TFArchive.com speaks to Kevin Lange . . .

When did you start creating your boxes, and what interested you in doing so?

I have been creating custom boxes for about 4-5 years now, I was just sitting around one day after I purchased my first Bumblejumper and thought it would be sorta nice to have a package just for Bumblejumper with his name and art. I started with the Idea of doing just a cardback and realized that there would be no way to attach the toy to the card so I came up with the Idea of making a box just like the originals only smaller so I could fit a styrofoam insert into it and make it displayable. From then on the idea was born and adapted into everything I have created. The custom toys didn't actually start until 2 years later.

Where do some of the creative ideas come from for your inspiration?

It's really weird, Ideas for my customs just sorta came into play as I named the toy, For example Vision was named first and from that point he gained a story and later down the road he gained the one enemy that could stop him Spirit. I also had help from online friends or special requests that made my inventory of customs grow. I also have numerous customs that just are rare repaints that you can't get for under 600.00

How long does a custom box design take to make?

Well the Design is pretty easy, once you have it thats all you need. Unless you need a new size for a larger toy than it takes a little time to size and redo art to fit that size as a reasonable Resolution. If you have the right size of box already made just adding Pics of toy and art only takes about a hour.

What kind of materials do you use in making your custom boxes?

Just basically your household items Single, doublesided tape, Scissors, Good Inkjet Printer, Ruler and a little time. You'll also need good knowledge of how to use Photoshop and QuarkXpress.

You've created a lot of 'one of a kind' Transformers—can you tell us about your first kitbash, who was it, what did you feel worked well, what not, etc? What did you learn in the process?

My First Custom was of Rip-Tyde, (A Blue Redco Camshaft). At first I was pretty skeptical about custom toys cause you think why would you want to destroy a piece of history like that, but if you think about it, if it wasn't for the plastic parts, transformers are Painted diecast Toys.

My Airbrush opened a new door of creativity. I really loved how it turned out and from that point ideas just kept popping into my head of what I could do next. I really liked what smooth surface the airbrush left unlike paintbrushing that leaves paintbrush marks and messy fingerprints if your not careful. I really disliked the fact that some of the joints became glued together with transformation. Well after I realized what effects paint had with no clear coat I started experimenting with Clear Coats, Taping off certain areas for less joint rubbing and even using stickers as a cover from paint wear in rubbing joints. This experimenting has gained me about 10-15 Custom toys that have little to no transfomation wear.

Where did you learn to paint professionally? Did you take any classes, or learn through trial and error?

I had take a class in High school for airbrushing, but it was mainly just for painting pictures. All my painting has been taught through Trial and Error.

What materials for paint, stickers etc do you find work best for your kitbashes?

The Paint I use is Enamel Testors Model Master, some colors need to be thinned out for best results. I do know some people use other brands and other forms of paint, I guess its all just what works best. I have found that your normal matte stickers work the best for customizing your own stickers and Waterslide gloss decals work great for Hooded detail like flames or bullets. Waterslide Decals look the nicest and don't peal up like regular stickers but they take a long time to heal so they can be applied by water and not bleed.

Do you have any projects in the works?

Yes of Course I always do. I have a botcon exlusive in the works for Decepticon Matrix, but I can't give anything away. And I just finished a exclusive Psycho custom for Snarl's Homepage.

Which grade of toy do you like to use? Have you ever customized or restored an old toy?

I mostly stick with Reissues because there are no defects in Diecast or plastic so you get the best quality custom. Also the reissues are so much easier to acquire. With the reissues I can offer the toy at a cheaper price. I do have a couple customs that have not been reissued such as Vector (Wheeljack redeco) and Spirit (Mirage redeco). Don't do any restoring of toys just new creative ideas and characters.

How much time from start to finish do you spend on any given project? Do you work on several different projects at the same time, or do you focus on one project, and when it is complete do you move onto the next one?

I usually have about 3-6 Projects in progress whether it be making a new Character or completing a order for an old one. I found it is easier to combine spray time for projects with similar colors. The spraying is the fast easy part, cleaning the airbrush after each color is what takes a little time. The altering of the art and getting all the digital stuff takes more time than actually painting it, unless of course the character is already done than it is just a matter of printing and folding together box.

What would your advice be for other fans out there who want to make their own customized Transformers?

Try it and don't be skeptical cause it will turn out better than you expect if you give it a little time and patience.

Mirage's Boxes: http://www.angelfire.com/ia2/lange/

TFArchive would like to thank Kevin for taking time in his schedule to answer our questions.