Drbindy Featured Customizer
Featured Customizer for February 2009 (2 of 2)
drbindy hit JoeCustoms going full steam ahead with his customs. In a short period of time he's picked up a ton of fans. The best part is that it isn't going too far out on a limb to say we've yet to see the best of what this customizer has offer. If you don't know Knighthawk or know what EXCAl is you absolutely need to check out some of drbindy's work here.
Which style of figures do you enjoy customizing the most?
25A style construction is really my favorite base figure for all my Joe customs. I like the look and the proportions. I have quite a few New Sculpt parts, but they are mostly used for fodder. I count the new Joe ventures in the 25A grouping though, as the early returns on the Resolute figs are promising, and I might be one of the few people seeing potential for customizing the movie figs previewed so far. I also know that the Joe figures have some limitations, so I always keep an eye out for 1:18 scale figures that I might be able to modify. Star Wars and Indiana Jones figures are obvious, but I’ve also had some luck turning those very limited Golden Compass figures into useful parts. Before my days in the Joe customizing world, though, I worked with the 12” vintage Johnny West line:
What brand of paint do you prefer?
On my desk at home right now you’ll find Model Masters Acryl, Tamiya, Citadel, and various cheaper paints, like Apple Barrel. Of these, I trust and use the Testors Model Masters the most. I like Tamiya because I can buy smaller portions for cheaper amounts, and my hobby shop has a wide array of colors available. I especially like some of their specialty colors, including the transparent ones. But I also use the cheap stuff a lot more than people might expect. And I liberally mix paints from each brand, and rarely have difficulties with the outcome. I try to thin down each mixture with a touch of water, and I do seal most of my paints, especially when I’ve used the cheap stuff as part of the mixture.
I think I’ve had good luck painting flesh tones, and I’ll tell you that 80% of my flesh colored paint is Apple Barrel or a similar cheap brand. I do mix in a touch of warm flesh color model masters, but I have better luck getting the shading I want, than I do using just Tamiya, for example. Oh – this may sound ghetto, but I also have two of the really, REALLY cheap Wal-Mart Acrylic paint sets, the kind where each color is connected to the next. I don’t use these often, but I do use them on the rare occasion when I need a brighter color for some part of a custom. I really don’t work in pastels or bright colors very often, so I admit to cheating with the horribly cheap stuff when I need it. If I ever take on a project based mostly on this kind of color scheme, I’ll splurge, but I don’t see the need to pay $4 to watch a full bottle of paint waste away in front of me.
Where do you find inspiration for your customs?
If you’ve check out any of the customs I do from my EXCAL verse, you know this answer has to be “all over the place.” For some reason, creating characters has always been in my blood. As a kid, my toys rarely were used as the person they were meant to be, and I almost always created different identities for them. When I was older, I always wanted to get into some of the cool RPGs that were out, and did own Star Frontiers, Lords of Creation, and the like. But I always found it more rewarding to create the characters than to play the game. I think that’s why I’m enjoying my time here so much.
Many of the original characters I’ve introduced are either direct copies of, or are heavily inspired by, characters I created years ago, many of them from the games I referenced above. Knighthawk, in particular, but Deuce, Doc Fortunato (which actually was a fake name used in one the SF guide books, as was Jardin Jones, the “real” name of Deuce), and others. Some of the customs are pure whimsy, like my stylized Dr. Bindy custom, or Agent 069, which was meant to get cheap laugh. But my main inspiration of late has been to introduce some of my favorite existing fictional characters into this same verse, so that I can “play” with them all in the same format, just as I used to do when I was a kid. While just taking an existing iconic character and saying here is how they fit, may not seem very original, I actually find it takes a lot more creativity to incorporate an icon like Rogue or Captain Marvel, and make them fit into the semi-rigid rules of the story I’ve created.
What do you consider to be your best tools of the trade?
For tools, in a literal sense, we all use our Exactos, Dremels, hot glue guns, and brushes to various degrees of success. One tool I use that might help set my customs apart a little bit is the use of water slide decals, like for the EXCAL patch, or the Captain Marvel patch. In addition to the water slides, I liberally use print-outs to create effects, like the badge dangling from Rogue’s belt. Because I mix most all of my paints before using them, I have 2 cheap little paint trays with small “bowls” in each that allow me to mix just the necessary amount of each color as needed, so I feel like I get a lot of mileage out of the supplies I buy. I also bought a set of small grip pliers for $1 each at a flea market, with various ends, some smooth, some angled, some with teeth, that I use constantly when I make a custom. For sealing off the paint jobs I do, I know some people buy the manufactured matte finish for $4 per Testors sized bottle. And I know many people use the spray on stuff. I’ve been using the same tub of Mod Podge glue since I first started making customs of any type (including the Johnny West customs I used to make before joining here), which cost me about $2 total. The trick is to thin it way down with water, and to brush it all the way, so it that it doesn’t build up to much. Without this, none of the flesh tone painting I do would look nearly as good as it might look now. And the apple barrel paints would be near useless. Toothpicks get used by me almost as much as any other tool in my drawer, and I’ve also made a lot of use lately out of an Exacto saw I bought, as it comes in to play whenever I try to fuse different types of figures together.
What is your strongest area when it comes to customizing?
This question lets me answer what my best tools on a personal level might be. That has more to do with the thought process behind a figure. This includes researching all angles on the character that I might not be aware of, and using my background/profession in writing a hopefully compelling story to sell the character. I suspect that many a so-so figure that I’ve posted has elicited a greater response than it was due simply because I made it sound pretty in the bio. Lol. I do think I have a decent eye for what works and what doesn’t, but the one thing I’ve come to realize might be my best tool, is my willingness to feed off the great ideas I get in the critiques section for the stuff I post. That’s also an approach I get from my work – I want to know what’s bad about my case (professionally) from the start. That way I know how to address it. Same is true with my work here. Tell me what’s wrong with it. I won’t always agree, but if I do, you can bet I’m already working on it.
With regard to the figures themselves, I think my strongest area is that I’m willing to attempt any technique that I think will make a figure better. I did not invent by any means the joint transplant idea, like with the knees on Vesper Lynd, or on Rogue. But I think I might have been the first to see a knee joint in a VvV Televiper elbow.
Lastly, I think a strength of my figures flows from a known weakness. I hate painting elbow and knee joints, unless the factory color they started with is a near match. I just rarely have success with it. So instead of living with poorly painted joints, I usually won’t start a figure unless the elbows and knees are the perfect parts to begin with. As a result, my figures are largely play ready, and this goal is part of what inspired those knee joint transplants. To be able to do this, you really have to get your hands on a lot of fodder though, and I’ll tell you that my customizing skills really took off when I won a lot of 60 figs on ebay for like $1.50 per figure. Having cheap stuff to experiment on and not worry about ruining made a big difference. Similarly, the first trade I ever made on JCs was with Tanstoys, and he generously sent me a large number of heads which I am still getting use out of to this day.