ZombieGuide Featured Customizer

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Featured Customizer for February 2010 ZomibeGuide is a man of many talents. He doesn't believe in "can't". He juggles a thousand interests and businesses with family, customizing, and playing video games. At previous JoeCons, his booth was [i]the one[/i] to check out and hang around. His customs have depth and character. Let's not forget that his paint is "99% Chip Proof". His work speaks for itself so be sure to check it out in the gallery archive.

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Which style of figures do you enjoy customizing the most?

When it come to GI Joe, without a doubt I'd have to go with ARAH style figures. The quality of the plastic used is nice and hard and takes paint extremely well. The later years, mainly 'newsculpt' I find way too 'rubbery' to take paint well, and it's never produced a factory finish that I shoot for. I've experimented with a 25th style figure once, but realized I didn't have the interest or passion to finish it. I paint what I like, and attempting to customize a 25th style figure for me felt forced, so I don't see any of those in my future.

I originally taught myself to paint via 'Warhammer' style. A basecoat, inking, drybrushing and highlighting. I still that from time to time, but eventually went more with a basic, store bought appearance for my customs.

Other than Joes, I enjoy customizing any hard plastic figures or vinyl kits. Everything from MOTU to Ninja Turtles to Star Trek, and lead figures as well.

What brand of paint do you prefer?

I can use any type of acrylic and make it work. I typically stop by Michaels and fill up a hand held basket every few years and get them for about .59 a bottle. They don't have every interesting color available, so I usually rely on Games Workshops stuff for inks and flesh tones.

Where do you find inspiration for your customs?

Hmn. Good question. Aside from the obvious comic books & cartoon influences, I often times just pick up any random figure and start examining it for its sculpt's strengths. I don't think there are many ARAH sculpts that are useless. Most can be made better or scavenged in some way.

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

Another good question. I prefer simple repaint customs over total bashes and sculpting. I supposed I'd have to say a steady hand is my best assest. I can paint the face of a watch on lead figures (back when I did WH2K exclusively), and have brought that skill with me to the world of Joe customizing.

I would also have to say patience. I've ruined too many great customs by rushing them, or painting when the mood just wasn't there. Take a bit of time to plan, tape off, and think about what end result you want before and during the project. It can go a long way, and have the flexibility to change plans half way through if something isn't working out quite right.

I feel that less is more when it comes to customs. Typically, a nice, smooth paint job can make the worse figure into the coolest (see Skidmark for example).

A little paint and viola!

And finally, I think having a well stocked supply of paints, inks, brushes and a tool kit of various clippers, cutters, saws, dremel bits, lights, magnifying glasses, and consistent workbench are a must for any serious customizer. I'm always on the look out for new tools.

What is your strongest area when it comes to customizing?

I'd have to say my ONLY goal when I do a GI JOE custom is that is HAS to be as close to 'factory made' as possible. It has to be crisp, it has to reflect light like a factory made figure, it has to move and wear as if it were made by Hasbro. I started my first Joe custom of Col. Brekhov in 1991, and I was so disappointed that it didn't mesh with my existing collection because it LOOKED like a custom. From that moment on, my goal was to make figures that looked, felt and responded like factory made figures. It took about 2 years to get it just right, and since that time I think I've made about 1000 custom Joes, and 100s of other genre figures, as well as 100s of model kits and vinyl kits.

So, I supposed I have to say that I believe my strongest area of customizing is being able to make a custom that anyone could easily set up in their collection and one wouldn't be able to easily tell it wasn't authentic.

Can you spot the customs?
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