Customikey's Toys of Wonder

You may have already guessed that I’m a huge Star Wars fan!  When I was very very young, I was in a terrible accident that put me in the hospital for a very long time.  I have a distinct memory of my parents visiting me in my room, one night after surgery, when I was unable to walk and I had IV and blood drips hooked into my arms.  I was so bored and tired and grouchy, so they brought me a big brown paper bag of Star Wars figures from home! 

I was surprised when I opened the bag to see that they had even sneaked in a few new ones!  Among these were the Max Rebo Band and The Emperor.  I was elated!  I tore open the packaging right away and was thrilled by the new and interesting figures.  For some reason, The Emperor became my favorite of all.  It is, on the surface, a rather boring toy of an old, gray man in an old gray robe, looking very worried, with two fat hands and a little black cane.  But for some reason, I really grew attached to this figure.  The Emperor himself would become my absolute favorite Star Wars character.  This was long before I knew he had any other name.  He was just the evil and enigmatic Emperor.

Twenty-six years later, and I know so much more about The Emperor.  The character and history is so much more complex than he was in my youth, but I’ve lost none of that sense of awe for him.  I even still have my little Kenner figure.

I just received notice from Sideshow that their 12” version of Emperor Palpatine is shipping soon.  I must admit, I’m really excited for this figure.  The preview images suggest a well-sculpted and clothed figure, and he even comes with his throne (something I always wished for my stiff-legged little Kenner figure).

I suspect when he arrives I’ll simply have to customize him, but that doesn’t make me less excited.  It makes me even more anxious for him to get here!  It is not often that I will buy toys for myself anymore (a subject for a future blog, perhaps), but I could not let this one pass.  I don’t often write reviews (you’d have to look pretty hard to find the ones I wrote on, but I think I’ll have to for this one!  Then it’s on to the work of making him uniquely…. Mine.

The little gray dude with the stick is the Best Figure Ever!!!
A line-up of commissions
A line-up of Commissioned heads
Ever since I tripped over the amazing forums at Sideshow Freaks (, it's been such a pleasure being able to talk at length about this interesting hobby with fellow enthusiasts.  This blog is sort of an extension of that joy.  This blog is also my opportunity to keep a continuing record of what I'm up to, both as an artist and as a collector.   

I suppose, since this is my first post, I should talk about myself a bit.  I was raised upper-middle class in a military family.  We were always doing well, and I never wanted for anything.  As such I was always well-stocked with new and interesting toys to play with.  My childhood can be measured by whatever toyline I was obsessed with at the time, from Star Wars and G.I. Joe to He-Man and Ninja Turtles.

I started customizing my toys at a very young age, popping parts off of Kenner Star Wars figures and re-arranging the limbs on G.I. Joes, adding cloth capes with safety pins attached at the neck.  I was never quite satisfied with the way toys looked out of the package, and always sought to make them just a little bit better.

This tendency really took a turn in my high school days, when I started collecting 12" figures.  It was around this time that I saw the work that Tony DiTerlizzi was doing on  His extraordinary work changed the way I looked at my collection.  I couldn't stop myself from repainting, changing bodies, adding or altering costume pieces, etc.

 It wasn't till after college, when I was married and living in NYC, that I started posting pictures of my work in online forums.  And it wasn't long after that that I began to receive messages from other collectors who "wanted their toys to look like mine!"  After doing some research, I saw that what had started as a simple hobby, could also be a tidy business, at least enough to help offset the collecting habit!

So, I've been painting on commission ever since.  My main job is as an actor (check me out at, but whenever I'm not on the road, I enjoy sitting down to a new project.  These days, I don't collect so much anymore, and my commissions usually go straight to paying for "adult things" like bills and rent.

But every now and then, something will come along that I just can't ignore.  Right now, I'm really enjoying Sideshow's 1:6 scale Star Wars line.  It's a little slice of awesome.  I'll talk more about my own collection, and the work I do for other people, and cool stuff that's caught my eye as we go.  Thanks for reading!

My signature on the inside of the neck.
My little sig!