Friday, May 31, 2013

Space Battle: A Fresh Faith

In 1998 my buddies Brian, Derek and I wrote a spoof of the original Star Wars movie called Space Battle. We arrived at the theatre early to see the American Godzilla movie with Matthew Broderick, so we walked across the street to Staples and bought a left-handed note book. Brian begain to write the script as we talked about the story.

We originally planned to make a stop motion animated video of the project. Later on we ruled out that plan and started imagining it as a web comic. It took a long time to create the entire story. Unfortunately I never really figured out a good way to post it online.

 In our spoof Obi-Wan Kenobi is called ODB... remember it was the late 90's and we were in high school. I made this custom pimp Jedi figure out of a POTF2 Lando with a vintage Obi-Wan head. His hat comes from the GI Joe Dreadnok character Gnaugahyde. I spray painted a fine chain gold and glued it to the back of his neck.

Below is my favorite image from Space Battle. This is the heroes escaping from the Death Ball.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ultraman vs the Rancor

At least once a year, as kids, my buddy Derek and I would do a "Set Up". This entailed getting out all his Godzilla toys and other monsters, posing, and photographing them to tell little stories that only existed in our heads. It was in a time before digital photography so we were limited to a single roll of film. It was very nice of his mom to allow us to use her camera and get the pictures developed for us.

This photo features Ultraman fighting the Rancor in a potted house plant. It's one of my favorites because it has one of the best backdrops we ever had. The trunk and leaves gave it a little more of real feeling compared to most of our pictures taken at random places around the house.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Fighting Foe Men - MOTUC

The Fighting Foe Men... once again the Masters of the Universe subscription service includes a contriversial 3-pack of figures. The Foe Men are not hated in the same way the Star Sisters were (I still haven't opened my Star Sisters), but they are pretty obscure. These three characters come from art work for MOTU themed model kits from the 80's. The artist depicted all new characters driving the vehicles for the box art rather than using He-Man or Man-at-Arms. All three drivers were partcially obscured in the art giving the toys designers a starting point, but some flexibility.

In the MOTUC story these three were pirates that built great war machines. Then when they were defeated by the He-Man of the North (Vikor), he magically froze them in a glacier. Later Hordak would free them to fight with the Horde during the 2nd Ultimate Battleground. So they just sort of jammed these guys into the mythos.

The Foe Men are full of little bits of tribute and history. The team name, The Fighting Foe Men, was a working title for the Masters of the Universe line. The figures come from the model box art. Their weapons and chest logos are based on their vehicles, and their names are homages to the support staff at the 4-Horseman Design Studio. So not the actual sculpters, but the mold makers and prototype painters.

Ditztroyer is the driver to the Roton. He has my favorite head sculpt of the three.  Ditztroyer wears a hood and long blue cape. He is armed with a giant red Roton blaster rifle and a Roton shaped staff. There is a cool little holster sculpted into his cape to hold the staff.

Each member of the Fighting Foe Men comes with two chest logos. One is based on their vehicle and the other is an Evil Horde Bat Logo. I don't really see these guys as Horde Members, but they look like goofy super heroes with the vehicle logos on their chests. These logos are examples of liberties the designers took with the characters that are mostly obstructed from view on the box art.

My biggest complaint about Ditztroyer , and it is accurate to that model kit box art, is that he has blue skin like the Gars on his arms and face but has human flesh tone for his torso. It's a little less noticeable when he is wearing his Roton logo. I just don't like that very much.

Dawg-O-Tor is based on the classic Talon Fighter. I feel that Dawg-O-Tor would fit in pretty well with the Palace Guard figures since he is mostly wearing green and has some orange details. He is armed with a Talon Fighter shaped shield and a club that looks like a Talon Fighter Laser. Dawg-O-Tor is my favorite figure of the three, but has the worst name.

The driver on the Attack Track box is pretty clearly a man, but to give tribute to the people that work with the Horsemen they needed a girl. Shield Maiden Sherrilyn's helmet and colors are based on the dude from the box, but converted to a female character. She comes with a funky blue double barreled blaster like the guns from the Attack Track. Her shield is one of the tracks from the vehicle and is molded in clear plastic. Her name is a bit cumbersome and I would just call her Shield Maiden (even though that cuts out the tribute part of the name). I wish her visor was see though like Dawg-O-Tor's. I think it would make her look better and give them some unity.

Here is the team with their Horde Logos on ready to go into battle. Now all we need is the Windraider pilot for the old painted MOTU poster. I kind of hope they tie him into this set with his bio. Even though he wasn't from the models he's a vehicle driver created for promotional art.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Taz-Flash - McDonald's Toy

In 1991 DC Comics and Looney Toons teamed up for McDonalds Happy Meal promotion. Each meal came with a hard plastic figure and a costume that snapped on to turn the Toon into a hero. The hero logos were all redesigned to reflect the Looney Toons character wearing the suit. You can see Flash's lightning bolt has been replaced with Taz's whirl wind.

Here you can see the Tasmanian Devil along with his Flash costume. The costumes consist of two halves that snap together. In the early 90's I was a huge Tasmanian Devil fan and collected lot of mini-figs and PVC figures of the character.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Ninja Force Wolverine - Toybiz

Not to long ago, JboyPacman from the Cosmic Arc sent me this Wolverine figure from 1996 in a package of goodies. He's from a series of figures called Ninja Force. Wolverine is dressed in a Gi. The most interesting things about this figure to me is that he is depicted with his bone claws. In the comics Magneto ripped out the Adamantium from Wolverine's bones and claws in 1993, and I'm pretty sure it was re-graphed long before this figure was released.

Wolverine came with several weapons that can be connected in several combinations. He has an axe, grappling hook, dagger, and chain. The figure also comes with a fabric shirt & pants, plastic belt, and knee pads.

One of Wolvrine's hands is sculpted so he can hold weapons. The other is sculpted into a fist. With his strange combinable weapon, two open hands would have been useful. The photo below show one of the many combinations that can be made out of his weapons.

 Below is the card back to Ninja Force Wolverine which Jboy was cool enough to include.

 Soft goods accessories are cool, but sometimes they don't work as well as intended. Wolverine's shirt fits nicely, but his pants are a little loose. I kind of like displaying him without the cloth pants. He has black painted pants underneath.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Moon - Stop Motion Science

I previously posted stop motion animated videos made for my science class, and today's post is an all new video. During the third marking period we were studying Astronomy, and spend considerable time learning about the moon. The first video in the series, Thinking like a Scientist, was created by myself and presented to the kids as a surprise. The second video, Scientific Inquiry, was written by two students. They added additional characters but planned for less cut-away scenes. The third video about the Moon was an entire class effort and they wanted to add lots of characters this time. I tried to steer them back towards the cut-away scenes because I think they help make it more interesting.

The Mad Scientist from Robot Chicken returns along with the chick from the X-Files as Miss Pip. Dr. Badvides from Hasbro's COPS 'n' Crooks toy line joins the scientific community as Dr. Aussie. The kids wanted him to be Australian, but after "Good Day Mate" my young voice actor just sort of copied Miss Pip's British accent. The kids wanted to add Igor the Hunchback to the video and so I bought the Hunchback action figure from Kenner's Ghostbusters toy line off ebay. They also wanted to add a villain and so one of my students who collects action figures with his Dad brought in MODOK.

Of all the student voice actors in the video I think the kid who played Igor did a really nice job. I was also impressed with the way the kid who played MODOK was able to change his voice at the end. I did not add any effects to it or speed it up.

I set up a separate youtube channel for my school videos, some of the kids were subscribing to my main channel and I try to keep a little separation between work and my personal life.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Roadblock v1 - GI Joe '84

Roadblock is one of the earliest instances of a GI Joe duplicating military specialties with another member of the team. Roadblock  is a Heavy Machine Gunner, which was originally Rock 'n' Roll's job has the teams Machine Gunner. I always enjoyed Roadblock on the cartoon, and loved his v2 figure. I just never really got into this version as a kid. I'm not a big fan of the pants that almost match his skin tone and I couldn't figure out what was going on with his shirt. I now know he is wearing a camo "wife beater" with a harness over it, but as a kid I couldn't figure out the sculpt and thought it was a really strange shirt with no sleeves and no visible shoulder fabric. I just thought it looked weird. Like Gung Ho, the original Roadblock also seemed too skinny compared to the way he appeared in the comics and cartoons.

Roadblock was one of the last figures to come with the standard helmet (it's light green like the gun... kind of looks tan in the photos). He also came with a really awesome .50 cal machine gun with a tripod. In addition he also came with a brown backpack with a removable ammo box. (The tan backpack pictured is from a weapons pack) His tripod could be attached to his backpack for when he carries the gun.


I appreciate this figure a lot more today than I did as a kid.  The Tiger Force version shares this mold and was very popular with several of my friends growing up.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Zodac - Vintage MOTU

Zodac is one of the more mysterious Masters characters. He was originally packaged as being an "Evil Cosmic Enforcer" although the "Evil" was eventually dropped from the package. He was frequently used as a "Neutral" character in comics and cartoons, leaving many He-Fans rather confused. The character has Skeletor's claw feet and arms and Beastman's hairy chest. He's molded in a standard flesh tone. Zodac wore a red and grey helmet and removable armor. His sculpt used many "evil" parts, but he would be the only "human" villain based on the flesh tone in the early stages of the line.

Along with his armor, Zodac also came with a blaster weapon which I am missing. In the cartoon he was seen riding a floating techno-chair. I frequently used the thrown from Castle Grayskull as his vehicle when I played with him. Even though he was supposed to be neutral he seemed to always help the heroes in the cartoon, so I always made him a good guys when I played with him as a kid.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Strimus the Struthiomomus

Today I'm posting about another dinosaur from Playskool's awesome Definitely Dinosaurs line. Strimus the Struthiomomus is a long necked blueish/gray dinosaur. This thunder lizard has a yellow bill and stand on its hind legs. Strimus features four points of articulation. These swivels are located where the arms and legs meet the torso. I bought this toy at a yard sale in late elementary school when I had a "Dinotopia" diorama set up in my basement. I never had the caveman figure that originally came with the dinosaur.

The dinosaur toys from this line are easily identifable by the little logo hidden on them somewhere.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Green Lantern

This Hal Jordan Green Lantern figure came from one of the Toys R Us DC vs MOTU packs. He came packaged with Masters of the Universe character Zodac. Hal has a nice sculpt and a beautiful paint job. He came with a clear plastic green gun construct. He has all the standard DC Universe articulation. Hal has many shared parts with other heroes, but his parts are all effectively used.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Darth Vader - Vintage Star Wars

Darth Vader, one of the greatest film villains of all time. This is a figure every boy owned in the late 70's and early 80's. It's a classic. I always wished he had just a little more bulk to him, but how can I really complain? For the time of his original release he's action figure perfection.

I was born in 1982, so by the time I knew what Star Wars was the toys were out of the stores. I thought his name was Dark Vader when I was in first grade. I didn't see Star Wars until I was in 2nd grade, and then it change my life and became an obsession. So my Vader was probably bought 2nd hand at a local comic shop, but I'm not sure. I never had his lightsaber so he was armed with a red toothpick from my Grandmother's house. That toothpick is still more intimidating than the piece of plastic he came with, but it doesn't retract.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Lisa Hayes - Robotech

I bought this Lisa Hayes figure based on the anime Robotech years ago because she's compatible with other 3 3/4" action figures. She is dressed in a white flight suit with blue and yellow details. Her articulation is almost identical to the vintage GI Joes. Originally she came with a helmet and gun, but I don't have them.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Toonseum - Pittsburgh

As previously mentioned I was out in Pittsburgh at the end of the week for a work conference. I was excited about making the trip because it would give me a chance to visit the Toonseum again. I have always been a big fan of all forms of animation, but the Toonseum is responsible for my obsession with collecting animation cels. I had a few before my first visit, and I even donated a few to their collection that visit. Then seeing some of their awesome collection inspired me to collect more. I've collected more cels than I can easily display. I hate "hoarding" collections and not being able to share them. I love having my collections out on shelves or in display cases so they can be enjoyed.

After finding out I was taking a friend's spot at the conference I went though the extra cels in my collection and put together a sizable stack to donate to the Toonseum. This time I planned to donate cels from He-Man, She-Ra, Brave Starr, Mighty Mouse, Filmation & Real Ghostbusters, Droids, and a commercial for Trix cereal.

When we had a free moment from the conference I convinced my colleague to take a cab with me to the museum. He was rather reluctant... he's not as much of a nerd as I am. When we got there I was surprised to find the sign below hanging in the window and the door locked.

They were changing over exhibits and were closed. We stood outside for a moment, and luckily and employee opened the door to ask me if she could help me. I said that I was hoping to see Joe because I had art to donate. A moment later we were able to go in a see Joe Wos,  Executive Director of the Toonseum. Joe  greeted us and was very excited to see the cels. He mentioned that the He-Man cels would be helpful for an exhibit they are working on putting together. Despite being in a state of transition we were able to look around. I get to see part of the Akira exhibit, I thought I wouldn't get a chance to see it because I didn't think I was going to make it to Pittsburgh during the time period the exhibit was open.

Pittsburgh was fun and I hope to get back again soon.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Simpsons in stop motion

Well I guess I'm making a tradition out of posting a stop motion video I like from the internet on my birthday. Last year I posted about a stop motion version of the TMNT cartoon opening. This year I'm sharing a Simpsons couch gag animated by the people from Robot Chicken.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Iceburg - GIJoe Collectors Club

When I got home from work today I found my GI Joe Collectors Club member's exclusive figure in the mailbox. This year's figure is Iceberg. This is the third year in a row where the club has made a 25th Anniversary style figure of one of the vintage figures that was never produced in the Anniversary line. Previously whey released Dial-Tone and Footloose. While Iceberg is alright, I'm not as happy with him as the past two. His head sculpt is perfect, but his body is a little weird to me. The Snow Serpent fur collar is kind of bulky. It makes his shoulders look huge compared to his waist. It's not as obvious in the pictures, but in person his hips are kind of funky. His legs stick out far from his waist and he doesn't stand very well.

 While his uniform is modeled after Iceberg V1 his accessories have a lot of nods to V2. The original Iceberg only came with one very long barreled white rifle. The second release of the character came with a snow board, a spring loaded missile launcher, and couple of guns, and a couple of knives.

 Collector's Club Iceberg came with a file card, snow board, missile launcher, missile, knife, two guns, a two piece backpack, and a figure stand. The backpack when clipped together can hold the snow board and missile launcher. Iceberg has a working sheath on his leg for the knife.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Double Edged Sword - MOTU Cel

Today's post focuses on two more animation cels from He-Man & the Masters of the Universe that I plan to donate to the Toonseum. Both cels come from episode MU 42 called "Double Edged Sword". In the episode Man-At-Arms is looking for a piece of gemstone that is used as a power source. A young boy named Chad who is trying to learn how to use a gun so he can fight in the royal guard discovers a piece of Eternium while missing his target. His grandfather contacts King Randor because he knows the Eternium is rare. The boys Grandfather isn't a big fan of fighting and teaches Chad about power and fighting.

Here is the cel and pencil drawing of Chad taking aim.

Grandpa is actually made of three cels. His head, torso, and chair are all seperate drawings.
The pencil sketch of his hover chair is pictured below.

Lou Scheimer, who was the head of Filmation thought it was important to teach children about right an wrong with his cartoons. Many of his shows like He-Man and Brave Starr included lessons at the end of the episode. There is a gallery at the Toonseum named after Pittsburgh native Lou Scheimer and if they ever do an exhibit focusing on Lou's desire to make the world a better place through cartoons I hope they display these two cels.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

He-Man moves the Moon - Cel

I spent a lot of time this weekend going through my animation cel collection. I have a pretty large collection of production cels from various cartoons, but mostly He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. A good friend of mine from work got sick (nothing major) and so I'm taking his spot at a conference at the end of the week in Pittsburgh, PA. While I'm out there I plan on visiting and donating more art work to the comic and cartoon museum, the Toonseum.

This image of He-Man is actually made up of three cels. He-Man's body, his lower face, and his left hand. It's interesting to see how they can save time and money by only redrawing his facial expression.

This cel is from episode MU 91 "Jacob and the Widgets". In this episode He-Man battles robotic sea serpents and saves a valuable crystal hidden in the Widgets caves from Merman. The caves were flooded by Merman and if He-Man can't stop the water the Widgets fort will be destroyed.

To reverse the rising water in the Widget's fort He-Man flies a special Windraider to the Moon and pushes it to reverse the tide. Conveniently Man-At-Arms built a Windraider with rocket boosters earlier in the episode. Below is a screen capture of He-Man moving the moon.

Below you can see just the top cel that shows He-Man's eyes and nose don't change. His mouth and chin are redrawn several times to create the shot.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

General Traag - Vintage TMNT

General Traag is the leader of Krang's Rock Soldier Army. His action figure was one of my favorite villain figures I had as a kid. He's a large bulky figure covered in rocky textures and little creatures hidden in his sculpt. He has snakes and spiders sculpted onto his body, even some spider webs. Some of them aren't even painted.

Traag wears a green helmet, green trunks, and a belt. He came with three accessories. The General came with a blaster, a large laser rifle, and a knife (not pictured). I forgot how hard it was to put weapons in his hands. The plastic used for this figure is super hard. His hand sculpt is very tight. This makes it difficult to slip the handles into his action grip. My original Traag was sold years ago, but not to long ago my Mom picked up a hand full of turtles for me at a yard sale. I know this is going to sound weird, but I always liked the fact that Traag had has a hinge joint in his one elbow. This was a type of articulation rarely seen in the Turtles line.