Archive for the ‘Assorted Customs’ Category

In 2012, I was invited to customize a Transformers figure for the upcoming Cybertron Con 2012 at Resorts World Sentosa.

Cybertron Con is a convention for all Transformers fans stunning exhibition of TRANSFORMERS collectible toys as well as activities for fans to experience a wide variety of offerings from Hasbro’s toy line and entertainment in this bi-annual event.

I chose to customize the dual model kit Optimus Prime with my “signature” battle damage finish. The other choice was Bumblebee. It was a thrill to have my custom displayed at the convention alongside professional customizers.

Hasbro sent me the model kit and I got to work.

This was quite a tedious custom to do. Gundam customizers will find it run-of-the-mill as they are used too painting models but generally, all my customs have been assembled toys that I dismantle to customize. As a result, the process of painting and battle damaging is quite differet. I painted as I built up the model. This was more time consuming but ensured I got the right colours and textures for the completed model.






Some of the customization includes:

  • For the exo-skeleton, I used a flat black base coat then gave a dry brushing of gun metal followed by a dry brushing of chrome steel. This gives a nice textured and layered realistic look.
  • Some elements are given a complete chrome steel finish or straight gun metal finish to highlight features.
  • Lots of copper and gold trimmings were added to give detail to the otherwise plain exo-skeleton.
  • I reprinted in the red and blue parts, maintaining the flame patterns through careful brush strokes.
  • Battle damage was applied – bullet holes, laser slashes, dents and scratches.
  • Flat Aluminum paint with delicate strokes were used to create the battle damage wear.
  • I also added a stainless steel “Autobot” emblem on Optimus’ right shoulder.
  • Parts of the model were given a black wash to give it a gritty look.
  • I also gave grass and mud effects in the wheels of the model.
  • To cap off the display, I cut off a Leader Class Starscream figure and applied severe decapitation damage complete with green blood.

This figure took about 38 hours to do including drying time.

The following photos were taken after painting but before battle damage and weathering effects were applied.

The following photos were taken after battle damage and weathering effects were applied.

I was featured in the 10 Mar 2012 edition of The New Paper for my customizations. Read the article online HERE.

With Transformers: Dark of the Moon movie released, I thought it would be fitting to revisit some of my favourite custom Optimus Primes that I hand painted and modified.

You can see all my customs at But here are a few of my favourites.

First, the one that a lot of people know me for. A transformable Battle Damaged Power Up Optimus Prime. The biggest custom I have done. You can see the full specs here.

One of my personal favourites, because it is a great mold, is the Voyager Class Optimus Prime from the Hunt for the Decepticons series. You can see the full specs here.

An army-themed Optimus Prime with military weapons and a real working flame thrower! You can see the full specs and watch the video of the flame thrower in action here.

Old-School Prime was another creative theme by repainting the 2007 movie Prime with his Generation One colour scheme. This was a popular custom too. You can see the full specs here.

Old School Prime 2

Now, the movie….

I should start off that I enjoy Michael Bay’s movies, visual style, trademark filming angles and almost-campy stylized moments. I take them for what they are… entertaining summer block buster movies, eye candy, visual bubble gum and just good fun.. So, I think it is silly when people criticize his story development, character development or fantastical plot or action scenes.

However, TF3 was just one incoherent almost-3-hour crap fest. Multiple subplots and seemingly unconnected & disjointed scenes. In fact, different scenes  seem like they came from different movies and this happens throughout the movie. I don’t expect a perfect seamless story but at least tell the story well. We sit through the movie for 15 minutes worth of action and maybe 4 or 5 Michael Bay moments.

Characters… I think we don’t expect much from a Michael Bay movie in terms of intricate characters BUT characters from his movies have always been well-defined albeit one-dimensional. In TF3, the Autobots seemed less effective at killing Decepticons than the humans and in fact often turned up after the humans killed or fended off the Decepticons. This happen significantly at least twice. Where were they? I know Optimus Prime was literally hanging around for an unimaginable point of time. For a robot who has energon laser swords and axe, it is strange he can’t cut himself free from entangled cables.

Speaking of OP, his character was reduced to an almost unimpressive incompetent second-in-command. Even Megatron had to save his a** at the end. How is Hasbro going to move OP merchandise if OP is made to look so weak. Megatron… the once all mighty Decepticon leader is now a brooding robot who lacks confidence and sits around to mope during the final battle. It takes a girl who has no previous knowledge about the robots to use psychology on an alien race to talk him into getting off his a** and do something about it.

I thought TF3 would be a sure hit… hard to screw up. After all, you have a great fan base, impressive-looking robots and cool transformations & actions scenes and a ready summer movie audience. But… I guess this was his last TF film so he just “Michael Bay-ed” it.

A fellow Singapore magician, Alexander,  made good analogies to TF3 and magic. You can read his thoughts here. Basically, TF3 is a lot like a trend of magic stage acts. You probably know the ones I’ve talked about previously … endless barrage of canes, parasols, cards, snowstorm, confetti and kabuki streamers.

Show a 2min highlight and it looks awesome and impressive. Watch a full show and it becomes senseless flurry of incoherent actions and effects that do not result in a magical experience. Good movies are supposed to do the same, suspend the audience’s belief and get them immersed in the movie world.

Bad magic and bad movies keep the audience unsettled and even distracted because they have no idea what is going on and why certain things happen. I’m often distracted by magic acts that have a flurry of stylish poses and gestures that do not even end in a magic effect. Half the time, it is to look cool or to match a beat or timing in the music.

I’m all for visual bubble gum, flashy moves and effects, but at least have it make some sense and bring the audience on an enjoyable journey.

Welcome to my blog featuring custom Optimus Prime toys, figures and models!

J C Sum Optimus Prime

My name is J C Sum and I am an illusionist & illusion designer by trade.

I design original illusion effects & props for large-scale magic & illusion shows for professional illusionists all over the world. I work primarily with aluminum, wood, stainless steel and acrylic/ plexi glass.

When I’m not performing or designing illusions, I apply my expertise & experience to customizing Transformers, specifically Optimus Prime. I have customized dozens of figures but have posted my favourite ones on the blog.

My work has been showcased at Cybertron Con 2012 and in the media.

Custom Optimus Prime Media

Hope you enjoy your visit! 🙂