Thursday, June 30, 2011

Green Lanterns - John Stewart & Katma Tui

I haven't done a lot of married couples in my blog but I thought this would be a nice opportunity since I'm featuring a boat-load of Green Lanterns. Katma Tui had been in the Corps for a while, having replaced Sinestro when he turned to the dark side or whatever. She was from his home planet of Korugar, hence the red skin, and was the GL for Space Sector 1417. She had worked with Hal Jordan for a while in the past. Then Hal decided (one of the several times I think) that he was leaving the Corps and his replacement became John Stewart of earth, who had wielded the ring of power on a part time basis in the past. Of course Hal came back but John retained his own ring and fought alongside Hal and Katma and the rest of the Corps. At some point John and Katma fell in love and were eventually married, although she ends up getting killed - you know it's never a good idea to get involved with someone from work, especially if that work is acting as an intergalactic police officer. I sort of stopped following the story lines at that point so I don't know what became of John or if they ever raised Katma from the dead, which happens a lot in comic books. As for the action figures, John was made using a Super Powers Collection Green Lantern figure to which I attached the head from a Congo Monroe figure. Katma was made from a Toy Biz Invisible Girl. The green lantern accessories were from Super Powers Collection figures.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Green Lantern Corps - Humanoids

Some more Green Lanterns today - this time a couple of humanoids. These two appeared in Green Lantern Corps #219, December 1987 in a panel with a number of other Lanterns. I blew them up for emphasis. I don't know their names or back stories, if they were ever given any, and don't even know if they made any other appearances in the Green Lantern universe. Basically I thought they were cool and I was looking for something to do with a Speed Racer die cast Racer X and I thought the smaller one would fit the bill. The larger of the two is a Toy Biz Daredevil with Batman arms because it looked like the bigger guy had some detail on his gauntlets.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Green Lantern - Rond Vidar

As a citizen of earth in the 30th Century Rond Vidar was a future Green Lantern who periodically operated with the Legion of Superheroes. Initially his father, Vidar (later Universo), was a Green Lantern, but he was drummed out of the Corps after coming into conflict with the Legion. Rond, who was a researcher at Metropolis University's Time Institute, assisted the Legion in capturing his own father. In appreciation the Guardians of the Universe bestowed a ring and power battery on Rond, but he needed to be discrete because the United Planets (earth government) had placed a ban on Green Lanterns. Thus Rond mostly operated in secret. One of the reasons I wanted to highlight this character for customizers is because it shows why I only use acrylic paints now. Rond was an early custom figure effort and if you look closely you can see that the right arm and legs have red bleeding through the white paint. I had used a Mattel Secret Wars Daredevil figure, which has softer plastic on the arms and legs than it does on the body. The white enamel paint I used doesn't do very well on the softer plastics, so it allows the figure color to bleed through and it remains a little tacky, even though it was done years ago. As for the head - I got it from a Starting Lineup sports figure, although I don't remember which one. This one is another candidate for a redo in the future.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Green Lantern of Penelo

As the story goes (as recounted in Green Lantern No. 160, January 1983), the Green Lantern of Penelos (maybe named Penelops, although it's not mentioned in the story), discovers his world is threatened by the increased heat output of its sun. Thinking this might be a natural phenomena the Green Lantern goes to investigate and finds that an alien spaceship is firing some kind of beam into the sun, creating the warming effect. When he confronts the humanoids who are performing this act he is informed that their own planet is dying and they want to relocate to the second planet in the system, but its too cool for their liking so they decided to warm it up. Penelo is the planet closest to the sun so, by warming the sun they have spelled the doom of the Green Lantern's home world. Whatever the humanoids have done cannot be reversed so Green Lantern, exercising an incredible willpower, moves his own planet into another, safer orbit, thus saving his race. In one of the many lists I've found they called the Green Lantern from Penelo by the name of Penelops and he did appear in a couple of other stories over the years. Basically a giant eye with tentacles, I found an action figure (not sure of identity) that had an eye for a head and used it as the basis for this character. I mounted it onto a base and then cut pieces of plastic sprue from a plastic model kit and heated them so I could manipulate their curve and sharpened the tips. One of those in the front I stuck up in the air as if that were the one with the power ring. Then I glued them to the bottom of the eye and painted them all green. Overall not a bad effect, if I do say so myself.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Green Lantern Corps - Jeryll

Jeryll of the planet Glirell was a Green Lantern and responsible for Space Sector 55. She appeared in Green Lantern Comics #152 and #153, from May and June 1982, respectively. Her home planet of Glirell was home to a pacifistic race of humanoids who abhorred violence. Jeryll came into conflict with the ruling council of her planet over an incident where she had inadvertently injured a citizen who was himself committing a robbery. However, when their world was attacked by Drelite Slaver Ships, in violation of an ages-long treaty, and Jeryll feared to act, the people took up arms in their own defense and the council relented. However, although sanctioned to act Jeryll found that she revelled in the act of destroying the slaver fleet, discovering a level of violence in her soul that she had not previously believed she was capable of. Thus, even over the protests of the Glirell council, she abandoned her home world to seek her place out in the universe. The story actually struck home with me on a couple of levels so I liked the character. As for the action figure, I used a Toy Biz Spider-Woman figure and painted it accordingly. As with most of my Green Lantern projects the symbol on the chest is the most challenging part of the project.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Girls of Formal Models

I've written several posts about the folks I met at Motor City Comic Con last month but not much about the young ladies of Formal Models. They were the young ladies in my initial post about Motor City Comic Con and I present them again here, from left to right, Nikki, Lauren and Christine. In the first pic I posted Nikki was wearing the regular Supergirl outfit and here she's adorned in the dark Supergirl costume. Frankly she looks just great in either or both. Formal Models is a modeling agency based in Detroit but make appearances in Toledo, Ohio and Chicago, Illinois as well, so they get around. They make appearances at conventions and shows and can be booked accordingly. You can reach them through - and tell 'em Dennis sent ya.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Green Lantern - Adam

Yesterday I said I might feature some of my Green Lantern conversions at a future date, which just happens to be today. This was a rather clever idea (presented in Green Lantern Corps Quarterly No. 5, Summer 1993), I thought, for an unusual alien character. On the outside it appears quite humanoid, but with an entire species consisting of only one entity. In order for the race to perpetuate itself the adult had to plunge itself into a volcano, from which a male baby would emerge as the next generation. Needless to say this made it difficult for the entity to pass along information from one generation to the next. Then it was discovered by the Guardians of the Universe, who gave the entity a power battery and ring. The ring would serve as nursemaid, protector and educator of each generation of the entity, who now patrolled Space Sector 1055, when he wasn't in diapers. When I was doing the conversion I used an Ultimate Warrior wrestling figure, Dremeling off the outfit detail, and there was quite a lot of it, and painting it with gloss acrylic paints because in the pictures the costume looked shiny to me. The baby I stumbled across in a pack of three or four babies that was about the right size as Adam the younger. So, in a way, I have twice as many figures of the species than actually exist at any one time. Too cute.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Movie Review - Green Lantern

First let me say that I am old enough that when the original DC Showcase comic featuring what would come to be known as the Silver Age Green Lantern appeared on the news stand I was there to purchase it, so Green Lantern and I go way back. I only discovered the Golden Age Green Lantern much later, so I grew up on the Hal Jordan version. I always liked the comic and the characters and I really liked the Green Lantern Corps, overseen by the Guardians of the Universe. I think that before the age of Computer Generated Imagery or CGI Green Lantern was, like a lot of Marvel Comics characters, just too hard to bring to the screen. This first live-action telling of the Emerald Crusader's saga captures the tone of the comic and tells an entertaining story. The movie is about being selected when maybe you don't think you're worthy for a great task that most everyone (including yourself) don't think you can fulfil. In the end the hero succeeds in proving as much to himself as to anyone else that he is worthy. I'm not going to get into a lot of plot details here - there are other reviews that do that - but I find most of those reviewers are always blinded by the flashy special effects are rarely grasp the core of such films (remember what the reviewers said about Star Wars when it came out, and they've hated blockbusters ever since). I will say that the cast was really good at their characterizations (with Peter Sarsgaard as Dr. Hector Hammond and Mark Strong as Sinestro particularly noteworthy). This is, after all, a comic book adaptation, not a remake of Citizen Kane, and, as a long-time fan of the comic and the character, I liked this movie a lot more than I expected to. I may highlight some of my Green Lantern action figure conversions in future posts now that I'm pumped up about it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Size Matters - Comparison of Naval and Commercial Ships in the 20th Century

A friend and I were talking recently and he made an observation about how large and impressive battleships and aircraft carriers were. I thought about that for a while and, although I admit battleships and carriers are very impressive ships, during the course of the 20th Century they have generally not been as large as contemporary merchant ships. Therefore I've trotted out a few models to help me prove my point. From the foreground of the picture is the HMS Tiger, a battle cruiser of 35,710 tons full load and a length of 704', built in 1914. As a comparison I present the RMS Titanic which, along with her two sister ships, was the largest ship afloat when she was built in 1912 at 52,310 tons and a length of nearly 883'. Next up is the giant Japanese super battleship Yamato, completed in December 1941 and weighing in at 69,990 tons full load and nearly 863' long she was the largest battleship ever built. But she did not measure up to the RMS Queen Mary, completed in 1936, with a displacement of 81,961 tons and a length of almost 1,120'. Next up is the mighty USS Enterprise, which was completed in 1961 and in 1969 was referred to as "The largest moving structure ever built by man....." It was 83,300 tons full load, 1,123' long and the hull was 133' wide. But Enterprise would not retain that largest distinction very long because in 1967, during the 6-Day War, the Suez Canal had been closed and would not be reopened until 1975. Oil companies realized they would be better off building really big tankers so they could carry more crude from the Persian Gulf to refiners around the world. That resulted in a big tanker building boom that produced ships like the Esso Atlantic at the front of the ship models. The Esso Atlantic and Pacific, completed in 1977, weighed in at a whopping 590,308 tons, with a length of 1,333' (by comparison The Empire State Building is 1,250' high), a beam of 233' and a draft of 82' - almost like the iceberg that sank the Titanic there's more of it below the water than there is above. Enterprise by comparison only has a draft of about 37'. Many of the really large tankers have been retired but now the newer cruise liners like the Oasis of the Seas and it's sister ship Allure of the Seas, completed in 2009 and 2010, respectively, (of which, unfortunately, I do not have models) are about 225,282 tons and 1,187'. They are thus carrying on a tradition of really large liners plying the oceans of the world. Larger even than any contemporary warships.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

200th Post - Erika Eleniak

I thought for my 200th post - a fairly major milestone in my blogging career - I'd feature another pretty lady. I met Erika at the Motor City Comic Con in May and she was very sweet. Most people know her best I suppose for her stint on Baywatch as lifeguard Shauni McClain, but her film career goes back to ET: The Extraterrestrial, where she kissed the character Elliott in the classroom. A friend of mine remembers her best for coming out of the cake aboard the USS Missouri in the film Under Siege. Some may also remember her turn as Elly May Clampett in the otherwise forgettable movie The Beverly Hillbillies. She also appeared in the centerfold of the July 1989 issue of Playboy. I personally remember being startled when seeing her in a really aweful movie called Dradula 3000 because she was incredibly pumped up muscle wise. I gather she's had some body image issues over the years. Dracula 3000 ranks up there with some of the all-time clunkers of movie history (one reviewer remarked, "To call this film shit is an insult to fragrant brown logs everywhere.") High condemnation indeed. In any event, meeting Erika was actually more pleasant that I anticipated, which just goes to show that you never know about people - or the parts they play. You may now all say, "Happy bicentennial, Dennis." Cheers!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Golden Age Heroes - Defender & Rusty

This is another hero from the Timely/Marvel Comics group. Appearing in the first four issues of USA Comics, the Defender and his kid sidekick Rusty battle a rather bizarre group of villains. The Defender is really Don Stevens of the U.S. Marines and Rusty is, well, Rusty, who also seems to be affiliated with the Marines, probably in some kind of mascot role similar to Captain America's Bucky with the army. They certainly seem to have a lot of time on their hands, running off to battle a pirate named Dame Kackle, and a guy in a suit with a fancy gas mask named the Fog as well as some hideous monster. They seem to prevail but not enough to keep them afloat in a sea of patriotic heroes of the period. They were really too much like Captain America and Bucky so I guess Timely decided to "settle" for Cap and the Buck and let the Defender and Rusty retire to the castoff heroes home. All four of their adventures have been reprinted in the Marvel Masterworks USA Comics edition, which is really a pretty good read. I confess I'm not real happy with the two action figures I made of them. The Defender figure is based on the cover of the first issue, which is all I had at the time I did it, and used the body of a Toy Biz Silver Surfer, the arms and legs from a Captain America and the head from a Professor X. For the rest of the stories the outfit changed a bit and I might like to redo it in the later design. As for the Rusty figure, I used a Mattel Secret Wars Captain America and the head from a pocket Superheroes Robin. I had done him once in a different uniform based on some material posted on the web but after I got the Masterworks edition I realized that the drawing was totally wrong so I repainted. I would like to do the figure over, maybe using a smaller Star Wars figure like General Madine as the base figure. Ah well, a project for another day. I have more projects than I have life left to complete them all.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Rae Dawn Chong

Another person I met at Motor City Comic Con was Tommy Chong's daughter Rae Dawn. She has been around a long time (born February 28, 1961), but made her film debut in Quest for Fire in 1981. I rather liked that movie, where she plays the girl from the more advanced tribe that helps out the less advanced guys who are trying to find fire for their tribe. She not only shows them how to actually make fire, but, when the guy wants to bend her over and do it doggy, she actually shows him how much fun they can have face to face. Although you couldn't understand any of the tribal languages I always figured when they came back to the tribe the leader proclaimed, "Look, we have brought you fire and, oh yes, the missionary position." Ya think?? Anyway, Rae Dawn has had a pretty solid career over the years, appearing in such movies as Commando with Arnold Schwarzenegger - who can forget her firing the rocket launcher at the prison van - The Color Purple and Boulevard. I thought it was funny that in Boulevard she gets deported from Canada when in reality she was born and raised in Canada - not sure what her citizenship is now. She turned out to be very chatty and friendly and she has an infectuous smile that really lights up her face and everyone around her. Very nice lady and one of the highlights of my trip to Motor City.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Golden Age Heroes - Red Torpedo

OK, back to the Golden Age today. The Red Torpedo was a character from the Quality Comics stable of heroes. Originally a naval officer named Jim Lockhart, he was frustrated when he tried to get the navy interested in plans he had for an advanced submarine craft. He resigned and built it himself with the help of his girl friend Peg (apparently she didn't help enough because she disappears after the first issue). He named it the Torpedo and called himself Red Torpedo as he became the protector of the seas. Appearing in about 20 issues of Crack Comics (1941-42), Red Torpedo was one of the ubiquitous "back story" heroes, never even being featured on the covers, although he does show up in a box to the left at least once. Red Torpedo battled Nazis and Japs but his main villain was Black Shark. He was briefly revived by DC for their Freedom Fighters stories along with a number of other former Quality properties, but he was killed off in the first issue so it wasn't much of a career revival for the poor guy. The action figure shows Red Torpedo in his normal fighting togs - the red shorts and mask. He was known to wear a red upper garment but this was apparently used to hold his breathing tanks and helmet in place. The action figure was made from a Toy Biz Savage Land Angel (with wings removed) and the head from a Hasbro Transforming Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer version of Batman).

Friday, June 10, 2011

Solar, Man of the Atom

I've been featuring some more modern characters recently and thought I would continue that for the nonce. This character began life during the Silver Age in the early 1960s as Dr. Solar, the Man of the Atom. Originally published by Gold Key, some of the later books have the "Whitman" or Western Publishing Company imprint. When he started his career his name was Dr. Raymond Solar, who was exposed to a massive amount of radiation while trying to rescue a colleague as they were trying to avert a reactor meltdown. The colleague died but Solar gained fantastic powers including the ability to transform himself into any form of energy. In his regular identity he was Dr. Solar, while in his transformed state he was known as the Man of the Atom, hence the title. He appeared in 27 issues of his magazine between 1962 and 69, then was briefly revived in the early 1980s for another four issues. Then in the 1990s he was licensed to Valiant Comics (the art behind the figure is from issue #3 from that series), where he became Phil Seleski, who again was irradiated during an accident and becomes Solar, dropping the doctor altogether. He had quite a run with Valiant, then a shorter one with Acclaim Comics, and then with Dark Horse. I don't know much about those incarnations. At any rate, I always thought he was a pretty colorful character. In his Gold Key incarnation his face even turned green as the Man of the Atom, but I chose to do the Valiant version. The action figure was made using a Toy Biz Cyclops figure, which mostly required me to Dreml off his boots and gloves details and paint him appropriately. Let me say, it's rather difficult painting circles on uneven surfaces and getting that damn civil defense symbol lined up right.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Black Hood Villain - Needlenoodle

I stumbled across this character the other day and it was like the little light bulb went on over my head. Finally, something to do with a Coneheads head! OK, let me explain that I had liked the black uniforms the Coneheads characters had worn in the movie of the same name. I removed the heads and replaced them with others and incorporated them into my collection as aliens - maybe I'll cover them at a later date. But it left me with Coneheads heads that I didn't have any obvious use for - but being a veteran customizer I held onto them anyway. Then I stumbled across Needlenoodle (remember I don't make these things up), a villain who battled MLJ's (Archie Comics) Black Hood. In fact, in the story it was Needlenoodle who unmasked the Black Hood's secret identity as Kip Burland and "outed" him. As a result Kip gave up his police officer identity and went into business for himself as a private detective. So, despite the stupid name and pointy head Needlenoodle was clearly an important character in the Black Hood's continuity and career. OK, that's just an excuse to use the Conehead's head, which I glued to a Playmates Star Trek: The Next Generation Picard as Dixon Hill body. Voila - instant Needlenoodle. I love it when things come together.

Monday, June 6, 2011

X-Men: First Class - A Modest Review

Went to see the new X-Men movie today and confess I had virtually no expectations, good or bad. I was reasonably pleased overall. It starts with scenes from the childhoods of Charles Xavier, Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto and Mystique. It shows how Erik was tormented by a mad scientist sort of Nazi, played by Kevin Bacon, to develop his magnetic powers. It also shows how Professor X grew up with his altruistic view of man and mutant. By 1962 the Nazi becomes Sebastian Shaw, head of the Hellfire Club, with his right hand being the mental mutant Emma Frost/White Queen (played by the very beautiful January Jones-now wouldn't that make an interesting comic character name?). Shaw is trying to get the Soviet Union and United States to go to nuclear war with one another to destroy the human race and leave the world open for mutants to take over. Erik (played by Michael Fassbender) is trying to kill Shaw for having killed his mother in front of him. Prof X (played by James McAvoy) is trying to work with the government to save the planet and bond with the human race. It all comes together in a re-invented Cuban Missile Crisis scenario at the end of which Charles is paralyzed from the waist down by a stray bullet. Overall I was pretty pleased with the movie and I think both fans of the X-Men and people who have never read one of their comics would find it appealing. Of course I do have some nits to pick - for example Angel in this version is a female stripper with butterfly wings and spits acid balls instead of being the blond haired male Angel of the comics. The Beast/Hank McCoy (played by Nicholas Hoult) eventually transforms and looks really good. Moira MacTaggert (played by Rose Byrne), instead of being a Scots lass is a CIA agent who assists Charles in more ways than one. But I have to say the whole confrontation between the Soviet and U.S. fleets was way out of perspective and some of the ships depicted were built 20 years later than the 1962 period they were wedged into. But then I'm a naval history buff and wouldn't expect hardly anyone else to know that. I did like that Hugh Jackman/Wolverine makes a cameo, but I didn't see Stan Lee, who normally appears in all Marvel-related movies. If he was there and I missed him and I welcome someone pointing out his appearance to me. Overall I would recommend the movie - it was a lot of fun and the characters did not seem out of character, although some of them were drawn a little thin.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Silver Age Villain - Ant-Man

I'm featuring a Batman - or more specifically - a Robin villain today. From the pages of Batman #156, June 1963 that I found reprinted in Giant Size Batman #185, October 1966 comes the hero/villain Ant-Man. Batman is off on a secret mission and Robin is soloing when he is helped foiling a money heist by a six-inch tall costumed hero calling himself Ant-Man. Having read of a professor's size reducing experiments, Robin at first believes this might be Batman disguised and shrunken for some reason. But when they foil a jewelry heist together only to have Ant-Man abscond with the ice Robin suddenly realizes he's up against a crook after all. Luring the pint-sized crook into a trap, Robin makes "short" work of Ant-Man's life of crime. As with a couple of other short guy projects I used a Superior Models 25mm (one inch) metal Captain Crusher figure, filing off some of the costume detail and attaching antennae and using epoxy putty to give him the bulging eyes.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Golden Age Villain - Funnyface

Originally presented in Superman #19, November-December 1942, I discovered the story of Funnyface in an 80-page Giant reprint Superman #183, January 1966. As far as I know this was his only appearance, and it starts off innocently enough with Clark Kent and Lois Lane admiring some of their favorite newspaper comic strips. All of a sudden reports start coming in from all over Metropolis that the villains from these comic strips are coming to life in gigantic form and raiding the city of loot. Superman springs into action but he seems unable to touch the giant apparitions. Additionally, a disembodied yellow balloon calling himself Funnyface appears taunting the man of steel, then pops out of existence. However, when Lois gets kidnapped by Funnyface she manages to leave a clue to where she's been taken and Superman streaks to the rescue. Funnyface sends the comic strip villains against him but Lois manages to unloose the strip heroes and they not only subdue their villains but also Funnyface himself. When he's unmasked the man known as Funnyface turns out to be a disgruntled comic book creator, but no one would buy his strips so he put his dimensional experimentation to good use to make the comic strip characters come to life. Oh, sure, a comic artist who dabbles in dimensional experiments - remember folks I don't make this up I just report it. I also thought it was kind of neat that a rejected comic creator would get his revenge that way. At any rate, when I came to create Funnyface I used the body from a Raiders of the Lost Ark Toht figure, which I painted orange, and mounted an acrylic ball the right size on top, which I painted yellow and then freehand drew the face on.