Wednesday, January 28, 2015

DARTH DADDY's CUSTOMIZING CORNER: Tyler Berry aka Spudtrooper or Spud

by: Darth Daddy

Tyler Berry (aka Spudtrooper or Spud) is a native of Clovis, New Mexico and has been a fan of Star Wars for as long as he can remember. It all started when he was about 6 years old and his grandmother got him and his older brother the Power of the Force ROTJ Luke figure in their Easter baskets. From there he was hooked. His love for Star Wars grew over the years and so did his figure collection. When Hasbro held the collector's contest nationwide around the time of Episode II, Tyler’s collection won for the State of New Mexico and came very close to taking the main title of biggest collection in the U.S. of all the contest participants. 

After seeing Episode II, Tyler’s scope of collecting changed somewhat. He really liked the idea of the clones and the Clone Wars so he started army building. Collecting became easier due to the fact he was receiving free figures for the entire year after winning the Hasbro contest.  Hasbro, however, wasn’t putting out all the clones to his liking. That’s when he picked up the brush and started making his own customs. He started out with just painting the four different colors of the clone officer ranks. Looking back now, he’ll be the first one to tell you that he thinks they look like garbage, but you’ve got to start somewhere. 

When the Clone Wars series got into full swing, Tyler was always waiting for a new clone unit or commander to be introduced so he could make a custom of the character. This is the time when he says that he honed his painting skills that he would later take on to 1/6th scale. With the introduction of the 1/6 scale, 212th Attack Battalion Clone Trooper created by Sideshow Collectibles in 2007, Tyler was on his way to another massive collection. He’ll admit that he never thought he would amass the 1/6 collection he now possesses, saying that originally he was just going to stick to getting the clones. In a way that one Clone Trooper was like the Luke figure all those years ago and led him to getting the Jedi for each respective clone and then branching into the Original Trilogy figures as well. 

In March of 2014, while searching Google for reference images of the Clone Wars characters Fives and Echo in their ARC trooper armor, Tyler stumbled upon a reference image linking back to a forum called Sideshow Freaks. Within this forum he noticed they had a section dedicated to Star Wars customs but in 
the 1/6th scale which had never occurred to him. So he thought he’d give it a shot thinking that if he could do it on a 3 ¾” figure he could surely do it on a 12” one. It just so happened that around this time, Sideshow Collectibles had recently released its Clone Trooper Veteran figure which is a perfect starting base for any custom clone. So Spud put in an order for 5 of them that would soon become the 501st squad of Jesse, Hardcase, Kix, Tup, and Dogma from the Umbara story arc in the Clone Wars series. Needless to say this was inspired heavily by the announcement of a phase 2 Captain Rex coming in the future. After he received such praise and admiration from his fellow Freaks, Tyler decided he’d also do the Troopers of the Wolffe Pack: Sinker, Boost, and Comet. 

Once again, one thing was leading to another, and Tyler was cranking out custom 1/6 clones at a rather fast pace, improving on Sideshow’s designs whenever he could. He even went as far as to replace all the original phase 2 helmets on his clones with the newer phase 2 sculpt from the Veteran figure, painting the designs to match when necessary. So if you wonder who always is buying up all the Veteran buckets from eBay, Spud is to blame. 

Tyler says overall it was the Forum and its friendly members that has inspired him in the last year to be so productive in the realm of Star Wars customs. He says it’s a great community where you can bounce ideas off of people and get help in certain areas beyond your expertise. He credits his friends on Sideshow Freaks with helping him in the areas of sewing, sculpting and casting, painting (Tarkin), and even the construction of lightsabers. Spud says without meeting the awesome people on the boards that he has, he wouldn't have half of the customs completed that he does. 

Tyler is also a massive fan of Avatar and has created many figures using the original Mattel figures and has even created a Pandora diorama complete with glow in the dark paint to simulate Pandora’s bio-luminescence.

Link to Spud’s Customs on Sideshow Freaks:

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