Saturday, 30 July 2011

192: U is for Unique

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

The A-to-Z of the GFFA.

Because sometimes... just sometimes... the almost infinite sprawl of Star Wars merchandising isn't *quite* enough.
Back in the days when there were less than 100 SW figures in total, some enterprising souls took it upon themselves to create 'customs'; Unique toys that they'd made themselves which could sit side by side with the official ones. Using existing SW figures (or other 3¾" scale figures, made popular by the rush on the SW ones), a handy crafter could mix, match and sculpt the plastic, apply layers of paint, and bingo: Wuher the barman or Grand Moff Tarkin are joining your regulars in the diorama you've set up.

It's important I make the distinction now between customs and bootlegs. Bootlegs are the shoddy goods that have been (mostly) half-arsedly cobbled together, to circumvent buying official licensing. Some become collectable by how laughably bad they are, but for the most part they exude the air of half-arsedness. Bootlegs, by their very nature, are a product of greed. Customs on the other hand, come from a place of love and respect. The idea with a custom is to complement and enhance the original work, not replace it. Why would anyone spend hours of their own time, plus money on tools, source-figures and paint, just to avoid spending £6-8 on a figure? Customs are the figures that the fans would buy, if they were available.

Using the internet as an avenue of sharing their work, there are many communities of customisers now. Some customs look great, some not so great, and some look absolutely perfect. Mine? So-so. If I'd tried it back in the days when I used to paint Warhammer figures, I'm sure they'd have looked better than the ones I've made in recent years. Of course, being a designer/print-geek, I get more fun out of making the custom cards than I do the figures themselves. It's certainly an area where I can be more precise in what I want.

So without further ado, here are some of my customs:

This is probably the first custom I made, for my BFF's birthday while we were flatmates. The figure is a PotF2 Stormtrooper Luke, and the hair is plasticine and orange paint. The card is a scaled up vintage, customised to suit. Very basic, but he loves it.

Reedtrooper. Click for bigger - opens in new window.

Imperial Crix Madine
Before serving the Rebel Alliance and being instrumental in the Battle of Endor, Madine was an Imperial officer. This is pretty much a straight head-swap (the easiest type of custom). The body is a PotF2 Tarkin, the head is a Saga Madine. Boil the figures to make the plastic soft, then pop the heads out with a pair of tongs. Sorted.
The card-style is a one I created based on a mashup between the PotF2 line, and a Dark Forces theme, as that's where we're introduced to Madine as an Imperial. I'm quite happy with this one.

Imperial Crix Madine. Click for bigger - opens in new window.

Jaden Korr
A student of Kyle Katarn at Luke's Jedi Praxeum on Yavin IV, Jaden was introduced in the game Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. There are several levels set on Echo Base, Hoth, where Jaden is wearing an approximation of Luke Skywalker's Hoth gear from tESB. The character in the game was species (and sex)-selectable. Two of the available options were Rodian and Kel-Dor, so that's what I chose to make these two. The body was PotF2 Hoth Luke, the heads and hands were PotF2 Greedo and AotC-Arena Plo Koon. Limitations of the figures meant that the heads had to be glued in place, but that's no biggie for me.
Again, the card is a customised PotF2 theme, with the back panel showing other (actually existing) figures that would be promoted in Hoth wave.

Jaden Korr. Click for bigger - opens in new window.

Yun (The Dark Youth)
Yeah, my custom figures are mainly game-based. Unlike some comics, you get a decent all-round view of the character so you can source the source-fodder more easily. Yun was a dark Jedi (not a Sith) who appeared in the first Jedi Knight game.
The head was from a PotJ Bespin Guard, the body from a PotF2 Jedi Luke, and the loincloth from AotC-Arena Eeth Koth. If I did this again, I'd probably use a more action-posed body, but I'm generally happy with it.
The card is based on The 30th Anniversary Collection waves from 2007.

Yun. Click for bigger - opens in new window.

Top Trumps: Expanded Universe
This is the piece de resistance, to me. There are several sets of Star Wars Top Trumps available, but my favourite two are 2004's Original Trilogy set and 2005's Prequel Trilogy set, purely because they both use the same sets of stats. Because of this, you can put the decks together and play with a set of 60 cards instead of 30, spanning all six Star Wars films. What could be better?
Hmm, well how about an extra 30 cards, using the same stats and scope, covering the Star Wars games, comics and novels? Yes, that'd be lovely, thanks.

Expanded Universe Top Trumps. Click for bigger - opens in new window.

The cards are balanced, so that characters who score highly in one section also score low in others, with a mix of male, female, human, alien, droid, goodie, baddie etc. You can play the deck on its own, or as part of a Mega-Trumps 90 card game. Printed onto card stock to match the existing sets, corners rounded, and the card backs are printed uniformly so there are no 'marked' cards.

Expanded Universe Top Trumps. Click for bigger - opens in new window.

At present, only two sets of these exist, gold-foil pesonalised for myself and my nephew, but you can have one, too. The whole set is contained in a PDF file, ready for printing onto card. There's even a sheet of printer-friendly cardbacks if the main one's too "inky" for you. That's how considerate I am.

Please read the disclaimer in the PDF. This set is a custom, not a bootleg, and NO copyright over the format or content is either claimed on implied by me. This is an addition to your Top Trumps, not a replacement. Winning Moves and Lucasfilm deserve your money, go buy some Top Trumps, okay?

2.32mb Click to Download.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• Photos and videos appearing in this blog post are for informational and reference purposes only, and no ownership of copyright is claimed or implied by me. The intellectual and physical copyright of such material belongs to its creators and owners.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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