Friday, August 31, 2012

Skull Gang

Talk about your Villains Obscura - this was one of several gangs that showed up in Metropolis to harass our heroic Superman Family, like Intergang and the 100. Lois Lane tracks someone she suspects may be their leader to a disco - this was in the 1970's after all - where she finds this crew, all dressed alike. But they turn the tables on her and she ends up part of their mind-control experiments, sent to murder Clark Kent of all people. He manages, switching quickly back and forth from Clark to Superman, to break her out of the trance so she doesn't have to blast away fruitlessly at him with the gun Skull provided. Now wasn't that nice? Why do these gangs even go to Metropolis? Would you set up a criminal combine in a town patrolled by the Man of Steel? I think not!!! Anyway, I used the Toy Biz X-Man figure of Cyclops, which I seemed to have a ton of, to make the Skull Gang. A little Dremeling to remove some unwanted details, a bit a paint and there you have it - the Skull Gang. I actually have one more member to feature from this crew.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I've run a couple of posts about Bizarro, DC Comics faulty duplicate of Superman and Superboy, so I thought it was about time to present the Bizarre one himself. Bizarro originally appeared as a duplicate of Superboy in 1958, which is where I first saw him. He was destroyed at the end of that story, which presented him as a super version of the Frankenstein Monster. Soon after the adult version appeared with the fractured language and the "wrong is right, back is front" sort of outlook on life. Bizarro was one of those villains who really wasn't so much villainous as he was super-powered and blundering. When he takes Bizarro Lois Lane off to find a place for themselves he creates the square Bizarro World and then starts making Bizarro duplicates of Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, Batman and the Justice League, etc, etc. I always rather enjoyed the stories so I had to try to make the character. On the right is the teenage version, for which I used a CHIPS Jimmy Squeaks figure (same as I used for the juvenile Superboy) with the head from a PVC X-Man Colossus. The adult Bizarro on left was made from a Toy Biz Superman with a Colossus head, a backward "S" symbol on the chest and a placard saying Bizarro #1 hung around the neck.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bizarro World

A couple of posts ago I featured the character Hero, who, despite appearances, was a Bizarro version of the Flash from Bizarro World. I always liked the idea of a square planet, however improbable that might be. But I guess when it comes to a world of super-powered Bizarros anything goes. During the Silver Age of comics there were a number of Bizarro stories and they were rather fun. I decided what I needed in my collection was a Bizarro World so I created one. I used a Star Trek Borg Cube, covered its sides with green putty, put it on a base and did a little sanding and then painted. In retrospect I thought I might have incorporated some topography and such, but that's a conversion for another day.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Marauder and Wild Huntsman - a Twofer

I was going to continue with my villains stream of posts with the Marauder today, but I sort of wanted to show what the original figure looked like so I'm doubling up. On the right is a Superior models figure of Odin, king of the Norse gods. I thought he would make a good version of the Global Guardians character Wild Huntsman so I painted him accordingly. The Wild Huntsman was really Albrecht von Mannheim of West Germany who battled evil with his magical sword, shield, ax and helmet. He rides a flying black horse named Orkan (Hurricane) and has a powerful black hound named Donnerschlag (Thunderclap). Then I thought the Odin figure could be modified to make the DC Comics villain Marauder. I discovered him in Action Comics No. 417, October 1972, where he teams with Brainiac, Luthor and another alien villain to battle Superman. I removed most of his costume details, which took a lot of Dremeling, leaving the wrist-bands and his belt buckle along with the helmet. I removed the horns from the helm and replaced them with epoxy putty for the helmet ornaments. All in all I was pretty pleased with the outcome.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Two-Face Minions

Every good villain deserves to have a whole gang of minions to carry out his or her every larcenous whim. When I saw the movie Batman Forever, starring Val Kilmer, I noticed that Two-Face had a gang of goons, who were sort of leathered out and wearing masks with alternating red and black sides. I rather liked the looks of them and thought they were appropriate as Two-Face's goons. So I went ahead and knocked out a few of them. The figures I used were, starting top row left to right, Wolverine with alternate arms, Clark Kent and Toy Biz's Bob (the Joker's goon), and bottom row left to right, Bane and Jack Tenrec from Cadillacs and Dinosaurs. The heads were from Toy Biz Daredevil figures for the most part, although Bane kept his own head. These were minor modifications and moderate painting but gave me a bunch of goons for Two-Face without too much trouble. Always gotta have those minions - they're sort of like the guys with the red shirts in the original Star Trek series.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Hero - Not So Much

OK, so this alien rocket lands on earth and inside is this guy in a yellow suit. Lois Lane is immediately fascinated and when a team of scientists can't awaken him she bends down to kiss him and he wakes up. Calling himself Hero he he starts doing heroic deeds - well, sort of. He has some superpowers, like superspeed, and he can make it so things, like projectiles, pass through him. Lois is smitten - well, sort of. Because he acts rather strangely. When he takes her on a mission he grabs her by her hair. Rather than save a burning ship he sinks it. You know, stuff like that. In the end it turns out that Hero is an imperfect duplicate of the Flash. That's right, he's from the Bizarro world, where they do everything backward. Bizarro No. 1 was trying to create a Justice League (or Injustice League) and trained the ray on Flash. But sometimes the ray doesn't work right at first. At the end of the story Hero turns into a Bizarro and happily returns to Bizarro World - I have one of those by the way. Anyway, the Composite Superman I featured yesterday was one of my more complex conversion projects so today I wanted to feature one of my easier jobs. With a few minor touches I basically repainted a Toy Biz Flash figure yellow and, voila, we have Hero.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Composite Superman

Joe Meach was not a happy fellow. His life was saved by Superman, who then got him a job at the Superman Museum, but he soon began to resent being condemned to a life of sweeping floors by the Man of Steel - maybe a few courses in a trade school could have solved that for him. Anyway, one night while Joe is looking at a group of statues of the Legion of Superheroes a lightning bolt comes in through the open window and irradiates the statues. Joe is exposed to the irradiation, which apparently contains a bit of the powers of the Legion within it, and is given the powers of the entire Legion. Using Chameleon Boy's shape changing powers he creates the persona of the Composite Superman, half Superman and half Batman, who he also apparently resents although I'm not sure why. Joe battles the World's Finest team to a standstill, even learning their secret identities, when suddenly the charge of powers he got wears off and he's just plain old Joe the mop pusher again, with no knowledge of... well... the knowledge he had as the Composite guy. Later he gets exposed to the radiation again thanks to a not-so-friendly alien, but ends up giving his life to protect Superman and Batman - ah, redemption in the DC Universe. Anyway, I liked the look of the character but I was having trouble figuring out how to meld the Superman and Batman costumes together. Siegel and Shuster and Bob Kane should have better coordinated when they created them in the first damn place! I finally decided on two Superpowers Collection figures, taking the right arm and right leg off a Superman figure and putting them on a Batman, along with Superman's head. I then sculpted Batman's cowl from epoxy putty and reshaped the right side of Batman's belt to more resemble Superman's - not a particularly easy task. Painting the emblem on his chest was also a bit of a challenge. I also had to sew together red and blue T-shirt material to make the cape. All in all this was one of the more challenging figures I've done over time.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Commander Middle East Force, or COMIDEASTFOR in the vernacular, was a rather unusual command. Established following World War II it was more diplomatic mission than warfighting entity, designed to fly the flag and represent the United States in the Indian Ocean, based out of Bahrain. Normally there would be one naval auxiliary/amphibious unit permanently assigned as flagship and a couple of destroyers on loan from the Atlantic Fleet for about six months at a time. In the late 1960's the flagship was normally a Barnegat seaplane tender, like the Valcour, pictured lower right. It had enhanced communications and air conditioning, reduced armament and was painted white against the blistering sun of an Indian Ocean summer. Since no company has yet produced a model of the Barnegat class I scratch built one a number of years ago out of wood and spare parts. In the late 1960's the navy realized that these ex-seaplane tenders were getting long in the tooth and decided to replace them. A number of different ships were considered to fill the void. One was the Terror class minelayer (CM-5) (next forward and left in line), which I converted from a Seabattle model. I removed the after gun mounts and put some boats and a couple of landing craft back aft, leaving room for a utility helicopter. I always rather liked the Terror design, which was similar to destroyer and submarine tenders of the period but smaller and armed like a destroyer. I would only hope that had they used Terror in this diplomatic role they would have changed her name. Also considered was the much larger seaplane tender Curtiss (AV-4), which would have had plenty of room for the staff on board, a hanger in the stern and with the removal of a crane (in my conversion), plenty of room for a helicopter to land aft. I made this conversion from a GHQ model. Also considered was the heavy cruiser Salem (CA-139), which had recently been decommissioned. Again, it would have had plenty of room for the staff, enhanced communications and probably could have landed a helo, but bristling with guns it might have sent the wrong message to governments of the area. However, this Seabattle model really looks good painted white. Finally selected was the Raleigh class former LPD La Salle (AGF-3), which ended up serving in the role for a couple of decades. Again this was a Seabattle model. So this is my selection of COMIDEASTFOR flagships, real and projected - the great white ghosts of the Arabian coast.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Kelly Jean

I hadn't run a "celebrity" post for a while and thought I would put this one up. The girl in the picture is Kelly Jean, a model I met at the Motor City Comic Con. Kelly had a table set up at the entrance to the celebrity area at the show and she had some pictures for sale and a couple of other girls that were with her. She was very pleasant and I bought an autographed picture and had one taken with her. She talked about photo sessions but I really didn't pay too much attention and took one of her cards. I was tired, having driven ten hours to get there, and wanted to get a few autographs and check out some action figures, then get to the hotel and rest. I figured I could check it out a little more the following day, but when I went to the show on Saturday there was no sign of Kelly Jean and her friends. When I got home and was going through my pictures from the show I found her card and looked up her website. Turns out it looked like Kelly Jean was more like an escort than just a model. I suspect the reason she wasn't back on Saturday is because the show people figured that out too. Never know what you'll find at a show. But she was cute.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cat-Man - Killer

Last post I featured Cat-Man from the 1960's, but by the 1990's there was a much harder edge to the character. In Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight No. 46, June 1993 he's become a cold-blooded killer and thief. He implicates both the Batman and Catwoman in his crimes, which only serves to get both of them on his trail. This guy is a burglar but that's only icing on the cake. His real pleasure is the kill and it's clear he has an agenda to his murders. And people wonder why I like the Golden Age better!! This guy could be the poster boy for Psycho-Babble Incorporated. He even goes after a Bikini-clad weather girl from a TV station. Now I ask you - who wouldn't like a bikini-clad weather girl? Well, what guy anyway? He was so grim I decided to do a figure of this Cat-Man. I used a Spider-Man figure and crafted the ears from epoxy putty. The claws were a GI Joe accessory I do believe. Anyway, if you like 'em dark this is the guy for you.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


DC's version of Cat-Man has a rather interesting history. There was a Catman in the Golden Age published by Holyoke who, teamed with his sidekick Kitten (one of the few females in that role during the period), actually had a fairly long-lasting career for the Golden Age. Then the Blackhawks had a Catman villain who predated the first appearance of the Batman villain - I've featured both of these earlier versions in previous posts, check 'em out! Then the Batman villain featured here appeared in Detective Comics #311, January 1963, at the end of which story he apparently drowns. Then he reappears in Detective Comics #318, at the end of which he seemingly dies in a boating accident - didn't he get it that cats don't like water? Then he reappears in issue #325 - well, you're getting the idea. His costume morphed a little over time and when it finally came to doing an action figure of the character I decided on the version you see here, which is a bit of an amalgam. I used the body and legs from a Toy Biz Daredevil figure and the arms and head from a Toy Biz Batman. The cloth cape is cut from T-shirt material. Next post I'll feature another Cat-Man from DC.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sunset Gang

The Sunset Gang made their initial appearance in the pages of Batman Family No. 12, July-August 1977 in a Man-Bat story. They are robbing a museum when Man-Bat intervenes. There's three guys and a girl, but the girl is packing heat in the form of a tricked out flashlight - I have one of those. As Man-Bat is attacking them he's bitten by a Jaguar that has gotten loose from the zoo. When the girl flashes her flashlight on him Man-Bat turns into a Were-Jaguar. See, the flashlight is actually radiating concentrated moonlight (remember I am not making this up). Man-Bat/Werejag ends up being chased around the park by well-meaning police who insist on shooting at him. However, when the sun comes out he reverts to his old self. With the rainbow across their costumes I don't know why these guys didn't name themselves the Rainbow Gang - sounds just as threatening as the Sunset Gang. Anyway, I liked the look of them and decided to do action figures. I used a Kenner Batman & Robin Batgirl figure for the girl, a Robin figure from the same movie with a Toy Biz Daredevil head for one of the guys and a Toy Biz Flash and a Superpowers Collection Flash for the other two guys. Most of the work here was Dremeling the details off their costumes and then painting.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Velvel Tiger

Lani Gilbert and her brother Ward owned a computer manufacturing company called Gilcom, based in Gotham City. Turns out that Lani moonlighted as an extortionist and blackmailer who assumed the persona of the Velvet Tiger. After she came into contact with Batgirl and Hawk and Dove it was revealed that Lani had a special, unexplained ability to step between seconds into something she called a "temporal pocket," which she can move in and out of at will, appearing to have super speed and other powers. While this gives her a lot of capability to confound and gather information for her crimes, it exhausts her physically and apparently also ages her. In reality Lani is ten years old but has reached the physical maturity of a person in their twenties - I think I've met a couple of women like that - just kidding. I used a Toy Biz Jean Grey body and the head from a Black Cat to make Velvet. I used cotton balls to form the costume accessories.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Midnight Ladies

OK, this one's just for fun. As far as I know the Midnight Ladies only ever appeared in a DC Comics ad for Hostess Cupcakes where Batman and Robin trap them with cupcakes instead of loot. Sort of an example of catching four cupcakes with cupcakes. It probably wouldn't be considered PC today but what the heck, I've always enjoyed sweet food references to women - better than some of the alternatives. I don't think the ladies would have maintained their svelte figures by chowing down on a lot of cupcakes. The ladies were all made from Happy Meal-like Catwoman figures, which required minimal modification.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Time Commander

John Starr was a scientist in Gotham City and when his boss disappeared he turned to crime. Captured by the police (yeah, the Gotham police do sometimes apprehend someone without the aid of Batman) and sent to jail he had an opportunity to work in a laboratory at the "escape-proof" prison. Somehow he harnesses the speed of light and creates a time machine shaped like an hour glass (remember folks, I don't make this stuff up) and takes himself back in time to before the prison was built so he can just walk away. (What a great idea - boy are there some events in my life I'd love to go back in time and try another way - maybe several times). He discovers the secret identities of Batman and Green Lantern by peering through time and then imprisons Batman and assumes his identity. He tricks GL into sharing some of that emerald power to enhance his own device and traps GL and Batman in time. They escape by shattering his time device and back to prison he goes. He escapes again, but then don't most of them, but gets himself defeated once more. Maybe he appeared more times but I'm not sure. Anyway, when I was making the figure the big challenge was to create the hour-glass device. I used a couple of wooden pieces shaped like hand-held school bells and glued them together. I put the screw eye of a chain in one end and glued the chain around the figure's waist. The little side strips were made from card stock. The figure was made using a Toy Biz Daredevil body and arms and Silver Surfer head and legs while the cape was cut from T-shirt material. I actually had to do a bit of sewing to shape the hood - and I am no seamstress.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Black Spider

The original Black Spider was from a period in DC Comics history when the company was obviously trying to be more sensitive to what was happening in society. Featured in Detective Comics No's 463 and 464 in September and October 1976, the Black Spider is a masked vigilante who is killing drug dealers. While Batman doesn't like the drug dealers either, he's much more comfortable bringing them in so the law can dispose of them and does not approve of the harder edged new guy in town. Turns out Black Spider was a black man who had been a junkie and while in search of money to feed his habit he shot and killed a store clerk who turned out to be his own father. That was when he cleaned up his act, and swore a vendetta against the drug dealers of Gotham. During the story Batman even consults with a street walker named Maria, who reminded me of a cigarette smoking Lana Lang - now how sensitive is that?! Anyway, there's the final confrontation between Batman and Black Spider at the end with the latter falling off a train he was about to bomb and dying (by himself) in the explosion. I believe the Black Spider persona has been used a few more times by DC Comics for various characters, especially in the various cartoon series. I used a Toy Biz Spider-Man figure (what else would I use??), which I repainted to represent Black Spider.

Monday, August 13, 2012


As promised I'm offering some DC Comics villains - some of the more obscure ones to be sure. Everybody has a Joker figure or a Riddler, but how many have a Quakemaster in their collections??? I do!!! Anyway, he was one I did rather early on in my customizing career because I didn't figure DC Direct was going to make a figure of him. Quakemaster started life as architect Robert Coleman who sort of had to find another line of work when one of his apartment buildings fell down in a hurricane. Bitter, he adopted the guise of the Quakemaster (no, I don't know why he didn't use an identity based on a hurricane) and created a machine that would generate earthquakes. Unfortunately the only buildings it brought down were some of his. Batman captured him and he did some jail time over the years, popping up from time to time like a bad penny - or the occasional earthquake. I know this was one of my early efforts because I actually used enamel paint for the green, yellow and white parts. Enamel tends to remain sticky and tacky on many plastics so I always use and recommend acrylics. I used a Toy Biz Silver Surfer body and the head from a Daredevil for Quakemaster.

Friday, August 10, 2012


I decided that for the next few posts at least I'd concentrate on some villains and what better one to start with than a really obscure Batman villain who was a real pain in the butt to paint. Spellbinder showed up in Detective Comics #358 and ran into Batman on his very first crime. However, he was prepared, using optical devices to hypnotize the caped crusader and convince him that something else altogether was going on. Of course this trick only worked a couple of times before Batman became wise to the gambit and cast his own spell on the Spellbinder. This was one of my earlier conversions and as such I had not yet discovered the joys of paint pens with hard, fine tips. Thus all of the swirls and lines and outlining was done with a brush!! Trust me, it was a lot of very fine work. Almost made me dizzy - or maybe I should say dizzier than I already am. I used a Toy Biz Silver Surfer body and the head from a Daredevil figure for Spellbinder.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

J'oan J'onzz

I chose this particular character for two reasons today. First to celebrate the successful landing of a new rover on the planet Mars-may it have a long and successful mission. Secondly, to demonstrate that sometimes you have a minimal amount of data with which to do a custom figure. The figure I chose is from the graphic novel series Kingdom Come, where in the character annotations she is described as J'oan J'onzz, clone of J'onn J'onzz's late daughter (he was the original Martian Manhunter). Frankly I didn't even know he had a daughter, but what the heck. There were very few representations of her in the graphic novel and I think I have most if not all of them in a collage next to the picture. She basically wore the same costume (and presumably had the same powers) as the original Manhunter from Mars, if you really want to dignify a couple of straps, a cape, shorts and boots as a costume. Anyway, they look a whole lot hotter on her than they did on him! I used a Toy Biz Dagger figure for the body and a Star Trek Ilia probe head. I used Skulpy for the tops of the boots and a small plastic disk for the belt buckle. The cape was crafted from my usual T-shirt material. Anyone want to take odds that the new rover will find hot, green-skinned chicks on the red planet? I didn't think so. Did I ever mention my particular fondness for bald women? No? Probably a discussion best left for another day.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Superman Robots circa 1999

OK, sometimes I go a little overboard. When I saw the cover of Superman No. 143, April 1999 I went, Wow, that's pretty neat! I decided I had to have a bunch of those robots with the red eyes and grim visage. So I took a bunch of JLA Superman figures, one JLA Martian Manhunter figure and a bunch of the X-Men Colossus figures for the heads and made 21 of them!!! Is that overboard?? Probably so. As Stan Lee would say, 'nuf said!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Superman Robots

In my last post I featured Powerman, a disguised robot Superman used on a case. Superman actually used a lot of robots over the years, from the time he was Superboy, into adult-hood. Then at some point there was a story line that made all the robots have some problem or other - we didn't call them viruses back then - and he stopped using them for a long time. They did make a comeback later but maybe more on that later. So he had Clark Kent robots and regular Superman robots, which he seemed to produce in large numbers. Sometimes - depending on the story details - they were smarter than at other times. Of course the easy thing would be to just have a few extra Superman figures to portray the robots, but you know I couldn't just leave it at that. So I took a Toy Biz Superman and cut an opening in his chest. Then I cut out his back and pulled out a radio-like device from my parts box, painted it silver and put a red crystal in it, then glued it in his chest. I glued the door on the front and replaced the back, which was covered by the cape. Later I took a Superpowers Collection Superman, took his head off and hollowed out the neck and stuffed some wires in the cavity to make it look like his head was undergoing maintenance. So I've got a couple of Superman robots now.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


This is another project that is based on something I remembered from my childhood. From World's Finest No. 94, May-June 1958, the basic story is a vehicle for telling the story of Superman and Batman's first case together. It starts off with Luthor on the loose again. Batman and Robin travel to Metropolis to offer their help in case Luthor pulls a hunk of Kryptonite from his back pocket, but Superman has himself a new partner--Powerman--a masked hero who seems to have great strength but can't fly. By the end of the story it is revealed that Superman was afraid of risking the lives of Batman and Robin in a battle with Luthor so he adapted one of his robots as Powerman. I really liked the look of the character and so did Mark Waid and Alex Ross who used him in their limited series "Kingdom Come." This was one of my early sculpting efforts and I'm forced to pick holes in it. I used epoxy putty over the head to make the hood, but didn't shape it very well and didn't put the ear pieces on it. Then I was not as good at painting circles so his chest emblem is skewed. I may actually go back and redo this one at some time. I made him from a Superpowers Collection Superman figure and used the cape off a Dr. Fate.