Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Poor Gambit had languished on the workbench for years, started but unfinished.  No longer!

The same disclaimer from Rogue applies, though.  The version of this character I picture by default is from the 90's animated show.  We will not speak here of that hideous movie from last summer.

Gambit began toy life, years ago, as a "Ken as Superman", from Superman Returns.

I chose this doll because Ken is the right height to stand next to my Barbie Rogue, and this Ken in particular had a nice look on his face, (most Kens sport a dopey looking grin) as well as decent articulation.

Side Note: his Superman costume has padded muscles in it.  This cracks me up.

The first thing I did was sew his bodysuit.  It's made of a double layer of black nylon.  I stopped most of the way through this step and did other projects, for a VERY long time.  He actually benefited from the delay, though, because in the meantime, I learned to use Kneadatite.

 The breastplate and boots are hand sculpted from Kneadatite.  The flexibility of the cured Kneadatite means that the pieces are (carefully!) removable.  Of course, to make them I had to wrap the doll in pieces of ziploc bag to keep the compound from sticking to the doll, while holding the desired shape. (No picture, sorry.)  I like using ziploc bags because they're thin and flexible, but not as flimsy as plastic wrap, which tends to get stuck in the dried pieces.

After sanding and paint:

Next I did the only permanent part of the costume, the gloves and mask. 

I carefully marked where they should be, and then sanded the skin, painted the areas black, finally gluing a layer of the black nylon over the paint for texture.

Next I painted the pink chevrons on the legs of the bodysuit.

I sewed him a 1/6th scale trenchcoat (I had to send away for tiny buckles, I highly recommend for doll sized notions).

I finished the style on the hair with a little hot water and glue for hold.  Finally, I painted his face, redoing the eyes (obviously), touching up the lips with a different shade, and reshaping the eyebrows.

And the layers come together:

Okay, so I was too lazy after all that to build him props as well, so he's borrowing those cards from a 13" Joker.

So, after a long time sitting solo, Rogue finally has her 12" Marvel guy to share her shelf with.

Aren't they cute together?

It's been a long time for him, but I'm really happy with the way he turned out.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Disney Princess fun at the Bin

Two pieces of mine up at The Clearance Bin:

Review of Disney Princess Dolls
(with special discussion of custom potential)

Alternate Princess Supplement (Photo essay of dolls in better outfits)


Friday, June 26, 2009

Fairie Court Pictures

So I've been making Insect Fairies (among other projects) in my spare time since 2006. I recently thought that since I tend to alternate doll projects with action figure projects, anyone who hasn't seen them together in person might not remember who they are, or realized how many there are.

So after some consultation with the Queen:

Here's some pictures of the fairies in the context of the group, a recap of the court so far: (Links lead back to individual doll pages)

The Fairie Queen:

Satia, adviser to the Queen:

Charane, mystic soothsayer:

Nidea, Lady in waiting:

Aya, governess, and Princess Lysandra:

Kami, dancer:

The Court:

Next on my list is the Captain of the Guard, hopefully it won't be another whole year before she's done. Although I'm not sure where I will put her...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Nidea, the Swallowtail

Lady Nidea is lady in waiting to the Queen. She is a young cousin of the queen, and her insect is the Swallowtail Butterfly.

Nidea started out as a Swan Lake Barbie I picked up years back at a yard sale. She actually served as dress dummy for some of the other fairies whose base dolls were more fragile (or had drying paint).

Her dress is a handsewn muslin shift covered in silk daffodil petals. The wings are attached to a hinge, which is attached to the dress, which gives the wings a range of poses.

Attaching the plastic side of the wings to the plastic hinge was the most difficult part of the whole project. Nothing seemed to stick. In the end, it's a fragile combination of layers of epoxy putty, tacky glue, and super glue, but what's really holding it together is the black feathers glued over both surfaces on the back.

Similar to previous butterflies, the wings themselves are cut out of acetate, and then bits of colored feathers were individually glued on in rows, filling in the wing pattern. The pattern is also colored in on the back with Sharpie. This gives them a semi translucent, stained-glass look in the right light. Unfortunately, it's very hard to capture that on film, although I did try.

Her shoes are a pair of white Barbie sandals painted yellow, with a few small blue petals glued on as accent.

Finally, her eyes were repainted a deep blue, and she was given a choker and headband out of the blue petals.

I'm glad that I got around to another butterfly, although I really love the more exotic looking insect fairies. The yellow brightness of Nidea makes her a lovely counterpoint to the looks of some of the other dolls. Completed June 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Raven from DC comics Teen Titans. Here Raven is seen in an interpretation of her original look from New Teen Titans in the 80's.

Raven began toyhood as a Planetary figure:

(more pictures here.)

I chose this figure as a base because of the clean hip lines (despite the lack of articulation), and the shape of the face.

I removed the raised red lines, elbow and knee pads of the original jumpsuit, and pared back the line of the breasts. I also carved away some of the stomach and rear, to partially correct the odd way the original figure was posed. I trimmed down the area of the feet and cut up a raised heel for the shoe.

In Progress:

Then I used Magic Sculpt to smooth over the body shape, and Kneadatite to add the shoes, dress, and gloves. The front of her hair was trimmed way back and replaced with Kneadatite, which was also used to extend the hair in the back. Her cape is a separate piece, made of vinyl, Kneadatite, and two small plastic disks I had left over.

I was trying to build another separate piece for her characteristic hood, but the sculpting didn't come out as nice as I would have liked. It looks okay at this angle:

I really wanted to have the option to display her in several ways, instead of just sculpting the hood, cape and hair into one piece.

Paint and sealant and she's done. I have a new very fine brush which I used here, and I'm very pleased with the face paint.

Created as a gift for Erin.

(Pictured here with DCUC Nightwing)

Completed 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009


When I was small, my dad and I used to watch monster movies together. I liked all the Godzilla flicks and their relations, but the one I remember the most is THEM. Those giant radioactive ants scared me thoroughly when I was little. It's a very well made movie, good creepy tension building, the ant puppets are super for their time, and the sound design is great. So for this holiday, I decided to commemorate this experience with a diorama as a gift for my dad.

Pile of stuff I bought for this project (didn't end up using all of it):

The Ant:

The Ant (the most important part, obviously) has a base of a tarantula purchased at Michaels. Details of the figure here. I made a head out of Sculpey to slide over the pedipalps, turning a spider (two body segments) into an ant (three body segments), then joined it with some Magic Sculpt. The thorax was filled out and given segments with some more Magic Sculpt, and small pieces of cheap paintbrush bristle were stuck into the clay for the back bristles.

I cut off the rear legs of the spider, carved down the lower segments of the legs and added small spikes at the joint out of Kneadatite. The internal part of the eyes was sculpted and painted, and then a plastic outer eye was added, made of the clear portion of a "wiggly" or "googly" eye. The jaws are Kneadatite, with a wire embedded to keep them stiffer. They are slightly hinged, connected to the head with pins. Antenna are just heavy craft wire covered in "fur". Most of the fur on the ant is craft marabou, with some doll hair for texture on the back segment.

The Army Guys:

The Army Men, meant to represent the guys who invade the final giant ant base at the end of the movie, are from two sets of "Forces of Valor" figures, scale 1:32. They are sold as WWII army guys, and are highly detailed. I decided that if their details are slightly different than the National Guardsmen or whoever from the movie, it's subtle enough not to matter to anyone but students of military history. All I did to these guys was pick the ones I wanted and paint them in a detailed grayscale.

Set up from when I was trying out the guys before painting: (I didn't end up using all of them)

The Base:

The Base is built on the base of a large model car case (about 9" by 13"). The Forces of Valor sets came with some broken scale walls and rubble that I glued down and painted. The large rocks are from a plaster rock kit intended for school projects. The plaster kit also came with a bag of small gravel, which I colored and added throughout. The base was finished off with a layer of sand and plaster mix, sprinkled with rocks, and imprinted with a few ant-footprints, which ties it nicely into one piece. Only the walls and rocks are attached to the base, the army men and the ant are able to be moved.

The Sign:

Final touch, I sculpted the letters out of Magic Sculpt and glued them to a sheet of thick plastic packaging.

The most complicated piece I've done in some time. If only I'd had time to add sound effects. Completed Dec 2008