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MF User Spotlight: Interview With Customizer IrishRebel

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PdW2kX of MMAFigs.com Sits Down With MF Forum Member and Noted Customizer IrishRebel to Talk Customs, UFC Figures, and More

Welcome, fans and friends of MMAFigs.com, to what I hope will be the first of many interviews spotlighting the members of the MMAFigs.com forums, particularly our loyal customizers. Although the UFC line isn’t set to launch for months, there exists a large fan community of customizers that do their best to capture the UFC’s biggest stars and greatest athletes in their own unique way. Spotlighted today is IrishRebel, a customizer new to the world of customs but already making waves for his incredible attention to detail. When asked to introduce himself to MMAFigs.com, the Rebel had this to say.

“As a child, I was always very interested in action figures. I grew up playing mostly with my older brothers’ He-Man, Ninja Turtles, and Hasbro WWF figures. Recently, I became interested in figure sculpting through my college art classes. I did a couple of sculpts of MMA fighters. This, in a way, rekindled my former interest in action figures. So, my progression was from full figure sculpting to customizing WWE action figures to represent mixed martial artists.”

With that in mind, let’s dive right into the interview.

Part 1: Customizing Questions

PdW2kX of MMAFigs.com (MF): How new are you to customizing?


IrishRebel (IR): I just recently started customizing regularly in the last six or so months.

MF: Your customs are incredibly detailed, especially when it comes to fighters that have multiple tattoos. How poseable/playable are they?

IR: I try to retain as much of the original articulation as possible in order to allow for different poses. However, they are not meant to be played with as this could risk paint/sculpting damage. Personally, when articulation and detail come into conflict, I will choose detail 95% of the time.


MF: Take us through your own process for creating a custom figure.

IR: The way I do customs is probably different than how most go about it. When I get an order, I like to have the head sculpted (when a head sculpt is required) before I get the actual parts. This just allows for a quicker turn-around on the figure. When I do receive the parts, I like to do any sanding, cutting, or other modifications that need to be made first. From there, I generally like to get a good portion of the sculpting done. This is where my process varies. I sometimes get bored with sculpting, so I just switch to painting a portion where the sculpting is done. For example, before I sculpted the feet on my Aleksander Emelianenko figure, I took a break from sculpting and painted the torso and arms. More times than not, the feet are the last thing to be finished on a custom. This is just because I don’t really like doing them (laughs).

MF: How do you do your tattoo work?

IR: Painting the tattoos is probably my favorite part of customizing. I begin by simply using a fine tipped brush to paint the outline of tattoos. At this point, I try to make the lines fairly crisp, but I am not too concerned with it because I know I will be going back and refining the lines with flesh tones, or whatever color the tattoo is. When I have the outline laid out on the figure, I block in the shading. I start the shading with the darkest and lightest tones touching each other. Then I add the in-between tones to blend the two. A good illustration of this is the grim reaper tattoo on Aleksander Emelianenko’s back or on Chris Leben’s back tattoo. One place I think people go wrong is by using colors that are too vibrant. I never use black, for example. My base color for tattoos is a combination of navy blue, charcoal grey, and teal. It is important to use colors that reflect the generally faded look of tattoos. On ones that are more faded, like the stars on Aleksander Emelianenko’s knees, I like to use a dry brush technique to put a very, very thin layer of flesh tone over the tattoo.

MF: Any advice to aspiring customizers?

IR: Just give it a shot. It’s a lot of fun. Also, don’t get discouraged when you are first starting out. It’s not really easy, but like anything, the more you do it, the better you will become.

Part 2: UFC Figure Line Questions

MF: What is your level of anticipation for the launch?

IR: I’m really looking forward to the release of the line. I haven’t collected action figures in years, but I’m thinking that is going to change with the release of the UFC line.

MF: Do you plan to collect all the figures, just a few, or just cannibalize them for your own customs?

IR: I would like to buy the complete collection, but if that isn’t possible, my favorite fighters will take top priority. As far as customs, I would only make them for orders. I wouldn’t want to use figures from my own collection or buy them solely to customize.


MF: What do you think Jakks has done right so far for the UFC figure line, and where might they improve?

IR: So far, things look great. I’m really looking forward to the variety and the depth of the roster they are going to produce. In addition, I think the added articulation is awesome. This will be a big help for both those who play with their figures, and those who want to pose them in MMA positions. I really can’t be critical of the figures considering they are still in the preproduction stage. The only thing I would like to see is a larger variety of body molds for different fighters. Like I said though, I am big on the little details. It’s just too early for me to say much more than “they look great, and I can’t wait to pick ‘em up.” When I have a few, maybe then I will be able to offer some more suggestions.

MF: Any figure you’re looking forward to in particular?

IR: Of the figures we have seen, I am really looking forward to Anderson Silva and Miguel Torres. I think both of these figures look extremely life-like. In the future, I would like to get Dan Henderson, Georges St. Pierre, and Wanderlei Silva (preferably in PRIDE gear for Wand and Dan).

MF: Do you think the line will sell well in the mass market, or end up being a niche line mostly purchased by collectors?

IR: With the current and ever-growing popularity of the UFC I think the line will do very well in the mass market. The articulation makes the figures great for both kids and collectors. Even UFC fans who don’t want to collect the figures may have a son, daughter, niece, nephew, etc. that they may want to introduce to the UFC through the action figures.

Part 3: UFC Questions


MF: How familiar are you with the UFC?

IR: I have been watching UFC and other MMA organizations since the mid-90s. It was something I was introduced to by my older brothers. I started wrestling at a young age, so I liked how dominant the really good wrestlers like Severn, Kerr, and Coleman were in the beginning. That is what really got me hooked.

MF: What’s your opinion on Dana White?


IR: While I don’t always agree with him, I like what he has done for the sport. Without getting into his stand on exclusive contracts and such, I think he is doing what is right for MMA. I enjoy his brashness and the fact that he speaks his mind. He is out there doing everything he can to get MMA to the public. Like I said, I don’t always agree with him, but all things considered, I have to say I like Dana White.

MF: UFC in NYC. When’s it going to happen?

IR: Not soon enough.

MF: UFC 101 features Anderson “The Spider” Silva once again going up to Light Heavyweight, this time to take on former Light Heavyweight Champion Forrest Griffin. Many are calling it one of Silva’s toughest tests. Who wins it?


IR: I’m going to put myself out there and say Forrest. I don’t care who he is fighting (outside of Fedor, perhaps), Forrest always has a good chance of pulling off a victory. As we all know, he’s got amazing heart, cardio, and resilience, but he also always comes in with a good game plan. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but I’m going to give it to Forrest via split decision. I can’t bet against the guy, especially considering he walks out to “Shippin’ Up to Boston.”

MF: What’s your dream UFC match-up?

IR: Fedor Emelianenko versus a rejuvenated Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović for the UFC Heavyweight Championship.

Closing Thoughts

MF: Any parting words?

IR: Thanks a lot for including me in this interview. Cheap plug: I’m taking orders. PM me for details if you are interested.

Well fans, this concludes our interview with MMAFigs.com forum member and action figure customizer, IrishRebel. If you’re interested in purchasing a figure from him, or just checking out MMAFigs.com, you can sign up on our forums to see his customs, other customizer’s customs, and much more. MMAFigs.com Forums are a growing community of both new and diehard fans, so feel free to join up before the rush when the line launches.


MMAFigs.com is also proud to include a gallery of IrishRebel’s customs.

Image Gallery

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