I just finished my first custom G.I. Joe figure and wanted to share it. Blowtorch was the first Joe that I got as a kid so I've always had a soft spot for him and I've wanted to see a Night Force version of him since long before I ever considered customizing Joes myself. So it was a natural choice for me to take this on as my first project. I used a 1984 Blowtorch figure, luckily I had one that was pretty worn so I didn't feel bad about painting over it. I put on a head from a generic swat figure because I thought it made sense to have a protective fireproof suit underneath as well. The head ended up working out for a couple of other reasons that'll I'll mention later. I'll explain the whole process I used after the pics. (You can click on them for bigger versions.)
Again, my first attempt at a custom figure (or any painting of this type at all) so I tried out a few different types of paint to see what I liked. I used black Krylon Plastic Fusion spraypaint for a primer/base. I don't know that I would bother doing that again. I was worried that I needed it to cover the bright yellow and I wanted to make sure I had a dark base so the red would turn out dark enough, but I believe now that just using the brush-on paint exclusively would have worked fine and I would have ended up with a little smoother paint job overall.
I went over the black parts on the figure and painted the mask and flamethrower with Testors Model Master acrylic Flat Black. The red is Citadel brand Red Gore color. It is a pretty dark shade and with the black base I was happy with how it turned out. I wanted a red that wasn't too bright and could be justified being used on a Night Force figure. I mixed some black into some Testors Model Master Dark Gray (F-15) for the details (shirt, holster, wrists, respirator chest piece.) I used Tamiya acrylic Metallic Grey for his flamethrower, backpack and pistol (on his right leg.)
I had originally used the Metallic Grey on his goggles and it looked great, but I had to strip and repaint the mask because it stayed tacky (I believe it was from using the Plastic Fusion paint as a base when the mask is actually rubber) and when I tried to repaint the goggles I couldn't get the Metallic Grey to look right again because of how it clumps up. I believe this is not an issue with the brand but is just the nature of the metallic paint in general because it actually has flecks of metal in it that cause it to clump. I spent way too long trying to get it right with the metallic paint (some minor OCD issues) and just decided to go with the Testors gray and be done with it. I used the Testors gray as well to drybrush the folds of his clothes. I'm a little hesitant to write it where others can read it, but I think his butt turned out great!
The accessories actually ended up being rather difficult to paint. As mentioned I had trouble with the mask being tacky (not fully drying) and it actually shrunk. You can see from the first back photo that the mask doesn't fasten all the way now. That is one of the reasons the black-masked head worked out well. With the mask ill fitting the head shows a little bit but being black it blends in with everything else. The flamethrower was/is difficult in that neither the spray or brush paint sticks to it well, the paint comes off the handle easily when putting it in his hand and when the hose is moved the paint cracks and flakes off. After a little while I will probably go back and cut off the hard plastic hose and attach one of the flexible black hoses that came with some figures back in the day. There are some other little things I'd like to fix but I had reached the point where I was doing more harm than good by being too picky so it was time to let it go (for now.)
I realized after I began that this figure was probably one of the more difficult ones to paint, with the raised rings and many folds on his suit, as well as having a separate mask (all being bright colors that had to be covered,) especially for a first try at customizing. It is far from perfect but I learned a lot while doing it and think my next figure will be much better for it. I am very proud of this figure as I have no artistic talent and not-so-steady hands, but it turned out pretty good I think.
So if you have any inclination to give customizing a try, GO FOR IT! If I can do it, so can you! There are a lot of great tutorials on the web that were of a great help to me. Look for the ones by Jin Saotome. He is a well-known customizer and his guides are clear and informative. Another helpful resource was a book on painting miniatures put out by Games Workshop (who make Citadel miniatures, paints, etc.) given to me by my buddy Dave. I look forward to some other people sharing their customs with us.