Photo Page/From Concept to Character: Repurposing One Toy to Create Another

Home | New! Skyrim Custom Action Figures and Dioramas | NEW! Oblivion Customs | Photo Page/The Daedric Shrine 1:24 Scale | Photo Page/The Sixth House Cave 1:24 Scale | Photo Page/A small piece of a Redoran Town 1:24 Scale | Photo Page/The Ashlander Yurt 1:18 Scale | Photo Page/The Dunmer Temple 1:18 Scale | Photo Page/From Concept to Character: Repurposing One Toy to Create Another | A Wealth of Inspiration and other Musings. | NEW! - The Snowy Lands of Solstheim, Lokken, and Skyrim 1:24 and 1:18 Scale | Miscellaneous Figure Gallery

One of the challenges for those of us who customize is trying to find the raw materials to flesh out the characters we would like to create.  It would be really easy if some of us were lucky/gifted/rich enough to just use things like rapid prototypers or other such laser scanning devices to scan and create the things we want from a proof.  But for the lowly customizer on a budget, we have to get there by looking at what exists already, and trying to use parts and accessories to make our creations(or those from others that inspire us).

You've probably noticed a recurring image at the site, the Winged Twilight in the banner.  I don't know what it is, but for some reason I just find them aesthetically pleasing, like I do the Drow from Dungeons and Dragons Fantasy.

In my game, they have evolved from their original look to an image of pure arcane loveliness, thanks in no small manner to the prolific and talented modder Westly.

To bring this creature to tactile reality it took no less than SEVEN different toys:
A Marvel Universe 1:18 Storm body for the base female body.
A Marvel Universe 1:18 Nightcrawler feet.
A Japanese shokugan of the Resident Evil 4(Biohazard 4) Verdugo for the tail.
A Custom cast Head from Slayer Design Studios of a ponytailed woman screaming.
A hair lock/pony tail from the 1:18 Star Wars Prince Xizor.
The Wings from a McFarlane Series 1 Water Dragon.
Lastly, the stinger barb from the Wizards of the Coast Dungeons and Dragons miniature of the Clawborn Scorrow (kind of like a big scorpion Drider Drow).

Next came the attempt at matching her unique coloring.  For this, I employed the use of my airbrush, and several mixes of acrylic inks that I use.  I also added a few drops of Model Masters paint to add some strength to the mixture.
When her full coat was applied and let to dry, then came the time for detailing her wings.  I used the airbrush and some Sepia ink to lightly bring up the myriad textures of the dragon's wings and her legs.
These Winged Twilights have a very unique texture; some parts soft and some parts scaly.  To achieve the right texture, I noticed in my supplies a textured origami paper that had a sort of lizard skin pattern.  Being paper thin and easy to cut and shape, these allowed me to layer it on the figure to get that "just right" texture.  When these were dry and set, I airbrushed them lightly to blend in with her coloring, and the entire figure was then drybrushed with FolkArt Metallic Gunmetal Gray to bring up the scales and her wing membranes.

Winged Twilight
Retextured by the talented Westly.

Winged Twilight, The Custom Figure.
Finding raw materials was very difficult. There were few options for harpy-like creatures.

Getting The Colors Just Right
Inks and paints(white, rowney blue, drop of red) were mixed and airbrushed on her and Luthien.

The Airbrushing of the Shadows.
Various inks and paints were mixed to get her unusual skin hue, then airbrushed for uniformity.

The Next Phase: Textural Accents
After I detailed the face, I set out to add her unique texture.

Drybrushing, and an artistic dilemma.
Structural challenges happen all the time to a customizer.

One of the challenges that all customizers face is the fact that no matter how good a part meshes, there will always be facets of the original design that may be difficult to get around.  Although the McFarlane Dragon that I used for her wings was the perfect shape and size, the musculature of the arms posed a unique situation.  I drilled and shaped the arm of the figure to fit into a drilled out muscle, but the wing possessed another muscle group that could not be ground away or cut because this would have disturbed the functionality.
I was posed with the question.  What to do to make this mesh well?
I at first tried a few overlays of hair, or fur, but that didn't work because I still wanted full range of motion in the wings.  I thought to adding a flexible membrane to her back and the arms, but again, at the sacrifice of her motion.
I normally keep what I call an "accent fodder box" of various minutiae that I carve off of different action figures that may be useful for customizing.  These can be clothing elements, such as buckles, pauldrons, grotesques, spines, or jewelry.  Or, they can be natural items such as claws, horns, knobbles, fur patches, scars, nails, toes, dewclaws, all manner of natural or supernatural accents.  In such a pile, I noted that I had a small strip of horn growths that apparently I shaved off of some fantasy or horror creature.  I also noticed that the top two horn pieces, had the same circumference as the abrupt shaved flat area of that muscle group on the wing (as seen in the red circle on her torso close-up).
I trimmed the two horny growths off of the strip, and using jewelry wire cutters, trimmed them to fit perfectly on the figure wings.  The overall effect, was a seamless attachment of horn growths that while not 100% accurate to the game's creature, it broke the abruptness of that muscle group and left the entire figure with a truly "production quality" finishing.  I couldn't be more pleased than I was to see a modded rendition of one of my favorite creatures by one of  Morrowind's most talented modders brought to life in a 1:18 scale posable figure.

The Completed Winged Twilight
As faithful as one can get given the available foundation.

The completed Winged Twilight.  The noticable differences are that she has two front toes instead of three, given that it would have been difficult to kit-bash her feet to three and ruin her overall look.  Also, given the wing availability at the time, as I noted above, the addition of a horny growth to offset the musculature of the base dragon wing.
All in all I am very pleased with how she came out, inspired again by the fantastic mod work of our resident Westly. 
She awaits her very own Daedric shrine backdrop in her 1:18 scale, where she will be joined by Neoptolemus' MCA half-Daedra Shareel, and the Lady of Dusk and Dawn herself, Azura.