I have never been a toy customizer. I buy what the toy companies produce and that’s the end of it. I’m well aware that there is a large segment of the collecting community who like to customize their own figures but that’s never been my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be able to produce quality figures of characters that I want but the key word there is “quality”. I’ve made a handful of custom toys over the years (example 1, example 2, example 3) but they pretty much always suck. I simply don’t have the ability, nor frankly the drive, to produce factory quality customs so I don’t even bother trying.
Some collector’s make their own customs by taking their figures apart and mixing and matching parts. This saves you the trouble of painting but I’ve never really had any desire to attempt this either. I prefer to just sit back and hope that Hasbro will eventually make the G.I. Joe and Transformers characters that I want.
However, the other day I dumped out one of my many bags of G.I. Joe accessories. I did this so I could take a generic “accessories” picture for my updated “about me” page. Almost every Joe figure I buy comes with extra junk that ends up in a bag of miscellaneous accessories never to be seen again. While I was scooping up the loose accessories after taking the photo I needed I realized that I have some pretty cool stuff going to waste; not just extra guns and knives but extra heads and webgear too.
That’s when I remembered the crappy Duke figure I had seated in one of my vehicles. A while back I bought some loose Joe figures from Giant Robot Comics, a local comic shop on the other side of the bridge in Dartmouth. One of the items I bought was the black SNAKE/SERPENT Armor from the “Rise of Cobra” movie line. The Snake armor can be used on a figure or on it’s own. When i opened the armor I expected to find the rubber “skeleton” inside which is what holds all the pieces together when displayed solo but instead I found a figure inside; a really crappy figure. I didn’t recognize the figure immediately. It was blonde, had a black long sleeve shirt and gloves, bright green pants, and brown boots. He didn’t have any accessories like a helmet or webgear. I wrote him off as a crappy version of Duke that probably originally came packaged with some vehicle. I tend to pass on a lot of Duke figures, especially when they come with vehicles. The Duke was too plain to display on his own so I sat him in a jeep and didn’t give him a second thought. He’s been sitting in that jeep for 2 years.
The sight of all the extra heads and gear made me think, “I shouldn’t let that crappy Duke go to waste. I should swap out some of his parts and arm him to customize a brand new character.” Before breaking him up I figured that I should at least identify which version of Duke it was. It was only once I really looked at him that I realized that it wasn’t even Duke. The head belonged to General Hawk and the body seemed to be a mish- mash of parts from other figures. The black underwear over the green pants Superman-style was a dead give-away that this was already somebody’s crappy custom. That made me feel that much better about butchering him myself.
I popped off the Hawk head and gave him the extra masked head that came with Ultimate Duke (2013). This was a good generic head that did not look like any recognizable Joe characters. I gave him a Cobra Shock Trooper vest (I’m not sure why I have an extra one) then I armed him with a satchel and a couple of guns. It was an improvement but he still looked pretty plain. Then I came across the back tentacles that came with Nemesis Enforcer. I thought, “why not?”. The green of the tentacles matched his bright green pants and helped tie the figure together better. The tentacles also helped me come up with a back story and name for the character. I decided that he is a Cobra-la agent, like Nemesis Enforcer, sent to join the ranks of Cobra disguised as a human. The name Kraken seemed like a good fit.
The last thing I gave him, just to add a little extra flare, was a coil of barbed wire around each leg. No, it doesn’t make sense but I thought it looked kind of cool and gave me an excuse to use some otherwise useless accessories. I think it kind of looks like Spawn’s big round boot. So here he is, my first G.I. Joe custom. I now have him displayed amongst my Cobra hierarchy instead of down in the Joe’s motor pool. I know he kind of sucks but at least now I’m getting some use out of a previously wasted figure. 5 out of 10.