I've been visiting joecustoms since 1998, when it was called the bivouac. I didn't own a home computer, til maybe 2000? Somewhere around there. I used to have to visit the local library to check out what was going on. Once I got my own computer, joecustoms has been my home page ever since. That's a long, long time.
When I started taking broken parts of Arah figures to make new guys, I didn't understand enamel and acrylic paints, I just painted them. I didn't get that gloss looks horrible. You learn a lot of things as you do more and more. I used to have to take my figures to a friends house, he would put them on a scanner, and we would scan and submit to the bivouac, so some of my earliest figures are under his name, not my own.
One of the things that originally caught my attention, besides the customs, was the Liberty:2198 project. I had never thought about gi Joe in the future, and the project and the figures were fascinating. I made some, and mailed them to Joecustoms first Admin Beav, who took pictures of them and put them on the site for me.
I've tried my hand at all the different styles of smaller figures over the years, from Arah til now. My favorite is the current style. For obvious reasons, mostly because it's the one that has been available to me the easiest.
The hobby of customizing was always a side hobby to the collecting aspect. Something to do for fun with spare parts, or making something that you saw on joecustoms that you thought was cool. I started to branch out a little bit around 2008-2009 and really went after making my own versions of things that weren't just copies of what people had already made. I think the first one I was really proud of was a modern era Bullhorn and a modern Era Alpine.
A contest came along at some point to make your own original character. I signed up, thought what the hell. As other people signed up, I realized that I really needed to put forth my best effort. Because the people signing up were the same people I have been ripping off for ideas for awhile lol, and people I followed with great interest. So I devoured all the tips and tricks I could in the wiki and went out and bought some quality paint, and a dremel and put to use the slow but steady paint method, the dremeling, the drybrushing, the minuscule detail painting that makes common parts look a bit different...
I didn't win, but I came close. Some guy named drbindy won. I wonder what happened to that guy. Anyways, When I looked at the figure, I was amazed with myself at what I had done. I started paying more attention to parts and details and within a year, collecting had become secondary to customizing. I have, and still have a massive collection. Stupid huge, that sometimes I don't know why I keep it. Because I'd rather customize than collect now. I've bought multiple figures over the last several years, but very rarely for collection purposes. The last one I bought that went straight to a shelf was gung ho.
A couple of years back, is noticed that Oreobuilder guy was making almost the same things I would have would have on my workbench. Like, literally he'd beat me to the same wip by a couple of months. That rascal! I started some correspondence with him about customs and customizing, which grew into a project and friendship where we made figures together for a reveal dealing with the characters and themes from the "new sculpt" era. And let me tell you, I thought I have good ideas and wips, but seeing what he can envision before it even has paint reeeaalllyyy makes you step up your game. Working side by side with him has really made me work that much harder. Because not only is his stuff good, but his photography is so good, that when he takes your figure and takes a picture of it, you will notice every single flaw that you didn't slow down and look at/fix.
We moved on to Resurgence together and dusty79 soon joined in and I have never had more fun customizing at any time that I do when I'm trying to keep up with them. Both fantastic guys to work with and talk to. It's very rare on the Internet of all places for 3 strangers who have never met to get along so well. Sometimes I wish the three of us were a design team for a toy line, because I feel like when all three of us are going, we bring out the best in each other. I will have some ideas in my head that I'm not sure how to pull off, and they will feed me ideas on how to make it work, and it happens.
Speaking of fantastic guys, I've probably lost track of more friends and names on here over the years than I remember. So many people have gone over the years. I used to have a Canadian buddy on here that I met in person one time at the Minneapolis Con named madman. We got along great, always trading and even exchanging Christmas gifts for many years. There are a lot more that just don't come around anymore. People find new hobbies and disappear. It's kinda a bummer. Part of it is everyone getting older and not having the time, and I think a lot of it has to do with Facebook. A lot of people moved from forums to there. I've seen a lot of different changes at the site over the years. There used to be a chat room. That was crazy in there. I didn't go all that often, I couldn't keep up with them lol.
I've seen the rise over the years and subsequent disappearance of a lot of quality customizers. The forums used to be pretty busy, and maybe it's just me visitng every day multiple times, but I always thought that they were busier than a lot of other sites that existed at the time. I've seen a lot of really strange flame out's as well lol. I've been a good boy all these years, never even got a warning.
There last few years I've tried to go to more and more conventions and meet members, and doing so has been great. You've got a crew of guys that have been here awhile and still come here on a regular basis that show up to the show. Being able to faces to board names, hang out and talk customizing or toys in person is special, and if you ever get the opportunity to visit a joecustoms booth do so, say hi, and talk shop.
I've met pluv, joemichaels, drbindy, zombie guide, chief, hypnohustler, joeczar, silent master, Beav, and a host of others who are all lol guys to hang out with. I hope to meet a lot more in the future.
TEAM RED LASER 4 Life
bucky, drbindy, Tim 121RVC, alleyviperelite, danielb, DREMEL
harlie, icecreamman, Jogunwarrior, Mysterious Stranger
Oneforceleader, Rambo, ronin, Silent Master, Suburbanator
toy-nutz, Tsunami, Wowboy, pugsley, spin doctor