The customizing community around Mythic Legions is incredible. Some of those customizers are not content with simply swapping parts and repainting figures, however. For some ambitious customizers, the only way to truly realize their vision is to create custom sculpted heads to add onto their Legions!
One of the very first, and still one of the most popular, customizers who was creating custom Mythic heads is the subject of this edition of “Customizing Corner”!
Introduce yourself and let readers know where they can see your work.
Hi my name is Mat (one T) O’Toole! You can contact me at ‘The Castle of Power’ Facebook page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
How long have you been customizing action figures and sculpting add-on heads and parts?
I’ve been customizing since childhood, taking my Action Force (U.K. GI Joe) figures apart and swapping out their parts, not to mention burning holes in them with matches to make bullet holes. I was a warped kid!
The add-on heads and kits I do I’ve been doing since Masters of the Universe Classics came out. I just figured I could use the same model, using the same base body but with different heads and gear, to make the figures I wanted to see, but knew we would never get - like ‘Remco's, Warlord’ and ‘Galaxy Warriors', Huk’. I think my first one was the Minotaur kit of my own design which I still think works within the MOTUC’s aesthetic.
What got you into Mythic Legions?
The moment Mythic Legions was announced, I dismissed it as a crying shame because of the scale. I’m a strict 6-7 incher. I was then super pumped when the Horsemen said they were scaling them up and I knew I was going to be in trouble with the wife! To me, Legions are the figures I have always wanted from when I was a kid to now. Basically, they’re the fantasy figures my young self wished my vintage MOTU figures were.
Do you have what you would call a signature piece, or any favorite customs or sculptures you have done?
My favorite custom is normally the one I’m working on at the time. I just finished a Ork beast master with a wolf skull headdress that I’m enjoying.
From my older stuff, I would say I still think my Judge Dredd and bike hold up and my Marvel Legions Odin, who made it into Toyfair magazine from back in the day.
What are your favorite kinds of Mythic Legions customs to create?
My favorite Mythic Legions race would have to be Dwarfs. There’s something about the big meaty features that appeal to me as a sculptor. Next I think would be the Orks, although the actual Ork head design on the figure is already amazing and it’s hard to improve on that!
Do you have any “wish list” character types or races that you would like to see from Mythic Legions, and which you would love to be able to work with as a customizer?
A wishlist? HA! That could be a long list!
One was done already for me with the horses. I am very excited to get them in hand. Others would be wolf mounts. There is something insanely cool about a barbarian wolf rider! I’d like to see a more heavily-muscled human sized body, a beefy/fat body for the dwarfs, a naked skeleton - Harryhausen style, a big crank turn firing crossbow rig that straps to the trolls backs for the goblins to ride on, and of course a massive dragon.......and while we’re at it, a castle!
Tell us a bit about your process and what kinds of tools you use when creating a new head sculpt.
So I normally take a mold of a Mythic Legions head. I’ll then cast it out in liquid plastic, from Smooth-on, then I’ll then cut away all the detail with a Dremel so I have a rough egg shape that pops on to a Mythic Legions’ ball peg. I’ll drill a small hole in the back and screw a long wood screw in the back of it to give me something to hold while I’m sculpting it.
I just use regular sculpting wax, Monster Clay works nice. This is the fun part! I use a few favorite tools - most of the time small pointy dental tools and small soft brushes for smoothing out the surface. A tiny dab of lighter fluid will help, but be careful as it’s quite toxic.
Sculpting has always been a form of meditation to me. I’ll see an image in my mind, and as I’m working I’ll be creating a simple backstory for the character, As I’m working sometimes the entire sculpture will change depending on what’s happening in the story. I give each character a name, but I don’t normally tell others as I don’t want to hijack anyone’s story.
Often, I’ll drill small holes in the ‘core’ at the ‘chin’ or ‘forehead’ so I can add a small piece of wire in a loop to help support a long beard or horns.
When I’ve finished sculpting, I use the screw/handle sticking out the back of the head as a support to stand the head up on. I’ll pack clay around the bottom of it to support it and build up a wall around the finished head, either with clay or foam board and hot glue.
So then it comes to molding. Ideally it’s good to de-gas your silicone using a vacuum chamber, but these are expensive. I mix my silicone and do a very high long pour in to my mold making sure there’s no air bubbles caught in the undercuts of the sculpture using a soft brush.
When it’s set, I do a cut normally down the back of the mold with an X-acto knife and pop the wax sculpture out, crushing and smashing it in the process - but not to worry, using the same liquid plastic as earlier I pour up a cast, nrmally though the hole the screw makes in the back!
Another fun part is the de-molding. I pull out that fresh clean new cast. Trying it on a body is a great feeling, particularly If it fits and looks good!
I’ll then prime with a Citadel miniature colored primer and paint with acrylics. I normally try to emulate the factory paint job and keep the ‘paint hits’ to a reasonable minimum, but sometimes I’ll go all out and have fun with them!
What would people be surprised to learn about your customizing or collecting hobby?
People might be surprised to know that I’ve always been artistic, but most of the technical stuff I’ve learned has been from working in the movie business. For the past 20-odd years I’ve worked as a make-up effects artist. I’ve worked on Harry Potter, the Hobbit, Prometheus, but also some low budget blood and gore stuff! So if there’s ever a Mythic Legions movie, I’m your man for the Ork makeups, haha!
Any tips or suggestions for Mythic fans looking to start customizing or creating custom sculptures?
One thing that’s great for painting to stop brush lines is to thin your acrylic paint with water, to a milk constancy, and do a controlled heavy layer over the area. It looks scary as all the detail looks like it’s being filled in, but when it drys, it drys thin and looks great! Sometimes a few layers are needed, it takes patience but gives it that nice factory look.
Also, if your sculpting and your wax is getting to soft and mushy, put it in the freezer for ten minutes.
YouTube is a goldmine for tricks and tips! Check out the official Smooth-On videos on molding and casting.
Final question - who is your favorite non-customized Mythic Legions figure?
The Barbarian deluxe figure is just amazing all around, with an honorable mention to Brother Mandibulus. Awesome, savage figures!
Published on 01.21.20