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Action Figure Modders Aren't Just Toying Around

Get a load of Rorschach inside the custom action-figure underground.

If you're like most people, you're aching for a Batman action figure carved with the sharp angles and noir feel of the masked vigilante's 1939 debut. Or a Rorschach or Comedian doll ripped from the pages of the classic 1980s graphic novel Watchmen -- slated for big-screen treatment in 2009, but still nowhere to be found on toy shelves.

Fortunately, what Mattel and DC Comics withhold, a thriving custom action-figure underground provides.

A dedicated subculture of craftspeople have been frankensteining, kitbashing, boiling-and-popping, sculpting and painting one-of-a-kind figures for years. Their efforts are bringing to life characters that don't enjoy enough of a following to justify mass production -- think the 1950s Batman foe the Killer Moth -- or which, like the Watchmen figures, are tied up by copyright and creative differences.

"We all started customizing because there was a character we were in love with and nobody made the dolls," says Scott Rogers, a Los Angeles hobbyist who's been building figures since 1992. "Or the one they made didn't look right."

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