Monday, January 31, 2011

Blackhawk Villain - King Condor

King Condor was another Blackhawk villain who made multiple appearances to pester our fighting team. In the first (Blackhawk #142, November 1959) he has a number of henchmen and uses mechanical birds to commit his crimes. In his second appearance in Blackhawk #150, July 1960, he has a reduced number of henchmen and now he's using real trained birds to do his dirty work. The third time around (Blackhawk #158, March 1961) King Condor has discovered a couple of alien bird eggs and hatched the giant birds out, using them in his illegal endeavors and only one ex-henchman shows up in a cameo. The fourth time around (Blackhawk #192, January 1964) Condor is in a race to locate three eggs with which to hatch mystical giant birds; the Basilisk, the Thunderbird and the Roc and no henchmen in sight. Obviously bird-obsessed, King Condor wasn't particularly successful in any of his endeavors - however, I did hear in the prison kitchen he makes one heck of a birds-nest soup. OK, bad joke. As for the action figure, I used a Star Wars figure (not sure which one) as the base, sanding the detail of hair and ears off and sculpting the beak. On the back I added some metal wings from a 25mm scale Pegasus and the cape cut from T-shirt cloth (hangs better than most fabrics I've tried), then painted appropriately.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Sinister Snowman

OK, here's another one of those Blackhawk villains who doesn't seem very intimidating at first blush. Basically some guy in a Frosty the Snowman suit - now doesn't that strike fear into the hearts of everyone he encounters?? Well, not really, but I thought it appropriate to highlight him today because we got hit with some snow last night and the limbs from a couple of my trees lie broken in the back yard. The Snowman and his henchmen were robbing whale oil and gold mines in the "far north." The Blackhawks take a hand but are thwarted at every turn by the clever criminal and his ingenious devices. Finally the Snowman captures Blackhawk but he manages to signal the rest of the team and they and they beard the bad guy in his hidden lair. As for the action figure, I used a Star Wars Rankor Keeper figure (pictured) as the base, filing and sanding and Dremeling away a lot of the detail and sculpting a new head and then adding small crystals for the buttons and eyes, making a rather interesting transformation. Since the Snowman had a team of henchmen I used a number of Star Wars, GI Joe and generic military figures, all dressed in winter garb, which fit in quite well with the character.
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Jailor - Three Time Loser

Here's another Blackhawk villain who appeared in more than one story, making it into Blackhawk #113 June 1957, #131 December 1958 and #193 February 1964. In the first story he's just a guy who's family has always designed prisons all the way back to ancient times. He's trying to follow in their footsteps and presents plans for an escape-proof prison to the authorities. Later he learns that an escape-proof prison design has been rejected and decides to take his vengeance out on the Blackhawks who had recently foiled a jail break. He adopts the identity of the Jailor and kidnaps three of the Blackhawks and imprisons them but eventually they get free and apprehend him. Thereupon Blackhawk informs the Jailor that actually it was someone else's design that was rejected and that his was accepted, and then they put him in it I guess. So about a year later he is released from jail and vows to help capture criminals, which for a while he does. However, it is revealed in the end that he has been capturing gang bosses and then following their underlings to hidden stashes of loot which he has then been making off with, so it's back to jail for the Jailor. Third time around he escapes from jail and this time imprisons six of the Blackhawks in a small floating jail that's rigged to blow up at a certain hour or if anyone tries to free them. Chop Chop uses a belt to visit another dimension where he helps local law enforcement and then gets a time travel device that allows the Blackhawks to escape the trap and track the Jailor to his lair. (Remember, I don't make this stuff up.) This latter story was during a period when the Blackhawks were being given more science fiction type story-lines. For the action figure I used an M. Bison figure from the Street Fighter line of GI Joe related figures and painted it appropriately, adding the cape. I rather liked the prison bars on his chest and the key on his belt buckle.
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Monday, January 24, 2011

Two-Times the Scorpion

The Scorpion was one of the few Blackhawk villains that appeared in more than one comic story, namely issues #146 in March 1960 and #178 in November 1962. In both tales the Scorpion and his henchmen committed crimes using giant mechanical insects in which they rode. Some of these constructs look like actual insects and some appear more generic - if there's any such thing as a generic insect. In the first story the Blackhawks stop the Scorpion with the aid of their mascot Blackie, the black hawk - how appropriate, a bird attacking an insect. In the second story the Blackhawks manage to thwart the Scorpion using their own resources. I guess the Scorpion finally took the hint because he doesn't seem to have returned. I confess I never "get" these super criminals. I mean, if you were caught once by the Blackhawks then why would you want to go up against them a second time. It's like Lex Luthor - if he's such a genius then why would he want to stay in Metropolis and keep getting nabbed by the man-of-steel? After getting nabbed a thousand times does he really think that this time the outcome is going to be different. Why doesn't he go operate in Russia or someplace where they don't seem to have a lot of super heroes? At any rate I rather liked the Scorpion and his henchmen. I made the Scorpion using various GI Joe type parts and painting him appropriately, while the henchmen, who all seemed to wear suits, were made using three DC Universe 3 3/4" Question figures with heads from the Atom. I painted two of the suits to give them a little variety, but the blue one was the color of the original figure.
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Friday, January 21, 2011

Anne Hathaway to Play Selina Kyle

Warner Brothers has announced that Anne Hathaway (see picture at bottom) has been cast to play Selina Kyle opposite Christian Bale in the next Batman movie, entitled The Dark Knight Rises, the third and last to be directed by Christopher Nolan. I'm not sure why the rather coy use of Selina Kyle's name as opposed to just calling her Catwoman, which was Selina's secret identity. I think Anne is a terrific choice and will truly look forward to seeing her in a skin-tight cat suit, if that is what this bit of casting really means. I've met two of the women who have played Catwoman, Lee Meriwether (second picture), who was in the 1960s movie Batman with Adam West and Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar (top picture), who played Catwoman in the first part of the Batman series. Both were very nice ladies and both brought a lot of personality to the role, as did Earth Kitt, who played Catwoman at the end of the series run but who I never had the opportunity to meet. Catwoman has also been played by Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns opposite Michael Keaton and Halle Berry in the almost universally panned Catwoman movie. I think the casting news is great and look forward to seeing the movie. It will also be interesting, with Nolan departing as director, where the franchise may go afterwards.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Green Hornet Review

The new Green Hornet movie starring Seth Rogan as the Hornet, Jay Chou as his sidekick Kato and Cameron Diaz and Edward James Olmos opened about a week ago and I guess has been doing pretty well at the box office. I went to see it in 3D, which was OK, but didn't have anywhere near the impact of the 3D in Avatar. I think seeing it in 2D wouldn't have altered my opinion of it. For those of you who don't know the full story behind the Green Hornet, the character began in the mid-1930s as a radio show back when radio dramas were very popular. It followed the Lone Ranger radio show and was really envisaged as a contemporary version of the Ranger and Tonto. My first exposure to the character was in the mid-1960s with the Green Hornet TV series that ran for one season starring Van Williams and the incomparable Bruce Lee in the role of Kato. In the current movie Seth Rogan plays Brit Reid, the wastrel son of the editor and publisher of a newspaper. When daddy dies and leaves Brit the paper he doesn't really seem to care. During the course of the movie he decides to take up the mantle his father left, using Kato (who was working on cars for the old man right under Britt's nose) and Lenore (played my Cameron, who is savvy about criminology despite the fact that she's only a temp with the paper) to help him in his quest. I don't want to spoil the plot for anyone who hasn't seen it, but basically there's a lot of misadventures as they try to track down the big crime boss in town, with Kato supplying all the high tech equipment and Seth acting the buffoon. As action/adventure movies go it's serviceable and reasonably entertaining. The funniest part of the movie is when Kato creates a gas gun and Brit shoots himself with it, which has been in one of the trailers. There's a lot of stunts and general mayhem, but I didn't really take the villain too seriously and I could see the "mystery" villain coming from a mile off. Fans of the original Green Hornet (and even the Williams/Lee TV series) may find this a little trite, but it's probably worth a look. It's certainly not as bad as the worst of the genre.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Bell Master - A Real Ding-a-Ling

I must confess that as much as I always liked the Blackhawks they did have some lame villains. This one - real name Paul Peale - get it, peale like the sound a bell makes - decided to get even with the world for no particular offense that we're shown in the story. He feels he's been hounded by bells all his life so he adopts the identity of the Bell-Master. This is one of those theme criminals that show up a lot in comics - Batman and the Flash especially had a whole rogue's gallery of them - but then so did the Blackhawks at times. The Blackhawks are on to the Bell-Master from the beginning of the story and pursue him and his henchmen to the finale, where Blackhawk comments, "The next bell you hear will be the one in the prison block." This was the one and only appearance of the Bell-Master and I confess I'm not unhappy about that, but I did his action figure anyway. He was made from various GI Joe and similar type military figure parts and painted appropriately. The only thing I didn't give him was a bell to ring... but maybe....
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fly Like an Eagle

The Eagle is another Blackhawk villain from issue #132, January 1959, and one who manifests the same feeling in me about why someone with the resources he has available to him is committing crimes in the first place. In the beginning of the issue the Eagle and his gang are heisting some large golden models of familiar buildings from Washington, DC, like the Capital, White House and Lincoln Memorial. The Eagle's gang is loading the models into their planes, which are about the size of B-52/Stratofortresses with eagles heads on the front - now who could afford planes like that?? In 1959 they probably weren't even surplus B-52's. Anyway, the Blackhawks arrive and Blackhawk orders the team to take up a blocking position with their jets, but Chuck instead manages to scatter the models with the backwash from his jet so the Eagle gets away empty handed. Blackhawk chews Chuck out for disobeying his orders and there seems to be some real tension between the pair. In the next operation against the Eagle Chuck once again saves the day but not the way Blackhawk had ordered him to. As a result Blackhawk grounds Chuck and the rest of the team departs for patrol. Blackhawk decides to check out an island, leaving the team to continue their patrol, which is when we find out that this particular Blackhawk is not the real deal - he's a ringer who the Eagle discovered and had a plastic surgeon finish the job. Blackhawk himself is caged on the island and just as the Eagle and fake Blackhawk are having a good laugh about it Chuck parachutes into their midst followed quickly by the rest of the team. Turns out Chuck had figured out the substitution because of a rip in his jacket Blackhawk had sustained shortly before he was switched. When doing the Eagle I realized I needed to have some henchmen so I think at first I did two. Then later I added a few more and also a substitute Blackhawk just for good measure. The bodies were made from Star Wars AT-AT drivers and the heads were assembled from my extra heads box. I also did four of the Eagle jets - see the bottom panel where the four of them are streaking off. You might also notice one of the things that keep us customizers heads in a whirl. If you look at the top two panels with the jets you'll notice in the one at left the front of the eagle plane is brown all the way up to the beak and then the beak is white, while in the panel on right there is clearly a white area in the forward part of the plane ending in a yellow beak. When I was trying to decide which to use I picked the more traditional look of an eagle to be my guide. There was also a difference in shading in different sections of the story with the Eagle uniforms. Some places they are more red while in another they are closer to a Burgundy. I ended up choosing the latter simply because I liked the look more and several other Blackhawk enemy teams have had red uniforms.
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Ever Feel Ganged Up On?

Of course you have. Like the guy in the cartoon, sometimes it seems that the forces are aligning to pick on us personally. Last week I had too close an encounter with another kidney stone - my second in a couple of months. Then Saturday afternoon my computer suddenly stopped working. Now I have a backup laptop but this was a problem with my service and I don't have a backup for that. Long story not so short - no posts for a few days. Good news is that I apparently passed the stone and my service provider overnighted me a new set of equipment and I am back up and running. I have a new post in the hopper and it will be up later today. Hope you enjoy it. Now maybe I can resume my life pain free and computer equipped.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year with Blackhawk Villain Thunderbolt

Happy New Year to all. I thought I'd start off the new year with a Blackhawk villain named Thunderbolt. The story is from Blackhawk #173, June 1962 when a character named Jasper Weems who has started up a newspaper named the Blackhawk Gazette makes himself known to the black knights. To help Jasper out with the accuracy of his stories the Blackhawks fill him in on some of their exploits, the details of which Jasper has gotten wrong. Then they are called away to confront the villain Thunderbolt who uses a gun that sends out electric charges. The Blackhawks have invented a weapon to cancel out the Thunderbolt's gun, but when they confront him their weapon doesn't work. Turns out Thunderbolt read all about their plans in the - you guessed it - Blackhawk Gazette. As the Blackhawks are trapped in an electronic containment field Jasper shows up and - accidentally - distracts Thunderbolt long enough for Blackhawk to take the bad guy out and save the day. The Thunderbolt figure was made using various parts from GI Joe and similar type figures with the addition of a sculpted mustache and the cape.
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