MJTanner Featured Customizer

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We dare you to look at the Featured Customizer for October AND November 2014's body of work and not be impressed with MJ Tanner's customs. He's got a repertoire with a little bit of everything from Super Heroes to post-apocalyptic to dioramas. More importantly, he always goes for interesting takes on the characters he chooses. The paint work is always clean and smooth, while be fearless with the bright colors. Go check out his customs in the Gallery and his Group Project entries and his customs in the Critique's section of the forum.


What do you enjoy customizing the most?

Right now, it really is diorama building that gets me the most excited. Not just putting together a “scene” but actually building parts. For my Ernie’s Coffee Shop diorama, I built all the booths and tables for the restaurant, they are a bit janky but the fun was figuring out “Okay, what materials am I going to use to get the look I want.” I knew I wanted vinyl seat covers so I scoured the internet looking for a source for small sheets of vinyl...and then realized the cheapest source I could find were three-ring binders I had been using for years. Figuring out little things like that. Those “ah-ha!” moments are really the parts I enjoy the most.

What brand of paint do you prefer?

Apple Barrel but more out of convenience. Plaid has a great paint for plastics brand, but I seem to never be able to find them in store.

Where do you find inspiration for your customs?

Pinterest has been incredibly inspirational. I have multiple pinterest boards devoted to different categories; concept art, post-apocalyptic, mid-century design, comics. For example, several of my post-apocalyptic customs have been directly inspired by artwork I’ve found just by looking at people’s pins.

example of pinterest to custom inspiration

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

My dremel. In college I had just started customizing and would take projects back home with me on holidays to use my dad’s dremel (he used to run a mail-order antique lock and escape magic company out of our basement and used the dremel for buffing off rust and grime from old items). This was obviously not an ideal way to work. One day I was walking to the bus stop near campus and literally in the middle of a parking lot--with no cars or people around--I saw a Dewalt case just sitting there. I walked over and opened it up and there was a complete dremel set. It was like it had just fallen from heaven. I still use that dremel today...15 years later (man, I feel old)

BEHOLD! The Holy Dremel!!!

What is your strongest area when it comes to customizing?

Parts identification and being able to eye-ball scale with a great deal of accuracy. Not to be up my own butt or anything, but I’m really good at being able to look at a custom and be able to tell what parts were used. I think because I’m such a fan for the scale, I pay attention to all the compatible lines out there so I know what’s in the pool we draw from.

And then to flip the question a bit, I know my weakest area is "patience." Intellectually I *know* I should disassemble and sand and then do a primer coat..but I want to get started noooowww ::whine::. I've accepted that that means I'll always be kind of a middling customizer.

I tried my hand at casting at one point and I made some cool stuff but really, it was stressful and it was science and I did not have the patience for it. I respect the hell out of the people who make a go at it and do some great stuff. I'm really just holding out until 3-D printing becomes the go to and I can just press a button and get the parts I need.

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