Marvel Mario Kart

Anybody who doesn’t get all tingly in the shorts at the prospect of this game is dead inside.

Take the addictively fun, all-ages appeal of Mario Kart (Nintendo’s go-kart racing/combat game) and swap out the plumbers for the spandexed awesome that is the Marvel U…

Endless heroes & villains to choose from, multiple costumes for each and built-in power ups for every guy.

Even the tracks would trigger fanboy freak-outs. Just think of the Marvel-themed race course possibilities…

The deathtrap interiors of Castle Doom, the dino-filled Savage Land, the low-G ruins on the Blue Area of the Moon, and forget Mario’s Rainbow Road–test your skills on the Rainbow BRIDGE and race toward that Asgard finish line!

Wanna play? AWESOME! You can’t.

Yeah, the game doesn’t exist. But it should. Until that crime against humanity is corrected, we’re gonna have to make do with the customs I’ve cobbled together.

Let’s get to it…

The karts are gashapon toys I picked up on ebay. When buying ’em, modding Marvel karts was the furthest thing from my mind. See, years ago I was building a custom Mario Kart board game as a gift for a friend’s young son. He’s a total Mario Kart fiend and I was hoping a 3-D Mario racetrack–similar to my 3-D HeroClix maps–would make his head explode.

The trick was finding just the right scale Mario Kart figures. The Toy Biz line from the ’90s were way too big (the racetrack would have had to been HUGE) while Toad (above) came from a line that was too small (choking hazard!) and fragile (remember, this was for a young child). I needed to find a line of Mario Kart toys a hair bigger than Toad, one that could handle some wear & tear. Further ebay surfing turned up a line of karts roughly 30% larger than the above fig, perfect for my project.

But what to do with the half dozen smaller karts that I had already picked up? They were too cute to junk, so I tossed ’em in my bottomless HeroClix scrap bin. There they sat for years until–bored one day–I dug ’em out and made with the chopping and the gluing…

——————– Spider-Man ——————–

HAND CHECK! Aw, c’mon Spidey…this is a kid’s show.

Webhead here is a HeroClix figure from the Critical Mass expansion. His arms were chopped at the elbow so he could fit in the driver’s seat and, since his original paint job was all dark & moody, I gave him a fresh coat of bright & happy red. Spidey–all the HeroClix figures featured here–were attached to the karts with Krazy Glue.

The Spidey symbol on the kart was lifted from the internet, printed out and glued to an index card with Elmer’s. Let ‘er dry, then cut out and hit the white edges with a marker (orange to match the symbol–red was too dark). Finally, glue the symbol to the kart with Krazy Glue.

Fantasy Booking Time! As in Mario Kart, Marvel Kart could offer endless power-ups that the driver can snag throughout the race. Most would be items any character could use (Cosmic Cube, Infinity Gauntlet, Serpent Crown, Captain Universe, Power Cosmic, etc.), but every driver could also have unique power-ups.

Spidey…? His special powers boosts could be 1) Attach web parachutes to the back of other drivers to slow them down, 2) Go airborn with web-swinging action to avoid track obstacles or 3) Gain a spider-sense that allows his controller to hit specific button combos to avoid incoming enemy projectiles!

——————– M.O.D.O.K. ——————–

The first character I knew I was gonna mod as soon as I started this project…?


Just the thought of pumpkin head here in an undersized go-kart made me smile.

“Fat guy in a littllle coooat.”

Yeah, something like that. We miss you, Chris Farley.

The Mutant Mayhem HeroClix set offered up M.O.D.O.K. and he proved the most uncooperative of all the mods. Squeezing him into that little kart meant his legs had to go and his entire bottom/back area had to be reshaped. No fun.

His logo is an A.I.M. beekeeper helmet grabbed from the internet and attached to the kart following the same recipe detailed under Spider-Man (as were all the kart logos).

Fantasy Booking! M.O.D.O.K.’s unique power-ups would allow him to 1) Zap an opponent with a beam of mental energy and scramble their brains (controller ‘up’ is now ‘left’, ‘down’ is ‘up’, etc.), 2) A vertical jet thrust that allows melon-head to fly over course obstacles (and players) and 3) a psychic blast that temporarily swaps the minds (controllers) of two target players!

——————– Captain America ——————–

Cap would be perfect when using cheat codes or exploiting track shortcuts. If you get caught, who are the other players gonna believe; the accuser or Captain FREAKIN’ America? U-S-A! U-S-A!

The super soldier here started life as part of the Armor Wars HeroClix expansion. Chop him at the waist, reposition that shield-slingin’ arm and Cap is ready to run any and all Communist sympathizers off the road. The star symbol on the kart was just a piece of clip art swiped from the web.

Fantasy Booking! Cap’s power ups would allow him to 1) KA-BONG!, nail an enemy with his shield, 2) a second “super” throw that would give a player the chance to hit button patterns and ricochet his shield from opponent-to-opponent (with each subsequent ricochet/button combo growing increasingly more difficult) and 3) A power up that allows Cap to deflect an incoming attack to a different player!

——————– Red Skull ——————–

…gluing a swastika to a little pink Nazi go-kart. It’s sh*t like this that makes me question what it is I do with my free time. Ah, f*ck it. Let this photo be my lasting, confusing legacy to the world.

Johann here started out as part of the Avengers HeroClix expansion. Just a chop at the waist, glue him in the driver’s seat and–with the exception of answering uncomfortable questions as to why you’re printing out little swastikas–you’re good to go.

Fantasy Booking! Skull-centric weapons include 1) A handful of the dreaded “Dust of Death” that skullifies an opponent and causes them to skid out, 2) a massive missile (with Bucky tied to it!) that takes out all players ahead of him and finally, 3) a power up that causes the Skull’s kart to morph, temporarily transforming itself into a faster, more resilient Skull-kart…THE SLEEPER AWAKES!

——————– Hulk ——————–

Ah, there it is: this is one of those “slightly bigger” karts I discussed under the Toad pic at the beginning of this post. The Hulk’s set of wheels is a good 30%+ bigger than the other karts.

Let’s get a side-by-side comparison with one of the other drivers…

I originally was going to use this kart for M.O.D.O.K.’s oversized tuckus, but thought better of it: the more ill-fitting and uncomfortable M.O.D.O.K.’s kart, the more he shakes that tiny purple fist in rage. Fun!

So Hulk here is from the Xplosion HeroClix expansion and he really, really hates that shirt. A quick chop at the waist and he’s ready for the driver’s seat while a radioactive symbol lifted from the web completes the mod.

Fantasy Booking! Power ups include 1) Hand-clap shockwave to send opponents flying, 2) Mega-punch to obliterate course obstacles and 3) The ability to “bump” an opponent’s kart–grabbing them–then lifting them off the track (!) and using them as a bowling ball against other players!

The Hulk would be too much fun to play.

——————– Green Goblin ——————–

Out of all comic book supervillains, does any baddie have more of an a**hole-face than Green Goblin?

I love the character, but he looks like this guy…

"Movie night with Gwen...? Rent 'A Bridge Too Far.'"

Anyway, Gobby started out as part of the Fantastic Forces HeroClix expansion, but his paint scheme was too dark and spooky for the bright & cartoony tone I was going for. (Yeah, yeah…the swastika on the Red Skull kart throws that “bright & cartoony” tone out the window. Just, whatever, go with it.)

So new paint job for Gobby, a piece of pumpkin clip art for his kart logo and he was good to go.

Fantasy Booking! Goblin man-purse (which, when said fast, sounds dirty) is a treasure trove of unique power ups:  1) Razor bats that shred opponents tires, 2) Pumpkin bombs that send rival karts flying and 3) A power boost that gives Gobby’s vehicle wings, turning it into a flying kart version of the Goblin Glider!

——————– Mole Man ——————–

Magoo here comes courtesy of the Secret Invasion HeroClix set. Minor modding in the form of a chop at the waist to fit him in the kart and a repositioned left hand so his staff didn’t touch the ground.  Final touch: Moloid kisser as kart logo.

Speaking of Moloids, adding one to this mod ended up making it one of my favorite customs.

I ♥ Moloids. They’re like the original Minions from “Despicable Me.”

This lil’ yellow guy hails from the Secret Invasion ‘Clix set and he’s 49% excited to be riding on a go-kart and 51% dreading what terrible, disposable mission the Mole Man has in store for him. Bye, Moloid. : (

Fantasy Booking! Power ups include 1) An energy blast from Mole Man’s staff that fries an opponent’s engine and stalls them out, 2) Summoning a subterranean monster that drags enemy karts underground and 3) The ability to toss a Moloid onto a rival kart where he’ll scamper about, throwing the weight/handling of that kart off and making it nearly impossible to drive until its driver “shakes him off” by tapping controller buttons!

…and that’s that.

Overall these figures were pretty easy to cobble together. The hardest part was removing the Mario characters without damaging the fragile plastic karts.

So now I’ve done my part: someone else go spend the millions necessary to buy the Marvel video game rights and then program/market/manufacture this sucker.

Dibs on M.O.D.O.K.

Astral Dr. Strange

Get a job, hippie!

Y’know, not for nuthin’, but Dr. Strange has the most comfortable looking costume in comics. He’s basically wearing pajamas AND his cape doubles as a blanket. If his sidekick was Harry the Pillow, we’d all be pledging allegiance to Dormammu right now.

So, this week’s mod is one of them “lite on the customization” jobs. No Frankensteining, just a repaint of the Infinity Challenge Doctor Strange…

White acrylic base and–to break things up–antique white gloves, chest emblem and sash. Some blue highlights, creepy black eyes, a light black wash and a spritz of matte sealant to bring it home. Check out the regular Doc Strange HeroClix dial here, Astral Doc dial here.

So why make this figger? Why, to recreate classic astral Doctor Strange moments like that one time Flash Thompson punched him…

Those kids are so high.

Then there was the time ghost Doc talked sh*t about his Defender buddies when he thought no one was listening…

He’s such a charmer.

Back to the custom: I made astral Doc as a way to make the regular, not-dead-yet Dr. Strange Heroclix a unique piece. See, when the living Dr. Strange figure is KO’d, Casper here enters play at the start of that player’s next turn…

Astral Doc has a decent dial, but he has a weakness. At the end of each of its controller’s turns, it automatically clicks. The soul cannot survive outside the body for long! So yeah, the clock’s running when the haunted Doctor enters play.

Overall I’m okay with how this figure came out, though my shading/layering skills with a brush aren’t as good as they’d need to be to truly capture the look of the character. Plus trying to photograph all-white figures is a pain. I thought White Tiger was a hassle, but man, catching ghost Doc on film almost broke me. I’m done with all-white customs. You hear that, In-Betweener? I’m only modding half of you!


Random Doc Strange from around the web:

Cosplay madness! We have Cary Elwes as the good Doctor, then Dr. House becomes Dr. Strange and finally Robert Goulet: Sorcerer Supreme.

Some toy stuff, including an old school masked Dr. Strange Mego and a neat piece of Marvel Legend astral photoshop.

And finally, we hit both ends of the cool spectrum. On one end we have possibly the slickest pieces of Doctor Strange art you’ll ever see and waaaay over at the opposite end we have the 1978 Dr. Strange TV movie. Don’t click that last link.

Iron Man (’80s)

“Iron Man, Iron Man, does whatever an iron can.”

I love those old ’60s Marvel cartoons. My first exposure to ’em was waaaay back in the day, back before comics went mainstream and finding superhero-anything on TV was a snipe hunt. But there I was, six years old, vacationing in Argentina. Those Marvel toons had long since gone off the air in the States — I never even knew they existed. Bored out of my mind (and only able to understand broken Spanish), I was flipping through the channels when MADRE DE DIOS! The Sub-Mariner was suddenly on the screen! “Te voy a matar, Krang!”

I almost fell off the bed. Superhero cartoons? That DIDN’T have the Wonder Twins or a f*cking super monkey? My world was turned upside down. And holy crap, Spanish Thor was on next! “Yo digo NAY!”

Already a fan of the Marvel Universe thanks to my older brother’s comics, the entire Silver Age Marvel U was now opened to me. The Titanium Man? The Red Skull’s Sleepers? Odin turning Loki into a tree?!? It was the superhero cartoon tipping point: no more Wendy and Marvin. From now on it was horrible Marvel animation or nuthin’. BONUS: Iron Man taught me Spanish.

Speaking of which, that’s a good transición for my Iron Man mod…

There’s been a buttload of Iron Man Heroclix figures–original armor, modern, unmasked, Hulk Buster, Silver Centurion, Ultimates, blah, blah, blah–but when it came to the ’80s version, they totally whiffed. Yeah, they made one, but it was 100% meh. Not Karate Kid Heroclix terrible, just underwhelming for what I think is Shellhead’s most iconic set of duds. So I went in and made my own vodka-fueled Avenger.

I started with…okay, hang on. I’ll get back to my Iron Man custom in a minute, but all this talk about old school Iron Man is giving me flashbacks. When you think “Iron Man villains” nowadays people usually imagine technological threats. Makes sense, given the nature of the character. But back in the day–the far less techno-sophisticated comic book days–Shelhead’s baddie of the month was often a bit more blue collar.

Some of my favorite “Wait, Iron Man is getting his ass kicked by WHO?!?” moments…

Shirtless UFC guy sits on his chest and beats him with a rock.

BONUS: They’re in a sewer. That top rat just rubbed his eyes with his dirty little paws and did a double take. “This is some crazy sh*t, yo!”

Snake bear hug + Impractical vat of acid

“No way to escape! No Way!” Eeesh, Shellhead’s lucky this is his solo book and not The Avengers. Cap would slap his mouth hearing him talk like that.

Monkey dogpile buzzsaw apocalypse

There’s a rational explanation for everything on this cover EXCEPT the bare chested bald guy with the disco medallion. The ’70s were a strange and mysterious place.

something something FRANKENSTEIN MIDGETS!

There it is, the reason Tony Stark drinks captured in a single image. Think the ’70s are bad, Tony? Grab some scotch…the ’90s will see you killed and replaced  with a teenage version of yourself that was plucked from the time stream. True (and bad) story.

Alright, enough silliness. Back to the serious business of figure modding…

Ingredients: All parts culled from Heroclix figures. The upper body & arms are swiped from a Cyclops (Mutations & Monsters). Legs, boot jets and head are modified from the Silver Centurion Iron Man (Supernova). The helmet needed some modding: the horizontal band on the back had to be whittled away and ear pods (ear muffs?) added. For those I used the boobs from a Callisto (Ultimates). That sounds creepy.

Shellhead’s chest beam is lifted from the lantern of a Manhunter (Cosmic Justice). That was a clutch find…I’m terrible at scratch-modding anythinground . Belt buckle and those lil’ nipple dials are pulled from the chest of a War Machine (Armor Wars). Hip pod thingies are the top of the heads scavenged from a couple of Kobra Fanatics (Unleashed).

Shoulder pads & belt are thin strips on index card paper held in place with a pinprick of Elmer’s and hardened with Krazy Glue. Some metallic acrylic paint, a spritz of matte sealant and–SH*T! I JUST SPRAYED A METALLIC FIGURE WITH MATTE SEALANT!! Ah, crap. I’m so used to modding flat-finish figures that I grabbed the matte instead of the gloss. A quick touch-up of metallic paint and…he’s getting a bit goopy looking. Better leave him alone and not make things worse. Custom Iron Man dial here.

Overall he came out okay, but his pose…I dunno. My thoughts going in as that I’d give him the classic “flying bullet” Iron Man look, and while that’s what he ended up with, it’s a bit dull. Maybe I should have given him more of a combat pose, something with translucent plastic “energy blasts” coming out of his palms. Eh, something to remember for next time.

Some random Shellhead from around the web:

Jaw-droppingly awesome Iron Man custom toy & model gallery.

Wicked Iron Man made of Lego.

Wee Iron Man made of Lego.

Saddest Iron Man cake ever here, Iron Man cake gallery here.

Tales of Suspense cover gallery here (Shellhead starts with issue #39), Iron Man cover gallery here.

The Rattler

The Rattler, a member of the awesomely underrated Serpent Society and, if I’m not mistaken, Charlie Murphy’s alter ego. I can’t be the only one who sees the resemblance…

What did the five fingers say to the supervillain?


No? Maybe if I photoshopped a little cigarette in the Rattler’s mouth. And gave him a loud shirt. And had Prince dunk on him.

Anyway, on to the custom Rattler Heroclix…

Ingredients: Base body is a Wrecker (Ultimates) with the crowbar sliced off. His tail is…I just noticed that his tail kind of looks like a sock puppet peeking up over his shoulder. Are there any sock puppet themed supervillains? Nobody steal that idea, it’s mine.

Rattler’s tail was lifted from a Scorpion (Xplosion). Costume trimmings like boots and his catcher’s vest are all strips of index card held in place with a pinprick of Elmer’s and hardened with Krazy Glue. Acrylic paint, a PFFFT! of matte sealant and Charlie Murphy is in the books. Custom Rattler Heroclix dial here.

I think he came out okay, though his boots should have had that same layered scale effect as his chest. I built him years ago in a one-night modding frenzy along with Cottonmouth, Bushmaster and Deathadder (below). My gaming group was hooking up the following day and I wanted to stomp everyone with the Serpent Society. The customs were finished in time and, true to form, I had my butt handed to me. I can–with two dice–consistently roll under four better than anyone.

So in the early days of ‘Clix–back when there were only a handful of sets–my modding mentality was “more is more.” Instead of taking my time with each custom I’d crank ’em out as fast as possible. Not a terribly conducive way to create good, clean-looking mods. Nowadays I don’t have the time to customize all that often, but when I do, I take my time. Some of my more recent work here.

Some random Serpent Society from around the web:

Custom Marvel Legends-style Rattler (scroll down the page a bit), a Marvel Legends Anaconda and a look at why Deathadder is the coolest member of the Serpent Society .