Rafael Grampa is an artist I’ve loved ever since I saw his take on Daredevil and knew I had to make a custom action figure of it. I finished that custom more than a year ago and ever since I’ve had his “Luchador” Wolverine from Strange Tales 2 on my to do list.
Wolverine has always been one of my favourite Marvel characters and he’s also the custom people say over and over they want me to make! I’ve never really had a ton of interest in making a yellow tiger stripe Wolverine but hopefully you guys will settle for this ha!
I’ve been looking forward to do this Wolverine forever and the time has finally come!
Check out the final figure here and thanks for checking out Action Figure Toronto! Here we go!
Here’s my main reference photo that I will be using. The art in the graphic novel changes a bit from frame to frame but this is what we are aiming for.
For base figures, I am using Marvel Legends Juggernaut Wave Wolverine for the majority of the figure and the Marvel Legends Old Man Logan for the cowboy boots, waist/belt, and upper legs.
I’m also using the Old Man Logan hands which are larger than the Wolverine figures hands and they are also bigger than the Iron Fist hands I always use. I love using over sized hands as I feel they are more expressive and look better posed.
For the head I am using Marvel Legends Constrictor. Its going to be heavily modified, but the mouth and eyes are the perfect expression for our Wolverine.
The swords and Wolverine claws are from The Casting Cave.
Here’s the Marvel Legends Wolverine completely broken down for easier sanding and dremeling. You have to sand down joints to prevent the joints from rubbing up against one another. If they rub together the paint will get worn away. This is called “Paint Rub” and its very important to avoid if you want your final figure to be pose-able without damaging the paint job.
To pop apart the legs and arms I use a hairdryer to heat up the areas and soften the plastic enough to pop them off. It normally takes a minute or so and should easily come off. I don’t use any tools to do this and if it doesn’t come apart easily you probably just need to heat them up more.
The torso and waist area are a little more difficult. They are made of a different kind of plastic that doesn’t soften when you heat it so you have to do something called “cracking” the torso.
To crack a torso you drill into the seam once on each side then you can jam a screwdriver in and lever the two sides apart. You need to be careful doing this as it’s easy to damage the figure, but eventually you will hear a crack and the two parts of the torso will separate.
I’ll talk more about this later when we get to the specific pieces.
1: This shows the hole I drill into the waist to crack it. There is a second hole on the other side in the same position.
2: Then I also drill a hole into the lower seam. You wedge your screwdriver into the holes and carefully lever them apart. Time to start sanding!
3: I sand or dremel down the areas I marked in red. I normally use a 200 grit sandpaper followed by a 400 then maybe 800 depending on how smooth I need the area to be. You can get away with a bit of a rough surface as priming before painting will cover it up.
I do general sanding to remove any casting imperfections or mould lines from the factory.
I also dremel and remove the inside of the belt buckle as I will be sculpting the buckle from the reference photo.
The yellow lower torso fits well into the Old Man Logan crotch pivot but it doesn’t have the same circumference. I will be adding some sculpting later on to bulk it up a bit so it fits better.
4: Once all the sanding is done I put some glue on the edges of the crotch halves and connect the two parts back together. I also put glue inside the crotch area to glue the bar between the upper legs in place. I like gluing this in place so it doesn’t wobble up and down and rub on the inside of the waist portion. It doesn’t affect articulation at all.
1: Now to connect the yellow Wolverine legs to Old man Logan hips. On the right side you can see the original size of the Old Man Logan pegs. They are a lot bigger than the pegs from the yellow Wolverine so I use my exacto knife and dremel to carve them down to a similar size.
This worked pretty well but I actually ended up wrecking one of the pegs later on in this project. The right leg was a bit loose once I put it on the leg so I put a little drop of glue to tighten it up. I guess I put to much glue into the leg socket and I broke off the peg attached to the waist. Whoops.
What I ended up doing was just cutting the peg off the original yellow Wolverine waist then drilling a peg into the peg and attaching it to the old man Logan waist. This is similar to something I did in my Beast custom action figure.
Either of these options work well but its definitely a finicky thing to do.
2: Here’s our combined legs. I ended up having to dremel out a bit of material from the socket wolverine legs but eventually we get a leg that matches almost perfectly.
1: Upper torso now. I’ve marked the spots I drilled holes into the torso to pop it open. Normally I like drilling into a spot that I know I will be sculpting over to cover up the hole.
2: Next I sand the areas marked in red. You have to take a lot of material from the under arm area as its a real problem area for paint rub.
3: Same thing for the shoulder and butterfly joints. Sand the red areas until the surfaces don’t rub together.
4: Once all the sanding is done I put a bit of glue around the inside edges of the torso and glue the two halves back together.
1: Sculpting time! First thing I do is the little eagle belt buckle. I used Miliput Yellow/Grey for all the sculpting for this project. Normally I use Aves Apoxie Sculpt but after using Miliput on my Mysterio I found I liked using it more. Miliput is a two part air dry clay with about a two hour work period. After about 24 hours it dries hard enough to be sanded or drilled into.
You can check out my tools article for more information on the sculpting tools I use.
2: Now I bulk up the lower torso so it matches the circumference of the waist better.
3: Next I prep the torso to start doing the seams of chest V. I need these seams to be flush to the surface of the shoulder and butterfly joint so they don’t get in the way of the articulation. I dremeled little channels into the plastic so I have room to put our clay in and sculpt depth into it.
I also dremel notches into the areas that will have sword parts sticking out of. I just want to use these as reference points for all my sculpting.
4: All done! Once everything is dry I give the area a general sanding with some extra attention on the edges to blend them into the plastic.
1: Now I finish sculpting the chest V. This isn’t 100% accurate to the reference photo but I had to make it work with the shoulder articulation.
Finally I sculpt the suit collar. Before the collar is totally dry I use my exacto knife to cut a little notch out of the sculpt in preparation for the zipper. I forgot to take a photo of this sorry!
2: Once everything is dry I fill the notch I cut out with clay then sculpt the zipper, wait for it to dry then glue on a little zipper pull I made with a thin piece of plastic. I drill that little hole in it.
3: Next up are the swords sticking out of the Wolverine! Like I said these are casts I got from the Casting Cave.
4: I cut the swords into two parts. One for the back and one for the front. I then drilled little holes into the ends and glued in little paper clips to create pegs to strengthen the eventual attachment.
These are all probably a bit shorter than they should be but I was worried about the balance of the figure so I shorten the back portions as much as I thought I could get away with.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to make these removable but the more I thought about it the more I realised it was going to be a huge pain and I wasn’t even sure I would ever want to take them out. Plus the paint job I want to do only really makes sense if he’s got swords sticking out of him.
I originally drilled small holes into the figure but I found I had to make them a bit larger so I could position them to match front and back. They had to match perfectly or the illusion of them being one complete sword wouldn’t work at all.
1: Here’s the finished torso. I went back and forth on whether or not I should glue these into position before or after painting but I wanted to do a bit of extra sculpted cloth rips so I glued them into place and sculpted over them.
I’m not sure if this was the right call though. I think I should have maybe painted them before everything else then glued them. I don’t know. The end results look great but having them in the figure made painting a bit of a pain.
2: The back side! Legs are up next!
1: I use the hairdryer to heat up the legs to soften the plastic enough to pop them apart. Then sand or dremel down the areas marked in red. I also cut off the little ends of the leg pegs so I can easily pop the legs back together to see if I’ve removed enough material.
2: The Prepared legs.
3: Time to sculpt the knee braces. I first fill in the peg holes with clay and make sure I move the joints their full articulation range while the clay is still wet. This makes sure covering the pegs doesn’t impede articulation.
Then I sculpt the first portion of the braces.
4: I sculpt the straps at the top and bottom next and wait until the layer is dry to sculpt the overlapping parts of the strap.
1: Then I finish the straps. I also removed material from the lower legs to make room for the socks I’m going to sculpt. I needed to do this to make sure they’ll still fit in the boots.
2: Next I add the side seam detail and sculpt some comfy socks.
3: I then sculpt the end of the jeans. I also used this portion of the sculpt to make sure the joint between the upper and lower leg didn’t have any gaps.
4: To make the branch jabbing into his leg I just went and sourced some local vegetation from a planter in the financial district. Then I pulled off the bark and bam done. It’s super strong and has lots of great natural detail built in.
I made the other little wood splinters you will see in the next photo this way as well.
I’m not sure if this is a great idea but I will let you know if this rots or something in the future ha.
Here’s the finished legs. I drilled little holes into the leg and stuck the wood in, no pegs for the wood. The knife was done the exact same way as the swords. Peg, drill, then glue.
1: Same as before I sand the areas marked in red. I removed a ton of material from the inside of the top of the boot to give the legs more room to move around. Finally I turned the square toe boots into rounded toe boots because none of my figures would be caught dead in square toe boots!
2: I use my exacto knife to remove a lot of the top “fins” from the boots. I’m trying to get them to look the same as the comic reference material. Then I dremel off the middle raised portion.
You can see that the boots are a little big for the yellow wolverine ankles but we are going to add sculpt to make them fit better.
3: Here’s the added boot sculpt. This makes them fit the lower boots better in size and makes them look more like cowboy boots.
4: I refine the upper boot shape and add the stripe detail.
1: Finally I add the heel detail of the boot and these are all done!
2: Front view. Part of me wishes I added articulation to the toes but honestly I was worried about balance with this figure because of the weapons in the chest and I didn’t want to add toe articulation into that.
Dry fit of the boots and legs. Super happy with how these turned out!
On to the arms!
1: Same thing as before, I sanded the areas marked red to prevent paint rub.
2: The prepped arms back together.
3: Fill the peg holes and start sculpting the elbow pads.
4: I finish the elbow pads then sculpt the cloth portions onto the arms.
Next we are going to do the arm wraps.
1: The wraps were probably the part I was most worried about but they turned out to be pretty easy to do. First I cover the whole area with a layer of clay.
2: Next I rough sculpt the general shape. You want to take note on how the bottom of a strap is always tucked into the strap under it. That’s what makes it look like a layered strap.
One thing interesting about two part clay is as they dry you can still work with it but their properties change slowly. Now I will let this sit for 45 minutes so they clay firms up a bit.
3: Now I define the shapes even more and smooth out some of the rough areas. Because I let the clay sit for a bit I can’t easily sculpt large shapes, but it means the clay holds its shape better so I can fine tune what I already have.
Then I let the clay sit for another 45 minutes.
4: At this point the clay almost acts like a soft plastic. You can’t really define shape with it anymore but you can carve or cut it. So I use my exacto knife to slice in the vertical cut details then use the edge of one of my metal sculpting tools to add a rough cloth texture.
Here are the finished arms after some sanding!
Now it’s time to sculpt the arrow that’s sticking out of the arm.
1: First thing I did was straighten out a paper clip so I could use that as the core of my arrow. I wanted these to be pretty strong to avoid breaking.
Then I rolled on some Miliput for the shaft and sculpted a little arrow notch at the top.
2: I use some overhead paper and cut some feathers for my arrows. I then cut out little slots using my exacto knife, stuck the feathers in and glued them.
3: On top of the overhead paper I sculpt little feather details and finish off the arrows with a little base wrapping detail.
4: I made a cast of the arrow and made two arrows for the body. I don’t show it but I ended up replacing the shafts of these cast arrows with a covered paper click like the original arrow after breaking one of the cast arrows two times.
1: I dremel out a hole for the arrow, glue and insert.
2: For the broken shaft of the arrow I use a shaved down tooth pick and I attach it the same way as the other side.
Arms all done and looking great! Moving onto the hands now.
1: These are the old man Logan hands. I slide my knife into the side of the fists joint and cut one side so I can remove the wrist peg. This is going to make it easier to sand the wrist peg but additionally I wanted to take a cast of these hands so I could use them on other projects.
2: I sand the areas marked in red. The shafts I sand down a bit to make it easy to swap out the hands.
3: On the original hands I fill in the holes left from the wolverine claws and fix up any casting errors on them. Then I take a cast of the hands which you can see on the right.
I make molds using Smooth-On Mold Max 14NV and make the final cast with Smooth-Cast 300. Eventually I’m going to do a stand alone tutorial on casting but I’m still getting the hang of it.
4: Next I sculpt on the hand wraps the same way as the wrist wraps. The wood sticking out is just there so I had something to hold while sculpting.
1: I make a cast of the wrapped hands so I can make a claw and no claw version.
2: I dremel out the centre portion of the fists then do a general clean up with sandpaper. Next I drill a little hole in the side of the fist hands. I put a tooth pick through to attach the wrist joint to hand allowing it to move.
3: Here’s the inserted toothpick. I’ve done this a bunch of times now and can do it very fast. Just a few minutes and you end up with a really great joint that can hold a pose without burning a whole figure. I’m going to cover up these holes with clay in a later step.
4: Now we are going to do the claws. These are the claws I got from the Casting Cave. I’ve cut a bunch of material from the base of the claw and cleaned them up with sandpaper.
Then I use my dremel to drill little holes that I will stick the claws into. I’m going to do a bit of clean up sculpting on these after so I just have to focus on the positioning of the claws.
Here are the finished claws. I clean up the sculpt around the claws and I also fill in the holes left by drilling in the hand pegs.
The hands and arms together! These are probably the coolest things I’ve ever made. I couldn’t be more happy with how they turned out!
Head’s up next!
1: Here’s the base head. It’s from the Marvel Legends Constrictor figure that I made a cast of. Like I said before, the smile on this head is basically made for this custom. So let the modifying begin!
2: I dremel down the centre detail and remove the fangs from the mouth. The biggest change I made was reducing the size of the chin. That was a huge chin.
3: To make the constrictor head fit onto the ball socket of the Wolverine body I use my dremel to remove a bunch of material from the inside. Sometimes this is enough but it depends on the shape of the head and how high or low you need it to sit.
This time I had to add some extra clay to the inside of the head. For this I used a slightly flexible clay called Procreate. It’s a two part clay I like to use when I either need a clay with a bit of flex or a little extra friction grip. It dries almost like a plastic.
4: Next I sculpt the first portion of the mask. Most of this is done with my soft sculpting tools or my exacto knife.
2: The mask points were a bit of a struggle. I really should have recorded myself sculpting these, but basically I sculpt the details and add a texture using the natural properties of the clay as it dries. After about an hour I position the points on the half dry clay.
3: I did the same thing for the other mask point and tried my best to make them match. They aren’t 100% perfect but they are pretty close and the best I could do.
4: I sculpt folds and seams on the back portion of the mask then I did the first layer of facial hair.
Finally I sculpt on the itty bitty top layer of hairs. Nothing to fancy or tricky here. I basically just rolled out very thin rolls of my clay then cut off the tiny tips, pressed them onto the face and shaped them.
When everything was dry I used my Tamiya Extra Thin glue and brushed a drop or two onto the area. I was worried the bits of clay were so small they might fall off.
Very happy with how the head turned out! I was worried it wouldn’t end up looking like the reference photo but I think I got pretty close.
That’s it for sculpting! I reassemble all the parts of the final action figure before painting to make sure everything looks good and to make any sculpting changes.
The only changes I ended up making were reinforcing the arrows in the shoulders like I mentioned earlier. The first time the figure fell over it snapped the arrow on the left ha.
Time to paint!
Everything is disassembled again and washed with some slightly soapy water. I just want to make sure all the residue/dust/whatever is off the figure to give the primer a good surface to stick on.
Next I prime using my airbrush and the zenithal method that I use on all my figures. It’s an easy way to get good shading very quickly.
Again, priming is super important and shouldn’t be skipped. You want your paint to have the best chance possible staying on your action figure and this is one of the most important steps.
Next I use silly putty to mask off areas for my base coat. This is the masked off area for the skin tone. Silly putty is my favourite thing for masking. Its cheap, easy to use, and I’ve never had it pull off dried paint.
Here’s my base coat all done. For paint I use Vallejo mostly but really any of the popular acrylic miniature paints will work well. There are no magic paints that will make your painting look good. It’s all about technique and using properly thinned paints in layers.
I’m trying to do more and more detailed work with my airbrush and you can see some nice shading and colour variation starting to form. I’m going to give you a closer look at all these parts next.
1: Head first. In cases where all the colours I will be painting show up on the head, I like to do it first and use it as a guide on painting the rest of the figure.
This is the base coat after masking and airbrushing.
2: Here is the final base coat after touch ups and painting the other areas.
3: Next I use a dark brown wash on everything but the skin. The skin gets a red wash around the edges and mouth.
4: Then I finish with a highlight. In most cases this is a 50/50 mix of the base colour and a much lighter version of the base colour. When painting the highlight I imagine a light source above the head and just highlight anything that light would hit.
1: This was my first time painting blood and I had a blast doing it. I’m actually trying my best to match what the blood splatter looks like in the reference photos as I don’t want to go to crazy with it. Blood is one of those things where less is more and too much looks really bad.
To make the blood colour I mix a red paint with a little dark brown paint. Then I paint it three different ways. The first layer is painted straight on in the general pattern that I want it and I think of this as the core most saturated parts of the splatter. The I thin out the blood paint until it is almost a wash and go over the area I just painted to give it a bit of a softer edge. Then finally I do some random blood splatter by putting some paint on my brush and flicking it onto the surface.
If you take a look at the chin you can pretty clearly see the three different types and how they all work together.
The next thing I do is seal the action figure using a gloss varnish to help protect the paint then a satin varnish to give it its final look. I normally do this at the very end but I’m going to be adding one layer on top of this to finish the blood.
2: Finally, I use Tamiya Clear Red paint mixed with a little brown paint. The Tamiya Clear red paint will dry glossy and give the appearance of wet blood. I then put a bit of this on any very bloody area that I want to look wet like in the mouth.
This effect works very well and is pretty convincing especially when you see the head in motion. Check out a little spin of the head here from my Instagram.
This is the method I’m going to be using on all the blood.
1: Here’s the airbrushed base colour.
2: Base colour cleaned up.
3: Everything but the skin gets a dark brown wash and the skin gets a red wash.
4: Final highlight and I also paint some detail on the arrow. I dry brushed the highlight onto the wraps but all the other highlights are painted in thin layers.
Mhmmm. These are probably my favourite splatters from the whole figure ha. I really like the ones on the right. Like I said before these are all done the same way. Paint the red, wash, flick, seal, then add the Tamiya clear red for the wet blood.
1: The hands base coated.
2: The base coat is cleaned up then I apply a dark brown wash to the wraps and a red wash to the skin.
I highlight the wraps the same as the wrist wraps and I’m ready to do the metal claws.
1: I mask off the area around the claws using silly putty then paint on a gloss black paint. A Gloss black undercoat for a metallic paint is going to help bring it to life and make it actually look like metal.
2: Using Vallejo’s metal colour chrome I airbrush on the final metal look. I remove the silly putty and tada! I highly recommend Vallejo’s metal colour line, they are my favourite metal paints by far.
Finally, I highlight the skin and paint little finger nails on to the hands. To do the finger nails I outline the shape I want with extra thinned red paint and leave the main portion of the nail the same colour as the hands.
1: Paint the red, wash, flick, seal.
2: Add the wet blood
I didn’t add any blood to the blades of the claws because that’s the way they are in the reference photos.
1: Base coat.
2: Dark brown wash.
4: I thought the boots got a little to light so I did a very light coat of dark brown over everything using my airbrush. This is called a filter.
Added some final minimal blood to the boots. Like I said, I don’t want to go to crazy with the blood.
1: Base coat.
2: Dark brown wash on everything but the skin. Skin gets a red wash
3: Highlight. Got a little bit of sock on the skin that I didn’t notice till the next step. Whoops!
4: Clean up the skin area by the sock and do the final touches on the stick and knife. The knife blade was done the same way as the claws.
Gruesome! Same old story with the blood.
1: Base coat.
2: Base coat all cleaned up.
3: Dark Brown wash.
1: This part was a pain in the ass. I had to use silly putty to mask off around the blade portions on the front and back to paint the chrome. I did it the same way as the claws.
2: Here’s the back with the painted swords. I paint these swords the same way I paint everything else. Base colours, wash, then highlight.
3: Finally blood. Paint the red, wash, flick, seal, then add the Tamiya clear red for the wet blood.
I’m pretty sure I had a stupid grin on my face the whole time I painted this blood. It was super fun and it turned out great.
4: The back. The last thing I did was drill a peg hole in the back so I could use an action figure flight stand with him.
And here he is! Man oh man I’m so happy with this one, he really turned out great.
I had such a great time making this action figure. Everything just sort of clicked and nothing about it was much of a struggle. Plus now my Rafael Grampa Daredevil has a friend!
Thanks for checking out Action Figure Toronto and reading my tutorial, let me know what you think and if you have any questions feel free to ask. I don’t keep secrets!