Friday, February 15, 2013

Winsome Wasp

PICTURE STILL WON'T LOAD - I'LL KEEP TRYING What can one say about the Wasp? She certainly has a fine sense of fashion, and eventually established a successful career as a designer. That after already inheriting a fortune from her deceased father. Janet Van Dyne had met Henry Pym through her father, little knowing that he was secretly the Ant-Man. When her father was killed Janet expressed her interest in crime fighting and Pym took her into his confidence and gave her the powers of a wasp, including the wings, and the ability to shrink to very small proportions. She had a wasp's sting that she could use as a weapon and certain sensory abilities. Jan, as she was known, was always the more outgoing of the Pym/van Dyne pair while Hank was a bit of a scientific nerd. However, they eventually married and Jan continued her career as the Wasp through Hank's various identity changes to Giant-Man, then Goliath and then Yellow Jacket. Finally he gave up the superheroing business although he has continued to work alongside them. Ant-Man and Wasp were founding members of the Avengers and Jan has even been a very successful chairwoman of the group. One thing she has been noted for over the years are her various costumes. She hardly seems to wear the same one twice. Through a variety of means I have tried to capture some of that variety in my collection, as displayed here. On the left are two of her original costumes, one a Heroclix. Next along the bottom is a version I did from a metal figure, cuting clear plastic wings from a blister pack. Next is also an early version flying at you that I mounted on a bse and then two more Heroclix versions. On the far right is Ant-Man riding a giant ant with Wasp alongside. Far right behind is an Eaglemoss Wasp metal figure from England. Next left is a conversion I did using a "Happy Meal" Catwoman figure and finally on the far left is an Invisible Woman figure I converted. These are all costumes that Jan has used at one time or another.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Akron and the Macon and a B-24

In my last post I mentioned I had two of these airship models (Akron and Macon) but I had painted one in enamel and it wouldn't set up properly and was still tacky. I finally bit the bullet, donned my latex gloves like a doctor about to remove a hernia, laid out my Q-tips and a bottle of paint thinner and methodically stripped off the offending silver enamel paint. Then I rinsed off the excess thinner with the dish sprayer in the sink and after it dried out repainted the model with acrylic. I am displaying the two of them here together, a sight no one would have ever seen because by the time the Macon was commissioned the Akron had already been lost. While I was about it I set alongside them a B-24/Liberator bomber of World War II fame as a comparison of size. The B-24 actually took on some of the reconnaissance chores the airships were designed to accomplish. It's a good illustration of just how big these thin-skinned monsters really were.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Airship Akron

Shapeways has come out with a model of the Akron and her sistership Macon, two dirigible airships built in this country by a German team from the Zeppelin works in that country. Akron became operational in September 1931 while the Macon first flew in April 1933. The airships were kept aloft by 12 helium filled gas cells and were powered by eight 12-cylinder gasoline engines, giving them a range of over 10,000 miles. The United States had much larger quantities of helium than most of the other countries of the world. Helium was not flamable like hydrogen, which fueled the spectacularly ill-fated Hindenburg disaster. Akron and Macon were really designed as airborne aircraft carriers and came equipped with small fighters, the F9C/Sparrowhawk biplane. There was a trapeze arrangement that lowered the planes for launch and they would hook on and be lifted aboard upon their return. Unfortunately the Akron and Macon were also ill-fated. Akron ran into an intense storm front off New Jersey and was lost at sea, only three of its 76 man crew were rescued and a navy blimp sent out to search for survivors also crashed with the loss of two men. Macon was also lost in February 1935, again in a storm, although this time only two of the 76 man crew were lost. You may be thinking that the reaon I only have one model displayed is because the Akron was lost before the Macon commissioned so there was only one active at a time. Actually I have two models, but I tried painting one of them with enamel and it wouldn't dry on the plastic so I painted this one with acrylic and am stripping the other one with thinner to be painted later. When will I ever learn not to paint plastics with acrylic??? Inquiring minds would love to know!!

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Some superheroes/heroines are stranger than others and Destiny fits that bill. She's not a great hand-to-hand combatant and she's even blind, but she can see the future, which is her mutant gift. A citizen of the UK, she started out in the second Brotherhood of Evil Mutants but after being apprehended switched sides to a U.S. government run group called Freedom Force, which was led by Mystique. She seems to have had an abbreviated career, being gunned down by the Reavers, a bad guy group with whom Freedom Force had come into conflict. Not much of a resume, but I guess you don't need much when you're dead. I did rather like the look of Destiny and used a Spider-Woman figure as the base. I had to Dreml off the hair and then sculpt the helmet or whatever it is using epoxy putty. Then it was just a paint job and a cape made from T-shirt material.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hybrid Carriers

There seems to be a strange fascination with the subject of hybrid aircraft carriers. Usually these are either mixed carrier and battleship or carrier and cruiser designs. There have been real and imagined designs over time and I thought I'd present a few here. In the picture, starting from the bottom (these are all 1:2400 scale, that's one inch equals 200 feet) is the Shapeways model of Providence, a carrier/light cruiser hybrid based on a 1935 Board of Construction & Repair scheme No. 39 featured in Norman Friedman's U.S. Cruisers book, page 171. Next forward is one of my own conversions using a Baltimore heavy cruiser hull and forward two eight inch gun turrets with the cut down flight from a Casablanca CVE, which I call the Cambridge. Next up is another Shapeways model of a hybrid featured in Hector Bywater's novel "The Great Pacific War," the Alaska class with two eight inch guns forward. Then we have an offering from Panzerschiffe, who makes epoxy resin models, of a hybrid they call the Stoney Point, which looks to be mounting six inch guns. Then we have another creation from me, which I call the Lakehurst, using a Brooklyn light cruiser hull and another cut down Casablanca. Finally we have the big guy, which is one of my scratch builds from bass wood of a Gibbs & Cox design for a hybrid battleship for Russia, called Design "B" of 71,850 tons and mounting twelve 16" guns. I actually have incorporated it into my U.S. fleet with the understanding that it was building in 1941 when we got involved in the war and we took it over from Russia. These are all interesting designs, and as you can see, they interest a lot of people. However, they were never very practical. As Friedman comments in an article in Naval Institute Proceedings for April 1979, "...they were lousy carriers and not too good as anything else." They were still a lot of fun.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Superman/Batman and Lex the Joker

I just finished these and since I haven't posted for a few days I decided to present them both at once. This is from a DC Elseworlds story where Kal-El lands on earth and is adopted by the kindly - wait for it - Wayne family, Thomas and Martha and of course the ever useful Alfred. When the Waynes are killed by the bad guy after the movie instead of Bruce just going into shock he fries the bad guy with heat vision and then forgets the whole incident. Later a similar incident brings it all back and Bruce discovers his Kryptonian heritage. He starts cleaning up Gotham City but keeps bumping up against Lex Luthor, who experienced an accident at his chemical plant. Bruce buys a newspaper (Gotham Gazette) and hires Perry White and Lois Lane. Lex Luthor shows up and reveals himself to be a little discolored and even more psychotic. He helos off with Lois but Batman catches up with him and almost kills him but he takes a cue from Lois and relents. And in the end assumes a "Superman" identity and lightens things up. I used a 4" Batman figure for Batman, with the head from an armored Batman figure and the legs from a Captain Marvel. Lex was made using the head from a Toy Biz Lex Luthor figure and the body of a Dukes of Hazard Boss Hogg. Love those Elseworlds.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Space Ranger

As promised (sort of) I decided to feature Space Ranger the action figure since I already featured his spaceship in a previous post. I remember the character from my youth, although I maybe only ever have seen a couple of his comics back then. He was a DC character featured in Tales of the Unexpected and Mystery in Space back in the late 1950's and 1960's. He was one among several superheroes-among-the-stars characters like Adam Strange and Tommy Tomorrow featured during the period. In reality he was Rick Star (secret identity) working for his father, who owned Allied Solar Enterprises (giving him lots of loot to buy fancy gadgets with). Rick had a secretary Myra Mason (sexy girl in short skirts who's always getting herself in trouble) and a little alien side-kick named Cryll who could assume the appearance of any creature he knew about. Space Ranger did have a bag of tricks, in addition to the spaceship, and several different types of weapons with which to subdue the baddies, including four-armed and big-headed aliens of various stripes. I've made an effort in recent years to pick up a number of his comics and have enjoyed them. I may even create more characters from his universe. As for the Space Ranger figure, I used a Mattel Secret Wars Baron Zemo figure with Kang legs and the head from an X-Men Kane figure and some holsters from GI Joe figures. My biggest problem was the transparent helmet he wears. I eventually used clear epoxy and sort of formed it in the right shape before it dried to get the effect, but I'm still not happy with it. Still looking for a clear plastic piece that might work.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Space Ranger Spaceship

I like to have accessories to go with my action figures. You know, things like cars, airplanes, power boats and - oh yes - spaceships. I had done a figure of the DC character from the late 1950's/early 1960's named Space Ranger and had wanted a spaceship to go with him. I liked the attached design, a sort of aerodynamic spaceship with wings, but hadn't found a similar ship anywhere until recently. Again I found it on Shapeways and painted it similarly to the Space Ranger version. Now, the question is, have I ever posted the Space Ranger figure? I don't think so. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Zeppelin Tales

It's nice to know that I can still learn about things that I already thought I knew about. You see, I always thought Zeppelins were painted silvery, which was what some of the famous ones like Hindenburg and the Akron and Macon were. So when Shapeways (I've posted about them previously) offered a German World War I Zeppelin called L48 in 1:2400 scale I thought it would be great to have one - or maybe a few. So I ordered it and then I did a little research and turns out the WWI Zeppelins were not painted silver. Early war versions were more often than not a canvas color, sometimes with camouflage schemes, but the late war versions were typically painted black on the bottoms. Apparently the black didn't show up very well in searchlights, which is why nightfighters of WWII were also painted black. L48 and some of its sisters were black with a blue or gray section on top. So when I got my L48 I painted it accordingly. Actually I think it's a lot better than silver. I may try some of the other versions later.... Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Uli Algor

Uli Algor?? You're probably scratching your head and wondering who the heck is Uli Algor?? Well, she's a crook who hasn't been born yet. She's a crook in the 30th Century who was imprisoned but the jailers thought their advanced rehabilitation methods had reformed her. Well, it's nice to know they aren't any better at that then they are now. Uli has a grudge against the Legion and sets up a series of confrontations with them and knocks them all out until, of course, she presses her luck and they defeat her. Once again, the criminals never learn, just like the jailers never do. Uli had a belt which could make the Legionaire's powers backfire and go awry. I rather liked the look of her and I just happened to have a Black Widow head, which I thought would fit quite nicely on a spare Psylocke body. It was actually a fairly complicated paint job but I'm pleased with the end result. I'm really not sure if Uli ever made another appearance but I liked the look of her even if she was a one-shot villainess.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Disguised Legionaires

The picture is from Superboy starring the Legion of Superheroes No. 203 from July-August 1974 and shows four costumed figures with numbers on their chests, three male and one female, breaking into the headquarters of the Legion. As it turns out they are actually members of the Legion testing the defenses of their headquarters. It is revealed that they are, by the numbers: I is Karate Kid, II is Element Lad, III is Phantom Girl and IV is Lightning Lad. When I was making them I used Secret Wars figures for the males, with Spiderman for I, Wolverine with a Captain America head for II, and Daredevil for IV while I used a Happy Meal Catwoman for III. I painted their chests white, traced out the number and painted the rest of them black. This was the only comic I'm aware of that they appeared this way. I like those one-off opportunities.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Karate Kid

Val Armorr was born to a super-villain called the Black Dragon, but ended up being raised by someone called Sensei, who defeated his dad. Val was trained in every martial art known to man - or to Sensei at any rate - and mastered them all. By the time he was a teenager he decided to apply his fighting skills for good and applied to the Legion of Superheroes for membership as the Karate Kid. Despite the fact that he really didn't have any super powers he was accepted at the same time the girl who called herself Projectra also joined. They developed a relationship but she was royalty from the Planet Orando and her dad the king didn't think too much of her prospective suitor. Karate Kid went on a quest to prove himself, even spending some time in the 20th Century. When the king died and Projectra became queen they were married and left the Legion to rule Orando. The Legion of Super Villains moved in to take over the planet but were defeated by the Hero Legion. In the battle Karate Kid sacrificed his life and Projectra was left a widow. I used a Marvel Secret Wars Captain America for the body and a head from a sports figure (I think). I used plastic sheet for the collar and some T-shirt material for the belt.