In my younger days, I was heavily involved in action figure customizing. Most of my focus was on Marvel comics, with a particular bent toward the more obscure corners of their well populated universe. I tackled the likes of weirdos such as Brother Voodoo, Shaman, Spirit of ’76, Wonder Man, Nighthawk, Fixer, the Son of Satan, and even Videoman. I also delved into commission work for a while. Sadly, time and interest just seemed to slip away, not to mention my preferred 5 inch Toy Biz format gave way to the Marvel Legends style.

Zartan came about ten years ago as I was thinking of customizing the comic and cartoon based GI Joe characters into the recent 5 inch Toy Biz Marvel action figure style. As you can see, the old boy is now more than a bit dusty, and the paint has some chips here and there, but I’m still kind of proud that I was able to accomplish what I’d set out to do, and created a Zartan that could stand alongside my other 5 inch Marvel figures. Hey, it could happen, right? I mean, the Marvel Joes occupied the same universe as the other Marvel published titles back in the day, right?

Ten years ago, I even had a suitably ugly early 2000′s web site with which to share my creations. It’s now vanished into the ether, but thanks to web.archive.org, I’ve dredged up the links seen above, as well as the write-up for Zartan himself:

“A departure of sorts, but still continuing the theme of comic weirdness is Zartan, from the GI Joe animated series and comic. Zartan represents the most extensive sculpting for a figure here to date. The hood, chest, shoulder and leg armor, belt and boots were all sculpted. The base is a Corsair torso and arms, Dreadknight gloves, Prowler legs and a Johnny Storm head.”

Scintillating prose, eh? Aren’t you glad I included the recipe, in case you’d like to make your own?Anyway, I can’t believe how much time I put into sculpting the details on this figure. I think if I tried something like this now, I’d probably still be working on it a year later. I have some GI Joe custom ideas brewing in my head, a bag of both vintage and modern parts collected for a rainy day, and a few bricks of Sculpey (do today’s customizers still use Sculpey?) just waiting to be shaped and molded. One of these days…

I can only imagine revisiting Joe A Day in ten years’ time. Maybe I’ll still be doing it. Then again, maybe I’ll have moved on to bigger and better things, like finally following my real dreams and starting a daily blog dedicated to the history and societal impact of can openers.

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