“Joeheads” Becoming “Deadheads!”
It’s no secret that action figure collectors are also fans of films, comic books and television programs that include ACTION heroes involved in ACTION-adventure stories. It should be no surprise then, that AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (TWD) has begun to soar in popularity among 1:6 scalers, inspiring many to create their own custom figures based on characters in the show.
If you’ve never seen TWD, it’s a “monster” hit series now in its 4th season and depicts the horrific life and death struggle between disparate bands of “Survivors” (living people) and an endless parade of “Walkers” (dead people who are also flesh-eating zombies). Based on a popular comic book, the show is essentially a never-ending game of “Tag—You’re DEAD,” keeping viewers hooked with its suspenseful “you never know who will die next” storyline, plus excellent effects, photography and acting.
As you might suspect, TWD features many characters that are ripe for transformation into 1:6 scale action figures. Foremost among them is its star and hero, Deputy Sheriff Rick Grimes. Grimes is a soft-spoken, big gun-totin’, hero of the “old school,” standing tall while trying to protect his tiny band of survivors from danger around every turn. Action fans and customizers will also appreciate the show’s extensive use of weaponry, including knives, axes, samurai swords, and one really famous crossbow!
Despite the show’s popularity, 12″ action figures based on TWD have been slow in coming. There are a few in the pipeline, but until recently, only small-scale, barely poseable figures have been available. Tired of waiting, customizers have begun creating their own customs, but even for the most talented among us, such an undertaking is often beyond one person’s abilities. That’s where the concept of collaborative customizing comes in. “Collaborative customizing” is the ingenious combination of a group of talented customizers, each one considered to be an expert in their own way, working separately to create one or more specific uniform, weapon or related accessory. The disparate parts are then combined under the auspices of a “Master Customizer” (“Rick R.” for example), resulting in the creation of a unique custom figure or vehicle not available in any store.
Gareth’s Grimes Group
(Say that 3 times fast!)
We’ve seen a variety of custom Rick Grimes figures, but without a doubt, the BEST one to cross our desk so far was created by well-known UK action figure collector, customizer and toy dealer, Gareth Pippen. In a superb example of collaborative customizing, Gareth directed a worldwide group of 1:6 scale “pros” to produce all of the individual parts required, and then combined them to create a one-of-a-kind custom Rick Grimes. In an exclusive interview with The Joe Report, Pippen elaborated on his process of coordinating outside experts:
“My custom Rick Grimes action figure took 18 months to put together. His Deputy Sheriff uniform was created by famed Hong Kong 1:6 tailor, Katoki Ellis (he goes by ‘Kato’), arguably the best-ever at creating 1/6th scale custom clothing. Kato consults for Hot Toys and made an initial run of 30 of the uniforms, then a second run of 30 six months later, and offered them through the Sideshow Freaks forum.
The head was sculpted by a US sculptor, Scott Peterson, aka “Velvetmorning,” and it too, was also offered through the Sideshow Freaks forum (a friend of mine here in Glasgow painted it for me). The hat and all the badges (sheriff, name badge and collar dogs) were made by another guy in the US called Jeff aka “Entropy,” also from the Sideshow Freaks forum. The revolver came from a VTS figure called “Stone Cold Killer,” which was actually Bruce Willis as ‘Hartigan’ from ‘Sin City.’ And the boots are from a Hot Toys Wolverine figure. All in all, it’s an amazing custom, and easily one of my favorites from my collection!”
Bottom Line: As always, fans of 1:6 scale have shown that they can (and WILL) step up whenever manufacturers let them down. Talented customizers such as Gareth, Kato, Scott and Jeff, have proven to the rest of us that ANY figure can become reality, whether built alone or with the aid of others.
Fans of The Walking Dead will also be thrilled to learn that Season 3 of the series is (finally) due to be released on Blue-ray on August 27, 2013. So…Look out, all you Dead-heads! And RUN (don’t be a “Walker!”) to Walmart or Amazon (same price) and pre-order or pick up some DVDs of this superb AMC TV series (great for frame-by-frame analysis). Finally, we’ll leave you with this short VIDEO from yet another customizer, Rae Beck, who’s made his own Rick Grimes custom in much the same collaborative manner as Gareth. Outstanding!