Sunday, July 31, 2011

Earth-32 - Bruce Wayne - Green Lantern

I like DC Comic's Elseworlds series of comics. They're sort of an off-shoot of the so-called "imaginary stories" from my youth, a lot of which revolved around Superman. Let's be clear on our terms - all imaginary story really means is that it's outside the normal continuity of the character - after all, they're all imaginary stories when you really get down to it. This particular story is from "Batman: In Darkest Night" and begins as Bruce Wayne is beginning his crusade to honor his parent's memories by adopting a crime-fighting persona. As it turns out Green Lantern Abin Sur picks that particular moment to crash land in Bruce's backyard and, since he happens to be dying, selects Bruce, rather than Hal Jordan, as his replacement. Bruce adopts a unique combination of Green Lantern and the Batman uniform and starts fighting crime, calling himself Green Lantern. His first outing brings him into contact with Commissioner Jim Gordon, who is instantly not impressed, stating he doesn't like vigilantes. The story moves on from there and I'll tell a bit more in the next couple of posts. One of the things I really liked about the tale was the voice-over narration told in the form of a sort of mental letter from Bruce to his dad. It's probably more insight into Bruce Wayne's thinking than I've seen in virtually any other Batman story, which is saying something. The action figure was made using a Green Lantern 3 3/4" Infinite Universe Green Lantern for the body and the head from a Batman. I cut the cape from T-shirt material, which is my favorite material for making capes.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Flying CAP

I like to try different things and work "outside the box" sometimes. One thing that came to me recently was to try showing a fighter plane flying CAP, or Combat Air Patrol, over an aircraft carrier. I thought about using a wire type extender for a base, which I have a bunch of, but in the end I decided on a clear plastic stem. I had gotten a lot of these over the years in aircraft and spacecraft kits, although I notice that most of the ones I've gotten recently are black. But I did have a couple clear plastic ones available so I flattened the top of the stem and cut a hole in the deck of a 1:2400 Essex class aircraft carrier, then glued the stem into the carrier and glued a carrier plane on the top. Then I added a few folded wing planes on the flight deck well forward as if they were preparing to commence landing operations. I think the effect is quite striking and unusual. The carrier is from Superior Models while the planes were from GHQ.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Captain America - The First Avenger - A Review

I've seen four live action Captain America movies in the past but the fifth one I just saw today stands out as the best of the lot. The first one (chronologically) was the 1944 Republic serial Captain America starring Dick Purcell, which was standard serial fare except the hero wore a costume - and carried a gun. Then there were the two 1979 CBS TV movies, Captain America and Captain America II: Death too Soon, both of which starred Red Brown. They were both rather pedestrian, although the second one did have the benefit of also starring Lana Wood. Then there was the Matt Salinger starring effort Captain America in 1990, which was actually rather entertaining, if a little directionless. Now we have Chris Evans in the 2011 Captain America: The First Avenger. I had previously seen Chris in the two Fantastic Four movies, where he played cocky Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, so I was a little skeptical when I heard he had been cast as Cap. But I shouldn't have been concerned because he did an outstanding job. In the early part of the movie he's CGI'd into a 90 pound weakling to great effect as plucky Steve Rogers never gives in no matter what the odds. That's the trait that ultimately wins him a shot at receiving the super-soldier serum (although I'm not sure they ever called it that) and bulking him up. Initially he's treated as a bit of a joke, paraded on the war bond circuit, but eventually he wins the respect of his dubious detractors and leads missions against the techno arm of Germany called Hydra. Playing the love interest is Hayley Atwell, who is way out ahead of the women's lib movement, but pretty effective in the role. Then there's the villain, the Red Skull, played by Hugo Weaving (remember him as Mr. Smith in the Matrix movies?), who's always effective in ever role I see him in. Tommy Lee Jones and a few more familiar faces are along for the ride, all pretty effective. There's even a Bucky Barnes, but not the kid sidekick of the comics, which was a little disappointing. After all, if you can have an out of reality in-charge woman you ought to be able to have a kid sidekick. Probably not politically correct in this day and age (see also some of my sidekick posts in the early days of this blog). All in all I really liked this movie and highly recommend it to those who enjoy action movies - with or without superheroes. This is the last movie before next year's Avengers movie, but you have to wait past the credits to see a bit of a preview for that.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 - Modest Review

I'm sorry this has taken a week longer than I had hoped but life does catch up with a person. At any rate, for those of you who have not seen the last episode in the Harry Potter saga I would highly recommend it. I haven't read any of the books but I have seen all of the movies so I have watched the kids grow up to face this final confrontation. It does not disappoint. There are cameos by the dead and the dead accumulate in the battle for Hogwarts. There are twists and turns as Harry tries to sort out how to defeat Voldemort once and for all without dying in the process - no mean feat I can assure you. There are unexpected heroes and unanticipated alliances and it all amounts to a very good ending to the saga. And maybe that's the main thing about the whole tale - it's a really good story. When I saw Deathly Hallows Part 1 I thought it was rather stretched out and maybe they could have combined everything into one movie but in retrospect I'm really glad they did it the way they have. There was too much important material to cram into one movie. For anyone who has an interest in the saga I would highly recommend seeing this one and I don't want to spoil anything by giving too much out about it. I did not see it in 3D so I can't really say anything about the quality of that particular technical aspect. I'm actually a little weary of 3D. Maybe I'll do a 3D post one of these days. Enjoy.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Mystery Aircraft Carrier

I firmly believe you have to have a little fun with your collections. One of the ways I do that is to have some "fantasy ships" along with the never-was and that sort of thing. Some might look at the mystery aircraft carrier and say, why that looks like USS Enterprise as she was originally built, but it has the wrong number painted on its deck. Enterprise was #65 while I have #67 on this model, so what's up with that? Well, when Enterprise was originally built it was intended to be the lead ship in a class of nuclear powered aircraft carriers numbering up to eight. After Enterprise was built and, with its eight reactors, cost so much Congress flinched and the next two aircraft carriers (America and John F. Kennedy) were conventionally powered. But I had actually seen a couple of projected names in a contemporary edition of Jane's Fighting Ships, namely Congress and Constitution for subsequent units in the class. I doubt either of these names would have actually been used (especially since the sailing ship Constitution is still sort of part of the fleet registry), but I decided to do two of them just for fun. This is my version of Constitution. I also put twin Terrier SAM launchers on it, as were originally intended for Enterprise but never mounted (middle pictures with Terrier on left and the actually mounted Basic Point Defense Missile Launchers (BPDMS/Seasparrow) on right). This was also the period when Defense Secretary Robert McNamara wanted the navy and air force to buy the same plane for their next generation fighter (called TFX), which became the F-111 in air force service but which the navy ultimately rejected in favor of the F-14/Tomcat. However, I did have some F-111s so I put them aboard my USS Constitution as the navy version called the F-111B. This little project sort of came together over time and I'm rather pleased with the result. Sorry the closeups aren't sharper but hopefully you get the idea.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lady Blackhawk as Mermaid

OK, I screwed up a little bit yesterday when I said that Lady Blackhawk was turned evil by Killer Shark and after that became a mermaid. I should have checked before I said that. Turns out she turned into a mermaid back in Blackhawk #170, March 1962, but I was right that Killer Shark was involved. Story goes that Killer Shark discovered a volcano giving off fumes that turned sea creatures into sea monsters. Zinda was exposed to the fumes and emerged as a mermaid. In that form she helped the Blackhawks shut down the volcano and discover the Shark's secret lair. At the end the effect of the fumes wore off and Zinda returned to her normal self - although she's not bad as a mermaid either. As for the figure, it is a mermaid (naturally) figure from a company originally called Phoenix and based in England. In recent years it has been marketed under the heading of Phoenix Follies by a French company called Metal Modeles. I painted her as a blond and even used some glitter paint on the rocks so that it looked like they were wet.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Good Bad Girl - Queen Killer Shark

I always liked Zinda "Lady Blackhawk" Blake and I've even done a previous post on her. Then when the Blackhawks changed uniforms (see my last post) poor Zinda got kidnapped by the nefarious Killer Shark, who gave her a potion that turned her evil (as related in Blackhawk #200, September 1964). He made her into Queen Killer Shark and specifically targeted her against the Blackhawks. At the end of that issue she escaped leaving Killer Shark in captivity and herself still under his influence. She came back a few times (shall we call them relapses) to alternately fascinate and torment the Black Knights, even once appearing as a mermaid - but that's a post for another day. As for the figure, I used a Black Widow 3 3/4" which I put the little head-piece on and repainted appropriately.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Blackhawks - Their Red/Green Period

I've written about the Blackhawks before and any followers of this blog probably know how much I always liked them. I especially liked the blue uniforms with military caps. Then in June 1964, in issue #197 they changed uniforms to a more "modern" red and olive green without caps. I suspect sales were sagging and DC was looking for something to "punch up" the seven stalwarts. Once again Blackhawk had the hawk symbol on his chest while the rest of the team had a smaller version of the symbol on their belt buckles. They wore these uniforms until issue #228 when the Justice League intervened and accused them of being "junk heap heroes," and they were given gimmicky super hero costumes that all served functions, while Blackhawk kept the red and olive drab. This went on until issues 242-243, when they returned briefly to their old blue uniforms with military caps before the series folded altogether and wouldn't return until the mid-1970s with a totally new look. Like many Blackhawk fans I really liked the older uniform, but I also had a certain grudging fondness for the red and green. It wasn't a bad look and they probably needed to get out of uniforms that to many younger readers probably looked more like something from the Nazi SS than Allied fighting men. Doing the action figures I used the bodies from CHIPS figures, while giving them arms from the Black Hole Holland/Pizer figures. The heads included Kirk and Decker from Star Trek: The Motion Picture as Blackhawk and Chuck, respectively; Ponch and Jon as Pierre and Olaf, respectively; Charles Pizer and Harry Booth from Black Hole as Stanislaus and Hendrickson, respectively and a GI Joe figure for Chop Chop. The chest symbol and belt buckles were cut from card using different sized hole punchs and painted freehand.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

DC Villain - Star-Man

Star-Man first came into conflict with Batman and Robin when he tried to rob a museum in Detective Comics #286, December 1960. The dynamic duo soon became aware that Star-man had fantastic strength when the star on his forehead glowed. Turns out the belt he was after had been sold to a curio shop which had in turn sold it to Kathy Kane, secretly Batwoman. When she put on the belt she also acquired amazing strength, but when she came close to Star-Man he lost his super strength and she was frozen in place. She was also finding that when she removed the belt she was terribly weakened and that continued use might kill her. As it turned out, according to Tibetan legend, if the belt and star were combined with a buckle the star fit in it would endow the wearer with more amazing powers, including immortality. In a final confrontation Star-Man is immobilized and Batwoman is cured by combining the three elements of the belt. Then the bat team decided the best thing was to throw Star-Man in jail and destroy the belt - they were so self-sacrificing during that period. As for the Star-Man figure, I used a variety of parts, including the body from a Toy Biz Trevor Fitzroy, the arms from a Captain America, the legs from a figure I can't remember and the head from one of the Visionary figures. Love that spare parts box.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

3 Dysfunctional Kryptonian Outcasts

I'm always amused when I read something about Superman being the last son of Krypton, or the only survivor of the planets destruction because all kinds of Kryptonians have shown up in the comics over the decades. In this instance three Kryptonian brothers crash land on earth in Superman #65, July/August 1950. When Superman confronts them they explain that they had tried to coerce the people of Krypton into making the three of them dictators of the planet but were thwarted by Jor-El, head of the ruling science council. Because they didn't have the death penalty on Krypton (nor apparently any prisons) Jor-El placed the three in suspended animation and sent them into space in a rocket. The three are, from left to right, Kizo, U-Ban and Mala and once they realize Superman is the son of their nemesis they vow to defeat him and take over the earth (I guess it didn't really matter to them which planet they took over-maybe we should have let them have Jupiter). In order to decide the fate of earth Superman fights a titanic battle with the three but it ends in a draw, with all four beaten and exhausted. Superman uses super ventriloquism (bet you didn't know that was on his list of super powers, now did you?) to start a fight between the combative brothers and the three beat the crap out of each other. Meanwhile, Superman duplicates his fathers formula for suspended animation and builds a similar rocketship in which he says goodbye to the evil brothers. But I think they came back in a subsequent story. As for the action figures, I had a number of body parts from Toy Biz Captain Americas and arms and legs from Daredevil figures on hand from other conversions so I used those for the bodies. The heads were a Shadow Lamont Cranston, an X-Men Kane and a Superman. I liked that they all had a little different costumes.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Batman Villain - Zodiac Master

Zodiac Master started off in Detective Comics #323, January 1964 as an apparently benevolent costumed character. He predicted a couple of disasters, including the crash of a plane which he prevented from taking off, which brought him into conflict with Batman. Turns out he had set up the "disasters" and was really advising criminals on when and where would be best to carry out robberies based on his reading of the stars. He also was able to project the astrological symbols on his costume into three-dimensional weapons to combat his enemies and do his bidding. Of course Bats eventually outwitted him and the dynamic duo brought him to justice. When I was approaching the action figure the biggest issue was the symbols. I used a JLA Atom figure and then had to paint the blue costume and then sketch out the figures and do them freehand. It was actually one of the more challenging artistic endeavors of any of these figures I've done and I was really pleased with the outcome. I love it when a plan comes together.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Zebra-Man & Zebra-Batman

CROSS-EYE ALERT!!! Viewing this picture for too long may make you spin in your chair or maybe fall out of it altogether - or maybe not. Consider yourself duly warned. I like to be a user-friendly bloggest. Today we have another Batman villain from Detective Comics #275, January 1960. Seems this guy invents a machine that generates lines of force and a belt to control the resulting power to commit crimes. He can tear the steel doors off a vault and pull over a water tower to almost crush the pursuing dynamic-duo. Then Batman figures out where the Zebra-Man is hanging out and raids his HQ, only to be irradiated by the energy machine, at which point he repels everything and everyone in the room, including the machine, which ends up broken. Without the controlling belt Batman repels everything around him so he can't even eat or ride in the Batmobile or anything. Of course he's still walking on the ground when I suspect he'd actually be repelled into the air but let's not split hairs here. Now unable to eat or drink Bats is facing with slow death when he notices he can approach an electromagnet in a junk yard and comes up with a plan. He magnifies a manhole cover, lures Zebra-Man over it so he can grab the belt and restore both of them to non-repellent being once again. Thus Batman and Robin bring to a rapid end an otherwise promising criminal career and I'm sure Bats hurried home and had a nice, juicy steak. One minor issue I had with the story was that in one part Zebra-Man is standing on a small boat and lifts the wreck of a rather large freighter. I suspect, all things being equal, doing that probably would have resulted in the boat he was standing on capsizing. For the figures, which I did at different times, I used a JLA Atom figure for Zebra-Man and a Super-Powers Collection Batman for the Batman figure. I painted them white and then went at it with a fine brush to give them the stripes.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Supervillain - Elton Craig

I remembered this character from my youth so I was anxious to do a custom figure of him when I rediscovered the comic later in life. Originally presented in World's Finest #87, April 1957, I found it reprinted in World's Finest #223, May-June 1974. The story goes that Clark Kent hears that a super-powered villain is on the rampage in Metropolis so he switches to Superman and tracks the guy down. However, when he enters the villain's lair he is stricken with Kryptonite and collapses on the floor. The villain, who introduces himself as Elton Craig, shows Superman a box encrusted with Kryptonite that's actually from Jor-El (Superman's father if you didn't already know). The box contained vials of a formula that would give super-powers to Kryptonians if they should lose their naturally occurring powers for some reason. The box was intended to make the flight when the Kryptonians migrated to earth, but the planet blew up prematurely. Anyway, Elton Craig had taken one of the vials and now had super powers. He leaves Superman writhing on the floor and goes off to commit more crimes. Superman manages, with the last vestiges of his X-Ray vision to burst a pipe, washing the kryptonite crust off the box. He decides to take one of capsules from the box to immediately restore his powers, but then finds that they are permeated with Kryptonite and actually causes him to lose his powers for some period of time. So he calls in Batman and Robin and gives each of them a capsule so they can handle Craig while Supes is powerless. Most of the story consists of Batman and Robin learning to use their new-found super-powers, while Superman is stumbling around bemoaning his non-super existence. One particularly cold-blooded incident was when Craig throws the no longer super Superman toward cliffs near the city where he would have been squashed if not for the timely intervention of Batman and Robin. Eventually they capture Craig, Superman regains his powers while Batman and Robin lose theirs and everything goes back to normal. Despite the fact that I would have liked Craig to adopt a super-villain moniker (maybe like Super-Badman or something), I did like the character and it gave be an opportunity to use an animated Batman figure for the conversion. I removed the detail from his gauntlets and bat ears and gave him a round belt buckle, then beefed up the tops of his boots with putty, before painting him appropriately. I gave him a little cape made from T-shirt cloth.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Golden Age Villain - Image

I like comic book villains - I specify comic book villains in case anyone might think that I was shopping for a date with Casey Anthony. Nah, you wouldn't think that!! Anyway, I like the villains because many of them are so obscure that none of the toy companies are ever likely to produce any of them. I mean, we all know about Batman's Joker, Penguin and Catwoman and Superman's Luthor, Parasite and Brainiac, but who's ever heard of the Image?? Well, I have and I did him. The Image appeared in the Superman comic strip back in 1942 and (since even I'm not that old) I found him in a reprint edition, "Superman: The Sunday Classics 1939-43." The Image makes his first appearance at a movie premier where a beautiful, arrogant blond actress named Laurel Amour makes an appearance before her devoted fans wearing all of her priceless gems (just goes to show not much has changed since 1942). The Image appears and demands her jewels but the police step in to capture the thief. That's when he springs this ability to project multiple images of himself, which has the flat-foots acting ... well... flat footed, and he absconds with the sparklers. Superman pursues but finds he's chasing identical multiple cars, all but one of which disappear when the Image does the same. In the end of the story Superman tracks down the Image, manages to save Lois Lane, who's thrown from a cliff, and catch the Image when he figures out only one image out of a thousand is casting a shadow. The Image was made using a Spy Kids 2 Donougan figure, with the head from a GI Joe (don't remember which one). I used a piece of sheet plastic to make the mask, which is a little clunky but has its charms. I briefly toyed with the idea of making several versions of Image as shown in the graphic, but Donougan figures are hard to come by and that would have been a little obsessive. Wouldn't it?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Green Lanterns Mixed Lot 2

OK, this is my final batch of Green Lanterns - well, as final as anything gets in my life or blog. Some of the figures here are actual characters, like the amoeba-like creature in the lower left quadrant who is the GL Eddore. The stingray and jellyfish in the right front are also taken from real characters I've seen depicted in the comics, although I don't know their names. Then at the far right is my version of the young Arisia, when she was still young. But then the rest are mostly figures that I threw together to beef up my own little version of the Green Lantern Corps. Like the Power Lords figure of Sydot on the far left. Then there are the alien metal figures in the front of various types painted as Corps members. That's one of the things I've really enjoyed about the Corps - you can really let your imagination go and be creative. After all, there's suppose to be 3,600 of them and I'm nowhere close to that number.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Patriotic Hero - Puppeteer

I have interrupted by Green Lantern series of blogs in honor of Independence Day in order to present another patriotic superhero from Fox Features Syndicate. The Puppeteer came along late in the war - 1944 - and made a series of appearances in several titles. Some have speculated he was a direct follow on to V-Man, whom I've already featured, but I'm not sure of that. He seems to have super strength and he could fly using a red, white and blue V-beam. Instead of V-Man's V-Boys, the Puppeteer had a pet but sentient raven named Raven who actually looks more like an eagle. When Alan Hale, who works in a puppet shop, hears Beethoven's fifth on a magic piper organ played by Raven he turns into the Puppeteer to battle evil. The figure was made from an animated Superman body and the head from a JLA Superman. I did use a raven to make Raven but basically painted it like an eagle. As for the broken down locker he's sitting on - I figured it would either be something like that or have Raven perched on Puppeteer's head; but then I would have had to paint the droppings oozing down his temples, and that would have been kinda tacky. Hope everyone has a happy 4th of July - whether or not it's a holiday where you live.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Green Lanterns - Mixed Lot 1

I said yesterday I'd feature some easy conversions of Green Lanterns and here they are. These are all made using the body from Super Powers Collection Green Lantern figures and the heads from Star Wars, Star Trek and one X-Man figures. From the top, left to right, the heads belonged to Star Trek LaForge as Tarchannen III Alien, Star Wars Akbar, Star Trek Tosk and bottom row, left to right, Star Wars Bib Fortuna, Star Trek Benzite and the X-Person Kylun. This was part of my effort to accumulate additional Green Lantern figures, although I never really had any expectation to reach the 3,600 GLs that were suppose to patrol the universe. Actually, now that I think about it, for patrolling billions of galaxies that's not a very large number. I still have a couple of more entries in the Green Lantern collection - more later.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Green Lanterns - Tuebeen & Green Man

Today I present a couple of other Green Lanterns that were fairly easy conversions. On the left is Tuebeen from Green Lantern #155, August 1982, who is asked to protect a "Pan-Galactian Traveling Circus & Side Show," which he does successfully. On the right is a GL referred to as the Green Man who, in his first appearance in Green Lantern #164, May 1983 must go to creative lengths to protect a slow moving convoy of space ships from a "leak" between our universe and the anti-matter universe. The Green Man subsequently joined the Omega Men but I'm not too sure what happened to him after that. In the Green Lantern movie they turned him into a frog. For the Tuebeen conversion I used the head from a Crystar figure and joined it to the body of a Super Powers Collection Green Lantern. I painted Crystar's head white and added the mask and eyes, which gave me the crystal effect. As for Green Man, I also used a Super Powers Green Lantern but with the head from a Goomba from the Super Mario Brothers movie. I painted some green dots on his head but didn't give him a mask. Just thought he looked as good without it. Next time I'll show some relatively easy generic GL conversions.