For those of you who don't follow the Coarse thread, but who may be interested in a unique custom...
It's entitled "The Butcher of Ginza". Basically, since I love the 1:3 figures so much, I've always thought that it would be really cool to have one customized. However, in doing so, after hearing so many stories about how Mark, Sven & Co. don't really like when their figures are customized, I thought that anything done would have to remain faithful to the design, aesthetic and concept of the original characters. This would mean that the artist chosen would have to have a similarly clean-lined technique and sensibility - the design and execution shouldn't be too fussy and over-the-top with superfluous sculpting, etc..
I've always loved the movie "Gangs of New York", not so much for the movie itself, which is mediocre, but more for the costuming, set design and characters - especially Priest and Bill the Butcher. Being lucky enough to already have a Pain and Chopper in my collection, it occurred to me to create a character that would fit with these two. My concept was "what if Pain was a skateboarder/student/layabout by day, yet had to have some kind of part-time job at night?" What if this part-time job was in a butcher shop in the Ginza area of Tokyo and it just happened to be a front for a yakuza-run business? What if Pain was himself a junior yakuza ascending the ranks of the organization?
With these ideas I then started to think about which artist would best be able to capture and execute these ideas. I actually first contacted wwetworks after having seen his sick work on Nico's articulated motorcyclist custom and he would have been a great choice for this commission. However, I was concerned about having to send the figure to Singapore, mainly for the cost and a concern for the figure being damaged through two trips - one there and another back once it was finished. Since Nico is the king of customs, I asked for his opinion and he came back with a few suggestions - one of whom was Early Bird. After I checked out his work, I thought that he would be ideal for the project. Fortunately, he liked the concept and had an available window (although I had to wait awhile for Nico's work to be finished). This amazing figure is the fruit of Early Bird's work. He has done an incredible job of executing the concept. The knives, apron, headband and topknot were all hand made by EB. Unbelievably, the tattoos were the first time that EB had ever attempted to draw or sketch a Japanese design. It was his idea to depict the Oni (mythical Japanese demon) on the back and the Carp and Jellyfish on the front. It was also his idea for the bloodspot on the apron.
Another important point with this project was finding the figure itself. Since I didn't want to use my 1:3 Pain and since finding others is fairly difficult and extremely expensive, I was intrigued when that saga about the Pain without his cowlick hit the boards a few months ago. I was able to buy that Pain and since the cowlick is such a distinctive part of the design, I thought that it would be cool to replace that cowlick with something else that would contribute to the concept - hence the samurai topknot.
The Butcher of Ginza, custom by Early Bird, from a concept by Johnnyvinyl: