Thursday, July 18, 2013

My Custom Tony Stark Gets Better Head!

If you’re a regular reader then you may have been following (enduring?) the saga of my quest to put together a custom 1/6th scale Tony Stark, decked out in his casual outfit from the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier scenes in The Avengers. I grabbed a regular Hot Toys TrueType body and found custom clothes on eBay, and my intent was to use the unmasked head from my recently acquired Iron Man Mark VII. But alas, disaster struck when the neck joint was incompatible and the Robert Downey Jr. likeness was a little less than satisfactory!

How did I solve this ridiculously trivial first world problem?! I returned to eBay and sought out the assistance in the dark tunnels of the customiser underworld! How does a custom head stack up against an official Hot Toy? The results might surprise you...

More images and explanation... after the jump!

Firstly a disclaimer. I ADORE Hot Toys - they produce the most phenomenally detailed and realistic work that is currently available - and I will always encourage you to purchase the real deal. But it’s also fun to put together versions of characters that are not yet officially available, so I was interested to see what sorts of things were on offer. And the quality varies considerably, so I considered this a gamble. There are plenty of custom head sculpts out there that look absolutely awful, and even the better ones are often photographed awfully meaning that you always don’t get a fair indication of what they’ll actually look like in person.

I was torn between two options. One was more accurate to his appearance in The Avengers in terms of hair and overall look, but it was a smoother, younger, more flattering sculpt. Perhaps not as detailed as it could be. The second appears to be based on his appearance in Iron Man 3, with the shorter hair and more rugged, age-appropriate face. This one was cheaper too, so I opted to mix and match and grab a Tony as he looks right now. And, upon its arrival the other day, I have to admit that I’m very impressed with their work.

To my eyes at least, it’s a far better representation than the one that came with the Mark VII. It’s instantly recognisable as RDJ and it holds up from all angles.

I’m also impressed by the detailed paint job which really is approaching Hot Toys standards. Someone with a keener eye, or more experience with these, might disagree, but it certainly meets my requirements.

I should also state that I have no idea how these are made. Does an artist make these from scratch or is some debaucherous bootlegging involved? I hope it’s the former but I really don’t know. If Tony’s head here is highly questionable contraband then I apologise! I’m sure at least that RDJ doesn’t approve of foreign artisans churning out tiny copies of his trademarked mug.

And there’s an additional issue here - this head STILL doesn’t properly attach to the Hot Toys TrueType body. The head doesn’t come with a neck, and although you can plug it into the neck on the TrueType it looks far too short - the whole in the head swallows up most of it and makes Tony look ridiculous. I’ve got it loosely sitting on top for most of this images, which will be fine for display too, but it would be better if it was secure. Perhaps there’s some type of adaptor I need to investigate.

Also in a lot of these shots I’m using hands (and props) from the DX Joker 2:0 but they are a little small and have weird colouring. I then switched to spare hands from Commissioner Gordon, but they’re probably a little on the large side. I’ve discovered that it’s very difficult to make everything work completely in concert, so a near-enough-is-good-enough custom will have to do.

But it’s certainly a lot better than it was, and looks good on display among the other Avengers. If you also play with dolls, have tried this yourself, and have any solutions for the neck, do be sure to leave a comment below!

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