Many of you may remember our previous features, in which we interviewed some great expert customizers! For a refresher on those, click below:
Round One - Sithfire30
Round Two - DanoftheDead
Following the success of our initial installment, we are now ready for Round Three - featuring fan favorite Peakob1!
We'd like to thank Peakob1 for taking the time to provide some great responses to the many questions that we had for him this round, and we hope this is not only an enjoyable read, but also helpful for all the aspiring customizers who frequent the boards here at Yakface.
YAKFACE - So, first off, a lot of people know your work, but how did you get into collecting Star Wars? And what got you into customizing? And when did you begin? Do you customize any other toy lines like GI JOE?
Peakob1 - I'm a child of the 70's and I was lucky to grow-up in the toy collecting capital of the world at the time (Cincinnati). In fact, my aunt worked on the original KENNER line back then and i would pine over her early bird Luke with the double telescoping lightsaber. In 1995, I was going to school in Denver for graphic design. I picked collecting back up then while in school. I would say I'm a perfectionist when it comes to Star Wars. Not to knock Hasbro, but they have not produced what I would call a "perfect" figure. Every single character has something missing or a flaw of some kind! So in the beginning it was about fixing the inconsistencies, and as the collection grew, so did my desire to keep collecting and customizing making my collection unique to my personal preference, There's always someone to make. We will never run out, right?
I have done a few other customs for GI Joe Renegades and Indiana Jones but that's about it. I would like to do more of both of those lines, but Star Wars
keeps me endlessly busy.
â€‹YAKFACE - Okay, as a customizer, do you find certain elements that inspire you? It seems like you like to explore a lot of Clone Wars customs? What is your inspiration behind those?
Peakob1 - What inspires me is what has "yet to be made." I'm not in a race to see who will do it first or anything, it's really about making things "without boundary lines" or rules or being tied down to investors, angry moms and R&D marketing departments. Hasbro would benefit by putting a passionate "Star Wars enthusiast" at the helm who may not have a Masters degree in business but could give the collector base what they were looking for (yes I'm talking about me or someone like me)! I try to imagine if I actually worked for Hasbro and they put me in charge of Star Wars, what would I make? I produce what I call "custom prototypes" based on what I think is cool or interesting, you're not going to see me forget about the female characters or the third-tier merchant selling exotic fruit on the streets of some back water planet, no sir! Since a lot of the movie stuff has been produced for all six films, naturally I lean towards the Clone Wars, everything in that show is colorful, exciting and way out there! To me that screams Star Wars! Plus, as far as we know, Hasbro is not making Clone Wars right now, so it's open season to do whatever I please and they can play catch-up some day if they decide to revisit the series.
Clone Wars and now Rebels is an undiscovered country of amazing and interesting figures that Hasbro has just barely scratched the surface on. How hard would it have been to at least give us all the different troopers and their different paint jobs? It's a paint job,;how hard is that? Where did we lose sight of every last character? Waaaaayyyy too much main character syndrome going on up in the house of Hasbro; this is not the Darth Vader toy line! It's called Star Wars, diversity is key! BUT before I go on a rant, it really just comes down to what they are NOT making that interests me the most.
YAKFACE - I would have to agree, Hasbro has gotten away from what has made them great the past few years. Back to the questions. You seem to have a knack for presenting your customs with colorful backgrounds that makes your presentation really "pop." How do you go about snapping your images?
Peakob1 - Being an artist has a little to do with it. I understand that it's important to set-up a "mini studio" and that all starts with a camera, of course. I have a Sony cyber shot camera, but I hardly use it because my new iPhone 6 has an excellent camera. If anything, make sure you have nice light in the room from several sources. I have three lights in my office, overhead, spot light "desk lamp" and one more lamp for extra mood lighting. A table or stand to put the character on is also good, and as far as the background goes, I decide to go with a minimalist look, making the figure the star of the show. In the past I have used several cloth drapes, but they would show wrinkles and it became time consuming just setting up the background. Now I just use two very large pieces of cardboard for my backdrop, though I do manipulate my photos in Adobe Photoshop (hence my graphic design background). I only use brightness and contrast, cropping and text to label the figures. While effects are nice, I try to keep it as close to the real thing as possible because I might be selling the custom prototype in the end.
YAKFACE - That's great advice. It seems like the paint that you use is pretty good - your results seem to always be production quality. What brands of paint do you use the most? Or are there different kinds, depending on the look you are going for? Do you have a special type of brush that you use? Or any special painting techniques you would care to explain?
Peakob1 - The paint that I use the most is Games workshop Citadel color. It has a super flat finish, unless your painting boots, eyes, visors and other Patton leathery looking elements, I suggest never using gloss. FLAT PAINT IS KING! I have gotten into the Vallejo color also but other then that nothing else. One of the techniques i use, and it sounds like a no brainer, but i try to do an entire repaint from top to bottom, this completely transforms the figure!
YAKFACE - Some customizers rummage through parts bins to find something that inspires them. But if I were to guess, you look like you really plan things out far in advance and do a lot of sculpting. Is this the case? How long does the average figure take you to make, from start to finish?
Peakob1 - And I'm a lot like them as well, I have a lot of custom fodder or extra parts in bins, plus I have a large mint on card vintage collection in case of emergencies. I actually fear the day I run out of extra parts... Yikes!
Believe it or not, I just started sculpting in 2012! I use (Green stuff and fix-it) and I have been customizing regularly since 96. In the past I used a style I call "hard sculpting" where you glue a hunk of plastic to the figure and grind it down using a DREMMEL TOOL to whatever the desired shape may be.
Sometimes the planning is the hardest part, if you want your figure to have more articulation then just 5 Points then learning the mechanics of the figures and how they move and come apart is important also.
YAKFACE - Have you ever considered making a photonovel series? You really seem to have the talent for it. If you ever did, would you explore using fan fiction characters of your own, or would you lean toward choosing established characters from the films or cartoons? Do you have any interest in that? Or how about dioramas?
Peakob1 - Probably not, I just don't have the time for something like a photonovel.
I have made a few "fan fic" or "EU figures" in the past that I'm truly fond of but I prefer to keep that kind of thing to a minimum, in my opinion there's so many things from the actual property to produce. Characters from my head would have to be like Vlix, Jaxxon or Furlang type characters, if I went that route. I'm fond of the Aqualish, the crazier the better! Dioramas would be fun I certainly don't utilize my day job enough, I work with all different kinds of sub-straights ideal for making cool dio's I did make a Han Solo carbonite base similar to the side show version that included the block.... it fits nicely with that cardboard thing Hasbro made. but "maybe I'll do some more next year."
YAKFACE - There are a lot of collectors who have never customized a figure before. What sort of advice would you give someone who is interested in starting out?
Peakob1 - Don't beat yourself up! Do your best! If you're not good in the beginning you will get better over time as long as you don't give up. Get "honest feedback" from your friends and family it's the only way you grow!
My wife is MY biggest critic and will tell me when she thinks something doesn't look right! Do some quick fixes that are enjoyable and easy but gratifying. add a saber hilt or a removable helmet of some kind. Add a paint application that's missing from one of your characters, that always works!
Sometime it all depends if you can pick up on missing details, for example look at the Anakin Skywalker from wave one of the black series, the light saber is incorrect and he doesn't come with a hilt... That version is his episode three saber, the proper one comes with the Anakin in peasant disguise from the vintage collection. It can be as simple as that if you're as critical as I am!
YAKFACE - That's cool that your wife gives you constructive criticism and supports your hobby. Back to the questions - a lot of the customizing process is trial and error. Have you had many projects go completely wrong, or some tips that you learned from that you could share with other customizers?
Peakob1 - Oh yes! I have had some doozies over the years and some characters that are now retired because I have made them better over time. It's always a process. Lots of fails! I won't show any of those. Even Hasbro revisits characters, for example look at all of the Return of the Jedi Luke's Hasbro has made or look at the Clone Wars version of Mace Windu... the first one is cool but the second version was way better! When I do my personal stuff I'm a little like George Lucas, I can always go back and revisit something.
I once made a Leebo droid from Shadows of the Empire and later on added articulation. This figure was so "Frankensteined together" I could barely give someone a recipe for it, so I just made an all new version that turned out equally excellent!
YAKFACE - Both of those Leebo customs are great. You've made some awesome customs, but what are a few of the projects you are most proud of? Are there any that stand out as something you look at and wonder how you even did it?
Peakob1 - One of my all-time favorites is the figure I made of Walrusman. Not a single part of him is from a Star Wars character; he's made from a G.I. Joe figure. The only thing that's Star Wars is his gun. Those are my favorite kinds of projects; where I can just take a figure and make something cool from very little. I also enjoy when I pull off a difficult face sculpt or make some kind of ridiculous innovation in the articulation. I have an EV100 that has 21 points, it's not unheard of in my creation lab!
YAKFACE - Do you have any upcoming projects that you would care to discuss?
Peakob1 - I just recently finished The Box Project. It consisted of twelve different characters from The Clone Wars, based on one episode of the show. I also have another project in the works, called The Troopers of The Republic Army, where I showcase different Clone Troopers and Clone Trooper Pilots.
Other than that, I'm constantly doing projects for myself and others as well. I'm slowly integrating into customs of Rebels characters. The choices that I have for projects and characters to come is endless. I always have projects going on! just to rattle off a few (Pong Krell, Pun Zignut, a Night Sister, Numa version 2, Droids stuff, OT stuff, a few secret Rebels projects I can't talk about), endless I tell ya, endless.
One way to get a truly in depth look is to like my page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Peakob1 or continue to follow me on your page or ISY
YAKFACE - It's great seeing that you have such a passion for this and it looks like there is no end in sight! Are there any customizers that you look to for inspiration?
Peakob1 - Its a vast community at this point. I take inspiration everywhere I can. What it really comes down to is, if I see something that's interesting, cool, or innovative, I try to mimic it or apply those features to my own customs in some way. I'm not looking to be the best or out do anyone, I'm encouraged by difficult projects whether they have been attempted or not. Something like Spider-Maul or Pong Krell for example have both been done by several people; when I decide to sit down and create those for a commission or myself, I will pull elements from others as a guide or road map, only I will be applying my style and techniques to produce a "Peak Obi-wan Custom Original."
YAKFACE - What other websites/forums do you frequent for customizing?
Peakob1 - I go to Imperial Shipyards and Rebelscum forums, Jedi Defender, Facebook and Google plus groups and of course you guys here at Yakface. I really enjoyed Curto's Custom action figure page he had up for a while too. My journey all began with the Rebelscum customizer crossroads back in the 90's
YAKFACE - Have you ever taken commissions for your work? If not, would you ever be interested in doing so?
Peakob1 - Yes, about 80 percent of my customs are commission based! A lot of the photos you see of my work are toys made for collectors who enjoy having a custom collection as well as what Hasbro has produced for the hobby. My right to share the photos is one of the terms that goes along with making customs for someone else. People can "PM" me at Peakob1 Custom Creations on Facebook or here on your Creations forums page and occasionally I might sell something on Ebay just on a whim. But before I will do a commission for just anyone, they must agree to my terms and conditions. When they are agreed upon, I can discuss making something, I'm only one man though, I wish I could clone my self sometimes! I make everything from scratch! So when someone asks me if I have made Sugi the bounty hunter, I reply "yes I have made two going on three Sugi's from scratch."
YAKFACE - Shifting to the hobby in general now... what's your focus on collecting? Hasbro toys? Other lines too? Are you only an opener or do you have a carded collection too?
Peakob1 - In the past I would collect one of everything but over the years, I have stream lined and now I just collect what I want; I primarily collect Star Wars 3.75-inch action figures. I also have the Indiana Jones line and some G.I. Joe Renegades and Muppet's Palisades stuff too, but not the entire collection, to my dismay.
I suffer from that scenario that us long collectors go through and have always asked my self the question; do I have room for just one more collection? I often pass on other things. I'm an opener and I have a bunch of toys carded as well. While the vintage collection was going on, I picked up extra of almost every character for custom fodder. "It's quite a collection in itself."
YAKFACE - How do you think Hasbro has handled the 3.75" line recently? What has worked well in the past in your view? What would you like to see them do differently?
Peakob1 - If I was to sum it up in one sentence I would say, "Stick to what works and don't try to reinvent the wheel!"
It's really is that simple' don't try to say 3.75" is dead when a brand new animation comparable to Clone Wars and a new trilogy is on the way as well as more movies to support an unimaginable amount of product. I honestly think Hasbro thought Star Wars was going to be over after Clone Wars finished and they could just ride out the rest of the license making as little as possible in favor of their own products GI Joe, Transformers, Ponies and the like.... But being a person that believes nothing is greater than the Star Wars line, if they could somehow find a way to produce at least 20 DIFFERENT characters a year for a reasonable price also with some modern innovations and articulation plus soft goods and make their primary focus (continuity, unity, diversity) they would NOT FAIL, but I think cost is getting in the way and all the poor R&D to try to make more money is blinding what truly works!
YAKFACE - I think your views on Hasbro's problems with the 3.75" are pretty accurate, and a lot of today's problems are from their 2012 approach.
Back to the questions; other than customizing, are there any other hobbies that you have? Are you a video gamer? Or are you a sports fanatic? Anything you want to share about yourself outside of the Star Wars hobby?
Peakob1 - I am a painter and illustrator. While I may do an art show again that highlights my artistic style someday, customizing keeps me busy at this point in time in my life. I'm not much of a gamer unless its a Star Wars title...
YAKFACE - That's a lot of questions that we've asked and we'd like to thank you for taking your valuable time to share your thoughts with us. Are there any questions or words of wisdom you would like to share with us, or with the community?
Peakob1 - I think customizing can be a great hobby for just about anybody. If you're not sure about yourself, keep at it, and don't give up. Accept constructive criticism from your friends and family on the characters that you make. Don't be afraid to experiment with new and different ideas and materials. One of the reasons that I customize is because I want to make my collection unique.
Above all, just HAVE FUN! It's toys, after all.
That's a wrap! We hope our readers enjoy this segment, which we hope to have another round before too long. Please post any questions or feedback you have for Peakob1 here, or in his customizing thread.