Tag Archives: action figure customization

X-Men Dollhouse- Danger Room buildout!!

Danger Room X Men Dollhouse build Bishop by Suzanne Forbes July 2020Damn, dioramas are hard!

I have been obsessed with dioramas since I was a child in the Museum of Natural History, and the obsession has only deepened. Of course I had to build a Danger Room underneath my School for Gifted Youngsters, and of course I’ve been planning it for almost twenty years. Nearly as soon as I was thinking about a dollhouse for action figures, I was thinking of underground spaces underneath it.

Danger Room X Men Dollhouse build test by Suzanne Forbes July 2020I didn’t figure out how to do it until after I finished my first dollhouse, and by the time I started putting underground laboratories and medical rooms and gymnasiums under the first dollhouse, it was obvious that I was gonna need a second dollhouse.

Danger Room X Men Dollhouse build with Lila Cheney posters by Suzanne Forbes July 2020The X-Men got their own entire dollhouse, last year.

(It’s finished except for the front yard and the stairs to Ororo’s attic, both of which are in process!). I had a system at this point, and built the base for the X-Men dollhouse with the intent of putting the Danger Room, stables and Morlock tunnels underneath it.

Danger Room X Men Dollhouse build with thumpy by Suzanne Forbes July 2020During the third month of self-isolation, I found several of the critical pieces for the Danger Room in Europe.

It was never feasible to ship these large, heavy things – the Art Asylum Broken Bow Enterprise Bridge Playset and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Secret Sewer Lair Playset – from the States. And it is even less feasible, or ethical, to ship anything from North America now.

Danger Room X Men Dollhouse build with Sentinel by Suzanne Forbes July 2020But I found them, for great prices, in Germany!

In the five years we have been here, Germans have gotten better at eBay. And incredibly, I have gotten even more amazing at buying used weird stuff!

Danger Room X Men Dollhouse build with figures by Suzanne Forbes July 2020I’ve been on eBay since fucking 1998, I am a power user.

I have had the Iceman figure and Sentinel Marvel Legends Build-A-Figure (BAF) since 2005, and the Pyro since 2006. I bought them during the horrible, agonizing, dragged-out end of my second marriage, and they were in storage for years. But I knew they had a purpose.

I never gave up on the idea that somehow, I was gonna do something fun with them, something that would make me happy.

Danger Room Suzanne Forbes July 2020I don’t like building interiors, or dollhouses for that matter, at all.

I don’t even like decorating them with wallpaper and trim. I just like having them, and collecting the stuff that goes in them! However, since my funds are limited, I have to build dollhouses in order to have them!

So I ordered foam core board and acid-free adhesive-covered board from an excellent German company, and set to building around the bridge set and the Sentinel. I used my usual intuitive casual building technique, and I did it as fast as I could, because cutting things with an Xacto knife terrifies me.

Plus, the long arm movements for handling the large panels now exhaust my limited upper body strength. Physical construction has become even more of an ordeal as my Hashimoto’s and fatigue have gotten worse. I am really glad I splurged on the adhesive-lined board, as it made sticking the embossed brick dollhouse paper to it a breeze!!!

Danger Room X Men Dollhouse build booth test by Suzanne Forbes July 2020I built the windows of the booth out of plexiglas, which I am never working with again.

Cutting it oneself is a nightmare. Unlike styrene, which scores and then breaks crisply! I used panels of balsa wood covered in dark grey selbstklebefolie to cover the ragged edges of the plexi, which totally worked.

I like to cover panels of balsa, illustration board or board with German selbstklebefolie (contact paper) to make flat surfaces in the labs and underground spaces. It gives a clean, tech-y finish and is so much faster and easier than paint. No, it’s not archival, but it’s looking like I’m not either! The booth is held together with scraps of wood trim, some twenty years old, spraypainted silver.

I would like to talk more about this whole project, but I am completely exhausted!

X-Men and Action figure dollhouse projects and action figure customs:

My first action figure dollhouse.

Laboratories underneath it.

My action figure subway station.

Projects for the X-Men Dollhouse – a blackboard for the library

The X-Men Dollhouse – nearly finished, and the goddam lighting

The X-Men Dollhouse – stairs and lighting

The X-Men Dollhouse – wallpaper and assembly

The X-Men Dollhouse – getting started!

Lila Cheney and Lilandra customs.

My Rahne and Dani lovebird action figure customs

Douglock custom

Women of the X-Men’s World: Lila Cheney and Lilandra.

Lilandra and Lila Cheney action figure customs by Suzanne Forbes Sept 21 2019The amount of X-Men action figures being produced this year is BANANAS.

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.Lilandra action figure custom in library by Suzanne Forbes Sept 21 2019

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 review of 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 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!

All she needed was some rocker glitz and a poufy mini-skirt! I already had experience using ribbons, nail art elements, and miniature horse tack parts to fancy up a teen action figure, Nico Minoru. (Lot more discussion of action figure gender politics in that post!)

Typhoid Mary pic stolen from OAFE.net, a really good action figure site run by cis guys who are trying hard!

I even follow them on twitter!

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.Lila Cheney action figure custom in bathroom with Dazzler and Longshot by Suzanne Forbes Sept 21 2019

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.Lilandra action figure custom in process Suzanne Forbes Sept 2019

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.

Just pay a professional customizer like @christinaconan, @facecustoms or @rafaelo.customs ! Don‘t drive yourself nuts like me.

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.

You can always make it worse, and faster than you’d believe possible. With the microscopically delicate layers of paint and tiny details, fixing a fuckup is really hard. It’s not like portrait painting, where the “Rubik’s Cube Effect” is often part of my learning a subject’s face. Lila was the third face I’ve painted; Rahne was the second and my White Witch/Ice Queen was the first.

My Rahne and Dani lovebird customs

Douglock!

Projects for the X-Men Dollhouse – a blackboard for the library

The X-Men Dollhouse – nearly finished, and the goddam lighting

The X-Men Dollhouse – stairs and lighting

The X-Men Dollhouse – wallpaper and assembly

The X-Men Dollhouse – getting started!

My first dollhouse, SlurkCroft.