Kambei Featured Customizer
Featured Customer for December 2008 Any self professed geek will enjoy Kambei's customs. He pulls his characters from everything from Micronauts to Dr. Who to Indiana Jones to, of course, GI Joe and everything imbetween. He makes customs we'd all like to play with by chosing characters that are appealing. You simply have to check out his body of work to appreciate how talented he is.
Which style of figures do you enjoy customizing the most?
This is probably the hardest question for me. Over the years I have customized quite a few different types of figures: GI Joe, Microman, Eversparkle, Star Wars, POTC, SHS, PTE, BBi, Chap Mei, Harry Potter, even a Digimon or two. Living in England, I take what I can find and work with it. If I had to pin it down, though, I would probably have to say: new sculpt. The options with these are quite varied, but my favourite of all time would have to be the Spy Troops Depth Charge figure. I have lost count how many different customs I have made using this one, but I would estimate over two dozen, with another twelve in my fodder box, all pencilled in for future customs. With a little bit of sanding and cutting, I find that he is an almost perfect generic figure to use.
What brand of paint do you prefer?
I used to swear by Citadel/Games Workshop paints, until they stopped making some of my favourites and changed the gold. I have also used craft paints numerous times, mainly because they worked out at a quarter the price of the GW paints. I have recently gone over to a brand called Vallejo. They have a far greater range than GW, and the catalog is broken down by colour and by type, like Panzer Aces, game colour, military. The thickness of the paint is consistent and they come in squeezy bottles with droppers on the end, so there is very little wastage and they don't dry out.
Where do you find inspiration for your customs?
Through multiple types of media. I have been a big science fiction and fantasy fan since watching Doctor Who and Star Trek as a kid in the early 1970's. I read the early Marvel UK black and white reprints and then went on to comics like Action, Battle, Warlord, 2000AD and reprints of Dan Dare, while still reading imported newsstand editions of Marvel and DC comics. When I first started customising back in the early/mid 1980's, I made out a list of characters that I would like to make for myself. It was over two hundred names long back then. I have done many of those figures, but the list grows ever longer. I would have to say that comic books have played the major part in my inspirations, with television coming a very close second.
What do you consider to be your best tools of the trade?
I use Swann Morton 10 and 15 scalpel blades on a retractable handle. I have tried using other types of blade over the years but I always come back to the size 15 for sculpting. For brushes I only ever use sable for their coverage and the fact they don't scratch. I would say that the most useful tool I have is a flexible-neck rotary tool, similar to a dremel. It can take any drill bit from a 0.1 mm to a 2 mm. I also have diamond grinders, rotary saws and rotary sanding drums for it. Without it, and a smaller one I have, I would not have been able to make even half the customs that I have.
What is your strongest area when it comes to customizing?
I would have to say, first and foremost, my imagination. Being able to walk into a toy store, look at a figure, playset or set and visualize the whole thing or even part of it transformed into something else, at the same time working out what other parts I might need. Then I begin the process of visualizing the character and breaking down the parts in my mind, often deciding on a completely different and more suitable base.