Meet Bruswick: My First Custom Munny

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Meet Brunswick, my first custom Munny.  Only three years in the making.

Let me explain.

A few years ago, thinking I’d get a kick out of making my own toy, a friend gave me a DIY Munny.  I was pretty excited about it.  I was going to make a wrestler, or a superhero, or a really cool abstract thing, or… admit that I had no idea what to do.

So I put it on the shelf until I could figure it out.

Flash forward three years.

I’m lying on the floor trying to figure out how to rearrange my bookshelves, staring at Brunswick’s unpainted carcass.  I start running through all my old ideas again:

Luchadore – nope.

Spiderman – nope (thanks Mighty Muggs!).

Graffiti – nope (not my idiom).

Self-portrait – hell no.

What to do with that big old round head?  Round head…round head…like a bowling ball….

That’s it: CHARLIE BROWN!!

No, wait.  I don’t like Peanuts.  Never mind.  Never mind.  No mind.  Nothing.  Nobody.  Nothing.  Nihlist.  Marmots.  Shut the fuck up, Donny.  BOWLING BALL HEAD!!

Really, this is how my mind works.  I’ve learned not to question it.

In the beginning, there was Photoshop. And it was good.

Okay.  Down to process.

First things first, take the whole toy apart, wash it and prime it.

Next, the body.

I decide that I want a bowling shirt, like Lebowski wears.  Except that I’d then have to rig sandals and an ugly sweater and explain ‘Medina Sod’ all the time.  I don’t want to be one of those guys who makes everything into their favorite character or movie or whatever, so scratch the Lebowski (for now).   I go online to find a shirt design I like, then mock it up in the computer (see above).  Happy with look of the piece in my mind and online, I set about adding a collar to the body of the Munny.  My research says I should use Milliput, an epoxy putty, when working with vinyl.  They say it dries rock hard and sticks to everything and they are right as I spend an evening scraping it off the countertops in the kitchen.  It takes three tries to get the collar to look right, but well worth the effort.  Finally satisfied, I re-prime and paint.

Nice bib.

Measure Twice.  Mask Once

All masked off with nowhere to go

Painting turns out to be a little harder than I thought.  Airbrushing is deceptively challenging.  Masking doesn’t always work the way you want and the the paint sometimes bleeds under the tape.  I end up doing a lot of work twice.  I decide I don’t like the original skin tone, so I have to remask the arms and repaint them.  I pick red for the shirt and that was a mistake because red paint is always sucky to work with and it takes forever to get the finish I want.  I catch a break when I mask off for the pants and end up with a curved line for the hem of the shirt.  After talking myself out of multi-colored bowling shoes, I go with flat black for the pants and I’m done with the body.

Only took two weekends.

That leaves the head.

Everything in this photo was redone later

My first impulse is to drill out the eyes so you could actually put your fingers in it, like a real bowling ball.  I decide against this after I drill into a test piece and realize that doing so creates more problems than it solves.  The head is hollow and I’d have to figure out the best way to make it appear solid, which involved expanding foam and tubes and epoxy glue and lining things up and I’m doing this for fun so screw it.  I’ll just carve out the eyes and nose and paint them a different color (for now).  That means the Dremel and sandpaper and more putty when I accidently sand through the head and create a real hole.

Then, in a moment of unbridled fancy, I decide to engrave the weight of the ball into the back of the head, effectively signing the piece.  That requires a blow drier to soften the plastic, a wood gouge, and a steady hand.  I use those on the second head, because the Exacto knife I use on the cold plastic of the first head leaves wide, uneven jagged cuts.  And if you’re reading closely, you’ll notice I say first and second head.  That’s right, I botched the first attempt so badly that I had to go out and buy another Munny.

With all my carving and sanding done, I go back to priming and painting, at which I’m now an old pro.  It takes only two days to paint the head the way I want it, which is a big improvement over the three weekends it took to carve the head(s).

So there you have it; two heads, five weeks and three years after starting my first custom Munny and I’m finally finished.  I’ve learned a lot about technique and I can’t wait to complete my second custom, which should be done next weekend with only one set of parts.

The End

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