Sunday, January 25, 2009

Clone Wars!!!

These are a few older ones, made just under two years ago now. I'm resurrecting them here because they're some of my favourite Star Wars customs. I created these as sort of an alternate version of the Clone Wars, something perhaps more in line with how I imagined them before the Prequels came along, but incorporating certain elements from what the final story ended up being (hence the inclusion of Plo Koon and Grievous). First off, I imagined Kenobi as being older. I also imagined the Jedi wearing battle armour (which was certainly used by the Tartakovsky cartoons, and now in the current CGI series). My armour is older and rougher looking, and I liked the idea of each set of armour being unique to each Jedi, almost like they have to craft and forge it themselves (as they do with their lightsabers)...sort of a Medieval rite of passage. Anakin was a character that I imagined as being akin to T.E. Lawrence...a brave and noble figure, romanticized as a Jedi hero but succumbing to his darker urges and bloodlust in battle. The Mandalorian Warrior...well, let's just say that before the Prequels, I imagined armies of these guys being involved in the Clone Wars, but perhaps not quite in the way that was depicted in Episode II. Plo Koon I included because I love his design, and I thought his head woud provide a great sculpting challenge...and he'd be a lot more interesting of a character to make as opposed to another human Jedi. I aim to add to these soon...I want to make a prototype Vader, as well as some long-brewing Clone concepts (along with a few other ideas). I wanted these to have the same antiquated feel that one sees when they look at war technology from WWII and can see the relation to modern technology, but the designs and concepts are rougher and the kinks haven't been worked out yet.

Vader Redux

Man, I've got to stop making the same characters over and over again. After my Stormtrooper redo, I knew Vader had to be next. A completely new headsculpt, new shoulder armour and chest box thingy, new cloaks (which look purplish in the images for some reason), and a considerable amount of plastic removed from the arms and legs ('plaining down the thighs...plaining down the thighs'), and the revamp is complete. This headsculpt is a massive pain in the ass...this thing combines Sculpey, Epoxy Putty, Apoxie Sculpt, Styrene, and vinyl to get it as close as I could manage.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sketchbook Selections

A variety of sketches from my...uh...sketchbook.
1. Battlefish (inspired by a Tom Waits lyric)
2. Man Astrounaut (or frogman of the future)
3. Retro Sci-Fi Lady Astronaut
4. Ming the Merciless 1
5. Ming the Merciless 2
6. Robot and Boy
7. Burroughs Martian Flyer
8. Martian Tripod Designs

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Stormtroopers Through the Ages

Here's a retrospective of my Stormtrooper customs. I really had no idea that I'd made this many variations until I decided to round up images of my attempts...this may border on obsession. The first image first attempt, around May of 2006. The three in the middle were spread over 2007, and the last one was from this year (which I refitted as the Sandtrooper...see a few posts below this one). Not sure if you can see a progression of ideas or not...but the helmet sculpts are varied and at different levels of refinement (the earliest definitely being the crudest). My favorite of the bunch is the third one...I made it as part of a Custom Con entry with brilliant 'Steampunk' customizer Sillof. Just thought this would make a neat post.


Believe it or not, this custom is the final culmination of years...that's right....years of experimentation. Refining techniques with various materials, and combining them together to make this exact figure began in 2006, when I sculpted my first stormtrooper helmet from scratch (I'll be posting a 'retrospective' of the evolution of my previous attempts shortly). It was lumpy, ugly, and off model in every way, but it got me started on the desire to make a convincing 1:12 scale stormtrooper, complete with separate armour, cloth-covered joints, and accurate weaponry. I can't say that this guy is perfect...because clearly he isn't (I see many lumps and uneven surfaces...amazing what a digital camera can reveal), but the general effect is precisely what I was going for. Epoxy putty, Apoxie Sculpt, and vinyl were used to make the helmet. Styrene and vinyl make up the armour. The rifle is styrene tubing and sheet, and the body suit is stretchy black fabric from a woman's shirt I picked up at a thrift store. Of course, I now have to revamp my Darth Vader custom.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Toht (Ron Cobb Concept)

I've already professed my love for Raiders of the Lost Ark, and my utter glee at the Hasbro figures that were released last year. I wanted to make a custom for this line, but wanted to do something kinda different...and this is what I made. Like Star Wars, there was a lot of preproduction art produced during the scripting phase of the movie. Ron Cobb was the most prolific artists that worked on the film, and one of the cooler ideas that was discarded (thankfully) was the Nazi agent with mechanical arm and bionic eye. The character eventually morphed into Toht, and while the art design and concept tickles my sensibilities, I think Raiders was the wrong movie for such a Sci-Fi element. But...he'd make a great action figure, which is what I did. Using a Colonel Vogel figure as a base, and some parts from a C-3P0 arm, I engineered this creepy fella. The bionic eye and wierd attachments are styrene, the straps are leather, and the articulation in the robotic arm was harvested from Vogel's original arm. It was a tricky little project, but I think it makes for an interesting addition to my Indy display. He was made this past September.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

'Look sir, droids!'

Sideshow Toys are awesome...but I have a serious problem with paying over $100 US for an action figure, no matter how nice. So, after seeing their Sandtrooper, I decided to make my own scaled-down, 6" version. I'd like to point out that this custom is both old and new. It is old in that the Stormtrooper custom is from about 3 months he was, I had some issues. Namely, the clunky attachments of the armour, the slightly off-model helmet detailing, and a rough chest plate. But, I decided to alter him by adding the Sandtrooper details (rifle, backpack, pauldron), thus transforming a slightly rough custom into something that could stand to be rougher. The helmet is an original sculpt, the body suit is fabric, and the armour is styrene. The newly added accessories are scratchbuilt with styrene and miscellaneous bits. Who's beneath all of that fabric, epoxy putty, and styrene? Marvel Legends Longshot.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Darth Vader

Well, here he is! I've made a few customs of ol' Derth Nadir here, but this is my most recent...and (technically) my most polished. He's from this past summer, and was quite labour intensive. The helmet is a 100% original sculpt. The flare/skirt of the helmet (made from styrene) could use to be a bit more pronounced, and some of the details could be sharper, but I'm happy with it for the most part. The sculpting compound was epoxy putty, and was hard to get as smooth as it turned out. The armour on the shoulder/chest and boots is styrene as well, as are the dial switchy chest box thingy (somewhere a nerd is raging at me), belt buckle, and belt doodad box thingys. My favorite part of this custom is the fact that he's wearing corduroy...that's right...corduroy. It was the perfect match for the texture of his suit. Leather belts and straps, and various capes from an old black t-shirt round out the Dark Lord's ensemble. As for the figure underneath...some Spawn parts, some Marvel Legends parts...all fused together for the height, bulk and articulation I desired. The recipe is kind of irrelevant could pretty much use any figure so long as it's tall and you can get some decent poses from him. The lightsaber uses metal tubing, duct tape, and the blade is made from this kick-ass acrylic dowel I buy from Maritime Hobbies and comes in blue, green, and red, and there are various thicknesses...perfect for lightsabers.


My apologies for once again dipping into my 'back catalogue', but this is in fact a very important custom to me. First off, The Rocketeer is (as I have stated numerous times before) one of, if not my absolute, favorite comic. I've loved the character ever since I saw the movie in 1991 (I was nine going on ten, and it blew me away). I still love the has the feeling of an old serial without being sarcastic or self-conscious about it, and it totally captures the spirit of the comic. But the comic something to behold. The characters are frustrating, especially the relationship between Cliff Secord and the love of his life, Betty. He's a barn-storming pilot, a total goof with little direction, and he's too immature and hot-tempered to know how to handle the woman in his life. For her part, Betty places career over Cliff, and is driven nuts by his attempts to control her. But, her ambition and inexperience make her the target of a sleazy photographer. Will these two grow up enough to realize that they've got all they need in each other? Sadly, there are no more stories to read, and with the tragic passing of Dave Stevens last year, we'll never know.
Betty is famously based on Bettie Page, a controversial figure only because of what others have projected onto her brief career in the Fifties as a model. Page came to represent both positive and negative aspects of the depiction of women in the media, both lauded as a pioneer in sexual liberation and condemned as a proponent of negative and degrading roles for women in the porn industry. To Stevens, Page was an icon...a woman who seemed to embody some very basic, adolescent ideal. There is no doubt that his drawings of Betty are sexually charged, but it's also obvious that he has a deep love and reverence for what she represents to him personally. It's his strange mixture of pubescent longing, nostalgia, pacing, and an undeniably beautiful and refined artistic style that make The Rocketeer special.
This custom uses a Tekken figure for the body, and the head is from a Bettie Page figure that was released many years ago. The head was given to me by a guy on the Fwoosh who used the handle Timokay...a very nice and generous person who stopped posting regularly a long time ago...he was always very supportive of mine and other customizers' work. With this custom, the paint and the cleanliness of the finished piece were extremely important. It was not complex to make, but it's a sentimental favorite of mine.