Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Animation Creation Ep2 - Seconds

okay, here's the second episode of Animation Creation. Again this episode features many action figures and toys. In fact every screen shot in the banner shows toys.

I have made bold and included a few notes about the segments that feature toys.

1) Derek Beats his Shoes by Derek
2) Spider-Man (A Pencil Animation) by Kevin
3) Dirt Haulin'! by Rudy & Alex
         (Uses some cheap-o Corps type army figures)
4) Brian's Reservoir Dogs, pt. 1 by Brian 
        ( McFarlane Reservoir Dogs toys)
5) Paper Godzilla (scary psychedelic version) by Kevin
6) Godzilla Flick (10 Minute edit) by Derek & Kevin
       (Hundreds of Japaneses Monster Toys)
7) Silent Movie trailer by Derek
       (Custom GIJoe toys)
Commentary featuring Kevin & Derek with Brian, Alex & Rudy
      (Custom GIJoes and M.A.S.K. figures) 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Real Adventures of Action Figures

Before Action Figure Adventures: The Series was a concept, the creators started a website called Obscene Newg. They posted articles, stories, pictures, and other odd things to the site. One of the original articles told the story behind several GIJoe figures Kevin lost while playing in the yard as a kid.  This article was originally posted here: MIA: GIJoes in the Back Yard

MIA: GIJoes in the Backyard 

Army toys all decked out in camouflage have got to be some of the best toys to play with outside as a kid. When I was a kid, that meant GIJoes. And what better place to play with them than the Vietnam of my backyard? I liked to throw them up into the air and pretend they were parachuting to the ground. The biggest problem was that I always played under trees...
With that, we venture to the Island of Lost GIJoes..
Spirit: One bad-ass injun
I have had SPIRIT for a long time, and he has always been a favorite, mainly because of his pet eagle FREEDOM. All of the GIJoes that came with pets got heavy usage in my yard. One day while my GIJoes were on a mission in my back yard by a maple tree outside my bedroom window SPIRIT and RECONDO were called in as reinforcements. I pitched the two of them up into the air as high as I could and watched them plummet back to earth. RECONDO bounced off a few branches and landed at my feet. SPIRIT on the other hand hit a big branch and stopped falling. I was very distraught over the loss of SPIRIT. A few weeks later when I was tromping through puddles in my back yard after a storm I found a muddy SPIRIT laying face down on the ground. I was so excited I let out a loud laugh and raced inside to wash off the hero.

Charbroil "replaces" Blowtorch
BLOWTORCH: Welcome to the team rookie. It'll be nice having a partner.
CHARBROIL: Partner? What are you talking about 'ya old fogey?
BLOWTORCH: Huht-pht-pfff?
CHARBROIL: I have the same freakish orange hair as you, the same flamethrower, the same flame retardant underwear...
BLOWTORCH: wha…? Um… erg…
CHARBROIL: *Fires off a quick burst from his flamethrower*

The Easter Bunny and Santa liked to give me toys off the bottom of my list... ones I don't even remember asking for. CHARBROIL was one of those figures. I played with him, but he was never a favorite. One day I was playing GIJoe out side under another big maple tree in our front yard with a kid I knew named Taylor (a.k.a. The Seamstress). He was never very gentle with his Joes, he smashed a lot of his figures so we did not play with to many of my old figures. SHOCKWAVE, SPEARHEAD, MUSKRAT, and HIT & RUN were battling the Cobra PYTHON PATROL. CHARBROIL and some members of Tiger Force were called in to give the Joes and edge. CHARBROIL, BAZOOKA, and FROSTBITE were tossed up into the air and CHARBROIL never came home. The traumatic incident with SPIRIT flooded back into my mind. Since CHARBROIL, wearing orange and red, was lost in the branches of a Norwegian Crimson King Maple there was no way of spotting him high up in the tree. I think that was the first time he ever camouflaged in with anything. The Seamstress and I climbed the tree, shaking branches and looking around hoping to find him. Fortunately, like SPIRIT, CHARBROIL eventually came back down with time and nature's help.

Not just the president, he's a member too!
SERPENTOR: Emperor of Cobra was riding on top of Cobra's newest secret weapon (a Thunder Cats big wheel) when he slipped off and smacked his head on the ground. His helmet cracked off to reveal his ugly bald scaly head. I was shocked at how dumb and ugly he was with out his helmet. I made him wear RIPCORD's black helmet after that, but he could never command the same respect from the Cobra VIPERS after that. Then a few months later when I picked up a new SERPENTOR at a yard sale, the old one became the perfect candidate for a beating. I broke very few of my toys on purpose as a kid, and I was not trying to destroy SERPENTOR, more of just abuse him. I tied a piece of string to his one foot and began to swing him around. Suddenly he hit the side of my porch and exploded. The shaft in his chest were the screw goes through completely broke out making every part fly off. I recovered all of his pieces but his head. Man, I wish I found that head so I could show everyone what an ugly mug he had. I have seen a lot of SERPENTORs at yard sales over the years with broken fangs and things, but I still have not seen another helmetless one.
Lt. Falcon sits pretty

LT. FALCON: star of GIJoe the movie was also put on the missing in action list after being left outside overnight. A friend of mine and I searched the yard the next day with no luck. Camouflaged figures are really tricky to find when you don't know were you lost them. Amazingly enough my Dad found FALCON just before he mowed that area of the yard.

Max and Max shoot craps
  MAX: of the famed SPEARHEAD and MAX duo was lost in the weeds on the dirt pile in my backyard left over from when they dug the hole for our pool. He had been lost for a really long time… the dirt from the pile has had to have been cleaned up at least 6 years ago and I lost him way before that. Some time in 2001 my Dad brought into the house a mangled piece of sun faded plastic and asked if I was mine. Sure enough it was good old MAX. Perhaps he was hit by the rototiller that ripped the weeds out of the dirt pile before the dirt was gotten rid of or maybe the mower was responsible for MAX's injuries. The again, perhaps each of them got their little dig in.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Animation Creation Ep1 - Don't Let's Start

Building up to the online release of Action Figure Adventures I figured I post some of our older animation work. While the entire show does not focus on action figures, they do play an important role.

I've added notations to specify which segments feature action figures.

1) Lady Bug Bebop by Derek
2) Kaleidoscope by Derek
         Japanese Monster (Moguera), Shogun Warrior, Earth Worm Jim, Hoth Wampa from Star Wars
3) Paper Moguera by Kevin
4) O! Cruel Master! by Kevin
        The kid from Terminator 2 and Sabertooth from the first X-Men movie line
5) Dancing Robot pt. 1 by Derek
        Japanese Robot figure
6) Beach Drama by Kevin
7) Computer Love by Derek
8) Godzilla Flick trailer by Derek & Kevin
Commentary featuring Kevin & Derek
        Custom GIJoe action figures

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

AFA is almost finished!

 Action Figure Adventures (AFA) is a stop motion animated video series created by a group of college students.  It was intended to be a follow up to their show Animation Creation. AFA is the story of "living" toys trying to escape living in a college dorm room. The good guy action figures have a base of operation on the toy collector/student's dresser. The bad guys are stationed out of his computer desk. The first episode was written and animated about 10 years ago.  Post-production has taken a long time, I know.  While the first episode of AFA was being animated our other series Animation Creation was in post-production. We were somewhere in the middle of the 10 episode Animation Creation series. Action Figure Adventures was written and animated one episode at a time. Once all the episodes had been written we began to cast voice actors and record lines. We waited to record the lines until the end so that way we could record all of one characters lines at once instead of episode by episode. Some characters have lines in every episode, while others only speak in one or two. There are more than 50 speaking characters in the show. Finding and recording this many actors proved to be difficult and time consuming. A few people were able to voice multiple characters for us, but that takes a pretty talented individual. Some characters provided more trouble than others to find voice actors for. Cobra Commander for example has such an iconic voice in the original GIJoe cartoon, so we need someone who could give us a similar performance.

By the time the entire Animation Creation series had been edited Derek was ready to graduate from college, and no longer had access to editing computers. He continued to work on recording voices, but for the most part the show sat. Derek did find a few missing shots needed to do the show, which Kevin then shot. A year later Kevin graduated from college.Derek purchased a Mac and Final Cut pro to edit the show. For a while the pace picked up and a lot of progress was made.

Of course there were some bumps in the road. We still were looking for voice actors and yet another missing shot of discovered. A close up of Cobra Commander was needed for the scene pictured below.

Since Kevin was no longer in school and didn't have access to the dorm some creativity was needed. Luckily you can see that the back ground is mostly obscured by Viper figures. At the time Kevin, Derek and some of the other people involved in the stop motion projects were working on a website called Obscene Newg. Kevin was occasionally adding little production update to a portion of that site dedicated to their video projects. So when he could find his tripod and it was causing a delay in production he posted the following photo to the site.

Clutch and Barbeque, two of the main good guys, stealing Cobra Commander's camera and tripod. Eventually this issue was rectified and production continued to slowly move along. Other smaller scale projects took priority from time to time and the guys continued to have issues finding voice actors. One of the last voices they needed was someone with (or who could do) an Australian accent.

Recently Derek has been working on the show feverishly and it should be completed within the week. Hopefully it will be posted to youtube shortly after that so everyone can enjoy it.

In the end the cast of voice actors includes high school friends, college friends, family members, family members of friends, local musicians, coworkers, a group of little kids that are now in middle and high school, and even the guy who owns the comic book shop!

Monday, February 20, 2012

When playing with toys isn't enough...

Sometimes you just have to be the toy. The comic book store that I go to always offers a 20% discount on Halloween if you come in costume. So I usually dress up and pick up my October books that day. One year I decided I wanted to do something a little more interesting than a traditional clothing based costume. I was going to make something big and bulky. The kind of stuff that's cool at cons. So I built the first big suit costume (I'll reveal it in another post), and I had little maneuverability inside the suit. It actually would not have been fun at all to wear to a party, but was pretty cool. The next year I decided to make something that I would be able to move my arms in and walk through door ways more easily. I chose to make an Optimus Prime costume. In college my roommate and I joked about making a Prime costume. He's be the robot and I'd run around in a refrigerator box as the trailer. We never went through with it, but the idea stuck with me. So I built my Transformer costume out of cardboard, Elmer's glue, masking tape, and paint. I wore a red t-shirt and jeans under it. This allows for movement at the joints. I wore it to work that year and to the comic store. Everyone loved the suit and then it kind of got retired. Then one day the next summer my friend Paul (who did a voice in Action Figure Adventures - our stop motion show) called me up and said he was setting up at Zoloworld. He told me to bring the costume because they were having a contest. Zoloworld is a company that makes cases for Mint on Card (MOC) toys and they also do toy conventions. There were quite a few costumed people in the contest including some Jedis and a little kid in a black Spider-man suit from Wal-mart. I had on my Optimus Prime suit and Rose from Retro Screamers Flashbacks was dressed as the Baroness from GIJoe.

Everyone in the contest had fun being up on stage and posing for pictures. The host of the contest interviewed everyone briefly and made fun of the vegetable knight behind me in the photo. The little Spider-man kid took first place. He was super cute, but the fact that the suit was off the rack was a little disappointing. Rose came in second... all the nerds voted for the chick of course. I walked away with third place. It's kind of funny also because I came in third place at work that Halloween with  the same costume.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Stop Motion Robots

Here is a stop motion video featuring Gundam Action Figures. I helped three high schoolers who where interested in stop motion animation make this video. It's short and has no audio. They did a nice job for a first animation.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Not so Interchangeable Parts

Well in my previous post I talked about DC Universe Figures. I mentioned that I bought several figures I didn't really care for to get pieces to a “collect and connect” figure. While checking out these figures, I tried to swap out Mercury's scissor hand for his normal hand, I found out they were not so interchangeable. As I pulled on the scissor hand the small peg that connects it to his wrist broke. This was kind of disappointing since it is clearly supposed to be removable. This is the first time I've ever had a recent Mattel product break on me. I don't know if there was paint in the joint, accidentally gluing it in place. Perhaps it was a fluke or maybe others are having the same problem. The peg is very thin.

Even though I don't particularly care about owning a Mercury figure I was annoyed that he broke so easily after paying for him. So I decided to see what Mattel would do about it for me. I called up their hotline and talked to a lady. She informed me that they didn't have any stock left of that figure, so they could not replace him for me. She offered to send me my money back after collecting a bunch of information about where I purchased the toy. This worked out well for me, since I felt like I wasted my money with the broken toy, but didn't really want Mercury.

A few days later I got an envelope in the mail containing a voucher I could use to purchase another Mattel product. So I ran down to TRU and picked up a DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe Classics 2 pack. Mattel wins anyway because the two pack costs more than a DCU figure. So, they got me to spend more money.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

DCU Knight Fall

DC Universe is a collection of highly detail and well articulated action figures based on the super heroes and villains of the DC Comic book world. They are nice figures, but because there are so many different characters and costumes from over the years it's hard to find any given character in the stores. Most wave also features a larger scale “Collect and Connect” figure. Each regular figure includs a body part to snap together a create another figure. A particular wave recently (Wave 16) caught my eye. The wave featured a number of Batman characters and included the villain Bane as the Collect and Connect figure.

This wave included Robin, The Riddler, Azrael Batman, Jonah Hex, Mercury, and the Creeper. The only figure I really wanted to get was Azrael Batman and of course Bane, but I didn't want to have to buy all the other figures to get him. In a story arc called Knight Fall in the mid 90's the original Batman is injured and retires from fighting crime. Another hero named Azrael takes over his responsibilities and persona as the bat.

Az Bat (as he is often referred to as) was the only figure I couldn't find in stores. I ended up buy Robin and Riddler on sale at Toys R Us (TRU) . A few months went by and all the figures from this wave were out of stores. I came across a store that I don't frequent often and isn't really known for carrying toys, but happen to have most of the wave. They had everyone but Riddler. So I decided to get AzBat and before I left the store I gave in and bought all the rest of the figures I need to make Bane.

I also picked up an extra AzBat to give to a friend of mine, Doug Moench. The reason I was so interested in AzBat and Bane is because I am personal friends with one of the comic authors responsible for creating and writing the Knight Fall comic arc from the 90's that featured Bane breaking Batman's back and the the birth of a new Dark Knight. The new Knight of course was Azrael wearing Batman's costume and then later his own armored version which is features in this line. Some times they send Doug figures if they are based on his work, but usually it's only if the figure is from a DC Direct line. I have know Doug since I was a little kid. I became best friends with his son at school before I even knew who Doug was. The year long Batman event Knight Fall will always be one of my favorite story arcs. I remember Doug telling us about the idea to “kill” Batman months before the books started. I went to Wizard World in Philly that year and for the first time my Dad believed me that my friends dad was famous when he saw people lined up to get autographs from the guy.

The Batman figure is pretty nice. He has a very complex uniform that is hard to translate to action figure. They did a nice job. His arm movement is a little hindered by the ammo straps to his arms and the armor on his shoulders and around his neck. The claws on his gauntlets are awesome and his cape/wings are pretty cool. They are like semi-hard fins. The DC Direct version of this costume from a few years ago featured a more traditional cape appearance. Sometimes the same costume will appear differently from issue to issue depending on who draws them. Neither cape style is wrong, and I'm not really sure which one I like better.

Bane is the first Collect and Connect figure I've ever collected. He's considerably larger than Batman. He have very broad shoulders and is about one fourth taller than Batman. He has great sculpted muscles and his device to pump venom into his blood steam is nicely sculpted and has a flexible green hose that goes from his writs to his head. Perhaps my only complaint would be the fact that both of his hands are closed fists. It's not the end of the world, but limits the figure in certain ways.. He's better articulated than the DC Direct Bane from the DC Direct Knight Fall line, but I like the massiveness of the Direct figure more.

I kept all my DC Direct Knight Fall figures sealed, so these are the only Knight Fall guys I have to pose and play with. I think they did a pretty good job on them. The entire wave as a whole is nice. I'm not really big on all the charters that were included. I kind of wish they were all Batman characters, but the collect and connect gimmick helps Mattel sell figures of DC characters some fans want, but not everyone would buy.