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 Same 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.
You can read about how I came to know and love these characters, how they led to my career in comics, and my friendship with their creator, Chris Claremont, here.
There’s even a cameo by Bill Sienkiewicz in the Marvel hallways in 1986. But it’s not an easy read, be warned.
As soon as I was gonna have an action figure dollhouse, I knew I needed New Mutants action figures, and particularly Rahne and Dani.
Because my emotional investment in these particular characters was so profound, they needed a safe home in the Valhalla of my dollhouse even more than the other avatars of story-people who helped me survive.
I started accumulating parts to make New Mutants customs, like heads, almost as soon as I started collecting Marvel Legends scale figures. I have literally had the heads for Sam and Dani since at least 2003.
I got my first 6″ (dollhouse) scale action figure in 1999.
She was a DC Direct Death figure, a gift from a boy at work who liked me, and kept giving me terrific comics-related gifts, even though I was married. That Death figure released the lifelong lust for a dollhouse I’d managed to contain until age 32. I found out that action figures were being made in one-twelve scale, and it was the tipping point.
I could bear not having a dollhouse with dolls in it – but I couldn’t bear not having a dollhouse with super heroes in it.
I didn’t finish the dollhouse for a good fifteen years, but I started collecting super hero action figures like a fucking fiend right away.
1999 began the first heyday of 6″ scale action figures, the early days of ToyBiz Marvel Legends and DC Direct and McFarlane, plus LOTR figures and various other genre properties that were being done in 6″ scale.
It genuinely shocked me, the obscure characters that began appearing as the adult collector market developed. But I knew no-one would ever make New Mutants figures for adults, that was TOO obscure.*
It was utterly thrilling to me to see the new X-Men action figures released with the first film in 2000.
It was incredible that there was an X-Men movie, incredible that there were mass-market toys.
It was lying around the store as a joke object. Because it was so funny, so ludicrous that a character as fucked up as Wolverine, from a property as weird and obscure as the X-Men, could have been made into a plastic toy a child could buy in a regular toy store.
And because the idea that comic book readers would buy toys of their favorite characters was unimaginable.
I bought the first Wolverine action figure, though, and I still have mine, though his snap-on claws are lost.
Because it was hilarious and insane that this secret world of ours had extrojected itself into real space, but it was also magic. It’s so hard to explain how much being into comics in the early 80s felt like being part of a secret society, now that superheroes rule the world.
Those movie figures of the X-Men in 2000 were only the beginning of what became a river of X-Men figures. Of course Wolverine has the most figures, even today! There are so many different Logans!
I didn’t know about the 90s X-Men cartoon, or that there was a whole generation who were introduced to the X-Men that way. It turned out that those fans were huge toy collectors! So many 90s X-Men figures have been made, but not yet a single 6″ figure of Storm in her original costume.
A small but passionate group of collectors have been crying for New Mutants figures for decades. Hasbro toyed (ha ha, I’ll be here all week) cruelly with the emotions of collectors in 2013, announcing a Danielle Moonstar Marvel Legends figure and then never releasing it.
I took my time getting my hands on these, because I was waiting to see what else might happen, and eventually the Jean figures started popping up individually on the secondary market.
I wound up paying at least thirty bucks for each of the three figures I bought, but they are so terrific, it’s hard to be upset.
The body for Dani was a Marvel Legends version of Kitty Pryde released in 2016. The sculpt was way too tall and lean for Kitty (though appropriately less bosomy) and perfect for Dani. I used the Jean Grey body (“buck” in action figure talk) for Rahne, Shan and Illyana. Illyana, insanely enough, was recently actually released as an action figure. Dani is just the right amount taller than the other girls. ‘Lock was remade in action figure form last year, and look how great he is!
By 2018, so many X-Men action figures had been released I needed to build a new dollhouse.
So I built a School for Gifted Youngsters, seen above. It was a huge effort that took about a year, but it’s 99% percent done. The kids, of course, are relaxing in the living room.
I made Rahne’s head from a resin dollhouse doll, sanded and resculpted with my beloved Apoxie Sculpt. Painting her teeny little face took me, a professional portrait artist, a total of over three working days. it was worth it to me because my emotional investment was vast. But… it was DERANGED.
Whatever they charge you is a bargain. The work involved in doing it yourself, even as a professional artist in a fully equipped craft space, is bananapants.
Where are the boys?? Doug is done, coming soon, and I’m working on Sam. I plan to use a Miles Morales head for Bobby, and they cost a mint, so I’m running eBay searches.
I should probably say more about how I made them, and I will. But it was so emotionally wrenching to make them, and such a relief and mercy to be done and place them safely in the X-Mansion, that I’m done for now.
Enjoy these amazing gay teens in the safe harbor I have built them, as I slowly build a safe harbor for my own amazing gay teen self in the ship of my adult life.
*breaking news out of San Diego, July 19 2019: Hasbro is releasing a New Mutants Marvel Legends Dani Moonstar figure with Karma and Wolfsbane heads! But actually, I like mine better 🙂 Of course I’ll buy the Hasbro Dani Moonstar figure anyway! I totally want a furious badass version of Dani and a transitional Rahne action figure and a Shan with a headband!
**A new trailer was released for the New Mutants movie on January 6, 2020. And it looks like Rahne and Dani are TOGETHER in the film. Here I am, a middle-aged queer lady in Berlin, SHRIEKING with happiness!