The Tough Customs series will show a step-by-step process on how to make some of the more unusual minimate customs. Today’s entry is The Blob pictured above. I have several more Tough Customs in the works.
One of my first customs was The Blob. I sanded down a Kingpin body, painted it, threw on a hairpiece, and called it good. That custom has slowly been pushed back to the rear of my display in favor of more visually appealing minimates. A few weeks ago I decided to make a new Blob minimate to replace my old one.
I knew I wanted to give him more girth everywhere, including the arms and legs. I decided to take a 2.5” minimate and shorten it to a 2” size. The areas available for removing some height included the lower part of the torso, the area between the feet and the knee joint, and the area between the knee joint and the hip joint. I started with this last area. I used a dremel tool with a small diamond wheel to cut each leg in half just above the knee. I will describe these tools more in future updates, but if you don’t have a dremel you could use a coping saw, a small hacksaw, or even a sharp butcher’s knife. I have tried using a hobby knife for this type of job, but the plastic is so thick on the 2.5” mates that I have actually snapped a few knife blades in half.
So then I had four leg pieces. I took these out to the belt sander in my garage and I sanded down as much material as I could before I started hitting one of the joints. I did this slowly and carefully to make sure I was left with pieces that would line up correctly. If you don’t have a belt sander, or disk sander, you could also use one of the other tools I mentioned above. You won’t have to worry too much about it looking perfect at this point, because that cut joint is going to get sculpted over later. The important thing is keeping both legs the same length.
Next I took the feet off and removed some of the area from the ankle to the knee. You can see how much I removed in the pictures. There should still be a little bit of the lower leg left that still has a peg hole in it. You will have to trim the peg on each foot with a knife so it will be short enough to fit into this shallower hole. Once you are done with the legs you can superglue the pieces you cut together so you have two complete legs again.
I took the hands off the figure and started removing some of the area between the hands and the elbow, since he would look like a gorilla if he had short legs and long arms. Once again leave some of the peg hole remaining and then trim the pegs on the hands. If you remove too much area you might have to make the peg holes a tiny bit deeper with a drill. The last thing I sanded down was the torso. I used a 2” minimate for reference on how tall to make the torso.
Then I cut the neck joint off the 2.5” minimate, and superglued on a 2” minimate neck joint. Before doing this make sure to scratch both parts with your hobby knife. This will make a stronger bond when you glue it. Now we have the body completed, and it should look similar to the one pictured below. Next comes the sculpting.
I used the John Byrne artwork from the 80’s as the basis for this custom. The Blob was large then, but there were no giant rolling waves of fat. I wanted this figure to still be very poseable, so I was conservative with the size of his belly. I used Apoxie Sculpt for this custom, and I shaped it with my fingers, the opposite end of my paint brush, and a hobby knife. In the front and rear of the torso I started the sculpting at the very top of the figure. On the sides I had to start a bit below the shoulder joint so his arms retained full poseability. I had to use the opposite end of the paint brush to smooth the clay in this area under the shoulder joint since my fingers were too large. I stopped the sculpting just above the hip joints. Once I got the clay into the shape I wanted, I cut in the waist line with a hobby knife to make sure he could still rotate his waist. This required a few more touch-ups. I smoothed the entire surface with a tiny amount of water until everything looked as good as I could make it. There were a few small flaws that would have to be fixed in the sanding process.
Then I sculpted over the cut joints in the legs, since those would look too rough otherwise. I smoothed down the clay with water until it blended in with the plastic. If you are going to try this with Super Sculpey instead of Milliput or Apoxie Sculpt I recommend that you take the clay all the way down to the knee joint and all the way up to the top of the leg, since Sculpey doesn’t blend in well with the plastic beneath it.
I let the clay sit for 24 hours, then I started sanding it. I began sanding with a 100 grit sandpaper to get the shape I wanted. I made sure to hold the custom up to the light and rotate it to check for lumps (this sounds like a doctor exam). Then I moved up to a 200 grit sandpaper to even out the surface. Finally I used a 300 grit sandpaper to polish the surface. If your arm doesn’t ache by now, polish it some more.
I wiped him off with a damp cloth to remove all the dust, and then I started painting him. I will talk more about painting in a later post, but basically I use Model Master Acryl paints with a flat or semi-gloss finish. I keep the paint fairly thin so it goes on smoothly. I started with the flesh colored areas first, and I did the black areas last. The belt is actually striping made for remote controlled cars. I have found it works really well for certain minimate applications. The hairpiece is from Frodo with the tops of the ears shaved off with a hobby knife to look more human. I gave the entire figure a dull clearcoat, and then took care of the black face details with an Ultra Fine Sharpie.
In retrospect I think I could have made him a little bit wider and not sacrificed any playability, but otherwise I am very happy with him.