So May 2014 was a fairly depressing month for me for a variety of reasons. It was a bit difficult to want to keep pushing forward, and one of my key ways of dealing with it all was to dive deep into my projects at work and at home. That focus on work let me distract myself with the tasks at hand, and then the time would just pass. As such, I jumped headfirst into trying to get this custom Transformer completed by the end of May.
This custom sculpted and painted figure is Transformers Animated Windblade. The character of Windblade is the first fan-created character that Hasbro has ever developed. She is the star of both her own comic book mini-series from IDW, as well as the inspiration for an upcoming retail Transformers Generations toy. She is also rare in that she’s one of the few female Transformers in the current TF universe, which brings up some interesting discussion since the current TF’s don’t traditionally identify with any gender.
With my custom, I’ve brought the Windblade character into a different universe: Transformers Animated. TFA is one of my favorite versions of the Transformers brand. The re-imagined characters, the homages to Generation 1, the great cartoon, and the excellent toys were some of the best ever produced. Unfortunately, the franchise ended several years ago and no new fiction or figures have been produced since then. That however doesn’t mean that I couldn’t keep it alive by making my own customs…
Once after I had read issue #1 of Windblade’s mini-series, I instantly got the idea to bring her character into the TFA universe with a custom. Sarah Stone’s artwork screamed to get an Animated version. I also realized I most likely needed to hurry to try to get the concept completed before both someone else thought of it and while Windblade was in the spotlight.
My take on the TFA version of Windblade is that she was once a car based Transformer like almost all of her fellow Autobots. However, once she learned that her friends Jetfire and Jetstorm had been granted the ability to fly, she too also looked into getting skyward. After working with the same team that developed Optimus Prime’s Wingblade upgrade, Windblade was granted the ability to soar above the metal plains of Cybertron.
The core figure for my custom is the TFA deluxe Arcee mold. It’s a superbly designed toy that was only officially ever produced three times (with one of those releases being very, very rare). I happen to own all those releases, but I also have previously customized this mold twice before for two earlier customs: Chromia and Moonracer.
I knew that I would have to do quite a bit of sculpting and modification to get her to work. Not only did she have a unique headdress, but she also needed wings because her alternate mode was a jet. My original plan was to scratch build the wings with styrene sheets, but as it happened I had a loose deluxe-class Cybertronian Megatron who I could steal the wings from. They also matched the hooked wing style of the original character.
It took a good two weeks to carve out the spaces for the wings and rebuild the platforms with apoxie-sculpt. I would saw and sand down the original plastic, test fit the wings, and then mold the updated wing pods. I’d give a day for the molding compound to cure, and then I would sand, test, and repeat.
I also worked on her headdress using both styrene and apoxie-sculpt. This also took quite a while to get it to a state where I was happy. It took multiple attempts and updates to get the pieces to look good. The headdress took even longer than the wings to get right.
The biggest problem is that I was getting impatient while I had to wait for the sculpted pieces to dry. I desperately wanted to be able to get some paint on the figure. I was quite pleased once I got to that point of the project and started using my airbrush again.
Painting was a bit more difficult this time around, as I tried to match Sarah Stone’s art as much as possible when coming up with the paint deco. Her upper body and lower legs were repainted several times to get a look that I liked and that I felt hit the right notes to be Windblade. I also had to come up with a paint scheme for her alternate jet mode that matched as best possible. Overall I think the colors and layout work well to convey that this is really TFA Windblade.
The hardest part was definitely getting the eye details correct. I knew I couldn’t hand paint detail that small, so I ended up airbrushing some blank stickers and cutting out the little red curls for her face. After a few attempts I trimmed the shapes to my liking and attached them. I added tiny bits of other red detail to get the stickers to blend into the rest of her face.
Finally after some detail touch-ups she was done. I took some photos and then uploaded them to Twitter. And then my custom project went mini-viral…
Very quickly the photos were retweeted and favorited multiple times. My phone’s was continuously buzzing from notifications and my email inbox somewhat exploded. The first photo I posted reached 94 retweets and 108 favorites within 24 hours. The other photos had similar high share counts. Transformers fans from around the world began to share photos of my custom amongst themselves, even with those with names I couldn’t say or spell. In addition, not only did other famous TF creators and artists begin to share it (like TFA art director Derrick J Wyatt), but the official Transformers Collectors Club even retweeted it for another boost in attention the following day.
My custom TFA Windblade is now complete. Robot mode. pic.twitter.com/4jxvw2YqT8
— Andrew Green (@FloatingCat) May 30, 2014
My concept and planning paid off. I hit while the iron was hot, and it felt good that I still knew what the Transformers fandom liked. The admiration and praise I received for my hard work gave me a boost. That boost reminded me that the fans liked my work, and it reminded me that my talent was highly regarded.
And so by the end of May, I had ended on a high note. I pushed through the rough spots by focusing on my work, and I ended the month with a bit of cheer. Not only did I feel better about myself, but I had a great custom figure for my collection, and a sense of pride within myself as Summer finally started.