Wednesday, February 29, 2012

John Targitt - Man-Stalker

From the early, and very short-lived, pages of Atlas comics comes one of my early custom action figure creations. Atlas was a comics company that came along in the mid-1970's and never seemed to find an audience. Maybe because they seemed to bounce around a lot. Anyway, John Targitt was an FBI agent (aren't they man-stalkers by definition?) who's wife and daughter are killed when a passenger jet is blown up to kill a mob boss. The first issue is all about drugs and mobs and people blowing each other away and John never dons the spandex (did they have spandex in the 1970's?). He adopts the costume by issue two and by issue three he's fighting the maniacal Professor Death and his doom skulls (basically nerve gas bombs), so he's stepping outside the standard mob story lines. Just as Targitt was getting interesting Atlas closed up shop. As for the figure, I attached a Toy Biz Spider-Man head to a Daredevil body, which was already colored red. That meant that I didn't have to paint the boots, gloves or belt. I don't think I've done that since.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Gladiator Corps

I've always liked the alien races depicted in comics but I felt that Marvel maybe treated them better than some of the other comic companies. One group I always liked was the Shi'ar and their Imperial Guard. The Shi'ar were a conquering race of half human, half bird people, with flesh like the former and feathers like the latter. They had conquered many alien races over the millenia and the best and most loyal of those races had been incorporated into an Imperial Guard. The leader of this guard was Gladiator, who for a long time didn't seem to have any back story. Recently I picked up the "War of Kings" compilation graphic novel and there's a back story where its revealed how a fellow named Kallor became Gladiator. He was from the planet Strontia where he was a cadet competing for a place in the Gladiator Corps. Eventually he won the top spot (I won't spoil it for you if you'd like to pick up the book) but I liked the depictions of the other cadets and thought I would do a few of them. Sometimes the strangest things inspire me. In this case I used a couple of Ms. Marvel figures, an Iron Fist, an Alpha Flight Guardian and a black Spider-Man coupled with heads from some Star Wars figures, an Absorbing Man and a Namor to make five of the Gladiator Corps cadets. Just finished them this morning and am sharing them with you this afternoon. How timely.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Out of the Asylum - The Purple Claw

I've mentioned in some of the past posts with AC Comics and other characters about how some (make that a boat load) of the Golden Age superheroes were frozen in suspended animation or cryo freeze or some such and then revived in modern times. AC Comics has done it and so has Dynamite. With AC the catalyst was the Weir Asylum where Doctor Jonathan Weir kept the heroes in a suspended state with a mix of technology and the magic of the Purple Claw. Apparently the doctor was presented with the claw by a grateful African witch doctor (he doesn't say what the guy was so grateful about). All the heroes agreed that their services weren't really needed right after World War II so they elected to be "suspended" until such time that they were "called" back to go into action once more. You can see a few of the sleepers in their vaults in the background. As for the Jonathan Weir figure, I used the body of an Animated Batman Two-Face and the head from a Star Trek "Q" and then epoxy putty to sculpt the Purple Claw. Dr. Weir has a streak of white in the center of his hair - not sure why - but it actually looks different from streaks of white along the temples.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mystique as the Statue of Liberty

Don't know if you all remember during the first X-Men movie back in 2000 when the team in black leather (oh, yeah, that really narrows it down these days, now doesn't it?) flies to confront Magneto and his gang at the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor. As they enter the statue's base they pass a human-sized replica of the lady with the torch and as they do the eyes open and we realize that it's really Mystique (played by Rebecca Romijn back when she was still a hyphenated Stamos). Of course Mystique could change into many forms, including several of the X-Men and I have a few samples with the Mystique figure in my collection. However, until recently I did not have a Statue of Liberty replica. Well, surprise, here we are. I found a plastic model kit and it was about the right size so I painted it the copper-turned-green color and there you have it. I don't think you can see but I even painted the eyes yellow. I always thought Rebecca/Mystique was really hot and thought so even more when one of my Catholic friends made a negative remark about her in body paint. It was also interesting to reflect on all the possibilities at one's disposal with a girlfriend who could turn herself into anyone in the world. Woof.....

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The New and Improved Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have been "reinvented" a couple of times over the decades. I've presented my version of the original team and then the 1960's red and olive outfits so now it's the 1970's version - updated and modern. This time around they are more mercenaries with hearts of sort of tarnished gold (does gold actually tarnish?). On top of that they're using an aircraft manufacturing company called Cunningham Aircraft as a front with Blackhawk being Mr. Cunningham, Stanislaus as the chief financial officer, Chuck as the chief mechanic, Chopper (used to be Chop Chop, remember?), as the chief test pilot, Hendrickson as the keeper of the watch on Blackhawk Island, Andre is a man of leisure in Paris and Olaf is a ski instructor at a "European Ski Resort." When things (read jobs) come up the team assembles and off they go on their on their real job (yeah, manufacturing high priced aircraft as a side job - I can dig it). The series ran from issue #244 to #250 and it was really rather enjoyable. The uniforms were sort of steel-men meets space rangers, slashed to the waist the way they were. I used various GI Joe parts and heads to make the new team.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lady Luger

As I've said before - no, I'm sure I've said it before - sometimes a figure will fall into your lap that almost perfectly matches a character you've been wanting to make. That was the case with a Phoenix Follies-manufactured Fraulein I used for the AC Comics nasty villainess Lady Luger. Herr Hitler's right hand gal, Lady Luger comes up against the World War II incarnation of Femforce, including Miss Victory, She-Cat, the Blue Bulleteer and Rio Rita. Of course we all know that, despite her wily machinations, our team of resolute young ladies will triumph in the end. The Phoenix Follies figure came from England but was subsequently bought out by a French company and I believe they are still available. It came as a kit requiring some assembly and of course painting.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Femforce Enemy - Alizarin Crimson

I'm really not sure where Alizarin Crimson came from but I can be pretty sure of where she's going - straight to Hell!!! She is the arch enemy of Nightveil in the AC Comics universe. I'm not certain she's as powerful as Nightveil, but what she may not have in power she certainly can make up for in trickery and theft. In one story-line she steals Nightveil's cloak and imprisons her and some of the rest of Femforce before one of the other members manages to break Nightveil out of her entrancement. When that happens Nightveil turns the tide on Crimson pretty quickly. She reminds me of the sneaky kid at school who creeps around trying to steal everybody else's lunches. Doesn't leave a footprint but you know when your peanut butter and jelly is missing. I used a Toy Biz Jean Grey figure for Alizarin, removing the hair and then giving her the big bun with epoxy putty. I liked that particular Jean Grey figure because there's a certain air of barely-contained angst in the face and the posture.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Killraven and His Freemen

To celebrate my birthday - that's right, February 12, same as Abraham Lincoln's - at age 65 I thought I'd take a look back at an image from a comic book that stuck with me low these many years and a more recent tale I particularly like. I remember seeing George Pal's movie War of the Worlds as a youth and it scared the crap out of me. Then I got the Classics Illustrated version of the H.G. Wells story and the tripods on the cover scared the crap out of me. So in the early 1970's when Marvel comics began publishing Killraven in the pages of Amazing Adventures I was likewise smitten. The story of Killraven is set in the early 2000's - you know, the period we're living in right now - and the world has been taken over by Martians on their second invasion - the H.G. Wells version was really true in this tale. Killraven ends up as a gladiator participating in games for the amusement of the Martians but he escapes and joins the Freemen - a diverse band who are fighting to free the earth from the Martian overlords, generally with mixed results. The core of Killraven's little band are the group pictured. In the center is Killraven himself, made from a Streetfighter head and some GI Joe parts. On the right is his African-American "mud-brother," M'Shulla Scott and the slow-witted but fiercely loyal Old Skull, who helped Killraven escape. On the left are Camilla Frost, a feisty scientist who's usually at odds with Killraven's leadership but has a relationship going with M'Shulla (in fact they share the first known interracial kiss in comics history), and at far left is the Native American named Hawk, rather a bitter and quarrelsome fellow who you can still rely on in a fight. I confess Camilla is a figure from a line (don't remember which) which is unmodified but looked pretty good so I didn't mess with her. The rest are taken from various GI Joe figures with the parts and pieces fit together. I had to do some sculpting on M'Shulla, including the top knot on his hair. In the lower picture is the war machines from the Classics Illustrated War of the Worlds comic along with an epoxy resin version of it from a company called Lunar Models, which I don't think is around any more. At the base is a "Martian" made of metal and holding a blaster in one of its tentacles from an unknown manufacturer.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Black Diamond and Sybil Danning

Back in 1983 AC Comics produced a comic with the logo, Sybil Danning is Black Diamond. Supposedly there was a movie in the works starring Sybil by that name, creating a character from whole cloth, described as a cross between Modesty Blaise and James Bond. Inside the front cover it was said, "based on the forthcoming motion picture," but I can find no evidence that the movie was actually made or, if it was, was ever released. Maybe it will show up on DVD some day. I actually met Sybil but didn't think to ask her at the time - I know, what good am I? Anyway, the Black Diamond comic series ran for four issues and they were all pretty good. She was really Tiana Mathews, who used the glamorous world of high fashion modeling as a cover for her more covert enterprises - why couldn't I get a job like that? Highly skilled with all manner of weapons, she works to uncover the bad guys and work for the betterment of mankind - yeah, right, I've always believed that was what high fashion models were really doing. The figure was a Toy Biz Jean Grey, appropriately repainted.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

When France Becomes Norway

The title's a trick question. It refers to the cruise liner the SS France, which many people in that country viewed as the embodiment of their country, which was sold when it became unprofitable in the 1970's and became the cruise liner Norway. The France was the flagship of her line (the French Line), the longest liner in the world until the Queen Mary II was built in 2004. Although popular on the transatlantic service and winter cruises, the only way the liner could remain profitable was through subsides paid by the French government. When France decided to throw its money at the airliner Concorde instead the writing was on the wall and the beautiful France went on the auction block. She was sold to the Norwegian Cruise Lines, who wanted her for Caribbean cruises, which were much more profitable in the long term. The ship was modified with additional decks forward and two large landing-craft-like boats called tenders were fitted to davits. These could be used in ports to ferry passengers to and from the ship if she were anchored out and not be left to the vagaries of local transport. Eventually the Norway was out-competed for cruising passengers and then an explosion and fire sort of sealed her fate. She was scrapped by 2008 and you're probably shaving with her remnants this very day. Or maybe not. The model was made by GHQ and I'm really not sure why they didn't do her as the France. I've heard through the grapevine that she's their least popular model, but she really does paint up nicely and could always be employed in a 1980's NATO war scenario wargame.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Orbiting Space Station

Now and then, in the course of exercising (or is that exorcising?) the length and breadth of my imaginary realms I find I need to produce something a little exotic and out of the norm. For example, I needed a space station for some hypothetical advanced earth people. I started digging through my plastic parts boxes and found a piece here and another piece there, and I test fitted them together and before long I had come up with what I considered to be a sort of late 1950's take on what an orbiting habitat should be like. The picture on right shows the main dome of the station, with antenna of various sorts in the array cluster. The dome started out clear but I painted it white. Then you can see the long body of the station with the shield and just poking its head out the back is the nuclear reactor. Then in the left hand shot you get a better look at the reactor on the aft end, then beneath the dome section there are the thrusters to keep the station rotating, thus creating artificial gravity, and the storage containers, which would hold the supplies required by the station. I had used parts of different colors and had planned on painting it a uniform color after I was done. After I finished putting it together and mounting it on the base I had second thoughts and decided why be bland. The colors went together fairly well and made it rather distinctive. So there you have it! My take on an orbiting space station circa someone's early space adventure.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Harry Diamond - Resident PI

Most of the comic book companies have their resident newspaper reports and editors and also their resident private detectives. AC Comics is no exception. Harry Diamond is the resident private dick at AC. In Captain Paragon #1, December 1983, the good captain hires him for a particularly onerous task - to find out who Captain Paragon really is since he was in suspended animation for 30 years. That's just one time Harry shows up in the pages of Femforce and its companion comics. He's the honest, forthright, tough-as-nails PI we've mostly all come to admire over the years, although I thought in real life they all chased around trying to get incriminating pictures of spouses in the act of cheating. Guess Harry gets the better cases. For the figure I coupled a Toy Biz Peter Parker body with the head from a Fantastic Four Reed Richards. Quick and simple - I'm sure Harry would have approved.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Little Paint Makes all the Difference

Sometimes I can't resist the urge to muck around with action figures. I had gotten a couple of Marvel's Absorbing Man figures out of a two-pack with someone else - can't remember who off hand, then they came out with a single pack. I liked the picture on the back that showed him rather metallic looking (for those not familiar with the character, Carl "Crusher" Creel was given the power by Loki the evil Norse God to take on the properties of anything he touched) but the actual figure was flesh colored. I decided to take care of business myself and repainted one of my extras metallic, which came out looking really good I thought. Sometimes you just can't leave well enough alone. Might do another one if the fancy strikes me.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Black Commando

In the AC Universe Dan Barton, the Black Commando, was a U.S. operative during World War II. He was linked to both Laura Wright (who later became the Blue Bulleteer and later Nightveil), and Joan Wayne, the WWII version of Miss Victory. During a mission the Commando elected to take some of the V-45 formula that was suppose to give people super strength. Well, that part of the formula worked, but within two weeks it also drove the Commando half mad and incredibly paranoid. So much so that he had to be placed in cryogenic suspension (I wonder if they even knew the word cryogenic back then) and spent the next 40 years in the deep freeze. Laura took on the Blue Bulleteer identity as a tribute to Barton, whom she believed to have died in the "line of duty" and later she became Nightveil. Thinking about Barton one day the supremely powerful magic user managed to thaw him out without knowing it. Still super strong and now pretty upset, the Black Commando went on e hunt to find and seek revenge against all the people who were responsible for turning him into a pop sickle. The figure I used was a Toy Biz Daredevil with the head from a Captain America. I placed a holster on his right hip from a Jurassic Park Muldoon and a knife on his left hip, but I don't remember from what figure. He seemed to carry a mix of equipment and I liked fitting him with a knife.