Author Topic: Customizing Sideshow 1/4 scale Bela Lugosi Dracula-- Lugosi Lives Eternal!  (Read 554 times)


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Hello again--

Last week I posted my kitbash of the Star Ace 18" Christopher Lee Dracula from "Scars of Dracula." Today, I head back a few decades to an earlier premium Format figure.

The Sideshow 18" Bela Lugosi Dracula.

Released in the early aughts, this 18" figure continued Sideshow's unfortunate trend of never being able to quite get Lugosi's likeness right. Whether you're talking the 8" figure, the 12" figure, or this... they were never quite right. But the 18" PF figure missed the mark by the farthest, in my opinion.

This does NOT look like Lugosi to me.

Which is a pity, because overall, the figure is nicely proportioned and put together. It has lovely costuming. But the likeness just... falls flat

But, how to go from this:

to THIS?

Here's how!

It all started one day when my Neca headknocker fell off my shelf when I was getting ready to move to a new house. The brittle polystone body shattered. It was irreparable..

Just as I was about the junk the whole thing in the garbage though, I looked at the head and had an idea.... This was one of the best Bela likenesses I had ever seen on a toy.

So, I decided to keep it, and so the head from the nodder (sculpted by the great Ray Santoleri) went in the bottom of the parts box. Until one fine day...

I decided to take it and hold it up against the PF figure. This would work MUCH better. I had to do it!

So it was off to the workshop. I carefully removed all the clothing on the figure and set about the work. 

The early Sideshow premium format figures such as Dracula, Nosferatu and Frankenstein had a lot more poseability, thanks to soft construction and a wire armature. Later figures became much more like mannequins. The tuxedo shirt was just a glued-on bib, with detachable collar and cuffs-- much like real white tie ensemble.

I tape him up to protect delicate parts and prevent pain from getting on parts or clothing.

I use a hacksaw to remove the old head, and then size test the new head.

To attach the new head, I dremel a recess in the neck stump, and place a screw in there using epoxy.

I then screw the new head on into place. The voids and gaps are filled in with sculpting putty, until the transition is seamless.

Looks great! Now it's time to sand, prime and paint

Without the distracting paint job, you can clearly see what a remarkably subtle and excellent likeness this is-- one of the best ever achieved of Lugosi. Well done, Mr. Santoleri.

Comparing the two... it doesn't even compare. One is the king of vampires... the other is an imposter.

Sorry I didn't take more in-progress shots of the paint job. When I paint, I really kind of go into a trance, and it is hard for me to pause, and document in the middle of it.

What I will say is that this head practically paints itself. It's that good.

Time to remove the tape and start reassembling.

"I bid you... welcome"

Any lingering doubts I had about cutting up and kitbashing a $400 figure quickly fade away when I see this assembled. 

Because this figure now IS Lugosi. And Lugosi lives eternal!

Well, I hope you all enjoyed this walk through my creative process,  and I hope I encouraged some of you to take a chance on customizing your toys-- yes, even the $400 ones.



"I don't want to live in the past. I just don't want to lose it."
     -The Two Jakes


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Re: Customizing Sideshow 1/4 scale Bela Lugosi Dracula-- Lugosi Lives Eternal!
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2021, 02:15:40 AM »
Another huge success with this head swap! The new version looks so good and you certainly did the right thing by keeping that head after the it had broken away from the body.

Amazing work as ever and a true one off.


Mike...In 3-D!

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Re: Customizing Sideshow 1/4 scale Bela Lugosi Dracula-- Lugosi Lives Eternal!
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2021, 08:28:47 AM »
I'm blown away. I've always been envious of folks that have the patience and talent to develop this skill. You made a real beauty there.
"Naughty, naughty! Don't touch, Butch knows best."


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