Nothing says “Merry Christmas, friend!” like a 5″ hunk of plastic.

Unless that hunk of plastic is lovingly splattered with gore and armed to the teeth.

Zombie Hunter

This one-of-a-kind figure was fashioned by me and gifted to Javis Ray (yes, THE Javis Ray!) for Christmas. It took me a few weeks of off-and-on work to complete, and I’m quite pleased with the results. Javis is too, though I wonder if it’s appropriate to display on the mantle with all the wholesome family nick-knacks.

A few months ago, I happened across a “The Walking Dead” figure at Toys R Us. Normally, I don’t collect outside the 3 3/4″ scale (think “Star Wars” and “G.I. Joe”), but something about it just called to me. The figure was supposed to represent Glenn from the comics, during the battle with The Governor at the prison. Out of context, it’s a bald Asian man in riot armor who look like he just had a very bad day.

Mostly, I just liked the look of the armor. I didn’t have a lot of other figures or accessories at 5″ scale – it sort of hangs in limbo between smaller kids toys and bigger adult collectables, like Marvel Legends 6″ and NECA 7″. So unless I grabbed a bunch of other TWD figures or bought parts online, I’d have to work with the whole figure.

The armor is cool and all, but all black is a bit boring. So I decided that he should be a regular guy who needed protection from tooth, nails, and bullets. Underneath the armor, he wears a gray sweatshirt and jeans. Very basic colors, and easy to paint. It’s hard to notice in the photos (sorry, I’m not that great a photographer), but the jeans have a light drybrush effect to add realism and bring out the details. There’s also judicious blood spatter which, I’ll admit, was a little overboard. I was using acrylic paint, so the opacity wasn’t that great. To compensate, I covered almost his entire front torso, and added gloss to the bigger spots so they’d appear fresh.

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The head… well, only so much I could do without swapping out for another. I sure as hell wasn’t going re-sculpt his facial features (sculpt isn’t my strong suit). So I opted to give him a full head of hair and a beard. I would’ve liked him to have a buzz cut with a beard, but the head was small so I wanted to bulk him up a little. I had bought a “Halo: Reach” figure with a head I really liked, but it was little too large. If the zombies don’t find him handsome, they can at least find him deadly.

The accessories come from “G.I. Joe” figures, with the exception of the holster harness, which I made by hand. The katana and pistol were a bit too big for ol’ Snake Eyes, so they’re on loan to our zombie hunting friend. The rifle came from a cheap military toy I found at Big Lots. It had all sorts of other weapons in mismatched scales, so very useful for future projects. The holster and sheath are removable, with the pistol and sword fitting nicely. I also threw in a boot knife and sheath for emergencies. The weapons all fit snugly in the hands, and with a little work the fingers even wrap around the triggers.

Because I took the time to properly seal the paint, it’s safe for both play and display. The paint won’t last against scratches and rubbing like something factory made, but if Javis ever takes him down and poses him, he should hold up nicely. It helps that the joints were already black, so I didn’t bother with most of them. Where I did have to paint moving parts, I made sure to spread a thin layer of super glue. Acrylic paints are water-soluble, so they aren’t very durable. They are, however, very easy to clean up and work with. With some primer, a few thin coats of paint, and good varnish, you can have figures looking better than anything on store shelves.

I would’ve liked to include a display base and zombie opponent, but I wanted to wrap things up in time for Christmas. Besides, I’m notorious for not finishing projects, so I needed to practice letting go. I have a lot of other custom figures sitting half-finished on my table, maybe someday I’ll get around to them and share with you fine people. Hope you have as much fun looking as I did making.