Toy customizing has quickly become an ever-increasing hobby thanks to adult-collector toy lines, and the slow pace at which they release new product. You wish Hasbro would make a Marvel Legends’ Bucky Cap? Well, get out the paint. Praying for the day that John Constantine makes his way into DC Universe Classics? Don’t wait on Mattel. Just pick up that putty and start rolling up tiny cigarettes. Yes sir (or ma’am), there’s nothing stopping you from creating your very own ideal action figure. Want proof? Good. Cause today we’re talking with a guy who goes by the name of Jon English. He’s one of the most skilled toy customizers around and just happens to specialize in Masters of the Universe Classics!
MTV Geek!: How long have you been customizing figures?
Jon English: I have been customizing action figures for about 4 years now. I was really big into Toy Biz's Marvel Legends, and I stumbled upon some customs on Ebay. I saw some really cool stuff on there, namely by Cal's Customs and Jin Saotome. I thought, hey that would be really cool to create some characters that may never see the light of day, and started on my first custom, a first appearance Wolverine with real razor claws. After that, I pretty much couldn't stop making customs. With the end of Toy Biz and the announcement of the Classics line, the transition to MOTUC was just natural, being a fan of He-Man ever since my early childhood.
Geek!: You do a lot of sculpting on your figures, not just the same ol' repaints seen elsewhere. What materials do you generally use to "make the magic happen"?
JE: I use an epoxy putty called Milliput. It is a 1:1 two part system which is activated by kneading the two parts together until you have an even consistency. It takes about 4 hours to cure, so I have to do a lot of sculpting in layered stages. Once the putty is cured, I will do a lot of grinding and sanding with a Dremel and sandpaper with various grits. The stuff I use cures rock hard and is very durable, while still being very responsive to sanding.
Geek!: Your paint jobs are very well done. Can you tell us a little on your technique for getting a sweet paintjob that gets past the pesky joint rub problem?
JE: I sand the joints to prevent paint rub.
Geek!: Okay, simple enough. What custom are you the most proud of?
JE: That’s a hard one. I suppose if I had to pick one only, it would be Spikor. I was really happy with the way he came out, and the response I got from fans was very inspiring and humbling. After seeing how much people liked him, I decided to sculpt his spiked club too, which I was also very satisfied with. I just finished a custom Dragstor that I love and I would say he ties with Spikor on my absolute favorites.
Geek!: Any horror stories of something gone horribly wrong?
JE: Well, I've got a couple I guess. The first was my custom Tytus. I worked I don't know how many man hours on this guy, even giving up completely for a couple months. When I finally got him 99% of the way complete, Matty officially announced Tytus on their site. I was crushed. But I guess I should have known better, it’s always been one of my fears as a customizer to be working on a really tough character and have Matty release their official figure.
The other would be the 3rd version of my custom MOTUC Superman. I had used He-Ro's cape for my first versions, but I felt the cape was a bit lacking so I tried Randors. The cape looked much better than He-Ro's, but the thing is I couldn't get the sides of the collar area to stay glued. I tried several different epoxies, super glue and hot glue, but the cape would always separate from the chest when slowly returning to original form. Took me weeks to figure it out, but I finally got it to work with a certain plastic epoxy. I haven't shown this one just yet, as it still needs some final touches.
Geek!: Do you have upcoming MOTUC customs that you're excited to be working on, or planning out?
JE: Man, I have got ideas and concepts out the wazoo! They're mostly my own self-created characters that I will be tying into the MOTU mythos, such as evil warriors of Marzo's armies. I have already shown a few of these on He-Man.org, but many more are to follow. Some will be very different altogether. One series I will be debuting hopefully soon are warriors based on the seven deadly sins. It should be very fun, and hopefully very interesting to the fans. Stay tuned!
Geek!: Plug time! Where can people see more of your work? Also, what is the best way for someone to get in touch with you for commissions?
JE: I always debut my customs in the customs section at He-Man.org, then uploading them to my gallery at masterenglish.deviantart.com/gallery. There you can view all of my customs, as well as more of my artwork and sculpture other than customs. Any commission inquiries can be sent to my email at email@example.com, hopefully someday I can get a website up!