Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Diva's Reylo Fan Art Series: Cody Customises Amazing Adam Driver Character Funko Toys

For the next artist in the Reylo Fan Art Series, Red Dot Diva is shining the spotlight on Cody (aka leiaporgana on Twitter), a major Star Wars fan who also customises Funko Toys with an uncanny likeness to Adam Driver and the various characters he has played in his illuminating career.

Cody is from America but she has been living in the UK for the past 7+ years. She has just quit her PhD in Victorian medical history, and then the COVID-19 pandemic struck limiting her job options. While waiting for the situation to improve, Cody began doing freelance art and creating Funko customisations.

Red Dot Diva got to know about Cody's amazing craftwork after spotting a photo of a Ben Solo Funko on her Twitter feed. She had been looking for more “good boy sweater” Ben Solo fanart after watching STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER.

(Minor RDD rant here. Seriously, Disney... how could you even miss out on the merchandising opportunities for Ben Solo? The redeemed Ben Solo character is so popular, and there is no merchandise available in the market!)

Besides Star Wars, Cody's other fandoms include The 100, and Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. When she is not holed up indoors creating something new, Cody likes collecting autographs, hiking, and rock climbing.

Adam Driver

Red Dot Diva is curious about the art of customising Funko toys, so she asked Cody a series of nosy questions!

Red Dot Diva: I see from your Esty store that you draw beautiful fan art too! How long have you been drawing these art of pop culture characters, and who are your artistic inspirations?
Cody: Thank you for the kind words! I've been drawing art from pop culture for as long as I can remember, to be honest! I used to draw art from A Series of Unfortunate Events and Harry Potter when I was a kid and that morphed into me drawing scenes that I wished happened in the books. I haven't really changed all that much. I don't have just one inspiration - it sort of changes daily. Any time someone shares their artwork online, they're an inspiration. But I used to read the webcomic The Dreamer by Lora Innes so if I had to pick one artist that really inspired me, it has to be her. 

Red Dot Diva: What first inspired you to start customising Funko dolls? Were you already a hardcore collector of Funkos then? Did you learn this craft from someone else? 
Cody: I love Funkos, but I wasn't a hardcore collector. I just really wanted to make a Funko of a book character that would 100% never get a Funko made of him. So I looked at a few guides and Facebook groups, but there's really no steadfast way to make customs and there's certainly not a Funko Making For Dummies guide so it as mostly trial and error. Once I had a rough idea, I just went for it and it actually came out half-decent so I decided to make another.

Eli Vanto and Thrawn

Red Dot Diva: What is your creative process like when customising these figures? Where do you get the parts from? I'm not familiar with the world of Funko customisation, so this is all intriguing to me.
Cody: I probably do it a bit differently to a lot of people, but I like using as many genuine custom parts as I can. I'm okay with using clay, but I'd rather sand down an existing part than use clay to sculpt an original part because I don't trust myself to sculpt a passable arm or a hand when I have a deadline to meet. So my custom Ben Solo Funko, for example, consists of 4 different original Funkos that I cut up and sort of Frankenstein together. So I use arms from one Funko, a lightsaber from another, a torso from another, and a head from another. I glue them together, prime it all, make sure it's smooth enough to paint over and then I begin the painting process. I buy the Funko parts off of Facebook, eBay, Pop in a box, or Amazon - whichever is cheapest. Most of the creating process is just me scouring the internet for decent deals or for parts that resemble the item of clothing I'm trying to create.
Red Dot Diva: That's pretty amazing!

Redeemed Ben Solo

Red Dot Diva: What are the challenges that you face customising these figures? Especially for the adorable good boy sweater Ben Solo ones!
Cody: The biggest challenge for customising is finding the right Funko parts and making sure they're affordable. Like for Ben, I want to use an unmasked Kylo's head to make sure that he looks as much like Adam Driver as possible. And this way he has the right eyes, the right hair, the right eyebrows. But the problem is that all of the unmasked Kylo Ren official Funkos that I use for the head are going up in price because The Rise of Skywalker hasn't released a second wave of Funko Pops yet and everyone wants a Kylo Funko without a mask. So this part that I used to be able to get for £10-15 is now going for £20-30 minimum and I am making less and less of a profit. I don't want to raise the price because he's already expensive, but at this point I'm not left with much choice.

Matt the Radar Technician

Red Dot Diva: Which is your favourite customised Funko toy?
Cody: It's a tie between my Ben Solo and my Matt the Radar Technician which is still very much a work-in-progress, but he'll be available on my Etsy soon! 

Red Dot Diva: How much of a Star Wars fan are you?
Cody: Oh, huge. I have 3 Star Wars tattoos so far and my main hobby outside of art is collecting Star Wars autographs. And if I'm not actively doing anything, there's a good chance I'm reading a Star Wars book or some Star Wars fanfic.


Red Dot Diva: What is it about the Reylo that draws you to the ship?
Cody: I've always been a fan of enemies to lovers. More specifically when one character is clearly on the good side and the other is on the bad side. It's a dynamic I've always enjoyed and seeing the 'good' character's morality slip a bit while the 'bad' character's world view shifts because of the good character...good stuff right there. It's a fascinating trope since it really requires a lot of development and it challenges the characters in the most interesting ways.

Red Dot Diva: Do you think that the Reylos have been constantly misunderstood within the Star Wars fandom?
Cody: Yes x1000. I've never seen a fandom treated as poorly as the Reylo fandom. There are so many defamatory statements and generalisations made about a really large section of the Star Wars fandom. And unfortunately most of the arguments boil down to a lack of support of women in fandom, viewing them as hysterical and less intelligent when they're focusing on a romantic relationship. There's a lot to unpack there. But I hope that time will be kinder to the Reylo fandom the Star Wars fandom will evolve. 

Red Dot Diva: What are your other favourite pop-culture ships? I have many too!
Cody: My other favourite ships would have to be Bellarke (Bellamy/Clarke from The 100), Clexa (Clarke/Lexa from The 100), and Rebelcaptain (Jyn/Cassian from Rogue One). 

Charlie Barber from "Marriage Story"

Are you tempted to get your hands on one of Cody's customised Funko toys and beautiful fan art now? Head to her Etsy shop to purchase one of your own! She is also currently open for commissions. You can DM her on Twitter or email cehenault@gmail.com if you're interested! Red Dot Diva is on the bandwagon, and working on saving enough money for her own customised Ben Solo Funko toy!


Other articles from the Diva's Reylo Fan Art Series:

* Interview with Rachel Xin
* Interview with Afterblossom (Kelly)

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