Customized and Rescued Dolls

Death of the Endless

Death (or, in human form, Didi) from Neil Gaiman´s Sandman comic book series was a former Tonner Harley Quinn.

Perry Rhodan Custom Action Figures

"Perry Rhodan" is a very popular German series of pulp science fiction novels that is being published since 1961, and still going strong. While there are all kinds of merchandise, including lead miniatures and model kits of various space ships, there have never been any action figures (except for one custom Perry that was exhibited at FACTS a few years ago). So I thought it's a neat idea for customizing... it's one of the projects I have been planning and working on on and off for a few years now. 

My figures are a mixture between the official illustrations (which offer quite a bit of variety since every artist depicts the characters in a slightly different way) and my own vision of the characters when reading, determined by what can be done with the action figures available and what I can do as a customizer. 

I. Reginald "Bully" Bull

Perry Rhodan's oldest and closest friend and second in command. In the English translation, he is named Reginald Bell, nicknamed "The Bull".

    © VPM

Two cover illustrations from early issues. Both have been painted by Johnny Bruck, and both depict Bully. You can see how the portrayal varies even within the works of one artist. The close up shows Bully with his trademark ginger crewcut and scarred cheek. His description in the novels adds freckles and bright blue eyes. The second illustrations shows the orange space suits worn by the Terrans in the illustrations from the early years.

My Bully, in front of an illustration print of himself signed by another cover artist, Alfred Kelsner - I didn't really do much customizing on this one, as I was lucky enough to find an older G.I. Joe who fits Bully's description so perfectly, an official action figure could not have a greater likeness. He even has the scarred cheek!  The space suit came with a Doctor Who action figure. I might tweak it a bit to look even more like the one in the illustrations but for now, I'm pretty content. (2009)

Other Custom Action Figures

I. Elizabeth Swan, Pirate King

Even though the outfit is great, I wouldn't have bought this girl if she hadn't come in a two-pack with a Jack Sparrow action figure (which was the one I really wanted) for a great price. As you can see in her "Before" portrait she's holding up,  she was looking incredibly bland, like a corpse, and not a bit like Keira Knightley. After checking out as many reference pictures as I could find, I repainted her lips and eyebrows to resemble Keira's more, added some blush to her cheeks and shading to the hair. I think she looks a lot better now. (2009)

II. Keanu Reeves


In 2002, N2Toys released a line of Matrix action figures that were... so-so. While the Neo sculpts are a decent likeness of Keanu Reeves, the painting did not make them particularly attractive, particularly the grey wash that gave them a corpse-like appearance. With a clean-up and some repainting, "Real World Neo" looks a lot more like Keanu Reeves! (2010)

III. Lara Croft


Lara was one of my very first custom dolls, way back in 1999 (before the Tomb Raider films with Angelina Jolie and millions of Lara action figures came out). She was a redhead Pretty in Plaid playline Barbie which I head-swapped onto a Gymnast body and repainted. Being one of my first repaints, she was alright but there were a few details that could be improved upon. I recently finally fixed her outfit and gave her face a few tweaks. Love her now!  (1999/2010)


I. Raevyn

Raevyn was a Jem doll that I found at a flea market - nude, bald and smeared with lipstick or red paint all over. I cleaned her up, rerooted her and enhanced her original face paint - (around 1999/2000, so long before everyone and their grandmother got into customizing Gothic girls).



II. TnT Bubblecut Barbie

Another flea market find. I couldn´t resist the TnT Barbie face... which ended up being actually all that I salvaged.                                                                                                                 Isn´t she cute - all cleaned up, rewigged and with a new body? (ca. 2003?)


III.Malibu Casey

Malibu Casey - Malibu Francie was made not with her usual sculpt but using that of her friend Casey (who had had to share it before with Twiggy). When I found a battered Malibu Francie head. I rerooted it with dark hair to create a Malibu version of Casey. Here she is on a Malibu Barbie body, ready to join the rest of the Sun Set!

IV. Inemuri

Inemuri - Muri for short - was a Unoa sleeping faceplate someone had tried to turn into a winking one - with a pretty disastrous result. I filled in the open eye with milliput, trying to get a tired blink (her name means "nod" in Japanese). Here she is on a borrowed body. If I had messed up, she´d probably be a Pirate now, wearing an eyepatch (ca. 2006)


V. Diello

Diello used to be a Namu Trunk that someone probably tried to customize into a Naruto character or something gothic/zombie-like. After a good clean up, he is quite the handsome guy again. (2008)


VI. Yucie

Yucie used to be a Primadolly Violet Blythe that a previous owner tried to customize, but abandoned the project. Her original make-up was sanded off and her hair cut to an ultra-short bob. The biggest problem was that the lips had been carved in order to reshape them - but had been overcarved. (The dark area of the mouth in the "before" picture is not painted on - as a friend of mine thought at first - but has been cut away and then painted on the inside with dark purple paint). (2008)


I filled in the lip area with epoxy putty and then did a lot of sanding to get the right shape. Since the Milliput I used did not take any dye, I then had to paint the area several times to get the color just right, then lip and eye makeup were added. As I basically liked her hair, but it it looked a little odd in the back because it was so short, I painted the back of her head in the same color to suggest a shaved neck. She got earring holes as well. Yucie was just about presentable in time to take her along to Connichi. I knitted her sweater, too.

VII. Bild Lilli Lookalike

I got a half-bald Barbie anniversary #1 reproduction  at a doll show. I removed the rest of her hair and rerooted her in white (a fashionable color back in the 60s), as well as touching up her face paint to create a Lilli lookalike.

VIII. Casey becomes a top model


This vintage Casey doll had badly faded spots in her face and yellowed arms, as well as rubbed-off paint on her lips. I fixed the paint with acrylics and marker pen, and while I was doing so, added some eyeliner and styled her hair to make her look like the vintage Twiggy doll (which was basically a blonde Casey with heavier eye make-up), mainly because I already have a cute Casey but no Twiggy (2010).

Customized Fashion Dolls

Bai Li  - a former RTW Carrie from the Tyler Wentworth line. I cut her hair, added the blonde streaks and enhanced her facepaint.

Anne - a Jenny doll that I rerooted and gave green eyes and freckles, inspired by "Anne of Green Gables". My first rerooting project and a lesson that synthetic hair wigs for humans are a rotten choice for rerooting dolls with (ca. 1998 - 1999)

Vala - a Robert Tonner doll club Jane that I enhanced and put on a fully articulated MA Alex body

Neferti was one of my earliest customizing projects (around 1999). She is a Disney Pocahontas doll whose face has been repainted to resemble the famous bust of Nefertiti (Nofretete).

Felice LaRouche was originally announced as the second doll in the Christina St. Clair line. I really liked her since she reminded me of Brett Ashley from "The Sun Also Rises" but since the first incarnation of Christina was not too successful, this version of Felice was never released (instead, there was a revamped version with a new face and body sculpt somewhat later). I was disappointed - until I realized that the prototype shared Christina´s sculpt. So I touched up the face of my April Violets Christina to recreate the Felice prototype. Here she is in an outfit that resembles the one she would have worn.

Silk Lilli is a former Model Life Silkstone Barbie doll that I repainted to look like a Bild Lilli.