| 12/11/17- Beru (a.k.a. "Bell")
Seijin is one of the first custom figures that I ever made, so it
has a special place in my heart. Back in the late '60s, I had two
GI Joes that I covered with plasticine clay and papier mâché...
which turned them into inaction figures, or statues. i wish I had
pictures... I don't have detailed memories, but I'd like to believe
that I can do a better job now, nearly 50 years later.
I've been wanting to make an Ultraseries critter for quite a while.
I'd originally intended to make Icarus Seijin, but found that Marmit
had made a 30cm vinyl, so I bought it instead. I've looked, and
I'm pretty sure that a realistic-style Beru Seijin isn't available
in the 12"/30cm/1:6 size from any of the "usual-suspects" manufacturers
I'd actually prefer to buy. Even though I enjoy making stuff,
I don't have enough reference photos to do a screen-faithful version,
so I expect that my attempt will be off, and not as good as one
sculpted by a professional. I wish I had X-Plus' version to use
as a 3D reference, but they don't come up for sale very often and
are quite expensive on the secondary market.
That said, I much prefer costume-covered articulated dolls over
statues and minimally-articulated vinyl figures. While all of them
ultimately spend the majority of their lives on a shelf in a frozen
pose, I like being able to determine that pose. If Medicom were
still making rubber-suited Ultraseries creatures, I'd buy Beru Seijin
It was relatively easy to switch focus from Icarus to Beru because
they share similarities: Both are bipedal aliens with full rubber
suits that give them a padded look. The suits have crevices on the
skin that look like cracked skin. That was the reason I kept procrastinating:
I didn't have any good ideas for how I was going to do that.
Of course, there's the professional way: Sculpt a full figure,
mold it, and cast the skin in a flexible material. That's a lot
of work and investment for something intended to be a OOAK (One-Of-A-Kind)
hobby creation. I had some ideas, but not a fully thought-out plan.
I expected to make it up as I went along.
I started with a Hot Toys TrueType figure (I would have used a
Phicen figure for its superior articulation if I'd had one when
I started) and glued a bunch of memory foam (crudely cut from a
pillow) to the figure to bulk it up. Memory foam is very soft and
compressible, which I thought would help preserve the figure's articulation
range. I considered building a suit out of thin leather over the
memory foam, covering it with flexible caulk and painting it. I
didn't have any good ideas for how I was going to do the cracked
skin. I didn't want to paint the cracks on, because that wouldn't
look dimensional. Maybe burn them into the leather? How would I
hide the suit's seams? Maybe I could paint the caulk on thick so
I could hide the seams and sculpt the crevices? None of these seemed
like a good solution. The project stalled, waiting for a better
A few weeks back, I'd removed Medicom's King Joe inner figure,
which had been wearing a full black Lycra body suit (since the figure
came out in pieces, it was more like a body bag). Aha! After snipping
off the suit's "hands" I pulled it over the memory foam
padded figure-- not easy to do because the expanded foam prevented
all attempts to slide it on, so it had to be "worked" on by constantly
pulling and stretching the Lycra. That made it a one-way trip, never
to come off again! When I eventually finished and velcro'd up the
back, it looked good, with smooth curves, hidden articulation seams
and a good amount of pudge (though in retrospect, not quite enough).
However, the suit compressed the foam tightly which made it stiffer.
Lycra is a pretty slippery material, but nothing slides easily
over memory foam. Therefore, the combination of these factors made
the articulation lose a significant range of movement.
Not ideal, but at least it was a way forward, and gave me an idea:
Thin leather could be cut up into little patterns and glued like
a puzzle to the black lycra suit, simulating the fissures in the
skin. Not a quick job because there were lots of these pieces,
but I can be patient when I need to be. I didn't try to recreate
the fissure patterns of the actual suit. (I'm not that patient!)
The only part that I hadn't padded were the arms, which looked
to be about the right girth. I thought that this might give better
articulation... but I was wrong! I hadn't noticed or even
considered it, but the cement I'd used to glue the leather bits
to the suit seeped through the Lycra and glued to the figure. @#$!!!
This completely defeated the concept of the suit riding over the
figure and stretching. While the same thing had happened over the
memory foam, at least the memory foam was flexible and soft enough
to tear away from the figure so that the outer suit wasn't glued
directly to the figure. I'm glad that I'd only done one arm before
I noticed this. The solution was to wrap the arms in wax paper sleeves
under the suit; breaking the glue bond of the arm I'd done was a
bitch, but it had to be done.
There's a black section at his shoulders that I hadn't thought
about. More leather puzzle pieces, except this time, I used a thicker
black leather. Since the scale pattern wasn't screen-accurate, I
didn't agonize over this section either.
I was curious to experiment with the skin texture and coloration;
The while leather scales were too white and too smooth. I only had
a guesstimate of the actual color, but I knew it wasn't pure white.
I brush-painted each scale with a mix of caulk and paints (Dapple
Gray and White), trying to build up the texture. Unfortunately,
the caulk was quite old and didn't mix as smoothly as I would have
liked, and caused some unintended "pimples" in the texture. That
didn't bother me when I was applying it, but I should have just
bought a new tube of caulk (my backup tube had a split in its side.).
When it was dry, I randomly brushed some dark pastels to vary the
The only thing missing were the weird tubes wrapped around the side, 5 on each side. I made tubes of rolled leather (so they'd be flexible) and glued them to the suit.
To be honest, I didn't want to put them on. Although the backside
structure looks like it will be fun to make, I'm not on board with
the design. It looks like the concept might have been to have a
creature like the spiderish Kumonga hitching a ride on Beru Seijin's
back, but they changed their minds and decided to make it similar,
but different from the Kumonga puppet. The tubes aren't detailed
like legs, although they radiate from the back structure like legs
(Kumonga has 6 segmented legs, like an insect with vertibrate's
eyes). Oh well... I guess that's why they call 'em "aliens",
and why the shows are called "fantasy".
NEXT: THE HEAD