By Adam McFarland
Over the past few months I have chronicled the making of a custom Pat Tillman. I am happy to say that it is finally complete! I left off last month with the painting 99% complete. All that I had left to do was a touch-up coat to fix any small mistakes. Well, that was where the problems started!
Most of the touch-up painting that I wanted to do was on the helmet. The decals weren't properly blended in. So I grabbed my white paint and my brush and figured it would take ten minutes to fix up. I was wrong. There was a clot in the paint and when I went to squirt a small amount out it sprayed all over the place and essentially ruined all of the work I had done on the helmet. The whole thing was white!
After I calmed down (yea, I was pretty upset), I wiped as much of the paint off as possible and determined that only one decal didn't need to be reapplied. Unfortunately, the decals on the back of the helmet (the hardest to put on) were the ones that got the worst of it. This meant that I had to peel the old decals off, repaint, and reapply the decals. I was lucky to have at least one backup decal of each (this is why you should print at least three of each decal).
Once I fixed that mess, I was ready to apply the Flat Clear Acrylic to the figure and the Gloss Clear Acrylic to the decals and the helmet. I applied one coat to everything except the helmet, to which I applied three or four coats to get a noticeable gloss. I prefer to do these applications very carefully with a brush to avoid any bleeding of the paint or decals. Some people prefer to spray it on but I have had problems with that in the past so I stick with the brush.
Thinking ahead, I purchased a Pat Tillman Fleer Tradition Glossy "Unsung Heroes" card off of eBay. The "Unsung Heroes" applies perfectly to Pat. I also went to Michael's and bought a piece of wood to mount the figure.
I started assembling the figure by trimming the glove sockets with an exacto knife and attaching the gloves. They fit well so I didn't need to use any glue.
Next I ran into another problem! When I put the helmet on the head, it didn't seem to fit! I tried trimming out the inside of the helmet but that didn't help. Eventually I realized that there was no way that the hair was going to be able to stay if I wanted the helmet to fit properly. So much for my cool little addition. I gave him a haircut and moved on.
Once that problem was solved, I tried to put the head on but for some reason that didn't seem to fit either! Worse than that, when I was trying to force it on it scraped some of the red paint off of the shoulder pads. So I touched that up, trimmed off some of the neck, repainted the neck, and it fit!
The next step was to glue everything together. The key to this is planning (something I didn't do very well). I glued the helmet and the facemask on and then I tried to put the chin strap on. Oops! I probably should have put the chin strap on BEFORE the facemask. It was a pain, but I managed to weave the chin strap between the facemask, the helmet, and the face.
Despite all of the problems, the figure was done!
The final step was to attach the figure and the card to the wood. The figure is anchored by two pegs that fit into holes on the field, one metal, the other plastic. I decided to cut the plastic one off and drill one hole in the wood for the metal one.
I attempted to attach the figure and card to the wood with super glue but they didn't even come close to sticking. I ended up using some plastic epoxy that I had sitting around the house and that worked great!
Finally I am done! I learned a ton about making customs and I had fun doing it. I encourage everyone that has the desire to give it a shot.