April 21, 2009

I Was Born for Dyeing

Filed under: Toys, Transformers, custom, toy review, tricks of the custom trade — fairplaythings @ 8:01 am

The following events take place between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. on the day of April 19, 2009, and should not be repeated carelessly for fear of orange fingers and tired eyes.

Having (for the most part) succeeded in dyeing soft resin munnies for the last six months, I decided to move to the next step: dyeing hard plastic transformers. Although the end results are somewhat less than perfect, I’ve learned a lot from the experience and hope to be able to correct the errors for the next test. But I figure it’s worth talking through and noting the problems, so that the next time is perfect.

Begin with the End in Mind

The test subject in question (Victim #1) was a Beast Wars Tigatron. The goal was to convert him to resemble the 1996 catalogue prototype, an orange tiger with green joints. Dyeing, if it worked, offered a quick, brush-stroke free, and scratch resistant approach to the outcome, turning his already light yellow plastic coat to orange. Although the neon green of the original Tigatron did not quite match the more forest green of the prototype, keeping the moulded green plast “natural” follows my traditional rule of leaving close colours alone (unless they really bug you).

Really it was an ideal project for a first-time dye job. Nevertheless, like many projects, the big details are easy. The trouble is the smaller details, or the ramifications that comes from the big decisions.

Sharpen the Saw

For Tigatron, there were three such decisions that would have significant ramifications on the outcome:

1. Stripes: The question of stripes is important. Would Tigatron’s distinctive stripe pattern show through the orange or should I really get out the elbow grease and remove the patterns? Faced with hours of scrubbing, only to have to hand paint the details back on after the fact, I took the easy route and left the stripes intact.

2. Other Paint Applications: Tigatron has a fair bit of silver detailing, on his pelvis and lower knees and the eyes of his mutant head. Should this paint application be removed? I thought about this one too and decide that, instead, I would simply paint over the final results.

3. Green Joints and Parts: While Tigatron can be broken down fairly easily with the turn of a Philips screwdriver. But there are always parts that are not so easily removed. In Tigatron’s case, this includes the three straight metal pins at the shoulders and the tiger head joint. There is also instances where the original, making use of the predominant light yellow original plastic, has coloured sections to simulate the colour of the plastic, notably the arms and mutant head (both of which are glued into place) and the feet.

Be Proactive

Let’s talk paint applications first, specifically the arms. I did attempt to pry the arms away from Tigatron’s “skin”, but abandoned my efforts after stress began to appear. Given the less-than-likely prospect of success on the arms and head, I opted to simply dye the parts and colour correct later.

Now while there is a great technique I’ve absorbed to remove these that consists of literally punching the pin out of the socket using a drill, I have never tried it. However, faced with the prospect of some of the green moulded plastic subjected to orange dye, I figured it was worth my time and effort.

I’m pleased to report that I’m confident the operation would have been a complete success had I not been rushing. As it was the neck and one of the arm pins fell out perfectly. However, I managed to crack the plastic joint on the second arm. I’ve sense learned that the break cannot be easily fix with crazy glue, as the stress of turning is too much for a repair.

Put First Things First

Break aside, I have successfully dismantled Tigatron. The water is boiled and the dye is stirred. And now I’ve dropped all the light coloured pieces into the pot, holding back on the green moulded plastic and the green painted feet (since the light plastic is minimal). The boiling water does its job and I am surprised at how quick and fulsome the job turns out. Removing the pieces and letting them dry, I allow myself to get exceedingly excited for the perfect custom.

It is not to be the perfect custom but unassembled at least, it is looking the part.

Think Win-Win

The first thing I check are the previous paint applications. The decision to leave the stripes and silver intact turned out to be an excellent approach. The strength of the orange dye was enough to turn the silver to a very pretty natural gold that suited the character. There was no need then to recolour these sections. And the original stripes showed right through the new orange coat. I then turn to the arms. The green paint has turned a lovely forest green… exactly the colour depicted in the catalogue.

I then make an understandable but stupid mistake. I change my plans without proper preparation or anticipation of error.

Seeing that the painted plastic turned the perfect colour of green, I got carried away and presumed that dyeing the moulded plastic would have the same result, and spur-of-the-moment decided to dye the rest of the pieces as well.

They turned brown.

Now this is not necessarily a bad thing. The brown actually looks better than green and again, the arms and head can be colour corrected with paint. And the rash act even allowed me to do the feet. The problem was not the decision to dye the moulded plastic, but that the approach negated any advantage gained from removing the three pins. It made the sacrifice of the break irrelevant and would have another unforeseen consequence for reassembling, the inevitable next step.

Suffice to say, while it is good to be flexible to change plans, one should always be aware of the full consequences of the changes. A change is suppose to make things better and not worse.


So now the (very late at this point) moment of truth. Some assembly required. Screwdriver at the ready, I begin to reassemble the parts, a tricky job because there is always an order to things that can be problematic to remember. With the usual false starts I quickly find the resulting problems.

We already discussed the issue of the arm joint crack and the different coloured green base paints. What I’ve not mentioned yet is that the plastic has warped from the heat. In some places it is just enough to cause some trouble with reassembly or resulting in a few gaps here and there. But in three key areas it is a disaster.

The first two are the legs. The lower legs just do not recombine anymore. Instead it is a painful and forced exercise, one that requires scraping to ensure the foot can be
reinstalled and leaving a vertical gap straight down each lower leg.

The third disaster is with respect to the tiger head, where the side pieces have warped inward, making it difficult to reinstall the pin and joint.

A pin and joint that, in hindsight, I should not have removed given the decision to eventually throw everything into the dye.

In the end, the figure stands. But it is a forced effort, one that does not bold well for transformation. But there are lessons to be learned.

Seek First to Understand Then Be Understood

So where do I stand? Well, here is where I can claim victory on the exercise:

  • Successful attempt at popping a number of pins;
  • Successful colour dye of hard plastic.

Lessons learned? Areas for further research? Well, I’d have to say here:

  • My next attempt, I will not dismantle the arm and tiger head brackets, unless I intend to leave them green. Which I might.
  • Try reducing the temperature of the water to prevent warping, or try keeping the complicated pieces like the legs and the head (easy enough if the joint is left intact) together.

With TFCon coming up, I’m in good shape to pick up another guinea pig or three (perhaps with weapons this time!), or even a broken one that will allow me the chance to salvage Victim #1. That would be swell too. Anyway, an interest exercise all told. Thanks for reading.

Pictures from the Ottawa Spring Garage Sale

Filed under: Toys, nostalgia — fairplaythings @ 12:39 am

So I have a successful sale at Saturday evenings Ottawa Munny show and I quickly turn around and put some of the proceeds back into collectibles and supplies at the Ottawa Spring Garage Sale (which I had neglected to remember starting on Saturday and which, despite being basically a junk sale, can be a great place to find parts, some comics, records, and the occasional surprise.) Here is a summary of events.

Let’s Get to the Good Stuff!

Four Cobras and A Joe for 15 bucks

Four Cobras and A Joe for 15 bucks

Walking in the door to the event, I always follow the same pattern. Turn hard right and quickly browse until I find a colourful table. In my experience, if I am going to find some interesting toys, it’s around this first bend and today was no disappointment.

Pretty much the first table included old toys. But it was also one of the reasons I hate this kind of sale. Thanks to eBay, everyone thinks their kinds stuff is gold, and seem surprised when you don’t agree. So while I love checking out nostalgia from my childhood like reasonably well-loved and dusty 30 year old Fisher Price accessories, I really don’t care to be told that the jet I was putting back because $10 was too much on yet another unnecessary modification whim (Cobra raptor in my head) was well worth the price because it was an original.

Lady, I can not only read but find the manufacturers date. I know the age of this item probably better than you. And I still don’t want it.

The Three Types of Yard Sale Dealers

A $2.50 bag of grey lego. And a certain kitty for a work colleague.

A $2.50 bag of grey lego. And a certain kitty for a work colleague.

Actually, in my experience at these kinds of events there are exactly three types of people. The first type are the closers. They are the ones who are cleaning out an attic or a basement and just want to be rid of the stuff. They may or may not have prices on things, but are eager to get rid of whatever might hold your interest for half a minute, and so will meet your gaze with a mark-down. The promptness of the markdown increases as the event wears on and s/he is faced with the prospect of returning the items to whence they came. They can be somewhat insistent and may chase after you if you don’t pull away fast enough, but if they have good stuff, you can get it for a song.

The second type are the chuckles. They are often somewhere between type one and type three, and are more likely to be seen at a free event or a yard sale. They’re the type that, seeing a community event or receiving an invitation from a friend, went through the basement to find a few (or many) things for sale. They really don’t care either way. If they sell the item at the price they want, they’re happy. And though they might make you a deal, they’re just as likely to turn around and figure it’s worth at least that much in their own basement gathering dust. I like the chuckles. They are usually quite reasonable people and usually good for a story about how they came to have a particular item. Frequently come with homemade cookies and kids selling their toys.

Galidor and Disney McDonald's toys for 50 cents each. They'll soon be part of the munny.

Galidor and Disney McDonald

The last group is the eBay pirates. Thanks to the power of the internet, they believe every piece of crap in their garage is unique, no matter the age, wear or condition, and they want top dollar as a result. They are more than willing to hold onto these pieces, but not before berating you, the customer, for not knowing what a grand deal you are passing up. I’ve been in situations where I’m literally beat over the head by the pirate over an item that I’ve clearly taken a pass on for whatever reason, because clearly I don’t get the value, only to walk across the street and get the same item from a chuckle with a shrug and a smile. The trouble of course is that most of the time they don’t know themselves, which causes no end of trouble when the pirate actually HAS something of interest. Nothing worse than the pirate with an interesting but worthless piece of nostalgia but who is convinced it is worth a fortune. Frequently selling badly worn common back issue comics books for $2 each.

Clearly I was in pirate bay.

A horse for the body banks, a Spittor and Tasha Yar for the sales site, a fisher-price camera for the Chloe bear, and a Policeman Pete for me!

A horse for the body banks, a Spittor and Tasha Yar for the sales site, a fisher-price camera for the Chloe bear, and a Policeman Pete for me!

If the woman in question had been reasonable in her tone, I might have considered bartering. I can be a sucker for nostalgia when I find the right things, and I really liked the jet which was in impeccable loose condition and perfect for the GIJoe shelf. They had other items too, notably an old bulldozer with real treads that I once had and used, when the plow broke, as the first Cobra tank in the days before the H.I.S.S. (and frankly should have picked up in hindsight at $5 for the rubber treads for possible frankenFormers.) But that attitude drives me crazy.

Anyway, she did have some GIJoes, many of whom were again in surprising good condition, including a H.I.S.S. driver that is in perfect condition for modification (i.e., not-so-worn-as-to-be-broken-but-worn-enough-that-guilt-does-not-set-in) for a H.I.S.S. that I hope to finally get to working on. But like a pirate, she didn’t know what she had. Looking at an original Grunt backpack, a Dial-Tone rifle, and what could either be Stalker’s rifle or the equivalent that came with the Tactical Battle Platform (Joe fans can tell by the shade of grey… seriously…), lying loose in the shoe box, I simply did what any self-respecting toy person would.

A pony for customing and the bitty bits that inevitably come from mixed bags.

A pony for customing and the bitty bits that inevitably come from mixed bags.

I put the accessories on the figures I wanted, got my price quote, paid politely and tucked everything away.

It was in the tucking though that things almost got interesting. You see, I have an original Star Wars Dewback. Loose, no saddle, decent shape and one of the few original toys of which I am interested (Stormtrooper Carrier, Death Star, At-At and Snowspeeder being the others). It would be cool to have a Stormtrooper but $3 cool, not $5 cool, particularly from a pirate. Her reaction can be expected: “well, Stormtroopers are so hard to find.”

So is three bucks lady. Mine is walking away.

Transaction for Joes complete, she deals out the money among her mom and dad for whom she is pirating, and doesn’t see me put the Stormtrooper back where I found it. Leaving, she stopped me on the way out of the area. “Did you,” she said uncertain as to what to say next and what my reaction might be, “did you… um… accidently put the Stormtrooper… in with the other figures in your bag.”

The Terriphant. Or something suitably Micro-bashed. When I find time.

The Terriphant. Or something suitably Micro-bashed. When I find time.

First badgered and now practically accused of shoplifting a thirty year old fair condition Stormtrooper. Oh, the humanity. If I had any dignity I might be offended. But I am a thirty something adult male in a Transformers jacket leaving with 25 year old GIJoe figures. Really, her discomfort and uncertainty makes her feel worse than I.

I simply and politely point to the Star Wars figure tray, indicate it was returned to its original spot, and casually go along my way. The good corner is coming.

The Good Corner

The Good Corner ™ is simply the end of the second row, which, because of my pattern, I deliberately hit quickly. Two women, one of whom is taken by Kinder eggs surprises, have a table there for each event. More closers than chuckles, they seem to have picked up a bunch of stuff somehow and are happy for a sale. And midway through day two, you can get a deal if they have something.

Can't have too many Guardians!

Can't have too many Guardians!

I have a soft spot for the Kinder lady, since the first time I stopped at her table and, upon finding a box of assorted Beast Wars bits, sold me the entire contents for $7. She was nice about it, I was happy for it (occasionally using them for parts and trades) and it was a good find (pat. pend.) As such I always feel bad leaving empty handed. It was here that Hello Kitty, Calidor and the Disney former (whom I contemplated getting as recently as the day before at $2 at ValueVillage for use as a Silverbolt munny) were had for fifty cents each. The lego and a few other little things came from here too.

And the Rest

The Ottawa Spring Garage Sale should not be confused with the Columbus, Ohio, Toy Show. That event has lots of newish toys, relatively clean

One of these days I'll open one with the actual ball inside...

One of these days I actually open one of these and find the ball they are suppose to fire...

surroundings and would seriously hurt my wallet. This is really a glorified flea market that always makes me feel dusty and question my dedication to toys and parts that I can get more readily online. But I like flea markets, in spite of myself, and a sale I can bicycle to is a winner.

At this point though, having hit the best bets for finds though, the rest of the place is hit and miss. There are usually some toy areas along the last row, and sometimes a fellow who sells all the comics he reads for a buck a pop (recent comics and willing to make a deal). But he wasn’t here, although the rest of the selection wasn’t bad. Among the overpriced and badly worn Transformers and piles of Turtles, there were horses for modifying, a Policeman Pete for my Junior Gobots collection, a classic fisher-price camera for my niece (worth it for the expression on her parents’ faces alone!). There were the things I think I can sell (Galoob Tasha Yar, a Skeletor minion) and stuff to mod (a MegaBlock magnetic elephant that reminds me of Baron Karza, and a couple Sigma Sixes). And even drill bits (18 for $5), which though I don’t need, came with super big bits that I don’t have and which can use to make bigger, more perfect holes in my upcoming projects.

Look at THAT bitty bit!

Look at THAT bitty bit!

And a belt for $5 and Kirilaw socks for $3 for a pair.

I figure I spent about $45 in total, which isn’t terrible consider the Joes were a third of the cost. My backpack is full and I’ve seen the outdoors. I have stories to tell and crap for projects that will take me into 2187.

Really, what more could I ask for out of a hour of my Sunday?

Red Alert (04-21-09)

Filed under: 01 generation one, TF365 — Tags: — fairplaythings @ 12:11 am


-Faction: Autobot
-Era: Movie Generation One (1984-1992)
-Function: Security Director
Caution Can Never Be Overused”
-Notable Toy: New Year’s Special (Takara, 2005)

Notes: Red Alert is full of contradictions. An overly paranoid director of security. A public rescue vehicle that takes the form of a beyond-expensive Italian sportscar. Still, he’s a lot of fun. While we await the Henkei issue of Red (and shed a tear for the lost Palisades statue - see below), let’s enjoy the Takara reissue, black head (instead of cartoon red) and all.

(Apologies and thanks to shmax.com and bbts.com for the toy images.)

And because it simply cannot be found on the web anymore, behold the prototype of what could have been had Palisades not lost the statue license. You can almost see G1 and G2 Sideswipe and Tigertracks in those curves…

April 20, 2009

Sideways (04-20-09)

Filed under: TF365 — Tags: — fairplaythings @ 10:23 pm

Transformer of the Day for April 20, 2009


-Faction: Autobot/Decepticon
-Era: Armada-Energon-Cybertron (2002-06)
-Function: Dark Herald

-Motto: “Efficiency Through Self-Sufficiency”
-Notable Toy: Deluxe (Hasbro, 2002)

Notes: It’s hard to write about a character and a toy one doesn’t really care for. Truth be told, I prefer the paint application of Energon Rapid Run, and it’s hard to get behind a character as portrayed in a poorly written cartoon. Nonetheless, Sideways remains popular among many in the community, and is notable for hinting at early Generation One headmaster technology. The inclusion of a pair of “minicons” who serve as his vehicle riders is an original touch, even if they themselves could stand to have a more colour paint application.

April 19, 2009

Landquake (04-19-09)

Filed under: TF365 — Tags: — fairplaythings @ 12:19 am

Transformer of the Day for April 19, 2009


-Faction: Autobot
-Era: Armada-Energon-Cybertron (2002-2006)
-Function: Arctic Construction*
Behind my Sensitive Exterior Lives a Hardened Fist”
-Notable Toy: Voyager (Hasbro, 2004)

Notes: Landquake is one of those oddity of the Armada-Energon-Cybertron era where the repaint can be seen both as a new character (in the toyverse) and an overcharged version of the original (in this case Landmine as in the cartoon). I image Landquake as part of an arctic expedition with a mission to establish a perimeter there against Decepticon incursions. Maybe they’ll send Snowcat out to attack him.

(Apologies and thanks to shmax.com and bbts.com for the toy images.)

April 18, 2009

Sunstorm (04-18-09)

Filed under: 14 animated, TF365 — Tags: — fairplaythings @ 12:18 am

Transformer of the Day for April 18, 2009


-Faction: Decepticon
-Era: Animated (2008-Present)
-Function: Warrior
-Motto: It’s a Honour To Do Battle With One as Worthy as Yourself”
-Notable Toy: Target Exclusive (Hasbro, 2009)

Notes: It’s fitting to end our Stormformer week with an important name as Sunstorm. Since his introduction as an eHobby exclusive repaint of Generation One Starscream, I’ve had a thing for Sunstorm and the many reiterations that have followed, be they statues (Palisades) or toys (Universe, Titanium). So I was overjoyed to see him as one of Starscream’s clones in Transformers: Animated. And his sycophantic personality is a nice contrast to his Dreamwave portrayal as a delusional prophet.

April 17, 2009

Munny Show: April 19, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — fairplaythings @ 11:30 am

See the announcement about the upcoming Munny Show in Ottawa on Saturday! Masters of the Universe, Superfriends, Age of Apocalypse, G.I.Joe… fun for everyone!

Storm Jet (04-17-09)

Filed under: 09 rid/car robots, TF365 — Tags: — fairplaythings @ 12:17 am

Transformer of the Day for April 17, 2009


-Faction: Autobot
-Era: Robots in Disguise / Car Robots (2000-2001)
-Function: Aerial Reconnaissons
Keep Your Eyes on the Enemy To Stay Ahead of Him”
-Notable Toy: Deluxe (Hasbro, 2001)

Notes: Like Bruticus, Storm Jet is an example of Beast Machines creeping into the RiD line. But in this case, Storm Jet was a repaint of the deluxe Jetstorm (and sonic attack jet drone), for which his name is a clever play on words. Meanwhile, the non-cartoon appearing toy sent fanboys crazy with its Jetfire-esque paint scheme, even if the head didn’t seem quite right.

April 16, 2009

Storm Surge (04-16-09)

Filed under: 13 movie, TF365 — Tags: — fairplaythings @ 12:16 am

Transformer of the Day for April 16, 2009


-Faction: Decepticon
-Era: Movie (2007, 2009, 2011)
Aquatic Assault
You Will Not Survive My Surge”
-Notable Toy: Target-Exclusive (Hasbro, 2008)

Notes: Storm Surge is basically an excuse to reuse the Short Round mould in a movie-exclusive format. And yet, as moulds go, it’s nice to add to the aquatic nature of the Transformers universe, particularly given that some storylines hold that water is a substance “so rare its very existence is suspect” on Cybertron.

(Apologies and thanks to tfu.info for the toy images.)

April 15, 2009

Rotorstorm (04-15-09)

Filed under: 02 generation one plus, TF365 — Tags: — fairplaythings @ 12:15 am

Transformer of the Day for April 15, 2009


-Faction: Autobot
-Era: Generation One Plus (1991-1992)
-Function: Guide and Strategician
Get Into Your Enemy’s Mind and Then Beat Him at his Own Evil Game”
-Notable Toy: Deluxe (Hasbro, 1991)

Notes: Rotorstorm was part of a dozen post-Action Master transformers that made up the first wave of Gen 1.5, a wave that made its way onto Canadian toy shelves. As a result it was not particular uncommon to find a well-loved Rotorstorm on offer at a yard sale. But good luck finding those pieces removed from subsequent reissues as Machine Wars Sandstorm and Universe Whirl.

(Apologies and thanks to shmax.com for the toy image.)

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