Marvel Legends Martial Arts Masters – Custom Iron Fist, Steel Phoenix, and Shang Chi

Marvel Legends Martial Arts Masters - Iron Fist, Steel Phoenix, and Shang Chi
Marvel Legends Martial Arts Masters - Iron Fist, Steel Phoenix, and Shang Chi

A week ago I posted my Earth 2 Superman, Batman, Hawkman, and Robin customs, which were part of a group entry for the DC Universe Classics Justice Society of America in CustomCon 24.  These three Marvel Legends customs were a solo entry called Marvel Legends Martial Arts Masters.

I’m going to return to my traditional style write-up of talking about the individual customs, as there’s a bit of history and a little more complexity in how they were created.  As a group, the interesting thing is how much time elapsed between finishing the customs and when I actually published them at CC24.  It’s different for each figure.  Shang Chi was essentially finished a year back or more.  Iron Fist was the same, but I was adding some tweaks in the weeks leading up to CustomCon.  And Steel Phoenix was finished the day he got posted, and in a rush, too.

I honestly thought about canning the entry when I put up Rust This World’s entry for Immortal Iron Fist and the Immortal Weapons, but I had been sitting on finished customs for Iron Fist and Shang Chi for so long that I just went for it.

Iron Fist

Marvel Legends Martial Arts Masters - Iron Fist (901x1200).jpgMarvel Legends Martial Arts Masters - Iron Fist back (900x1200).jpgMarvel Legends Martial Arts Masters - Iron Fist closeup (900x1200).jpgMarvel Legends Martial Arts Masters - Iron Fist with Luke Cage (1200x1200).jpg

I started making an Immortal Iron Fist a long time ago, after Toy Biz had released a second Electro in the Spider-Man Classics line. I had done a quick Electro custom replacing the unarticulated arms, coincidentally using Marvel Legends Iron Fist arms – this rendered the original Toy Biz Electro from the Sinister Six box set obsolete, and subject to becoming fodder.

I used that as the base body for Iron Fist, to minimize paint rub, but I did make some modifications to the body. First, I modded the shoulders using the tried and true GrownNerd shoulder fix. I also wanted a long and lean body, so I eliminated the tapering on the base body by bulking up the sides of the lower torso and waist. I also bulked up the biceps and traps a little bit.  The waist sash and mask straps are plastic lace, heated and bent into waves. The waist sash was attached with a small brad – the intent was to articulate them, but I used a little too much superglue and now only one spins. I also modded the head, adding hair to the back of it – this also served to raise the head a bit so it sits at the right height on his neck.

I decided on metallic green paint because I had always liked how SpyMagician’s Iron Fist looked after seeing it at STARRO at San Diego Comic-Con way back in 2006. The Iron Fist logo was hand-painted and shaded with orange, again, after SpyMagician’s. The paint and figure itself are probably nowhere near as durable as SpyMagician’s, though. He would demonstrate the durability by dropping his figures from a few feet up. SpyMagician is crazy!

Finally, in the weeks leading up to CustomCon, I finally sculpted wraps around his hands. In the first incarnation, I was lazy and went with no hand wraps. After seeing many Iron Fist customs by NORM, I tried to man up and used strips of painter’s tape for it. But I knew if I was finally going to show the figure, I’d have to do it right – or at least try. I used the DC Universe Classics Wildcat as reference.

Shang Chi

Marvel Legends Martial Arts Masters - Shang Chi (899x1200).jpgMarvel Legends Martial Arts Masters - Shang Chi back (899x1200).jpgMarvel Legends Martial Arts Masters - Shang Chi closeup (900x1200).jpgMarvel Legends Martial Arts Masters - Shang Chi vs. Ninjas (900x1200).jpg

Shang Chi came together around the same time I was working on Iron Fist. I always admired Ray’s rendition of the classic Shang Chi, but didn’t want to copy it poorly. I was reading Daughters of the Dragon and Heroes for Hire, and liked the version of Shang Chi that appeared with Misty Knight and Colleen Wing in the latter comic. Fei Long from SOTA’s Street Fighter was an obvious choice of base figure.

Not a lot of sculpting was required, but I did do a little around his waist for his sash, and I gave him a more square jaw and modified his hair sculpt quite a bit – I’m particularly happy with how his hair turned out. The wrist bands are wooden craft beads. I widened the center holes so they would fit around his forearms. The headband is sculpted on his forehead and uses the remnants of an old Marvel Legends Elektra for the straps in the back.

I’ve had a lot of comments about the red on his pants. That’s Duplicolor red vinyl dye, which you can pick up at your auto supply store. I’m a big fan of vinyl dye. I try to spray it on in light coats and repeat in 30 minute intervals until I get a rich color. Vinyl dye is pretty durable, except on hard ABS plastic like that used in the hip discs. I wasn’t motivated enough to sand those down, so there’s some chipping there.

Steel Phoenix

Marvel Legends Martial Arts Masters - Steel Phoenix (900x1200).jpgMarvel Legends Martial Arts Masters - Steel Phoenix back (899x1200).jpgMarvel Legends Martial Arts Masters - Steel Phoenix closeup (900x1200).jpgMarvel Legends Martial Arts Masters - Steel Phoenix pose (1200x1199).jpg

This was the last of the customs to come together, started a couple of months ago but only wrapped up the day I published the set for CustomCon. I had always thought I would do a couple of Martial Arts 2-packs. Steel Phoenix was going to be part of it and I had been looking for ideas for more. ActorJez had suggested Chaka, crime lord of New York, but I never had an idea of how to make him.

Davos was made out of a SOTA Street Fighter Gouken, with his gi removed. Gouken’s lower legs feature his pants tucked into ankle wraps, so I sanded them down with my Dremel and resculpted. Just above the joints where his feet plug into his lower legs, I made some pant legs out of craft foam, then added wrinkles and blended it into the legs with Apoxie Sculpt. I smoothed out the wrinkles and evened out the texture with Mod Podge. Finally, I sculpted the seam on the outer part of the leg.

His head is from a cast of the X-Men Classics Magneto head. I sanded down the hair and did my best to sculpt the mask on, which consisted mostly of the edge of the bottom of his mask and a slight modification of his nose. I did this at the last minute, so if it looks a little rough to you, it’s because I was really in a hurry. I had procrastinated on getting the CustomCon entries prepped for posting, so it had been a busy week, without any time to really spend on finishing up Steel Phoenix as cleanly as I’d have liked.

The mask and waist straps are craft lace – I had the choice of a darker purple but lace for this lighter shade was a lot more flexible, which allowed me to actually tie it around his waist using the actual knot used to tie a martial arts gi, instead of sculpting it. It was a time saver. I would have considered darkening it if I had the time. However, the more flexible plastic means that it’s not as amenable to shaping via heat, so I couldn’t quite get the waviness I wanted on those straps.

The chest symbol is hand-painted. The flesh color was a custom mix, but unfortunately the torso was first painted several weeks back, so I had a hard time matching up the paint I used to touch up the symbol with what had gone before, so you may notice some different shades of flesh.

I’m also waiting for a purple-tinted clear cast of a Gouken right hand from Ibentmyman-thing. Without being too spoilery, read The Seven Capital Cities of Heaven to find out why!

Ooof. That’s a lot of writing for three customs. 😀 I still have one more CustomCon entry to write up. I didn’t have my name attached to it (at least, not in an obvious way) – can you guess which one it is? Take a look at the CustomCon 24 Index and entries and leave a comment if you know which of the other entries was also mine.