MINT CONDITION CUSTOMS
Real Name: John Harmon
Base of Operations: www.mintconditioncustom.com
History: John Harmon is a lifelong Texas based toy collector. In 2007, he started his own Webcomic Mint Condition, which is currently on hiatus as he works full time as an action figure customizer. He showcases his work on his website Mint Condition Customs. He also repairs action figures, and likes to imagine himself in his own primetime drama called “The Toy Doctor”. He’s not well.
PG: How long have you been a toy collector?
Well that all depends on what you consider collecting. My parents bought me toys and action figures all the time when I was a kid, but I wouldn’t necessarily call that collecting in the strictest sense. I’ve never actually taken a break from having and buying toys, but the earliest I can remember actively collecting is when I was 13 when the Spider-Man Classics figures came out. I wanted those. Badly. Those were the figures that taught me what “points of articulation” were. From there I got really big into the Spider-Man 1 movie line in 2002, making sure to only buy the figurse that said “super posable” on them, and then Marvel Legends, etc. I think when I discovered Spider-Man Classics that was when I definitively transfered from a kid with toys, to a collector.
PG: What are your favorite toys and toy lines, and why?
There are so many, ha ha. I know most collectors are only hardcore about a small handful of toy lines, but there are a lot I’m into. My biggest collection is my Marvel Movie 6″ figures (remember I said I got big into the Spider-Man 1 movie line). I don’t know why, but the idea of having all the Marvel Universe in a realistic action figure form is appealing to me. So I have all the 6 inch movie figures Toybiz and Hasbro have ever put out, except some of the 1998 Blade movie figures.
I’m also into DCUC, especially Batman (I’ve got all the DC Direct and Mattel Arkham Asylum/City figures) and Superman, though I do have a bunch more. I’ve liked DC ever since Batman the Animated series, but I didn’t really start to get into the figures until I started watching all the DC animated movies that keep coming out.
Another huge one is Masters of the Universe Classics. I never watched it as a kid, but I really dug the 200x line, and ever since I found the first MOTUC Vs. DCUC 2 packs in Toys R Us, I’ve been hooked. I like the mythology surrounding Masters of the Universe, and the 2002 cartoon series is what really got me to love the characters.
I’ve also got a rather extensive G.I. Joe collection. Again, I was never really into it as a kid, but around the time the Sigma Six figures came out I started digging it. I really liked the new stylized looks, all the accessories, and the fact that the packaging turned into a weapons locker for the figure. I’ve got a bunch of the Sigma Six figures, and the first 3 3/4″ G.I. Joe figures I ever bought were Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow from the 25th Anniversary line. I was content with those until Rise of Cobra came out, and I loved the movie and bought up…let’s see…carry the one ALL OF THOSE FIGURES. And vehicles. And Hasbro keeps blowing me away with their Joe figures, so I keep buying them. I have severely scaled back on the vehicles though.
I’ve also got all the Sota Street Fighter figures, save for Dan Hibiki and Gouken (both exclusives). I’ve really been getting into the Thundercats too. That is one I remember loving as a kid, and I have all the figures bandai has put out so far. I hope they at least finish the main team in the Classics line.
I’m also getting all of the Mattel Voltron classic figures, because Voltron is awesome. Other than, I just buy the random figure here or there, like the NECA Robocop, or Evil Dead 2 figures. I’ve got some Figuarts Dragonball Z figures and some Revoltech Fist of the North Star figures.
That’s about it for the lines I collect. I’ve got a lot more figures than that, but they’re all in my fodder bins for customizing.
PG: How did you get into action figure customizing?
My friend Nathan Little got me into it. I had no idea what it even was until about 10 years ago when I saw him doing it and asked what it was. I didn’t “get it” then though. I thought it was cool he was making customs, but in my mind I still would have preferred official product. But then I slowly got into it, and started to realize the artistry in making a custom. It’s a great artistic outlet and can be quite cathartic when you really get into a certain piece.
So yeah, my friend got me into it, and from there I started making customs of figures to fill gaps in my own collections, and then after I started posting them online I started reading all the tutorials, and talked with the big names Kyle Robinson and Jin Saotome and learned that you can actually make a living off of selling customs. Ever since then I’ve been working towards doing just that, and still constantly working, but I now am able to sustain myself solely on my customs.
PG: You once created a custom toy for comic book writer and novelist Peter David. How did that come about?
Ah, yes. This is a fun one. Back in March of 2011, I created a custom figure of Janine Melnitz (the receptionist from Ghostbusters), but I put her in a Ghostbusters uniform. I based my custom on the cover of a comic book one shot (“What in Samhain Just Happened?”) wherein Janine was dressed in a Ghostbusters Uniform. The comic was also written by Peter David. After I put it up for auction on eBay, it became somewhat of a “hit” around the Internet. It was my first real hit as a customizer too. Several websites talked about it, podcasts as well, and I got tons of emails about it and was quite surprised at what the final bid turned out to be.
After the auction ended, I received an email from Peter David, whom you’ll remember wrote the comic my custom was based on, and he asked me if I could make another Janine for him. He said he was actually bidding on my custom, but the price got too high for him. I went back and checked the bidders on eBay and sure enough Peter David bid on my custom. A famous comic book writer bid on something I made!
Anyway, he wanted the custom as a gift for his wife since it was based on something he wrote. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to create a custom for Peter David, so I gladly obliged. In fact, I made Janine version 2 even better than the first one, just for him.
PG: What’s your favorite custom that you’ve created so far, and why?
Wow, another tough one. I’m always critical of my work, constantly wanting to improve so it’s hard to pinpoint. I’ve got some that I had the most fun making, and others that I felt were great technical achievements that really challenged me and made me learn something new. However, if I had to pick one as my favorite, it would actually be a tie. I know, it’s cheating, but I couldn’t decide between the two.
The first one is my custom Venture Bros. Brock Samson figure. That one’s always held a place in my heart, because I love the Venture Bros. and I thought Brock looked very cool in that outfit. And, that was a very rare occurence where all the pieces came together perfectly.
My other favorite is my custom Kraven the Hunter, done in my own movie concept. I used to do a lot of Marvel Movie Concept customs, of characters that never appeared in a movie. I always thought Bruce Campbell would have always made a perfect Kraven, so I used a head from a NECA Army of Darkness figure and turned him into Kraven! This is another rare occurence where all the pieces came together perfectly.
Those would definitely be my two favorite customs I’ve done.