CustomCon 24 was great this past week (and I’m not just saying that because it was hosted at the Fwoosh and put together by me :D) – the customizing world continues to grow and become more talented. I was happy to participate in the DC Universe Classics Justice Society of America entry by the guys on the Fwoosh staff, with my renditions of four of the original superheroes who formed the Justice Society on Earth 2.
I hadn’t planned on making all four of these. Robin was the catalyst, and I’ve wanted to convert a Detective Batman from DCUC Wave 1 ever since he was released a couple years ago. A lot of people find the costume corny, but I’ve loved it since first seeing it back in Justice League of America #91 and #92. That’s nostalgia for you!
And before I get too far into this, my recipe for Robin is pretty much the same as Iron Cow’s, without the belt swap. I daresay I was toying with the idea before he made his wonderful Earth 2 Robin v2, but acknowledge him as the far superior craftsman. And credit for Bats goes to Josh Izzo, who was the first I saw use that particular DC Direct head on a DCUC kitbash for his Silver Age Batman.
These are pretty basic as far as customs are concerned, so instead of writing up each figure individually, I’ll talk about the techniques I used on them. If you’re an Earth 2 fan but not a customizer, I think these guys would be a great way to dip your feet into the hobby.
Each of these customs makes use of a basic head swap, using various heads from DC Direct figures – the only one that isn’t obvious is Robin’s – it’s from Hal Jordan in the newer Green Lantern series. Head swaps are a great way to get into customizing. The trick is getting the transplanted head to fit on the neck post of your figure. In cases where the head doesn’t match the neck, as it was for all of these, you can use a Dremel to hollow out the underside of the head and then form a socket using a two-part, sturdy compound like Oateys or Apoxie Sculpt. Jam the head on and make sure to twist before the compound hardens so you retain movement.
Superman also used the cape from the donor figure, the Superman from the Crisis on Infinite Earths Earth 2 Supes. It’s shorter than the standard DCUC Superman’s, and it also has the logo on it that I wanted to use on his chest. I also swapped Batman’s right arm from another DCUC Bats – when I showed WIPs, someone pointed out that the original figure had two left biceps. Argh!
Each figure also needed some easy paint work. Batman and Robin needed some gray on the chest to hide the yellow oval bat logo. Hawkman needed some paint to cover up the hawk logo on his chest harness buckle. I wanted a lighter color blue for Superman, so I used a Brilliant Blue from Liquitex – a great paint that has a lot of opacity, meaning fewer coats required. For Robin’s cape, I found a nice yellow spray at a local auto store. If at all possible, it’s much easier to use spray paint for yellow and white, so I removed the cape so I could spray.
To avoid having to paint detailed logos on Superman, Batman, and Robin, I used decoupage (here’s a great how-to on Wikihow). I designed the logos for Supes and Bats on my computer (for Robin, I used Iron Cow’s E2 Robin logo), printed them out on a color printer, cut them out, and then applied to the figures. For this I used Mod Podge, a glue my wife uses for her decoupage projects. It’s similar to Elmer’s and dries clear.
Basically, you apply some Mod Podge where you want to apply the logo, put some more on the back of the logo, and then position it on the figure while the glue is still wet. You might want to use a soft rubber sculpting tool for this, so you don’t tear or smudge the logo while applying it. After the logo is positioned and the Mod Podge is dry (it’ll be clear), then apply a few more layers of Mod Podge on top of it, letting it dry out and clear between applications. This smooths it all out and reduces the raised edge that might be distracting.
Since making these customs, I’ve found myself using Mod Podge for a lot more than decoupage. It smooths out rough sculpts nicely and its finish is a nice light gloss, so I use it to even out finishes that are too flat or too glossy.
Hawkman and Robin required some minor sculpting. Hawkman’s was really simple – I rolled a small ring of Apoxie Sculpt to use as the bottom of his cowl, and blended it upwards. The top of Robin’s cape was a little more complicated. I cut out the basic shape using a piece of white craft foam, used my dremel to form the ridges, and then blended it to the cape once it was on the figure using Apoxie Sculpt.
That’s it – simple, right? I hope that was useful information for you, and stay tuned for write-ups on my other two entries in CustomCon 24.