Customizing action figures - A Discussion

CB2001

Master Member
Earlier today, I went to the Fleaworld flea market for the last time. Got to say my goodbyes to some of the venders who I interacted with on a regular basis. But before I left, I bought a few action figures to replace some of the ones I had destroyed in my misspent youth and some that I didn't even have before. Amongst one of them is from the Toy Vault's Farscape action figure line, Aeryn Sun from the Season 1 episode DNA Mad Scientist (without any accessories).

Now, I had originally bought it to add to the Series 1 Moya crew (as I had D'argo, Zhaan, John Crichton and Chiana as far back as 2001), but I had the thought about customizing the action figure, as there were only two versions of Aeryn done, one that was an exclusive and limited numbered item (as I don't know if its still available) and the episode-centric Aeryn Sun I picked up was something I never really liked (even as far back as seeing the photo). After a while I began to think about customized action figures in general, sometimes covering everything from simple paintjobs to the more complex disassembling of multiple figures to create one.

As a collector, I came to realize that modifying the figure may depreciate its potential value as an item. And though I did do some attemptted customs when I was younger (which looking back now, I kick myself at the fact that some of the figures I did customizing to actually have some value on them that is greater than a $1), I do appreciate some of the custom action figures I've seen on the web, some of them extremely amazing.

But I decided to open this post as an open discussion under the General Modeling because most of the same techniques fall under modeling. But I not just want to talk about techniques, but also any moral dilemmas that may come up in relation to making alterations to figures. If you've done action figure customizations, feel free to discuss any types of figures you've done and any kind of thoughts you've had about doing it, including if you've asked yourself the questions, "What if it ends up being a valuable collectable? Should I continue to do it?"
 
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..."What if it ends up being a valuable collectable? Should I continue to do it?"

Just forget that thought.

"What if..." will in the end drive you mad and immobilize you. Just do what you like to do with the AF.

NO action figure produced after 2000 IIRC has a value greater than maybe 10 US-$ loose without accessories. And even if you buy new ones, if you can afford a 5 US-$ fig you can probably afford two or even three, one to customize, one to keep in its original shape and one to keep in the packaging.

My days of af collecting are mostly over, I only collect vintage stuff. Granted, can´t bring myself to customizing vintage figs or ships, but seeing what´s done around here with a lot of toys is amazing.

They are just plastic, you can´t buy that stuff as investments to get your kids through college anymore, so just have at it!

Michael
 
Hi there,

I usually always slightly repaint my SW action figures, especially when they look cross-eyed, till this day :D

-Chaim
 
Thanks for both of your input so far.

Well, ManfromNaboo, well, I was asking if anyone else had that moment of "maybe I shouldn't do that to this figure." Though the Aeryn Sun action figure I have is probably worth the $7 I paid for it, you never truly know. Honestly, if I did any recent action figure customs, it'd probably be for lines I probably wouldn't really care about, like the WWE wrestling action figure line (WWE, as an action figure line or as a form of entertainment, isn't worth anything in my opinion) or possibly even the Stargate SG-1 line (probably because I never liked the show), probably el-cheapo toys lines that no one may remember in a years time or toys that are already broken.
 
I agree with Michael. You can't think of it as an investment in what it might be worth one day. Just buy the ones that you enjoy.

Same goes for customization. Why customize a figure of a character that you don't even like? Unless you meant that you would turn those figures into characters that you do like.

I have not done any cutomizing, but I have thought about it more lately. There are many figures of characters that I like but I hate the figure. Usualy a bad sculpt or bad paint job. I think about getting some of those and making them loook the way I think they should.
 
Thanks for both of your input so far.

Well, ManfromNaboo, well, I was asking if anyone else had that moment of "maybe I shouldn't do that to this figure." ...

Yes, I of course had or have those moments, but then you need to ask yourself "hey, investment?" and the answer needs be "no way!" and then you need to ask yourself "hey, fun project?" and then your answer needs to be "Heck, yeah! Let´s go ahead with the project!" ;)

Nothing that you buy nowadays can´t be rebought. Probably sometimes at premium prices (like the KITT you cherish that you got for a bargain but could have had years ago already, but for a lot more money), but in the end it can be bought. There are some very, very rare items out there

Michael
 
Yes, I of course had or have those moments, but then you need to ask yourself "hey, investment?" and the answer needs be "no way!" and then you need to ask yourself "hey, fun project?" and then your answer needs to be "Heck, yeah! Let´s go ahead with the project!" ;)

Nothing that you buy nowadays can´t be rebought. Probably sometimes at premium prices (like the KITT you cherish that you got for a bargain but could have had years ago already, but for a lot more money), but in the end it can be bought. There are some very, very rare items out there

Michael

True that. I guess the whole thing falls down to the point of view of individuals. Like I said, if I did any customizing recently, I'd probably use a line I care nothing about, el cheapo toys or even broken ones that still have good pieces. For example, I've considered on doing an action figure of my favorite actress, Sandrine Holt. And I had even considered using the 6-Inch Angelica figure from the recent Pirates of the Caribbean action figure line because honestly, it doesn't look like Penelope Cruz (but then I tossed the idea out because it doesn't even look remotely like Sandrine either). But the legs of that figure look like a good base for a Catwoman figure, though.

Sorry, I'm all over the place.
 
True, almost no modern mass-market figures are valuable, but there are plenty of high end or very limited figures that reach silly money. Hot Toys, ThreeA, Revoltech etc start increasing in price the instant they sell out. I doubt they will maintain that value in the long run, however. It's always been the cheap things that no one thinks to keep that end up being the most sought after. My rule has always been to buy stuff because I want it, not because there's a chance I'll be able to sell it for a profit.

Just forget that thought.

NO action figure produced after 2000 IIRC has a value greater than maybe 10 US-$ loose without accessories. And even if you buy new ones, if you can afford a 5 US-$ fig you can probably afford two or even three, one to customize, one to keep in its original shape and one to keep in the packaging.
 
True, almost no modern mass-market figures are valuable, but there are plenty of high end or very limited figures that reach silly money. Hot Toys, ThreeA, Revoltech etc start increasing in price the instant they sell out. I doubt they will maintain that value in the long run, however. It's always been the cheap things that no one thinks to keep that end up being the most sought after. My rule has always been to buy stuff because I want it, not because there's a chance I'll be able to sell it for a profit.

We´re talking 4 inch here, but not with the Hot Toys, Revoltech etc. right?
 
I've done a fair few custom figures in the 1:18th scale (see my thread here for pictures of my work http://www.therpf.com/f12/some-my-custom-figures-addition-1-14-11-a-90596/ )

While I haven't used any vintage figures yet, I have paid quite a bit on some figures I've used for parts simply because they were highly sought after by collectors.
Would I use a vintage figure for parts or for a base? That's hard to tell as I like the current figures with their great articulation and details. I have thought about customizing vintage vehicles, but I haven't yet because A) it doesn't seem right and B) the vintage vehicles I want don't come cheap! :lol

The figures that I do use, I don't really worry about what they might be worth in the long run because I think many people now collect the current figures to such an extent that there won't be much of a market for them later.
 
As far as action figures go, there are hardly any figures in the world I want that are safe from customization of some type, despite their 'worth' or value.

I've customized toys that were worthless to some that cost me a hundred or two and never have I considered future value for a toy because it's far to unpredictable. It's like these guys said, buy it for yourself and the same goes for customizing. The biggest reason I customize stuff is because if some part looks wrong to me or I think I can make it better, I'll feel compelled to do so.

Example: I just recently bought a limited edition figure from Japan (only 100 made and you could only get them by giveaway from this company) that I had been searching for for the past 5 years. The figure is a static pose vinyl figure that only has articulation in the shoulders and waist. I completely cut all the main parts off and transferred them to an action figure body made for converting these vinyl figures into true action figures and didn't think twice about it.

Like I said, no figure I want is 100% sacred. :)
 
I'm an action figure customizer. I have a website and everything. If you think you can make the figure look better, do it. 90% of the time, those loose figures aren't really going to be worth much more than what you paid for them. Toy Collectors can sometimes be snobs about packaging anyway, so loose is a big "no-no" for a lot of them. That said, I actually make a pretty good amount of change customizing figures for collectors.

In the long run, are you really going to sell that figure and if you do, are you expecting exactly what you paid for it or more?
 
I'm in the customise camp. The only exception is vintage.

Another angle to the argument is, sometimes a customised (as in, improved) figure will be worth a lot more than a standard one.
 
Another angle to the argument is, sometimes a customised (as in, improved) figure will be worth a lot more than a standard one.

So true. Last year, I took some $8 power ranger figures (3), customized them with better paint jobs and modified their weapons a little and put them up on ebay a little while after. Ended up selling each figure for about $60-$75 a piece.
 
We´re talking 4 inch here, but not with the Hot Toys, Revoltech etc. right?

Well, not just 4 inch figures (like the G.I. Joe stuff), but on up (I think the Farscape figures were about 8 inches high).

To answer a question someone asked, no, I'm not considering on selling it. I think part of the reason for my modification paranoia is because of the fact that my dad is a collector (anything Star Trek print related, some 1960s G.I. Joe figures, old cameras and old radios).

But, like I said, if I did any recent customization to action figures, I'd most likely modify figures I really don't care about subject wise (i.e. WWE, Stargate SG-1), are already broken (seriously, what more damage could I do that hasn't been done already) or cheap (I just picked up three action figures, one of Kate Beckensale from her role in Van Helsing, and two G.I. Joes, one from 2001 and one that appears to be recent, all three without accessories).

And I have a Land of the Lost Landmaster Jeep (as seen at this post where someone took one and modified it to fit on a off-road RC car) I screwed up by painting it black and removing the electronics and such., that I'm considering on restoring/modifying much like tek2graphics modifying the BTTF DeLorean Time Machine to make it more accurate, as well as Steveo3002's mods). I don't know how much detail I'll put into it, but I'm definitely going to fix the front (because I attempted to cut into the plastic at one point), seal up the holes where the buttons for the electronics used to be and give it a proper paint job (making actually white instead of the vanilla color it was molded as). Not to mention, I've got a couple of Jurassic Park toy vehicles that I screwed up too that I should probably do the same thing with.

But don't get my original post wrong, I'm not knocking on customizing or anything like that. I know a lot of people have asked the question, "should I do this", but I also wanted to open this topic to all things action figure customizing related too.
 
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Anyways, in relation to the topic of customizing action figures, as I've stated previously, I've recently considered on making a customized action figure of Sandrine Holt, my favorite actress (pictured below. And before you say anything, yes, she was in Resident Evil: Apocalypse and The Phantom. I know a lot of 24 fans will recognize her from one of the seasons). She's particularly channeling because she's what's referred to as Eurasian, and has played not just typical Caucasian women, but she's also played Native American and Chinese characters too.

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Though I'd like to go with a 6 inch figure for her (even if she is 5'10" in real life), trying to figure out the "recipe" for the figure is a bit difficult (as I can't sculpt to save my life). But, I'm sure I'll figure it out, as it's on the low end of my "to do list" (right behind moving into a new house, finding a job and repairing/modifying the Last of the Lost Jeep). So, I've got plenty of time to figure it out.

If any of you customizers have any custom figures you're really proud of, don't be afraid to post them here. If anyone else is interested in doing customizing, don't be afraid to ask questions and customizers don't be afraid to post your recipes for the custom figures.
 
If you want to customize a vintage figure grab one beat the heck on ebay. i've destroyed more than a few customizing and some turned out really well.
 
If you want to customize a vintage figure grab one beat the heck on ebay. i've destroyed more than a few customizing and some turned out really well.

Yeah, that falls under the "broken" category of the "what I'd use" section.
 
CB2001: If you want to see some customized figures, check out the link in my signature to my website. I've got over 100 figures I've done over the last few years on there in my gallery.

As for doing a custom figure of Ms. Holt, I might have a few suggestions I could make for a 6in scaled figure.
 

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