MF User Spotlight #2: Interview With Customizer NYDream989
For Our Second Interview, PdW2kX of MMAFigs.com Talks With Customizer NYDream989 to Get His Thoughts on a Variety of Subjects
Hello and welcome, MMAFigs.com fans and friends, to another edition of the MF User Spotlight. Today’s interviewee is none other than NYDream989. Although he’s just turned 18, NYDream has spent the past year and a half honing his customizing skills. NYDream also boasts one of the most impressive MMA action figure collections of all, having assembled over 40 MMA customs made by himself and others. Clearly this is a man with a vested interest in the world of the UFC, MMA, and action figures in general. When asked to introduce himself to the MMAFigs.com readers, Dream had this to say.
“Hello everyone! I’m NYdream989. One night after watching TNA wrestling, The Ultimate Fighter season 3 came on and I decided to watch it. Ken Shamrock and Tito Ortiz's heated rivalry and funny antics got me into MMA, and are also one of the main reasons why Kendall Grove is one of my top favorites, being my favorite fighter from that season, which he won. I’m a huge figure collector and can almost guarantee I have the biggest MMA figure collection right now. I’ve already invested over $2,000 in my MMA figure collection. Right now I’m also working on completing my UFC DVD collection in hopes of having every Pay-Per-View they have released. I am a true MMA fan and love everything from UFC 1 to PRIDE to Current UFC and everything in-between. My all-time favorite fighters are Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz.”
Now that Dream has been formally introduced, let’s pick his brain about all things MMA. PdW2kX and MMAFigs.com are proud to present this one-on-one exclusive interview.
[Editor’s Note: For any readers confused and/or unfamiliar with some of names mentioned in this article, they are all members of the MMAFigs.com forums and/or the forums of MMAFigs.com’s sister site, WrestlingFigs.com.]
Part 1: Customizing Questions
PdW2kX of MMAFigs.com (MF): What got you into customizing?
NYDream (NYD): I’ve always loved working on art projects: painting, sculpting, and things of that nature. When I got into WWE action figures I loved the independent, hardcore, and classic ECW guys who haven’t had figures. I saw a guy on eBay named “Sylvan’s Customs”. I bought a DA Hayabusa off of him, and also ordered a DA New Jack. I had spent $90 on the pair and never even saw how New Jack looked until I got him. Once I received them I was very displeased. The Hayabusa's mask sculpting was horrendous: it was plumber’s putty and did not harden. It was so soft that when I tried to play with or even touch it, it messed the shape and paint up.
So, once that happened, I figured “Hell, if this is what spending $90 on customs gets me, I can do this a lot better for a lot cheaper.” And that’s what started it. Shortly after that I bought my own parts and started making my own customs.
MF: What would you consider your best custom, and why?
NYD: I and many others consider my best custom to be my Deluxe Aggression Brock Lesnar in NJPW attire. I always loved Brock’s look in NJPW. I loved the red attire. I was competing on the WrestlingFigs.com forums’ competitions and had a match with a fellow member named Razor. I needed a win in a big way to make it four in a row and really highlight myself as one of the top customizers gunning for the title. Razor made a good custom, but I had gone the extra mile for everything on this one. It’s my best custom because there is no flaw that really jumps out at you. All I’ve ever been told is that the hair is a little off in color, but that’s as harsh as the criticisms go. Other than that I thought the sculpting, painting, modding, and part choices were all perfect, and almost everyone seemed to agree with me since I took the match 4-1 in the judge’s voting. I even sold it on eBay for $76 plus shipping!
MF: Take us through your process for creating a custom figure.
NYD: I consider my process pretty simple. The first step is figuring out exactly what I’m going to make. Usually I have a match for a competition, so after I find out who I’m making, I then go through their different looks, personas, and attires. I usually pick out the most unique and interesting attire, or my own personal favorite. Once that’s over, I start locating the parts that I’m going to use. For me it’s usually DA parts. Once I have all of the parts, I start the modification process. I like to start with the head and then work my way to the body. I like to get at least half my sculpting done, and then I start painting. That’s right: I start painting before I’m even done modifying. So far, I’m the only one I know that does this. I do this because, with the paint applied, I can see how the sculpting is working out: if it’s too rough, if it’s smooth enough, if I need to sand it more or add more sculpting. Eventually I get done with the sculpting and finish painting the entire figure. Then I add any logos or other things I need to before completion. Once everything is modded, sculpted, sanded, and painted I use flat or matte dull coat spray-on sealer. Then I set up my photo shoot with the lighting station I’ve set up and take some pictures. I like to take as many as possible in as many different poses as possible in order to show how good the figure is in every aspect.
MF: Is there any other customizer in particular that you admire, look up to, draw inspiration from, or would like to emulate?
NYD: When I first started Gonzo kind of took me under his wing in helping me out with customs. I took a lot of what he does and made it my own. His techniques are great and helped me a lot when learning how to paint skin tone, do sculpting, and a lot of other things. But lately I have been learning and trying to emulate IrishRebel most. His style is so amazing, and his ability to paint tattoos is unparalleled. I have not seen a single person who paints better tattoos than he does. Not one. Not to mention he fully sculpts every head he uses. But other than those two, there are a few other customizers I try to follow and emulate. There’s Sandman, who is a great friend, and Rozz, who I honestly believe has the most pure talent of all the customizers based on the fact that he uses techniques from his real life jobs and hobbies to make amazing figures. I also like to emulate Deen and M2K, who are both guys I am good friends with and a good customer of.
MF: You’ve assembled a large collection of MMA customs, including your own. What drove you to assemble such a large collection?
NYD: Basically, I was getting tired of the WWE and WWE figures. This whole thing first started when Jakks stated that they would have a big announcement coming up. At first, I thought nothing of it. Then they hit me: they announced signing the UFC figure line. I flipped out, went completely nuts, when I heard that, because I was just getting heavily addicted to MMA. I love the sport. That very day I started selling my 70+ WWE figure collection to prepare for the UFC line. I sold them all. Then I decided I could not wait for the UFC line to come out, so I started collecting customs from my good friends and also from the best customizers WF has to offer.
My first two customs were an RA Chuck Liddell form FamousJ and a DA Kimbo Slice from Gonzo. Since then, I’ve gotten up to about 40 MMA customs from the likes of Gonzo, Sandman, FamousJ, IrishRebel, Deen, M2K, ClassicDAs, Titan, Texacide, and many more. My main focus for my customs collection is to buy the guy Jakks will most likely not make.
Part 2: UFC Figure Line Questions
MF: When the line launches, do you intend to collect, use for spare parts, or both?
NYD: I am already well into my MMA figure collection. I own both Jakks exclusives: the 1 of 150 ToyFair Chuck Liddell and the 1 of 500 Platinum Chuck Liddell. I’ll be buying every set released and plan on being a Jakks UFC completionist. I’ll be doing my best to do so, but it may take me a long time (laughs). I’ve already pre- ordered sets 0 and 1, and now I’m working to get some debt off my hands to order set 2! Plus, I’ll be buying the belts and octagons in stores. I plan to collect every figure loose, as I’m primarily a loose collector, but I will buy doubles of my favorite fighters for a MOC collection, and also extras for customs.
MF: What are you looking forward to regarding this line, and is there anything specific you think the line should avoid?
NYD: So far, the only thing I’m really excited about is the series 0 figure of Royce Gracie. Also, I’m really looking forward to the octagon. In my opinion, I think Jakks Pacific should avoid multiple re-paints and re-releases. Some here and there are o.k., but too many is a bad thing. Plus it will suck because I’m a completionist so I’ll have to buy them!
PDW: What are your feelings on the Suggested Retail Price for the figures and the octagons?
NYD: It really shocked me when I first heard about it, since I expected them to be a bit more, in the range of thirteen to fifteen dollars. I’m excited about that. The Octagon for $20 will be nice and the Real Scale Octagon at $99 is also a great price. I am even more confident that I will be able to buy all of the sets rather quickly after finding all that information out.
MF: What do you think about the scale of the figures?
NYD: I personally think that the modified DA scale, sort of like the WWE action figures, is awesome. It’s awesome as a whole but especially for me: I have about 40 MMA customs in DA style, and the customs look like they will be in scale and fit in my collection very well! I love DA figures and love the scale, so this makes me very pleased in how the line will come out.
Part 3: UFC Questions
MF: How closely do you follow the UFC?
NYD: Very closely. I like to watch every event at my local Buffalo Wild Wings. I go there to eat good food and see the Pay-Per-Views. I check MMAmania.com daily to see headlines of everything MMA. I love the sport of MMA and I don’t just follow the UFC. I also follow Dream, Strikeforce, Affliction (R.I.P.), and everything else MMA.
MF: Where do you think the UFC is headed in the next five years?
NYD: To the top. I’m not talking about “the top of the MMA world”; it’s already there. I mean the top of the world of sports, period. I think the UFC and MMA in general will one day become the most-watched sport in the world. I love MMA and I can’t wait for everyone else to realize how great it is.
MF: Brock Lesnar- former professional wrestling champion, current Undisputed UFC Heavyweight Champion and industry-polarizing figure. Is he the Next Big Thing or a detriment to the sport?
NYD: Next Big Thing… until Fedor Emelianenko comes to the UFC. I don’t hate Brock- I love the guy, so by no means do I think he is a detriment to the sport. But I honestly believe he will be beaten by Fedor Emelianenko. I’m not saying it will be a huge blowout. I think the biggest and toughest fight of Fedor’s career will come from Brock Lesnar. But it remains to be seen. I wish all the best to both Fedor and Brock Lesnar and can’t wait to see what’s next for both men. But I’m still praying my favorite UFC Heavyweight, Frank Mir, can get that title back one day. Maybe I’m dreaming (laughs).
MF: UFC 101 features a main event of “The Prodigy” BJ Penn defending his UFC Lightweight Championship against Kenny “KenFlo” Florian. Who takes it?
NYD: Penn takes this one all the way. I look at it like this: “KenFlo” is great at Brazilian Jui Jitsu. BJ Penn is better at Brazilian Jui Jitsu. Kenny Florian has good striking. BJ Penn has better striking. Florian is in great condition and is an amazing athlete.BJ Penn is also an amazing athlete, and when he fights at his natural weight class of 155 pounds, he is also in great shape. If you look at it in terms of pure talent, I think BJ Penn is the best pound-for-pound fighter in MMA. If he focuses and trains the way he should train, he could be the greatest MMA fighter in the world. I and many others already consider him one of the top in the world. So, in my opinion, BJ Penn wins it by KO, TKO, or Submission within 3 rounds.
MF: Any fights in particular you’re looking forward to?
NYD: I’m really looking forward UFC 102’s main event, Couture versus “Big Nog”. I’m hoping Couture can make a rebound. I love both men, but I think “Captain America” is going to win. I’m also really looking forward to seeing Anderson Silva fight Forrest Griffin. I think Griffin can and will win this one. I just won’t be putting any money on that prediction (laughs). One more that comes to mind is Rashad Evans versus Rampage Jackson. Once again I love both men, but I’m hoping Rampage will win it and get the chance to re-claim his title from either Shogun or Machida.
MF: What are some fantasy fights you’d like to see happen?
NYD: There are many fantasy fights I’d love to see, but I’ll start by listing my favorite two. I really want to see Jeff Monson, my favorite heavyweight fighter, fight Fedor Emelianenko. I know it is likely that Monson will lose, and I’m cool with that. I just think it would be an all-out war. Monson does not get KO’d easily, plus he’s an expert on the ground. I’d love to see how he fares against Fedor. While I’d love to see that fight, my most-wanted fantasy fight (which could actually happen now) would have to be Tito Ortiz coming back to the UFC and facing off against Rampage Jackson. It would be a fight between my all-time favorite fighter and my current favorite Light Heavyweight Fighter. I’m hoping this will happen and I really hope that Tito can have another run at a title. It’s unlikely, but a man can dream! I think Tito versus Rampage would be a brawl for the first minute or two, and then Tito will take it to the ground. If he were in his prime, I think Tito would win via Unanimous Decision. Since he’s taken so much time off, though, I’d have to see him fight at least one more time before I really count Rampage out.
Those interested in checking out more of NYDream can catch him on the official forums of WrestlingFigs.com or MMAFigs.com, as he is an active member of both. NYDream would also like me to post the web address to his official site, but asked that I remind everyone that his website is still under construction.
And now what you’ve all been waiting for…collection pictures! Since he considers it his best custom, I’ve included Dream’s NJPW Brock Lesnar for those who would like to see it. Also included are several Work-in-Progress pictures for an in-development Brock Lesnar figure that will, once completed, stand over a foot tall. It’s Dream’s most ambitious project to date, and gives us a great look at how customizers begin their process.