Friday, September 30, 2011

State of the HQ

Well, I got a lot of work done on the HQ today.  And I've learned a lot about working with styrene.  The styrene lessons learned discussion will go in a future post, but I wanted to do a quick update on how things look with the model itself.

It took a while to get this far, but was surprisingly easy to build.
As you can see, I pretty much have all the white styrene parts together.  I'm planning on spray painting what I have here with Krylon Satin River Rock color paint, and then putting in the desk and counter tops, which will be made out of black styrene. 

If you haven't had a chance to go look at the plans over at Vexar Designs, what you are looking at are two rooms.  The first is an entrance which will have a desk facing a front door.  The next room will have four chairs and four computers and a tv monitor on the back wall. I may also throw some TV monitors in the common wall facing the computer center- it will depend on how things look at that point.  Right now, the design in 22 inches long by 8 inches wide.  I do plan on building additional spaces after this project is done.  Hallways will go immediately left and right of this section, and a mission briefing room/dojo is planned for one side, and a conference room and General's office is planned for the other side.

Welcome to the HQ.  Made by David
Construction, not in any way affiliated
with Halliburton.
So far, this has been a fantastic project.  It takes patience, but it has not been difficult.  The instructions at Vexar are fantastic.  I figure this section will be able to display 4-8 Joes easily and should look pretty cool when complete.  Like I said before, I do plan on doing a "how to work with styrene" post based on everything I picked up building the HQ thus far. I don't want to get into that topic too much here, but I will say that now that I've spent a few hours scoring, shaping, and adhering the stuff, its easy to use, and much easier to use than when I first started working with it.  When you prepare cuts correctly, it splits into very clean sections on very fine lines.  Pencil shows up well on it, so its easy to mark things down.  Its great for building models and for projects like this, and the stuff a far stronger than foam board.

On the other hand, it does look like the stuff is really bad to breath in, so I've been wearing a face mask that I got from the grocery store.  Its the kind of mask that you see people wearing in epidemic movies.  I'm using it to cut down on the possibility of breathing the dust in when I sand the styrene down. I have a ventilation fan going, and I have been washing my hands every time I get up to do something else after I am done working on my project.  And if the styrene dust is bad, I think the fumes from the "plastruct bondene", the cement used to bond it together, is probably horrible.  It sticks like death and you can taste it even through the mask.  I don't want to know what kind of crap it does to the human body.  It does say that "this product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer", on the back of the bottle, so that is lovely.  I also read that this stuff can be absorbed through your skin, so I've been really careful about not dumping this junk on me.  But it does get the styrene to stick together is seconds, and cures in 30 minutes, so hey, it could kill me, but it makes the model building go quickly.

Until next time.

David D.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Clipper rides again...

Thank you for over sized card board boxes that make
excellent spray paint enclosures.
Some of you may be wondering what about all the other little projects I have going on.  Did I forget about them?  Well, some of 'em are on the back burner.  And there are projects I haven't even posted about yet.  But besides the Build-A-HQ project, I've also made some progress on the clipper front.

 Here are a few pictures of some of the pieces that I spray painted yesterday and are sitting in the garage until the fumes wear off. My goal is to paint them in an urban camo pattern.  I did some research online about the best way to do this, and I decided to go apply a grey base with spray paint and then do some black and while tiger stripes by hand using a brush.  We'll see how it turns out.  Hopefully it won't look like utter crap.
If only I was as good with paint brushes
as I am with spray cans.

As I stated in my last post about this project, I removed the two front attack-trak treads as well as the front grill.  I will replace the treads with wheels and the front grill with a beard trimmer attachment (heh heh... get it? "clipper"? get it? because the attachment goes on a hair clipper? get it?  oh, you got it?  good deal.  Moving on).  So yeah, here is where I am at the moment.

I used a cutting wheel dremel attachment to cut the extra pieces off of the trimmer attachment so it looks more like a set of vicious cutting blades instead of a plastic shaving guard.  It was my first time using a cutting wheel on a dremel, and man, I gotta say using it was fun.  The dremel ate right threw the plastic like it was play doh.  A step that I thought could be a pain in the rear turned out to not be an issue in the least.

I am not sure what the ETA will be on the next steps of this project.  I'm really excited about the Build-A-HQ effort at the moment, and I think my energy is going to mostly go to that.  I also have a lot of work to do for school, so my hobby time is at a premium.  But as I get things done I will take photos and update here.  Hope you are well.

Until next time.

David D.

Time to Build-A-Headquarters

So the way I see it, the centerpiece of an action figure collection is the playset.  When I was a kid, I had all of my He-Man figures arranged around Castle Greyskull, and Skeletor and his minions arranged around Snake Mountain.  But now I've got this collection of Joes and vehicles, but no playset for them.  I do have a Terrordrome (only missing the gun tips for the lower guns- almost complete!) but the Joes still need a place to call home.  I've been looking around for projects in my ability level, and I found

Vexar Design's Build-A-HQ Tactical Operations Center.

This is what I am going for.  Image Credit: Vexar Design
Holy Effing sweet. Its a playset that looks cool as hell that someone with some inexpensive tools, money for supplies and patience can build themselves.  That's two birds with one stone, the way I see it. I decided to take this project up a few days ago, and so far so good.  I love a lot of things about this project.  Here is a list of them.

1. Its modular, so I can add rooms as I see fit.
2. I get to put it together myself!
When I am done with the first section, I plan on
branching out like Canesfan0245 did.  
Work and Image Credit: Canesfan0245 & JoeCustoms
3. I get to work with new materials and build some skills there.
4. Vexar's website has the designs to build the thing (more or less) step by step.
4. Vexar's design is cool, and they have images on the website that can be used for decals right there.
5. It's a freaking action figure playset that doesn't suck!

Canesfan0245 over at JoeCustoms.com worked from the Vexar design and made several other rooms based on it, and the work looks tight.  This little project looked like the perfect next activity to launch into.  So far I am a few hours in (yes, I did say a few hours.  Cutting the styrene takes a long time at the moment.) but I am making progress.  I picked up all the parts Vexar lists on the website to purchase.  Thankfully, my local hobby shop carries the Evergreen Scale Model brand styrene that Vexar recommends AND Vexar identified by item number exactly what stuff to buy.  This turned what could have been an hour shopping trip into a 10 minute shopping trip, because there are lots and lots and lots of types of styrene made by Evergreen in different dimensions, and many of them are very close in size.

My poor xacto knife!  Thank goodness for my sharpener
(the grey and orange item top right corner).  My sharpener
is the unsung hero of this project so far.
So far I have the four six inch columns cut out, the four five mm corner brackets cut out, and the front and back walls cut out. It took me about 30 minutes cut the five mm corner brackets with my xacto knife, and involves plenty of resharpening during that time.  If anyone has any better ideas about how to cut those bad boys out, please let me know.  I have a saw, but I don't know if a saw is the right tool to use on the styrene square tubing.  I also have the door cut out, and I attached the back wall to the floor. 

I purchased two cans of Krylon Satin River Rock color Fusion For Plastic brand spray paint that I will use to give the white sections a more grey/tan color, because I'm not a huge fan of the blinding white of the naked styrene.  I hope this goes well.  I should probably get a section of styrene and do a trial spray paint run first to make sure the paint adheres to the plastic before I go nuts spraying the entire model itself...  note to self: yeah. Do the practice piece first.  But hopefully that will work.

I can follow directions!  They say line the floor up to a wall
to make sure the back wall section glues at a 90 degree
angle.  So put it up against my wall I did. 
If you look at the instructions on the Vexar Design's website, you will see that I am in the middle of step 7.  I do plan on doing the optional step 8 to create the light switch and conduit because it does not look like it will take much more work and because the results look really nice, and give the project a much more real life, lived in look.  I am really getting ahead of myself here, but the next section that I would like to do will be a mission briefing room/dojo/if there is room/work out room.  If there isn't room for a third room, I will combine the dojo and the workout room into one space.  I plan on having this section just to the right of the section I am working on, running parallel to the tac ops panel.  The mission briefing room will be in front and the dojo will be behind it, and an hallway will run along both rooms running lengthwise along the module.  So that's where I am thus far.  More as this thing continues.

Until next time,

David D.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

First Custom Figs!

As easy as this was to do, they look pretty sweet.
Well, I did it.  I made my first custom figures (using processes that involved altering figures in ways that do not include repainting the figures) today.

Yeah baby.  I'm in it thick now.

Ok ok, its nothing too exciting- one of them was just a head switch, and the other is a head switch with some dremel work.  But I think they turned out pretty well.

I ran over to TRU today while doing some errands to see if the Renegades wave was in yet- I haven't had any luck all week finding the new figures, even though it sounds like there are out in a lot of other parts of the country.  The TRU I visited did not have them, but they did have almost the entire first wave of the 30th anniversary Joe figure line except for Hazard Viper, but that was cool because I already have that wave.  But I got to thinking... man... that Iron Granadier is one cool looking figure.  His head is cool, his armor is cool, his weapons are cool... wouldn't it be awesome to see if I could hollow out his helmet and put a Joe head under there so they could run around in an Iron Granadier disguise?

Sgt. Stalker was there too, and I gotta say, this guy has one of the best head sculpts going.  He just looks badass.  I knew that something would have to happen with his hair to get the idea to work- I'd probably have to use my xacto knife to remove it, but what they hey.  So I picked up two Iron Granadiers and one Stalker.  I had a Rise of Cobra Duke sitting in a box of figures I had picked up at TJ Maxx not long ago to be used for parts.  And say what you want about the movie, I really like the head sculpt of that Duke figure too.  I figured I'd try making a Duke in IG costume and a Sgt. Stalker in IG costume, both with removable helmets, and see how it went.  Ideally, both would work out, and if I screwed up with one helmet, I'd still have the one more to work with.

Here they are: after the win but before the fall.
Ok- I got home and got the packages open.  Bad news. There is no way I was going to be able to get the IG helmet over the Duke or Stalker's melon. I had noticed that it would be tough to get Stalker's beret in there back at the store, but once I had the figures out and the heads popped off, it was pretty clear that even though the helmet looks huge on the figure, it is almost exactly the same size as the heads for Stalker or Duke.  Just hollowing the helmet out was not going to work. Time for a new plan.

Yo Joe!
And one came.  When I popped Duke's head on the IG figure, it looked pretty sweet.  Really.  The details in the armor and the details in the head worked well together.  The color pallets were completely compatible.  Even without a removable helmet, this was a pretty cool looking figure.  It would look even cooler with the helmet, but that would take some work. I'd need to make the helmet longer- perhaps that would mean hollowing the thing out, then cutting it into a front and back half and adding some apoxy or whatever to lengthen the thing.  And that would take a bit of work, not to mention supplies and expertise that I didn't have at the moment.  I was looking for a simple win with this project.  My first first custom figure was a situation where I bit off a bit more than I could chew, and I didn't want to repeat that adventure.  I'll be honest- this was a confidence building exercise.  I wanted it to work out, I wanted something that looked cool, but I also wanted to do something that was within my competency level.

I may be an E5 and Duke
an O4, but he WISHES
he looked this good.

When I put Sgt. Stalker's head on the peg to get an idea of how it would look, I was impressed.  Again, the detail of the head worked well with the detail of the rest of the figure, and again, the color pallets were complimentary.  Sgt. Stalker has a much more hardcore look than ROC Duke, and if I could get this to work, I thought this would look like the much nicer figure.  I could not put the head all the way down on the peg however, because the back of the collar of the Iron Granadier was in the way of Stalker's dreadlocks. It would have to go, and perhaps, the handle on the back of the armor would need to go as well, since Stalker's dreads fall down along his back.

Mini Sanding Tool is a go!
I purchased a Black & Decker Dremel from Target a few weeks ago knowing that if I kept things up with this little hobby of mine, I was going to need one sooner or later.  I also grabbed some additional dremel bits because the actual kit came with very few on its own.  I threw the 'light' sanding tool into the dremel and figured there was a first time for everything. I really hoped I wouldn't destroy the figure.   But I had a plan- I would start using the tool on the "low" setting and go as slow as possible.  Kind of like starting a drilling project with the smallest bit; you can't blow it too bad if your bit is smaller than the screw you want to put in the wall (or whatever.) Same deal here.  If I needed more umph, I could always dial it up. 

If you don't like it put a black dot on it.
I also checked out the part of the collar where it seemed to intersect with Sgt. Stalker's hair and marked it with a black felt tip art marker. I figured I could use that to tell where I should be focusing my sanding work and give me a visual.  Being the safe guy that I am, I also threw on some plastic goggles.  It would turn out I didn't really need them, but this was my first run and I wasn't about to risk my eyes on a project.   I also took the armor off the figure itself, as I figured I could damage the body in some way if I kept it on there, and didn't want to risk that.

Dremel work in progress.
 And then I just jumped in with that dremel.   The goings were slow.  The kind of plastic the armor is made out of just did not give much on the low setting.  So I pulled the tool away from the figure and decided, 'here goes nothing', and set the speed adjustment to 'middle'.  And then it was a whole new ballgame.

The dremel tore threw the plastic like a smart phone enabled scalper threw a fully stocked toy store. I used short, brief motions to dremel small portions of the plastic away because I figured that if I held the dremel on the plastic for more than a few fractions of a second, it would slash right threw it.  After some progress, I would put the armor back on the figure, and then try Sgt. Stalker's head on the thing, to see how it lined up and where I needed to do additional work.

All in all, it worked out really well.  I got the collar chiseled out just right so the hair passed through it where the hair is bound up, and even better, the way the dreadlocks spread out covered the gap int he collar.  I also did some dremel work on the handle-looking section of armor that stands out from the back of the figure below the collar line so the hear could rest closer to the back of the figure. Again, I would dremel a bit, then test with the Stalker's head to see where more dremeling was needed, and after a few iterations had a nice set up.  Stalker can't really turn his head too successfully in this set up, but he looks pretty cool standing and looking straight ahead.

And that's it!  Both Stalker and Duke look great in their new Iron Granadier customs.  It didn't take much work to do, but I'm calling this a win on account of the fact it was an original idea that I came up with and it ended up looking sweet, and because I was able to accomplish what I set out to do, and because I got some experience with the dremel and didn't destroy any action figures to the point that I couldn't create what I set out to create with the items I had when I started the project.  So- success!  Woo!

Until next time.

David D.

Training session with Sgt. Stalker.

Ok maggots.  Lets go over some close quarters defense when you are in gigantic
movement confining armor suits you grabbed off of an enemy trooper.

Because you never know when one of their buddies is going to show up
and try to stab you in the back with a huge ass knife.

They key is to pay attention, and to react as quickly as possible.  Grab their wrist using
self defense technique one echo niner, (You should all have that practiced after your session
with Snake Eyes) and give the guy a toss over your shoulder. Leverage is key.  Make sure you
use their momentum to help them on their way.

Now that you have the guy on the ground, you should be able to take them out.  Crush their throat,
gauge out their eyes, maybe just knock 'em out in case you want them for questioning later.

And that concludes this demonstration here today.  Remember what you saw here and stay loose.  And
remember not to never to come up short at the bar, or you'll owe me one and that'll mean you could
end up serving as a practice dummy for my next martial arts demonstration.  Right, Duke?


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tears and cheers for the GI Joe Cycle Armor with Ashiko

Here they come to save the day!  Except, not really.
Ok, many, many years ago, say, around 1988 or so, I was nine years old and my friend Seth had an overnight birthday party.  Seth was a smart, artistic cat.  His parents were both college professors, and he had interesting tastes.  He was the guy that introduced me to They Might Be Giants* and later on, to Squirrel Nut Zipper. And a bunch of other stuff that artie kids get into before the rest of us.

Anyway, at this birthday party, Seth had scored the Bubblegum Crisis videos from his parents as an early birthday gift.  We watched them that night.

Side views are cool.
They blew our effing minds.  So many new and amazing things were going on there.  Animation from Japan that had subtitles at the bottom of the screen.  They was futuristic, super violent, and had stories far more complex than He-Man did.  They were stylized in way that was unlike anything else we had ever seen before. And the very best part was not the naked ladies in the cartoons (well, I was a year or two too young to really appreciate that.)  No no- even cooler then that was the FREAKEN TRANSFORMING MOTORCYCLES those ladies rode THAT TURNED INTO BODY ARMOR when they fought the bad guys.  I had completely missed Robotech- I wouldn't learn about cyclone armor for a few more years.  But the cyclone suits in Robotech had the same idea- it was motorcycles, that turned, into armor suits for the driver.  And that is an amazing concept. I couldn't conceive of anything cooler in terms of sci-fi/fantasy.

Fast forward 23 years.  I was really excited to learn last winter that Hasbro was going to make a set of cycle armor that went from a guy on a bike to armor that fit around the guy, ala the Knight Sabers from the Bubblegun Crisis or the Cyclone Armor squads from Robotech.  Like, really excited.  Not only was it the motorcycle -> armor thing, it was a GI Joe thing too!  I hadn't been as excited to see something that totally appealed to my nerd side since The Phantom Menace.

Even in armor mode, this guy isn't much bigger than a regular
action figure.  He is a little taller, but he doesn't look like he
quiet capable of tearing apart a HISS Tank on his own or anything.
Unfortunately, that allusion is apt.

Confession.  I purchased two of these bad boys on ebay.  Two.  For a lot of money.  I should have seen the writing on the wall when Hasbro said they would not be releasing the Cycle Armor as an online exclusive or selling them in the USA at retail during the August 2011 online Q&A sessions.

I should say this right away- do I dislike the Joe Cycle Armor as much as The Phantom Menace?  No!  Not at all.  It would take a lot to make me as disappointed with something as I am with the Phantom Menace.  Or the entire prequel trilogy, for that matter.

But that said, the Joe Cycle Armor?

It...

it disappoints.

Cycle mode is cool.  But I didn't buy this toy for cycle mode. 
If I wanted a GI Joe Motor Cycle, there are many, many
other options besides this one.  And they are a hell of a
lot less expensive.
Ok, I'll start with the glass half full stuff.  In motorcycle mode, the thing works great.  It holds together just fine!  'But David,' you are probably thinking, 'it holds together?  Um, is that really a praise worthy achievement for a toy?'

In this case,

Yes.

Yes it is.

The cycle mode is cool.  I think it is missing something in the way of a nifty little windscreen to really make it look totally sweet, but whatever.  The cycle mode is by far the best part of this toy, and talking about how cycle mode could be cooler only detracts from the best part of the thing, and the best part needs to be good to balance out what doesn't work, because with the Joe Cycle Armor, what doesn't work is a lot.

The figure, or "Ashiko", just kind of sucks.  The hands don't stay connected to the arms- they keep falling out of the wrist sockets.  I painted the little pegs that connect the hands to the forearm with black paint, and that seemed to fix that problem.  And I think it would be really cool to have an Japanese male head on the figure, but that just doesn't seem to be in the cards for this figure.  But the really bad part is yet to come.   Um, to further my desire to portray the figure in the best possible light, I will also say... that he could be worse?  Yeah, that's it.  It doesn't suck too much that his legs have these slots built into them, or that the forearm armor with the slots coming out of them really don't seem to fit and cut off a lot of articulation of the elbows.  Because who really needs elbow articulation?  That something only fat, lazy toy fans need.  Real people are happy with armor that doesn't seem to fit on the character.  We grew up with star wars figures in the 80's, and those didn't have elbow joints, and we loved those guys. So this is fine. Really, its fine. Its totally, totally fine.

So many parts!  So many weapons and components!
And its also totally fine that the guy comes with his own mini arsenal.  He comes with a ton of weapons he can't really hold because his hands keep popping out of their joints, and the weapons are all the same color black and the sword and the knife will look really cool once we paint the blades silver and its really cool that the knife comes in a little sheaf that does not connect to any part of Ashiko's body, because who needs that, and who cares that it is pretty much impossible for Ashiko can't really hold any weapons when he is in armor mode, because, well, his hands keep falling out and besides that, the way his armor goes around his hands there is no way any of his rifles or even the pistol will fit there.  The katana kind of fits,  but that's pretty much it, and that's great because, geez, we had really low expectations going in, and anything that it good, is super fantastic.  And lots of weapons are really good.  So... that means the weapons are really super fantastic.  Yeah.  That's the ticket.

But now I'm a little weirded out because I've gotten to the part where I have to talk about the armor mode and I don't want to talk about the armor mode which is why I kind of tried to talk about everything else and put armor mode discussion off for as long as I could because

ARMOR MODE SUCKS SUPER DUPER, AMAZINGLY, PROBABLY NEARLY INCALCULABLE AMOUNTS

OF BUTT.

To point it another way, it sucks so much.  So, so, so much.

Nothing stays together in armor mode.  For whatever reason, it is almost impossible to get the tabs of the armor to fit into the slots on the Ashiko's person.  And once you do get the pieces to kind of hold together, if you *breath* on it, they fall apart.  In armor mode, this thing is a fragile, fragile, little snowflake. Once he is put together, he looks cool as hell, but you cannot play with this thing.

Pretty much none of the slots on the underside of the armor
(seen here) fit the plugs in Ashiko's armor correctly.  None. 
You have been warned.
Because his chest armor is going to pop off if you move him from point A to point B.  And then his left leg is going to come off, which really sucks because that was the hardest piece to connect in the first place. And then his right hand is going to pop off. And his helmet is going to come off too since you tilted the man to the side.  And when you put he helmet back on (be careful, because if it falls from 3 feet up or higher, that thing can bounce and its dark and it can go under a table or fade into a shadow under a couch or dark carpeting or whatever, and wow, you just spent 5 minutes making the guy go from cycle mode to robot mode, something that really should take a minute or two tops and would, if the pegs fit snugly into the slots but they don't and then you spent another 10 minutes reconnecting him back together again because you were dumb enough to think you could play with this guy in armor mode.

I bought two of these guys on ebay.  I think I mentioned that.  For a lot of money.

Ugh.  I'm such an idiot.

But you know what? 

I still really, really like this piece.  It hurt me.  This is an abusive toy.  If you touch it in cycle mode, it will punish you like it punishes me.  But I keep coming back to it, as if I am crying out "Thank you, Madam GI Joe Cycle Armor!  May I have another??"

Yet I really like it. 

And I like it because it is a motorcycle that turns into armor for the guy riding the motorcycle.  And that concept has captured my imagination since I was 9 years old.  Its just too cool for something even as irritating as poor peg and slot design to mess up.  It hurts you, but like that beautiful girlfriend who knows you and and gets you and makes you feel like you the most important, most wonderful guy in he world when she is with you, and then cheats on you, you still want to like it.  Because its just so cool.  So even though the intellectual part of me will say "David, you are an idiot for spending so much money on this toy.  This thing is a piece of crap.", the emotional side will say "gee wiz, dude, its

a motorcycle,

that turns,

into body armor!  And I own it now!  I get to put it on a shelf and look at it and be inspired by the its genius!  Its so creative!  Its so cool!  I love it so much!  Its so cool!"

My mind, in this, like so many other areas, will thus be locked in a permanent state of  disagreement and discord.

For my final say, I say this.  The GI Joe Cycle Armor with Ashiko is more like a deluxe action figure than an alpha vehicle.  The cycle itself is very small.  Its too bad this thing is in a window box and not a blister card.  The degree of over packaging on account of this is ridiculous.  I think I would have no problems buying this guy for $12.00.  I spent a hell of a lot more than $12 for two of these on ebay.  But in the end, this thing is a guy with armor that turns into a motor cycle.  And it makes my inner child squeal with utter pleasure and delight.  And sometimes, you need to make your inner child squeal with utter pleasure and delight.  So I am not going to torture myself for buying a not quite ready for prime time toy.  In our lives, especially as we get older, the situations where our inner child get to squeal with utter pleasure and delight are few and far between.  So when it happens, I think you gotta just take it an enjoy it while it lasts.

No matter how many times you need to put that stupid effing left armored leg back on the figure.

Dave Drapper's GI JOE Urban Response Squad:
Ready to rock and roll!

*I have no idea what the people at Tiny Toons were thinking when they made this episode- the entire cartoon that day was Tiny Toon characters acting out They Might Be Giants music videos.  I never heard where it came from or why they did it, but it is one of those things you can ask people our age- when you were a young, did you ever see that episode of Tiny Toons where all the cartoons were music videos?  The cool kids know what you are talking about.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lame, I know.

Hey folks.  Sorry for the lack of posts in the past week.  School started on Wednesday at I got really busy, really fast.  I finally got around to adding the pictures I meant to include with the last post.  I apologize in advance for the photo quality, or more accurately, the lack there of. I had to use my phone, since my wife is gone for the month being a doctor in Alaska and she took the digital camera I normally use for blog images with her.  I do have some other pictures from a project I am working on ready to go as well as the blog posting set in my head.  Hopefully I will have that up in the next few days- I just really need to deal with a bunch of reading first.  Hope you are all well.

In the mean time, if you don't know about the following weekly online comic, you should check it out:

Ages 25 and Up

I will say this- this is a pretty PG-13, and sometimes rated R comic (for those of you outside the US, this is a reference the film ratings system we have here in the US of A.  These refer to films that have adult content (ie, lots of explicit sex and drug talk, as well as violence)  Adult situations abound in this comic, and its also funny as hell.  It is a weekly serial staring GI Joe action figures vs. Cobra action figures, with guests stars from Transformers, Duke Nukem, Legos, Marvel and DC heroes, and all kinds of other stuff.  If your sense of humor is anything like mine, you will *love* this site.  So until my next post, check out  Ages 25 and Up. Start from the beginning and read forward.  There are plenty of ongoing gags over there that are much funnier if you have the background.

Until next time!

David D

Monday, September 5, 2011

Spray Nozzle Surprise!

Yes!
I have to say this for fail:  its good that we have it.  If it wasn't for fail, we'd never try new things.  We'd do everything the same we we did it the first time, because why change what works?  Without fail, there would be no pride in achievement. .  There would be no savoring of accomplishment.  If we didn't have fail, how would we laugh at ourselves?

Because if you can't laugh at yourself, you are missing out on one of life's best comedies.  Today's fail tale: David's spray nozzle fiasco.

When I first worked on the Coyote a few months back, I used Krylon spray paint.  When the paint came out of the can, it really splattered all over the place.  I didn't know if it was the temperature, (it had been in the 90's,) or my technique, or maybe that's just how spray paint worked, and in the few cases where I had used spray paint in the past, I hadn't really noticed.  Maybe I was just anxious because I wanted the project to turn out well, and really, it was was fine and that's the way its suppose to be.

Uh-huh.

No!
Well, I was at Walmart today to pick up some spray on primer.  I was in the paint aisle, and I was looking at the different colors of primer- I found some white and gray and black and red brown ("burnt sienna") and I was reading the cans to see how long it took to try and how long it took before the objects I was painting were safe to handle.  And I noticed a little diagram on one of the containers.

According to the diagram, on the nozzle of this particular spray paint can is a removeable, little plastic plug.  It is set into the opening where the paint rushes out of the spray can.  It is actually suppose to be there, and in the diagram, I was shown how it is suppose to be used to control the flow of the paint.  You can twist it up and down to get a more vertical spray, twist it to the side to get a more horizontal spray, or diagonal to get a horiz-tical spray.   

In my first project, I assumed that the little plug was a cap meant to make sure the paint doesn't get out of the can during transit, or something, and pulled the thing out.

SMOOTH MOVE, EX-LAX.

The hero of the hour!
Way to check those directions.  (To be fair, not all of the cans of paint have the diagram showing how to twist the nozzle on them).  When I got home and tried the spray primer without pulling the little tip off, check it out, the spray was very easy to control and not spotty or splattery AT ALL.

So I figured something out!  Don't pull out that little cap from the spray paint, because it is suppose to be there, and because it makes your paint application work much better!

So from the initial fail came renewed interest in how to do things right, which led to me investigate painting further, which led to me figuring out NOT to take out the plug, which lead to

LEARNING

and now, satisfaction that I got the thing right.

Because in the end, what we are really about in our hobbies is satisfaction, right?  Well, if it wasn't for fail, if it wasn't for the fact I was not satisfied with how the spray job went before, I would not feel the satisfaction I feel right now.  So, thanks Fail.  I think.

Next time: David discovers amazing cheap action figures to use for practicing his painting and modding techniques!   I need more time for that post, but it'll be good.  I promise.


Until then,


David D.

Friday, September 2, 2011

My other current project...

Vroom vroom!!!
Here it is- a sneak peak at my other current project.  This one involves actually cutting things apart and putting parts from different toys together into something else. 

Now, someone with a sharp eye might say, "Hey, this looks kind of familiar!" Oh, someone could even say, "Dude, you are *totally* ripping off articulatedcomics!"

Yup and yup.  But I hope AC takes this as an example of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery.

So far, I have removed the blade treds from the ice cutter.  Then I took out the screws in the bottom of the the cutter so I could get at everything.  Next I took apart a truck I bought at Target for its wheels and axles, and pulled out the wheels and axles. Its a battery operated toy, and I'm holding onto the motor because who knows what I kind of toy I could throw that into some day.  I removed the old grill from the cutter and drilled some holes into the cutter for the axles, and there she sits at the moment.

My next step is to dremel the unneeded parts of of the clipper attachment from my old beard trimmer (I'm clean shaven now and have been for years- the 90's are over, baby.  No more van dyke.) and then.... I get to paint the thing.  I was thinking an urban camo or jungle camo with spray paint, and man, that is the only step I am really worried about.  I'll deal with it when I get there.  I'll keep you all up to date as things move along.

Until next time.

David D. 


Rome wasn't built in a day...

...so why should I expect that I should be good at painting action figures right away?  Its good to have realistic expectations.  There is a big difference between thinking you can just pick up an action figure, some paints and create an amazing looking custom paint job and actually doing it. I'm new at this, and this is going to be learning curve.  Which is another way of me just saying I am learning to deal with the fact that my projects aren't turning out as nicely as I want them to at the moment.  But I know I'll get better with practice.  Here is a current recap on what is going on with one of my current projects.

Not going the way I planned.
I was near a TJ Maxx the other day and know that they often have GI Joe figures for really low prices, soI went it.  Low and behold, they had several older figures from the 25th anniversary line and some Rise Of Cobra Figures.  I purchased a Cobra B.A.T., Mercenary Wraith, and two Storm Shadows, all for $3.99 each.  Woo!   Each of these figures have really cool molds and would be great for future products.  And I had a plan for one of the storm shadows.

I did some research on the web to find tutorials on painting camo patterns on action figures.  I didn't find anything on action figures per se, but I did find some tutorials on creating camo patters on objects with stuff with spray paint on you tube.  The basic idea was this: Take three colors, and spray paint the entire object with the first color.  Put some paint tape over it in a stripe pattern.  Spray pain the object again with the second color.  Put some additional tape cut into stripes over that layer.  Finally, paint the object a third time.  After that third layer has dried, remove the tape and presto!  You have a cool camo design.

I thought 'hey, I am using acrylic brush paint and not spray paint, but this could work, right?' (See?  This is basic noob thinking).  I had some red and silver paint and was planning on buying some white.  I figured I would do a layer of red, let it dry, tape it, a layer of silver, let it dry, tape it, and a layer of white, and then remove the tape.  I figured mostly white with some cool red and silver stripes would look pretty cool on Snake Eyes.  Well, it didn't work out so hot.

There were two problems.  The first was that the paint would seep under the tape when I painted over it, so the old color was not being protected by the tape.  The second problem was that when I tried removing the pieces of tape to see how things were going, the paint on top of the tape would pull at the paint on the figure, resulting in a kind of rubber-y/latex-y/acrylic-y/stretch-y/hang nail-y like sections around the edge of where the tape had been,  Ug-ly.

So scratch that idea.  I went back to hisstank.com's custom forum and finally found a good how to paint camo on action figures thread, which I have started reading and will get more familiar with before I restart the camo ninja project again.

As far as Dora's concerned, nothing
is more interesting than her, and nothing
is more important than petting her.
When I was younger, I probably would be more frustrated with this than I am right now.  I am mildly frustrated, but I also really enjoy having the artistic outlet, so I don't mind making the mistakes.  I figure I'm learning a zillion ways NOT to paint my figures, so eventually through the process of elimination, I'll have to come upon the right way to do it.

Before I sign off, I thought I would add something more, even if it isn't hobby related. My wife and I have two cats, Booty and Dora, and Dora has been very intent on getting my attention while I wrote this post.  The computer I am using right now to write this posts sites on a desk built into the wall in my basement, and there is a little cubby hole under the desk surface proper.  When I use this computer and Dora wants to get in my face, but  knows I will push her away if she jumps in my lap, she jumps into the cubby hole and swats at my hands with her paws in an attempt to get my attention.  Well, Dora, congrats, not only have you succeeded in getting plenty of pats and scratches, you are also getting your picture on the internet.  Way to go!

Until next time!

David D.