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Since I know some of you are picking up the second release of the HT ESB Vader (which may or may not be changed in some detail or other from the first release), I thought I'd share some information on some easy and recent mods.

I have not been willing to take a plunge and pay for a full Hot Toys Vader set after getting my Sideshow "second" Vader quite a few years ago. But I have bought many loose parts and reconstituted largely HT-based ANH/RO and ESB Vaders. With their tendency to lose balance and fall flat on their faces, damaging the tiny tusks (and some of the latter becoming irretrievably lost), I ended up with more than one head, and so have felt even more comfortable to make modifications to these expensive pieces.

Something I did to both the ANH/RO and ESB heads is line the inside of the lenses with bare metal foil, so that you can catch a little glimmer of red in the "eyes" (HT made them translucent, but it doesn't really show on the figure). The other thing I did is to alter the position of the helmet over the masked head -- the very first ANH release and at least the first ESB release have it wrong. In both instances, it sat too high, and in the second (ESB) instance, it was also meeting the face at a wrong angle (essentially, it was sitting too low and too far back to be screen accurate). Just remember that if you try to emulate this, proceed carefully and at your own risk!

Anyway, without further ado:

1a-c. The Hot Toys ESB Vader head has a good sculpt, but especially when looked at from the front can look off and outright disturbing. The problem is that the helmet proper sits too far back and too far up, meeting the "face" at the wrong angle and exposing the "eyebrows" over the lenses far too much. The front rim of the helmet should hang lower and farther forward over the "nose."

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2a-c. The helmet proper is designed to be removable, as it snaps onto the top portion of the mask assembly.

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3a-c. The top part of the mask assembly is glued only at its front, and with a little bit of pressure can be made to snap off. After this you can basically snap it in and out of place as you see fit.

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4a-c. The front part of the mask, fitting over the face, is also a separate piece, which is glued to the bottom only at the lower edge. With some gentle pressure you can carefully make it snap off without breaking it (I didn't know this the first time I was modifying this head a couple of years ago and went another way, but this is a much better approach).

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5a-c. The partial head sculpt is also removable, although that is not something you have to do to modify the lenses. I only show this here for completeness.

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6a-c. Getting back to the facial part of the mask. The lenses are delightfully translucent, but you can only appreciate that if you handle the piece separately and look through them at a light source -- here I used a flash light to illustrate (6a). Then I cut a small rectangular piece of Bare-Metal chrome foil, enough to cover the inside of the lenses (6b). You apply the adhesive side to the inside of the lenses, then rub over it with a q-tip. This ensures perfect adhesion and removes any tiny folds or creases. With the foil lining the inside of the lenses, you can see a glimmer of red looking at them from the outside, provided they are hit by sufficient light (6c).

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7a-d. Compare the before and after look, without (7a-b) and with (7c-d) the helmet. Note that without direct light on the lenses, they would look just black.

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8a-d. I've been saving empty Oscillococcinum containers from whenever I've been sick, intending to use them for 1:6 kitbashing. While I imagined them serving as termuses or other types of vessels, the caps prove a good fit into the pre-existing hole at the very top of the head (8a). I lined the exposed part of the head around the cap with some plastic from a ziplock bag (8b). I began to construct a makeshift structure out of Kneadatite (the blue and yellow green stuff) by winding "snakes" round the cap and atop the plastic cover (8c). The plastic cover is so that the "structure" would not stick to the head itself and would remain removable. All told, I needed the "structure" to lift the helmet up at the back while keeping low in the front, and to push it towards the front. I also provided a makeshift protrusion to fit into the hole of the helmet (8d). Yes, I know what it looks like, and if you comment on that, it would be bad karma (so don't). Smile

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9a-c. With the structure still soft and malleable, I experimented with the helmeted look, adding material until satisfied with the way it sat. Then I let it cure. Here is the before (9a and 9c) and after (9b and 9d) comparison. Perhaps the difference looks cosmetic to most, but here's a Vader look I can appreciate without misgivings.

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10a-b. Checking out the overall effect of the modified head on the body.

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11a-c. Note that you can still see the "eyebrows," but only (and correctly) when lit from a lower angle (11c).

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12a-b. Comparison of the before and after versions with a screenshot from The Empire Strikes Back. I think the helmet works much more accurately; I was not able to reproduce the lighting precisely -- otherwise you would be able to see the "eyebrows" (as above).

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13. Just a comparison of my ANH/RO and ESB/ROTJ modified Vaders.

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14. Another of the same.

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15. Another of the same with a reconstituted HT ROTJ Luke.

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Even if these modifications weren't particularly difficult, one should probably not have to go through so much trouble to improve sets as expensive as this. But the good news is that one can improve the slight imperfections.

I hope this has been useful. What do you think?

#starwars #hottoys #darthvader #custom #mod #kitbash #scifi #male
Search in: General Talk  Topic: STAR WARS New customizing Hot Toys ESB Vader head  Replies: 20  Views: 125

Converting Jason Momoa HT Aquaman Head - Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:17 am

Like so many of us, I wasn't completely satisfied with Hot Toys' Aquaman head sculpt in terms of both likeness and molded hair sculpt (which is very nice in and of itself, but hair this long should not be sculpted for various reasons). So I decided to modify it with a re-hairing and partial repaint. Here is a little summary of the progression of the project.

Although Hot Toys made the questionable decision to go with sculpted hair, it tried to improve its appearance by installing it in layers, which helps customization by easing removal and allowing for a more or less complete fully-realized head beneath. I began by carefully tugging on the soft plastic hair of the original head sculpt (1). In this instance it is composed of four different pieces glued to the head proper and to each other. Luckily, they weren't glued very strongly, and with just a little bit of persistence and repetition, I was able to begin pulling off the largest, enveloping exterior hair piece (2).

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This left the pieces hanging over the sides and back of the neck (3a-3b). They were removed the same way.

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Removing the pieces hanging over the side (4) and the back leave us with a bald head (except for a bit of the hairline over the forehead, which I decided to keep) which features some useful goorves carved into it (5a-5b). The reason these are useful is that without them you would end up with an even fuller, puffier hair after you glue it onto the head, and they help diminish this problem a little bit.

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Next I used three different colors of hair to glue onto the bald head in tiers -- starting with a line just above the neckline running around the back of the head and moving upwards. When this step was completed, the look was a dramatic mess (6). After the glue had cured, I weeded off loose strands and rinsed the hair to make it fall a little more naturally, and painted some highlights and color variations (to match the hair) onto the molded beard, mustache, and forelock, as well as over those parts of the hair where the glue was visible; I also tried to lighten some of the painted stubble on the head (where the mustache and beard part going upwards along the jawline) to increase the likeness to Jason Momoa (7).

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Finally, I cut down the hair to the correct length (with locks reaching as far down as about the armpit) and treated it with a mixture of water and shampoo+conditioner that I did not rinse off, to give it a more natural fit (8a-8b). And with that my modifications are complete.

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Here are three views of the resulting appearance.

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And here are some more close-up ones.

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Here is a comparison between the HT set (Aquaman from Justice League) and the same with the modified head. I should point out that I was modifying the head on principle, not specifically for this figure set or look. I am also aware that the screen look has much more emphatically bleached locks towards the lower reaches of the hair, but I wanted a slightly more organic and subdued look.

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I think it turned out ok, and I hope you liked it or found it interesting. What do you think?

#jasonmomoa #hottoys #aquaman #custom #kitbash #mod #hair #head #headsculpt #superhero #scifi #fiction #film #movie #actor #male
Search in: General Talk  Topic: Converting Jason Momoa HT Aquaman Head  Replies: 47  Views: 1569

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