One of the most exciting aspects of the Mythic Legions toy line is the incredible customizing options that these figures present. These customizing possibilities were something we designed into the line from the very beginning, but truth be told – we never expected to see the amount of amazing customs that Mythic fans have created! More than once we’ve looked at a custom creation and thought, “we totally should’ve come up with that!” We really are blown away by what our fans have done with our figures – a few examples of which are shown below. (Credits, left to right - Nikki Nikole Chaney, Dru Grubbs, Dennis Derby)
If you’ve thought that you’d like to try your hand at customizing Mythic Legions but you didn’t know where to begin, this article is for you! These tips and photos from some of the most well-known Mythic Legions customizers will hopefully give you the information and inspiration you need to go from wanting to get started customizing to creating some stunning new characters of your own! (Credits, left to right - Ian Zmudzin, Zombie 13, Luis Torres)
The first step to customizing Mythic Legions is to consider the possibilities of what you could create, and the best way to do that is to get inspired by seeing what other customizers have done! The photos in this article are some incredible examples of custom work, but you can also follow these customizers and others on Instagram and look through their profiles to see some of their past work. The tag #mythiclegionscustom is one that you can use to find some examples of the custom work being shared.
Many customizers also post regularly in the Mythic Legions Cabal Facebook group. If you are not already a member of that group, ask to join and answer the simple questions to become a member. You will get a daily dose of amazing customs to drool over!
One note worth mentioning here is to remember that you are seeking to be inspired by looking at other customizers’ work, not overwhelmed. Do not look at these creations and think, “I could never do that!” Remember, complex pieces are not where these other customizers started. Everyone starts with simple recipes and basic customs to get the experience they need to eventually start experimenting with those more detailed and complex creations - so do not be intimidated by what you see others sharing.
Start with “Pop and Swap” Customs
Once you are ready to get started on your own customs, a great place to begin is with easy “pop and swap” combinations. These are simply creations made by mixing and matching pieces from Mythic Legions figures. These parts are made to be removable and swappable, so start there! Change some heads between figures or swap shoulder armor and come up with different looks to create new characters. Once you are comfortable with that, take it a step further and start changing out limbs and other armor parts. With a little heat and patience, you can pop these figures apart in incredible ways. Check out this article to learn more about popping these figures apart and see all the pieces that you can separate.
While “pop and swap” customs may be easy to do, they are a wonderful way to begin handling these parts and getting familiar with them as a customizer – and you can actually make some pretty cool customs just by swapping existing parts! The photos below show a few simple “pop and swap” customs. (Credits, left to right - Dennis Derby, Nikki Nikole Chaney, Jeremy Girard)
Buying Some Paint and Brushes
After creating a few “pop and swap” characters, you will very likely be bitten by the customizing bug and will want to take your creations to the next level. That next logical step is to begin adding some custom paint applications to your figures. This is where many new customizers get really nervous. The idea of messing up a paint job on a Mythic Legions figure is enough to cause many would-be customizers to stop in their tracks. Do not be intimidated by painting. Here is how you can take it slow to build up your skills.
- The first step to painting is to buy some supplies, namely paints and brushes. You don’t need to go crazy to get started – a few brushes and a handful of paint colors and you will be ready to go.
- In terms of paint, this is very much a preference decision. Different customizers prefer different brands, but for the most part you are looking at either hobby paints like Vallejo, Citadel, and Army Painter or low-cost craft store brands like Craftsmart, Folk Art, and Apple Barrel. You will pay much more for the hobby paints than the craft brands, but the quality will also be better. The reality is that there is room for both in your hobby. One suggestion to get started is to buy a small set of hobby paints. You will pay less per bottle by buying these paints as a bundled set. Think about the kinds of colors you will likely use (black, browns, red, etc.) and make sure the set you select includes those. You can then visit a craft store and select some lower cost paints to increase your color selection or to get specific colors you need to achieve a design you have in mind. For example, you can buy some metallic colors that will work great for drybrushing on wear and damage effects to the figures. By starting with a handful of colors, you give yourself options without having to make a massive investment in paints up front.
- One thing to be aware of with paints is that you will want to look for acrylic paints, not enamels! Enamel paints are made for model kits and the plastic used on those models is much different than what you find on action figures. Always use acrylic paints when customizing Legions.
- As for brushes, getting some decent ones is important. You will want to avoid the super-cheap brushes often available in giant multi-packs for little money. You certainly do not need to visit a specialty art store and buy ultra-expensive brushes, but somewhere between those two extremes is where you want to be. Craft stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby carry art style brushes that are a good, affordable place to start. Purchase a few different sizes and shapes to experiment and see which one work best for you.
Basic Paint Applications
With your paints and brushes in hand, you are ready for your first painting project! You will want to start small with a manageable project. One great place to begin is by painting a Legion Builder figure.
Legion Builders are, by design, figures with very little factory paint applications. As such, they provide customizers with a great base to work from to create customs. Compare the parts of a Legion Builder to another Mythic Legions figure that uses those same parts but where they are fully painted. Notice the details of the parts. This is what you are looking to recreate. Whether you are adding paint to the armor details of a knight or dwarf or drybrushing wear and battle damage onto an orc or goblin, these small projects are how you can begin painting. Working on armor will be much easier than trying to paint faces to begin with, so try simply adding some paint to a Legion Builder’s armor as your first foray into Legions customizing. Below are some photos of customs using Legion Builders as the base figure. (Credits: Customs below by Joe Vasapollo)
Going back to those experienced customizers that you drew inspiration from, many of them also share painting tips and even videos on their social channels. Watch those videos, and others, to get painting tips to learn how to drybrush armor or to do a paint wash. YouTube will be a major help to you as you begin learning and experimenting with different painting techniques!
One final note on painting – if you are looking to get some experience before moving onto more expensive Legions figures, consider picking up some older action figures from a flea market, thrift store, or toy show and using them to experiment on. Old ToyBiz Lord of the Rings figures are a great line to use since some of their capes, skirts, and accessories can be swapped onto Mythic Legions, while you can use the figures themselves as your test canvas to practice your figure painting! (Credits, left to right - : Steve Biesiada, Julian Potier, Andy Spinks)
Explore the World of Add-Ons
While you will have a ton of possibilities to work with simply by using and customizing Mythic Legions parts, as you look at other customizers’ work you will see many of them using parts created by the incredible community of 3D-sculptors and printers who are offering add-ons for this line. Using these custom created parts will allow you to greatly expand your Mythic Legions characters, but painting these parts, which generally come as unpainted pieces printed in 3D resin, is definitely more of a challenge. This is especially true when you start getting into realistic human faces so you can create new barbarians or unhelmeted knights!
If you do decide to start dipping your toes into the waters of 3D-printed parts, once again it is helpful to start small. A weapon will be easier to paint than a head, and a face for a goblin or an orc is easier to accomplish than human features, if for no other reason than the eyes of Mythic Legions orcs and goblins are painted in one solid color, while human eyes will require much more detail. Experience will get you to the point where you are ready to tackle those more complex projects and paint applications, but avoid getting discouraged early on by trying to do them too early on in your customizing hobby! Simple projects will give you the experience and confidence you need to do those more complex ones down the line. The photos below show some examples of custom figures that use add-on parts from various companies. (Credits, left to right - Custom 1 by Nikki Nikole Chaney with parts my MyActionFigureCustoms, Custom 2 by Jeremy Girard with a head from PlanetaryDogToys, Custom 3 by Sean Shaw with parts from WolfKingCustoms)
Getting Extreme with Customizing
There are many customizers that go far beyond just swapping parts or customizing paints on figures. Some customizers sculpt new heads and parts themselves, really developing unique looks for their creations. This is certainly a lofty goal to aspire to, and it is a bit beyond the scope of this “getting started” article. The photos below show some custom heads that were sculpted and painted by Mat O'Toole, Kevin Delies, and Emil Wickman.
Advice From the Experts
The “Customizing Corner” interviews that we have done here on the website have all included the question, “Any tips or suggestions for Mythic fans looking to start customizing?” Here are what those experts have offered:
Nikki Nikole Chaney – I'd say reach out to your favorite customizers for tips, but also utilize online videos and tutorial pages as guidance. There is a wealth of information out there! But at some point, just START and you'll learn and improve as you go!
Dennis Derby – Be patient and watch as many tutorials as possible. For painting tips, I watch a number of miniature painters online. I also think that it helps to make something that is your own creation. I have made ML versions of characters that other people have created, but it is immensely more satisfying to create your own characters for your own world, or to even take an ML character with a backstory and transform that character a bit.
Dru Grubbs – Just starting out, don’t go with cheaper paints and brushes, even if it is tempting. Get a good set of paints like Citadel or Army Painter and a few good brushes. Believe me there is a difference. Learn with them then experiment with the cheaper stuff later. Learn how to thin your paint to get a smooth application.
William Robert Post – Start small. Do a kit bash. Buy a cheap brush and a bottle of silver and gold paint. Just highlight the rivets and little small details on a legion builder. After that figure, watch a video on YouTube about dry brushing. Just doing those 2 steps you can transform any legion builder with very little skill and build your confidence. Learn one little technique at a time.
Dean Wright – The best tip I can give is to be get an image in your head of what you want to create - then just do it!
Luis Torres – If you’re looking to start customizing, have patience and don’t be afraid to mess up. It’s all trial and error. And watch a lot of videos on YouTube because that helps me out learning techniques form the pros! But watching and doing it are two different things! But the only way to learn is to actually do it yourself!
Mat O’Toole – One thing that’s great for painting to stop brush lines is to thin your acrylic paint with water, to a milk constancy, and do a controlled heavy layer over the area. It looks scary as all the detail looks like it’s being filled in, but when it drys, it drys thin and looks great! Sometimes a few layers are needed, it takes patience but gives it that nice factory look.
Joe Vasapollo - Buy what you like in pre-orders so you don’t miss out on parts for your project. Do you like the body, but not the head? Get it anyway and swap it out later, look at the figures for the parts, not just the character. Once your comfortable with that, dig in your toy box and see what else fits with the line. There’s tons of stuff from 1983 to now that works perfectly.
Jeremy Girard –Take your time! It is easy to get excited for a custom idea and to kind of rush through it. That is the easiest way to mess it up. Take it slow. Allow your paints to dry and don’t rush the process. Also, once you are “done” with a custom, put it down for a day or two before sharing it with the world. Come back after those few days and look at it again. Is it actually done, or do you have more ideas now that you have let it sit a bit? I often find that I come up with final touches on figures after I step away from them for a few days and those final touches really bring out the character of the custom! I now always put a custom aside for a few days before I claim it as being “done”.
Published on 07.03.20