Saturday, January 30, 2010

H.E.A.T. Viper (Cobra Anti-armor Trooper)

H.E.A.T. Vipers are the elite anti-tank troopers of the Cobra ground forces. The acronym H.E.A.T. stands for High Explosive Anti-Tank. This figure was basically inspired by the fact that I had a nearly complete ARAH H.E.A.T. Viper and decided to try my hand at updating him.

Parts: Head (ARAH H.E.A.T. Viper), Body (RoC Charbroil), Weapon, Cables & Backpack (ARAH H.E.A.T. Viper).

Supplies: Dremel, X-acto Knife, Super Sculpey, Super Glue, paintbrushes, Testors paints, Polly Scale paints, Testors Dull-Cote.

Reference: ARAH H.E.A.T. Viper figure and pictures of the original card art.

In choosing a body to serve as the base for this figure, I found that once you removed the accessories that came with it, the RoC Charbroil figure had most of the features I wanted and needed very little modification. I used the X-acto knife to trim the shoulder stud from the ARAH figure and then super glued it to the new body. This stud contains the post where one of the weapon hoses would eventually connect. I also used two small bits of Super Sculpey to plug the existing holes in the figure's shoulders. I cut the head from the ARAH figure and then dremelled it out to fit the neck peg of the new figure. The ARAH backpack was modified to fit by cutting off the old back post and replacing it with a small piece from the ink tube inside of a disposeable ball-point pen. Once all of the parts fit together correctly, it was simply a metter of re-painting the figure to match my references. The mixing ended up taking much longer than anticipated, but in the end, the orange yellow matched almost perfectly. The purple I mixed was a bit darker than the reference figure, but I was okay with that as it reduced the "garish" factor. The weaponry, which was badly yellowed, was repainted with a metallic silver color. When finished, the entire figure was given an application of Testors Dull-Cote to seal the paint and reduce shine.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Custom Figures by my Kids

The name DnJcustoms was born back in the days when my wife sat and painted figures with me. It stood for Don & Jen's Customs. Now that the little ones are starting to show an interest in the hobby, it might just be time for a name change...

These two figures were done by my children, Adam and Kate, who are both staunch supporters of Cobra. Although both of them have sat in my workshop slathering paint onto toys before, this is the first time that they each found a specific character or concept that they wanted to create.

Kate has been envious of my Zarana figure ever since I finished it, so she decided to make her own. All of the painting was hers. The only assistance I provided was the undoing of legs screws so that the lower legs could be swapped with those from a RoC Attack on the Pit Baroness. I also applied the Dull-Cote because she is a little young for spray cans.

Adam didn't have such a specific plan, so he sat down with some of my old G.I. Joe Order of Battle comics and tried to fins something he liked. He ended up choosing the entry for Copperhead, which used colors a bit off from the original figure of the 80's. Adam selected the colors and they match the picture almost perfectly. Again, I helped with the Dull-Cote.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Road Pig (Dreadnok)

Once I finished my Zarana figure, it was pretty much a given that I'd eventually get around to Road Pig. This one was a lot of fun, not to mention a bit more challenging than most of my recent work.

Parts: Head (Slayer Design Studios), Torso (RoC Monkeywrench), Arms (RoC Monkeywrench), Legs (RoC Copperhead), accessories (ARAH Road Pig).

Initially, I had planned to use the entire upper body from one of the WWE figures I found on clearance (you can't beat $1.73 for parts). But when I started to mock up the parts, it quickly became obvious that it was going to look weirdly disproportionate. So I ended up using one of the Monkeywrench bodies I had in my parts box. I added Copperhead's legs to give him some additional height. I did end up using the Razor Ramon head, because I liked the sneer on his face (EDIT 05/03/2011 - I replaced the Razor Ramon head with a Road Pig head from Slayer Design Studios). The belt on the Monkeywrench torso was also dremeled away and I added the belt from the same Copperhead figure I took the legs from. Once the figure was assembled, I painted it to match the vintage version as closely as possible. The anarchy tattoo was applied using the X-acto blade. I received a full set of vintage Road Pig accessories in a trade with a fellow FFURG member (thanks again, Gene). This version of Road Pig is deliberately much leaner than the original character was supposed to be, so I had to build up the shoulder pads so that they'd fit correctly. I did this by lining the underside of the pads with Super Sculpey and then gently pushing them onto his shoulders the way I wanted them to fit. I trimmed away the visible excess and dropped the pads into a mug of boiling water to cure the Super Sculpey. Once the accessories were painted and applied, I gave the entire figure some "weathering" and "road grime" by way of a dark wash and careful use of a butane lighter. The entire figure was given a light coat of Testors Dull-Cote to seal the paint and reduce shine.

Gung Ho (G.I. Joe Marine)

This figure is strictly a repaint. It was painted to match the other figures I've done for my upcoming desert battle diorama.

Parts: Entire figure (RoC Gung Ho), M16/M203 (Marauder, Inc.)

Supplies: Paintbrushes, Polly Scale paints, Testors Dull-Cote.

Reference: None.

I included the comparison shot to show the two G.I. Joe team Marines together, as they'll appear in the diorama.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sgt Humpty (G.I. Joe Marine)

This is one of the simplest custom figures I've done, but it's also one of my favorites... for fairly obvious reasons. A while back, I did a Star Wars "self-custom" as part of a Casting Call over at FFURG. While working on that figure, I found a head that looked a lot like me. I resculpted the hairline a bit, added the mustache and it was almost perfect. After finishing that project, I removed the head from the figure and asked a fellow FFURG member to make a few copies of it (thanks a million, Ash). I now have six extra copies of that "Don" head. Those heads lying unused in my parts box was what led to this project...

I really liked the Rise of Cobra Jungle Assault Ripcord figure, with the exception of the color scheme. I thought the colors were too light and didn't really see them as "jungle" colors. My daughter and I solved this issue by dyeing the figure. We removed the original head, the pistol belt and the load-bearing vest (LBV) from the figure. Then we heated a mug of water in the microwave oven for about 3 minutes. Once it was more or less boiling, we dumped the water into a plastic container with 1/3 of a package of dark green RIT fabric dye. As soon as the dye was dissolved (about 10 seconds) we dropped in the figure and the boonie cover (hat) that came with it. We let it soak for about 10 minutes or so. Using gloves to keep the dye off our fingers, we occasionally repositioned the joints so that the dye got into all of them equally. We rinsed the figure in cold water and allowed it to air-dry. If you look closely in the photos, you can see that the G.I. Joe team insignia is still visible, but is now a subdued green.
Once it was dry, we added the LBV, the pistol belt and the backpack. The backpack appears to be an almost identical match to the old A.L.I.C.E. packs we carried when I was in the Marines. The LBV and pack were painted with a variety of greens to simulate the various shades found in green nylon web gear. The head was hollowed out with a Dremel so that it would fit the neck post. "My" skin was painted a fairly dark tan, so as to imply the tanned features common to troops who spend so much time outdoors. The hair on "my" head was painted dark brown, as was "my" mustache. "My" eyes were also painted brown. The assault rifle is from Marauder, Inc.

I'm something of a history nerd and I always loved the file cards that came with the Joes I had as a kid. So, I used the File Card Creator over at Joe Customs to create a file card for the character. Those who know me are aware that I served in the U.S. Marine Corps for a little over 9 years. I took my own military background and applied it to this character. In trying to remain humble (not to mention somewhat grounded in reality), I stuck strictly to the facts. The only deviation from this was the obvious fact that I am not a part of the G.I. Joe team! The quoted opinions on the bottom portion of the file card are taken from performance evaluations or other such documents. The nickname "Humpty" was actually given to me by another Sergeant that I served with during one of my stints as an instructor.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

JBM Patrol Vehicle

This was a really fun project. I made this for my Boss' son. It is a replica of the squad cars we drive each night. I included two JBM Security Officer figures with it (thanks for the bodies, Ash). When I finished it, I put it back into the original package so that it could be wrapped and placed under the Christmas Tree. Unfortunately, I forgot to take any photos until I had completely repackaged the thing! After Christmas had come and gone, my boss told me that his son liked to let the Security Officers "stay home and sleep" while Anakin Skywalker used the Squad Car to patrol the city streets!

Cobra Super F.A.N.G. (Attack Helicopter)

The F.A.N.G. was the primary attack helicopter used by Cobra forces during their early years. It possessed both an open cockpit and a large heat signature, both of which were weaknesses exploited time and again by G.I. Joe gunners. Eventually Cobra Commander directed that the F.A.N.G. be replaced by the F.A.N.G. II. However, design problems and production delays with the new helicopter frustrated him repeatedly. In the interim, he directed that all existing F.A.N.G.s be augmented with additional weaponry, heavier armor and a more powerful engine. This resulted in a helicopter that performed no better, but exploded far more brilliantly when targeted.

This project was completed for my son and is basically just a re-paint of The Corps! attack helicopter, which is available at Wal-Mart for about $6.00.

I was originally drawn to the base toy because it so closely resembled the original 1983 Cobra F.A.N.G. (the Cobra F.A.N.G. shared by my brother and I was destroyed during the Battle of Kenny's Ditch during the mid-1980's). It looked a lot like someone had taken the original helicopter and added extra armor, extra guns and a pair of wing pylons to carry rockets. I re-painted it so that the colors closely matched the original toy. I found some suitable decals at G.I. Joe Customs and modified them for the helicopter. I also found some of the winged Cobra logos normally found on later Cobra aircraft. I applied one of these to the nose area, only to discover later that it would be concealed by the dual machine guns. Alas...

Cobra Slither (Fast Attack Fire-Support Vehicle)

The Cobra Slither is an all-weather, all terrain fast attack vehicle capable of delivering precision fire support to Cobra ground forces.

This project was completed for my daughter and is basically just a re-paint of The Corps! Komotto vehicle, which is available at Wal-mart for about $7.00.

I based the colors loosely on the color scheme used by Cobra Alley-Vipers. I found some suitable decals at G.I. Joe Customs and then modified them a bit for this vehicle. They did not come out quite as vivid as I'd have liked, but I don't think they look bad.

I am thinking about doing a special driver figure for it and coloring him like an Alley-Viper. Kate doesn't have any Alley-Vipers at the moment and that might be something we have to correct. But for now, the Slither serves as the personal vehicle of Kate's favorite characters - The Baroness and Destro.