Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It figures

All right. This blog isn't a podcast, a review, or me saying that I'm seven issues away from a complete 1971-2011 run of the Baum Bugle or seven issues away from a complete run of Oziana, or an update about my Oz stories (we're just waiting for the rest of the illustrations for Outsiders, I promise!).

I haven't talked much about my custom Oz action figures here. I started making them in March, and I've made a few...
  • Toto
  • Aunt Em
  • Scarecrow
  • Tin Woodman
  • Cowardly Lion
  • Wizard
  • Wicked Witch of the West
  • Glinda
  • Sawhorse
  • Jack Pumpkinhead
  • Woggle-Bug
  • Billina
  • Tik-Tok
  • Hungry Tiger
  • Nome King Roquat/Ruggedo
  • Kaliko
  • Shaggy Man
  • Scraps
  • Woozy
  • Cap'n Bill
  • Captain Fyter
Of course, you see some important missing characters here: the girls of Oz! I had to wait to find a good base to make a figure with. I started with the Scarecrow, who was a figure from the Doctor Who line. Those are all in scale with each other, so I often look to that line. However, I have found other in-scale toys to go with them. But the kids of Oz were hard to find. Up until 2011, the only child figure made was "The Empty Child," who's a little boy with a gas mask. (It's also an old release, so it fetches some higher prices.)

The best place to get Doctor Who figures in America is WhoNA.com, due to bargain prices and great service. They also have a forum where collectors can trade stuff, so that is where I got most of my custom fodder. (Seriously, I bought a bunch of odd little bits of figures from one user, and traded two pairs of hands from it for two figures from a generous customizer.)

So, at the forum, we got news about the Doctor Who Experience getting an exclusive figure of Amelia Pond, the child version of current companion Amy. It was cool to see them finally do a child figure, but it wasn't available in the United States, and this version had a coat, mittens, and a hat. If I was going to customize with that, I'd have a lot of work to do, so I wrote it off as a possible base for the girls of Oz.

However, we soon heard that the first wave based on the new series would contain a different Amelia Pond without the coat and hat, and she would have regular hands. We waited for MONTHS for them to come out over here, but they finally did. I wasn't home when they went on sale, so I texted my brother, who had the day off, all the information he'd need for the order. He placed it for me. I could have waited until I got home, but the Amelias still sold out in 12 hours.

The next Monday...
This photo was not taken upon receipt. Out of the four, only one is still in packaging. Of the three out of packaging, only the one not intended for customs remains unaltered. Still, just imagine two more and you get the idea.
Finally, I had a base to make Dorothy, Trot, and Betsy! (Ozma I am working on, but I'm using a different base. She'll be taller.) I started on Trot and Dorothy because they'd be the most difficult of the girls (aside from Ozma, that's a different story) to make. Trot required trimming hair and a repaint, and a hat that has yet to be made.

Dorothy is the first of the girls to be completed. I also trimmed her hair, and removed the little jacket Amelia wears (note: the sleeves do NOT come off, they are part of the arms, so I had to shave them down a little), then carefully used a mat knife to carve or shave off other unnecessary bits. (This is hard work, and you will likely get minor cuts, so please, kids, don't try this!)

I needed some modelling putty to fill in the gaps in Dorothy's shoulders, back and sides had after removing the jacket. However, the shop where I could buy them, Hobby Lobby, is closed Sundays, and I didn't have many days off, so I'd have to wait. I went ahead and painted what I could on Dorothy. Her dress would be flat blue, and her shoes would be black to make the figure non-story specific. Following Neill's designs, her hair was blonde. A flat yellow looked awful, so I did an orange wash over it, creating a slightly more realistic hair color. ("Wash," in this case, means I added water to my brush to make the paint water-thin.) A real ribbon was tied into a bow and glued on her head.

Today I went out and got some modelling putty. (I had to scour the aisles from my usual polyclays and acrylic paints all the way to model cars before I found it.) Getting home, I immediately went gung-ho on filling in the gaps on Dorothy. This stuff is wet, but it dries instead of needing baking like I did with some other figures (that is why Cap'n Bill and Jack's arms are so awkward). After getting enough putty on and letting it dry, I finished painting Dorothy.

Something I recently started doing is spraying my customs with a resin finish. This seals in the paints, so I don't have to touch them up, and they don't feel sticky. Sadly, this is glossy and not matte, so when I take a photo, they shine. Still, considering how they'd be without the finish, it's something I can live with. (It's also a lot easier than using clear nail polish. And a lot less weirder to buy...)

So... here's Dorothy! Right next to the unaltered figure she was made from.


Sam A M said...

Hhhmmmm (nods) not too bad . . . though I'm sure if you went Denslow you'd keep her Amy hair colour.

In fact, with the polka dot dress she could be Denslow's Dorothy upon FIRST LANDING in Oz, before the gingham gown! Just paint the shoes dark brown and maybe paint the jacket white.

MaskedMan said...

Brilliant! Where can we see the rest of your figures?