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Ace Custom

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Take a wild guess which one belongs to the main character.

"I customized that bike for myself. It's too wild, you couldn't handle it."
Shotaro Kaneda, AKIRA

An Ace Custom is a piece of technology — a Humongous Mecha, Space Fighter, a particular weapon, or similar — which differs from the normal model because it has tweaks in order to better fit its user. The users are typically Ace Pilots, and their equipment is customized to their specifications — thus, ace custom. The extensiveness of this customization varies widely, from simply giving it a new paint job or Nose Art to actually having a completely unique machine built from scratch. Closely related to the Super Prototype, an ace custom will usually be significantly more powerful than a standard model.

Normally, ace customs reflect their user's combat style — a pilot preferring high-speed combat will boost their engine output or add additional thrusters, a gunslinger with Improbable Aiming Skills will add a big gun with scopes and bipods for increased accuracy, etc. This may allow them to be Weak, but Skilled, if their equipment doesn't have as much raw power as their opponent's, but it's so tuned to their strengths that they can compete anyway. It may become so much so that it becomes a case of Only I Can Make It Go. It can also be a case of being a Full-Potential Upgrade, if the customizing is required to make the user more effective.

Usually it is mentioned the that such modifications, while ostensibly improvements, would add too much cost and complication to mass produce while the Ace is much less inclined to care about such things. May still be shown to have suffered on reliability or simply be considered unsafe if they're regularly pushing design limits.

Everyone else just has to settle for the Vanilla Edition or Mook Mobile.

If an Ace Custom was made commercially-available, it'll become a Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • As with most Mecha tropes, subverted by Armored Trooper VOTOMS. Chirico does spend extensive time customizing a couple of the many Scope Dogs he uses over the course of the series, but it rarely increases their survivability. During the first arc, he customizes a junked AT by welding on many guns, with his friend painting on the iconic Red Shoulder to intimidate their opponents. A later arc has him rewriting another Scope Dog's battle computer in order to keep up with a next-gen AT model.
  • Black Lagoon: Revy's weapon of choice is a pair of customized Beretta 92 series pistols with, among other things, extended barrels. She calls them the 9mm Sword Cutlass.
    Revy: Shut the fuck up! Couldn't you see I wasn't even listening? I mean, were you tryin' to sell me the damn gun or what?
  • Code Geass features several ace customs. The Knights of the Round are an elite, 12-person ace custom squad piloting highly personal, one-of-a-kind mechs, including the Transforming Mecha Tristan. The Japanese side has the Guren MKII, the Shinkiro and the Zangetsu as their ace customs.
    • The Shinkiro is an interesting case; it's the Ace Custom of Lelouch vi Britannia, who's actually pretty bad at straight combat. However, it's tailored specifically to his strengths, wielding a scattering laser cannon and a Beehive Barrier that require a mind as quick as his to coordinate properly; in his hands it can single-handedly clear an entire battlefield in moments. It also utilizes extremely non-standard controls, which suit Lelouch perfectly but would be actively detrimental to normal (or even ace) pilots.
      • The page image is actually a subversion; though it's given a fancy head ornament, Lelouch's first personalized Knightmare is a standard rank-and-file Burai. This reflects his only average piloting skills compared to the real aces of his forces, Kallen and Tohdoh. His Burai is just given a distinctive look so that his army knows he's there fighting alongside them, per his philosophy.
  • Technically, the Black Getter Robo of Getter Robo Armageddon is this, being a heavily modified Getter Robo.
  • Used frequently in the Gundam metaseries, from Char Aznable's iconic red Zaku II in Mobile Suit Gundam to Amuro's custom-build-from-scratch Nu Gundam in Char's Counterattack.
    • ∀ Gundam has an ironic twist, with Gavan Gooney choosing the most distinctive of the Borjarnon units unearthed. Fans would recognize the Borjarnon as the Zaku II from Mobile Suit Gundam, while Gavan's is a Zaku I.
    • Oddly, the Astray units from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED only had one unit that could be classified as an Ace Custom and it wasn't even part of the actual series, but a case of All There in the Manual.
      • The Astray prototypes from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Astray on the other hand... Red Frame, Blue Frame, and Gold Frame (which left the factory identical aside from color) have been so heavily customized by their respective pilots that they barely resemble the original model anymore (especially the Gold Frame, which, among other things, actually has the Blitz Gundam's right arm that Kira chopped off!).
      • Mobile Suit Gundam Seed CE 73 Stargazer has the Strike Noir, Blu Duel, and Verde Buster, which are essentially rebuilt Strike, Duel, and Buster Gundams upgraded and modified to suit their pilots' combat preferences. Sidestories for it add the Rosso Aegis and Nero Blitz which have the same principle as the first three.
    • Kamille Bidan's Zeta Gundam is a special case, where Kamille essentially designed his own personal mobile suit from the parts up (essentially combining movable frame technology with the Gundam Mk. II) and then began obsessively tuning it to his capabilities. The personal performance tuning becomes a problem when he's out of commission.
    • Gundam Evolve: All three Karaba pilots in episode 9 ("MSZ-006 Zeta Gundam") have individually tweaked versions of the venerable Zeta Gundam:
      • White Unicorn (likely Amuro Ray) pilots a MSZ-006-3A Zeta Gundam III A Type. Its only visible differences between it and Kamille's Zeta are Amuro's personal emblem and a color scheme associated with him.
      • Grey Wolf's MSZ-006-3B Zeta Gundam III B Type is in a yellow color (much to the pilot's chagrin), has additional airfoils, and a giant beam gun.
      • Red Snake's MSZ-006-P2/3C Zeta Gundam III P2 Type is easily the most unique. It has completely redesigned armor with a spikey motif, a bright red color scheme, and a custom cockpit making it a Mo Cap Mecha.
    • Gundam Wing has an inversion with the Tallgeese, the first combat-worthy mobile suit, which was so incredibly high spec that it killed several test pilots by subjecting them to stronger G-forces than their bodies could handle; it ended up serving as the template for all of OZ's later production models, most prominently the Leo (which is specifically a tuned-down Tallgeese with the shoulder thrusters remove and without the cosmetic stylings). When Zechs Merquise brings it out of the mothballs 20 years later it still outclasses everything short of a Gundam because it was made that powerful. Treize's Tallgeese II is a subversion, since it's just a replica of the original Tallgeese with a few minor cosmetic alterations. The Tallgeese Flugel from the Glory of the Losers manga plays it straighter, replacing the original's backpack verniers with a set of angelic wings (the ones that would end up on the Wing Zero). While the Tallgeese III from Endless Waltz is at its core another replica of the original Tallgeese (this time with a Gundam-like faceplate containing a pair of Vulcan guns), its weapons are a massive upgrade: the Mega Cannon is a beam weapon whose output rivals the Wing Zero's infamous Twin Buster Rifle (and even has its own independent nuclear reactor to power it), while its shield has a built in "heat rod" whip copied from the Gundam Epyon.
    • Graham Aker from Mobile Suit Gundam 00 is the king of Ace Customs in that universe. After his stock Union Flag proves incapable of matching the Gundams, he has it upgraded into a much more powerful custom model (that later serves as the basis for the upgraded Overflag); at the end of the first season he's offered the new GN-X, but refuses for personal reasonsnote  and instead jury-rigs its GN Tau Drive onto his Custom Flag for the final battle. In the second season, he initially uses a customized Ahead with katana-shaped beam sabers, but his Masurao and Susano'o are both one-of-a-kind units visually based on the Flag and later revealed to be built around the Flag's frame. In the movie, he uses the Brave Commander Type, the next-generation version of the Flag series equipped with two GN Tau Drives (but not a Twin Drive System) and a few other improvements that set it above the Brave Standard Type.
      • Soma also uses two Ace Customs before her Heel–Face Turn: a pink Tieren designed specifically for her and another modified Ahead which becomes a hand-me-down for Louise Halevy.
    • Taken to the logical extreme in Gundam Build Fighters, as to win, one must have a custom model of a suit that likely was already an Ace Custom or Super Prototype in the above series' to even have a chance of winning for the most part. Just piloting a repainted Ace Custom will result in a broken model — just ask that one Legend Gundam that got turned into mincemeat by the Kampfer Amazing.
      • Or the Turn X which got curbstomped by Sazaki's Gyan Vulcan.
      • Gundam Build Fighters is chock-full of Ace Customs, ranging from Gundams (Strike, X, Exia, Master, MK-II, Wing, F91), non-Gundam aces (Sazabi, Zaku II Char Custom, Astray, Qubeley, Turn X) and even mooks (Kampfer, Acguy, Gouf, ZAKU Warrior, GM Sniper, Gyan). However, both Build Fighters and Gundam Build Fighters Try have examples that go against this trope: both series had a scene where an incredibly skilled pilot uses a stock Jegan to defeat a far more powerful opponent; in the first series, said opponent is the freaking Devil Gundam. Try also had the infamous battle between the Build Burning and an amateurish Destiny Gundam built by a preteen boy, whose older brother is such a talented fighter that he completely overcomes the tech gap, the battle ending with both suits getting viciously trashed.
      • Try also shows that it's possible to build a champion level Gunpla that's still a non original design, particle tricks and all, with Lucas Nemesis's Crossbone Full Cloth. While the Full Cloth is incredibly powerful in its home seriesnote , Lucas' model is a straight-build that doesn't change anything from the original (other than adding the Core Fighter back in, since the stock model didn't have it) and is still competitive because it's such a high-quality build.
    • The Build Fighters example above was exemplified earlier in Model Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G as it was shown that throwing together a suit all willy-nilly will only lead to a suit that'll barely stand up against more experienced fighters.
    • Even the more-realistic Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team manages this because of that realism. The normal mobile suits used by the good guys, the RX-79[G] ground-type Gundams, are made out of spare parts from the original series' Gundam. This gives them durability pretty close to the actual Gundam, but also means repairs are difficult at best, and simply trying to keep the things functioning results in two of the 08th team's three Gundams becoming custom units by around the halfway point. A particular example is Shiro's "Ez8" unit, which was a drastic overhaul of his Gundam in a nightmareish attempt to fix it after it got trashed, but nevertheless managed slightly better performance than the standard models because, with the removal of some fixed weapons, there was room to improve the performance of its reactor. Then there's Karen's "GM Head" Gundam, made because the original head was knocked off in an ambush and the easiest way to get it back into the fight was sticking a spare head from a ground-type GM onto it.
    • Given a weird cross with Mook Mobile in the expanded universe material regarding the original anime's Gelgoog. While built as a mass-production unit, it was also designed in close cooperation with several Zeon aces whose advice molded the suit's ergonomics and controls. The result was a mobile suit that was monstrously effective in the hands of an ace - it had technical specifications which matched or even surpassed the Gundam - but which novices and even regular pilots found overwhelming and impossible to use at anything like its full performance, which was a problem when novices and regular pilots were all Zeon had left to pilot them.
    • Naturally, this shows up in abundance in Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, given the Scavenger World theme:
      • In general, Gundams in this series are similar to mechs in Armored Core: all different kinds of armor and weapons on the same interior frame. Only six dozens were ever made, and there doesn't seem to be any standard configurations—if there ever were, they've been lost in the three centuries of complete rebuilds.
      • Most of Tekkadan's mobile suits are customized versions of captured enemy units, some of which were already customized to begin with. Of particular note is the Ryusei-Go; with its salmon-pink paint job and shark motif, the only way you'd be able to tell that it used to be a lowly mass-production Graze is reading the engine's energy signature.
      • Gjallarhorn otherwise, they have the EB-05s Schwalbe Graze, which is a Super Prototype itself in contrast to the standard EB-06 Graze. There's also the Graze Ritter, which specializes mainly in melee combat and is armed with one or two swords, the latter of which was exclusively used by McGillis' own Graze Ritter Command Type. And finally there is Graze Ein, which is the pilot himself becoming the Ace Custom.
      • The second season sees Orga being given a customized version of the Shiden (Tekkadan's new mass production machine) painted white and bearing a unique commander crest on its head. However, it's entirely symbolic of his role as Tekkadan's leader, and doesn't even get pulled out of the hangar until after Orga has been assassinated, with Eugene (his second-in-command) being the one to pilot it.
    • Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam takes this to parodying lengths with the "B Gundam" — a Ball modified solely with a Gundam faceplate attached. Which actually decreased its performance because of the added weight. However, not only did it end up with a better kill record than a regular Ball - he managed to kill three Rick Doms during the Battle of Solomon by smacking them with the cannon, forcing a small asteroid to hit one, and then ejecting the faceplate into the last one - but it even caused rumors that the Gundam was destroyed that, once the size of it was confirmed, morphed into rumors that the Federation had made an even bigger Gundam.
    • Chuchu's Demi Trainer in Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury was created by a group with limited funds, and who had only an outdated training Mook Mobile that they basically fished out of a dumpster to work with. Nika, the local Gadgeteer Genius, managed to retrofit it into a Fragile Speedster with an enormous sniper rifle, allowing it to hold its own against more expensive fare when combined with the skill of its pilot.
  • Most guns in Hellsing are indicated to be custom-made, owing to most of their users having Super-Strength enough to shoulder armaments that would dislocate the shoulder of any human at minimum. Some appear to be based on existing guns (Alucard's Casull resembles an oversized M1911, and Luke carries a heavily modified Garand), while others, like the Jackal, seem to be made from scratch.
  • The main girls of Infinite Stratos have their IS Suits customized to their fighting style, but they sometimes border on limited-production models, or outright Super Prototypes (Houki's Akatsubaki being the latter). Only Charlotte's Rafale Revive Custom II qualifies squarely for the trope, as it is based on a technically obsolete, 2nd-generation frame (everyone else's suits are 3rd-generation, Houki's suit is the first 4th-generation); she has added several modifications (such as being able to dual-wield guns and being able to store and summon more weapons) and had it repainted orange (in contrast to the green on the frame which it was based on), which comes as a great surprise to her opponents (much like her true gender initially being a secret).
  • The Club Presidents and the Elite Four in Kill la Kill have their Goku Uniforms (superpowered outfits) tailored to their specific clubs or fighting styles. For example, Tennis Club President Omiko Hakodate allows her to fire tennis balls at a literally machine-gun pace. Disciplinary Committee Chair Ira Gamagoori "disciplines" rule-breaking students with the many whips that sprout from his uniform, and has excellent discipline himself, as pain only makes him grow stronger.
  • In Knights of Sidonia, Nagate Tanikaze makes consistent use of these, starting with the Tsugumori that is technically an obsolete type 17 but puts greater emphasis on pilot skill than auto pilot, allowing outstanding performance from the ace himself. He later uses the advanced combat prototype and the Tsugumori ll.
  • Played with in Legend of the Galactic Heroes: admirals on both sides get ace custom flagships, which tend to be slightly more powerful than their factions' regular fleet ships and serve as Ships of the Line in their Standard Sci Fi Fleets, but where Imperial flagships are indeed one-off ships that often include new technology (through a few models have indeed a limited production), Alliance ones are mass-produced battleships of models made specifically for the job, with only the Triglav and the Leda II being unique due being the first ones of new advanced classes that end up never being mass-produced.
  • In Lyrical Nanoha, the TSAB's mooks use relatively standardized Storage Devices (spear-like ones for the melee-oriented Belkan style and staves for the range-oriented Mid-Childian style), but their elites are granted much rarer Intelligent Devices with more sophisticated A.I.s and forms tailored to their areas of specialization.
    • Notably, Chrono Harlaown's Durandal is a mere Storage Device (though a highly specialized one, distinctly superior to what the mooks are issued), which he prefers because it processes magic more quickly than an Intelligent Device, and he is not tempted to grow dependent on its AI.
    • Teana and Subaru from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS each use a Storage Device rather than an Intelligent Device, but their Devices are both scratch-built and therefore still count as Ace Customs.
  • Macross:
    • Super Dimension Fortress Macross has Maximilian Jenius and his wife, Zentradi defector Milia Fallyna, being granted the privilege to give their mechas distinctive paint jobs for being the top pilots of the force.
      • There are two ace custom Valkyries in Skull Squadron; Hikaru's has a triangular visor, two guns and a "chin" (VF-1J), and the Skull-1 has FOUR guns on the head (VF-1S). Both have custom paint jobs as well — Hikaru's is painted in red stripes, and the Skull-1 is painted with black and yellow ones, with prominent skull-and-crossbones.
      • That said, the show still subverts the Ace Custom, as the only unique thing about the performance of either the squadron-leader VF-1J model or the Commander Air Group model (VF-1S) is that they have more laser cannons mounted on the head than the base VF-1A model (and the VF-1S has additional avionics to allow Commander Focker [Commander Ichijo after Focker succumbs to Mentor Occupational Hazard] to handle the CAG's strategic role while in flight). The performance upgrade packs (Super Valkyrie and Armored Valkyrie) can be (and are) applied to any VF-1 fighter.
      • A latter-day Robotech comic reconcepts Skull One as a Super Prototype, possibly due to a misinterpretation of its "001" marking (indicating the CAG's aircraft).
    • Then there's Nekki Basara's VF-19 Fire Valkyrie which pushes the pilot-specific customization to another level. Beyond the bright red paint job and a different head with a Super Robot style face sculpted on it, it's entirely geared torward spreading The Power of Rock instead of actually fighting (its gun shoots Speaker Pods that blare Basara's music inside all mechs he hits instead of live ammo, has speakers inside its shoulders for atmospheric musical broadcast, and its only conventional weapons are internal missiles that Basara does his best to never need to use), oh and it's piloted by playing a guitar. Later on when Sound Force is founded Mylene and the rest of Fire Bomber also get their own custom VFs made in a similar vein.
    • Based off of side info like model kit manuals, Brera's VF-27β in Macross Frontier is indeed an Ace Custom, while the VF-27γ piloted by Grace is the "common soldier" version.
      • The protagonist, Alto, heavily plays with this trope. At the start of the series he gets a VF-25F, a pretty bogstandard version of the VF-25. Then, after staying behind to take care of Sheryl in episode 22, Alto has to fly a complete subversion of this trope — the VF-171EX, which is an upgrade to the Mook Mobile VF-171, except it's not a custom upgrade: all NUNS pilots get units overhauled and uprated to the EX standard. The movies, however, play it straight when Alto gets the YF-29 Durandal, a Super Prototype capable of massive overkill.
      • Much like Roy above, Ozma Lee has a CAG custom version of the VF-25, with the obligatory quadruple head cannons, special communications equipment and a tactical AI unit.
    • Macross Delta plays it straight for both the protagonists and the antagonists: the protagonist Delta Flight has special versions of the VF-31 Kairos with a forward swept wing and a central fold-quartz architecture, called the Siegfried, while the commander of the Aerial Knights of Windermere gets the Hs subtype of the SV-262 Draken, mostly distinguished by the fact it has head cannons compared to the regular Ba version.
      • Hayate Immelman's own VF-31J Siegfried is a double Ace Custom: first, it's a Siegfried, which are already manufacture-on-demand Ace Customs, but secondly it is also additionally tuned to perform without the AI system that limits the manoeuvres the regular Siegfried can perform.
  • In Martian Successor Nadesico, Akatsuki Nagare has his own Aestivalis when he joins the crew, outfitted with a better engine and armor material than the normal Aestis. When you're the CEO of Nergal, you can do these things.
  • Panzer World Galient: Hy Shaltat's Wingal Zee, which has a silver coat of paint and wields two tomahawks (instead of one, unlike the others panzers).
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has a number of unique mecha, but of particular note are the Four Generals, each of which has a custom mech despite their minions using basic Mook Mobiles.
  • Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle has Lux Arcadia's customized version of his Drag-Ride where it's base form is a Wyvern, a Powered Armor that is capable of flight yet has nothing but a lot of things that improve defense but at the same time weigh him down heavily. Good thing he's an Child Prodigy Ace Pilot, otherwise he'd get shot down easily.

    Comic Books 
  • As of Wonder Woman (Rebirth) the Blue Snowman is technically a stolen and heavily customized Exo-Mech, modified, stolen and piloted by Byrna Brilyant.
  • Jason Todd/The Red Hood from Batman custom-makes his bullets, titanium composite with c4 kickers.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Harry Potter story The Chosen Six Sirius' motorcycle was custom-made by him from parts. The father of his girlfriend and later wife is very impressed by it and both men bond over it. Of course the other man doesn't know Sirius has made other modifications as well.

    Films — Animated 
  • Porco Rosso's plane is the only one of its kind, as it was considered too dangerous to fly. Porco says (paraphrased) that while it's a nightmare to get in the air he thinks there's no better plane once it's flying.
  • The police cruiser that Stitch stole when escaping the prison ship.
    Yeah, he took the red one...

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Though Tony Stark has built advanced armors for others besides him, namely his colonel buddy James Rhodes and his assistant-turned-wife Pepper Potts, he's always kept the most advanced tech for himself. In Rhodey's case, the War Machine armor is meant to be a buffer from the U.S. government so that they'd stop hounding him to share his technology to them, mistrust that turns out to be very well-placed following revelations of HYDRA infiltrating the government including the senator that grilled Tony for it. In Pepper's case, it's only because the Rescue Armor is designated Mark 49, meaning it's the final armor he made before making the jump to nanotech, and Tony never bothered to make another one for her, because he didn't think she would ever bring herself to don the armor, knowing she did not like violence. It's played even more straight with Rhodey again, whose two armors after Infinity War are still not made nanotech, again, likely for the same reasons as before.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Millennium Falcon doesn't look like a whole lot, but due to both Han's piloting skills and the special modifications made by its previous owner Lando Calrissian and continued by Han and Chewie, it is considered the fastest ship in the galaxy. It's also far more heavily-armed than average, considering that its stock model is classified as a light freighter (albeit one specifically designed for easy modification for many different roles), not a fighter. Word of God is that every owner of the Falcon has done this, but that doesn't stop it from occasionally acting up as The Alleged Car would, as the often-improvised enhancements can be quite temperamental.
    • Darth Vader's TIE Advanced x1 prototype seen in A New Hope is a heavily-modified version of the standard TIE Fighter. Its bent-wing design gives it a smaller profile, shield generators make it far tougher than the standard fast-and-fragile TIE fighter, and its improved engines make it slightly faster despite the added bulk (although it's somewhat less maneuverable). It's a rough match for the Rebels' famously versatile X-Wing fighter. Many of these improvements are later rolled into the next-generation TIE Avenger model, along with other advancements from the TIE Interceptor.
    • And then of course there are the custom lightsabersnote , most notably Darth Maul's two-bladed saber and Kylo Ren's lightsaber with the laser crossguard, although the latter is actually a result of using substandard materials in its creation (notably a cracked and therefore unstable Kyber crystal), not that it stops Ren from being able to utilize the 'defect' as a feature in his combat style.
    • Poe Dameron's T-70 X-wing fighter Black One (that he uses in The Last Jedi) comes equipped with a large booster engine that allows the already nimble fighter to go very fast. In the hands of Poe, he evades the dreadnought turbolasers like they're not even there and take out almost all of their surface cannons before they could even know what hit them.

  • Brown's Pine Ridge Stories: The Custom 1957 Chevrolet owned by the Raiden Brothers in Chapter nineteen ("The Race") is described this way by Elroy. This is justified as they owned and operated an auto parts store and thus had the knowledge and best parts ("Every available Hot-Rod (sic) part from here to California had been acquired to make this the fastest Hot Rod on the east coast") available to make their custom hot rod. However, they still lose the race as they aren't the expert race car drivers they believe themselves to be.
  • Ciaphas Cain: While escorting a squad of condemned Guardsmen during a probable suicide mission, Ciaphas arranges for the sniper to get his own weapon back from the armory rather than a standard one, reasoning that he'd have made all sorts of adjustments to it over the years to improve its performance.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, Sosuke has the customized "Crossbow" in the novel "Burning One-Man Force". While it's actually an obsolete machine (a first-generation Rk-91 "Savage"), it still fits the spirit of the trope due to being tuned for his abilities and painted white and navy just like his Arbalest which was destroyed in the previous novel.
    • Later he would pilot the "ARX-8 Laevatein". It is functionally a unique variation of the M9 chassis built with him in mind, made from a kitbash of existing parts and the Lambda Driver and A.I. core salvaged from the wreck of the Arbalest along with some additional in-built weaponry, small secondary arms, and a more extensive cooling system allowing it to use the Lambda Driver to greater advantage. It can't accomodate the ECS active camouflage system common to the M9, but that's the price it pays to gain the kind of direct combat performance edge it needs to compete with Arm Slaves using drastically more advanced technology, such as the Plan-1055 Belial.
  • Archie Robledo of Halcyon Park builds three sets of powered armor from scrap, heavily based on the ace custom designs he worked on during his military days in India. This comes back to bite him when the police bring in their own veteran engineer, who immediately deduces a dozen major clues based purely on blurry footage of the machine's design.
  • In Slingshot, the main protagonist has stolen a prototype ship just before the novel starts. It is pretty unique in various ways: it is faster, more agile, can do longer FTL jumps and is better armed than anything else in its class. And the main protagonist has the help of the unrestricted AI aboard to help run away from the people who want their ship back.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Goes unmentioned in the films, but some stories suggest that Anakin Skywalker had a penchant for this. In between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith he built an extensively upgraded version of the standard Jedi starfighter, then did it again when his first one got shot down. At other times he seems to have settled for just a custom paint job on standard-issue fighters.
    • The X-Wing Series shows off the Chir'daki, or Death Seed, in one book — a Twi'lek ship made by cobbling together various parts from other starfighters, primarily an X-Wing's wings and a TIE cockpit. While the typical "ugly" starfighter is a Master of None at best and an accident waiting to happen at worst, the Death Seed is a competent starfighter that stacks up favorably to anything in its weight class.
    • The Deathraven, another notably impressive "ugly" design, can only be described as two B-wings nailed together at the cockpit. Considering that the B-wing was already one of the most overpowered starfighters in the Rebel Alliance, one can imagine how effective doubling up on one would be.
  • Paul Naughton's VALKYRIE: Into The Heavens series features a number of different ace customs. Set in the future, the starships that the protagonists use are cutting edge prototypes and the only ones in existence until the designers standardize the designs.
  • Mack Maloney's Wingman series features numerous ace customs — the series is set in a post-WW3 Divided States of America, so the combat aircraft flown by many of the protagonists (including the main character, Hawk Hunter) are practically their personal property. The most prominent is Hawk's F-16 (possibly the last one in the world), which gets upgraded midway through to the F-16XL variant.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Andor: When the imperial patrol craft launches its fighter wing against Luthen's Fondor, we get to see the full extent of its modifications, which are not limited to hyperdrive and onboard AI. Cue Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Doctor Who: Inverted (sort of) with the TARDIS, which was specifically selected by the Doctor out of a number of TARDISes because this particular one had a broken navigation system to begin with, and which has developed many more faults since. But these idiosyncrasies fit the Doctor's style perfectly, and so he manages to take what should be The Alleged Car and use it as a genuine ace vehicle.
    • One episode in the revived series gives the TARDIS herself a chance to explain that from her perspective the relationship is kind of reversed. The Doctor is her Ace Custom Time Lord, the mad one she chose to kidnap because his eccentricities and wanderlust suited her and her desire to go out and see the universe.
  • A two-episode story on Space: Above and Beyond featured "Chiggy Von Richthofen", a enemy Ace capable of wiping entire squadrons of Earth fighters by itself. "Chiggy" flew a special version of the standard Chig fighter that had some kind of stealth technology making it invisible to Earth detection and targeting systems, was invulnerable to cannon fire, and in general displayed greater speed and maneuverability than any other fighter in the show. Also, its nose was painted with a human skull and the phrase "Abandon All Hope" (in English, so his opponents could read it).
    • In the end, Chiggy gets taken out by a Designer Baby human ace flying a standard-issue Hammerhead fighter with half a dozen missiles.
  • The titular Cool Starship of Star Trek: Voyager becomes this when compared to other Intrepid-class starships — or, for that matter, other Starfleet ships in general — as the time she spends in the Delta Quadrant combined with various time-travel shenanigans allow her crew to get their hands on technology that the rest of The Federation doesn't have access to. This includes numerous Borg-enhanced system upgrades, an Astrometrics lab that outperforms the standard Stellar Cartography, and a portable holo-emitter for their EMH.

  • Many professional guitarists and bassists use custom-made instruments because they suit their playing style better than what they can find at Guitar Center or, like in Mark Knopfler's case, they use multiple types of off-the-shelf guitar in the studio and want a more One Size Fits All solution for live performances. Many musicians will also let their custom designed instruments be mass-produced and sold as "Signature Models", which are sought after by many a fan.
  • Saxophonists (and to some extent clarinetists) will often have their mouthpieces "refaced," a process involving changing the size of the tip opening,note  the length and shape of the facing curve,note  baffle,note  or even the chambernote  to tweak the playing and sound characteristics. Famed alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges famously had his mouthpieces modified to take a tenor saxophone reed.
  • While wholly custom instruments are much less common for horn players than for other classes of instrument, Dizzy Gillespie is famous for playing trumpets that had bells turned up at a 45 degree angle from the rest of the horn. This was actually the result of an accident during a performance in 1953: Someone fell on his trumpet between sets, bending the horn, and Gillespie had no choice but to continue the show as-is. However Gillespie so enjoyed the unique sound that resulted, that he commissioned the Martin Band Instrument Company to have one professionally made in this configuration, and played on "bent trumpets" by a number of different manufacturers for the rest of his life. Although uncommon, there are still manufactuers making "bent trumpets" to day.
  • To a lesser extent there are a few aftermarket parts available for saxophone, such as replacement necks that may be used to alter the sound of the horn. Other modifications may include adjustments to the height of the key touchpieces to make them easier to reach (especially for older instruments with poorer ergonomics).

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Custom championship belts have been used by several wrestlers in place of official title belts with some being worked into angles:
    • "Stone Cold" Steve Austin had the Smoking Skull belt for his reigns throughout 1998 and 1999, as he actually disliked the Big Eagle belt after it bruised his face during a segment. The belt itself was the focus of his rematch with The Rock at Backlash 1999, as Austin demanded his personal property back after having regained the WWF title at WrestleMania.
    • While not seen on TV, since it got lost in transit but was later recovered, The Rock had a custom belt of his own, the Brahma Bull belt. The concept was dropped quickly as it was felt that the idea was too similar to the Smoking Skull. Nevertheless, the belt built up a mystique surrounding it to the point that it's available as an official replica. In 2024, he was given a belt inspired by it and carried it at WrestleMania XL.
    • John Cena's infamous Spinner belt actually became the official title belt between 2005 and 2013, regardless of who held it.
    • Some of the later WWF Hardcore champions, such as John "Bradshaw" Layfield and Tommy Dreamer, had their own variants of the belt (the former had a Smoking Skull variant, the latter, a replica European title belt with a New York licence plate over it). This was due to the original belt, which had been deliberately worn and damaged looking to begin with, being so damaged that it was unusable.
    • Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Championship, while not a sanctioned championship, nevertheless was an excellent heel heat building device with the kayfabe reason for it being that since The Million Dollar Man was unable to win or buy the WWF Championship, he simply had his own made. It was billed as being valued at a million dollars, though in reality cost in the region of $40000-50000. There were also a small number of other champions, most notably "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in his Ringmaster persona.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Done in the BattleTech animated series, and in the world setting for the original game as well. Many "ace" Mechwarriors have unique mech variants, such as Justin Allard/Kai Allard-Liao's Yen-Lo-Wang Centurion, or Natasha Kerensky's "Widowmaker" Daishi.
    • OmniMechs, with swappable hardpoints, were pretty much specifically invented to allow players to build their own ace customs. In fact, there's nothing stopping any player or character with a Daishi to field the Victor, Hohiro, and Widowmaker configurations themselves.
    • Subverted and then reinforced by the case of Yen Lo Wang. After nailing an astonishing five kills in his Trial of Position with Wolf's Dragoons, Ace pilot Kai Allard-Liao is offered a Dire Wolf (Daishi) OmniMech by the Dragoons. It's an unquestionably superior off-the-shelf machine. He refuses it because he feels he owes it to his father to pilot their family mech, Yen Lo Wang. No one believes for an instant that the upgraded but antiquated Centurion holds a candle to the clantech behemoth they've offered him, so it's subverted. The trope is then reinforced because the Dragoon instead completely overhaul Yen Lo Wang with Star League technology, which gives it a boost in power but still leaves it far from optimized, resulting in the mech itself actually being weaker than a Clan mech or even many Inner Sphere designs. Kai would also go on to achieve some of his greatest victories while piloting stock mechs instead of Yen-Lo-Wang, further subverting the trope.
    • Because many 'mechs are very, very old, many warriors with older machines have had to replace too-expensive or outright lost-and-forgotten older systems and weapons with substitutes, which end up creating a sort of ad-hoc Ace Custom out of necessity. The quality of these machines varies quite a bit depending on what components were being replaced by what. This can lead to very scary Battlemechs being paper tigers because their powerful systems and weapons have been replaced or stripped, or it can lead to an awful surprise when a disreputable "white elephant" or otherwise unassuming design suddenly whips out a PPC. The Banshee 95 ton Assault Mech is particularly prone to Lethal Joke Character status due to it's horrible armament and grossly overpowered engine. Swapping them out for a lighter and weaker engine and more and better guns, or optimizing the equipment to turn it into a sniper that can sprint at astonishing speeds in melee, turns the literal biggest joke of the Inner Sphere into a rude surprise.
    • The Strategic Operations supplement offers players the ability to do aftermarket refits, and can significantly revamp a mech in so doing. There's also a quirks system which can represent both common features of a design or specialty add-ons to a particular mech.
    • The small mercenary unit Avanti's Angels got known in the late 3050s for having almost their entire unit made up of ace customs after a series of contracts led to them having a large amount of salvaged Clan weaponry. As Clan weapons are lighter and, in the case of energy weapons, more powerful than their Inner Sphere counterparts, the Angels were able to customize many of their mechs with the windfall and field a large number of mechs that were more powerful, better armored, and had more heat dissipation than the stock versions of the same mechs. This eventually gets deconstructed when they become targets because of their Clantech, and due to the lack of availability of replacement parts they have to return many of their mechs to stock configurations after they become damaged.
    • Morgan Kell's personal ride was, in his first appearance, an immaculately maintained but otherwise bog-standard Archer, but as the metaplot advanced and the Kell Hounds rose to prominence, Morgan gained more and more access to Clan gear and Lostech, and took every opportunity to add on more and more custom bits.
  • The CAMELOT Trigger setting for the Fate Core System provides a bit of a twist: not only can knights have their own armour customized as in many other mecha-based games, the rules also distinguish between equipment that endows the armour with skills of its own and equipment that instead gives it special "tricks" and situational boosts. A suit of armour with good relevant skills will perform well in the hands of even a less gifted user because it can substitute its own skills for theirs if need be (at least until the relevant system goes offline), but an actual "ace" is probably better off with more dedicated special purpose gear and less redundant automatic assistance...which then of course means that if a novice ever ends up having to pilot the same suit, they're that much more likely to be hopelessly lost.
  • Iron Kingdoms: WARMACHINE: Played with. Warjacks themselves may begin to develop skills and personalities overtime, becoming an "ace", with the commander customizing it to better make use of its own skill.
    • Played straight in the case of some other character warjacks, which may not have developed skill in the field but been specially built for a warcaster. Like Nemo's Dynamo, Strakov's Torch, and Reznik's Scourge of Heresy.
    • With her recent promotion to Kommandant, Sorscha Kratikoff has gotten an Ace Custom suit of Man-O-War armor designed for her generally more mobile combat style and slighter frame than the standard pilot. The model looks somewhat odd unless you realize the MOW armor is really a mini-mecha and not simply a suit of steam powered armor.
  • In Lancer, because of the way License Levels work, any mech frame can use any weapon, tool, or system from any license, provided they have the right weapon mounts/enough system points. As a result, even two players using the exact same frame can have wildly different traits and abilities, and that’s without even taking into account the pilot’s own traits and talents. In other words, in Lancer, everyone is an Ace Custom.
  • Mekton is capable of playing this breathtakingly straight with its highly sophisticated and granular mecha design supplements, Mekton Techbook (Mekton II) and Mekton Plus (Mekton Zeta).
  • Warbirds Ace Pilot player characters are generally assumed to be employed by the Guild, which starts by rebuilding a standard fighter with titanium and high technology ("high" in this case generally means "1950s-60s") and then letting the player loose on the options menu. In more straightforward games this might include weapon or engine upgrades; ones using, for example, the mad science sourcebook might culminate in the squadron kook upgrading his kite with a dangerously overclocked laser cannon that will explode if things go even a little bit wrong.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Maximillion Weissman had his own custom version of a Baneblade built. Functionally however it was near-identical to a normal baneblade, except for Weissman's superior crew which gave it slightly superior stats. Commissar Yarrick also has his own version of the Baneblade, the Fortress of Arrogance, which does have more noticeable modification. It was presented to him as a gift from the Adeptus Mechanicus.
    • Tau Commander Farsight has his own Battlesuit customized with the unique Dawnblade he found, subsequently making him the only tau unit dangerously competent in close combat, which suited his bloodthirsty tendencies.
    • Asdrubael Vect can get a custom ravager/raider called the Dais of Destruction that packs 3 dark lances, armor 13 all sides, and a transport capacity of 10, meaning it will ruin someone's day quite nicely (if a more than a little expensive at 240 points for Vect and another 200 for the Dais).
    • While everything an Ork Mekboy builds can be classed as a custom job, the Mek’s personal conveyance will be a truly unique piece. Whether it is a Warbike, Buggy, Speedsta, Deffkopta, Battlewagon, Wazbom Blastajet, Morkanought, Stompa or Gargant, the vehicle that a Mekboy builds for himself will typically be festooned with a plethora of powerful, if temperamental, experimental weaponry and equipment such as Kustom Force Fields, Lifta-Droppas or Destrukta Rokkits. Of particular note is the Bike of the Aporkalypse, a heavily kustomised warbike ridden by the Bad Ork Biker Mek Wazdakka Gutsmek that he is constantly tinkering with and upgrading. The exact rules for this warbike tend to change with each edition of the game but they always include a large and powerful ranged weaponnote  and with massive recoil.
    • Some of the Primarchs wore custom built armor (Horus' Serpent's Scales, Perturabo's Logos) or rode their own personalized vehicle (Perturabo's ShadowSword Tormentor).
    • In-game, the concept of the Customizable HQ is this for the characters; prior to 4th edition all special characters required your opponent's explicit permission to use and you were encouraged to use the generic HQ to build someone to represent you on the battlefield. 7th Edition is trying to return to this trend by giving a lot more customization to the generic HQs and restricting some of the utility of named characters. Emphasis on trying, as a lot of the options are just flat out better than others, leaving players to just choose the best loadout possible, which isn't exactly hard to find.
  • This is one of two reasons why Title upgrades exist in X-Wing Miniatures. Any Title card with a dot (marking a unique upgrade rather than one you can bring multiple copies of) represents a ship that's been customised by its owner. Rules-wise you don't have to equip the Title to the named pilot, and on the tiny number of ships with multiple unique Titles you can even do weird stuff like have Boba Fett and Emon Azzameen show up flying each other's Firesprays, but the modifications are generally associated with the pilot they're thematically linked to — Andrasta ties into its pilot's bomb-heavy focus, while Poe Dameron's Black One combos with both his squadron leader status and the barrel rolls his astromech, BB-8, lets him do.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Combat occasionally has custom paint jobs used by enemy Ace Pilots. Frequently, you can use their paint job if you defeat them.
    • Captain Bartlett of The Unsung War and Viper of Infinity are both pilots who are known by their heavily customized (and old — Vietnam-era F-4G and MiG-21, respectively) planes.
    • In some of the games, particularly Infinity, you can do this yourself with various parts you can customize your plane with, and occasional paint jobs from random drops. There are likewise special planes, frequently modeled after those flown by notable characters from previous games or noteworthy paint schemes from the real world, which usually have higher base performance than the standard version alongside the unique paint scheme and more space for custom parts to make it even better.
  • Anarchy Reigns have a pilotless example in Garuda, a Transforming Mecha based on the Gargoyle robot. However, while Gargoyles normally have plasma arms fit for ranged combat, Garuda possess a pair of drills instead for close-quarters combat to better fit his partner who prefer blasting enemies from afar with his revolver cannon.
  • Getting technical, any of the titular mecha from Armored Core are ace customs. Each one is a specially built engine of destruction that accommodates the pilot's fighting style and can wield an astounding array of weaponry. Also, when Armored Core 4 appeared, mass production models of Cores appeared as mooks — Normals. The newer NEXTS now being the weapon of choice for Ravens, err Lynx.
  • Yasha from Asura's Wrath has a jet bike called the Corvette Lone Wolf that has the power of the other deities' Septentrion flagships, with speed similarly fitting for his fighting style.
  • Custom Robo is, as the name suggests, all about ace customs.
  • Cyberpunk 2077:
    • The Malorian Arms 3516 was custom made for Johnny Silverhand. It's the only Malorian you can find in the game, and one of the better pistols in general. It was made to accomodate Johnny's left-handedness and his prosthetic hand.
    • Many unique weapons V can obtain are customised versions of common weapons made for a specific character. They usually have a special look and abilities.
    • A non-weapon example: Judy's Braindance-editing gear is all custom, according to her. The only factory-part is the outer casing.
  • Chou Dengeki Stryker: By inserting various "Stryker Drives" (named after Japanese aircraft) into their gauntlets, a Stryker-series cyborg can manipulate electricity for various purposes such as a Laser Blade, Arm Cannon or Super-Speed. In the Steel route, Stryker Zero notes that the vulnerable period when switching between Drives is one of the system's biggest weaknesses, and commissions a custom "all-in-one" unit to eliminate it. The resulting Drive, Kamui, ends up including a substantial power boost as well, but at the cost of being calibrated for Zero's older hardware, limiting its use to him alone.
  • The Marauder variants of spaceships in Endless Sky are souped-up versions of regular ships modified to increase their effectiveness, with some Marauders having a focus on either weaponry or speed. Players can only get Marauder ships by capturing them, but are encouraged to mix-and-match technologies from the various civilizations encounter when equipping their flagship.
  • Fallout:
    • Several of the unique weapons in Fallout: New Vegas. Some of the notable ones include: Lucky, a long-barreled .357 Magnum revolver with gold etching and an ivory grip inlaid with a club symbol; Maria, a customized 9mm pistol decorated with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, used by Benny; the Survivalist's Rifle, an old Service Rifle chambered for 12.7mm ammo; A Light Shining In Darkness, a compact .45 pistol with a custom hammer and sights, a snakeskin grip, and an inscription of a passage from The Bible, used by Joshua Graham; and La Longue Carabine, Corporal Sterling's scoped cowboy repeater rifle.
    • Fallout 3 has a number, including the Reservist's Rifle, Dave's hunting rifle Ol' Painless, the Blackhawk revolver owned by Agatha's late husband, Sydney's 10mm Ultra SMG, Ronald Laren's Kneecapper sawed-off shotgun, and Smilin' Jack's Terrible Shotgun.
    • Fallout 4 plays it a few different ways: Any weapon can be modified with a number of mods that are reflected with cosmetic changes that even change its name depending on which mod, though it won't be completely unique and after a while NPCs will spawn with similar modded guns. There are also Legendary weapons, which are weapons dropped from randomly-spawned legendary enemies with intrinsic modifiers than can't be crafted, but also which usually aren't reflected in appearance. A few are, however, like Kremvh's Tooth (a machete of eldritch nature with a jagged blade that can, unusually, be removed and attached to other machetes, even other legendary ones, to give them its modifiers), Lorenzo's Artifact (a gamma gun with a unique muzzle), Atom's Judgement (a super sledge with four damaged fusion cores for a head), and the Silver submachine gun (the base submachine gun with a silver finish, based on a prop used by in-universe comic hero the Silver Shroud).
  • Played with in Gihren's Greed. Once an ace custom has been researched (e.g. Char's custom Zaku II), it can be built as many times as the player wants even if, for example, Char has defected. Unusually, some machines are identified as ace customs even though in-series they were completely standard (e.g. Ramba Ral's Gouf is treated like an ace custom despite simply being the first production model of the Gouf in-universe, while Dozle Zabi can get a Big Zam that is more ornate than the one he actually piloted).
  • 47's signature Silverballer pistols in the Hitman series are a unique variant of the AMT Hardballer, a clone of the M1911A1. Their characteristics vary from game to game, but in general, they're shiny, come with Pachmayr grips, and 47's personal fleur-de-lys logo on the slides. In Silent Assassin, they're hilariously overpowered, while in Blood Money, they can be customised even further with various suppressors, ammo types, sights, a longer slide, or even the option for fully automatic fire.
  • The Last Remnant utilizes this method with both weapons and skills.
  • The main characters of LBX: Little Battlers eXperience all use special LBX, either customized by themselves or done for them by prominent LBX producers (justified as good players are hired to test new products).
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel has both Aurelia's Spiegel and Wallace's Hector customized to their needs. Aurelia's Spiegel is colored gold and has a shield while Wallace's Hector uses a spear as it's main weapon. By The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie, Rean pilots an ashen-colored soldat after Valimar and the rest of the Divine Knights disappeared at the end of Cold Steel IV. Meanwhile, Juna pilots a Zolge, armed with gunbreakers and has boosters attached to its back.
  • The MechWarrior series has the MechLab, allowing players to heavily customize their Humongous Mecha to their liking. Some loadouts will simply adjust the armor distribution or how much ammo is carried for each weapon, while more extreme loadouts will share nothing in common with the original loadout; such as a player turning a long ranged missile support mech into a closed range brawler loaded with dumbfire rockets. In the singleplayer games, the bosses generally have Ace Custom loadouts on their mechs, and sometimes the Elite Mooks as well.
    • Online also enforces this, as some updates introduce "Hero Mechs" and/or "Champion Mechs" that have different loadouts (and other bonuses in the case of Hero Mechs), along with a bonus towards earning XP and C-bills for using those Mechs. Hero Mechs often boast loadouts and hardpoint configurations unlike most canon variants seen in the tabletop game (though modified versions of unique canon units are present, such as the Yen-Lo-Wang and Aleksander Kerensky's Orion), while Champion Mechs use loadouts popular with the community/meta-game. Hero Mechs also come with unique paint colors and patterns.
    • The MechLab also shows up in Battletech, working in much the same way. The Final Boss of the game also uses a slightly modified stock King Crab.
  • In Mercenary Kings, you can make your own custom gun when you are able to craft certain parts, resulting in bizarre-but-effective frankenguns like a scoped magnum pistol with a shotgun drum barrel and an assault rifle stock that fires mini-homing missiles.
  • Metal Gear:
    • The M1911A1 Custom used by Big Boss in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. When he receives it, he goes into extensive detail about the number of modifications to it shortly before making his own: carving down part of the left-side grip to make it easier to wield his knife at the same time in CQC.
    • Old Snake in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots gets his own in the M4 Custom, named so for the ludicrous number of extra parts he can attach to it, from sights and suppressors to underbarrel grenade launchers or shotguns - most everything can be modified in that game, but nothing else has anywhere near the number of options the M4 Custom gets.
    • Rescuing the master gunsmith in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain allows the Diamond Dogs to assemble any number of custom frankenguns by mixing and matching different components from other guns, some of which alter the gun's stats, such as accuracy, handling, or range as well as adding custom paint jobs and Gun Accessories, such as flashlights and suppressors.
    • Jetstream Sam from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, being the only (mostly) human enemy in the game, not only has a custom blade that can cut through nanomachine-based armor,note  but also a mechanical sheath for it made out of the receiver for an M16 that ejects the blade at high speeds, allowing him to draw (and, by extension, strike) fast enough to match the speed of the near completely robotic Winds of Destruction. He barely even needs it to disarm Raiden at the beginning of the game.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Side Story 0079: Rise From The Ashes: Technically, all the White Dingo units are superficially ace customs, as they are painted in the White Dingoes' custom color scheme of dark gray-on-gray, but their performance is no better than a standard production model. However, their version of the GM Sniper Custom II does have additional modifications to the base model, specifically Vulcan gun pods not seen on other versions. The only completely uncustomized machine used by the White Dingoes is their support unit, the Bloodhound.
  • The Samurai Edge pistol of Resident Evil fame is essentially a line of Ace Custom handguns used by the elite S.T.A.R.S. team, based off of the Beretta 92F. Commissioned by the Raccoon City Police Department and designed by genius gunsmith Joseph Kendo, even the baseline model featured target sights, Inox barrels, heavier slides from the 92 Brigadier, custom wrap-around wood grips with synthetic inlays and backstraps to cushion against recoil, and enough fine-tuning to fire repeatedly without any sort of drastic spread, even after going through a few thousand rounds. The ones used by the four main S.T.A.R.S. members (Chris, Jill, Barry and Wesker) all feature their own personal customizations, which in games like the remake of Resident Evil 2 even give them slight differences in gameplay: Chris' SE is geared toward accuracy with a blued hard steel slide for covert action (allowing a quicker focus time); Jill's has a miniature slide stop to avoid snagging on clothes when drawing (letting it be drawn faster); Barry's is based on a Beretta 96, up-chambered in .40 S&W with an extended magazine to accommodate and an enlarged compensator; and Wesker's is almost Char-like in the amount of customizations it sports, such as a duralumin steel frame with a Vertec-style underbarrel rail that allows his to take a custom suppressor (which means it deals more damage).
  • SD Gundam Capsule Fighter does this, allowing players to modify stats to make their units hit harder or move faster. A lot of times, though, it's just to make you die in one hit.
  • SD Gundam G Generation: The games allow the player to deploy as many Super Prototype machines from throughout the Gundam franchise as they can afford, meaning it's possible to field an entire squad of Strike Freedom Gundams. While in most games customisation is restricted to the point allocation after an MS levels up (e.g. so a player could pump all the points into mobility to help improve the hit rate for a pilot), some games had things like emblems that could be attached to an MS to grant bonuses (with the emblems even showing up on the in-game model) and certain option parts even changed the colouration (e.g. equipping anti-beam coating based on the Hyaku Shiki would turn any MS gold.
  • In Shadowrun: Hong Kong, Racter is a unique take on the Rigger in that instead of being able to switch between various off-the-shelf drone models, he instead has a custom drone called Koschei that can be modified in capability as the game goes on.
  • The admirals of the Valuan Empire in Skies of Arcadia all have Ace Custom versions of the Valuan airships, designed to accommodate their favoured battle tactics. In addition there's the Delphinus, intended to be the royal flagship of the Valuan armada and both an Ace Custom and Super Prototype for the smaller 'Spectre'-class battleships. Naturally, the heroes nick it, ensuring they have the fanciest ride in the game. Or rather, are handed it on a silver platter by the prince who would rather it be used to fight his mother.
  • A rare non-weapon variant of this trope is present in the semi-realistic flight sim Sky Odyssey. At the end of each mission players are given parts to customize their aircraft. How much you can buy depends on how well you scored in the previous mission. Players can also give their aircraft custom emblems, paint jobs, and names as well.
  • The racers in Sonic Riders who aren't using 100% custom made Extreme Gears typically are using heavily customized versions of retail gears. In the case of Shadow the Hedgehog and Dr. Eggman in the first Sonic Riders, their default gears even double as the default selections for the communal pot of Gears within their class (Skate type and Bike type respectively.)
  • Star Trek Online does this with their starships. From the ship's outside look to the payload to the shields and engines, no two ships are actively alike.
    • A villainous example of this is General Hakeev's ship, the Khnail, a D'Deridex Romulan warbird. When you first see it, it's a normal D'Deridex. The second time you run into it, it looks like your usual player Ace Custom with a few Borg gear. The third time, you find out that he's outfitted his entire ship, inside and out, with Borg technology that it no longer looks like a D'Deridex, it looks like the Narada. You scrap his ship during this third encounter and when you run into him again during a later mission, he's back to a normal D'Deridex.
  • Invoked with 3-Times and Masa in Super Cosplay War Ultra. 3-Times is a more powerful red-colored version of the standard rank-and-file Zaku mooks, and Masa basically is a Char-like character wearing a red suit of Zaku armor and sporting an expanded moveset.
  • The Original Generation mecha of Super Robot Wars is overloaded with Super Prototypes and Ace Customs, there's far too many to mention.
  • Sword of the Stars features an ace custom flagship, a jacked-up CnC mission fused with a barrage mission. It costs a fortune, and you can only have one at a time. Oh, and losing one hits your morale harder than having something death star a major colony.
  • A couple of instances of this occur in the campaign of Titanfall 2.
    • The first is Jack Cooper's Titan, BT-7472. A super rare Vanguard class Titan, who not only has an advanced AI housed inside it, but also has the ability to swap between any Titan weapon loadout it so chooses.
    • Late in the campaign you have to tangle with another Ace Custom, that being Viper and his custom Northstar model. Which he has modified from being able to hover for a short time to just outright flying.
  • Throughout the Valkyria Chronicles trilogy, special Aces appear in many missions with custom weapons. Taking them down usually gave you that weapon or their blueprints in return, for you to use for yourself. Technically, this could also count for your own upgraded weapons, as you usually have the option to change weapons over to another spec type in its tree (such as a gun that lowers an enemy's defenses or one that performs better against armor).
  • Warframe: Multiple types.
    • The major factions have custom variants: Grineer Wraiths, Corpus Vandals, and Lotus Dex weapons. They are typically limited to event-only rewards and were originally Permanently Missable Content, but they were added back in later rewards and even the occasional Item Crafting. These variants simply have tweaked stats compared to the standard versions, and are not always much more powerful.
    • The relay syndicates have custom versions of their weapons, which you can buy if you obtain enough reputation with them.
    • Prime weapons and warframes are the original versions used by the Orokin, and are Lost Technology. Unlike the other variants, Primes are always superior to their base versions, if only slightly (though often a lot). Collecting parts requires participating in dangerous Void Fissure missions.
    • There is another variant of warframes: The Umbra warframes, which are at least as powerful as the Prime variants, and are specialized in fighting the Sentients. They were the original warframes, complete with the original pilots still trapped inside, twisted by the Technocyte Plague. Thanks to this, they also have a unique "autopilot" mode.
  • By X3: Terran Conflict the Pirate Clans have put several custom-built ships into limited production for their Ace Pilots, the most dangerous of which is the Blastclaw M3+ heavy fighter — a heavily shielded, extremely deadly ship carrying up to four fusion torches capable of roasting ships in seconds. There's even an extremely rare Super Prototype version, which is even faster and better shielded. Regular Pirates have to make do with salvaged ships, albeit customized with sweet Nose Art. Standard Pirate customized ships are actually worse in terms of overall stats, but can mount a much wider assortment of weaponry than the vanilla ships.
  • In XCOM 2, weapons can be customized with attachments and colors. A Rookie might just have a bog standard assault rifle, but your alien-slaughtering Colonel gets a neon pink shotgun with a critical-hit seeking laser sight, advanced stock, and expanded magazine. In the War of the Chosen Expansion Pack, the Chosen use one-of-a-kind weapons based loosely on standard ADVENT tech. The Hunter, for example, has a railgun with an advanced targeting computer, while the Warlock gets an assault rifle that deals extra damage against psionic-sensitive entities.
  • Xenogears uses this trope a lot, especially in the first disc. Named characters' Gears tend to be unique models custom-built for the pilot, while mass-produced Gears are used by Mooks. However, in the latter half of the game, many of the heroes trade in their personally-customized Gears for Lost Magitek with superior capabilities.
    • While Xenosaga's E.S. (Ein Sof) units are primarily Super Robots due to them resonating with Vessels of Anima (hence Ein Sof meaning "infinite" or "unending", words that you'd normally apply to the aforementioned Super Robots), they seem to be built, designed, and most especially customized to reflect their respective pilots and their fighting styles. For example, E.S. Asher seems to be built for ranged ballistics similar to Jr. himself, E.S. Dinah is all about energy weapons like KOS-MOS, E.S. Reuben wields swords like Jin Uzuki, and E.S. Zebulun is primarily an ether wielder like MOMO.


    Web Original 
  • Though there are no mecha in the setting, tanks in The Solstice War seem to be borrowing from this trope. Noel's Strike Ranger tank was a prototype designed to cater to his tastes in tanks.
  • RWBY: Ruby Rose built Crescent Rose herself because every student at Signal has to create their own weapons. Ruby admits that she may have gone overboard on designing it.

    Western Animation 
  • The e-frames given to Able Squad in Exo Squad were all modified versions of the usual models, testing new features which inevitably turn the tide in the first battle they are used in.
    • Phaeton's personal Command E-Frame is capable of shrugging off direct hits that would destroy a normal E-Frame. He later has it further customized with medical equipment to help treat his automutation syndrome.
  • This was the ultimate fate of the Megas XLR unit: though it started as a stolen Glorft Super Prototype, it was so heavily modified by Coop (with junkyard car parts and old video game consoles no less) that he became the only person able to actually use the thing, as opposed to its intended pilot, Kiva.
  • Star Wars Rebels introduces gear seen in the original trilogy that is in either an unmodified or base form, or things that have never been seen before. The TIE Advanced prototype, used by Inquisitors, as well as Vader's TIE Advanced x1; the TIE Bomber and Interceptor, Ezra's hybrid saber-blaster, the Inquisitor Lightsaber (a spinning saberstaff), and the prototype B-Wing fighter.
    • Its previous series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars introduced a new lightsaber to the mix — the Darksaber: a black cored saber modelled after a katana, complete with diagonal edge and flattened blade.
    • Also applies to many of the GAR clone commanders — such as Cody, Fox, Wolffe, etc. — who wear armor that has been heavily modified to include a bunch of extra features and cosmetic touches. Captain Rex in particular ends up using Phase I armor with a few Phase II touches in the helmet such as a rebreather and the wider Phase II visor. This stems from Phase I armor being more durable and standing up to more intense blaster fire compared to the Phase II.
  • Sym-Bionic Titan: Ilana's mech, Corus, is implied to be this since no others like it were ever shown. Lance uses a standard issue Manus armor with a slightly different color scheme; the Combining Mecha aspect probably isn't standard, though, since the King passed him a new model (his old one had been confiscated) before sending him off.

    Real Life 
  • Gentoo Linux is aimed at people who want to do this their whole operating system. And for people who don't want to compile all their programs from source, there's Arch Linux. The customizability of Linux overall is why it's such a favorite among developers.
  • World War II:
    • Some Imperial Japanese Navy pilots flying Zeros out of Rabaul during World War II ordered simple armor plate welded in around the interior of the cockpit. They were a minority but, towards the end, the only ones left. Perhaps uniquely for the concept of Ace Custom, they performed worse than the basic model... but were more likely to bring their pilots back to base.
    • B-17E 41-2666 "Old 666" was an Ace Custom Bomber. Namely, the crew took the already Dakka-filled B-17 and up-gunned it, with a fixed machine gun in front for the pilot, two for the waist-gunner instead of one, and upping all the .30 caliber ones to the larger .50 cal. They also loaded up extra machine guns so that if one jammed they could just dump it out the side and strap another into place instead of taking time to clear the jam. All this came into play when Old 666 was on a mapping mission, alone, and was attacked by 15 Zeroes and 2 other planes. With 20 more minutes left in their mapping mission, the crew choose to simply dogfight the entire swarm of zeroes while still mapping. It worked.
    • The P-40s flown by Claire Chennault's Flying Tigersnote  don't fit into any official subtype. Ostensibly built as P-40Bs, the engines were almost entirely assembled by hand, mixing and matching parts to provide the absolute best performance possible, with numerous other modifications to the airframe as well. As a result, the Tigers' P-40s had greatly superior performance over any other P-40 of the time.
    • The Soviet Air Force customarily removed the wing guns off the Lend-Lease Bell P-39 Airacobra fighters, leaving only the 37 mm cannon and two 12.7 mm machine guns in the nose. This both lightened the airplane and improved its manouevreability, making it able to turn tighter than any German aircraft at low altitudes, and the 37 mm Oldsmobile gun was more than enough to bring any opponents down. Airacobra was the preferred plane of many Soviet aces, including the second-highest scoring Aleksandr Pokryshkin (59 kills) and third-highest scoring Grigori Retchkalov (57 kills).
  • Carlos Hathcock, a US Marine Corps sniper during Vietnam (who wore a giant white feather in his bush hat), built a custom bracket to mount a 10X Unertl scope onto an M2 Browning machine gun which he used for several confirmed kills (including one at 2500 yards in 1967, which remained the longest-ranged confirmed kill for 35 years).note 
  • The German Luftstreitkrafte offered experienced pilots far more leeway in customizing the paint jobs of their planes than the Allied nations. While most French and British planes had plain green paint jobs with the appropriate national and squadron insignia, the Germans had all manner of weird and wonderful color schemes, with aces' and squadron leaders' planes often having a completely unique appearance.
    • During World War I, the "Red Baron", Manfred von Richthofen, became one of the most famous users of an "ace custom" with his bright red Albatros D.III with a reinforced spar on the aircraft's lower wing. The rest of his squadron similarly customized their planes, resulting in their becoming known as "the Flying Circus."
  • The Mallard, the locomotive that broke the speed record for steam trains and has held it ever since, incorporated a number of tweaks to its design that made it an improvement over other engines of its class. Its designer, Nigel Gresley, always intended it as the record-breaker.
  • Both studios owned by Yoshiki Hayashi (the old One On One Studios he bought from Bob Rock of Metallica fame before he sold it, and the new one built from scratch) are the musical version of this. While a variety of different artists have used him as a producer and recorded at both, both were constructed to be specifically useful to the needs of his own projects, including X Japan and Violet UK.
  • An example which falls under both Real Life and Video Games; Unless you are mobile enough that you have to buy gaming laptops, any PC gamer knows the best option is a custom rig (companies like Dell's Alienware subsidiary or Falcon Northwest skimp on things and are overpriced) and either learn to put it together or learn how to pick the right parts and pay someone to assemble it for them. This is split 50/50 with Super Prototype due to each machine being so unique that they are the first (and likely only) one of its kind, however. What does fit the trope are external cases (the only part you normally see of the "tower" that stores the actual computer parts, basically the "skin") which range from mildly stylized budget cases, to heavily stylized futuristic ones that cost $100-$300, to Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition rigs that are rare to find, to the bland and cheap but sturdy and well-made boxes which people like to modify so much that you'd never believe the Steampunk Babbage device, the PC disguised as a LEGO product, or the beige e-Machines box with the Pentium sticker and coffee stain on top was able to run the Star Citizen alpha.
  • Also overlaps with Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: Many automakers will offer special editions of some of their performance or luxury vehicles. Options exclusive to these vehicles can include special badging and paint jobs, performance upgrades, and matching accessory items. The latter can range from specially branded clothing and luggage, to special tools and spares for track use, to access to exclusive racing schools and track day experiences. Additionally, the vehicle may be individually numbered, particularly if the manufacturer announces a specific figure for how many of such vehicles will be made.
  • Keyboard enthusiasts (the computer kind) are known to build and solder together their own keyboards, with their choices in keyboard switches (mechanical switches, as opposed to the more economically-friendly rubber dome sheets found in cheaper keyboards built for the average user), keycaps, and frame making their keyboards stand out even amongst most mechanical keyboard users.
  • In the US Navy, each carrier air group maintains a "CAG Bird". Flown by the air group's commander, these planes are distinguished by their colorful paint schemes and modex numbers ending in "00".


Corvette Lone Wolf

Yasha's own personal hover-cycle

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