After three years of collecting stuff from the big companies, my eyes started paying more and more attention to the so-called build ups and the custom works in general. When I saw a picture of such a piece for the first time a fellow collector shared, I was stunned not only by the details of the overall sculpt, but also by its very sophisticated paint application. This particular picture showed Narin´s Spirit Blade Predator, build up and painted by Joe Dunaway back in 2004. Usually, a picture of a statue can never compete with the same statue on your shelf that you see with your own eyes. But this one appeared to be completely different: Referring to the quality and details of the sculpt and the paint, this Predator model just looked way better than the ones I used to know. So what the hell had I witnessed here?
The sculpt simply had more details to offer: starting from the skin pattern to the armor parts, continuing with the design of the weapon he carried with and last but not least the superbly worked out head sculpt, that gave this original character a more authentic, lively look. Last, but not least, I was fascinated by it´s overall pose. Sculptured in a standing position, the Spirit Blade Predator expressed a badass charisma only by his way of posture. But not only the sculpturing, also the paint application was simply phenomenal and, as I know today, crowned this Predator´s sculpt even more by highlighting his details using vibrant colors and pro-painting techniques.
No surprise to tell that I really wanted to hunt one of these Narin models down to hang it on my own trophy wall. The first thing I learned when searching for more information about this kind of art: you mostly get the model kits only, they are separated in parts and therefore need to be built up and completely painted. I used to play classic Warhammer many years ago and back then I did paint a lizard army all by myself. But damn it, firstly, I am not 15 anymore, have neither all the instruments nor the colors, not even an adequate working environment. Secondly, through job and family, I just have much less time to restart the hobby and thirdly and likely most obvious, just not the skills to have a model kit look like the one I admired in Joe´s picture. Think, Go - when there are sculptors, there must be painters, right? And there are.
Well, there are several reasons why a custom work became so much more of interest for me than a fabricated statue that, eg., is limited to “only” 1000 worldwide. I will only refer to the most important one: the custom work when finished has a story to tell, and a good one, too. On the contrary: the fabricated one only knows three chapters: the introduction (preordering a statue) the long and monotone middle part (waiting for the statue) and the sometimes not so happy end (finally receiving the statue with a way to often flat paint).
With a custom one you not only get to know more stages of its progress from start to finish, you may co-write some short chapters by yourself, e.g. by giving own suggestions for color schemes or ideas to add some more details to the base etc. When you liek to get a model kit, you normally contact it´s originator directly and don´t click just buttons on a shop site. When you request a painter to build it up and finish it, you also have to communicate with him/her directly, and not only once. You present your ideas, but you also get experienced feedback from the artist on these ideas or just get new ones you might have never thought of. Also, in the scene quite common, the original sculptor and the painter know of each other through their works over years and are passionate fans of the genre aswell. A fat plus on this one, too!
So when you finally receive the result, you may have also learned something about them beyond the hobby, by sharing attitudes and life experiences. Keeping that in mind, this piece of solid resin and attached color aplications will grow a more personal note, imho it exceeds the definition of a product you just can order. Can a mass produced statue ever build up a story alike? Well, actually yes, but therefore you need a fourth chapter... named repaint.
This section introduces some artists I requested for build-ups of garage kits or similar original designs. On the one hand this is my way to thank these guys again for the kind collaborations, decent talks and of course, the outstanding results. On the other hand I try to contribute at least a tiny piece of mosaic to the custom scene, e.g. by publishing a little interview about their passion and some more visual examples of their work over the past years being active. Please enjoy their experiences, their thoughts and of course, their works.