After a 10 year comic book reading hiatus, I was recently bit by the bug once more when my younger brother, Justin, came to visit my wife and I with a stack of Avengers books for me. I was so stoked! I figured I could take a break from reading Star Wars novels for a bit, and so have become a regular at the local funny book shop with a growing pull list. The Ultimates have become a must read for me, and it was only a matter of time before I had to tackle them in figure form. Here they are, the Ultimates!!!
When I first started this project, I intended to only do Captain America, because I had a bunch of Cap parts lying around in the fodder bin. My intentions were to bust out a quick Cap and flip him on Ebay to make a small return on my large fodder investments. That plan turned out to be a complete pipe dream, as I ended up spending way more money to make the rest of the team! It seems to always end up that way, right? Cap was constructed using various bits laid over a night mission Captain America figure and painted with darker, more subdued tones, in contrast to the colors usually found on production figures. I wanted to make him look like you were looking at him on an old comic book page, where the whites have faded to a soft yellow.
Hulk, a forever favorite of mine, was a straight repaint. The base coat, an olive drab was heavily washed with flat black and then dry brushed over with medium green. I don't know if Bruce Banner has a closet full of purple pants or buys them in bulk at a discount outlet or something cause he's always hulking out and ruining them, but I'm not a fan either way. I went denim with the pants just because I like them that way. I really wanted to add height to the Hulk and thought about various ways to achieve this. I thought about sculpting spacers in the thigh joints, but that would of broken up the continuity of the beautiful factory sculpt. I thought of raising the mid torso joint, but I was worried about how that would affect the overall proportions of the figure. I even considered using a Marvel Legends Hulk, but he's so out of scale he would of appeared to be 30 feet tall! I eventually settled on putting him on a raised platform to create the illusion of greater height.
Thor wasn't ever at the top of my list of favorites as a young comic book fan; however, as I grow older and wiser ( I hope), I have achieved a much greater appreciation for the God of Thunder. The Ultimate version of Thor, from the current Avengers toy line from Hasbro, was pretty darn good right out of the pack, except for a few glaring problems. First off, his neck post and neck hole are sculpted in a way that he always has a downward head position. I fixed this by dremelling out the back of the neck hole so he has a more "straight ahead" positioning of the head. Secondly, Thor's hair piece was overly thick and sat with space in between the hair and forehead, creating a wig like effect. I removed the hair, sanded out the inside of the hair piece and thinned the bangs with a razor, base coated with a blonde mix and washed with a deep dark brown. The actual appearance of the hair is lost a bit in the photo due to the lighting ( really, the whole figure is a bit under-represented). To add a little height and ankle articulation, I cut the legs off at the top of the boot and substituted boots from Captain Britain. Articulated wrists were among my plans for a fully articulated Ultimate Thor, but sadly were never realized.
Ultimate Tony Stark/Iron Man, a straight repaint of Ultimate Iron Man, was the most challenging figure to accomplish from start to end. I began collecting images of Iron Man's myriad armor suits and selecting which ones I thought to be most appropriate for the project. Simultaneously, I accumulated a bevy of Iron Man figures from discount chains and started experimenting with different base coats, washes, dry brushes and top coats. I ruined about three figures and one very expensive (and not particularly well made) Tony Stark head cast during the process. Ditching the Tony Stark head cast (too Robert Downey Jr. for a comic book version) I settled on the Ultimate armor version, base coated in a gun metal/ silver mix, and bry brushed over with silver. After the dry brushing, I again used the base coat color to fill in all the Dark accent areas of the armor, leaving the silver dry brushed portions for the silver accents and as a base for the clear red top coat. I probably should have sealed the figure in a high gloss, but did not (and now rather regret it!). The head cast I employed was probably the most serendipitous bit of the project, coming in at the eleventh hour, just as I was about to leave Iron Man out of the project all together. I'm not going to say what head cast I used, I think it will be more fun to challenge all of you to recognize what head it is ( clue: a very ubiquitous figure from an extremely popular line.) Leave your guess in the comments section and I'll let you know if you are correct. Anyways, after the build and paint had been completed, a two hour session of snapping photos and editing followed, only to discover that Tony suffered from a bad case of go-go gadget neck. Could this get any worse? I trimmed the neck down and replaced the neck ball and head and snapped the whole session once again. I'm pretty happy with how the Ultimates turned out, let me know what you think. Enjoy!
About My Custom Action Figure Blog
After being totally wowed by the plethora of Star Wars, GI Joe and Marvel Universe custom figures on the internet I got inspired to bust a couple out myself! The purpose of this blog is just to share my work, get feedback and make connections with other people who love custom action figures and creative expression as much as I do. I love comments, whether you love my stuff or downright hate it, so leave your opinions for me to see! I am always open to ideas and suggestions for new projects as well. Thanks for viewing, and may the Force be with you.