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June 4, 2009

A Bridge Too Far

Filed under: botcon, munny, tricks of the custom trade — Tags: , — fairplaythings @ 1:39 am

I am planning a big update to the site this weekend, when I can put words down about Botcon 2009, as well as catch up on my first break in the Transformers-of-the-Day. Actually quite embarrassed there - usually I have them all set up to go. But a combination of overtime on the diorama entry this year and the absence of computer access in Pasadena meant that I wasn’t able to fix things at the Con. But I refuse to give up, and I’ll get everything back on track this coming weekend.

That said, I wanted to separately plug the diorama and the work behind it, as well as provide a few pictures so you can finally see what I’ve been up to for the last few months. Yes, it’s a scene taken from “A Bridge Too Far”, in which Omega Supreme battles the remaining Decepticon forces, including a number of Starscream clones. I actually tear up during this scene (Omega is certainly one of my favourite transformers!), so it means a lot to me to work on this particular action scene.

The Rise of the Mega Munny

Let’s start with the big guy then. Omega Supreme is a 2 foot tall Mega Munny, purchased from Lost Marbles in Ottawa. I should preface my comments on Omega by saying that I have an aversion to modifying munnies beyond recognition. While I think it’s fair play to add parts to them, or even cut them open, I prefer they retain a semblance of their character that allows them to be recognized for what they are. For Omega, this posed a challenge because I had so many plans for him and he probably represents the most heavily modified munny I’ve undertaken.

To start, both his hands have been replaced. His right arm is now a set of fingers actually created from the modified stems of three mini mushrooms that came with the regular size munnies. His left arm features a laser cannon. This laser cannon, and the additional removable turret in his head, are both equipped with laser pointers so they actually simulate an explosion when lit up (leaving me to wonder how many children were blinded at Botcon because of this.) In addition, voice boxes have been added to each arm, with one side playing the cartoon theme song and the other saying “I… am… Omega Supreme!” I wish I could say they were clear but it’s a low-techmodification. Nevertheless they seem to work relatively well, if a bit muted.

Additional work includes the tubing around his chin and removable wings on each arm.

Honestly, though, Omega was a struggle. Unlike his smaller brethren, the mega munny head does not separate from his body, which makes painting his neck a challenge. I also ran into trouble with the yellow spray paint I wanted to use because of stupid rushed mistakes at my end. His price point of $200 meant I really couldn’t start over again, which I would have with a smaller version, but nevertheless left me with a bad taste in my mouth until I could get over my own bad self and work around the paint application issues.

It didn’t help that I left him until the end and was doing a lot of the work on him literally hours before I boarded the plane. I finalized him in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, a little more than a day before he was to be rolled out. So you can understand how I felt when I realized on Saturday that, having hand-painted the logos on every other munny, I FORGOT TO DO THE SAME ON OMEGA. I promised him that I would rectify this when he ships home from Pasadena.

Still on the side of heroes, Ratchet is my second favourite munny of the group. He just came out so crisp. He also has added horns and doors. He’s teamed with Sari, who is actually a dunny, striped of original paint and then redyed. She turned out super, much better than expected. The ears were a major win. Yes she is so much bigger than she should be against the trees but we’ll just pretend they have really small trees in the future.

A Changing Landscape

Before I get to the villains, I want to say that I had no idea how I was going to turn seven munnies and one dunny into a diorama before I arrived. I had nothing to work with in terms of grass and the like. But I really wanted the diorama to look like I’d put some effort into it because of the coolness of the scene and because a diorama contest, in my view, needs to consider the landscape used. Otherwise, it’s a figure show. So you can imagine that my back-up plan of buying bristle board to paint green with some paper trees added really didn’t feel right.

However, Pasadena has a wonderful hobby store called The Original Whistle Stop Inc. (2490 E. Colorado Blvd). I discovered them Saturday afternoon and once they realized that I wasn’t shoplifting. they were really quite helpful. $40 of supplies from their store really made the scene, because I had actual trees that I made on the Thursday night before the show, as well as a sheet of grass paper, painted with sand to simulate the path. Honestly, I couldn’t have done this project without them.

But What About the Villains?

With respect to the Decepticons, I started with the clones. Sunstorm, Slipstream (”Susan”) and Ramjet were all based on the same premise, so once I had one outlined, I could use it to help quicken the pencilling of the other two. Obviously their expressions and paint applications were very different, but it’s surprising how much it takes to figure out where to draw lines on a fat little Munny body.

Their lasers are actually reconstructed knitting needles and their wings and shoulder pads are scratch-built. The wings are actually removable to allow for easier transportation, and I’ve finally perfected their assembly. Sunstorm is dyed (which caused trouble with the accessories in terms of colour blending), while the others are painted. Of the three, Slipstream is my favourite. And although he denies it, Ramjet now resides permanently in the care of Derrick Wyatt, whose magnificent designs are the basis for this entry.

In truth, Lugnut was the last munny started. While all the small munnies were done and Omega Supreme was only awaiting arm modifications and paint, Lugnut was still a white protoform munny, untouched by even pencil. I literally pencilled his face, arms and front on the plane ride to LAX, and then happened upon a TF:A digest at a Pasadena comic store to finalize his back. I painted him between Teresa’s Dad’s place and my motel room on Sunday. His only modifications are two small wings on his arms, although I did reverse his arms to better simulate his pincher claws (a trick I used on the Scorponok entered as part of my Botcon 2008 entry.)

Bavarian Twirls

The final figure, Blitzwing, is the one of which I am the most proud. Dyed a crisp tan, Blitzwing’s head has been opened up to allow for a small plastic cover to be inserted, before the top of the head was reattached. In this way, all three faces of Blitzwing can be shown. Between getting the dye and the cuts just so, it took three takes to get his head right, but I am ecstatic about how it turned out, so much so that I made sure he travelled in my hand luggage in case Omega didn’t make it (so he could be entered solo if needed).

Blitzwing also has small shoulder boxes that constrain his poseability but nevertheless seemed important to the character. He also features a backpack with removable rockets. The trick here is that the rockets had to be extra long so, true to the character, they would be visible over his head.

The Results

There were some great dioramas this year, so I was very proud to be awarded second place in my category against some stiff competition. I just hope the judges were able to test all the buttons on Omega when they were reviewing things. All in all, I can’t really complain that the presentation of the hardware was interrupted, when the interruption was to see five minutes from the new movie presented by Michael Bay himself. How often is that going to happen in my life?

3 Comments »

  1. You need a close-up of Sari! I think she might be my favourite of this set — although Omega is just cool (I can’t wait to see him in person), and Ratchet is awesome. I like the way Su- I mean, Slipstream turned out, too.

    Comment by Kirilaw — June 4, 2009 @ 10:02 am

  2. [...] Animated at the end of Season Three, my current preoccupation with the series (see recent diorama for evidence) and efforts to catch-up after Botcon 2009, I thought we’d swing into June with [...]

    Pingback by fairplaythings.com » Ramjet (06-01-09) — June 9, 2009 @ 1:24 am

  3. [...] for a few days. This approach was working really well until I met up against the deadline for the diorama, and the limited access to the internet in [...]

    Pingback by fairplaythings.com » Flashback, Heartattack, Everytime I see your face… — June 9, 2009 @ 2:26 am

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