Monday, February 12, 2018

Looking Back at Fodder Times

As extensive as Hasbro’s 25th Anniversary line was, it was pretty unrealistic to expect them to do modern updates of every single character introduced in the original toyline. And so for those characters that Hasbro didn’t update, a completist like me was left with only one solution, to make them myself.

During my 2 year stint in Singapore, I spent a good portion of my free time making customized G.I.Joe figures. I did around 30 plus unique character each with varying degrees of success. Here are some of my favorites….

This is actually my first ever attempt at making a custom G.I.Joe. Law was always first on my "to do" list for a couple of reasons. First he seemed like an easy custom to make given that I had most of the parts needed. And more importantly, I've always liked Law because he was the first Joe character to be named “Chris”.

One “difficult” part I had to do was figuring out how to place the letters “MP” on his helmet...since my paint skill level was nowhere good enough, I had to rely on using some dry letter transferring sheets which turned out pretty good.

One of the dumbest ideas from the 2009 G.I.joe live movie were the introduction of the futuristic “Accelerator Suits”. Unsurprisingly they weren’t very popular with the fandom and so stores pegs were clogged up unwanted accelerator suit Duke & Ripcord action figures. Fortunately these pegwarmers turned out to be perfect custom parts fodder….

I figured by modifying the helmet (slicing off the bottom part of the face plate) I could a get good modern version of Sci-Fi’s helmet. I got a lot of kudos for that idea and a lot of other customizers followed suit.

This custom was notable for two customizing “firsts” for me. His unique headgear was made by basically cutting up an existing helmet and re-assembling it with glue to make it look closer to the original figure’s was something I kinda did “on the fly” and was quite proud of the outcome. This was also my first attempt of painting an african american face...which did not come out very good….I ended up just swapping it out for a Samuel Jackson/Mace Windu head which worked out better.

Because he came out towards the end of the line, Blizzard was one of the lesser known Joe “snow guys”...but to me he was always the coolest looking.

Anyway, 2 things I'm particularly proud of of this custom. First the helmet, w/c is the original one modified and fitted with Snow Serpent's goggles with the nose piece glued on to the bottom. Still looks like the original just more realistic. Second was the backpack/sled. The original action figure was cool because his backpack was actually a little sled that he could ride. For my custom I used the original figure’s gear and constructed an actual harness (by cannibalizing another figure’s backpack) where the original sled could be attached to his back more realistically. The original figure relied on your typical back peg to stay attached.

I was waiting for the perfect torso to use for this custom and I figured the the accelerator suit’s metallic robotic body if painted brown could sort of pass for intricate armor. The chest plate was a last minute addition taken from a ancient Jedi knight’s uniform.

Now the helmet was another obstacle. I actually used masking tape to make out all the details of the helmet and went crazy….Everything there is just masking tape (although the horns are cut out from some sturdy construction paper...wrapped up in masking tape) and the centerpiece “jewel” was cut out of some random action figure’s accessory.

Yet another accelerator suit put to good use :) This was a pretty simple custom with all the equipment coming from the original action figure but I was quite proud of the end result.

This is probably the one I am most proud of. For Jinx I wanted to avoid the the whole modern/reactive armor look that most Jinx customs were going for..I wanted a straight up classic Jinx, although it may look a little dated/cheesy, it has some character and classic Jinx

I used that red jewel on her artifact
for the centerpiece of Budo's helmet 
I thought the Marion Ravenwood figure from the really obscure Indiana Jones line, with her voluminous sleeves and pants would make a pretty good base Jinx. Now while the arms were good enough, her legs had virtually no articulation points. Anyway I figured the only real important part was the bottom part so I just put 2 & 2 together lopped off the lower legs and attached them to another Joe’s more articulated upper legs...add a little epoxy putty to smoothen off the connection and problems solved.

Another problem was her dragon emblem on her chest which I ended up just drawing on her with a permanent sign pen. Her “hooded” head was actually a Cobra scuba diver head..I added more epoxy to the top to make it more like a cloth hood and used the same sign pen again to give the eyes some lashes for a more feminine look.

And finally the black trimmings are just bits and pieces of black plastic that I shaved off and glued from various discarded webbing odds and ends. Turned out pretty good If I don’t say so myself :)

Anyway, when I finally moved back to Manila for good in 2010, my drive for creating custom Joes pretty much petered off. Whether it was due to a lack of time or a lack of anymore characters to create, I did my last full Joe customs some time in 2011. Since then I dabbled in other customizing paint work...doing some Transformers and a whole tribe of ewoks….but never at the level I was at when I lived in Singapore. In addition, after years of working in front of my computer eyes are definitely not as sharp as they used to be...yes I AM getting old so it has been really hard doing even the simplest paint modifications.

Nowadays, I’m glad to know that the body of my custom work can still be found online here on this website dedicated to Joe customs to which I religiously submitted my work to back in the day. While it may not be for everyone, customizing is a fun and exciting part of toy collecting. Even if I no longer do it extensively today, I will always be proud of the work that I did. It was was a rich and fulfilling experience for me, learning and challenging myself and allowing me to creatively express myself in a way I never imagined.

The last set of customs I did....