LeeMarvin80 Featured Customizer

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Featured Customizer for January 2010 Some people may be surprised to see a relative newcomer be featured before some other more well established customizers. Well since he's "only been at this for a year and half", and he makes amazing customs already, he's sure to be a rising customizing star. He has a keen eye for finding the right parts, great detail painting skills, and the ability to make obscure characters respectable. Be sure to check out his customs in the Gallery.

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Which style of figures do you enjoy customizing the most?

I've dabbled in customizing since I was a kid, but everything I did was always very basic and/or sloppy. The 25th figures got me into collecting Joes again, and the overall quality of the line inspired me to finally take customizing seriously. They have their flaws, but I think these are the all-around best figures ever done in this scale and once I figured out torso cracking and the 'boil and pop method', I realized just how many customizing possibilities were available. So nearly everything I do starts with a 25th or ROC figure as the base, but I'm always on the lookout for suitable parts from other compatible lines, most notably Star Wars and WWE Build and Brawl.

What brand of paint do you prefer?

I've gotten quite comfortable with the affordable craft paint you can find at places like Michael's and Wal-Mart. I use mostly Apple Barrel, but also have a few shades made by Delta Ceramcoat and Folk Art. I find that this stuff goes on smoothly, and as someone who dislikes mixing paint, I love the fact there are hundreds of different shades to choose from. When I wanted to make a more suitable helmet for the recent release of Wet Suit, I just took his backpack into Michael's and held it up to all the orange paints until I found a match. Very handy. Also, I tend not to handle my figures very much once they're finished, so I haven't noticed much chipping.

Where do you find inspiration for your customs?

If the ARAH characters were never created, and the 25th line had never come out, I probably wouldn't be customizing at all, so my focus is primarily on recreating old characters and coming up with new ones that will somehow fit into the Joe universe. Yojoe.com is an invaluable resource for looking up past versions of characters, and I've used it to make an incredibly nerdy checklist of all the characters Hasbro hasn't made an acceptable version of yet. When I started customizing, my goal was to make everybody Hasbro didn't get to, figuring I'd eventually meet them in the middle, which is why my section of the gallery is, so far, filled with so many odd choices and obscure characters. Little did I know the 25th line would end so quickly and I'd end up with a much more daunting task.

Of course, I must also mention that I take huge inspiration from my fellow customizers, particularly here at Joecustoms. I've lurked this site for years, even when I wasn't doing any work myself or actively collecting. There are so many clever and talented folks here it's hard not to be inspired, and I find that browsing the Critiques section or Gallery Archive is very helpful when I'm stuck for an idea.

I love comics and genre films and TV too, and always enjoy looking at people's work in those areas, but I'm not particularly inspired to go in that direction myself. And I also do a bit of amateur writing, so I save most of my original creations for that endeavor, though I'll admit my original Hawkwood Company characters, inspired by my interest in history, are some of my favorite customs thus far.

What do you consider to be your best tools of the trade?

Because I've yet to attempt any sculpting, I'd have to say Exacto blades and superglue. Since so many figures now come with soft plastic clothes and accessories it's possible to add a lot of specific detail to a custom by cutting off bits from one piece and gluing them down on another. That DX figure I did for the Custom Con project would have been impossible had I not had so much experience slicing and dicing.

Spooks Omega DX

What is your strongest area when it comes to customizing?

This is a tough one to answer. I haven't been at this very long and there are so many techniques I've never even tried, like using dye, sculpting, etc. At this point, I'm just happy I've become competent in some of the basics. If I was forced to choose one thing, it would be painting, mainly because this was the area in which I had the most difficulty at the start.

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