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CIC – CAL-erific

CIC is back and better than ever! I feel like I typed that before.  Oh well.  This week, I sit down with world-renowned customizer-extraordinaire, CAL!  He had a bunch to share, and the interview was, on the whole, extremely enlightening.  CHECK IT OUT!

CTV: Are there any tools that you couldn’t live without?

Cal: Definitely, I have a handful of tools that are incredibly useful. For chopping up figures and parts, I have my trusty wire cutters and razor blade. For sculpting, I have a dental pick/sculpting tool that I use to get most Apoxie Sculpt work done. And for paints, I can’t get much done without my detailing brush.

CTV:  How long have you had it/them?

Cal: I’ve gone through a number of these items because they’ve become dull through custom jobs, but I had my dental pick about two years now, they last forever.

CTV: Where did you get it/them?

Cal: For the wire cutters and razor blades, I usually hit up Ace Hardware or Home Depot, I love those places, they always have a ton of stuff you’d never need, but want. I got my dental pick from ebay and my detailing brush from Pearl.

CTV: What inspired you to get into customizing?

Cal: I remember finding Actorjez’s custom Hercules on ebay one day and his work just blew my mind. His work was (and still is) so clean and crisp and I never saw a figure like that. Heck, I didn’t even know that people customized action figures. But yeah, the more I checked Jez’s work out, the more I got into customizing and eventually got off my lazy arse and gave it a go. Thanks Jez!

CTV: Have you ever customized for family/friends? What do they think of your hobby?

Cal: I haven’t customized for friends or family yet because they just aren’t as crazed about action figures as I am. My family thought it was weird at first, but I guess it grew on them, or they’ve become tolerant of the weirdness, lol. My friends love what I do, they always ask a ton of questions and enjoy checking out what I make each week.

CTV: What would you say your specialty is?

Cal: Picking the right parts for my customs. I think I have an ok eye for choosing the right fodder parts for the right character, but that’s my opinion.

CTV: How do you choose which character to make?

Cal: I really don’t have a method for choosing characters to make. New character costumes can inspire me to start a project one day and a new Bowen designs statue or bust can inspire me to start on different project another day.

CTV: What is your favorite custom (that you’ve done)?

Cal: I’d have to say that the Fin Fang Foom I made a while back is still my favorite.

CTV: Where did you learn how to paint?

Cal: Mainly self-taught and it involved lot of trial and error with different paints and brushes. Studying how other customizers painted their figures helped a lot as well.

CTV: How do you decide which parts to use?

Cal: Once I decide which character to work on, ideas of which parts to use instantly pop into my head. It’s somewhat of a sixth sense that I’m sure a lot of other customizers have as well. It’s kinda like a puzzle, you just have to make sure the parts fit the figure.

CTV: How many commissions do you receive on a weekly basis? Monthly?

Cal: I get anywhere from 5-10 requests a week, but I hardly take any because I’m enjoying the freedom of making the characters that I want to sell on ebay. For the last few months however, I had one customer that I was working with and that’s why I took a tiny ebay sabbatical. I think I was cranking out 6-12 figures a month for him and it was fun.

CTV: How do you decide how much to charge for a commission?

Cal: Price really depends on the character and how much time and effort goes into the project.

CTV: What is the craziest commission you ever received?

Cal: The craziest request was for a nude Wonder Woman, I respectfully declined.

CTV: Do you listen to music while you customize?

Cal: I cannot customize without tunes. I listen to a lot of indie rock, alternative rock and the occasional hip hop and r & b stuff. Decemberists, The Kooks, Beulah and the Bravery are some good ones. If not tunes, I live for tv shows. Just to name a few favorites, Sopranos, Deadwood, Weeds, Entourage, and Dexter.

CTV: Do you have any kooky customizing habits?

Cal: I don’t know if it’s kooky, but I always over mix the amount of Apoxie Sculpt to use, so I just pack the left over into this giant wad of hardened Apoxie Sculpt, thing weighs a ton.

CTV: Do you have an ultimate goal in regards to your customizing?

Cal: Not really sure just yet. I still look at it as a real fun hobby.

CTV: Do you have any art backgrounds that enable you to customize more efficiently?

Cal: I was an industrial arts major and that really emphasized the art of being meticulous with every detail in your projects. I really think that carried over into my customizing ways.

CTV: What do you like most about customizing? What do you like least?

Cal: I really love bringing 2D comic characters into 3D form, but I hate having to spend money on fodder.

CTV: What type of process do you go through as you customize?

Cal: Of course, I choose my character first, then run through my fodder bins for the parts that fits the character. When I’ve made sure my parts are in order, I start assembly which involves Dremel work, gluing, sanding, cutting etc. Sculpting comes after assembly and paints are usually applied at the end.

CTV: What does your workspace look like?

Cal: Organized chaos.

CTV: Is there one thing about your own style of customizing you’d like to change?

Cal: I’d love to improve my sculpting abilities. There’s always room to improve and I’m always learning.

CTV: Do you consider yourself "one of the greats?"

Cal: I’d like to think so, but with some of the work I see out there, I don’t think I’m one of the greats at all. The likes of doubledealer, actorjez, zombihamma and liquidisk keeps me in check and reminds me that I have long ways to go.

CTV: Do you own any one else’s customs?

Cal: Unfortunately no, but I would love to own zombihamma’s original zombihamma figure and those little zombies, those guys are bada$$.

CTV: Do you keep your own customs?

Cal: I can’t afford to keep them right now, but I am planning a couple projects for myself very soon.

CTV: Who is your favorite customizer?

Cal: The ones I mentioned above are a handful of my favorite.

CTV: What was the first custom you ever made? Do you have pics?

Cal: The first custom I ever made was a grey Hulk. Unfortunately, I do not have a pic of it. If I remember correctly, it was a Savage Hulk figure from the Hulk classics series painted with this horrible thick grey acrylic paint that wasn’t action figure friendly at all. I also sculpted a gigantic lower jaw on the guy for some odd reason. The thing was a disaster, but I thought it was great at the time, lol.

CTV: Do you have any words for customizers just starting out?

Cal: Not sure what to say, but to just be patient with learning the hobby if you’re really interested it. Hit up Fwoosh or whatever forum you like to visit and just learn from what those places have to offer. And enjoy the hobby because it’s fun, not because it might make you quick buck on ebay (coming from a guy who sells his customs on ebay every week, but I’m a starving student, give me a break, lol. Honestly though, I love customizing).


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