Customizer of the Month – September 2015 – Grimjohn

After a long hiatus, Customizer of the Month has returned.  For September 2015 we check-in with Grimjohn……..



Name: John Kleinhelter – aka Grimjohn

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

Married, Cindy and I are going on 10 years. Two grown step children. One dog, Butters a toy/mini poodle, and one cat, Zarana, an orange tiger tabi.

By day, I am a simple, ordinary shipping clerk but, at night…and on weekends…I am either a Padawan customizer or a heroic adventurer in Star Wars The Old Republic or EverQuest .

Born in Detroit, Michigan and pretty much never left the greater Detroit metropolitan area. Currently reside in Plymouth, one of Detroit’s western suburb communities.

In addition to my passion for all things Mego, I also enjoy comic books, movies, television, MMO gaming (my “Grimjohn” handle on the Forums is derived from the main characters I create and play as in these games (I am currently playing Star Wars The Old Republic, I have multiple EverQuest accounts that I revisit at least once a year and I really miss City of Heroes)), Lego, writing, reading, drawing, photography, and stop motion animation.

How did you get started collecting mego?

Initially, I was hooked by the WGSH line as a child and had an impressive collection of Mego and Big Jim but, tragedy in the form of a major basement flood, struck in 1981. All of it was thrown away while I was at school, my parents indifferent to the value I held in it all, just wanted to clean up the mess. The combination of Robot Chicken and eBay rekindled the spark of my Mego passion and so I began to rebuild my collection. Now, with the Retro/Re-Mego phenomenon, collectors like myself get to enjoy a cornucopia of Megoey goodness! It’s a fantastic time to be a Mego collector!

What is your favorite original Mego figure and line?

Hands down WGSH was my favorite line with Captain America being my absolute favorite figure.

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)

More Marvel villains, at the very least Doctor Doom and Red Skull could have joined Green Goblin and Lizard. Flash and Green Lantern were glaring holes on the DC side of the line.

Was it one of these holes that motivated you to start customizing, or something else?

It was a combination of the holes in the original line(s), inspiration from seeing Mego customs online and in Robot Chicken, and a desire to challenge myself to see what figures I could actually make.

How do you think customizing affects the Mego collecting hobby?

I think it definitely benefits from customizing. I would imagine that from a product development standpoint manufacturers can get a better feel for which lines or character licenses will generate the most demand. And, I believe customizers help boost sales because I believe customizers tend to purchase multiple quantities of figures. I know that as a collector AND a customizer I often purchase multiple figures, one to add to my collection and the others are for kitbashing/customizing.

What was your first custom – and provide a pic if you have one

Indiana Jones



Looking back, would you do anything differently now?

I think that for my first shot at customizing he is fairly decent, overall. The only thing I would really do differently is in the way I painted the head. The colors of paint I had when I built him weren’t quite the exact colors I was going for. I didn’t paint his eyes correctly, and I didn’t give him a five o’clock shadow. Oh, and I would order a brown satchel from Doc for Indy.

How long have you been customizing, and what have you done/learned that has improved your customizing skills?

I dabbled very briefly in 2011 but, I really got into it Memorial weekend of 2014. My dabbling in 2011 consisted only of sewing a bodysuit and a leather trench coat, and painting a few of the resin heads I had picked up off eBay back then. Since jumping in with both feet last year I have learned how to make molds and resin casts, how to shrink 12” heads to Mego size, how to fabricate pieces from Magic Sculpt, how to flock heads and other things, how to dry brush paint, how to dye fabric or existing clothing articles, how to assemble boxes and inserts and I have improved my sewing techniques.

What resources make it easier for you as a customizer? The recent explosion of offerings by Cast-A-Way, EMCE, FTC, ZICA etc. have given customizers more options than ever. Do you have any favorite go-to pieces – a particular body, accessory, etc – that you use on a regular basis?

Doc and CTVT/FTC are my primary go-to’s for parts and pieces. ZICA/8 Inch Super Store is my secondary resource. The bodies I use on a custom first depend upon whether or not the majority of the clothes came from CTVT/FTC, if they do then I will use one of their Chinese made bodies. If I am using clothes or bodysuits that I sewed myself or clothes/bodysuits I picked up from Doc or 8 Inch Super Store, I will use either one of Doc’s bodies or Zica’s Type-S or Yvonne.

Do you have a favorite custom you’ve done and do you think it’s your best work? If not, what do you think is your best work? (if you have pics of these customs, that would be great!)

My favorite that I have done so far is my Danny Ketch Ghost Rider…



…but, I do not consider him my best work.

For my single best work, I would have to say that my Red Skull is my best work to date.

gjohnskull gjohnskull2

He was one of my labors of love last fall and best illustrates the progress I made with my painting techniques and sewing skills.

I can’t argue that Red Skull is your best, but my favorite so far is your Black Dynamite pair, especially the one I happen to own as a result of the Mego Meet 2015 auction………




Why do you choose the projects you choose, and what is on your “to do” list in the near future?

My decision process in choosing a project begins with my fondness for the character and a strong desire to have that character in my collection. Then I look at how readily available the parts and pieces I will need are. Which leads me to looking into the fabrication of the parts and pieces that aren’t readily available.

I have quite a few projects nearing completion in the coming weeks and months leading up to the holidays. To name a few…I have a couple of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero characters coming up. I have Wildfire from Legion of Super Heroes in progress. I will be making Santa Claus to add to the Christmas diorama I built last year. And, I will be adding two more characters to the Heroes line I started last year…just in time for the Heroes Reborn premiere.

gjohnjoker  gjohnFive



Any tips or words of customizing advice to new customizers?

First and foremost have fun!

Stay true to your artistic vision of your project. Art is subjective, period, and while everybody may not get what you create, take pride in knowing you brought your vision to reality and created something truly unique.

Take your time, be patient. Some projects will be a snap to put together and others will be a challenge that require careful planning and more labor to bring them to fruition.

And, finally, feel free to ask the customizing community for help or advice, we are a friendly and helpful bunch with enough collective knowledge to answer just about anything.

What do your family/friends think of your Mego custom work/hobby?

My wife, Cindy, loves my work and has supported my efforts by learning how to sew bodysuits and other clothes pieces for me. The rest of my family is amazed by my work and have expressed their praise and encouragement.

My friends think its pretty cool. After receiving the Captain Morgan Fett custom that my friend Matt commissioned me to make he proceeded to commission me to make two completely different figures for him to give to his dad for Christmas.

Last but not least – do you make your customs for sale to the general public?

While the majority of the customs I make are for my personal collection, I am open to negotiation on selling some of my originals. Although, I would prefer to take commissions to reproduce my customs for buyers.


gjohnstrange gjohnconstantine

Anyone wishing to contact me to negotiate the purchase of an original or commission a reproduction can contact me at:

More of my custom figures can be viewed here:

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us John!


Editor’s Note:  Shortly after submitting this interview, John began dabbling in dioramas.  Take a look here for his first one, and search the forums under Grimjohn to see more.