Community Corner: GCustomsCreations
Welcome back, to the last 2023 issue of the Community Corner, where we spotlight and interview individuals about what they get up to in the Halo community—art, cosplay, animation, streaming, Forge, and beyond.
Last time, we spoke with Aimee Saturne to learn about her journey with streaming, cosplay, and to answer the question of whether pineapple belongs on pizza.
In our final issue of 2023, we're joined by GCustomsCreations (whose incredible custom figures you will no doubt have seen shared throughout the community for years now) to learn more about his experience with Halo and how his hand-sculpted mini-figures are made.
Welcome, Gabe! Greatly appreciate you for joining us for the latest issue of the Community Corner. Tell us about yourself—who are you, what do you do as part of the Halo community, and where can we find you?
Hey there, Alex! Thank You so much for reaching out to invite me on this issue of the Community Corner—this is absolutely the biggest honor and I am so excited to share some GC Figure knowledge!
My name is Gabe and I am a commissioned artist working with Halo and Mega Construx to create hand sculpted and painted mini-figures from across the Halo universe. You can find my work and contact me on my main page over on Instagram, as well as on Twitter, Facebook and other media under the name "GCustomsCreations."
What’s your origin story with Halo? How did this great journey begin for you?
That’s a great question! My Halo story begins back in 2010 around Christmas. My older brother had gotten a brand new Xbox 360 with both Halo 3 and Halo: Reach. I remember for DAYS afterwards we would sit in our living room playing together (well, he played, I was “playing” with the unplugged controller).
Halo 3’s Forge and Halo: Reach custom games are my first distinct memories of the franchise. We had spent days and days together playing with his friends on Forge World. I vividly remember watching my brother try out all of the custom games that Halo 3 had to offer—the classic “Mario Kart” track was a particular favorite during our game nights, right next to Juggernaut.
In the years after, I gravitated so strongly to the series for reasons that I truly cannot explain exactly. I wouldn’t stop begging for my own Xbox and every Halo game that existed, it was almost addictive. I got the Halo 4 Limited Edition console for my twelfth birthday—MY first Xbox—along with Halo: CE, CEA, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo: Reach, and Halo 4—sheesh! While I don’t have a definitive answer for where my Halo obsession spawned from, I believe what played a large part was the ability to make my character, to go through and create my story, and especially the love and friendships that it helped to curate for me throughout my youth that started and now keeps my love for the series alive.
Are there any particular areas of the series that you find yourself gravitating towards—campaign, multiplayer, Forge, expanded universe stuff, cosplay, events, or a mix of various things?
Without a doubt the campaign and the narrative or historical side of Halo is what has driven my passion for this series after so many years. The universe surrounding the characters and planets and factions and lore is SO expansive and rich, I just can’t get over my infatuation with every detail. The campaigns are always my first go-to part of every Halo, and to this day I often jump into the story at least once a week for fun.
It’s the careful, articulated, exact intricacies of each piece of the universe that makes it fun for me—being able to see or read the care and consideration that goes into it all. It really makes it so easy to be immersed in the world. Halo 3’s campaign used to be my all-time favorite, but with the release of Infinite and its more non-linear approach, I think I’ve found a tie for the number one spot.
Now, having experienced what may be the biggest Halo event of the year at HaloWC 2023, I can say without a doubt that I’ll be making an effort to attend MANY more. My weekend in Seattle was unforgettable, and I am already planning for next year.
Of course, we had the pleasure of meeting at the 2023 Halo World Championship just last month. Did you have any highlights from that event? Were you rooting for a particular team?
Indeed we did, I am so glad I was finally able to introduce myself and meet the legendary Haruspis! This past Halo World Championships was my first ever HCS event, and only my second Halo-focused event ever after my appearance at the Halo: Outpost Discovery event in Philadelphia back in 2019.
Being surrounded by hundreds of Halo fans, people that share the deep passion for this franchise right along with me, it really was just surreal. I got to shake hands with so many new friends and fans, and catch up with familiar faces like yourself, Pixelflare, Unyshek, Snickerdoodle, and so many more.
A few highlights were absolutely having fans of my work come forward to talk with me—it’s unbelievable that people know my work and I get to meet them in person. I was able to chat with Pierre Hintze and Marcus Lehto, got some photos with Keith David, Steve Downes, and Jen Taylor, and I was able to film a small video with Fletch and others where I won a Limited Edition RX 6090 Graphics card!
How could I not mention the ultimate highlight: The folks at 343 graciously extended the invitation to finally see the renowned Halo Museum at the 343 headquarters in Redmond, where I have two of my figures in the community display case. There were tears and laughs and gasps, but at the heart was a tour that left the deepest impact (thanks, Ron!) and checked off one more bucket list item.
At the event itself in Seattle, I was surely expecting Optic to take the win, especially after how they performed through this year’s Majors and last year’s Worlds. But I must say, Faze clan absolutely shocked every person in the crowd with that insane win. Sitting among the crowd with friends and watching the cameras roll for every clutch shot or pan over a group of screaming fans was incredible.
Who are some of your favorite Halo characters (and why)?
If anybody is familiar with my logo or knows me outside of social media, it is no surprise that Arbiter Thel ‘Vadam is my all-time favorite Halo character. Something about his journey from the very top of the Covenant’s ranks as Supreme Commander, being slandered and broken and betrayed, then climbing his way right back to cut down those that wronged him and becoming kaidon—I LOVE that arc.
I’m also a particularly big fan of Jorge-052, that big sweetheart with the Etilka. His behemoth presence has always resonated with me and my love of “tank style” builds in most games.
I must mention, Atriox and Escharum are some of my favorite video game villains. Although we haven’t seen Atriox in an FPS as of yet (not playable at least), his overwhelming strength, tactical knowledge, and the ability to take our hero and toy with him—how could you not love to hate him?
Escharum also shares the most insatiable drive for the fight, pushing the Chief further and further until the immovable object meets the unstoppable force. That climactic buildup is just perfect to me.
One more that I must mention is sort of an amalgamation of many characters is the relationship between the IsoDidact (Bornstellar), Ur-Didact, Chakas and the Chief. I remember watching a breakdown video of the insane, cosmically entangled relationship of those characters when I was younger and getting chills all over, it made reading the Forerunner Saga that much better.
Tell us about the hand-made Halo figures you work on—how did this particular endeavor begin for you and how long have you been working on your craft?
I love getting to explain this part of my history, it goes further back than most might think. I’ve been customizing my own figures since I was eleven years old, where I started by using baking modeling clay, enamel paints, and cardboard to make frills and crests and armor. I guess this means I have been working on miniatures for twelve years now… WOW.
Originally, I was inspired by some older, no longer active, community members from Google images who did the exact same thing. I would sit on my laptop every morning before middle school and scan through hundreds of images to see what characters or enemies I could possibly create.
As MEGA grew and expanded, I was itching for certain figures that hadn’t been officially produced, so I decided “why not?” and gave it my best go. I remember using toothpicks to make Emile’s shotgun shells, a piece of cardboard for the crest of an Elite Councilor, once I even used hot glue to make Flood biomass...
As I grew older and learned how to refine my skills, I upgraded to acrylics and polymer putties and much higher quality materials, aiming to produce figures of collector-worthy quality that I make for the community today. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school, around February of 2016, that I started the handle ‘GCustomsCreations’ on Instagram and began taking commissions for custom miniatures.
Since then, it has obviously grown and given me so many cool experiences and opportunities. I absolutely love that I kept up with this hobby.
What’s the process you go through when creating a new figure?
I don’t believe I have ever exactly outlined my process so publicly, so this is exciting. I have been doing it long enough now that most figures I can make from memory, but let me walk you down the basic plan for a commission figure:
Before any painting/sculpting happens, I have to locate my source images, such as somebody’s in-game character and what their specific look is.
First up, I gather all of the pieces that I’ll use for the figure entirely—these are our base. Next, the pieces are cleaned of any imperfections like mold lines or extra fleshing before I then prime them, usually in just black acrylic primer.
After this step, the base coats are applied, which folks could most familiarly call the Primary and Secondary colors. After this step, the real fun begins where I get to add all of the details. Every triangle, every caution stripe, every pin stripe or line, logo, emblem, and light is hand painted onto the figure.
To finish them up, most figures go through a dry brush phase where (for most UNSC figures) I’ll do a silver or brown dry brush. For those curious, a dry brush is, in short, a step where I take an old, frayed brush and dab the ends in paint, then gently wipe it all over the figure. This produces a look where that color catches all of the hard edges of the figure molds, but leaves the deeper spots the original color. Then, I add a black wash to the armor or body. Black washes work to accentuate detail by pooling in the recesses of the molds, making them more visible. Once all of the painting is finished, the figure is usually sealed in a matte or gloss varnish to protect the paint.
This process is exactly the same for sculpted figures, though between gathering pieces and priming, I hand sculpt every single piece, like chests, utilities, shoulders, and sometimes helmets. A great example of this would be my Arbiter figure from Halo Wars, Ripa ‘Moramee.
Do you have any specific favorite figures that you’ve made over the years?
Oh my goodness, yes, but it is so hard to pick. In total, over twelve years, I have likely made somewhere around two-and-a-half thousand figures, both personal and commission.
While Spartans and the UNSC are great, I find that I have the most fun on non-UNSC figures. Some particular favorites of mine would be my Ripa ‘Moramee that I mentioned before, who features thirteen hand-sculpted pieces!
Another would be my more recent canon-accurate Silent Shadow Elite, who also features almost entirely hand-sculpted armor.
A few UNSC figures stick out to me, like my ODST Bullfrog, or the MK VII Unicorn Dream figures I have made for friends at the studio, like Unyshek’s Mark VII Spartan with blue flames, or Snickerdoodle’s Mark V Zeta.
Another recent favorite is definitely one of the newest figures from MEGA which I customized: the Spartan Yokai.
What are some figures you’ve got planned for the future that you’re keen to make?
Oh boy, I’m almost afraid to say too much… but I’ll throw you all a bone. This year has obviously been one of the biggest for Halo Infinite, and of course for myself. With that said, there are some HUGE projects I’ve had in mind to celebrate the great additions to Halo Infinite, along with the other titles.
The newest UNSC Mark V armor kit is absolutely top of the list, along with the newest Rusalka kit right next to the newer Flood-infected Mark V [B] armor sets.
Covenant and Banished are always on my list—a bigger, badass version of Atriox is on the way with an even better Chainbreaker. I’ll also be working my way up to the challenge of hand making RAKSHASA and MIRAGE (SPI) cores, some particularly popular armor sets among the community.
On top of all of this, I have been working my way through the various enemy types found in Halo Infinite, such as the Brute Chieftains and the Hand of Atriox. That’s all I can share for now, I have to leave SOMETHING a surprise.
Though, there is one more figure coming soon alongside the release of a new novel…
You are what you dare.
Do you find the process of making something physical like these figures quite therapeutic? Any Halo soundtracks in particular playing in the background as you work on them?
Actually, you’ve nailed it, Alex. While this hobby started because of the fun and infatuation of possibility, it really has become this biggest escape for me. I don’t often speak too personally about BTS GC lore, but like many folks in the community, I have gone through my fair share of “life events.” In some way, I use this art form to heal and repair. Whenever I feel particularly anxious or stressed or I just cannot focus on anything else one particular day, I can almost always count on this job to wrangle me back in.
This job requires such a level of fine scale movement and tiny detail, it makes me focus and calm myself down. I believe that mental health absolutely, positively should be prioritized more for everyone, especially people of my age demographic. The world is a tough place, and having some productive, positive, constructive escape is so precious and valuable.
I occasionally will have game soundtracks playing (okay, always) like Halo 3: ODST with its dreary, rainy, “grab a paint brush and SMG”-type ambiance. Besides the stress relief, it is so rewarding to finish one of these figures and stare at my desk with this sense of “I did this” or “I MADE this.” It really is such a wonderful feeling.
What are some of your favorite pieces of Halo media (be they games, books, comics, etc) and why?
Alongside the in-game lore and canonical experiences we all play through, I am absolutely in LOVE with the Halo novels. Some of my first and favorites were the Forerunner Saga books – you can imagine my excitement when I heard about Epitaph. They provide such a deeper, more personal intimate look at some of the relationships and characters and background that we don’t get to experience in-game.
I also am particularly fond of the Halo: Fireteam Raven arcade game, which my local mall just got installed in their game section. I remember first playing it at Halo: Outpost Discovery back in 2019 with my friend, and then again in a Dave & Busters—it’s such an epic compilation of all different kinds of Halo universe elements like ODSTs, Falcons, and CE-style ships and characters.
And a special mention I’d like to give is to Halo: Escalation, I actually loved this comic series and collected each edition for the collection.
What does being part of the Halo community personally mean to you?
I love this question. To me, being part of this community means that I have a sense of belonging. I have friends and I have family, and I have hobbies, but the Halo world just gives me something that I have longed for. There's a sense of security in knowing that somewhere, somehow, there are people that I can relate to and smile with and share an insanely awesome world with all from across the globe. I truly believe that without Halo, I would be in a much different place.
The wonderful and supportive community members, the gracious and invested team members like yourself, the immersive, expansive series of games—it all has molded more of me than I may think. The support from friends and family and thousands of community members has pushed me to try my very hardest, to be my very best. This has all shown me that dreams do not have to stay dreams, you can make them reality if you Believe.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself!
I’ll share a couple for now: Halo: Reach and I share a birthday! I feel like that has to be the universe telling me this series is made for me.
Another would be that, outside of Halo, my next biggest passion is wildlife, specifically herpetology (the study of reptiles and amphibians) which I am currently studying at university.
Thank you so much again for joining us, Gabe! Do you have any parting words to share?
Thank You so very much for reaching out and letting me join in on this latest Community Corner! It has been a joy to share my experience from a different side of the Halo fandom.
There are two points I’d like to make with the community who reads this: First, to my fellow artists or artists to be, make sure you have fun. At the very heart of your hobby or passion, make sure it’s for you first and for your enjoyment.
And secondly, if you know me, my work, or you simply are a fan of the Halo series: thank you for supporting me through all things. Thank you for curating a space for myself and so many thousands of others to come when we’ve felt that there is no other.
There is something special about being a Halo fan. Even though we have our moments, at our core we are such passionate, devoted, loyal fans with bonds that make us great. I have gotten so many opportunities, shaken so many hands that I could not have dreamed of, been to places that are just out of this world—I owe everything to the community behind me.
I love you all, I love Halo, and I love being a Halo fan. Thank you once again for having me, I am greatly looking forward to what’s coming next.