Thursday, February 6, 2014
How to clone a Chupacabra
In a company full of insanely colorful characters, picking the second Hoodslammer for their own action figure wasn't a clear cut choice. Drugz Bunny, Virgil Flynn and the Stoner Brothers are all obvious choices for plastic immortality, but when the dust settled, it was the Mexican Werewolf, El Chupacabra that stood victorious.
As a bootlegger, I take existing action figure parts, remix them together in (hopefully) interesting ways and make molds that will allow me to create as many copies as I want to cast in resin plastic.
"Why don't you sculpt from scratch?"
Why don't you go fuck yourself?!? But on the real, original sculpts are awesome when done right, but take a lot of skill and patience to pull off. By using old toy parts, not only do I get to produce slicker looking toys, but I get to speak in the universally familiar language of action figures.
The challenge of bootlegging El Chupacabra was to break down his appearance and convert it into parts I could pull from my own collection, or eBay, all while trying to keep it in scale with the previously created Dark Sheik figure. The first items I fixacted on were his ring gear, noting that his kickpads rose into a dualed-fork design and his torso design based around his pecs and abs. The dualed-fork element reminded me of Superman's boot design, and I figured I could mimic the torso using a Vegeta Dragonball figure torso.
While it took 3 different Supermen figures to nail the appropriate size, I was just happy to get the body nailed down. The head took months of browsing eBay and cycling through the memories of childhood, trying to find a head that fit Chupacabra's look. I looked at countless werewolfs, Sabretooths and Morbius figures, but none quite captured his fanged ferocity and wild mane. About to call it quits, I stumbled upon a random action figure from the Underworld line of movies. Having only seen the forgettable first entry, I had no idea a toy line existed. Not only were they the right size, but featured a character named Lucian who was, you guessed it, a great fit for Chupacabra.
Once the pieces are in place, I'll make a mold using legos and silicone. It's a two part process that involves encasing one half of each figure part in silicone, and once cured, encasing the opposite side. Chupcabras long hair resulted in an oddly shaped head piece that required a slightly tricky mold that would allow the resin to get into the nooks and crannies of his mane, while keeping the pour hole inconspicuously placed. For the arms, I did what any enterprising bootlegger would do and re-used the same arm mold as the Dark Sheik figure.
Liquid resin gets mixed with various dyes and pigment powders and then poured into each mold. The plastic starts to solidify after only a few minutes, so once filled, the molds are quickly put into a pressurized chamber to help shrink tiny bubbles that have settled into the resin. This is why the translucent figures are so clear and glassy! A few hours later and the plastic will have completely set, allowing me to inspect the goods.
Pieces are pulled from their molds for inspection and any excess resin that slipped between the mold parts is scraped (hehehe) away. If the mold was done right, the mold seam shouldn't be very noticable, but this is generally the point where various sandpapers are used smooth out any rough spots. They're then vigoursly scrubbed with rubbing alcohol to clean away accumulated dust. If you hadn't guessed, this is generally the most boring aspect of making action figures. Weed helps!
With the finish line in sight, the figures parts are then painted (when necessary) and glossed. Having invested so much work into them at this point, a sloppy paint job can be a devestating way of ruining an otherwise awesome figure. That's why I insist on collaborating with my wonderful girlfriend and paintbrush samurai, Anna Morales, who's steady hand has helped bring many of the recent Scraped Resin characters to life. The figures are then carefully covered in layers of industrial gloss, sealing them with a crystal sheen that helps smooth out the sanded elements and brings the resin to life. From there, the figures are glued together and packaged, and a well deserved victory beer is guzzled.
Want a Chupacabra of your own? Join me this Friday at The Smoklahoma Bowl where sex, violence, liquor and toys will be loudly celebrated by a standing room only crowd of Hoodslam fans!
Posted by Robert Rodriguez at 11:48 AM