Mysterious Stranger Featured Customizer
Our resident Rock n Roll fan is one of those customizers who constantly raises the bar, not just for himself but for all of his peers. You never question his stylistic design choices because it always fits in flawlessly with whatever format he is working with. The only thing that separates his work from being production is the factory and the feeling that you wish it was available on toy shelves. After the sporadic last few waves of Joes, maybe it is just the factory that is missing.
Go check out his customs in the Gallery and the Critiques Section like his 25th sytle Sigma 6 customs. Also check out the Robot Rebellion and GI Joe: The Next Generation Group Projects for some really great customs he's done. But not before you read below about his thoughts on customizing.
What do you enjoy customizing the most?
This is a very difficult question to answer. I've worked in almost every format of action figure out there. Everything from ARAH to 12" figures and a lot of stuff in between. Each different format has its pros and cons. ARAH and new sculpt Joes give me that nostalgia factor and ease of parts swapping. The newer 25th and beyond figures have the articulation I wanted from the ARAH figures. The 12" scale gives me a level of detail that is closest to actual scale as possible short of role play toys. Recently I've been drawn into customizing Mattel's Masters of the Universe figures and the challenge there is creating something new from a limited variety of base bodies. But what I've learned about myself as a customizer is that I don't have a favorite format. What I enjoy the most is just the act of customizing. Taking something off the shelf and creating something new out of it. I guess if I had to choose I'd go with Sigma 6. It offers me just about everything I like about action figures in one format - great sculpting, a nice mix of accessories and soft goods clothing and a lot of articulation.
What brand of paint do you prefer?
When I started out customizing "for real" with Microman customs I used Testors enamel. Yeah, I know. What can I say, I was young and naive' and didn't know any better. Since then I've come around to the beauty of acrylics. Specifically Testors Model Master Acryl paints. Covers great, dries fast and holds up over time. I've also started to use Tamiya acrylics for those colors I can't get in the Model Master line. They work just as well.
Something that I do a bit different from some customizers is use a brush on clear coat as opposed to a spray like Dulcoat. I use the Model Master Acryl flat clear and it gives me a nearly factory looking finish that I like on my figures. I like my customs to blend in with factory figures so the Acryl flat gives the paint the right amount of sheen without being too glossy.
Where do you find inspiration for your customs?
Inspiration comes to me in various ways depending on the situation. Sometimes its as simple as seeing someone else do something and copying it or recreating a favorite figure in a new format. Other times its getting an idea for a character and then building the figure around that idea. And sometimes its just throwing some parts together to see how they'd look. But mostly I get my inspiration from the parts themselves. I'll often find myself browsing the review sites like Generals Joes and archive sites like YoJoe and Rebelscum looking at figures looking for something that might be useful.
What do you consider to be your best tools of the trade?
This might sound cheesy but JoeCustoms is the best tool I've ever found for customizing. Sure I have a favorite brand of brush and prefer Aves Fixit over Sculpey or green stuff and I make sure to always have my Dremel charged and ready to go. But honestly the best tool in my tool box is my account here at JoeCustoms. There isn't a better resource of customizing knowledge and technique out there. If someone here doesn't know the answer they can point to who does and they do it without any expectations in return... well maybe a WIP shot or two.
What is your strongest area when it comes to customizing?
I have to be honest and say my customizing skills are somewhere between intermediate and advanced (closer to intermediate). There are things that I feel I do well and things I could use some improvement on (painting eyes... oh how I hate painting eyes). I guess my strongest area in customizing would be my ability to adapt my skills to a wide variety of formats. As I mentioned at the top of this article I like to customize a lot of different things and what I'm most proud of is that I carry the same level of quality across all my customs. I learned a lot about sculpting on Sigma 6 figures and I took those skills and applied them to the other scales I work in. I've taken the experience I gained in parts swapping of ARAH and 25th style Joes and used it on Masters of the Universe Classics and other larger scale figures. I've found that working in different formats has helped expand my skillset and I really enjoy applying what I learn to everything I work on.
While some people focus their customizing energy into one particular format, what really inspires me and fuels my passion for customizing is the act and art of customizing itself. Whether its tweaking a figure of a favorite character, developing an entirely new universe or experimenting in a new format to create a custom for my girlfriend, its the work itself and not necessarily the finished product that I really, truly enjoy. And that enjoyment is what keeps me customizing.