Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Custom Atari-Era Activision Figures

Today I turned 33, so as a birthday present to myself I’m going to get around to posting these customs I made. Using old GI Joes, I made a bunch of characters from some of my favorite Atari games. I specifically chose Activision games due to their particularly memorable characters and recognizable box aesthetic. I used each character’s color scheme from the game (as opposed to the colors from the box art), taking only minor liberties with boots, gloves, belts, etc… 

Short-Order Sam 
Body, Legs, Arms: Cobra Commander
Face: Recondo
Hat: Joseph Colton Mail Away

Cobra Commander’s body happened to look just like a chef’s outfit. I bought a completely sun damaged one on eBay for cheap. For the head, I cut the hat off of Recondo, then sliced the beret off of the mail-away Joseph Colton.  


Officer Kelly 
Body, Legs, Arms, Head: Gung Ho Marine Dress Blues
Hat: Riddler from Batman: The Animated Series 

Gung-Ho’s Marine outfit looked close enough to use for a British Bobby outfit. I struggled trying to find or make a helmet, but while I was at work (obsessing about these stupid figures), I noticed my Riddler from the animated series was wearing a derby. And, since he’s slightly bigger than the 3 ¾" Joes, it worked perfectly. I painted one piece of star glitter yellow and glued it on to resemble a helmet. 


Pitfall Harry 
Body, Legs: Short Fuze 
Head: Steeler
Arms: Airborne 

I would’ve just used Short Fuze’s whole body, but a buddy of mine had a Short Fuze with a broken thumb, so I gave him the good arms. In return, I stole the arms off of his Airborne. He still doesn’t know it, unless he’s reading this now. In which case, Ben, if you’re reading this, I definitely didn’t steal Airborn’s arms.  

Roderick Hero
Complete Figure: Tripwire 
Backpack: Breaker (Plus a metal rod and a plastic piece for the prop) 

Tripwire looked perfect, so I just painted him to match Roderick’s color scheme (or the color scheme of a Bomb Pop). I just stuck a piece of metal into Breaker’s tiny backpack, and made a propeller using some piece of plastic I found at the bottom of a bin.  

Frostbite Bailey 
Body, Arms, Legs: General Flagg
Head: Frostbite

General Flagg’s body looks big, bulky, and perfect for Frostbite Bailey. I just repainted him to match the color scheme. For a head, I (coincidentally) used Frostbite, since I wanted somebody with a hat on. Since Frostbite Bailey’s face is so red in the game, I wanted to match that color slightly, so I painted the beard red to help capture the color scheme. 


  1. I love that you used Frostbite for the Frostbite game. Also, I'm a huge fan of Tripwire AND repaints, so I'm tempted to use your recipe to make one of the HERO action figures.

    Great job!

  2. I'm sitting here thinking, there is another 40 something out there that loves both GI Joe and Atari as much as I do. And suddenly there is peace in the Universe. Well Done, you have absolutely captured the essence of the time when Action Figures ruled everything and when Atari ruled video games. Kudos to You. Thanks for reminding me what it was like back then.

  3. These are simply incredible, i'm totally stunned that now I have seen them that some existing company has not already cashed in on the massive retro craze that is around right now.

    I co-run a retro games website called RetroGameGeeks.co.uk and we were wondering if you would like to be interviewed by us regarding this superb project of yours?

    If so please visit the website and use the contact box or forum to message us because a feature / interview on this would be a lovely thing to do.

    You are my hero right now, this is fantastic..... Well done!

  4. What, no Lode Runner or Berzerk?

    1. Give it time, give it time...

    2. Ha! Berzerk was one that I thought about doing. Not Activision though, so it didn't make the cut.

  5. how did you make the backer cards?

    1. I designed them in Photoshop, printed them out on a Xerox Phaser printer (at work), spray mounted them onto heavy cardstock, and cut them out with an Xacto knife and ruler. I used the plastic bubble from a two-pack of Glide dental floss for the blisters.

    2. Ok not all of us are computer smart myself included. How hard would it be to get just the print you have so wonderfully done?

    3. Shoot me an email (my email address is in the contact section) and we can figure something out.

  6. Frostbite was my all time favorite game for Atari. I would love to add this to my collection. Could you make me one?

  7. These are fucking awesome, can't wait to show these to my fianceé, who is a massive Atari/Activision fan. :D

  8. I want!!! Amazing... =)

  9. Very tastefully executed. Would love to see these for NES game characters too.

  10. you have to make these, know so many that would buy

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