This year I decided to take part in Fwoosh Secret Santa custom action figure swap! This is how the swap works. You make a list of action figure customs you would like then that list is sent out to another customizer. The customizer picks a figure from that list, makes it, then sends it to you!
I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t super pumped about any of the figures on my Secret Santa’s list. It was a lot of video game characters and Alien vs Predator guys that I didn’t really know. I do play video games but there were only a few that I had heard of on a pretty big list.
The biggest disappointment was the list I got only had one comic book character. I sort of thought most of the lists would be comic book heavy or I probably wouldn’t have done the swap. This is just a hobby for me so I was really hoping to get a figure I would enjoy doing rather than something that felt like work.
Check out the final figure here and thanks for checking out Action Figure Toronto! Here we go!
I decided I would make Abobo from Double Dragon. He was actually one of the few people from the list I recognized but I didn’t know he actually had a name.
The top photo is the reference sent by my secret Santa and what I will be using to make the figure. There are four variants pictured so I gave my girlfriend the choice of which one I should make.
For the base I’m going to be using Marvel Legends action figures. On the left is the Age of Ultron Hulk for the upper body and then the Marvel Legends Terrax build a figure for the lower parts.
The head I will be using is the Marvel Legends Absorbing Man head.
The first thing I need to do is break apart the figure to get the parts I need.
To pop apart the legs, arms or any soft plastic parts, 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.
To separate the top part of the torso I’m going to do something called “cracking” the torso.
To crack a torso you drill into the seam 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 had to drill A LOT of holes to get this torso apart. I circled all the holes I drilled. Eventually it came apart.
Then I crack the torso of the Terrax figure and everything is ready to prep.
I like to break down figures 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.
1: The next thing I do is cut the ball joint off the hulk figure and glue in the ball joint from the Terrax figure. I did this to give the neck more articulation so it can move backwards and forwards.
2: Then I reattach the two sides of the torso and fill in the gaps using Aves Apoxie Sculpt. Aves 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. I’m going to be using this for all of my sculpting.
Here’s the lower torso completely broken down. Like I said, I do this so I can sand all the joints easier. I’ve marked all the areas I sand in red.
You basically want to make sure no plastic is rubbing on another piece of plastic.
I also removed a ton of material from the top of the torso. I’m really just using this portion as a joint and it will be completely sculpted over.
I used this type of lower torso for my Sandman custom and I knew these joints can get loose really easy. I needed to make sure this joint stayed tight as the top of this figure is going to be pretty heavy.
I filled in the gap inside the crotch joint with 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 soft plastic.
This is going to give the joint more resistance so it will hold a pose better.
I glue the lower torso back together then glue the whole lower torso onto the upper torso of the hulk figure.
For glue I use Loctite Super Glue Professional Liquid and you can read more about it and the other tools I use here!
Next I sculpt the transitional anatomy and blend the two parts together. This was the first time I ever sculpted straight musculature so there’s room for improvement but I was pretty happy with how it ended up looking.
1: Then I sculpt the crotch area to help it blend better.
2: Finally I sculpt a belt. The belt buckle is a cast of the Marvel Legends Thundra belt.
That’s it for the torso!
1: Again, I use a hairdryer to heat up the arms and take them apart. To avoid paint rub I sand or dremel down the areas marked in red.
2: Next I cover up the peg holes on the arms and sculpt on the bracelet things. When the bracelets have dried, I use my dremel to drill out holes that I will glue the little rivet balls into.
3: To make the little rivet balls I just rolled out little pieces of Aves clay.
4: Then I glue the balls into the bracelet holes.
Arms are all done!
1: Heat to separate the parts then sand the joints to avoid paint rub.
2: Then I sculpt the upper part of the boots.
3: Same thing! Heat and sand the joints.
4: Lastly I fill in the peg holes on the legs and they are all finished.
1: Next up is the head. Here is the Absorbing Man base head.
2: The first thing I do is remove material from the top of the head to make it more of a natural shape rather than a cone head. You cant really see the difference in the picture but it you are familiar with the head you will know what I mean.
I then beef up the chin and eyebrows to closer match the reference.
You can also see that I drilled some paper clips into the top of the head to give some support to the mohawk I will be sculpting next.
3: Then I sculpt the hair.
4: Here is the profile of the finished head. You can see I also filled in some of the “absorbing” effects on the face so it was smooth.
I reassemble all the parts of the final action figure before painting to make sure everything looks good and to make any sculpting changes.
I was happy how everything turned out and how well he poses for a figure of his size.
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. This gives 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.
Here are the paints I used for the green skin. I also ended up using some Tamiya Clear blue over all the green areas to shift the colour a bit.
This is everything after airbrushing. Next I’m going to show you the paint process in more detail using the head.
1: The head after priming.
2: This is the base coat. You want to do this layer light not to completely cover up our primer shading.
4: Finally the highlight.
1: Next, using a brush, I apply a dark green wash in the recessed areas and followed by a light layer of the highlight colour to accent some edges.
Then I paint the teeth and eyes using an off-white paint and add a subtle red wash to the teeth.
2: Finally I paint the hair a very dark green and do some general clean up.
Check out a 360 video of the head here!
The only parts of the arms that I painted with a brush are the bracelets and I also highlighted the veins with the highlight colour. Everything else came from the airbrush.
For the torso I painted the belt by hand and accentuated some of the muscles and veins with the highlight colour.
Finally I spray on the Vallejo Mecha gloss varnish that will dry hard to protect the paint then the Valleho Mecha satin varnish for the final look. I just started using this varnish and it’s awesome.
The last thing I wanted to make as a bonus for my Secret Santa is a 1:12 scale arcade of the actual Double Dragon arcade cabinet.
The first thing I did was go and find planes for the actual cabinet. This was pretty easy to do with a google search. I also found all the of labels and art on other sites as well. I had to do a bit of photo shop work on them to get good art but it wasn’t anything crazy.
Then I just scaled everything down to 1:12th scale and printed it! Here are all the files if you would like to make your own!
Things got a little free style at this point. The plans were a good guide but I ended up having to use some slightly different sizes on some of the middle panels.
Here are the final components of the arcade cabinet I cut out of balsa wood using my exacto knife.
1: Aaawweessoomme. I then use wood glue to attach all the panels and did some general sanding.
2: I use my airbrush to cover the arcade in black primer.
1: The last thing I need to make are little joysticks. I made these with little balls of Aves clay and I drilled a paperclip into the bottom.
2: Then I just painted them and finally covered them with a gloss varnish.
Finally I cut out the printed graphics and glue them to the arcade. All done! I had a blast making this little arcade. Honestly I probably had more fun making this than the actual figure ha.
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!
Merry Christmas Everyone!