This is a pretty popular custom so a lot of this ground has been covered before but breaking it down can still be very helpful!
The goal is a Jim Lee style Cyclops with an interchangeable jacket. Doing a jacket and no jacket version adds a ton of work to this figure but you could easily just do one or the other and skip parts of this.
Check out the completed figure here!
OK! Here we go!
So I ended up using seven different figures for this guy which is a new record ha! I should have been six but I accidently melted the chest on one of the figures and needed a new one.
So the base figures from left to right:
Hulkbuster series Blizzard: Arms, Hands, Crotch and Legs
Arnim Zola Series Heroic Age Captain America: Upper Torso and Shoulders
Toys R Us Agents of Shield Three Pack: Jacket Arms
Galactus Series Bullseye: Belt and Boots
DC Universe Classics Superboy: Inner Jacket
Puck Series Astonishing X-Men Cyclops: Pointer Hand
The base head is a original sculpted Brandon Kossow of Bee Customs.
Time to get to work!
1: Heres the base for the no jacket torso. First I heat up the arms on the figure to soften the plastic so I could pop off the arms. I then cut the lower torso from the upper torso by sliding a exacto knife into the waist gap. Next I separated the shoulder balls from the main torso by sliding an exacto knife between the shoulder joint and sliced the piece of plastic in the middle. This is going to make sanding down the shoulder joints to prevent paint rub much easier.
Paint rub basically means if two pieces of the figure rub together, its going to be very hard for our acrylic paint to stay on those areas. So you need to make sure to sand down joints so they dont rub.
2: I sanded all the visible joint lines off the figure and then sanded the shoulder joints and neck joints. Then I reattached the shoulders to the should rings with a drop of glue in the middle. Be careful as you dont want to use to much glue and end up gluing the whole joint together.
3: Next up is Cyclops chest X suspender thing. Heres a mock up I printed that I will use to figure out rough shaping.
4: The X first. The white outer edge is built using a piece of round tube plasticard which you can get at hobby stores. The inner x was sculpted with Aves Epoxy Sculpt. All the sculpting for this project is done with Aves Epoxy Sculpt.
Its an air dry clay with about a two hour work period. After about 24 hours it dries hard enough to be sanded or drilled into. Milliput is also a good option. If I need a clay that has a bit more flex to it I use Procreate Putty.
1: The chest X is glued onto the figure then I sculpt the suspenders.
2: Closer view of the top.
3: Im going to need a second suspender for the jacket torso so I decided to just cast the piece I sculpted so I wouldn’t have to sculpt another one that matched. The blob on the left is the silicone mold I made using Smooth-On Mold Max 14NV. The middle chunk is the final cast before I clean it up made with Smooth-Cast 300
First Torso down! Next up is the jacket torso.
So this torso was meant to be the torso from Blizzard but I melted it removing the arms with a hair blower. Whoops. So this is just another random buck cap mold torso. I removed the shoulders like before then removed the jacket from the Super boy figure and the jacket arms from the Nick Fury figure heating them up with a hair blower then pulling them off.
1: First I had to make the outer jacket fit the inner torso. The jacket was quite a bit smaller than the inner torso so I had to shave a ton off to get the outer jacket to fit. I also shaved a bunch off the outer jacket but the soft bendable plastic made it difficult.
2: Next I cleaned up my suspender cast and glued it onto the inner torso. I ended up sculpting the outer part of the suspenders just because it wasn’t worth using the cast. You can also see just how much I shaved off the inner torso here.
Heres what the interchangeable magnet waist looks like. I hollowed out the areas then filled the area with epoxy sculpt put the magnet in the center while its still wet then pull the magnet out. When its dry I drop the magnet back in the hole with a bunch of glue. Then I sand the area flat and smooth. These are pretty strong rare earth magnets that I got from a hardware store and can support the weight of the whole figure.
I did this for both torso’s.
1: Next up is the arms for the jacket. I dissemble the arms then I sand down the arm joints to prevent paint rub. I drew red lines on the areas I sand but you basically just want to make sure nothing is rubbing.
2: Next up I fill the hand openings of the jacket with epoxy sculpt then drill out holes that I will use for the hands. I want the hands to be swap able as well but I will talk about that more later.
3: Last I fill in the peg holes and sculpt over the areas so they blend with the jacket.
The complete jacket torso! First I slip on the outer jacket, glue it in place then glue the shoulder ball joints back onto the inner torso just like the first torso. Next I reattach the arms using a hair blower again. Also I just noticed that I forgot to take a picture of the sculpted folds I added to the arms of the jacket. You can see them in the later pictures.
1: Here are the base boots I popped off the bullseye figure. The general shape is great but I dont want any of the stitching on the upper boot and only want stitching for a heel cap on the back of the boot.
2: I dremel down a ton of the upper boot, lower boot, the toe joint then cut out a gap for the heel cap that I will sculpt over.
3: The upper boot is almost completely sculpted over. I fill in the seams of the lower boot, peg holes and sculpt the heel cap.
4: Starting the straps for the boots.
The final boots! The buttons are done the exact same way as the buttons on the wrists. The outer button is sculpted then the hole is drilled in.
Legs are up next!
1: I must have forgot to take a picture of the leg disassembled but this step is to disassemble the leg and sand the points I have highlighted in red. Just like the other joints DONT LET THEM TOUCH. I also sand any visible seams.
2: The leg is reassembled and the peg holes are filled and sculpted.
3: Next I hollow out the area that the old torso peg was in and drop some glue then the magnet into the hole. I added a bit of epoxy putty to fill any gaps then sanded it smooth.
4: Final step is the leg straps.
1: The buttons are added to the leg straps and they are all done! Next up is his belt.
2: I went back and forth on if I wanted the belt to look like soft pouches or like hard plastic like a stormtrooper belt. I ended up going for the soft pouches and liked one of the pouches from the Bullseye figure I used for the boots.
3: So I made a cast of the belt to get all the pouches I needed plus more for future projects. I got two pouches from each belt so I needed a bunch.
4: The final pouches all cleaned up and ready to go.
1: Next up is the belt buckle. I used the same process as the chest x. The X is sculpted with epoxy clay and the white part is plasticard.
2: This next part was a huge pain in the butt that I didnt see coming. I glued the pouches and belt buckle to the torso but I had to do a huge amount of custom sanding and shaving on ever pouch to make it sit flat and even. I was really happy with how this turned out but it was a ton more work than I thought it would be.
3: The final legs! All done and ready to go!
1: Next is the no jacket torso arms. First I disassemble the arms like before then sand the joints that I painted red. Again you just make sure the two sides dont rub.
2: I reassemble the arms, fill in the peg holes then start sculpting the wrist straps.
3: I add the little buttons to the wrist straps. I did the buttons by sculpting the outer round part then after it dried I drilled into the middle to make the whole. You get much sharper edges that way and it looks better.
And thats the arms done!
4: The hands are next! I want to make them swap able so I shave off parts of the bottom pegs so they can slide in and out easily. The hands on the left are finished and the hand on the right shows how they started. I basically just shave enough material that they slide in and out of the arm socket.
1: I shaved a bit to much off the pointing hand and had to add a bit of epoxy sculpt to it. Then I just sanded down the joints to make sure I wasn’t going to have any paint rub. Hands done!
2: Heads up next. So like I said before, this head cast came from ebay but I made some changes to it. This was the base head and the first thing I did was clean up the cast some then I used my dremel to removed the ear parts of the visor as I wanted mine to be a bit different.
3: Heads cleaned up a bit but I need to still fill in a few bubbles from the cast. I used a little random bit from a gundam model I had for the center. I basically just dremeled in a little hole and glued it in.
4: The finished head! I filled in a bunch of bubbles then sculpted on some extra details. I added the outer ring to the ear parts then added a bit of extra materials to the side mask part so it had the little cut ins at the top. Lastly I saw a bunch of illustrations of Cyclops that had hair coming out over the visor that I loved so I sculpted some extra hair.
And here is the final sculpt before paint! I always reassembled the final figure before painting to just check to make sure everything looks good and to make any last sculpting changes. In this case I added little creases to the shoulders of the jacket torso.
Now its on to painting!
The dissembled figured. I use to paint the figure together but this is a much better way to do it. You just have to be very careful dissembling and reassembling any piece with sculpting on it as it wont be bendable like the plastic.
The dissembled figure ready to paint. These little bamboo clips are from ebay and give you something to hold when painting. They are stuck into a bunch of cut up cardboard.
Primer first using my airbrush. I use Badgers Stynylrez primers for all of my priming. I used the zenithal method to help with shading.
For people not familiar with zenithal priming:
Prime the entire model black. Then from the top spray in a 90 degree cone using grey then from the top again spray in a 45 degree cone using white.
It adds a ton of natural shading very easily.
I then masked off the non-blue areas using silly putty for the next step.
I painted the blue with a metallic blue to give the suit a bit of a metallic shimmer. It doesnt show up super well in the photos but looks great in real life. I use as little paint as possible and let the zenithal priming do as much of the shading work as I can.
I then masked off the areas I painted blue in preparation for painting the yellow parts.
Yellow painted! Yellow can be a pain to paint so for the yellow I always end up doing it in two layers. First I use a light brown paint then I go over it with a pure yellow. I find its the best way to get a good looking yellow that covers well.
Next is the last layer applied with the airbrush. The brown of the jacket. Nothing fancy here. Next up is clean up and brush details.
First I clean up any of the yellow and blue areas that I didnt mask properly. Next I paint in the Gold details for the strap buttons, the red of the visor, belt, chest X and the silver for the zippers on the jacket. This is all done with a brush.
At this point I spray the whole figure with a gloss varnish. This basically acts as a “save point”. When I do my washes and dry brushes I can use windex or any cleaner to wipe away any mistakes and the gloss varnish will protect the coat under.
Next is washes. I add a dark blue wash to the blue areas, an orange wash to the yellow areas and a dark almost black wash to the jacket. Almost done with the body. All thats left is a bit of dry brushing but I have to do a bit of catch up on the head first.
1: This is the base layer that you saw early. It was given a gloss coat so I will be able to clean up the over paint easily.
2: Using the airbrush to give the face a light dusting of flesh paint. You can really see how much work the zenith priming is doing here.
3: Next up is a red wash and focus on the edges and recessed areas.
4: Another light dusting of flesh paint.
1: Next I use a dark pink “tongue colour” wash and hit the edges and inside the mouth.
2: Finally I do a dry brushing of a lighter flesh tone then touch up the teeth.
3: Now the magic of the gloss varnish. I wipe away the excess paint with some windex. I went over the hair quickly with the base colour again.
4: The finished head. I used a black wash on the hair then did a dry brush of dark reddish brown. Then I used the orange wash from the body on the visor and did a bit of highlighting with a yellow paint on the ear areas and the tops of the visor. Lastly I hand painted the gradient on the red inside of the visor.
Almost done! The body gets a few dry brushes of a lighter version of the base colours then I paint the black details. One more little detail to paint on the jacket.
Lastly I hand paint the X onto the jacket. I really wish I would have sculpted the circle onto the arm so it was a bit raised but it was to late.
And thats it for painting! Now I spray the whole thing with a gloss varnish to protect the paint, let it completely dry for 24 hours then spray on a semi gloss varnish for the final look.
One more step and we are done!
I drill peg holes into the back so I can pose the figure with a stand. I do this at the very end because you dont want paint in the peg hole as it will eventually rub out then the peg hole will be slightly to big.
And thats it! One more X-Men closer to the completed team. This picture also really shows off the metallic paint well.
Man oh man this ended up being a ton of work and probably my most complicated custom yet. I really didn’t think it would be so complicated but there are a lot of very fine details that add up. It was a fun project and I am super happy with how it turned out.
Thanks for checking out Action Figure Toronto! Let me know what you think and if you have any questions feel free to ask. I dont keep secrets!