The Custom Answer Man - Column 1
Questions:Q. How do I make molds/Casts of hollow body parts (such as Torsos)?
A. This was actually a question I posed not too long ago to someone from the Mego mailing list. Don C. (aka "ctc") replied, (I paraphrase here), You can make a mold of a torso piece as solid (i.e., fill the arms sockets and neck socket with putty, and then make the mold) in the same manner that I make molds of heads in Bondo. When you remove your cast of the solid torso (or pelvis etc...) it can be hollowed out using a drill and a dremel. Another option is to use an X-Acto blade to separate the two halves of the torso, and make separate molds of them. The cast pieces can then be glued back together. I do not recommend this however, since very few glues can withstand the force of the elastic that pulls the arms into their sockets, and this will most likely cause the torso halves to separate.
Q. I've noticed that some Removable Mask Robin's have green sleeves, yet I thought they were supposed to have yellow sleeves. Can yellow turn to green?
A. While this is not a customizing question per se', it does raise an interesting point. It would seem to go against common sense that a primary color (yellow) could degrade to a combinatory color (green, made from yellow and blue), but what you have to understand here is that we are not dealing with natural dyes. Natural dyes are ones derived from things occurring in nature such as blackberries or tree sap extract etc... Chemical dyes can, and sometimes do, degrade to a color which would normally not be used in their composition. This is a result of the chemical breakdown. For instance... I've had red shirts which have turned purple when they got wet the first time. Now normally, textile manufacturers won't typically use a chemically unstable dye, however, as we all know, Mego was renowned for it's cheapness. If you take a look at some examples of Ming the Merciless, some will have green sleeves instead of yellow, but when you look at the inside near the seam, the fabric is yellow and mottled green. While this may mean that the sleeves were originally green and the green dye simply bled out there, it should at least have left a green stain near the shoulder.
What most likely happened with RM Robin is that they sent the Mego worker in Hong Kong out to the fabric district to quickly pick up the closest fabric he/she could find. He found the yellow stuff on accident and the rest is history. When they realized their mistake, they probably went back out and bought the correct shade, which is why some RM robins have the proper color scheme and some don't. Of course this story could be in the opposite order as well, they did the green ones first, ran out, then sent the runner to the market and he got the yellow. What I am trying to say is there is little evidence that Robin's sleeves have undergone the same process as Ming the Merciless's.
This would seem to be borne out by the fact that there are pristine examples of yellow sleeves even today, leading one to think that perhaps they were from the same bolt of cloth as Iron man's suit.
Q. [Is there] a way to mend soft rubbery vinyl together without using a hot knife? Thanks, Mike.
A. At the hardware store, in the glue aisle, you should be able to find a variety of products for vinyl repair. For everything from upholstery to beach balls, in a wide array of colors. Simply ask the clerk to direct you.
Q. How do you make removable latex masks for figures?
A. First you need a master of the head you want to make a mask of. Say you wanted to make a mask of Michael Myers from "Halloween." As we all know, his head was modeled after William Shatner's, so make a two part mold of a Kirk head in bondo using my article on "Customizing Namor" as a guide.
Next cover the inside of the mold with talcum powder lightly. You will need balloon (casting) casting latex (rubber) for this. It is a very liquid rubber before it sets. If you can't get this, "liquitex mold-building" rubber works O.K. Spoon the latex into the mold until it is filled, making sure no air bubbles have formed (construct a "poor man's rotocaster" to fix this problem, described in my article on "making custom hands."). Allow the latex near the sides of the mold to set a bit (about twenty minutes, and then poor the excess out of the mold into the garbage. The inside walls of your mold should now be coated with a good coat of latex.
If your rubber is too thick to spoon into the mold, separate the mold halves, and paint the rubber onto the mold halves, and then secure them back together. When this is done, use the paint brush to add a little more latex to the inside walls along the mold seam.
Now let your latex cast dry inside the mold for at least 24 hours. When it looks dry on the inside, sprinkle some talcum powder into the mold hole (the inside of the mask, to keep it from sticking to itself). Now dry it out thoroughly by running a hair dryer on low into the mold hole on and off for about 10-15 minutes. Now CAREFULLY pull the mold halve apart, teasing the cast of the head away from the mold walls carefully with a tweezers (forceps). Dust the outside of the mask with talcum powder as you expose by pulling it away from the interior mold walls. When it is completely removed, you may blow off the excess talcum powder. Allow this to dry another 16 hours before tying to play with it.
If you need to, place a small slit in the back of the head so that the mask can be easily removed from the head you want to put it over.. The mask can now be painted using acrylic paints. This technique will also work something like a removable latex mask for Spider-man. The latex can be pre-colored using some artist's acrylic paints (not modeling acrylic).
Q. I saw your custom figures and articles at the Mego museum and figured that you'd be the authority on Mego customs. I was wondering if you could answer some questions for me.
Lycra is a polyester, so dye tends to not work as well on it as some might like, but I and others have had some success with Rit dye, yes.
2) What type of paint do you use to paint the fabric?
I tend to use broad and fine point fabric markers. I rarely paint the fabric, and if then, I use a very watered down solution of fabric paint (buy the kind that is applied with brushes from your local fabric store).
3) Is there a cheap way to do silk screening or paint logos such as Superman onto Lycra?
I tend to use stickers printed on really nice graphics stock. Or I laminate the image on plastic and then glue that to the front of the fabric. I don't believe I have ever painted on a logo.
Q. Matt, I am fairly new to the mego list. Do you have a pattern for making custom suits?
Go to the Customego section of the Megomuseum and download the standard patterns which are compressed as a zipped file. It should be near the bottom of the customego page. Follow my directions from several articles on how to sew them. As for Moon Knight, when you get the patterns, write me back, and I'll tell you how to alter them so as to make it more appropriate to Moon Knight.
Q. I am trying to make a Moonknight custom. Also working on the 4 Musketeers from the Man in the Iron Mask--
This is easier than you think. I started making a musketeer by first sewing a black bodysuit, then I made the fluer-de-lis tunic out of blue velvet and basically just glued gold fleur-de-lis on it. I still need to get my hands on a pirate hat for Paul Clarke to repro for me... but they are do-able.
Q. I got a bunch of heads recently and among them is a no mask Robin except it's also a no-eyes, no-eybrows Robin. While this is pretty strong evidence, is there any way to tell if if was originally a mask or not?
Yes, there is. No one would be stupid enough to ever acetone off the eyes of a removable mask Robin. It was PM always.
(also, in a less sarcastic vein-- look for paint residue where the mask would be. Use a magnifying lens. I'm sure they didn't get it all.)