Monday, October 31, 2011
For Halloween I thought I'd post Big Bang's answer to DC's Spectre and MLJ's Mr. Justice (see earlier post) - Dr. Weird. He's a supernatural being who can sense strange forces at work and move to deal with them. In one such instance (Big Bang No. 3) he enlists the aid of the Knights of Justice and the Round Table of America from two different earths in order to stymie a plot to destroy both worlds. A portal has been opened between the two worlds thet, if not closed, will result in the two earths colliding. Sounds like a pretty bad day for all concerned, doesn't it? Dr. Weird holds the portal at bay while the heroes from both earths race to foil the perpetrator. Guess who that turns out to be? The bad guy is an intelligent chimp named Dr. Binana (remember I don't make these things up) with delusions of disaster. How very out of the Marvel Family is that!!?? At any rate Dr. Weird has saved the day, along with the other heroes and everything will now be fine until the chimp breaks out of the zoo again. Dr. Weird was made using a Toy Biz Silver Surfer and attaching a couple of plastic circles as ear pieces I hole punched out of plastic sheet. The cape is from a Toy Biz Doctor Doom.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
From the land of really obscure characters I present Goblin Lord from the Alex Ross/Mark Waid special mini-series Kingdom Come. This series, set in an alternate future, has a whole host of really obscure and unique characters in it, which is probably what attracted me to it in the first place. At one point the heroes round up all the bad guys on the earth and imprison them in a Gulag for the good of all mankind. They break out of course but that's half the fun, isn't it?? Anyway, in the story telling various characters hanging out around the Gulag are pictured and the Goblin Lord was one of those. I really liked the look of the character and decided to try to make him. I used the head from a Silent Screamers Nosferatu and the body from a McFarlane Icobod Crane from the movie Sleepy Hollow and did a little repainting. Presented here as an early Halloween offering for your enjoyment. I may present some more of my Kingdom Come figures in the future.
Friday, October 28, 2011
The Royal Navy hasn't had a decent aircraft carrier since Ark Royal was decommissioned in 1978. They had designed what was called CVA-01 in the early 1960s, a large decked carrier of around 63,000 tons full load, but the budget people axed it. So they built three of the so-called through-deck cruisers of the Invincible class, which were really only intended for ASW, but which carried Harrier jets that acquitted themselves well in the Falklands War. Now the Brits are building two new carriers, the Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales, which are to be about 65,000 tons, making them smaller than a circa 92,000 ton U.S. Nimitz class and larger than a circa 40,000 ton French Charles de Gaul and about the same size as a 67,000 ton Russian Kuznetsov. OK, sounds good on the face of it. But then I hear that the boys at the x-checker think they're going to cost too much so they want to commission both carriers and then either mothball one of them or sell it off. And they've already delayed them from 2016 tp 2020. Apparently it would have cost too much just the cancel it. Say what!!!??? Are they nuts??!! Apprently they are. The Brits have been suffering from this syndrone since World War II, letting the money men decide what ships they can afford rather than what ships are going to insure the security of the nation. We have gone through something similar and it always sucks. At least that's what I think. Nice looking carriers, though.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Knight Watchman is the Batman of the Big Bang universe, with his young partner Kid Galahad by his side (Kid Galahad - wasn't that an old Elvis Presley movie?). Anyway, Knight Watchman and his partner are, in reality, Reid Randall and his nephew Jerry. When Reid's brother and wife (Jerry's parents) are killed by the mob, Reid (of course) decides to take matters into his own hands and assumes a secret identity as the Knight Watchman to avenge their deaths and bring the culprits to justice. Jerry eventually comes on board as Kid Galahad as the Twilight Paladin and Kid Whiz wage war on the forces of evil in Midway City. Instead of a Batcave they have the Watchtower, which is located in a water tower above their house, and instead of the Batmobile they have a Watchwagon. Later on Knight Watchman gets grittier, ala the Dark Knight. Knight Watchman was made from a Toy Biz Daredevil while Kid Galahad was made using a Toy Biz Robin with the legs from a Secret Wars Captain America. In different stories there were differences in how the emblem on his chest was depicted - I rather preferred the one outlined in yellow, making it stand out more.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Ultiman, the ultimate human - gosh, sounds a lot like Superman, doesn't it - started his career in one of two different ways, depending on which earth you happen to be from. On Earth B in the 1940s Christopher Kelly (on the right in the picture) was driving home from the draft board where he was rejected for military service when a fiery meteor slammed into his car. Rather than being crushed like a bug under a heel Chris becomes the superpowered man ultimately called - well - Ultiman. Then about 20 years later on Earth A an astronaut named Chris Kelly was on a Gemini mission with a companion when their space capsule was hit by a meteor that killed the other man but turned Kelly into - well, Ultiman, the ultimate human - of Earth A. They are later fated to meet and team up. The action figures each started life as a Super Powers Collection Superman, with the one with the gauntlets having arms from a Dr. Fate. The heads were both from a Jurassic Park Muldoon. The capes were both from Robin, the Boy Wonder figures.
Monday, October 24, 2011
I don't usually blog about a publisher but this one was nice enough to run an ad for me back in the days when I was selling custom action figures. Big Bang started as a self-published series of comics by Gary Carlson and Chris Ecker featuring characters based mostly on Golden and Silver Age superheroes and story lines. It's a little like the characters I featured from the Supreme universe. Later they were published under the Image logo. I really liked some of the characters and set out to do custom figures of them. I sent them a photo of some of the figures (at the bottom of the picture) which they ran in Image Big Bang #2 and later they ran my full page ad for free on the inside back cover of issue #5. By the way, before you think of it, I no longer live at that address so don't send in any orders - I just do them for myself these days. For those who like the Golden and Silver Ages I recommend picking these comics up on ebay or in the old comic bin at your local comic book store. They have a sense of fun to them that contemporary comics lack. Issue #0 even has a cover by Alex Ross! Next time I'll start working my way through the Big Bang Universe.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Where would the world of comic book superheroes have been without villains like Pulsar. They're angry. They have a lot of angst. They're big, muscle-bound morons that we just love to see get the crap beat out of them month after month by the heroes. Pulsar started life as Frank Costen and it was apparently all down hill after that. He was former army, down on his luck, blamed the rest of the world for all of his misfortunes, yada, yada, yada, as Seinfeld would say. Then an organization known as Viper came along and gave him enhanced powers to shoots blasts of power from his arms and hands and he was ready to take on the world. Of course he ran afoul of the Champions and all his plans for bloody vengeance on the world got him was a spell in the slammer. Oh well, maybe he liked the discipline and routine. He couldn't even get respect from his teammates - Foxbat insisted on calling him Francis, which really torked him off. But I'm sure he'll break out jail and go on another rampage soon. Either that, or more humiliatingly, he might be released early as not posing a significant risk to society. Now wouldn't that be a kick in the pants. The action figure was a repainted Toy Biz Daredevil - with guys like this I try to keep 'em simple.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
This is really neither hero nor villain. He's a wrestler who has achieved some measure of success since he allowed a Haitian manager to take over the "direction" of his career (Haitian on right in picture). Turns out Rose of the Champions knows the Haitian as Doctor Death and she realizes that he has taken over control of the wrestler for his own ends. Rose and her friend John Carstairs rush backstage after the match and find two burly fellows guarding the locker room of Doctor Death. While John serves as a punching bag for the bruisers Rose slips into the locker room and confronts the Haitian, who tries to inject her with one of his vile solutions. Rose manages to free herself and the wrestler awakens from his trace-like state after she gives him a dose of salt and the Haitian beats a hasty retreat. The wrestler ends up thanking Rose and her companion and elects to play it straight henceforth. The wrestler Doctor Death was made using a Toy Biz Beetle with the head from a Beast figure. I really had fun free-handing the skull and crossbones on his chest.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
I'm always looking for ways to integrate metal figures or other types of figure into my "action figure" collection. Yes, I know, you can't move the arms and legs but then I really don't "play" with my figures anyway so... so what. I also like to integrate scantily clad or totally undressed ladies into the collection because hey, that's just the way this door swings. One of my opportunities came with this young lady by the name of Rapture. Actually Rapture is not a young lady at all but a water elemental who can be summoned and given form and substance by a powerful wizard or sorcerer. She is the embodiment of the "rapture of the deep" and as so she can instill paralyzing pleasure so as to distract or disarm an adversary of the wizard who summoned her. She can also possess human beings on various levels, although the strength of these possessions remains to be seen. She's actually depicted in the comic as a bit naive, which was kind of a charming trait. I used a Superior Models 90mm (about 3 3/4") figure from their naked ladies line for Rapture. I painted her with semi-glossy blue paint to give the effect of her being made of water.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
I promised to run a post on Icestar's little sister and here it is. Christine Grayson's powers kicked in when she reached puberty (don't you hate it when that happens?), unlike Icestar's which required a chemical accident to be jump started. She apparently got herself into some problems early on but when she wanted to join the Champions Icestar approved because it gave him an opportunity to keep an eye on her. Icicle can so reduce her bodily temperature that she can absorb kinetic energy from the air around her, causing a chill to come over the room. She can generate snow and ice in controlled ways and can generate ice slides that she moves along. I used a Toy Biz Dagger figure for the body of Icicle and the head from a Star Trek Dax for the head. Dax was about the only female figure I could find with a ponytail. Star Trek heads are actually very useful for conversions, if I haven't already mentioned that.
Monday, October 17, 2011
John Grayson apparently had an accident with chemicals from which he nearly died. When he finally came recovered he discovered that his physical abilities had been enhanced and he had also been endowed with the power to psionically manipulate water molecules, allowing him to form various ice structures. He can travel by forming ice under his feet and sort of ice-skating along. He can also form various other ice constructs. His powers may be inherent because his sister has manifested similar powers without the obligatory chemical accident to bring them out (more in a later post on her). Icestar acts hot tempered and egotistical but that's basically a front for a genuine heart of gold softy (sort of a icy version of Johnny Storm/the Human Torch). He was a superhero before the Champions formed and is a charter member and has led the team. The figure was made using the body of a Toy Biz Daredevil and the head from a Robin Hood Prince of Thieves Will Scarlet head.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
I mentioned in my post on Sparkplug that a character named Foxbat had helped name her. Early in her career she helped him make an escape, including using her electrical powers to jump-start his car and he called her sparkplug. Anyway, I think I would describe Foxbat as more of a rogue than a true villain. He does bad things but maybe not so evil and he has a sense of humor about it. When one of the big, bad villains asked Foxbat why he hadn't given him a particular piece of information Foxbat simply replied, "Because you didn't ask." That's cute. Anyway, Foxbat is really Frederick (Freddy) Fosgood (I'd probably look for another name too), who was a rich social butterfly until the Champion's Icestar (more on him at a later date) visited Freddy's mansion. An evil-doer out to get Icestar destroyed the mansion, which the insurance company refused to cover (I guess Freddy didn't have a super-villain rider on his policy), which ended up bankrupting the Fredster. Blaming Icestar for his misfortune (I know, why didn't he blame the villain or the insurance company, but that's the way it goes in the comics) he decided to adopt a supervillain identity and turn to a life of crime to try to recoup his fortune and payback poor Icestar in the process. The Champions actually consider Foxbat to be more of a nuisance than a real threat, but so far he's always managed to get away after each of their encounters. I like him because he has Foxbatmobiles and a Foxbat Boat, which is really just a rowboat, but what the heck. He's been through a number of costume variations but I did him up based on a Toy Biz Daredevil, with the wings on the head made from some cardstock I cut to the appropriate shape. As for the vehicles: well, I found a rowboat and cut a Foxbat head from plastic for the bow. I repainted a 1974 Oldsmobile convertible for the Foxbatmobile on the right and a Matchbox Mustang Mach III for the one of the left.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Born Olga Gottmann, the girl who would become Sparkplug was the younger sister of Flare. Also the product of genetic manipulation, she is far stronger and more durable than a normal human being. She has also been enhanced with the power to manipulate electromagnetism. She is capable of generating bursts of bioelectricity, of generating a protective force field and flying by tapping into the earth's magnetic field. She is actually more powerful than Flare. She is also very conflicted, having been raised by Nazis she has a point of view that is slightly to the right of the Tea Party. While she may accept certain untruths about the Nazis, she probably would ultimately like to do the right thing, even if she has a little trouble sorting out what that is sometimes. Actually one of the Champions most persistent villains gave her the name Sparkplug. I used an original Toy Biz Invisible Woman (no, not the one that turns partially transparent in water), repainting as depicted and adding a cloth cape with a little crystal as a clasp.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Flare was created as the result of a secret Nazi genetics experiment that went - very - right! She was created to match the Nazi ideal of an enhanced and virtually perfect human and raised in the Brazilian rain forests by expatriate Nazi scientists in the employ of the evil organization Demon. However, she was taught by her mother to have an independent mind and soon rejected many of the teachings of Demon. At the age of fourteen she was artificially aged and sent against the Champions, but rather than destroying them, she ended up joining them. You know, kids in any era never live up to expectations - the bane of parents and evil scientists everywhere. Flare has photonic abilities that allow her to absorb light and then release it either as energy or as a bright flash. Through the controlled release of this energy she is also able to fly. She is also very strong and durable, which is always handy in the superheroing biz. In making Flare I used a Toy Biz Invisible Woman and the head from a Black Cat. The cloth cape is from T-shirt material.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
For those of you who haven't read my previous post on this ship you should take a look. Basically it was a concept for an aircrfat carrier, or more accurately floating base, made of sawdust mixed with ice, which makes the ice very hard, durable and long lansting. Named the Habbakuk, it would have displaced two million tons and been 2,000 feet long. In my first post I compared this scratch-built model with ships of its day, but this time I wanted to show it next to one of the largest ships ever actually built: the 590,308 ton, 1,334 foot long Esso Atlantic supertanker. I also wanted to show that I am still progressing in my campaign to put airplanes on my carrier models (also the subject of a previous post). In this case, although they may be hard to see, I've added 14 planes to the Habbakuk. Up forward and ready to take off are a TBF Avenger, which could drop torpedoes or depth bombs and was widely used for ASW in the North Atlantic, and a Supermarine Seafire fighter for self-defense (a Spitfire with arrestor hook). Forward of the island two additional Seafires are in readiness in case a German Condor 4-engine aircraft is spotted. Aft of the island there are two North American B-25/Mitchell bombers and two Lockheed P-38/Lightning fighters in army olive drab colors because you don't need arrestor wires on something as big as the Habbakuk. Then there are four additional Avengers with wings folded, because after all the ship was intended to hunt U-Boats, and two larger Bristol Beaufort topedo bombers, which could drop either torpedoes or depth bombs. I thought that was a nice sampling of aircraft that might have been drawn upon to operate from the Habbakuk.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Giant could be called the part-time superhero. When he discovered that his girl friend was the daughter of the guy who was the original Giant starting back in the 1930s Jim Jensen asked to used the Giant harness in the service of mankind. As it turns out most people think that he is the original Giant and that he's been playing the role for decades. However, eventually Jim decided he wanted to go into semi-retirement to get married and raise a family, so he went on part-time status. The Giant mystical harness allows Jim to grow to very large proportions and also to summon the power of Zeus and to generate electrical energy, although the latter power leaves him drained. To make Giant I used a ten inch figure of Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, which I repainted. I cut the Giant harness from construction paper and made a large "G" for his emblem from the same material.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Continuing my Champions posts I present Rose, a psychic who, when she uses her abilities, leaves a scent of flowers in the air. I thought that was kind of a nice touch on the part of her creators. Rose is only 18 when the Champions series begins but she is really the most recent incarnation of a powerful white sorceress, which gives her a maturity that belies her chronological age. The sorceress has battled dark forces for centuries and Rose can sometimes tap into those memories when carrying out her own battle against those forces. Rose doesn't really consider herself a superhero, even when working with the Champions, but concentrates on her occult researches and frequently encounters dark forces that need to be dealt with. In the picture I used the cover of a Flare comic (more on her later) that I really liked but Rose's costume is actually depicted more often as pink rather than red. I used a Toy Biz Phoenix figure, removing the sash belt and painting her to match Rose.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Again from the realm of Indy comics comes the Marksman. Starting in Eclipse Comics in 1986, Marksman and his cohorts in the Champions later moved to their own Heroic comic brand. They actually started life as part of the Champions role-playing game. Marksman is, in reality, Donald Henderson, a soldier and mercenary who has of late disavowed killing and favors weapons that only stun or knock people out. He's trained to the peak of physical perfection and has an apparent gene that keeps him from aging at the normal human rate, making for real longevity, as long as someone doesn't bump him off first. His father, who Donald thought was in league with an evil organization called Demon, was in reality attempting to reveal them as the dangerous threat he secretly knew them to be. In the process Donald's father had his reputation ruined and has gone into seclusion, leaving the resources of his electronics company for Marksman to deal with. Marksman was made from a Toy Biz Daredevil figure with the head from a Starting Lineup figure (don't remember which one) and the holster from a Jurassic Park Muldoon figure.
Friday, October 7, 2011
The 1980s were the age of the indy (or independent) comics boom, with a plethora of characters created, some of whom flourished and some of whom didn't. I posted Badger the other day who came from the same period, but today I concentrate on Whisper, who ran for 37 issues of her own magazine. Actually Alexis (Alex) Devin, she had lived in Japan for a number of years and became proficient at something called ninjitsu - not sure if that's a real martial art or not. At any rate, she apparently had suffered from polio and practicing intensely at the martial arts helped her body to recover from the disease. Apparently wanting to lead a "normal" life she ends up getting caught up in a power struggle between rival Japanese clans and must fight back by assuming the persona of Whisper. Eventually her activities involve her Japanese grandfather. In order to start a new life she moves to Los Angeles but you know, those pesky bad guys just seem to haunt all of her steps. Isn't that always the way?? In California she assumes another identity as Diane Young but still acts out as Whisper. I really liked the costume but found some of the adventures and characters a bit much to deal with. There's this voice-over narration than runs through the stories that's a little creepy, but did make the comic more intriguing. I used a Toy Biz Dagger figure as the basis for Whisper, along with the head from a Spider-Man (does that constitute cross-dressing?). Then a cut a strip of purple fabric for her belt.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
I had heard about the launch of the new and "revised" DC universe and had figured I might not even buy an issue. But then I figured, hey, what the heck, let's take a look. The new Superman is out in the new launch of Action Comics #1 and I confess I'm disappointed. Starting back in the mid-1980's DC (and then Marvel) got into this "reinvention" syndrome, I guess because some of their longest running characters like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were (in real years) getting a bit long in the tooth. But hey, it's comic books, isn't it?? During Crisis on Infinite Earths that ran across the DC universe for a year in the 1980s they sort of revamped everything and cut out a lot of the "deadwood," some of which I rather liked. They've done it a couple of more times in the intervening years to greater or lesser degrees. This revamping promises to be the biggest yet. So far I don't like it. I've just read the first issue of Superman in Action Comics #1 and I don't like it. First the costume - Superman T-shirt with cape, then jeans with socks and street shoes. In the same year we finally got Clark Kent in Smallville to finally put on the tights and cape in the last episode of his TV show we get Superman in T-shirt and jeans. Then in the beginning of the story he threatens to throw a wealthy business man off a building for doing what wealthy business men have always done; you know, corporate greed, lying, cheating and stealing. Next he'll be beating up ticket scalpers like Badger in my last post. I probably will buy the select issue of the new-52 from DC as I see things that spark my interest, but this is not a trend I'm happy to see. Enough rant for one day. Cheers.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
As superheroes go this has to be one of the most off-the-wall of all time. Badger is really Norbert Sykes, technically a bodyguard for J. Hamilton Thorndyke, who believes he is (or maybe really was) a Fifth Century Welsh Druid named Ham. The two of them were locked away in a mental hospital because Ham was unresponsive and Norbert beat people up a lot, but they were eventually released and Psycho-Therapist Daisy Fields joined them for their adventures in the outside world. Norbert was an abused child and a Vietnam prisoner-of-war veteran suffering from a multiple personality disorder. Woof!! His identities include Emily, a nine year old girl who's afraid of everything; Gastineau Grover dePaul, a black hootchie-kootchie man from Chicago; Leroy, Norbert's dead dog; Alice, a rarely seen poetess; Max Sewell, cultured, effete and gay; and Pierre, a psychotic Frenchman. But it is as Badger he travels the back roads of America to serve out justice to evil-doers across the country using a a bunch of martial arts that I've never heard of before. The twist is that these people are jaywalkers, ticket scalpers, lazy fast food servers and virturally anyone else who pisses him off. Badger has bounced around a number of comic houses and will probably keep showing up - he's just that off-the-wall. The figure was a repaint of an Iaolis figure from the Hercules TV series.
Monday, October 3, 2011
For a little change of pace I thought I would offer up some U.S. camouflage examples. These were the so-called long-hulled Essex class carriers. Basically what that boiled down to was that up forward there were two quad 40mm mounts instead of the single quad mount on the short-hulls, which required a slight redesign of the bow. In the top picture is what was called Measure 21 or navy blue. I think one of the first units to operate with this measure was USS Lexington, which was called the the blue ghost of the Japanese coast. Measure 21 was subsequently applied to most of the rest of the carrier force between late 1945 and 1947. The bottom picture is measure 32, which consisted of pale gray, haze gray and blue applied in a pattern, which was used between late 1944 and early 1945.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
I stumbled across this Power Rangers action figure, called Rita Repulsa, the other day and just had to buy it. I've never watched Power Rangers and I have very few of the figures in my collection, but this one sorta called out to me. Why, you may ask. Well, it conjured a number of images. First I thought of Madonna (pic on right) and her bustier tour - that was what it was called, wasn't it? Anyway, the bustier was the star of the show and it surprised me a little that a mainstream toy manufacturer was doing an action figure with them. What was scandalous a few years ago is part of the pop culture today. How we progress. It also reminded me of the soft-core adult film Flesh Gordon from back in the 1970s. One of the weapons in the film was something called power pasties. I've never seen Rita Repulsa in action but if the bustier doesn't fire something, Ala the power pasties, they are certainly missing a bet. Just a few observations from a quiet, gloomy, boring Sunday at home.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
I'm finishing up my Supreme related posts today with a character who was actually a Professor Night villain. If you remember from an earlier post (this is a test and you are being graded) Professor Night was the "Batman" of the Supreme universe and the two worked closely together. I suppose Jack-D-Dandy was suppose to be a sort of Joker-like villain, but is far too lazy and far too gentlemanly to really pull it off. He's a bored, dandified fop who likes to parade around in the fashion of an earlier century. In one adventure he teams with Darius Dax (Supreme's main villain)and they use one of Dax's machines to switch the persona's of Supreme and Professor Night. Of course they are thwarted in the end and end up with their persona's switched. I really pieced Jack together, using the body from a Batman Beyond Jokerz figure, legs from another figure and the top hat from yet a third, neither of the latter two I can recall the origins of. I had to do a lot of sculpting on the hair to catch the curls. On the right side picture are a bunch of Jackettes, followers of Jack, and I was befuddled as to how I was going to do them. Then at a show I stumbled upon a Japanese Anime figure with a top hat and figured she'd do until I can come up with a better plan. I've actually grown rather fond of her.