Friday, February 15, 2013

Winsome Wasp

PICTURE STILL WON'T LOAD - I'LL KEEP TRYING What can one say about the Wasp? She certainly has a fine sense of fashion, and eventually established a successful career as a designer. That after already inheriting a fortune from her deceased father. Janet Van Dyne had met Henry Pym through her father, little knowing that he was secretly the Ant-Man. When her father was killed Janet expressed her interest in crime fighting and Pym took her into his confidence and gave her the powers of a wasp, including the wings, and the ability to shrink to very small proportions. She had a wasp's sting that she could use as a weapon and certain sensory abilities. Jan, as she was known, was always the more outgoing of the Pym/van Dyne pair while Hank was a bit of a scientific nerd. However, they eventually married and Jan continued her career as the Wasp through Hank's various identity changes to Giant-Man, then Goliath and then Yellow Jacket. Finally he gave up the superheroing business although he has continued to work alongside them. Ant-Man and Wasp were founding members of the Avengers and Jan has even been a very successful chairwoman of the group. One thing she has been noted for over the years are her various costumes. She hardly seems to wear the same one twice. Through a variety of means I have tried to capture some of that variety in my collection, as displayed here. On the left are two of her original costumes, one a Heroclix. Next along the bottom is a version I did from a metal figure, cuting clear plastic wings from a blister pack. Next is also an early version flying at you that I mounted on a bse and then two more Heroclix versions. On the far right is Ant-Man riding a giant ant with Wasp alongside. Far right behind is an Eaglemoss Wasp metal figure from England. Next left is a conversion I did using a "Happy Meal" Catwoman figure and finally on the far left is an Invisible Woman figure I converted. These are all costumes that Jan has used at one time or another.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Akron and the Macon and a B-24

In my last post I mentioned I had two of these airship models (Akron and Macon) but I had painted one in enamel and it wouldn't set up properly and was still tacky. I finally bit the bullet, donned my latex gloves like a doctor about to remove a hernia, laid out my Q-tips and a bottle of paint thinner and methodically stripped off the offending silver enamel paint. Then I rinsed off the excess thinner with the dish sprayer in the sink and after it dried out repainted the model with acrylic. I am displaying the two of them here together, a sight no one would have ever seen because by the time the Macon was commissioned the Akron had already been lost. While I was about it I set alongside them a B-24/Liberator bomber of World War II fame as a comparison of size. The B-24 actually took on some of the reconnaissance chores the airships were designed to accomplish. It's a good illustration of just how big these thin-skinned monsters really were.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Airship Akron

Shapeways has come out with a model of the Akron and her sistership Macon, two dirigible airships built in this country by a German team from the Zeppelin works in that country. Akron became operational in September 1931 while the Macon first flew in April 1933. The airships were kept aloft by 12 helium filled gas cells and were powered by eight 12-cylinder gasoline engines, giving them a range of over 10,000 miles. The United States had much larger quantities of helium than most of the other countries of the world. Helium was not flamable like hydrogen, which fueled the spectacularly ill-fated Hindenburg disaster. Akron and Macon were really designed as airborne aircraft carriers and came equipped with small fighters, the F9C/Sparrowhawk biplane. There was a trapeze arrangement that lowered the planes for launch and they would hook on and be lifted aboard upon their return. Unfortunately the Akron and Macon were also ill-fated. Akron ran into an intense storm front off New Jersey and was lost at sea, only three of its 76 man crew were rescued and a navy blimp sent out to search for survivors also crashed with the loss of two men. Macon was also lost in February 1935, again in a storm, although this time only two of the 76 man crew were lost. You may be thinking that the reaon I only have one model displayed is because the Akron was lost before the Macon commissioned so there was only one active at a time. Actually I have two models, but I tried painting one of them with enamel and it wouldn't dry on the plastic so I painted this one with acrylic and am stripping the other one with thinner to be painted later. When will I ever learn not to paint plastics with acrylic??? Inquiring minds would love to know!!

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Some superheroes/heroines are stranger than others and Destiny fits that bill. She's not a great hand-to-hand combatant and she's even blind, but she can see the future, which is her mutant gift. A citizen of the UK, she started out in the second Brotherhood of Evil Mutants but after being apprehended switched sides to a U.S. government run group called Freedom Force, which was led by Mystique. She seems to have had an abbreviated career, being gunned down by the Reavers, a bad guy group with whom Freedom Force had come into conflict. Not much of a resume, but I guess you don't need much when you're dead. I did rather like the look of Destiny and used a Spider-Woman figure as the base. I had to Dreml off the hair and then sculpt the helmet or whatever it is using epoxy putty. Then it was just a paint job and a cape made from T-shirt material.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hybrid Carriers

There seems to be a strange fascination with the subject of hybrid aircraft carriers. Usually these are either mixed carrier and battleship or carrier and cruiser designs. There have been real and imagined designs over time and I thought I'd present a few here. In the picture, starting from the bottom (these are all 1:2400 scale, that's one inch equals 200 feet) is the Shapeways model of Providence, a carrier/light cruiser hybrid based on a 1935 Board of Construction & Repair scheme No. 39 featured in Norman Friedman's U.S. Cruisers book, page 171. Next forward is one of my own conversions using a Baltimore heavy cruiser hull and forward two eight inch gun turrets with the cut down flight from a Casablanca CVE, which I call the Cambridge. Next up is another Shapeways model of a hybrid featured in Hector Bywater's novel "The Great Pacific War," the Alaska class with two eight inch guns forward. Then we have an offering from Panzerschiffe, who makes epoxy resin models, of a hybrid they call the Stoney Point, which looks to be mounting six inch guns. Then we have another creation from me, which I call the Lakehurst, using a Brooklyn light cruiser hull and another cut down Casablanca. Finally we have the big guy, which is one of my scratch builds from bass wood of a Gibbs & Cox design for a hybrid battleship for Russia, called Design "B" of 71,850 tons and mounting twelve 16" guns. I actually have incorporated it into my U.S. fleet with the understanding that it was building in 1941 when we got involved in the war and we took it over from Russia. These are all interesting designs, and as you can see, they interest a lot of people. However, they were never very practical. As Friedman comments in an article in Naval Institute Proceedings for April 1979, "...they were lousy carriers and not too good as anything else." They were still a lot of fun.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Superman/Batman and Lex the Joker

I just finished these and since I haven't posted for a few days I decided to present them both at once. This is from a DC Elseworlds story where Kal-El lands on earth and is adopted by the kindly - wait for it - Wayne family, Thomas and Martha and of course the ever useful Alfred. When the Waynes are killed by the bad guy after the movie instead of Bruce just going into shock he fries the bad guy with heat vision and then forgets the whole incident. Later a similar incident brings it all back and Bruce discovers his Kryptonian heritage. He starts cleaning up Gotham City but keeps bumping up against Lex Luthor, who experienced an accident at his chemical plant. Bruce buys a newspaper (Gotham Gazette) and hires Perry White and Lois Lane. Lex Luthor shows up and reveals himself to be a little discolored and even more psychotic. He helos off with Lois but Batman catches up with him and almost kills him but he takes a cue from Lois and relents. And in the end assumes a "Superman" identity and lightens things up. I used a 4" Batman figure for Batman, with the head from an armored Batman figure and the legs from a Captain Marvel. Lex was made using the head from a Toy Biz Lex Luthor figure and the body of a Dukes of Hazard Boss Hogg. Love those Elseworlds.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Space Ranger

As promised (sort of) I decided to feature Space Ranger the action figure since I already featured his spaceship in a previous post. I remember the character from my youth, although I maybe only ever have seen a couple of his comics back then. He was a DC character featured in Tales of the Unexpected and Mystery in Space back in the late 1950's and 1960's. He was one among several superheroes-among-the-stars characters like Adam Strange and Tommy Tomorrow featured during the period. In reality he was Rick Star (secret identity) working for his father, who owned Allied Solar Enterprises (giving him lots of loot to buy fancy gadgets with). Rick had a secretary Myra Mason (sexy girl in short skirts who's always getting herself in trouble) and a little alien side-kick named Cryll who could assume the appearance of any creature he knew about. Space Ranger did have a bag of tricks, in addition to the spaceship, and several different types of weapons with which to subdue the baddies, including four-armed and big-headed aliens of various stripes. I've made an effort in recent years to pick up a number of his comics and have enjoyed them. I may even create more characters from his universe. As for the Space Ranger figure, I used a Mattel Secret Wars Baron Zemo figure with Kang legs and the head from an X-Men Kane figure and some holsters from GI Joe figures. My biggest problem was the transparent helmet he wears. I eventually used clear epoxy and sort of formed it in the right shape before it dried to get the effect, but I'm still not happy with it. Still looking for a clear plastic piece that might work.