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Custom Close-Up: Ray’s AXM Beast

Toyfare 106 is out on the stand this month and it’s an issue that hits close to the Fwoosh. It features an article on the most wanted X-Men that need figure treatment. Instead of posting illustrations, Toyfare commissioned some talented customizes to make them in toy form, resulting in awesome customs from Hobby-Master2003, Darthleon and Toyfare customizing staple Iron Cow. I also did a couple of pieces for the article, and I’ll give some insight on the process.

Back in January I was contacted to see if I wanted to do a commission piece for Toyfare. I’ve never done any sort of custom commissions before I never really sell my pieces. But for Toyfare I’d do it, I knew once I had some of customs in print in a magazine the chicks would come rolling in. I’d be super famous and get called to be on the cover of Tiger Beat magazine, which is one of my Life Goals. Well actually I just thought it’d be cool to see my stuff in print, and I considered it an honor I got selected out of a big customizing pool.

I got picked to do Astonishing X-Men Beast and Gladiator, and in retrospect I’m really glad I got to do them because they were more up my alley out of the characters they were doing. My first priority was Beast, I was given a deadline of when Beast had to be done. This was a big thing for me cause I’m the absolute slowest customizer out there, when left to my own devices. I was really worried I couldn’t make the deadline, which was about a month. Which I don’t think I’ve ever finished a more complicated custom in that time frame. It takes me months to finish customs, one of problems I have is lack of focus. I’ll get something 75% done, then get kind of bored and feel tied down by the custom and start thinking of something new to do. Then I do that to 75% and get distracted again and it’s just an endless cycle.

I had to get hopping, I needed to choose a base figure… of what was left hanging around on the pegs in January. It dawned on me, that the Fantastic Four Movie Thing, would make a good base, he had the right kind of build, the right kind of pants and three fingered hands with thumbs ala beast. My initial plan was dremled down movie thing plus ML4 Beast legs = AXM Beast.

Ran into some problems with the Movie Thing upper body – the Toyfare guys wanted more articulation, in the figure, like an ab joint. So I needed a new upper body that’d fit the movie thing legs and looking through my collection I got ML11 thing, he took allot of dremeling to get to fit but he did fit what I needed

Showed the updated version, and it was approved. I happened to mention I used Beast and ML11 Thing straight outta my collections to save time instead of tracking down fodder extra versions. Toyfare was really cool and replaced them for me really quick. They said any fodder I might need to let them know and they’d see if they had it…. I should have asked for Phasing classic Ghost Rider, Stealth Iron-Man, and Dark Phoenix I needed for “custom parts”. It felt nice to have my needs pampered I’m such a way.

Breaking ground on the sculpting, the first parts I sculpted were the clothing items, I’m really proud of Beast’s crotch, I like the way his zipper thing came out. I copied the way fabric fold were on some other ML figures and implemented them into beast. Then I had to add the “piping” on the clothes, I used strip styrene, which is small white plastic strips. I’d go around glue a little bit, then proceed to the next section. You can get it to curve pretty well, if the glue is secured. Now it was on to the fur – AXM Beast has sort of longish fur so that’s what I was going for. I decided to sculpt least important areas first then most important areas last, so I can get the hang of what I was doing on someplace like his back, then when by the time I got to the chest I had been sculpting fur for awhile so I felt confident at what to do.

Then came the final component the head, I started by making a small apoxie skull lollipop, if you will. It’s hard to sculpt a head – if there’s no cured center underneath it will move around. I also used little yellow beads for the eyes. I happened to luck out – yellow was the color I already had and was the correct color of Beast’s eyes. I used the Diamond Select Beast Mini Bust as a reference, I always need 3D references, I have a big collection of pictures Bowen and Diamond busts for this purpose. I put like 110% into the head sculpt – to me it’s the most important part of a figure that will make it or break it. When all the smoke had cleared I actually liked the head sculpt, I was totally patting myself on the back, cause at the time it was the most complicated head sculpt I had done.

Showed it to the Toyfare guys, and they weren’t into it. They pointed out a bunch of things on his nose, and said they wanted it more like Cassaday’s artwork. I kind of felt like the superguy who put everything into that last shot to put down some burly bad guy, then after completely depleting my energy, the bad guy got right back up. I was blinded by the fact I was just able to the sculpt in the first place I did miss the things they were talking about and I totally agreed with them on what needed to be done to correct the head sculpt and make it better.

So I went to do it again. Time was getting kind of tight. They gave me a few extra days more on the deadline so I could go back and redo the head. I absorbed Cassasday’s artwork, studied it more, and did a new head sculpt. This time I put like 150% into it. I finished it but I was kind of worried it wouldn’t be approved again. Showed it again to the Toyfare guys… They liked it. I could now move onto painting and finishing the figure.

Beast was all split up into pieces, First parts I did were the black parts, on the pants and wrists, then I taped off the design on the pants which was allot easier than usual cause I had the piping as a guide. I then sprayed krylon plastic fusion Spray white as a basecoat, then added Tamiya yellow over it. One of my personal favorite details I added on this figure you probably cant see in some picture or don’t notice, is I shaded the yellow with gold paint in my airbrush. Cause looking at the artwork those parts are kind of yellowy and gold looking, so instead of one or the other I did both, I really like the way it came out. The blue fur parts were pretty straight forward, I did a basecoat of really dark blue plastic fusion, then on top of that I spray painted lighter blue tamiya tones over it. Then when that was done, I went in and did some hand painted details, like the nose the pupils, the yellow piping. Then it was done and I hosed it with Testors Lusterless Sealer.

I made the deadline, showed the final product to the Toyfare guys and they approved. Now it was time to move on to doing Gladiator, but I won’t go into that yet. Looking back at the figure I may have approached it differently. Just after I finished Beast, the first pictures of X-Men Classic series 1 hit with their Cat Beast figure, I probably woulda used that as a base, cause I feel mine is a wee bit big. I was aiming for him to be a stockier but as tall as ML4 Beast, but he came out a smidge on the big side. When he showed up in ToyFare they Photoshopped him smaller, so it was no big deal.

So all in all it was interesting experience I learned a few things, like customizing faster. Having a looming deadline really lit a fire under my ass, and Beast only took about a month as opposed to several.

 About Ray
Ray has been a member of the Fwoosh almost longer than Pabs himself.  He’s the only person to have turned down the chance to join the staff, preferring to deal out his own brand of punishment when douchebaggery strikes the Fwoosh.  When he’s not customizing, you might find him under your bed.
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