I'd like to thank the Academy...

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls. We are proud to present the 1st Place winner of the FigureRealm Gender Bender Custom Contest:

Okay, so maybe my Photoshop skills are lacking, but hey, 1st place!

I'm actually totally delighted. I wasn't really expecting to win, but deep down, was really hoping. There's no prize for the contest, just recognition.

Mysteria is my female take on Mysterio, the classic Spider-Man villain.

Mysterio, Quentin Beck, was a special effects designer who wanted to get noticed, so he used dangerous chemicals and unsafe stunts to create bigger and better effects. When one of his effects got out of control and people's lives were endangered, Spider-Man saved them and exposed the cause of the accident as Beck's reckless negligence. Mysterio swore revenge and used his mastery of illusion to try and ruin Spider-Man.
For me, Mysterio's main physical hooks are his goldfish bowl helmet, his green and purple outfit, his kooky gloves and the eye designs on his cape clasps.

Here is my female take on Mysterio. Note that Quentin Beck makes a guest appearance in this story.

A little lift here. A little tuck there.

That’s how the life of Hollywood icon Victoria Beck started on the downward spiral that led to the birth of Mysteria, Mistress of Illusion.

Beck had enjoyed huge success and award after award, but when time began to take its inevitable toll on her beauty she found that the surgeon’s knife was not enough to keep her in starring roles. The first time she crossed the line was when she used the experimental holographic special effects of her 3rd husband Quentin, and used them to preserve her looks and her career. Quentin attempted to blackmail Victoria with exposing the truth of her resurgence, but had underestimated how far she was willing to go.

Twisted by her renewed success, she ran amok with Quentin’s experiments, using hallucinogenic mists to land roles and subliminal, hypnotic techniques in her movies and TV appearances to warp the minds of all who watched her, and force them to love and adore her.

Peter Parker always thought he just didn’t see her appeal, not knowing that his unique powers made him immune to her mastery of illusion. When her greatest fans began to commit crimes against her Holloywood rivals and then to die from overexposure to her illusionary techniques, the amazing Spider-Man stepped in and exposed the mastermind Mistress of Illusion. Her aged true face was photographed by Parker and splashed across the front page of the Daily Bugle winning the young photographer the Pulitzer Prize.

Every print of her movies was destroyed for fear that her deadly hypnotic power still lurked in the celluloid. Her awards were retracted and her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was smashed and carted away, revealing the mangled body of her presumed missing husband Quentin beneath.

However, the law and death itself could not hold Victoria Beck. She swore vengeance on Parker and Spider-man from the electric chair as she literally went up in smoke, vanishing without a trace.

Now employing her sinister illusions in a life of crime and murder, Mysteria, Mistress of Illusion returns. For if the people will not adore her, they will die.


The idea behind Mysteria was obviously that of a fallen movie star, but I tried to mix a little bit of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane in her 'true' face. Her name is a spin on Quentin Beck with Posh Spice mixed in. I wanted to fit all of Mysterio's costume quirks into her design.

I wasn't too keen on giving her the bowl helmet but it's so iconic that I had to. It's a silver Christmas bauble painted with Tamiya smoke.

Her green cocktail dress is sculpted for the top part and then made from super hardened papier mache for the lower half. I tried to go for an art deco design that I again saw Joan Crawford in and copied the purple sculpted belt from that. Her collar is sculpted and acts as a base to hold the dome in place. Her shawl is super hardened papier mache again.

I really struggled with trying to fit the eyes into her design, but caught Pan's Labyrinth on TV a few days ago and went with the eyes on the hands thing. I thought this worked great with her eyeless dome and gave it that hypnotic effect.

The base is made from air drying clay (it took -days- to dry) and is meant to be her shattered star from the Hollywood Walk of Fame hovering in the mist. I decided at the last minute to have Quentin Beck's decomposing arm jutting out from the mist, just as a little nod to her origin story.

Her face was resculpted at various points. The 'beautiful' side has work done on the mouth and brow to give her a bit of a wicked smile, while the 'true' side has extensive resculpting to her cheek bones, mouth and eyes. I wanted the two halves to really contrast, so while I was originally just going for an aged look I ended up going for an almost zombified look.

The origin story was one of my favourite things about this custom. I really love to get stuck in to Marvel continuity and tweak it and see what comes out. I decided that like Mysterio, Mysteria's driving motive would be her pride. I wasn't keen on just making Quentin Beck into a woman and transferring everything over. It would have been a little too much of a coincidence for Victoria and Quentin to both be special effects geniuses. With her being such a vain movie star I kind of pictured her falling into a loveless marriage with someone who was nothing more than a fan who idolised her. I thought of Liza Minelli's marriage to David Guest (who I had thought was just a gay man infatuated with his icon, but of course, that's not at all what their marriage was *ahem*) and went with Victoria being a massive bully and using Quentin (who is alluded to as being gay in the actual Marvel Universe).