Well, hello there!
My name is Tom (aka Supertom) and I've dedicated 1/12th of my life to the ancient and mystical art of customizing action figures. I've been doing so for several years but I come from a long line of toy makers dating back to like, ancient Egypt or some shit. The image on the right is something my great, great, great, great, great, great, great grand-pappy made. Beautiful right? I think it's a Rob Liefeld character. For those of you who may not be familiar with the craft, customizing and creating action figures is a small, yet very passionate niche of the internet that's exploding with amazing work daily. To put it simply, customizing action figures is taking existing figures, parts and pieces and making them your own through sculpting, painting, and engineering.
A pinch of masochism, a dash of OCD, and a healthy scoop of low self esteem is the recipe I use for creating one-of-a-kind pieces of nerdy art. I make action figures and accessories that I'd want on my shelf and I'm a picky sonnuva bitch. "Good enough" doesn't really work for me.
I'm only able to work an hour or two a night after the kiddos and wifey go to bed. If I could make this my full-time job I would but I have a growing family to support. The 40-100 hours it takes me to complete one piece is usually spread out over a month or three. You're probably saying, "40-100 hours for one tiny piece! That's redonkulous!", and you would be correct. I am a bit redonkulous. So to further explain here's a brief overview of what goes into making custom action figures.
Finding reference material and the necessary parts is just be beginning. Once I have everything I need I wash, sand and prep each piece so it's ready for sculpt.
Making new joints and splicing parts together:
As good as the articulation has gotten in modern action figures, sometimes they still need a little extra oomph. My first goal with every figure is to give them the best articulation and the widest range of movement possible so they can be posed in almost any way you'd like.
Sculpting and Scratch building parts:
This is where I usually go nutso. What starts off as simple shoulder pads, become fully articulated and removable accessories. What could easily be a painted on detail, I'll sculpt. I'll never use the easiest or quickest method and unless I can find the perfect piece in my fodder box, I'll typically make everything from scratch.
This is where the figure really starts to come to life. I use high quality hobby acrylics and several brush techniques to give each figure definition and depth. Careful masking and a steady hand can make a custom figure look like it came right off the factory assembly line. Except not terrible.
I'll be honest. This is my lease favorite part of the whole hobby. But, I've learned a lot from the hordes of amazing toy photographers and reviewers out there and I'm starting to enjoy it more and more.
So as you can see, making a custom action figure takes a little bit of creativity and a whole lot of patience. I shed a tiny tear for every one I have to pack up and ship off to its new owner. But the sadness quickly dries up when they express their gratitude and appreciation of my work. Nothing makes me happier than knowing something I made is displayed proudly in someone's home.
Forum-mate, turned customer, turned friend, turned partner, Wolvie9 has been a big part in helping me grow this hobby into something slightly more than a hobby. He's a toy collector extraordinaire and purveyor of hookin’ me up with awesome shit. Wolvie9 knows just about every customizer in the known universe and is the brains behind half of stuff I produce. He's also the wheelin' and dealin' smooth talker that makes up for my lack of social skills.