Hello all! Just popping into the Realm to show off my very latest creation. Yeah, I'm supposed to be working on Kraid, but I got a brain-worm idea that just wouldn't go away, so I spent the last week and a half putting it together. However, I'm overjoyed with the results, and I hope you will be too (my lousy photography notwithstanding). So, please give a big hand to my newest entry, Original Comicbook Shredder!
A few years back, NECA got itself a license to produce Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures, specifically designed off of their original comic appearances. The plan was to release several waves. There were the four turtles themselves, of course. Second wave was supposed to be April O'Neil (in lab tech suit, as per her first appearance), Shredder, a Foot Clan ninja, and a Foot Mystic. These would presumably be followed (we fans hoped) by other major characters like Splinter, Casey Jones, Baxter Stockman, Leatherhead, Fugitoid, Plain Clothes April, maybe a Triceraton or an Utrom in Cybersuit, the possibilities were endless. Sadly, Wave 2 never saw the light of day. April was released as a convention figure and saw limited release elsewhere, and the only other piece we got was a SDCC exclusive pack of Mousers. The awesome prototypes we saw of Shredder and his henchmen have, it seems, been lost to the annals of toy history.
However, as I was online last week, looking at photos of the Shredder for the millionth time, a voice in the back of my head suddenly piped up and said, "Hey . . . if they're not doing it, YOU could!" And just like that, my quest began.
The goal was simple: make a First Appearance Shredder as close to identical to the NECA prototype as humanly possible with the materials and fodder you have available. I started with a Marvel Legends Magneto (which is itself just a mod of the original Marvel Legends Iron Man, but whatever). I removed the head, cape, and belt, and sanded off the belt "buckle" that was a remnant of the Iron Man mold. I carved down the leg muscles to make them a bit more slender, and pulled off the arms to get rid of the large shoulder "cuffs" that ToyBiz never bothered to remove when they converted Stark into Magnus. I shaved down the elbows (Mags/I'm had REALLY fat arms!) and carved deeper grooves into Magnetos gauntlets and boots. This was necessary to achieve the "wrist/foot-wrap" appearance of the Shredder figure. I swapped Magneto's flat hands for a more fist-capable set of hands from an original Marvel Legends Wolverine. I cut through the torso of the figure to add an extra quarter inch of height (depending on your source, Shredder is up to 6'6", and the turtles are just 5' or so, Shredder had to be REALLY tall next to them). I fashioned the "skirt" out of several pieces of random soft rubber action figure capes, choosing specific pieces that would look similar to the NECA version while allowing full range of movement and still looking fairly natural as well. Finally, I replaced the original head with an X-23 head and neck, because the NECA figure had a longer, more slender neck than Magneto.
Next up was sculpting. I started from the feet and worked my way up. I used my Dremel to cut tiny grooves in his feet, then used thin strips of Loctite Epoxy Putty for the calf wraps. I sculpted the baggy pants above his boots, smoothed the thighs, filled in the hinge holes, and cut tiny wrinkles around his knee joints. Strips of putty for the belt and wrist wraps, then smooth the arms and fill in the elbow holes. The head required a lot of work to get it as smooth and symmetrical as humanly possible. No, the helmet does not come off. Finally, the shirt . . . every wrinkle had to be sculpted one at a time, by hand, to get just the right look.
The armor plates were sculpted on the body, and all the little nicks and slashes were added with the Dremel after the putty had dried. For the shoulder pads, I drilled tiny holes into the disk part of the shoulder ball joints, and glued tiny plastic posts into the holes, which I then attached the shoulder pads to. This allows for almost full range of movement, and lets the pads move with the figure's arms, rather than staying attached to the torso and impeding poseability. Then, using several strips of plastic that used to be belts from dollar store figures, I cut and ground each and every one of Shredder's 32 armor spikes (the hand blades came from an existing Shredder toy) until I had them perfect. They aren't just glued on the surface either, they're actually inset into the armor plates, which reinforces them extremely well. Shredder fell off a table the day after I finished him. Didn't lose a single blade.
I actually painted this figure as I went. I'd sculpt a limb, I'd paint it, I'd seal the joints with Krazy Glue, I'd let it dry, I'd make sure it worked perfectly and didn't wear, I'd move on to the next limb. There were days I spent 5+ hours on one limb just to make sure it was absolutely perfect, exactly as I wanted it. It was aggravating at times, painting all the little black "comicbook ink" lines, but I think the results were well worth it.
NECA Shredder was not displayed with any weapons, but the character is known to use various weapons at times, particularly katanas. I dug up a handful of leftover TMNT weapons, which I also painted to match the comicbook art style. The katar-like knuckle weapon seemed like something Shredder would use, and the golden Sword of Tengu was a major plot device from the 2003 TMNT animated series.
Last but not least, I made a display base similar to the ones the other NECA turtles came with. I decided to go with a grittier, damaged base instead of the clean, uniform sidewalks the turtles have because, hey, Shredder's a bad guy! He should be hanging out in bad neighborhoods! I used the floor from the original Marvel Legends Punisher figure's display base. I carved off all the guns and most of the bullets. I smoothed the holes with Crayola Model Magic paper clay, but left the floor cracks and the newspaper on the floor. I extended the side of the pavement so it would be as long as the other turtle's display panels (they can interlock, after all, and I wanted mine to do so as well). I sculpted little stones and pieces of debris, I carved away the headlines on the newspaper, and I resculpted a new one (the letters are really cut into the surface), then painted the entire base to match the turtles' sidewalk.
We may never get our NECA Shredder, but now, even if we do . . . ok, yeah, I'll buy it anyway, because I'm an obsessive loon, but the point is, if we DON'T, I'm not worried. Crappy photography aside, IRL, my Shredder looks FLAWLESS next to my four turtles, and I couldn't be happier to have them facing off against each other! And though you can't really tell from these pics, he's got almost full range of motion in all limbs. The skirt is soft and very flexible, and allows him to take several low ninja stances for awesome action scenes. He's the best work I've ever done, hands down, and I encourage every other customizer here, everyone who loves the TMNT and wishes they had a Shredder to go with their NECA set, follow this recipe and you cannot go wrong!