Phantro Featured Customizer
You probably know the Featured Customizer for August 2014 as that Transforming GI Joes guy, but phantro is a pretty talented customizer beyond the 1:18 scale transforming vehicles. Don't get me wrong, taking solid vehicles, modifying them with super clean cuts, and then making them be able to turn into a functional vehicle for figures is no easy task, but he also has an incredible way of showcasing those transformations with his photography and effects. Not to mention his paint skills are pretty dang good too. If you haven't seen his transforming Batman Tumbler or any of his other work, or even if you have, go check out his customs in the Critiques section. But only after you read what he has to say about the hobby first.
Thank you so much for the honor of being featured. There are truly amazing artists in this community and it is really neat to be a part of it. To many of us, it is not just customizing toys, it is a form of interactive art.
So down to business:
What do you enjoy customizing the most?
Anything that is a crossover. Do you remember that scene in Toy Story where Andy is playing with all his toys and he includes them all, regardless of their brand, their scale or genre, in one universe? That is exactly what I used to do (And I suspect many of us did) as a kid. "The Centurions would need the help of the Ghost Busters to rid the Sky Bolt station of an evil demon that was taking it over. They later would find out it was a plot devised by Cobra Commander who had partnered up with the Decepticons, etc..." The hours of imagination and fun were there as tragic, epic larger than life stories were told. Somewhere along the line between growing up and being an adult all that was lost. I truly believe my art now is a homage to that kind of play, back to a time where continuity really did not matter.
What brand of paint do you prefer?
Model Master Acryl and Model Master rattle cans. They are truly the work horse of paints, one cool thing is once they dry if you place your customs in the freezer the paints will become practically bullet proof. For detailing and finishing touches I really like Acrylic pen markers as well as Pen Touch Caligrapher permanent markers, they are awesome for camouflage and weathering on vehicles.
Where do you find inspiration for your customs?
Usually from artists everywhere. I remember starting out I would look up to a lot of artists online and that is how I found some of my idols like Jin Saotome, Tankster, Stronox, TR1ER, AVAC, Rebel Angel Lance, Boris Ping, The Mayhem Customs group who make amazing customs. I also started by emulating Dr. Vile who at the beginning took me under his wing and encouraged me to push myself with G.I. Joe / Transformer customs. I tend to learn from everyone and ask a lot of questions. Sometimes inspiration comes from reading books, comics, Art, movies or cartoons. Also most of the fun comes from looking at a toy and trying to figure out in your head how it would look as a finished custom. The journey is perhaps more satisfying than the end result. At the moment I am involved in some collaborations with TR1ER and with other artists with a few new ideas in mind.
What do you consider to be your best tools of the trade?
I would have to say I have a few main ones that usually are used in most customs. A ruler is definitely a necessity. My trusty DeWalt drill with several bits and it also serves as a high powered screw driver. A dremel with the extension chord and several bits as well, especially the disk and burr tool. A pin vise, because often times I need precise and delicate holes for a moving part. AVES Fixit sculpt is a wonderful product and really practical to use. Finally, a PC with google sketchup for 3D modeling and eventual 3D printing.
What is your strongest area when it comes to customizing?
I think that since I deal with a lot of moving parts, figuring out how a part will fit in a custom and envisioning how it would shift from one mode to the next whenever it comes to scratch building.
I don't think this is a strong suit since I am not an expert on the subject but I have been writing some 3D modeling/printing tutorials on my facebook page so at least someone who is interested in learning about its applications for toy customizing can have a place to start and not feel so overwhelmed like I did when I first began dabbling. I also have some customs displayed there. The site is Phantro Customs on Facebook.