Magma, Amara Acquilla, is one of the more problematic New Mutants.
Every character is someone’s favorite, but I personally never felt any emotional connection to her whatsoever. Which is funny, given how much I loved the other original New Mutants.
So while I felt she should be represented in my X-Men dollhouse, along with Rahne and Dani and Shan and Doug and Warlock and Illyana and Bobby and Sam and Kitty, I figured I’d put her in the Danger Room.
In the Danger Room, her wild powers would be a great visual.
Since there is not yet a commercially available Magma in 1/12 scale, I had to make one.
I used the old Toy Biz Scarlet Witch as a base, since she has the same chunky glove and boot cuffs as the old school New Mutants. Amara’s costume details don’t show when her powers are active actually – the costume “disappears” because of “unstable molecules” like Rahne’s does – but I thought it would be funny to have them and also help signal who she is.
I’m not a stickler for anything, really.
Including action figure customizer materials protocols! Many customizers use hot glue to form flame and power effects, if they’re not set up for casting resin. But I used UV resin to form Amara’s head spikes. I sculpted them in my beloved Apoxie Sculpt first, then painted the whole figure with artist’s tube acrylics thinned to the consistency of heavy cream. Three isolation coats of Mod Podge helped seal her paint nicely.
Then I added the resin, mixing three colors and sitting in the sun outside and letting it cure on the fly. This was before I had a powerful UV LED resin curing lamp, so to get fast curing the sun was my best plan. It was messy, because UV resin is goopy and hard to control, and I wound up getting thick drops at the ends. I had to sand them down and re-resin!
Next time I’ll use the technique miniaturists use for getting drips and streams of epoxy resin – a bit of clear nylon fishing line for the resin to cling to and follow along.
But this one is close enough for government work, as my editor Margaret used to say when I worked on Star Trek!
Lots of real customizers have done Magmas, do check out how the professionals have visualized her 🙂 I like this one a lot, and this mod using the Carol Danvers head works well. I would have liked her to be clear like the Minimate, but I didn’t care enough to hunt down a clear Sue Storm who would work.
I did buy this amazing Figma base for her.
The crackly lava base is seen here with X-23 standing on it as a placeholder, I’ll have more actual Danger Room shots coming soon! Yes, X-23 isn’t part of “my” era of X-Men/New Mutants, but I love the character, so – don’t care! Not a stickler.
Yet some more obscure characters still may not get their own full figures. So Hasbro, the toy company that has the mass-market 6″ scale Marvel license, is making kit-bashable assets for fans to DIY.
Marvel Legends Mystique picture from TheFwoosh!
Lilandra, Majestrix Sh’iar, was on the 90’s cartoon, so she’s fairly well known. Well enough to justify making her head and including it with shape-shifter Mystique. (Visit SUPERB action figure site The Fwoosh for their reviewof this fig, which I stole this photo from!)
Mystique was released around the same time as an old school Spider-Man villainess, Silver Sable. Hasbro correctly assumed collectors would combine the two, as even mass-market figures are designed for easy head and hand swaps these days. Hasbro gets to sell two Silver Sables, and collectors get a quick-fix Lilandra by removing Sable’s tactical pouches and adding a cape.
A similar principle is in effect for obscure and weird 80s villainess Typhoid Mary, whose release as a toy is inexplicable until you consider how toy releases are tied to tv/movie deals and behind-the-scenes Marvel Studios machinations.
Typhoid Mary figure pic from OAFE.net, an action figure site worth your visit!
Mary, a character I never liked, is a natural dupe for New Mutants/X-Men foe/ally Lila Cheney, who you can see above with her friend Dazzler, putting on some makeup!
My vision of Lila in full 80s rockstar regalia was exhilarating!
I jumped on it. All I had to do in terms of painting Lila was paint her face so it was an even color, matching her body, paint her hair black, and add some purple 80s makeup.
Her likeness already landed perfectly between Joan Jett and Sage Montclair, who plays Lila in the video you can see a bit further down.
Sculpting wise, I removed the figure’s bizarre forelock, resculpted the ends of her hair, and added a thicker flange around her hip joints so I’d have some surface to attach her skirt to.
If you have love in your heart for the New Mutants and X-Men of the 80s, and you haven’t seen this video, I implore you to watch it.
It is the most charming thing you will ever see.
I’m super pleased with my Lila figure!
Since I am not a professional customizer, I didn’t seal her face – the satin finish of the artist’s acrylic was such a good match shine-wise for her existing flesh areas.
So if she falls over she might get a paint rub on her nose. But since she will live in my X-Men dollhouse where everything is glued down, I hope she will be ok.
The belt stars and studs are little brads from Rio Rondo, the model horse tack supply company, who still haven’t updated their website. the belt is Illyana’s, and the padlock is from ebay. The two sizes of tiny studs on her jacket are from a nail art set I got for like a euro on ebay.
I lost the collar Typhoid Mary came with while removing her head at some point (it happens, with tiny things). I had intended to stud it for Lila’s signature look. Now I have to buy ANOTHER Typhoid Mary figure, which is ok because I can use the parts for other projects. Then Lila’s little star necklace will become a classic 90s “Y necklace”!
For Lilandra, I decided to go the extra mile and use my fave epoxy clay, Apoxie Sculpt, to build out her cuirass, stomach armor plate and hip flanges.
Oh and her boot tops. Oh and her sword arm armor. And paint her dark blue bodysuit. And repaint all her armor in a uniform silver. Since this was my first time painting any body paint on a figure, I was nervous! But sculpting the detail enabled me to paint clean lines really easily.
I used Liquitex Matte Varnish, which is similar to Testor’s Dullcote in performance, to prime Lilandra’s figure and Lila’s head.
It created a surface with good tooth for adhesion of the regular artist’s acrylic I used for the painting.
I did push the boat out and order Tamiya Chrome Silver model paint for Lilandra’s armor, and it was kinda overkill; I think I would have been satisfied with the results from any silver tube acrylic.
Or my universal-surface acrylic craft spraypaint. It’s called Dupli-Color Deco-Matt, but isn’t available in the US. Here’s a good piece on UK sprays for plastic!
Evil but sexy goth-twink figure of Reeve Carney from Penny Dreadful holds his glass of absinthe in one hand and the drying cape of my Lilandra custom action figure in the other.
I have seen real customizers get gorgeous results with proper model paint, but for midnight blue metallic I just mixed the same kinda acrylic interference paint I used in art school in 1990 with blue artists acrylic.
I have said this before, but making one‘s own #actionfigurecustoms is a fool‘s errand, even with a full professional artist setup.
There’s a really good article about interference paints on Golden’s site. It’s super relevant in this time when “color-change” and “chameleon” finishes are so popular.
The tiny learning I have acquired about painting tiny things with a tiny brush: move the paint, not the brush.
You need to have a bolus of fairly liquid paint well towards the tip of the brush and touch that to your piece, then gently move it around with the brush. You really don’t want the tip of the brush to touch the surface, because then the fibers it’s made of splay out. You lose the value of the “point” of the brush, and you lose your control. This is actually the same principle used in painting edging and trim in house-painting. When I was eleven feet up on the ladder trying to paint up to the ceiling molding in our library, I experienced it over and over. Don’t get lazy and try to use all the paint on the brush, so the brush fibers touch your surface; keep enough paint on the brush so you’re moving the line of the paint, not the brush.
The big learning I’ve made about model painting: always, always quit while you’re ahead.