Sunday, January 24, 2016

What Does It Take to Customize A Matt the Radar Technician Action Figure? Red Dot Diva Asks Geek Bro Jedd Jong!

If one has any doubt about the talent of Adam Driver, the actor behind Kylo Ren, the emo-whiny baddie of international blockbuster "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", then you should watch one of the funniest Saturday Night Live (SNL) skits in recent times.

Adam Driver, an ex-marine who decided to express himself through the arts, hosted SNL's first episode of the year on 16 January together with musical guest Chris Stapleton. Not surprisingly, that night's show had a lot of Star Wars references, including this most enjoyable spoof of "Undercover Boss" that had everyone feeling a little bit more empathy for Kylo Ren.

Here's the SNL sketch on Youtube, showing Kylo Ren trying to find out what his minions think of him by going undercover as Matt the Radar Technician:

Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base
What do people say about Kylo Ren around Starkiller Base? He went on Undercover Boss and found out.
Posted by Saturday Night Live on Sunday, January 17, 2016

Not only did the skit fuel geeky conversations, memes and various fan art, socially awkward Matt the Radar Technician endeared himself with the Star Wars fandom, and even inspired toy customizers to make their own Matt the Radar Technician action figures!

So far, Red Dot Diva has seen five versions of these.

One is a soon-to-be-released limited edition (30 pieces only!), by Scott Tolleson x 2bithack, which will cost about USD 65 each. (More info here.)

The next are two versions of customized figures made by Jim Heston of ToyAddicts.

This is the Black Series version by Jim Heston. Superbly done too!

Then, there's another Funko version customized by Edgar Castro. He ships the figurine out to folks for USD 40 per piece. You can DM him on Instagram at @huedaws!

A photo posted by Edgar (@huedaws) on

All these custom figures were all very cool but Red Dot Diva's personal favourite is the one made by "geek bro" Jedd Jong.

Jedd is a movie reviewer and contributor of local movie magazine, F***. He also has his own blog called The Movie and Me.

Last year, one of Jedd's custom action figures, a comic version of superhero Vision, went along on a trip to Manila with Red Dot Diva for the inaugural Asia-Pop Comic Con. During that weekend, real life movie version Vision, actor Paul Bettany, met toy Vision and gave his nod of approval. It was truly epic. You can check out the photos through the hashtag #GoVision on Instagram (scroll just a few lines down till the month of August 2015).

Here's Jedd's version of Matt the Radar Technician:

A photo posted by Jedd Jong (@jeddthejedi) on

Red Dot Diva thinks Jedd and his creative endeavours deserve some signal boosting, so she posed him a few nosy questions about his hobby.

Red Dot Diva: When did you start getting interested in custom toy making?
Jedd: I started getting into customs when I got a hold of some older figures from a thrift shop that needed fixing up. One of my first projects was making a wheelchair out of cardboard for a Professor X figure who came without it. I’ve since found a proper toy wheelchair to replace it. From there, I started reading and watching tutorials and slowly learning different techniques, in addition to acquiring the requisite tools. I’ve also befriended some customisers from the US and Australia online and their advice has been very helpful.

Red Dot Diva:  Do you remember the first figure that you made successfully and were satisfied with? What was it?
Jedd: It took me a really long to get the hang of it, so for the first couple of years nothing was actually good, and I still have a long way to go. I made a Poison Ivy in 2012 that I’m still okay with.

Red Dot Diva: What inspired you to craft this custom of Matt the Radar Technician?
Jedd: I thought the Saturday Night Live sketch was hilarious and that Adam Driver really committed to reprising the Kylo Ren part. You posted a link to a custom Matt in a different scale that another artist had done, and shortly afterwards Myron, a member of the Singapore Comics Community Facebook group, also suggested that I tackle a Matt the Radar Technician custom. I was initially hesitant because I didn’t think I’d be able to find the right parts, but I was able to eventually cobble it together.

Progress pics of Matt the Radar Technician figure, by Jedd

Red Dot Diva: Which parts did you use to create it? Like, whose "8-pack" was it? Haha.
Jedd: We can’t know if there’s an eight-pack under there for sure, but I’d take Kylo Ren at his word, haha. Ironically enough, the base figure was a Bespin Luke Skywalker, Kylo Ren’s former Jedi master. That costume is as close to a janitor uniform-style jumpsuit as it gets. Replaced the lower legs with those from a movie Punisher. Took the head from movie Captain America, resculpting the jawline, nose and ears and sculpting on the wig. The glasses were from a Ghostbusters Louis Tully; I don't have any more of those and this pair already belonged to Dr. Harleen Quinzel, who is now running around with silly oversized pink glasses from elsewhere. The harness was also from movie Punisher and I sculpted some more pouches onto it. Used printouts for the shoulder patches and nametag. Please refer to the before and after progression photo!

Red Dot Diva: How long did it take you to do the Matt the Radar Technician custom?
Jedd: Around three days, on and off. I wanted to get it done before the fad faded from memory, haha.

Red Dot Diva: What was the most frustrating part of the process for the Matt custom?
Jedd: This was a good deal more challenging than it looks! Getting Adam Driver’s likeness down was tricky, as was sculpting on the wig. The wig really wasn’t looking right at one point in the process I also had to sacrifice Punisher’s web gear, which I only have one of. I do wish I had more of the same parts to make multiple Matts since I’ve had several requests to do so, but I think I’m hanging on to Matt for now. 
Red Dot Diva: You have to bring Matt to me. I want to give him a kiss :P

Red Dot Diva: What do you really think of Kylo Ren?
Jedd: I honestly don’t mind the character. I think there’s a tragic element to the story of someone who goes down the wrong path and tears his family apart in the process, it’s perhaps akin to how a kid could fall in with a gang or become a drug addict and put a strain on his parents’ relationship. Kylo Ren wants to project a badass exterior, but inside he is quite a pitiful figure. I think there actually is a struggle between the light and the dark within him, and it wasn’t just a trick so he could kill Han. Kylo Ren is whiny and throws hissy fits, but I appreciate that unlike with Anakin in the prequels, we aren’t supposed to think he’s cool because he does so.
Red Dot Diva: I really did like that it was a nice choice of play to the usual villains we see on TV and movies these days. The cold calculating villain has become quite the stereotype. Kylo was unpredictable and simmering with an excess of emotions, which I think that most bad guys will usually start out with - until they no longer struggle and get desensitized by all the violence. 

Red Dot Diva: What custom figure do you aspire to make in the near future?
Jedd: I typically get inspiration from the parts I come across, so I don’t have any concrete plans for upcoming projects. I’ll definitely be doing full repaints of the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice figures when I eventually get them. Lately, I’ve been doing new versions of older customs. I’d like to redo Indiana Jones using the Old Han Solo figure and Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) using Spider-Gwen, though those two figures are currently prohibitively expensive and difficult to come by.
Red Dot Diva: Very cool! We can't wait to check out the new ones that you will be posting online!

You may not be able to get hold of your own Matt the Radar Technician as much as you would like, but there's always the videos to replay over and over again. And if you haven't got enough of the one that was aired, here are bonus behind the scenes snippets of Matt the Radar Technician!

Bonus footage from last week’s Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base with Adam Driver.
Posted by Saturday Night Live on Friday, January 22, 2016

Kudos to Adam Driver.
Red Dot Diva is beginning to like you a lot. Really, really.

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