"Legends of Gotham City" Custom Figures!
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"Legends of Gotham City" Custom Figures!

Posted in Custom Workstation

After several years of serious procrastination, I finally joined the 6-inch scale DC Super Heroes Action Figure party!

My plan was to create a “Legends of Gotham City Collection”… An assembly of “definitive” classic BATMAN character action figures… cleanly sculpted, deco’d, detailed and articulated… and (equally important), accurately sized in relation to each other.

In these regards, I didn’t think I was really demanding too much.

And yet, by the end of it all, almost every single character required some kind of custom modification before I was satisfied.

Admittedly, a big part of the issue was the fact that I am very much a “traditionalist” when it comes to THE BATMAN mythology. This pretty much dictated my dissatisfaction with most of the available action figures.

My preferred depictions of the Legends of Gotham City come from the classic pages of Detective Comics and Batman as published by DC Comics from the early 1970’s through the mid 1990’s.

For the most part, Gotham City's nefarious VILLAINS that most interested me (certainly as action figures) were the “classic Rouges Gallery” characters: The Joker, Catwoman, The Riddler, The Penguin, Two- Face, and The Scarecrow. The one exception to that basic rule was Harley Quinn, whom I considered to be a brilliant “modern age” addition to the Gotham lineup.




I decided to include a quartet of Gotham City “Secret Identity” characters to the collection (Bruce Wayne, Richard Grayson, Barbara Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth).





As for action figures of Gotham City's Heroic Guardians, I would focus on Police Commissioner James Gordon, Batgirl, and of course our intrepid Classic Caped Crusaders, The Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder.





The figures of this Legends of Gotham City Collection would depict the comic book versions of these characters since the versions from live-action TV or films, or animation did NOT interest me.

Alright. Let’s get to it. I hope you enjoy my custom Legends of Gotham City Collection…

Posted by darklord1967
on Tuesday, August 16, 2011
User Comments
The Real Question -
Sunday, July 20, 2014
I felt this thread needed a bump, just for how interesting your work is.
jabezscarlet -
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
You have marvelous attention for fine detail, my friend. this was more than enjoyable. Kudos to you!
NickyTea -
Friday, July 27, 2012
Incredible work, and GREAT pictures, man!
Automatauntaun -
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
I feel your pain bud. I wish I had more updates as of late. It seemed winter ( here in the us at least) was a very productive time for us all? I'll keep checkin' back! Can't wait to see what you got coming!
kamenriderhal -
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
I agree, hope to see more of this awesome project!
VADtoys -
Friday, February 17, 2012
Any progress?
steve2477 -
Friday, January 27, 2012
These customs are fantastic, looking forward to more updates.
darklord1967 -
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Thanks for the heads up. I'll most certainly keep my eyes open!
Incom -
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
HNY , bro!

Looks great Roberto, awesome stuff! Love what you've done with two-face's er... face. Looks way better. You might want to keep an eye on Sithfire's works this year. Rumour has it he'll be taking on The Dark Knight trilogy characters....
darklord1967 -
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Be patient with me, guys. I promise I won't let you down.
BDCdiesel -
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Yeah, come on man! I think we all want an update!
smeagol92055 -
Monday, December 12, 2011
Ack! Must see how this ends! You've got the best rogues' gallery I've seen so far.
darklord1967 -
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Update is coming very shortly. I promise. I've just been a little swamped with my teaching duties at the high school where I work. But we have the Thanksgiving break coming up, and I plan to wrap up TWO-FACE by then! Stay tuned.
VADtoys -
Monday, November 14, 2011
When are you gonna update this again? I've been following your work for quite some time and I'm dying to see more! =D
Automatauntaun -
Thursday, October 20, 2011
love to see what you do man!~ keep it up!
Cosmic Fantasy Customs -
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
man totally awesome so far and the paint I know will be amazing, but do not envy you on that. I love seeing your process, so detailed and precise.
darklord1967 -
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
After four days of slow, meticulous, re-sculpt sanding of the hair (Gosh, I HATE that dreary part of customizing!!) Two-Face’s hair was ready to re-paint. I’m not sure what DC Direct was thinking when they painted this character as a blonde when he is clearly depicted in the comics as having dark brown hair. I followed suit.




On the other side, I decided to paint Two-Face’s hair with vaguely garish streaks of grayish-white… a hair-color duality, while still keeping a neatly combed overall hairstyle in place.




I also mixed a nice flesh-tone base color and gave his acid-burned features a thorough dry-brushing. I did this to move away from the (illogical) solid green color scheme of his damaged flesh, and also to better control a less rigidly straight separation between the damaged and un-damaged sides of his face.


darklord1967 -
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
PLASTIC SURGERY FOR A DISFIGURED FIGURE


Refusing to use the badly-sculpted, woefully under-sized head sculpt of the DCUC Two-Face figure, I turned my attention to the Secret Origins Two-Face head sculpt, and got right to work re-sculpting it to my tastes. I decided that the first thing he needed was a nice clean hair-cut (on his disfigured side). So… I let my blade to the talking.









With the hair trimmed into a basic shape that I found acceptable, I next began the process of sculpting the fine waves of his combed hair with the edge of my folded sand paper.





I decided to keep the original head/neck articulation so that I would not to have to engineer a different one when this head was transferred over to the new base body. I cut the entire head / neck assembly off of the figure’s shoulders, and trimmed the shirt collar, etc off of the base of the severed neck.

darklord1967 -
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Fortunately, a really nice business-suit wearing base figure sculpt presented itself in the form of Mattel’s DC Universe Classics Sandman. This figure featured virtually NONE of the awkward sculpt problems that were featured on the first DCUC business suit sculpt, and a generous amount of articulation to boot! A nice bonus was that there would be no worries about working to make this figure’s sculpt consistent in style with the rest of my (DCUC and DC Direct – based) “Gotham Legends” collection. It was already “all in the family”, as it were.



Well… time to get to work!

For no particular reason, I decided to tackle our duality-obsessed, coin-flipping friend from the top of his head and work my way down to his feet.
darklord1967 -
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Mattel produced one Two-Face Action Figure as part of its DC Universe Classics line. The body sculpt was based off of a general business suit mold that was recycled from a previous Two-Face action figure, and even re-used afterward on a Clark Kent release. While the figure boasted a generous level of articulation, the overall sculpt was one of the clumsiest and most un-attractive I had seen anywhere for a general business suit character:



1) The lower left leg seemed to be warped with an irritating inward bend.
2) The neck position was sculpted with a pronounced forward slump, giving the overall figure an unattractive, lanky, slouch.
And
3) This action figure had one of the most badly under-sized head sculpts I had even seen.

4) The arms and legs were sculpted to be impossibly thin, spindly, and elongated. If the arms and legs of this figure represented the character’s limbs outfitted in loose fitting clothing, then he is most certainly anatomically impossibly thin. The excessive length of the limbs removed any trace of elegance that should be attributed to this character’s style of dress. The arms appeared so long, in fact, that the bare wrists became exposed past the cuff of the jacket almost as if the jacket were ill-fitting. The legs appeared almost like a pair of knobby stalks emerging from the gap of an inadequate pelvis and crotch.



There were simply too many strikes against this body sculpt for it to be useful for my custom figure. A different business suit wearing base figure sculpt would be required.
darklord1967 -
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Two-Face has only been produced twice by DC Direct as action figures in the 6 inch scale:

Long Halloween Two Face: A nicely sculpted, but greatly over-sized / out of scale figure, wearing a very non-traditional “zoot-suit” interpretation of the villain’s outfit. It was sculpted to match Tim Sale’s artwork (which I am not a fan of).






Secret Origins Two-Face: A reasonably well-sculpted action figure, presented in a somewhat compatible scale with the rest of the 6-inch line. This action figure depicted a more traditional version of the character’s appearance. He included some nice accessories, my favorite of which was a tiny “flipped” silver dollar coin caught frozen in mid air! Sadly, I found the body on this figure to be slightly over-sized for my needs (when compared to the other characters of my 6 inch scale collection). So no help there.



However, I did like the well-conceived head sculpt. It featured a generous amount of detail, particularly on the disfigured side of his face. The “evil side” hairstyle selected by the sculptor was the wild, stringy, matted look, (which I do not care for). Additionally, the opposite side un-scathed hair was painted in an incorrect blonde shade, rather than Two-Face’s proper dark brown. However, I was confident that I could correct both of these hair issues easily enough with a blade, sandpaper, and some careful paint work.

darklord1967 -
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
TWO-FACE

When it came to TWO-FACE, my preferred take on the character was (as always), his traditional, classic, comic book outfit. I did, however, find myself employing a generous amount of artistic license when I put this character together as a custom 6-inch scale action figure.

For many years, Two-Face has worn a customized suit that is tan-orange on his right side and pin-striped purple on his left. This basic comic book design (and color combination) is the one I prefer.




I do think, however, that the boundary between the scarred and un-scarred sides of Harvey Dent’s face should be much more random and irregular. It seems that in the comics, in live-action films, and in most licensed merchandising, the boundary between both sides of Harvey’s face has been depicted as a perfectly straight line. This runs contrary to the kind damage that logically would have been caused by an arbitrary splash of corrosive liquid.

Additionally, I fail to see the logic behind the solid green (or sometimes purple) coloring to this acid burn facial damage (as traditionally presented in the comics).

Then there is the matter of hairstyle: Some artists have presented Two-Face with a wild, matted, ruffled, stringy (sometimes strangely-colored) hairstyle along the disfigured side of his head while appearing neatly combed on the opposite side. Other artists have gruesomely depicted all of the hair burned off on the disfigured side of his head, revealing twisted scar tissue along half of his cranium.

While there is certainly validity to either approach, neither one appealed to me.

My preference was for Two-Face to have a reasonably uniform hair style… dark brown on his pristine side, with maybe some prominent streaks of grey running through the scarred side.
Tim121RVC -
Friday, October 7, 2011
Automatauntaun -
Saturday, October 1, 2011
I love your detail! I think your work is awesome. I wait patiently for you to exaust the 70's gallery so you may tackel hush , black mask and bane. Three I am building parts for.
darklord1967 -
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Thanks buddy. In the coming days we will be exploring my take on Gotham City's tragic District Attorney Harvey Dent, aka the nefarious psychotic TWO-FACE...
Incom -
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Wow, I am in awe.... again, Roberto! The final pics are so great, showing the materials you used in the final stages.

I've thought about using my airbrush to paint the basic tones on my figures. And I probably will too. Such a great tool.

So, what's next on your list?
darklord1967 -
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Thanks pal!

To anyone who is interested, you can check out the finished figure in the gallery:

http://www.figurerealm.com/customfigure ... w&id=33236

Cosmic Fantasy Customs -
Saturday, October 1, 2011
man this is so awesome, really love your tutorial/work. you are really inspiring with your knowledge and awesomeness. I really have to agree with you about the belt and other accessories, I tend to sculpt my stuff. but your methods are really professional looking and great insights to other ideas. can't wait for more.
darklord1967 -
Saturday, October 1, 2011
The typical approach for creating belts in this scale (by both toy manufacturers and seasoned action figure customizers), is to merely paint them on the figure. I, however, find that approach less elegant and less interesting than creating an actual belt as a separate garment. I believe this adds detail and richness to the custom figure. I knew I would approach The Riddler no differently.

Using a reproduction MEGO Batman utility belt, I sliced away the rectangular belt buckle border and painted it gloss black.







I color-matched some purple satin ribbon to the shade of purple of The Riddler’s face mask and gauntlets.



I attached the black painted belt buckle to a section of the purple ribbon, and then dressed the custom figure with the finished garment.





darklord1967 -
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Oodles and oodles of question marks

Obviously, The Riddler’s myriad of question mark insignias are what give his zany costume all of it’s character.

Virtually ALL action figure versions of The Riddler create these markings with paint masks and factory spray applications.

I had a different idea.

It always seemed to me that The Riddler’s costume markings were probably applications attached to his tights rather than merely silk-screened or printed graphics. Consequently, I felt that they should be somewhat raised on the surface of the tights. This would also have the benefit of adding more surface detail to the overly-plainly detailed base figure.

To accomplish this, I turned to some very nice black vinyl question mark peel and stick stickers that I purchased (on a whim) from a craft store 10 years ago and saved! They really came in handy here!

With the main painted figure re-assembled, I started the slow (but fun) task of applying the question mark insignias one by one throughout the entire costume.










darklord1967 -
Saturday, October 1, 2011
With the new raised scoop neck in place, and the exposed neck properly masked off, I loaded my airbrush with a nice mixture of Citadel Scorpion Green paint, and got to work. Laying down layer after layer, I used a razor blade to gently scrape away any stray hairs and pieces of residue that appeared on my paint-work as it flash dried. This is the stage that I believe makes the all the difference between a factory-looking paint job, and a sloppy amateurish-looking one.












With the base body painted, I carefully painted the exposed neck scoop area in flesh tone.

darklord1967 -
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Once I was satisfied with the body’s state of prep, I next dealt with adding minor surface detailing that DC Direct skimped on with this action figure… most notably, the raised edge of the costume’s scoop neck collar. Even the Mattel DC Universe Classics Riddler figure resorted to simple paint (and no raised detail) to indicate the scoop neck collar. Lame.

Using micro-thin hobby styrene strips, I followed the original collar edge paint indication and laid down a new raised edge detail. To my eye, it is the addition of details like this that move this sculpt away from the animated style and bring it closer to the comic book style.









darklord1967 -
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Prepping a Prince Of Puzzlers for Paint

I decided pretty early on that I wanted the costume on my custom Riddler action figure to be colored in a more vibrant green than initially provided by either DC Direct or Mattel’s DC Universe Classics.

Naturally, that meant a tediously extensive process of prepping the figure for full re-paint. The arms and gauntlets were dismantled off of the figure for clean prep and separate paint treatment. I wet sanded the action figure (with 240 grit sand paper and 91% isopropyl alcohol to simultaneously strip the factory paint and prep the surface for repaint. The procedure was slow and deliberate, requiring 2 full days of sanding by hand. Use of laquer thinner or “Goof-Off” remover is typically NOT a paint-stripping option for me when action figure customizing since I am VERY allergic to the fumes, and both products tend to actually melt any plastic they come into contact with.



darklord1967 -
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Thanks for the very nice words guys. And my apologies for the delay on The Riddler.

Let us now resume our look into his creation...
Tim121RVC -
Monday, September 26, 2011
This is great stuff and some fantastic tutorials as well! Thanks, man!
Bloodywolf -
Sunday, September 25, 2011
This is a very cool series so far. Can't wait to see more
Incom -
Sunday, September 18, 2011
This is such an impressive project, Roberto. The incredibly detailed pictures of your work are a pleasure to look at. The things you think of to achieve a set goal are very inspiring.

Hard to pick a favourite, I love 'em all so far! But then again, that's the idea right? They're all connected to each other and by that they do form a unit of some sort.

Great work my friend!
barefootabe -
Thursday, September 15, 2011
I love this thread keep up the good work!
Cosmic Fantasy Customs -
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
your work is so totally awesome and so super helpful. love your riddler it is looking great and have used some of those techniques and magnets also. just keep up your excellent skills and tutorials.
PJcustoms -
Monday, September 12, 2011
this is really really cool man - KEEP IT UP !!!
Darththomas -
Monday, September 12, 2011
Dude, this is pure customizing gold, you show so many great techniques that are super useful to noobs and veterans alike, keep up the awesome work mate!!
Automatauntaun -
Sunday, September 11, 2011
love it keep it coming!
pock63 -
Sunday, September 11, 2011
This is looking great so far!!! I like how you red did the gloves and hair line.
darklord1967 -
Sunday, September 11, 2011






darklord1967 -
Sunday, September 11, 2011
"Head Case! Dr. Darklord, please report to surgery, stat!"

I loved the DCUC Riddler head sculpt, but I was a bit dissatisfied with the rear neck hair line. It looked to me that the hair line had an abruptly short cut-off, with a very un-natural, blunt looking shape. The figure’s internal head / neck ball articulation pin was even partially exposed because of this problem. I felt that I was going to have to extend the rear hair line lower and shape it into a contour that made sense.



In order to accomplish this hair line extension, I retrieved a DC Direct Deadman head sculpt from my parts bin, and carefully sliced out a section of his rear hair line. I attached this new appliance to the rear of The Riddler head sculpt and shaped its contour with a razor blade. Using white squadron putty, I filled the seam between the two parts, and sculpted new waves of hair to blend seamlessly with the existing sculpt.





darklord1967 -
Sunday, September 11, 2011
The next thing that needed to go was the silly-looking yellow belt buckle. I razor-cut it off and sand papered the waist band smooth.








darklord1967 -
Sunday, September 11, 2011


darklord1967 -
Sunday, September 11, 2011
The next order of business was to adapt the “hybrid” custom gauntlets that I created to have the articulation pin that would allow them to swivel. I accomplished this by drilling a large cavity directly into the cuff of each gauntlet.






I then cut a section of the “Detective” Riddler’s gauntlet that included the swivel pin and very carefully shaped it into a makeshift “cork” that would fit into the cavity of my new gauntlets.



darklord1967 -
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Using my Dremel rotary tool, I shaped the severed arm stump socket into a “plug” that would fit neatly and tightly into the cavity that I drilled in the custom figure’s forearm.





With the new swivel socket plug glued permanently in place, I worked the edges a bit with sandpaper to shape its contour cleanly to match the circumference shape of the custom figure’s forearm.



darklord1967 -
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Once I was satisfied with the new slimmer and smaller gauntlets for The Riddler, I set about the task of converting them to swivel articulation.

In the past whenever I have tried to add articulation where it did not previously exist, I have generally disliked attempting to engineer working articulation from scratch since the moving parts tend not to have a nice tight factory fit that allows for SMOOTH swivel/pivot/roll/ etc. I decided to kit-bash the swivel wrist articulation parts from an action figure that already contained them to avoid this problem.

The DC Direct “Detective Comics” Riddler figure came in very handy here. That figure was equipped with a nice, tight, simple, swivel gauntlet articulation, with a very effective pin and socket configuration.




I cut both (inarticulate) “hybrid” gauntlets off of the custom figure’s arms and amused myself when I compared their sleek size and shape to the virtual baseball mitts from the DC Direct “Detective” Riddler figure.




To begin my articulation kit-bash, I Dremelled an open cavity into each forearm stump of my custom figure.





Then, using the “Detective” Riddler figure, I cut away a section of his arm stump containing the socket for his gauntlet articulation.

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