Sunday, February 27, 2011

From the Pulps - Doc Savage

Some of the comic book heroes back in the 1940s originally appeared in the pulps during the 1930s, including the Shadow and my featured character today, Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze. With bronze skin and golden eyes he has trained his mind and body to the peak of perfection. Olympic athletes would fall easily to his blinding speed and massive strength. His mastery of a multitude of scientific disciplines is unparalleled. He is man, raised quite literally to the very peak of his abilities. Plus he happens to have a fortune in gold that he can draw upon for anything he requires. He also has a vast spirit of adventure, which he shares with his constant companions. Andrew Blodgett (known as Monk) Mayfair (to the left of Doc in the picture) is short and sturdy, a practical joker and a whiz in chemistry. Theodore Marley (known as Ham) Brooks (to the right of Doc) is a Harvard lawyer and the natty dresser of the group, with a sword cane thrown in for good measure. Monk and Ham are always going at one another and even have pets aimed at provoking one other. Monk's pig is called Habeas Corpus to poke fun at Ham and Ham's strange ape is called Chemistry to give Monk a ribbing. Appearing now and then is Patricia or Pat Savage, Doc's cousin and the only female semi-member of the bunch (on far left). Doc considers her pesky but she's just as competitive as any of the men, and nearly as skilled. John Renwick (or Renny), a civil engineer, is a very large and scrappy fellow with large fists and the will to use them. William Harper Littlejohn or Johnny (back center) is an archaeologist, geologist and paleontologist, who is strong if skinny and as comfortable in a lecture hall as battling bad guys alongside Doc. And finally there's Long Tom (Thomas J. Roberts on the back left), looking pale and emasculated but just as scrappy as the rest, he's a brilliant electrical engineer when he's not out adventuring with Doc. Doc and his family and friends started out in the pulps with scientific gadgets and lots of action and were later converted to the comic medium by DC and Marvel comics. There was even a movie featuring their adventures with Ron Ely. The action figures were done from the Marvel comics version, which I thought kept to the spirit of the stories. Doc was made from from a Street Fighter M. Bison with a head from another series I don't remember. Pat has a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle April head on a Marvel Dagger figure. Monk has the body from Jurassic Park Nedry and the head from an Alien human figure. Ham has a 2-Face body with the head of a 1940s Star Trek Data. Renny had a Peter Parker body with the head from Mr. Fantastic. Johnny has a Clark Kent body and the head from a Star Trek Barkley. Long Tom is a Seaquest O'Niel figure throughout.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mr. Whoo's Crime Kits - Lightning Man

In my final post from Blackhawk #175, August 1962 I present Lightning Man, who is actually the designer of the costumes himself, Mr. Whoo. Having a rogue criminal calling himself Copter-Man intercept the user of one of his crime kits, thus making his criminal customers believe they were being set up, Mr. Whoo decides to set a trap for the copter jockey (for full details read the last few posts). Mr. Whoo spreads the word through the underworld grapevine when and where a certain kit villain is going to commit a crime. When he shows up at the location dressed as Lightning Man expecting Copter-Man to appear he's surprised when Blackhawk charges in, revealing that he was in fact the mysterious Copter-Man. Lightning Man blasts Blackhawk only to discover the figure was a disguised robot. He is then descended upon by the entire Blackhawk team, who finally capture Mr. Whoo and even find a full list of his customers. As Blackhawk observes at the end, "The state will be fitting Mr. Whoo for his final costume -- a convict's uniform." For the figure of Lightning Man/Mr. Whoo I used a Star Wars Bespin Luke Skywalker figure with the head from a Han Solo and a helmet from a Speed Racer figure. I used a couple of sewing pins with teardrop heads instead of the normal flat headed pins for his antenna.
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mr. Whoo's Crime Kits - Copter-Man

In our last episode from Blackhawk #175, August 1962, a character calling himself Copter-Man has stolen the ill-gotten gains of a criminal named Magneto, who was using one of Mr. Whoo's crime kits. Despite his protests to the contrary, criminals who were lining up for the crime kits just the day before are suddenly accusing Mr. Whoo of having sold a crime kit to someone who is now preying on them - those crooks are always such a suspicious lot, aren't they. The criminals, not wanting to be victimized themselves, return the crime kits to Mr. Whoo, who suddenly sees his business going down the drain. Therefore he hatches a plan to catch the Copter-Man and expose him as a fraud. The concluding chapter of the story will appear next time. As for the figure of Copter-Man - once again I used a DC Infinite Universe figure to create this one. I had to file off the ears to give him a sleeker appearance, otherwise it was a pretty simple paint job. Unfortunately I did not have anything I could use as his one-man copter device, but I may find the parts I need and construct something in future.
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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mr. Whoo's Villain Kit - Magneto

Following up from my previous post from Blackhawk #175, August 1962 on Balloon Man, the Blackhawks learn that the next criminal to use one of Mr. Whoo's crime costume kits is planning to rob a particular bank the following day. When the criminal appears in the outfit of Magneto (no relation to the Marvel Comics villain) and manages to capture a bag of money from the guards, he suddenly has the loot snatched from his hands by another costumed character. This fellow calls himself Copter-Man and as he's flying off Magneto grabs a hold of his legs. Copter-Man manages to shake Magneto off and flies away with the loot in hand. The Magneto character was made from another DC Infinite Universe figure of the Atom, with the helmet from a Speed Racer figure and a weapon from my extra weapons box. The hardest part for this one was painting the lightning bolts on chest and helmet. Next time - you guessed it - Copter-Man from the same story.
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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mr. Whoo's Do-It-Yourself Villains - Balloon Man

From the pages of Blackhawk #175, August 1962 comes the story of a man, Whoo by name, who sells super villain costume kits to the underworld for a fee of 50% of the loot they steal. I have done several of these characters, including a couple who present a bit of a twist in the story. So I thought I would present them as separate postings over the next few days. Presented here first is Balloon Man, who uses trick balloons to commit a charity fund robbery. He uses one balloon that has a recorded broadcast to get every one's attention, then it explodes in a burst of brilliance to blind everyone while he vacuums up the charity donations into another balloon. As Balloon Man is making his escape, Blackhawk pulls a cord that releases a bunch of regular balloons that trip up the thief and allow him to be caught. Under interrogation they get a lead to one of the other kit buyers, which sets up the story for the next posting. The figure of Balloon Man was a pretty straightforward repainting job of a 3 3/4" Infinite Universe Atom figure. The major challenges were the balloons on his chest in white and the one on his forehead, which I outlined with a paint pen.
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Captain Cutlass - Modern Day Pirate

Captain Cutlass is, in reality Judsen Flaire, who squandered the family fortune building a fleet of restored and updated old ships. In Blackhawk #160, May 1961 it is revealed that his family fortune was originally built up by piracy, the leader of which was a Captain Cutlass. Judsen decides to rebuild the family fortune by using his uniquely configured ships to commit crimes on the high seas, which of course brings him into conflict with the intrepid Blackhawks. In their first couple of encounters Captain Cutlass gets the better of the Black Knights, including downing a couple of their jets with buzz-saw shields from a Viking ship. Later Captain Cutlass spies Blackhawk and one of his men in a rubber raft floating on the sea and decides to pick them up. Big mistake!!! Turns out the raft is attached to the conning tower of the Hawksub from which issue the rest of the Blackhawks for a dust-up on the deck of the Greek galley Cutlass is using. They capture the gang and bring the pirate captain to justice. When I was thinking about doing Captain Cutlass and his crew I looked around for figures I could adapt. I finally settled on some pirate figures from a French company called Repliques et Legendes, which specialized in finished pewter figures. Finished pewter is basically tin, lead and a few other trace alloys which is then treated in an acid bath that turns them black. They are then hand polished on a polishing wheel which gives them the nice patina you will normally see with finished pewter. These can then be painted but I only use acrylics on them. The company had a nice range of pirate figures, including Black Beard, who I used as Captain Cutlass. I also threw in a girl (Ann Bonny figure) just because I thought it would be neat. I also liked that they offered an African figure. In the story the pirate crew isn't really seen in any detail and there was no evidence of either a girl or an African, and there are very few Africans in comics during this period, but I thought it would be neat to include both. As for the ships - they were models I had on hand and fit in nicely with the story, although they are not to the same scale.
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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Underworld Sportsmen

This is a rather curious crew from the pages of Blackhawk #144, January 1960. Somehow the Blackhawks had conducted aerial surveillance photography of an island off the "eastern coast." As a result of what they saw the team shows up in their Hawksub and confronts three guys (known as Target, Ace and Bulls-Eye) about their future job prospects. Somehow the Blackhawks were able to determine that the three were rehearsing to embark on a life of crime. Apparently they had each been athletes who accepted bribes to throw games and were now going to unleash their criminal tendencies in order to get back at society. Remember, I don't make these stories up. Anyway, the Blackhawks challenge them to a battle of wits. The erstwhile criminals will try to carry out three perfect crimes on their island training ground and if they succeed they will go ahead with their private crime wave. If, however, the Blackhawks manage to thwart them at all three criminal endeavors the guys will go straight and find honest work. I'm not even going to go through this because we all know the Black Knights will defeat them in the end - after all, they are the Blackhawks and the three guys swear to go straight. When planning the action figures I decided to use the Blair figure from the Squadron Leader line from the science fiction movie of the same name. Target on the left is the original Blair head, while the other two are GI Joe heads from my "heads" box. Painting was pretty straightforward, but I wanted to be pretty precise with the initials on their chests so I painted a white area and then outlined the letters with a black paint pen, which gave a very good result. Thus was created the criminals who never were.
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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Raven and the Hangman Redrum

From the same issue of Blackhawk comics as my last post on Drago, #73, February 1954 comes this rather convoluted tale of Raven and her infamous cohort the Hangman. Set against a middle European conflict between the democratic forces of Ramonia and the commie state of Transvania. The Blackhawks are fighting on the side of Ramonia when an explosion sends Blackhawk plunging over a cliff. Unable to find his body the Blackhawks learn that their leader has been captured by the forces of Transvania - the cost for his release the disbanding of the Blackhawk squadron. Being the proactive guys they are the Blackhawks fly to Transvania, where all but Hendrickson are captured. There appear to be two leaders in the country - Raven, called her highness, and the Hangman Redrum who coincidentally looks a lot like Hendrickson. Hendrickson subsequently stumbles across Redrum, knocks him cold and takes his place. Raven orders the execution of the Blackhawks but just as they are about to lead the team to the gallows the real Redrum shows up and challenges Hendrickson. Raven declares Hendrickson to be the real Redrum and the actual Hangman is shot down by his own troops. Turns out Raven is really trying to free her own regime from the Hangman's influence and she aids the Blackhawks to escape and blow up her castle, which contains an ammo dump. So, one might ask who was really leading the country in the first place. Guess Redrum was dead and Raven was out of a job. As for the figures, I used some GI Joe parts and the head from a Black Hole Harry Booth (which I had also used for Hendrickson) to make the Hangman. The biggest challenge was the gallows design on his chest, which I did freehand. In this story Hendrickson is not all white haired as he is normally so he better matches Redrum. Raven was made using the body of a Streetfighter Sonya Blade and the head from a female GI Joe figure (Lady Jane I think), making her skirt and cape from T-shirt material.
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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Blackhawk Retires ?? - Replaced by Drago ??

In a story from Blackhawk #73, February 1954 a man comes along who not only wants to join the Blackhawk Squadron, but actually become its leader. In a European democratic country called Galvia (yeah, don't bother trying to look this one up on a map either) the Blackhawks are battling terrorists who want to overthrow the government. In their efforts Blackhawk appears to screw up a couple of times with his fat getting pulled out of the fire by a Galvian pilot named Drago. Drago challenges and then defeats Blackhawk in single combat to become the new leader of the team, with Blackhawk handing over his distinctive tunic with the squadron leader insignia. The following night Drago leads the team into a terrorist trap, seemingly in league with the bad guys. But when the leaders of the terrorist movement put in an appearance to congratulate Drago, Blackhawk shows up with Galvian troops and captures the leaders of the terrorist movement. Drago is revealed to have been a patriot and working secretly with Blackhawk to draw out the bad guys. However, in the end, when Blackhawk has resumed his leadership position and Drago is invited to join the team he decides that being a Blackhawk is too exacting for him. I was drawn to this comic by the cover, which showed Drago in a Blackhawk tunic and cap but with crimson jodhpurs and brown boots. As it turns out the cover is the only place where Drago wears that particular outfit - during the story he normally wears a fighter pilot helmet with goggles, but I liked the look on the cover and that's the version I did. The figure I used was a Star Wars Grand Moff Tarken (I think), with a GI Joe head and cap, painted like the cover picture. I did a couple of other figures from this comic which I'll probably present here shortly.
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Friday, February 4, 2011

Lady Blackhawk's Stand-In

Ah, those poor bored society girls. Nothing better to do that go off super-heroing. Penny van Camp is a former sorority sister of Zinda Blake, aka Lady Blackhawk who, in Blackhawk #182, March 1963, shows up at Zinda's door looking for a little distraction. Zinda has to go out and Penny stumbles on her hidden Lady Blackhawk room. When a teletype comes in requesting Zinda's help Penny decides not to wait until Zinda gets back from the store but go ahead and dress up in one of the Lady Blackhawk outfits and rush off to aid the black knights. Of course she just happens to be a qualified pilot and I suppose she's also qualified in Zinda's particular fighter jet. When she arrives over the area the Blackhawks ask her to photograph the compound they are outside of so she pushes the "P" button thinking that's the photography button. Instead it turns out to be the parachute button and her ejector seat fires, sending her floating down into the enemy camp. The Blackhawks go to her aid and they all end up getting captured. Later Zinda comes home and realizes what's happened and flies to the rescue in her one-person helicopter. In the end Penny mounts a horse and hurling smoke screen and gas bombs she helps the Blackhawks to capture the bad guys. In the end she decides that the bored society life may in fact be the life for her and she turns in her Lady Blackhawk outfit for a ball gown. The figure is once again the Star Wars Juno Eclipse figure while the head is from a line of 4" action girl figures. I rather liked the care-free smile she has on her face.
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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

She-Hawke - the Eighth Blackhawk

Before there was Lady Blackhawk there was Sheila Hawke, who took on the identity of She-Hawke in Blackhawk comics #40 in May 1951. I can't say for certain if she was the first since I don't have every issue of the Blackhawk comics, but she certainly seems to be at the head of the class. This was another bored, rich debutant who decided it would be a good idea instead of attending the next fancy-dress festivity, to dress herself up in a Blackhawk uniform, get herself a matching jet plane and sally forth to combat the forces of evil in the world alongside the team she admired so much. She shows up in the newly freed European nation of Monclova (don't bother trying to look that one up on a map) and trails the Blackhawks back to their supposedly secret island base. She proves her prowess by besting the strong-man Olaf, then, when Monclova calls for help, she flies out ahead of the Blackhawks to lend a hand. Of course she snares the chief baddie, but is summarily left behind by Blackhawk after she steals a kiss from him and swears to herself they haven't seen the last of her. Actually I think they did see the last of her, but again I'm not totally sure. As for the She-Hawke figure, I used a Star Wars Juno Eclipse figure and the head from another Star Wars female figure (don't remember which one off hand). I debated about giving her a cap but she spent as much time without one in the story as she did with it so I elected to just leave her head bare.
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