Custom Black Series Boba Fett Prototype 6″ Figure by Fernando Jusino
Make no mistake: Despite the small inaccuracies that come from being a repaint of an Empire Strikes Back Boba Fett, Hasbro’s Black Series Boba Fett Prototype 6″ figure is striking and beautifully detailed as is straight out of the box. Despite being a “white” figure, attention to detail was clearly not overlooked as evidenced by the subtle two-toned paint job that “Proto Fett” received.
That’s all well and good, until you see Fernando Jusino’s custom rework of the popular white Boba Fett figure and your standards suddenly shoot through the roof when you realize how much better it could have been. The attention to detail is off the charts, as Fernando brings a level of accuracy usually reserved for Sideshow Collectibles sixth scale figures and the most discerning cosplayers. Our favorite changes are the moveable metal rangefinder, the 1978 screen test-accurate weapons, and the beach towel cape, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg compared to the full list of upgrades expertly lavished on this custom figure.
Although we are showcasing Fernando’s custom Boba Fett prototype 6″ figure, we would be doing his aristry a major injustice if we didn’t at least mention his toy photography. Fernando clearly knows his way around the photography world, and his work includes some pure comedy gold that had us guffawing on more than one occasion. Notable examples are team green enjoying some brews, a space slug’s dinner, DMV-esque lines at the weapon check-in (Bruce Lee’s expression gets us every time), bathroom misadventures between two archenemies, Mace Windu vs a little green guy, and Dancing with the Star(s) Wars, which incidentally features a white-armored Boba Fett. Classic!
But enough from us. Fernando was gracious enough to give us a thorough and detailed interview about his toy photography, working with custom figures, and more. Enjoy!
What was your favorite Star Wars memory growing up?
One of my earliest memories as a child comprised of my first viewing of Star Wars, during its re-release in 1978. As a 4 year-old, I remember wanting nothing more than having all those characters and ships to reenact my favorite scenes. Every birthday, Christmas, good school year or simply because I had saved up enough and I had behaved.
If I had to be honest, my favorite Star Wars memory was probably Christmas 1981. I guess I was a “good boy” that year. I received the Kenner Rebel Transport, Snow Speeder and most importantly, the AT-AT. I was so excited to open that huge box and see the AT-AT. My 7-year-old little self had been anticipating that AT-AT since I had seen The Empire Strikes Back over the summer of that year. I remember that after watching the movie, my family walked over to a store across the street from the theater. The store was pretty loaded with toys and other knickknacks. Among them, there was a section with an AT-AT set-up in a diorama-like fashion with other Star Wars toys. At the time, it felt like a HUGE toy. I wondered if I would be good enough for the rest of the year for Santa Claus to get me one. Plus, waiting all the way until Christmas… felt like forever.
A quick glance at your Instagram account and it’s clear that you are also a toy photographer. Please tell us a bit about your toy photography.
My first toy photography shoot was just before Hurricane Irene hit New Jersey. I clearly remember doing everything I could to get the house prepared. I was simply ready to brace myself and try to not worry. What better way than to get into my “comfort zone” of posing a Revoltech Woody and Buzz figures I had gotten my Wife & I for fun. Some of the poses I did were so silly, and I decided to document them: take pictures. Not entirely sure why. Eventually, I posted them on Facebook. Got a few likes and comments from family and friends. Seeing that I had gotten some positive encouragement, I did a few more. Then, a few more after that. Before I knew it, I had done my first series of Buzz and Woody vs. Aliens.
The next step was a recommendation from my Wife’s brother. He said I should try posting on Tumblr. In time, I did. I got a little bit of a following, but the best take-away from that experience was meeting my “Tumblr/Instafriend” and mentor, @idreamofactionfigures. In the “Tumblr-verse” he’s known as “@YASWB”. In fact, he is the person directly responsible for helping me transition to Instagram. I haven’t completely left Tumblr, but to put in perspective, I have been over 4 years on Tumblr and have about 700 followers. I have been only about 2 years on Instagram and I have about 3,300 followers. The toy community there is far more encouraging and the platform is easier to view, share, interact, etc.
My favorite action figures to photograph are Star Wars figures. Naturally, because of my emotional ties to my childhood. However, I enjoy mixing it up. The more articulate the figure, the better. I try to create poses and situations where they look like “little plastic people with feelings, trying to live their lives”. I mostly get inspiration from other action figure photographers, other funny, unrelated posts, and everyday living.
My first “mentor” was Tumblr’s YASWB (Yet another Star Wars Blog), also known as @idreamofactionfigures on Instagram. Lately, Brandon Acree, @skeletonastronaught on Instagram, Mike Kohler, @keelo1027, and Tham Ying Keet, @yingkeet0675.
Let’s start with the finished product first: How is your custom Black Series Boba Fett Prototype different from the standard issue figure?
Everything, haha! To me, everything about it is different. Even though at first glance there seems to be little, if any, difference. To me they are like “night and day”. I tried to capture everything Hasbro missed. Or in essence, make him as accurate to the prototype suit seen in the “Meet Boba Fett” costume Duwayne Dunham wore for the screen test Ben Burtt hosted in 1978. Believe me when I say I love Hasbro Star Wars figures. My intent was not to make Hasbro look bad. It was to build upon the beauty they had already created, and take it a step closer to what I would have LOVED to have seen in the market.
- Side-by-side, the first thing that should stand out is the blaster rifle and blaster. These are now a more accurate representation of what “Protofett” was handling.
- Cape – Representing the Star Wars beach towel actually seen in “Meet Boba Fett”
- No dents – didn’t see any in the video.
- Color/Paint – tough to say the exact color/finish
- Red/Blue Accents on Helmet and Left shoulder pad. Not visible in the video, but pictures of him show them.
From reading your photo captions, we learned that this project wasn’t entirely premeditated. First it was the blasters, then the beach towel cape, and so on. Please elaborate; we want to hear all about it!
It is funny to think that it all started because of my disappointment in Hasbro “cutting a corner”. Sure, it was quicker to get him to market. To simply re-cast the original 6” Black Series Boba Fett blaster and pistol in Black plastic. Who knows, I might have done the same as a Project Manager trying to get something to retail as quickly as possible. Anyone who knows the original Prototype Boba Fett, knows that the blaster rifle and blaster were very different. Hasbro even had a silhouette of him with them on the back of the retail box with how they should have been. Ironically, years ago Hasbro got it right in their 3.75” Prototype Boba Fett figure that was a “free mail away” as part of their Vintage Collection line-up. It boggled me that they didn’t even try for the 6” scale version, so I took it upon myself to find someone who would make it with 3D prototyping. Enter Prometheus Rising Studios and Ben Mininberg. He does phenomenal custom figure work of all types! Specializing in 3D printing, the “Protofett blasters” he designed gave me exactly what I needed to start on my amazing journey.
What started out as “just the weapons” transformed into: “well, what about the cape?” Anyone who really knows Ben Burtt’s presentation of “Meet Boba” knows that Duwayne Dunham was sporting a Star Wars Beach Towel. Sideshow Collectibles nailed it as an optional/extra cape included in their 12” figure. Granted, it might have been a stretch for Hasbro to have done that (and boy, would I have been impressed if they had) but since I had gone out of my way for the weapons, I did a little research. Enter Jawad Dar, an outstanding Boba Fett collector and custom figure creator extraordinaire; he had a source for the 6” scale Star Wars Beach Towel! He helped me acquire a few, and in the process turned out to be a “mentor” of sorts who inspired me to go through the next few steps of the journey that I never thought I would: Customizing the figure completely.
To start the customization process, I obtained several items I never knew existed and/or would own:
- Apoxysculpt – a 2-part compound that when mixed creates a putty that has a long cure time, allowing you to shape and mold to your heart’s desire. Once hardened, it can be sanded, drilled, etc.
- Air Brush – always wanted one, but felt they were too expensive and wouldn’t know how to properly use it
- Compressor – also expensive, but a must-have if airbrushing
- Stainless Steel sheet
- Dents on armor. Prototype Boba didn’t have any. I suppose he was originally going to be a “super trooper”. This guy was probably right off the assembly line or first day of combat. Used Apoxysculpt to fill in and sand.
- Left gauntlet/ Flame projector is also inaccurate. Sculpted it out of Apoxysculpt and a lot of patience.
- The viewfinder on the helmet. There is a picture of Protofett holding it out in front of the helmet visor. I had to be able to do this…
Nothing a little stainless steel and some intricate hobby knife cutting couldn’t handle.
The tubes/wires from gauntlets: I drilled into the forearm and arm and used some seriously great adhesives to hold on one side, and let it float on the other. This avoided any potential kinking in the tube when bending/ flexing the elbow.
Belt and Blaster holder: Using some faux leather laces and 20 gauge wire, I forged the belt/buckle that holds the blaster in place and looks as close as possible to what Duwayne Dunham was using to hold that smaller blaster by his side.
Big Belt: Using most of the original belt that Hasbro’s Protofett came with, I added a piece of some plastic sheeting and adhered it to create one that looks more like what he’s sporting in the video.
Paint: White, glossy. The white casted plastic is OK, but it is very dull. Proto Fett had a certain finish to it, more like a semi-gloss but I went for gloss.
What was the most challenging part of the project? And what was the most satisfying?
The helmet. From the moving range finder, to the glossy visor, to the red/blue detail on the “forehead”. I knew it would also be the center of attention, and almost made me “lose my head”. Actually, Proto Fett did. That is, it actually cost me an extra figure for the head because I botched one up. Between learning to use the airbrush and getting the finish just right, one of them had to go to “plastic heaven”. Or maybe for use in some future project. When completed, it was extremely gratifying to see that the range finder “worked” the way it was supposed to, and looked “just like he’s supposed to”.
Your custom white Boba Fett isn’t the most recent custom figure you’ve worked on. Do you have any long term plans with building custom action figures?
I most certainly do. Not that I have the time or bandwidth. But once you complete one, you feel the need to create another. However, this time this character is unlike anyone has ever seen or known. In addition to creating the figure, I am creating her story. That is, I am also writing a fan-fiction book with potential for publishing. Why a book? Giving her a “heart and soul” for lack of a better term, not just a body. I keep saying “her” because it will be a female Mandalorian warrior who will be unique in so many ways. Granted, she will be inspired by The Clone Wars’ Bo-Katan, but most people might think Sabine Wren from Star Wars Rebels when you mix “female” and “Mandalorian”.
However, that is only one of four custom figure projects I am currently working on:
Custom “old Ben” from A New Hope: My friend Brandon Acree painted a GlassmanCustoms Obi-Wan Kenobi head to near-perfection. Also, another Instagram friend Colin Kavanaugh is supplying me material for his “under-robe”.
Darth Vader “Emperor’s Wrath” with LED lighting in his head/helmet: Inspired by the idea of a fellow Rebelscum.com forum member TK114. I have three coworkers helping me with this: Carl, Todd and Matt. Why the team? My first time using an Ardiuno Trinket programmable board and micro LEDs. As a mechanical engineer, electrical stuff was never my forte.
Feudal Japanese style Samurai Horse for my Taisho General Vader: Not really a “figure” per se, but it will be a custom of epic proportions. Using a 1:9 Breyer Horse and a few things I picked up at Michael’s Arts & Crafts. It won’t be too time-consuming, but just finding the time that will be a challenge.
Custom Vanessa Z. Schneider from the Capcom game, P.N.03: Non-Star Wars, but a “must-do”; originally made for the Nintendo Game Cube. The game was quite enjoyable to me despite the lukewarm reviews. The premise and the quasi-story always interested me, perhaps even more than the game. I always felt someone should have developed an action figure of her. I guess because of the lack of popularity they will never make one, hence I need to. Perhaps I will write a fan-fiction story for her as well.
Lastly, what is the best advice you would offer to someone who aspires to follow in your footsteps?
My best advice would be to… NOT follow in my steps, haha! I do not consider myself a very good source for “how-to”. However, I would point them in the right direction. For example, this site was a great starting point for me: FigureRealm. Next, get connected with someone in Rebelscum.com forums and get involved with the guys in the 6″ Black Series Customs. The guys there are “pro’s” to me. They really know what they are doing and give great feedback. Lastly, Instagram. There are too numerous to list, but a good place to start is @kesselrunaces and its admin, Colin Kavanaugh (@Chevy2who).
About the Artist