Awesome Toy Collection – Year End Showhand

Oh my, even as I blog my rants and do my Indiana Jones customs, I still make the occasional toy purchases to add to my awesome collection. And so, at the end of the year I showcase some of the toys that I have not yet gotten around to blogging about.
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From the recent “Star Trek” movie, this is the Original Spock, who had traveled into an alternate timeline and encounters the younger counterparts of his former Starfleet colleagues.
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Marvel Universe Invaders 4-pack, a 2009 ComicCon Exclusive which is now available here. Captain America, Human Torch, and Namor, were part of a group of superheroes called the Invaders, who fought against the Nazis during World War II. The Red Skull is the sinister agent of the Nazis.
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And continuing on with my interest in World War II, the Union Jack is the superhero from England who defended the British Isles against the Nazis.
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From the Marvel Figure Factory, this is Doctor Doom, the dictator of Latveria. Wearing an iron mask to hide his scarred face, Doctor Doom seeks to gain power to conquer the world.
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We have several Hulks here, from the movie “The Incredible Hulk”. Bruce Banner is standing between two of his alter egos, when Bruce gets angry he transforms into the raging uncontrollable Hulk. The Hulkbuster soldier serves as a punching bag for the green beast.
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20091231_Bizarro
We now go to the DC Universe. I have bought this 6-inch Bizarro, who is the evil counterpart of Superman. When too many duplicates of Bizarro started to appear, the original Bizarro wore a plaque bearing “Bizarro #1” to distinguish himself from the rest.
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And this is even more bizarre. While Bizarro is the evil version of Superman, Batman’s evil duplicate is this supervillian called “Batzarro”. Batzarro’s costume bears an upside-down bat logo, his ammo pouches are open and upside-down. Being a complete opposite of Batman, Batzarro smiles all the time, thinks out loud, and even calls himself “the world’s worst detective”.
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From the recent movie “Terminator Salvation”, this is the T-600, a terminator with its rubber exterior roughly modeled after humans in an attempt by Skynet to infiltrate the human populace.
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From Babylon 5: I have recently acquired the G’Kar on the right, which is a variant G’Kar, wearing a different coloured costume. I have the two G’Kars here for comparison.
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We have here Goro, and Johnny Cage, two characters from the awesome video game “Mortal Kombat”. More specifically, these figures are modeled after their appearance in the movie of the same name.
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This strange-looking alien astronaut caught my attention, and I simply had to buy it as there’s something about its appearance intrigued me, even though I have no idea on exactly which toy line it belonged to. After some research I have determined that it belonged to a Chap Mei space-themed playset.
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But this figure even more intriguing. It appears to be some sort of nasty cyborg with muscles and skeletons incorporated within it, even its left arm is a rifle, complete with a scope ! Reminds me of the Body Worlds exhibits. The seller himself had no idea which toy line it belonged to, and I have yet to find any clues myself. If you know what is this figure, tell me about it ! [UPDATE: Figure identified! See comments for answers]
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 And that’s a wrap ! Au revoir 2009, and Hello 2010 ! Have a Happy New Year !
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Custom Indy Figures – Major Arnold Toht

This is my latest custom Indy figure, a truly awesome one:
 
Major Arnold Toht from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”:
 
Toht is a Gestapo agent assigned to retrieve from Marion Ravenwood the headpiece of the Staff of Ra, an artifact which could be used to discover the location of the Ark of the Covenant. Toht was chased off by Indy, but he later follows Indy and Marion to Cairo, aiding in the Nazi effort to recover the Ark.
 
Recipe:
Head – Vax Potorr from the “Star Wars Joker Squad”
Rest of the body – SDCC 2008 exclusive Cobra Commander from G.I. Joe
Hat – Indiana Jones (“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”)
Glasses – Dr. Henry Jones (“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”)
Coat – The coat belonged to a Vintage Toht figure released by Kenner back in 1982, it’s 27 years old!
 
Now this Indy custom has an interesting story. Hasbro was supposed to release Toht as part of wave 5 of Indiana Jones figures, but that wave got canceled. Not long thereafter, Hasbro released a Cobra Commander in black suit as a G.I. Joe SDCC exclusive figure. Although there had never been any official word, it was believed that the sculpting mold used for the development of the unreleased Toht figure was instead reutilised for producing this Cobra Commander in black suit. Therefore, for many Indy fans, to make a custom Toht by working on this Cobra Commander figure is the nearest thing to obtaining an official Toht figure from Hasbro, considering that it was supposed to be released as Toht in the first place!
 
Cobra Commander in black suit
 
Since this Cobra Commander figure is an exclusive figure (it was only available at the 2008 San Diego Comic Convention), you can imagine that not too many would have made it here to Singapore, and those that were actually on sale here were being sold at rather high prices. Personally, I wouldn’t spend too much than I absolutely needed to when it comes to collecting figures. So, I managed to acquire the Cobra Commander from someone who was selling it at a slightly lower price than all others. Then it occured to me that I might as well keep the figure as it is since it is an exclusive figure, quite valuable in its own right. But I figured that, to the Indy fan, nothing else mattered except creating that Indy custom and be able to own that figure.
 
    
Yay ! I now got Toht, another one of the five canceled Indy figures. The hot iron poker was fashioned out of the handle which I cut out from the wire-cutter when I was making the wrench for the German Mechanic. This was a case of putting whatever spares that I had to good use.
 
I decided to use the head of Star Wars Vax Potorr (a somewhat obscure figure) for Toht as Vax Potorr is a bald guy, and I can easily paint Toht’s receding hairline onto the head. The glasses come from TLC Henry Jones, with the frames repainted silver. And the coat was something that I simply needed to make Toht complete. A loose Vintage Toht coat (without the figure) went on auction on eBay, and I won the item after some fierce bidding.
 
 Gestapo Agent Toht, with his hat off.

The Bible in a Nutshell

Every religion has its holy book, and for the Christian faith, and to a certain extent the Jewish faith, that holy book is the Bible. The Holy Bible, usually taken to be the word of God, is made up of 66 books belonging to two major divisions, with 39 in the Old Testament, and 27 in the New Testament. In case that you are not aware, the Jewish religion does not regard Jesus as the Messiah and their religious texts consist mainly of the Old Testament and does not contain the New Testament books, since the New Testament has more to do with the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and his disciples. A couple of other books didn’t quite made it into the authoritative Bible, but had also at one time or another been considered as canon by the different denominations.
 
From the beginning, there had always been myths and legends that were passed down through the ages, stories created to explain about the creation of man and the surrounding world, words of wisdom and inspiration, as well as the occasional morality tales. At first, these tales were passed down via the oral tradition, until the advent of writing, upon which it became possible to gather these texts together and subsequently be regarded as an entire whole. These stories could have been based on actual historical events, and sometimes, even stories that were exchanged between different cultures have over time become adapted as part of the scriptures. For example, the story of Noah and the Great Flood bears similarities with the Ancient Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, right down to the building of the Ark and the collection of animals for safekeeping, while the flood itself could have been based on an ancient flooding event, theories range from a catastrophic Mediterranean tsunami, to the Black Sea deluge, or even an Indian Ocean asteroid strike.
 
The Tower of Babel
 
Apart from serving as a record of actual historical events (such as the fall of the Tower of Babel, the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, exodus of the Jews from Egypt, establishment of the Jewish Kingdom, among others), the Bible also contains many other information, ranging from important ones such as the collection of rules and laws, songs of praise and worship, prophecies and dire warnings, to others somewhat more trivial ones such as family records, construction inventories, and even donation records. Nearly every aspect is given a divine context, after all, it is supposed to be a book of worship. And just like any historical document, they were probably written to conform with whichever political climate that was prevalent at that time.
 
There was an approximately 400 years gap between the Old and New Testaments, during which it is believed that there were no inspired prophetic writings. Of course, the writing never stopped, only that the books produced during this period were simply not accepted as canonical scripture. Known as the Apocrypha, these books were said to promote false doctrines, they contained errors and inconsistancies, and they lacked a convincing divine nature (the writers themselves did not claim divine inspiration for their writings either).
 
The New Testament heralds the arrival of Jesus Christ as the Savior of Man, with the Gospels alluding to the life and teachings of Jesus (ranging from the virgin birth, Jesus’ ministry on Earth, the crucifixion, and resurrection), and one whole bunch of letters from the Apostles to Christ’s followers giving encouragement and hope during a time of Roman persecution of Christians and proliferation of errant teachings. The Book of Revelations, the last book of the Bible, tells of future apocalyptic events with the coming of the end of days, and the ultimate victory of Christ and the church over sin and evil, although some scholars believe that Revelations more likely served as a message of hope during the time of the Roman persecution.
 
It was also during the time of the writing of the New Testament that many Christian cults emerged and promoted their own interpretations of the teachings of Jesus, some of which clashed with the authoritative version held by the early Church leaders. These alternative teachings were branded as heresy, and as the Church grew in power and influence, such cults became persecuted and their writings were banned and destroyed. A number of such manuscripts belonging to one such cult known as the Gnostics had managed to survive to this day, providing Biblical scholars an invaluable chance at understanding the evolution of early Christian writing.
 
In the meantime, it fell onto the responsibility of the early Church to determine which books were to be considered as the Holy Scriptures, having been written inspired by God. In general, the gospels considered as canon were those which fit into the Church’s image of Jesus having been the martyred Messiah who was the Son of God, a concept not exactly shared by other Christian cults. Eventually, the New Testament was finalised into its current form of 27 books. And since then until now, the Holy Bible had seen numerous more translations and interpretations, depending on the religious and political overtones of the times, evolving into the versions that exist with us today.
 
The exclusion of the Apocrypha, and the Gnostics texts, from the canon Holy Bible, may somehow make it intriguing to take a look into these writings to see what is it that makes them so offensive. But it should be mentioned that these texts cannot be understood unless they are read in the context of their contemporaneous writings. So unless you are already knowledgable in the relevant Biblical texts, and actually believe in them, there is no way that these non-canonical texts are going to make any sense to you. You have been warned.
 
 
Oh, by the way, Merry Christmas to all !

Custom Indy Figures – Tough Sergeant and Indy in diving suit

This is a showcase of another two of my awesome custom Indy figs:
 
Tough Sergeant from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”:
 
After the Flying Wing was destroyed, the Ark was loaded onto a truck to be sent to Cairo. Indy hijacks the truck and throws off all the German soldiers, only the Tough Sergeant was left. The Tough Sergeant climbed into the driver’s compartment and hurls Indy out the windscreen. Indy slides under the truck, climbs back onboard, fights the Sergeant, and this time Indy hurls the Sergeant out the windscreen. The Sergeant gets run over by the wheels.
 
Recipe:
Head – Zartan (“G.I. Joe The Rise of Cobra”)
Lower Arms – RPG Indiana Jones (“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”)
Rest of the body – German Soldier (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”)
Gun holster – Indiana Jones
 
Band of Brothers, the Afrika Korps
 
On the Indy discussion board, it was commented that Zartan bore a remarkable resemblance to the Tough Sergeant in ROTLA. I decided to proceed with this custom as, apart from Zartan’s head, the rest of his body can also be used for some other customs that I have in mind. The German Soldier figure has his shirt tucked out, whereas Tough Sergeant tucks in his shirt. However, removing the skirt made it look as if there is a gap between the belt and the thigh. My solution was to fix the belt at a slightly lower position so that the gap would be sufficiently covered over. Doing this required applying a section of epoxy glue between the torso and the belt, to “extend” the shirt length. The ammo belt required some removal and rearranging of pouches, and the gun holster was glued onto the belt. The uniform was painted dark yellow to reflect the Afrika Korp colour scheme.
 
Indy in diving suit from the Indiana Jones comic “Indiana Jones and the Shrine of the Sea Devil”:
 
    
The treasures of the world are scattered far and wide, and some lie at the bottom of the oceans. In “Shrine of the Sea Devil”, Indy dons a deep sea diving suit and descends to the depths to investigate a sunken temple said to contain priceless treasures.
 
Recipe:
Head – RPG Indiana Jones (“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”)
Neck – René Belloq (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”)
Diving suit – The diving suit comes from a Chap Mei Deep Sea Adventure playset.
Knife – The knife comes from Sgt. Misha Zubenkov of the G.I. Joe Oktober Guard Comic 3 Pack.
 
     
Indy in diving suit, as pictured in “Shrine of the Sea Devil”, compare with the finished Indy custom (middle). To the right is the original diving suit that came with the playset.
 
I came across several underwater-themed playsets on sale, and one of the diving suits made me recall that Indy had worn a similar suit in the Indiana Jones comic “Shrine of the Sea Devil”. As the playsets were of the same scale as the Indy figures, I realised that can customise a figure of Indy in diving suit. The helmet and the collar were of one piece, whereas in the comic the helmet detaches from the collar. I cut off the helmet from the collar, and inserted pins below the helmet, making it possible to remove the helmet but still able to secure it back to the collar. The extra plastic straps on the suit was removed by using a dremel. The weights on the belt are pieces of plastic which I cut out individually and glued onto the belt. The head of the original figure is connected to the body via a peg joint, I transplanted a Belloq’s neck onto the peg joint as Indy’s head can also fit onto Belloq’s neck, and I had a couple of spare Belloq torsos. The two straps which criss-cross over the collar were also added. Lastly, Indy’s hair was painted dark brown.
 
The original diving suit figure came with an equipment holder attached to the right side of the belt. I decided to leave the holder there for the Indy custom as it seemed like a good place for Indy to put his diving knife.
 
And we have a special appearance here by the Diver from McFarlane’s Monsters “The Sea Creature” Playset ! Indy had just found the treasure chest, but his competitor appears branishing a knife. Defend yourself Indy! Use your knife!

Custom Indy Figures – Adolf Hitler and Vogel in black uniform

Showcasing another two of my awesome custom Indiana Jones figures:
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Adolf Hitler from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”:
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After Indy goes to Berlin and steals his Dad’s Grail diary back from Elsa, Indy was swept into a crowd at a book-burning rally where he bumps into Adolf Hitler, the dictator of Germany. As Indy was disguised as a German officer, Hitler assumes that Indy was just another loyal fanatic, and he signs his autograph in the Grail diary that Indy was holding.
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Recipe:
Head – Admiral Ozzel (“Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back”)
Torso, arms, legs and hat – Colonel Vogel (“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”)
Skirt – Colonel Dovchenko (“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”)
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Actor Michael Sheard, who protrayed Hitler in “The Last Crusade”, also protrayed Admiral Ozzel in the “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back”, and Admiral Ozzel exists as a Star Wars figure. Hence this is a rare instance where I can customise a Hitler figure by using Ozzel’s head, and it would be of the exact likeness as he appeared in the movie since both Ozzel and Hitler were protrayed by the same actor.
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Admiral Ozzel (Star Wars)             Colonel Vogel (TLC)      
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Vogel’s hat was cut out and transplanted onto Ozzel’s head. The totenkopf (Death’s Head) badge on the hat was cut off so that the hat would be film-accurate (there was no badge on Hitler’s hat in TLC). Ozzel’s moustache needed to be trimmed to match that of Hitler’s. Working on Vogel’s torso, the right shoulder strap and the whistle was removed, as well as the insignias on the lapels. The extra medals on the pocket were removed, leaving only the Iron Cross. I sculpted on the Wound Badge (the black dot below the Iron Cross) using epoxy glue. The Nazi symbol was painted onto the armband, the original Vogel figure has a blank armband as the toy needed to be politically correct. A tie was carved out of the scarf that Vogel wears, with collars sculpted on using epoxy. Vogel’s “skirt” (the belt and lower shirt section) had a belt that was different from that of Hitler’s, but KOTCS Dovchenko’s belt matches Hitler’s perfectly. I hope Hitler won’t mind that he’s wearing a Soviet army belt and gun holster.
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Seig Heil !
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[UPDATE – 18 August 2013: I’ve revisited the figure to make some changes.]
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revisit09_hitler

When I first created the figure, I was using Dovchenko’s skirt, which meant that the lower half of Hitler’s uniform actually belonged to a Soviet Army uniform. Not only it wasn’t historically accurate, but also that skirt didn’t really match up with the torso above as their sizes were slightly different. Therefore, I’ve decided to replace Hitler’s skirt with the original one that came with the Colonel Vogel figure, this time transferring Dovchenko’s belt buckle over to the figure. I had already taken out the gun holster and used it for one of my German officers. But this had led me to check and confirm a few details that I had suspected. In “Last Crusade”, you can’t really see whether if Hitler wore a gun holster. And after doing some image searches on the Internet, I concluded that Hitler never wore a gun holster with his uniform. Why would Hitler even need a gun? He probably always had his legions of SS bodyguards wherever he went.

And I’ve also taken the opportunity to straighten Hitler’s military cap, it was off-angled.

Colonel Ernst Vogel in black uniform from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”:
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When Indy rescues his Dad in Brunwald Castle, Vogel somehow gets his hands on Elsa and threatened to kill her unless Indy surrenders himself. Seeing the damsel in distress, Indy immediately complies, only to find out that he was duped when Elsa steals the Grail diary away from him.
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Recipe:
The whole figure – Colonel Vogel (“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”)
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The Colonel Vogel figure released by Hasbro wears a white uniform, which was how Vogel appeared in the later part of TLC during the search for the Grail Temple. But Vogel first appeared at Brunwald Castle wearing a black SS uniform. So to customise a black uniform Vogel required a black repaint of the figure. Vogel also wears a tie instead of the scarf, and I had already figured out how to carve the tie out of the scarf when I was making my Hitler custom. The most tricky part, just as in the Hitler custom, was to draw the swastika onto the armband. It takes a steady hand to draw the small swastika with my black pen. Somehow the Western authorities find it too difficult to allow for toys and games based on the Nazi era to be historically accurate, with certain provisions allowed for only for films, dramas and documentaries.
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Take that Hasbro! If you want to make toys, at least make sure that it is film-accurate!

Custom Indy Figures – Katanga and German Mechanic with wrench

Here’s a showcase of two more of my awesome custom Indiana Jones figures:
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Captain Simon Katanga from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”:
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After Indy steals back the Ark of the Covenant from the Nazis, Sallah hires the services of Captain Katanga and his ship, to smuggle Indy, Marion, and the Ark out of Egypt. All goes well, until Katanga’s ship was stopped by a German U-boat. Marion and the Ark were captured, but Indy stowaways on the U-boat to seek another chance at freeing Marion and reclaiming the Ark.
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Recipe:
Head and hands – Mace Windu (“Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace”)
Torso and legs – Mutt Williams with snake (“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”)
Arms, holster – Indiana Jones
Hat – Colonel Dovchenko (“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”)
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Someone on the Indy discussion board had made an awesome custom Katanga using Mace Windu’s head. I decided to do the same since I knew where to get a Mace Windu figure. The head transplant was quite a challenge as the Star Wars heads are peg-joints (the head and neck are one piece, connecting to the torso via a peg), while Indy figures are all ball-joints (the separate heads connects to the neck, which is part of the torso). The head was directly connected via the neck, with the turtleneck sculpted on to conveniently cover over the seam where the necks meets. The hat comes from KOTCS Dovchenko, while the badge on the hat was printed from a ROTLA screenshot from TheRaider.net. Katanga wears his holster on his front left, which means that he draws his gun in a crossdraw fashion.
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[UPDATE – 18 August 2013: I’ve revisited the figure to make some changes.]
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revisit07_katanga

Katanga was one of my early customs, and I wasn’t very happy with it. The head and neck were in one piece and it was just crudely pasted onto the torso, with the seams covered up by epoxy sculpted to shape like the turtleneck collar. Therefore the head doesn’t turn. Also, the badge on the hat was printed from a screen capture and it looked more like a smudge. To address all these issues, I decided to create an all-new Katanga figure.

The head of a more recent Mace Windu was used for Katanga. And this time round, the badge was designed on computer so that it now looks more detailed. In addition, a small metal ring was added to Katanga’s right wrist, to serve as a pair of bangles as seen onscreen. The pants were now painted in dark yellow, which I feel is more screen accurate.

German Mechanic with wrench from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”:
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When Indy attempted to hijack the Flying Wing which was due to transport the Ark to Berlin, the German Mechanic sees Indy climbing onto the wing and tries to stop him. In the ensuing fight, the Mechanic attacks Indy with his wrench, but he is rendered unconscious when Indy knocks him into the side of the plane.
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Recipe:
Head and legs – German Soldier (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”)
Torso and arms – Mutt Williams with snake (“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”)
Wrench – The wrench was previously a wire-cutter belonging to a Navy Seal figure from the World Peacekeepers line.
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This is a simple enough custom. The only challenge I had was in looking for a suitable wrench to go with the figure. And I found the wrench when I saw that the wire-cutter, which belong to a navy seal figure from a military figures line, can be modified into a wrench by simply cutting off one of the handles as well as a piece of the plastic. The wrench looks truly awesome, considering that it was a wire-cutter in the first place.

Custom Indy Figures – Peruvian Belloq and Belloq in suit

Here I showcase two more of my awesome custom Indiana Jones figures:
 
Peruvian Belloq from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”:
 
As Indy tumbles out of the collapsing Chachapoyan temple with the fertility idol in his hands, he comes face to face with his professional nemesis, René Belloq, who had allied with the locals natives who were now surrounding Indy and aiming their arrows at him. Indy had no choice but to surrender the idol, and his gun, to Belloq.
 
Recipe:
Head – René Belloq (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”)
Torso, upper legs, gun belt – RPG Indiana Jones (“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”)
Upper arms and Lower legs – Colonel Dovchenko (“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”)
Lower arms – Mutt Williams with snake (“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”)
Hat – The pith helmet comes from Sgt. Misha Zubenkov of the G.I. Joe Oktober Guard Comic 3 Pack.
 
René Belloq wears this safari outfit at the beginning of ROTLA. The hat is removable, taking it off shows the top of Belloq’s head. Everything above the eyebrows and ears were all sculpted out of epoxy glue. Creating the hair involved several layers of epoxy sculpting to achieve the texture effect. The sleeves foldups were also sculpted using epoxy. The forearms come from KOTCS Mutt Williams, which is a very useful custom fodder for figures with bare forearms. The watch was created using black tape and a small circular piece of paper.
 
René Belloq in suit from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”:
 
When Indy threatened to blow up the Ark of the Covenant unless Marion is released, Belloq sees through Indy’s bluff immediately, and dares Indy to go ahead, knowing full well that Indy would not carry out his threat since Indy’s curiosity to see what is inside the Ark was just as insatiable as his own’s.
 
Recipe:
Head, hands, shoes – René Belloq (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”)
Torso and legs – Indiana Jones
Arms and jacket – Monkey Man (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”)
Hat – Indiana Jones (“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”)
 
At first, I was thinking of simply using TLC Indy and TLC Henry Jones for the tie and suit jacket of Belloq, just like for my Marcus Brody custom. But then I decided to keep those two figures around for display purposes. And then I thought that, to simply use those two figures for “suit and tie” customs all the time was not very feasible as they were getting harder to find, and they were also getting more and more costly. Perhaps I can just use any of the leftover custom fodders that I have lying around. With some imagination I realised that I could convert the Monkey Man’s robes into a suit jacket by cutting it down in size, and then sculpting on the lapels and pockets with epoxy glue. I can also likewise sculpt a tie and collars directly onto the Indy torso. And this was what I did for customising Belloq in suit. If I hadn’t done this, then Belloq’s suit and tie would have looked exactly like that of Marcus Brody, which would have been all too easy for me to make.
 
One thing that I am not satisfied with Belloq in suit is that, the grey paint applied onto the jacket was too thick, which made the lapels and pockets look less prominent. Also, the paint turned more and more powdery as I painted the figure, resulting in a rather uneven surface around the figure.
 
The three faces of René Belloq. The middle is the original figure.