammer 40K miniatures years before so I thought I would give it a try. I was going to use some old green stuff that I had tried once before but had never got the hang of it. This time something clicked and I managed to do a decent first attempt at sculpting and I had a Storm Shadow figure that no one else had at the time. I made some custom nunchucks for him and after that started making more ninja weapons.
Who is the greatest martial artist, real or fictional?
Bruce Lee, no question about it. He was probably the first person to effectively demonstrate that martial art styles don't make great martial artists, it's the techniques that work for you that make you great. He also understood that you had to be a complete, well rounded martial artist. He studied many different styles, taking what he felt were the most efficient techniques and adapting them to his own art, as well as developing his own training methods and diet. He was definitely ahead of his time, a true mixed martial artist. I believe he would have done real well in the UFC.
I also have a slight connection to Bruce Lee. When I studied Kung Fu, my Sifu (Master/Instructor) had been taught Wing Chun by Ip Ching, the second son of Ip Man. Ip Man was the one who taught Bruce Lee Wing Chun, which Bruce used as a base for his art Jeet Kune Do. I only met Ip Ching once, it was pretty awesome to train with a Grandmaster that had trained with Bruce Lee.
Ah, ninja weapons! What do you do when you accidentally start building a ninja army? Make them more weapons of course! My favorite weapon that I've made is the Kusari-Gama. I think I'm on version 3 or 4. I'm big on accessories, they can make a good custom great. I really enjoy the challenge of making accessories that you just can't buy.
What do you do to relax?
Relax? I have a 2 year old and a 4 year old. There is no relaxing, lol. I used to train in Jow Gar Kung Fu but I haven't practiced in years. Besides customizing, surfing Joe sites is about as relaxing as it gets now.
What is the greatest advancement in customizing you have enjoyed the benefits from?
Asphalt's green stuff helmet tutorial. The seal tape upped my game a ton and without it I would have never successfully made a removable ninja mask. That technique led to more removable headgear, vests, and belts.
I also think Shapeways or prototype printing will be the next big thing. I have some pieces, and already I can see lots of accessories and parts being made available to customizers.
Which other customizers' work do you enjoy the most?
There are so many customizers that I watch out for and that I draw influence from. Obi-Shinobi/Blasterman was one of the first guys I looked up to because he was making ninja weapons at the same time I started but they were so much better. Drbindy, Greyryder, Lance858a, Stronox, Cloud Strife, MSWI, Giguppythethird, Ratfink, Turner, Shakka85, Ceraurus, Wry1, Kalibus, Sic Deth, NFC, Tankster, Mandingo Rex, DanOfTheDead, Spin Doctor are some of the customizers that have been making customs I wish I could or want to copy. Their paints, ideas, techniques, sculpting, and parts combos really inspire.
Have you been able to take anything you've learned from customizing and apply it to your real life?
Interesting question. It usually works out the other way for me, heh heh. I once used green stuff to stop a leaking pipe until the plumber could get there to fix it.
What is the silliest GI Joe item Hasbro has made and why?
T-crotch Joes. I always preferred ARAH Joes over any other toy I had when I was a kid (they were the only ones to survive my childhood) because they defined action figure. They could move like no other figure could and to take away what made them great would be silly. Hopefully we won't see anymore t-crotch Joes.
If you had all the time and money in the world, what dream project would you love to tackle?
It would either be a toyline dedicated to accurate 1:18 Samurai and Ninja action figures or modular playsets. I'd love to make a diorama of some Ninja attacking a Samurai army. I've wanted new playsets for my figures for a while and modular sets make the most sense.
You end up on a deserted island. What figure and vehicle do you want to have with you?
Right now it would be the 30th/Renegades Storm Shadow (at least until I can get a second one to customize) and a BBI F-16 (it can double as a shelter). Storm Shadow is the best ninja figure you can get at retail (if you're lucky anyway) and he comes with more weapons and accessories than any other fig out there. The F-16 is the biggest vehicle that own. I'd finally have the room to make an airfield on a deserted island.
Thanks to everybody at Joe Customs for getting me into this hobby.