Thursday, December 30, 2010

Blackhawk Villain - The Deadly Lensman

In Blackhawk #145, February 1960 the deadly Lensman shows up to frustrate the Blackhawks. Using a strange machine that can use light rays in various ways he manages to frustrate all attempts to capture him and his gang. He can project illusions of alien monsters, or focus the sun's energy to form a beam capable of slicing through steel. The Blackhawks finally manage to figure out where the Lensman's hideout is and confront him in his lair. The Lensman tries to blind the Blackhawks with intense light so his henchmen and sneak up on them, but the Blackhawks throw off their jackets and reveal vests covered with bicycle reflectors that shine the light back at the criminals. Then the Lensman tries an infrared heater on Blackhawk but he has a handy spray-gun which fires black paint, blocking the Lensman's lens. So of course the Lensman proves not to be as deadly as he believed himself to be. For the action figure I used a 3 3/4" DC Infinite Universe Green Lantern (how appropriate, right??) first painting it white and then dabbing all those tedious little red dots of paint. I made the white collar from a piece of fabric - sometimes I'll sculpt features like collars and sometimes I'll use fabric, depending on my mood I guess. I also placed a couple of small crystals in his eyes to simulate the Lensman's goggles. As to whether I'll ever take on the task of doing seven Blackhawks with reflective vests - only time and the fates can tell. Woof!!
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Riddle of the Sphinx - or Smoking really is hazardous to your health

From the pages of Blackhawk #150, July 1960 comes the story of the Riddle of the Sphinx. The Blackhawks are pursuing a criminal mastermind called the Sphinx who, with his gang, is plundering an unnamed city. The Blackhawks step in but the gang manages to escape their first encounter. The next thing we know a man in a bus terminal is tripped by a dog and his valise falls open (can't get a decent lock for those things) and diamonds fall all over the floor. Other material in the valise links the man named Bates to the Sphinx robberies and he is quickly tried (wouldn't happen that fast today) and incarcerated. He pleads his innocence with the Blackhawks who agree to investigate. They quickly stumbled upon the Sphinx and his gang but are trapped and the Sphinx lights the candle in a barrel of gunpowder with his cigarette lighter. However, the Blackhawks escape and trail the Sphinx to his hideout where the Sphinx apparently jumps into a raging river committing suicide rather than be captured. Later they catch up with the man who was actually masquerading as the Sphinx, who had thrown a dummy into the river. The man is a smoker, even though it was established early in the story that the real Sphinx didn't smoke. It is finally revealed that Bates was really the Sphinx all along and the elaborate deception was designed to make the authorities believe he had been framed. So in this case smoking led to every one's downfall. The action figure was made using a Remco Dracula figure to which I attached a GI Joe Cobra Commander head. I then sculpted the side parts of the mask. The cape was cut from an old T-shirt. I really like the Blackhawk villains because they allow me to use a lot of different types of action figures and techniques.
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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas - Have a Super Holiday

Wishing you a very happy Xmas today are the American Crusader and Miss Masque (or maybe more appropriately Ms Masque). Both characters were originally published by the Better/Standard/Nedor house, but these versions are based more on the revived characters by AC Comics. American Crusader was made using a Captain America body because I liked the star, and otherwise Daredevil parts. Miss Masque was made using the body of Playmates Star Trek Ensign Janice Rand, the legs from an Ilia, the head from a Gargoyles Elisia and the hat from a Toy Biz Joker's henchman Bob. And from me personally, for those of you who visit the site, best wishes of the holiday season.
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Friday, December 24, 2010

Fire and Ice - The Split-Man

Appearing in Blackhawk Comic #184, May 1963 a scientist named Cahill claims to have been experimenting with extremes of heat and cold when a mishap occurred and he was bathed in the two extremes. He suddenly began to have episodes where he would transform into a split man - half melting heat and the other half freezing cold. He initially seemed to be seeking help from the Blackhawks but then seemed to be losing his mind and turning to crime when the Split-Man episodes overtook him. He starts robbing banks and jewelry stores and there seems little the Blackhawks can do to thwart his fire and ice powers. Eventually Blackhawk discovers Cahill can really transform at will by use of the transmutation machine he created and they cut his power and take him into custody. I thought since it's been really cold for a prolonged period of time and they're threatening snow again this weekend it would be nice to have the powers of fire and ice and right now I could use more of the heat and less of the cold. The Split-Man action figure was a kid's meal Human Torch figure that I painted on the left side to reflect the Split-Man's frozen side. I liked the way the "flames" on his left shoulder appeared like they could also be frozen ice sickles sticking up. The major challenges here were painting a straight white line on a curved surface and the chest emblem, which required a little free-hand sketching.
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Blackhawk Framed - By the Badge

In Blackhawk #194, March 1964, after he accidentally allows some criminals to escape, Blackhawk receives a call from police Chief Stacey, an old friend. Blackhawk is asked to meet the chief at a location where police discover part of the loot from the robbery, implicating the Blackhawk's chief in the theft. Humiliated and stripped of his chest symbol, Blackhawk is bailed out and the following day a new hero appears on the scene sporting the costume of the Badge and with Blackhawk's distinctive voice and manly chin. The Blackhawks believe their former leader has assumed the Badge's identity to fight crime while he's under a legal cloud. However, when the Badge escapes with thieves rather than bringing them in everyone is after the former Blackhawk leader. In the end it turns out the hoodlum Boss Maddox was responsible for the frame. He imitated Chief Stacey's voice to lure Blackhawk to the stolen money and later disguised himself as the Badge and used Blackhawk's voice to delude everyone that Blackhawk was committing the crimes. In the end Blackhawk leads the police and his own team to the bad guys hideout where all is revealed. I used a Marvel Showdown Captain America figure as the basis for the Badge, which I had to Dremel the star from the chest and repaint.
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Monday, December 13, 2010

Blackhawk Villain - Cat-Man

Those comic book aficionados among my readers may protest that Cat-Man was in fact a Batman villain, who is still revived from time to time to flesh out Batman's rogue's gallery of bad guys. However, while Batman's Cat-Man first appeared in the pages of Detective Comics #311 in January 1963, this particular Cat-Man made his debut in Blackhawk #141, in October 1959, predating Batman's baddie by over three years. This Cat-Man shows up to challenge the Blackhawks, claiming to have been given nine lives by an African witch doctor. He proceeds to squander most of them eluding the Blackhawks during the course of the story until Blackhawk convinces him that, rather than two lives left to lose, he has only one. Blackhawk saves his life at the end and we're left to wonder if he really has one or two lives left. He was never used in the pages of Blackhawk's comic again so we never found out and the Batman version was restarted entirely, although with the whole 'nine-lives' thing going for him as well. This is also another example of criminals who appear to be rich already so why turn to a life of crime - he has not only one jet fighter but actually two identical planes!! Not sure what a custom built jet fighter was going for back in 1959 but I would suspect only the rich could afford one, much less two of them. The action figure was made using the body from a DC Infinite Universe Mirror Master and the head from a Wildcat figure.
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Blackhawk Villain - Killer Shark

Killer Shark was the most persistent of the villains facing the black knights over the course of their run. I believe he first appeared in March 1952 in Blackhawk #50 and was still around to pester the Blackhawks 200 issues later. Although never appearing to be very physically adroit, and usually depicted as slightly over weight, Killer Shark relied on a small legion of underlings and an array of infernal machines to accomplish his crimes. While I never thought about it much when I was young, in recent years it's occurred to me that if these villains had enough resources to build their infernal devices, why did they have to turn to a life of crime in the first place. Maybe they are just bad people who need an excuse to build infernal devices. Killer Shark's devices included various submersibles, including one that looked just like a whale and another with a buzz-saw for a bow with which he cut the Hawksub in twain. Ouch!!! Later on Killer Shark captured Lady Blackhawk and somehow subverted her into becoming Queen Killer Shark, his loyal hench-person, for a time. The figure was made using a Marvel Showdown figure of Doctor Octopus designed for a game system. I removed his backpack with the eight legs, filled in the holes and sculpted the headpiece and used a couple of crystals for the ear coverings on the sides of his head. He already had the goggles, which helped a great deal. This is actually a later representation of Killer Shark's costume and I may go back later and do an earlier version of the villain.
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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Blackhawk Villain - Sea Wolf

Today's offering comes from the pages of Blackhawk #87, April 1955. It's ten years after World War II and mysterious submarines commanded by the sinister Sea Wolf are terrorizing arms shipments to Western European democracies. The Blackhawks are called in to deal with the menace but find that attacks from the air meet with only limited success. As a result they determine to build their own super submarine, powered with atomic energy!! The story is a little vague on how long it takes them to build this atomic submarine other than saying, "As the days pass the underseas craft nears completion...." Of course the real first atomic powered submarine, USS Nautilus, was laid down in June 1952 and wasn't completed until April 1955, with all the resources of the U.S. Navy and the Electric Boat Company at work on the sub. But the Blackhawks (with just the seven of them working on the project) seem to have knocked their boat out in a matter of maybe weeks. Blackhawk then meets a girl named Maria who claims her father, a Nazi U-Boat commander during the war, is actually the Sea Wolf. However, after providing some information on the location of the Sea Wolf's base, Blackhawk is attacked and the girl is kidnapped. The Blackhawks put to sea in their submarine named the Hawkmarine but find their route to the base is a trap, which they manage to escape. They attack the wolf pack and Blackhawk unmasks Sea Wolf, who he discovers has really been Maria all along. In later stories the Blackhawk's submarine was named the Hawksub but Hawkmarine was a nice change of pace. As for the figures, Sea Wolf herself was made using a Hasbro Star Wars Carbonite Han Solo and then sculpting the wolf's head and scarf out of Skulpy and using a red crystal for the clasp. Her crew were made from four Bespin Luke Skywalker figures with various heads from GI Joe and a Godzilla figure.
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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lhala, Tigress of the Desert

Another Blackhawk villianess from the pages of their Blackhawk #95, December 1955, back when the title was still being published by Quality Comics. The western powers have built an oil refinery in the desert to support their Middle Eastern bases of operation. Out of the heat and sand rides Lhala with her desert band disguised as a local tribe in order to disrupt and destroy the refinery's operations. Of course, when they do the Blackhawks just happen to be touring the facility and immediately swing into action to defeat the attackers. The Blackhawks are captured by Lhala and learn she is trying to foment Jehad among the Arab tribes. Of course they escape and defeat Lhala and her forces, saving the world from a Holy War - gee, where are they now when we really need them?? The action figure conversion itself was easy, merely a paint job on a Star Wars Rabe figure (one of Queen Amindala's hand maidens). But then I went on a bit of a hunt for an appropriately sized camel to go with her, which I eventually located. I do so love to accessorize.
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 - A Few Remarks

I finally made it to see the new Harry Potter movie today (blame it on the holidays) and thought I'd share a few comments. I won't go through the whole plot, but it was the first one where they were not in school. Harry, Ron and Hermione are more or less on their own this time out, with some help and support, but certainly not enough, from their friends. Generally I liked it but will say that it suffered from not having the school dynamic, sports games, big meals and those sorts of things. There was a lot of sitting around in a tent trying to figure out what they should be doing. Every now and then they would have a flash of inspiration and off they'd go to try to chip away at Lord Voldemort's power base, with mixed results. At one point Ron comments that they can't leave Hermione behind and it's really true because she seems to be the one who has most of the flashes of brilliance. It all seemed a little aimless this time out. The second part of this is coming next summer and I wonder if there's going to be more wall-to-wall action in that one. Anyway, I liked it and will purchase the DVD when it comes out. I really like the series and it's been fun watching them grow up. If you haven't seen it and like that sort of picture I'd still highly recommend it.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Blackhawks Battle the Hex Master

Sometimes I wonder if I'm not a little masochistic when tackling some of these custom figure projects. The character I'm featuring today is from Blackhawk comics #176, September 1962, when the Blackhawks stumble across a supposed sorcerer who is holding a tribe of natives on a Pacific island hostage. He's demanding all the islander's treasure in exchange for not casting hexes on them, like making huts collapse in on themselves and causing bridges to fly away (another flying bridge like the one the Crimson Vultures had-see previous post). The natives think he's a native sorcerer from a tribe they wrested control of the island away from some years before. Turns out he's a white scientist who is using various tricks and devices to fool the natives into parting with their treasure. The Blackhawks end up stopping him in the end - of course - and reveal his real identity. The reason this was a rather difficult project is because the character's costume is covered in all these "hex" signs. I ended up painting most of the figure yellow and then marking out the hex signs with a black paint pen, including the designs. Then I filled in the black all around the designs. It was a very tedious paint job. The figure is a Marvel Secret Wars Daredevil figure made by Mattel back in the early 1980s.
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Blackhawk Villains - Crimson Vultures

I was looking for something that would coincide with Thanksgiving, but frankly I'm not aware of any turkey-based heroes or villains. No Captain Turkey, or the Turkey Vulture, or Turkeyman (or woman). Somehow turkeys have never seemed particularly heroic or villainous. So I figured the closest I could come would be the Crimson Vultures from the pages of Blackhawk #112, May 1957. This is a team of bad guys organized man-to-man to defeat the Blackhawks. For example the Blackhawk Hendrickson is noted for his sharp shooting abilities so the Crimson Vulture called H is the sharp shooter of their group. They don't have names, just letter designators, such as B for Blackhawk, C for Chuck, S for Stanislaus... well, you get the idea. They seemed to have two C's - one for Chuck and one for Chop-Chop. They also had a pet vulture named Crimson as their mascot, similar to the Blackhawk's own Blackie the hawk, who I don't think I've shown yet. Anyway, the Crimson Vultures go on a crime spree on their flying bridge (remember readers I don't make this stuff up) and defeat the Blackhawks several times in succession. Finally Blackhawk outwits them and they plunge to their deaths from the bridge, having not copied the one piece of Blackhawk hardware that would have really come in handy - their secret jacket parachutes. In the third to last panel of the story there's a "typo" where Black proclaims, "Their own leader brought about their doom with their INFORMAL machine, Andre," where the capitalized word should probably have been infernal. Just goes to show, letterers didn't have spell checker back in 1957. The figures themselves were all the Star Wars Bespin Luke with a variety of heads attached - I even used an Asian head for the C that stood for Chop-Chop guy. Then I used felt pieces to make the little top-knot things on their heads. The hardest part was painting the vultures on their chests to make them as similar as possible. Hope you enjoy my "turkey replacement" and that all my readers have a happy Thanksgiving.
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Blackhawks & the Tigresses

In the story "The Mystery of Tigress Island" (Blackhawk #110, March 1957) we are introduced to a team of female Blackhawk wannabes called the Tigresses. In the story the Blackhawks had been searching for a bad guy named Kurt Ostrec from their secret island base (some secret - it was about as busy as Gilligan's Island with visitors) when a lone jet lands and a woman in uniform climbs out. She says her name is Joan and that she leads a team of females who have patterned themselves after the Blackhawks and that they know how to find Kurt Ostrec. Blackhawk shows his male chauvinist side by chastising Joan and telling her that the idea of some group of girls fighting crime was just plain silly. At any rate, in order to capture Ostrec, the Blackhawks follow Joan to her own secret base, called Tigress Island, where he meets the other five members of her team. Altogether they are Joan, an American, Norwegian Ilse, British Edith, Spanish Rita, Italian Tina and French Yvette. The (rather pompous) Blackhawks are captured by the girls and offered up to Ostrec as a prize. Ostrec comes to the island but it is all a big trap. In reality the girls all lost their husbands to Ostrec and were gunning for him all along using the Blackhawks as bait. The two teams end up banding together and capture Ostrec, who will be held for trial rather than killed as the girls wanted. To my knowledge this was the only appearance of the Tigresses but I rather enjoyed the group. The action figures all used the Star Wars Juno Eclipse figure for their bodies and caps. The heads were from a variety of sources, including another Star Wars figure for Joan, a Pirates of the Caribbean Elizabeth Swann head for Yvette, Juno Eclipse's head for Ilsa, Elizabeth Swann's head from her pirate outfit for Edith, Princess Leia from her prisoner outfit for Tina and the head from a Susan figure from Chronicles of Narnia-Prince Caspian for Rita.
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Rainbow Blackhawks

Another set of figures from my Blackhawks collection, this one from the pages of Blackhawk #131, December 1958. This time the baddie is a guy named Mr. Beam, who has a device that can effect colored objects and people. So when the Blackhawks in their blue uniforms try to apprehend him in the commission of a crime, he uses his colorama gun to repel them and escape with a valuable crown he's after. Figuring that Mr. Beam's gun is focused on the color blue, the Blackhawks change to green costumes, but Mr. Beam just switches the gun to green and repels them again. Finally Blackhawk, who in addition his other crime-fighting skills seems to be a master at dying costumes, outfits each of his men with a different colored uniform. But Mr. Beam has changed his colorama gun to dial all the colors of the rainbow so Blackhawk leaps into a conveniently placed vat of black paint (black being the absence of color) and brings an end to Mr. Beam's criminal career. For the Blackhawk figures I used the same figures and heads I listed in my first Blackhawk post, painting Blackhawk red, Chuck yellow, Andre green, leaving Olaf blue, painting Stanislaus orange and Hendrickson purple, with Chop-Chop retaining his multi-colored outfit. Mr. Beam was created using a GI Joe Dr. Mindbender figure and the head from a GI Joe Salvo figure. The gun was something I had on hand that had multiple apertures.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

The Blackhawk Don Quixote

For my next episode in the Blackhawk series I present the story where the Blackhawks Hendrickson and Andre assume the identities of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, respectively. The Blackhawks have arrived in an unnamed city where they are to be the guests of honor for a pageant. Hendrickson is asked by the city fathers to assume the role of the elder knight Don Quixote for the pageant, with Andre filling in as his squire. Then while in costume the Blackhawks encounter a robbery in progress, which they thwart. However, Hendrickson gets bonked on the head (I'm not sure why the helmet didn't protect him) and ends up believing he really is Don Quixote. He goes off to battle bad guys and things with Andre and the other Blackhawks watching his back. He even jousts a windmill in the story just like Don Quixote did. Sure enough he gets captured but also bonked on the head again and remembers who he is, managing to signal the rest of the Blackhawks to come rescue him. Then Don Quixote and Sancho Panza finish the story by riding in the big parade. Many of the individual Blackhawks were featured in stories over the years, with Hendrickson seeming to be highlighted in more than his share. This was one I particularly liked from Blackhawk #152, September 1960. I found a lead/pewter knight produced by Superior Models/Perth Pewter that looked very similar and, after some cleaning up, it filled the bill quite nicely. The figure even had a raised visor and a mustache. I added the cape from cloth with two brass nails to hold it in place. The Sancho Panza figure was made from a Disney prince figure (don't remember which one) and the head from a CHIPS Ponch for Andre's head. I then had to sculpt the Prince Valiant hair cut from Scuply. This is a good example of how different types of figures can be used to capture a character I'm trying to bring to life.
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The League of Anti-Blackhawks

This group was featured in Blackhawk #165 in October 1961. This was an unusual tale because in most Blackhawk comics of the period there were three separate stories, but this time around the tale was too big and spanned two story-lengths. I always liked this group, who were, from left to right, Buzzard, Eel, Chameleon and on the right the Owl. The first three are summoned by the Owl in order to try to defeat the Blackhawks. As it turns out, what no one knows is that the Owl is really an alien named Bocar who tried to conquer his own world and, failing that, decided he would set up shop on earth. Blackhawk captures Buzzard and infiltrates the gang disguised as Buzzard to flush out the alien, which of course he does. Then in a final clash the alien tries to destroy the Blackhawks with some alien creatures he's devised but ends up getting vaporized by one of his own creatures. This is actually the first and last appearance of the League that I'm aware of. The figures were a bit of a challenge, especially the Buzzard and the Owl, which required a lot of sculpting. The Owl was the hardest - he's a Hasbro Rankor Trainer figure that I basically covered in Sculpy and then shaped the Owl's head, eyes and beak. For the other three I used parts from various GI Joes, sculpting the Buzzard's head in particular. I actually had fun painting all the various designs on the Chameleon. All in all they were a lot of fun to make.
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Monday, November 15, 2010

Silver Age Blackhawk Villain - Vakoma

I'm on a roll with the Blackhawks so to continue I thought I'd focus on one of their villains that I used a model statue to represent. The bad guy is a character named Vakoma (from Blackhawk #173, June 1962) rebellious citizen of a democratic country trying to build up its infrastructure. Vakoma doesn't like the new technology so he's using magic to keep the hands of time turned back. The Blackhawks stumble upon the situation (they did that a lot) and vow to help the people build up their technology. As it turns out Vakoma is using some form of magic clay that - once he makes a clay model of an object - allows him to manipulate (i.e., destroy) anything he likes. Blackhawk tricks Vakoma into thinking that he has captured some of the magic clay and leads Vakoma into a trap. Vakoma is foiled of course and technology will march on in his country, thanks to the Blackhawks. The figure is a metal (lead/pewter) statue originally made by Superior Models/Perth Pewter named the Magic Master. I thought the look of the figure really captured the appearance of Vakoma and painted him accordingly. I figured the crystal ball he's holding could easily represent his magic clay.
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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Silver Age Heroine - Lady Blackhawk

The other day I featured my favorite paramilitary group of comic book characters, the Blackhawks. I thought I would continue along with a few related postings since I've done a lot of their supporting cast as well as many of their villains. First up is Lady Blackhawk, the longest running Blackhawk love interest. Her real name was Zinda Blake (never knew a Zinda but always thought it was a neat name), and she made her first appearance in the pages of Blackhawk with issue number 133 in February 1959. Typical of the comics representation of females during the period she bravely helps save the Blackhawk's butts but then gives them away when she goes "Eeeek" over the appearance of a mouse. Of course she really has "a thing" for Blackhawk and in issue #155 in December 1960 there is a cover story called "The Wedding of Lady Blackhawk" wherein she gets her wish and marries Mister numero uno himself. Of course it all turns out to have been a dream - which is a road Lois Lane tread all too often over Superman down through the years - but she does keep making appearances. Later on Zinda was even brainwashed by one of the Blackhawk's few arch villains, Killer Shark, and became Queen Killer Shark for a while fighting with the bad guys. Of course she always came back to the light side. The figure was made using a Hasbro Juno Eclipse figure with the head from a Pirates of the Caribbean Elizabeth Swann and a cap from a German army officer.
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Paramilitary Heroes - The Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are probably my overall all-time favorite comic book heroes. I grew up during the Silver Age of comics (Golden Age was 1938-55 and Silver Age was 1956-69) and along with Superman and Batman, I always tried to pick up the latest Blackhawk comic with my meager allowance. I liked them because the art really showed distinct characters. I liked the jets they flew and the villains they fought and the various war machines they both used and battled. I also liked that they were distinct personalities and most of them spoke with a distinctive accent. The Blackhawks originally appeared in Military Comics #1 in August 1941 published by Quality Comics. However, by 1956 Quality was folding its tent and as a result DC Comics got a number of their properties, including the Blackhawks, who they continued to publish for some years afterwards. Later there would be a change of uniforms, then a "superhero" phase, and still later they would be reinvented in a couple of different guises. But these are the ones I liked. At top I've shown the original group with the guy on the right as he first appeared as a rather racist caricature of an Asian, and below the later version where he has become a little more PC, although still dressed differently then the rest of the group. As for the figures, from left to right we have Blackhawk himself, the only one with the emblem on his chest, variously reported as an American or Polish freedom fighter; next is Chuck, the American, then Andre the Frenchman, followed by Olaf the Swede, then Stanislaus from Poland, and Hendrickson, who was either a German freedom fighter or Dutch and finally Chop Chop from Nationalist China. As for the figures, the uniformed figures were from Hasbro's Star Wars Imperial Commander, while the heads were as follows: Blackhawk was Kirk from Star Trek the Motion Picture, Chuck was Decker from the same movie, Andre was Ponch from the CHIPS TV show, Olaf was Jon from the same show, Stanislaus was Charles Pizer from the movie Black Hole and Hendrickson was Harry Booth from the same movie. Chop Chop's body was made from various GI Joe and other military figures parts and the head was from a GI Joe Airborne figure. The military caps were either from the Love Boat crew or a GI Joe figure.
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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mysterious Superheroes - Nemesis & Magicman

There have been a lot of comic publishers over the decades with some rather strange properties. One of those small comic publishers was the American Comics Group or ACG. The editor, a man named Richard E. Hughes, had cut his teeth on Golden Age strips like the Woman in Red and Fighting Yank, but by the 1960s he was turning out mostly horror comics - however, since this was the era of the feel-good comics code these were mostly horror-light fare. Hughes thought most of the originality had been wrung out of the superhero genre - maybe it's age because I'm mostly thinking that now - but bowing to reader demands by 1965 he included such heroes in his titles Forbidden World, where Magicman started with issue #125, and Adventures into the Unknown, where Nemesis began appearing with issue #154. Magicman, the one with the turban, uses various magical powers to fight crime, including telekinesis, the ability to induce nightmares, superstrength, shape-shifting into animals and he can even summon tornadoes - but he needs to gesture with his hands to do all this so if you bind him he's got problems. Nemesis - the guy with the hourglass on his chest - actually died but it was a little crowded getting into the Unknown (afterlife) so the Grim Reaper allows him to go back to earth and settle the score with the crime boss who killed him. Nemesis has superstrength, the ability to fly, turn invisible, telepathy, grow to giant size, appear and disappear at will and even travel through time. So basically they were both paranormal types of superheroes. Magicman got his start in Vietnam before that whole thing was better left out of the comic book pages, which is rather unique. I found these to be rather unique and interesting characters so I made action figures for them. Magicman was made using the body and arms of a Toy Biz Captain America figure, with the legs from a Robin Hood Little John and a Superman head. The turban I made from Sculpy and I included a small crystal to dress him up a little. Nemesis was made using the body of a Captain America and the head from a JLA Green Arrow - the later version.
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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Golden Age Heroes - The Ghost

Happy Halloween Everyone!!! I thought another magic user would be appropriate for the day at hand so I'm presenting The Ghost from the Better/Standard/Nedor stable of characters. George Chance was raised as the adopted son of a powerful and immortal yogi teacher in India. He was thus endowed with the powers of levitation, travel at the speed of light (I'll bet Einstein never figured magic in his equations), animating inanimate objects and also the ability to transform himself and others into astral forms, thus the catchy name. He was assisted by a young lady named Betty and the old Yogi also showed up to lend a hand when the need arose, which it usually did. The Ghost actually had a pretty good run, appearing in the pages of Thrilling Comics 3-40, 42-44 and 46-52, America's Best Comics #9 and The Black Terror #7. As for the action figure, I used a male figure from the Glamor Girls line of mostly girl figures because he was sporting a nice tux and the head from a Toy Biz Mr. Fantastic figure.
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Superheroine - Cat Girl

I recently featured a super character from the pages of Playboy so this time, in my never ending effort to provide a mix of character types and origins, I am presenting a female super person from a young girls magazine. Cat Girl appeared in the British publication Sally Annual from IPC Magazines LTD in the early to mid-1970s. Cat Girl was one of a number of plucky, heroic girls featured in each magazine (mostly hard-bound), including Tiny Tania in Space, Farm Boss Fanny and Maisie's Magic Eye. All of the stories aimed at the young female crowd. There is some level of threat and suspense in the stories, but they rather remind of a Nancy Drew mystery. Cat Girl is the only real superheroine in the group. Her real name is Cathy and she lives with her father, an unnamed private detective, who she helps out with cases (usually he bumbles and she solves them). Apparently her father had helped out an African witch doctor once and was sent a casket containing a cat suit. Cathy tries it on and the suit endows her with extraordinary cat-like powers. She is superhumanly strong and agile, can climb like a cat, has very sharp nails, can track a scent and sense the presence of danger. She also appeared in Spanish and Dutch publications, in the latter of which the catsuit was purple. I decided on all black when I did the action figure, which was a Catwoman figure from one of the fast food restaurants. I used a piece of plastic sprue, which I heated and twisted a bit to make the tail.
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Friday, October 22, 2010

Defender of the Dubious - Hostileman

In another little deviation from the normal, today I present Hostileman from the pages of Playboy magazine. Originally appearing in the December 1964 issue, Hostileman was milksop Bernard Mergendeiler, perpetually oppressed by the women he loved and held up to ridicule by their "trendy" friends. However, when Bernard says the magic word, "Hurt," he is immediately transformed into the "Avenger of the meek, the recalcitrant, the scared and the dubious; champion of the clumsy and wheelhorse for the inept," Hostileman. Written and drawn by Jules Feiffer, I'm aware of only five appearances by Hostileman between 1964 and 1969. However, he had stuck in my mind over the years and after a little research, and the purchase of a couple of back issues, I couldn't resist bringing the character to life in plastic. I used a Marvel Universe 3 3/4" Human Torch/Johnny Storm figure, slicking the hair back and repainting him.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Golden Age Superheroes - Spark Man

Spark Man was a rather unique character in the Golden Age of Comics. Beginning his career in Sparkler Comics published by United Features Syndicate, it was established that he had a secret identity - but unlike virtually every other character, that identity was not revealed to the reader. For the first nine issues the writers played with the readers as to whether Spark Man was really Quill Davis, whose newspaper stories defended the Spark Man, or maybe Val Hall, millionaire sportsman and friend to the oppressed, or finally, was he really Omar Kavak, a famous violinist. In the end it turned out that Spark Man was secretly (but only to his comic book friends and foes) the fiddle player - whoops, sorry, violinist, Omar Kavak. Now I certainly can't be sure, but this is the first and only superhero I've run across who was really a concert violinist. At any rate, Spark Man was apparently a master of terrifying electrical power, sort of like pumped up static electricity, which he could use on the bad guys. He channeled this power through the index fingers of his gauntlets, and quite a shock it would be to bad guys he came into "contact" with. Starting out in 1941 as a costumed superhero, when the war broke out he joined up and fought the Japs in uniform until the war ended. Then he went back into costume for a short time before disappearing from superhero history. He has appeared in Dynamite Comics Project Superpowers, along with a lot of other Golden Age characters. There was another thing that set Spark Man apart - namely that he was one of the few original characters published in the magazine. Mostly United Features Syndicate published reprints of newspaper strips like Capt & the Kids, Tarzan, Abbie & Slats and Bronco Bill. In the future I'll cover a couple more of their original superheroes. As for the action figure, I used a Toy Biz Tombstone figure, to which I sculpted gauntlets, including an elongated index finger with a small crystal on the end. The head was from a Mortal Kombat figure and I made the top knot from plastic sheet and a small bead I had.
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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Golden Age Superheroes - Mr. Justice

I thought for my centennial post I'd do something a little special so I'm featuring Mr. Justice from MLJ publishing house, which ultimately and forever more became Archie Comics. When MLJ started out in the 1940s they had quite a stable of superhero characters, but none stranger than Mr. J. DC's own supernatural hero the Spectre had been around for about a year and I can't say whether or not he may have influenced MLJ's character, but Mr. Justice was pretty bizarre in his own right. Born in England as Prince James, he was lured to his death in a Scottish castle in 1040. Although he took revenge on his murderers from beyond the grave, his spirit was trapped in the castle wherein he died. Then in 1940, supposedly to protect the castle from Nazi bombing (not sure how many Scottish castles the Nazis bombed in WWII) the castle was dismantled stone by stone to be shipped to America. However, while in transit the ship was torpedoed and sunk by a Nazi U-Boat, thus freeing the spirit of Prince James from his entrapment. Continuing on to America he assumed the identity of Mr. Justice and spent the rest of his un-life righting wrongs and battling evil, including Satan himself, with whom he battled a number of times. During the Golden Age Mr. Justice appeared in Blue Diamond Comics 9-22 and Jackpot Comics 1-9. He was an accomplished magic and paranormal entity and could accomplish extraordinary feats. Among his other powers Mr. Justice was able to either shrink himself or grow to enormous proportions so when I decided to make an action figure of the character I decided on three. The middle sized is a 6" Top Biz Daredevil I repainted, while the larger one is a 10" Daredevil from the same company. The little version is a Superior Models motel Captain Crusher 25mm figure that I modified and painted accordingly. I actually was quite pleased with the set.
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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Golden Age Villains - Tweedledee & Tweedledum

I haven't featured any DC characters previously because most of the major ones have been done as action figures already. Sooo, I decided to feature a couple of fairly obscure ones that haven't been committed to plastic by their parent company or its toy maker accomplices. I always thought Tweedledee & Tweedledum were rather fun. They first appeared as villains in Detective Comics No. 74 from April 1943 and have historically been associated with Batman in his stable of villains. They were, in reality, Deever and Dumfree Tweed, who were cousins rather than twins as someone might think. They always operated as a pair, but don't expect either one of them to go fist to fist with Batman or Robin. They plan the crimes and hire muscle to carry them out. They are actually pretty lazy (which may explain their turn to crime in the first place) and just plain fat - in fact so fat that they can bounce around to evade capture. They haven't been used a great deal down through the years but are featured in a couple of more recent DC story arcs. The action figures I used are the Boss Hogg figure from the Dukes of Hazard line with hats from the Superpowers Collection Penguin.
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