This is my Indy. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
My Indy is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.
- Ok, well that may be a bit much, but my custom Indiana Jones is my favorite figure (at the moment) and while there are many that are similar, there are none quite the same. Since this article doesn’t feature a figure that can be bought – as described – off the shelf, I thought I might describe the process of building my Indy and give a little insight into the world of custom or (in some ways) “kit-bashed” 1/6th figures.
Where Does it Start?
Generally, it starts with a need for a figure (or, at least, a desire – no one really needs these things…do they?) Many customs are figures based on characters that have a small chance of being made by a larger, higher-quality manufacturer such as Hot Toys or the like. But there are also those that begin as a desire for a better version than has already been mass-produced.
Such is the case of our Dr. Jones. The storied history of the quest for the ultimate Indy precedes my entry in the world of customs by at least several years. The first official 12″ Indy was released around 2008 by Sideshow Collectables. But even several years before that, the kit-bash/custom quest was on.
Clothing (my version by Toribox/Yun Sil)
Every girl’s crazy ’bout a sharp-dressed archeologist! I have to admit I was a bit shocked at the price of clothing sets when I began my first custom. Without going into detail, suffice to say you can buy at least one, if not two full, mass-produced figures for the price of one clothing set for some figures. What, you may ask, would justify that cost? Well, the quality of materials and details is top-notch but it is also the fit and general tailoring of the clothes. The largest factor in the cost is the fact that these are small businesses that create these clothes and not on a large-scale – generally, the runs average only around forty sets or so.
My set, which included the pants, shirt, jacket, belt and holster/belt, was created by Yun Sil Park whose company, Toribox, is known as one of the premier tailors in the one-sixth hobby. Several more sets have been made for the Dr. over the years including clothes from Katoki Ellis (Kato) and Sovereign Studios. Every one has its fans and detractors, but for me the Yunsil set is the best overall in terms of value and quality.
To the outsider, taking these beautifully made clothes and making them look worn and even dirty might seem crazy. But if you want an authentic Indiana Jones, it has to be done. Some people pay yet more to have professional painters weather their clothes for them. I, like others, chose to do that work myself using Tamaiya weathering powder/paints and acrylics.
Sculpt (my version; V2 by Inigo Gil, painted by Jacob Rahmier)
There may be as much controversy and debate about the best Indiana Jones sculpt as there is about the existence of aliens. Maybe more.
Just about every known 1/6th sculptor has attempted their version of the adventurous archeologist. One of the earlier and many feel the best, was sculpted by MJ Choi. It is a great if slightly older-looking likeness but unfortunately was sculpted and cast slightly oversized. Recasts (booooo!) of it are out there, but if you can find an original (and can afford it) it’s a damn fine Indy. Other nice sculpts are out there, but some missed the likeness a bit, or the hat was too small or the wrong shape.
My favorite and the one seen here is by Inigo Gil. This is actually his second version and he recently released a smiling version (ordered!) Mine is painted by one of the premier painters in the game, Jacob Rahmier. I think it’s pretty great. Will it remain on top of my figure forever? We’ll see.
Body (my version; Hot Toys Han Solo body)
After many years of search and debate, two bodies have been generally agreed upon to be the best for a custom Indy. The first, the Hot Toys Han Solo body, makes sense for obvious reasons. The second is the Bruce Banner body, also from Hot Toys, which seems to tick all the boxes for height, build, shoulder width, etc. There are also those who go so far as to frankenstein different bodies together to get the perfect thigh size, shoulder slope, and on and on.
Accessories (my version; boots, hands, bag by Hot Toys, whip made by M. Fisher, gun – ebay/unknown origin)
When it comes to the accouterments, most agree that Hot Toys did a nice job with the hands, boots and shoulder bag that came with their Indy DX release. But there are those that insist on custom versions of the boots and bag citing the need for more accurate-looking leather and other materials.
Others have offered custom whips, but by far the whip made by M. Fisher is the most popular. I couldn’t begin to tell you how he makes them, just trust me – they’re great.
Indy’s trademark Smith & Wesson revolver is available from the Hot Toys models as well, but many opt for a metal version (If you’re spending this much, why not?). These have been made by many fine miniature weapons masters like FullMetal Customs, Weapons Wizard, and others. I found mine on eBay, I’m not sure who made it but it’s a fairly nice one.
Raiding the Lost Art
So that’s my Indy. Customs like these are a labor of love and half the fun is seeking out and collecting pieces, sometimes digging to find clues as to the best materials available from the past – kinda like an archeolog…hey!
If you’d like to build your own, the best place to start is looking through some of the boards on places like sideshowcollectors.com. Study the photos of other builds and see what you like. People are always selling parts and new runs of sculpts and accessories are happening periodically.
Just remember; “Choose wisely” and someday you may be saying “It belongs in a museum!” about your own Indy figure.
Trevor is a New York-based Creative Director and owner of The Brand Counselors. He has a growing collection of 150ish 1:6th scale stock and custom figures (and more and more Lego sets). Toy photography melds his childhood dreams of comic book illustration and film directing with his design talents and – in his mind – justifies the ridiculous money he spends on these things. When he’s not shooting, he enjoys kayaking, catching up on good TV and building seemingly endless custom figures.
Last modified: July 31, 2018