Customizer of the Month- August 2006- Don Chisholm

Name: Don Chisholm (CTC)

CM: Any Personal Info you are willing to share: (married? Kids? Pets? Occupation? Where from? Other hobbies,/Interests?)

DC: Occupation: banker in a casino (or as I call it, inmate in the Unhappy home...) Also a reservist. My job includes "finding" things for the army, and picking on the new recruits. I used to be a driver; but after a few promotions (and an incident with a basement) I don't have to do that any more. Pets: No. Not a fan of animals. Or plants. Or people.... Other Interests: I like tanks. Nothing like starting up YOUR HOUSE and driving it over things. Hee heee...... I also have a huge collection of tabletop RPGs. And more model kits than should be allowed by law.

CM: How did you get started collecting mego?

DC: Really, I was four; they were brightly coloured. I wasn't all that interested in most of the characters even. (except the apes. I loved the movies and tv show when I was a kid.) But they were the ultimate in playable. Full articulation; good detail, and just small enough that vehicles were feasible. And since then I've felt the 8" Mego to be the ultimate toy. Except for the Micronauts. Technically they were kind of fragile, but from a design perspective they were brilliant. (Chrome, clear plastic AND bubble domes?!?!? *Homer noise here*)

CM: What is your favorite original mego figure and line?

DC: Conan. I never got one when I was a kid, but he was my FAVORITE. I was a big fan of the comic and the original novels. I probably would have stepped on my Grandma for one. (Except she would have stepped back...) I did have the apes, and they had a measure of rockitude. Beyond that it was a smattering of superheroes and such. Had I known about the knights I would have ben all over `em; but I didn't know they were made until `97 or so.

CM: What is, in your opinion, the biggest "hole" in mego's original lines. (what figure or figure line is missing that should have been done)

DC: Hmmmm..... NOT ENOUGH CONAN CHARACTERS!!!! And maybe more monsters. Like maybe some Conan monsters.... Looking at things now, there are lots of superheroes that probably should have been done. Luthor has got to be the BIGGEST omission. I mean, all they had to do was putty up the hair holes on a Thor head. Lots of people think of Green Lantern and the Flash; but I think they were b-listers during most of the Mego era. Personally I would have loved some of the more obscure Marvel and DC characters. (Like a Starfire; not the Titans character; but the swordswoman. Or an Angel O'day and Sam Simeon set. And a Space Cabby, who I really liked when I was a kid.)

CM: What motivated you to start customizing?

DC: I'd found out that there were guys who made custom figures back in `96 or so. Charlee Flatt was still doing customs for hire; and I thought it'd be cool to have a couple of my own characters made into figures. Never found Charlee; but I DID find Darrin Wiltshire, who mailed me a few articles about customizing. Shortly thereafter I got a lot of really good advice from Scott Metzger. So in a way it's THEIR fault.... I'd learned how to do moldmaking during my basic training with the army. Not that it was a part of the curriculum; but we do our training in Northern Ontario and there's not a lot to do up there. I spent a lot of time at the library... I'd make minis for my RPG games, and it wasn't too hard to adapt those techniques to Mego parts.

CM: What was your first custom (and do you have a pic)?

DC: The Post Bros were my first. "Those Annoying Post Bros" by Matt Howarth is one of the best comics ever; and I HAD to make the main characters. The actual figures aren't too bad. My sewing is a lot better, and so is my moldmaking. (There are some problems with the heads because I made really cruddy molds...) The comic is pretty cartoony, so it wasn't too tough to make my own heads.

Not too long after I made Snowbuni. She's from a comic by Jeff Wood; an actual cartoonist who's a good guy and has helped me a lot with my comics over the years. She was the first custom wherein every part of the figure is custom. (The body is entirely repro.)

CM: What have you done/learned that has improved your customizing skills?

DC: I bought a sewing machine, and a Dremel. These are a NECESSITY. I've also improved my design work, and molding. The mold making thing helps, since a lot of times you're limited not on what you can MAKE, but on what you can CAST. Learning how to do three and four part molds makes weird shapes easier to manage.

CM: What areas of customizing is your strongest points, or favorite things to do?

DC: I make terrific weapons. Probably since I grew up around weapons, and I've got a lot of training with the army. (Some of the things I teach now are small arms combat, and weapons handling.) My heads are getting better. Most of the characters I do are pretty stylized, so I haven't needed very realistic or subtle skills; but a lot of the RPG stuff I've been doing lately requires it.

CM: What resources make it easier for you as a customizer? (is there a source for parts? Information? etc... that aids you more than anything else?)

DC: Internet; especially the Mego Museum. There are a lot of folks who've done characters I've planned to and it saves me a lot of work getting a head or outfit from someone. (My professional pride precludes me from a lot of this, but there are folks who have done such fantastic stuff that I HAD to get one of theirs...)

CM: What is your favorite custom you've done and do you think it's your best work? If not, what do you think is your best work?

DC: My favorite? Supercity! I've wanted to build it since I was a little kid! Other than that; probably my orcs. I'm gonna make more in a few months. For generic troops I usually make a very basic head, run a bunch and then customize `em. Lets me build an army fairly quick. (I NEED Warhammer 40K orcs....) My BEST, sad to say, is Dr Kromedome. It turned out EXACTLY like the 12" one! *sigh*

CM: Why do you choose the projects you choose?

DC: I'd been trying to make customs since... well, almost my whole life. I wanted everything cool in the same scale, so they could fight. Me and my Grandfather had tried a few times to make molds, but it never worked too well. But now that I have the skills I've taken up the quest again. The stuff I make is whatever I think is cool. (....AND Dr. Kromedome...) So one day, Conan and Judge Dredd will team up against Darth Vader and an army of Cobra troopers.

CM: What are your favorite customs others have done and why?

DC: Captain Dunsel's Trek figures. He makes such WEIRD characters, and they turn out quite well when done. They're very Mego too... just the right amount of detail to capture the character. (...and an accurate Gorn....) Laurie H does a lot of good stuff too. Her taste in movies is pretty close to mine. Headhunter does some great stuff too! Superheroes with just enough cartoony to really keep the comic book feel of the subject matter. Black Knight does some fantastic outfits. I got a Terminator from him, and I don't even like the character!

CM: What is on your "to do" list in the near future?

DC: Wow, right now I've got a lot of half done stuff. Warduke, Dredd, Strong Guy, Violence Jack, some characters from Twisted Kaiju Theater, a few Yugi-Oh monsters, Tomland customs....

And I'm actually gonna finish the characters from my comic that I wanted in the first place! Little did I know how tough it'd be. I needed custom bodies for both of them. Rashasi is very tall, so I made a lower female leg that's about a quarter inch longer. The big boob torso was originally designed for her. Ginger is short; so I need a 7" scale body for her, but the ones currently available... well, suck! So I'm making one of my own.

CM: How do you think customizing affects the mego collecting hobby?

DC: Makes folks buy a lot of crappy condition Batmans.... I don't know if it makes a HUGE dif, but I think it keeps things going a bit. Customizers will buy lower end figures for parts, which keeps a good turnover on them. Otherwise I don't think you'd see a lot of action on anything other than pristine figs, or true rares.

CM: Any tips or words of customizing advise to new customizers?

DC: Run while you can!!!!!! Don't look back!!!!! You can't win.... the bug WILL get you! All it takes is that first one to turn out relatively okay....

CM: Do you sell custom figures or parts? If so, why?

DC: I do, mostly as a way to trade with other people who do custom parts. It's a good way to get feedback on my stuff too. Sometimes I do requests; especially if it's something I wanted for myself anyway.

CM: What does your family/friends think of your mego custom work/hobby?

DC: Well, my mom's Beanie Babies have taken over her house, and Gary (her husband) has almost as many Star Wars figures as I do; so they don't say too much. Other folks find it weird, but somewhat interesting.

CM: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Don! Here are a few more pics of some of Don's custom works and works in progress.