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?

January 1, 2009


Filed under: custom, munny — Tags: , — fairplaythings @ 10:38 pm

Given my current fixation with Munnies and ongoing webwork (particularly with respect to the Beastformers), it seems to make sense to talk about issues of scale for the inaugural post of 2009.

Regular readers will recall the angst I had over the issue of scale for the eight Beasties that formed the Call of the Wild diarama. With only three scales of Munnies to work with (2′, 7″, and 4″) there is not a lot of flexibility in terms of getting proportions right. It was a no-brainer that Optimus had to match the long-finished Megatron. With respect to the rest of the cast, it was certainly helpful that the poll I took at the time verified my own thoughts on the matter.

That said, knowing that I hope to one day get the entire cast completed, I am going to hit scale issues with Optimal Optimus, TM2 Megatron and Tigerhawk, as I think they (particularly the Optimus) should be taller than the 7″ scale allows. Now kidrobot could certainly solve my dilemma (albeit expensively) with a 10″ version of my favourite vinyl figure. Otherwise, I may be forced to either extend the legs of the 7″ model at a minimum or find some way to make my own 10″ munny available for multiple castings.

The scale problem is even worse for Generation One.

There really are three basic scales for G1: Mini (Bumblebee, Rumble), Regular (Hound, Skywarp) and Leader (Optimus, Galvatron). Beyond the obvious logistical problem that the 7″ Munny towers over the 4″ Munny in a way that doesn’t make sense (really necessitating something in the middle at say 5-6″, saving the 7″ scale for the likes of Dinobots and Jetfire), and relying on a modified Dunny as a stand-in for the Mini scale, there are already a number of questions. Would Reflector be a small or a medium? (My thinking is a medium) Following the scale information in the Ark, would Trailbreaker, Ironhide, Ratchet and Shockwave be leader-size? Can I make an appropriate Munny version for Ravage? (I have ideas here at least.)

To add to the problem, there are the aforementioned Dinobots, but also the combiners to consider. The creation of a 5.5″ Munny and modified Dunny clears the way for the DInobots in the 7″ scale, but we’re back to a new scale of 10″ or 12″ for the likes of Devastator and Computron. And while the 2′ version is certainly ideal for Omega, Metroplex and Scorponok creative-wise, it’s a little difficult in terms of cash issues (as the figures are US$150 each).

Anyway, the issue is posing a challenge. Here’s hoping more scales of Munnies are coming.

December 19, 2008

The Temptation of Nala

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — fairplaythings @ 6:20 am

Dear Nala,

At Botcon, you had commissioned an Inferno. Since them I have been slowly working to fulfull that request and tempt you with the results. That has been the purpose of mystery project #3.

Here are the results:

Take me home?

Take me home?

I hope you are still interested because this little guy (4″) is already to go for the low price of US$45. That includes two special surprises that aren’t shown but made special for you.

Let me know. :)

Cheers! from your friends at fairplaythings.com

November 24, 2008

Welcome to the beginning of tomorrow

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — fairplaythings @ 5:24 am

Now let’s hope that tomorrow is interesting enough to keep around.

So I’m pseudo-severing my blog into a toy kingdom and other everyday babbles. This is the toy kingdom. Welcome.

Kirilaw and i were out today at the regular Ottawa Comic Book Show at Landsdown Park. While it is small compared to the fabled shows of cowtown, there are sometimes good figures to be had. Today at least the pickings were few but I did grab these two for a tener each.

First up, Inferno. Admitted, I don’t collect Six Sigma. I thought the line was a much improved changed of direction compared to previous efforts - GIJoe: Extreme, I’m looking at you - but the only times it really hummed to me was when it copied from the Real American Hero roster of characters. It’s no coincidence then that, of the five figures from this line in my collection (Grand Slam, Storm Shadow from his rumble in the jungle set, Firefly, Para-Duke and Inferno), three (GS, SS and Inferno) were picked up for their nostalgia value - Duke was a loose find and Firefly was just a cheap figure likely to face the repaint engine.

Anyway, Inferno popped up at the GIJoe Collector Club on sale a few months back and I almost sprung for him there. But he was gone by the time I got there. Anyway, today, when they said he was $10, I felt obliged. Not often that you get a nice looking fireman anyway.

On Paradrop Scarlett, the 25th Anniversary line is like crack to me. I may love Transformers now but my youth was spent ferrying a wooden box of GIJoes back and forth to the neighbours after school to play. And Scarlett just looks cool here. Probably overpaid a bit but why take the chance.

But it is a comic show so although there was some rooting through trades and back issues, I did find an impressive collection of Micronauts in the fifty cent bins. Now as Nala can appreciate, I’ve periodically tried to purge my not unconsequential comic collection. One of the first purges was what issues of the Micronauts I did have, picked up second hand at the convenient store near my grandparents’ house in Truro, prices marked out and selling at the temping price of half cover.

But with the munnies expanding into Microverse territory (leading to unsuccessful websearches for the visual cues I need), leading to a rediscovery of the line through innerspaceonline.com and recent talk about the line, I’ve come to regret this, particularly given the difficulty of finding them in back issue bins with price tags I’m prepared to accept.

50 cents I’m prepared to accept. So while they are scanned out there in cyberville, it made sense to welcome home the Microverse once more.

I mean 50 cents. I can’t colour copy the cover for 50 cents.

All in all, not a bad day at the comic show. And a fairly successful day of work home too. Kirilaw did some more webwork, including launched the blog and I’ve put up the first post. I finished the President munny and designed, painted and finished the modern-day Supermunny Blue, and am very close to finalizing the pieces for Munny Iron Fist. And in non-toy news, we had a leasurely shopping day that lead us to buy a lot of Christmas lights and even a few trips into antique stores, which led us to the finds to your right. Yes, geniune early 20th century cast-iron antiques. There were four of these steed at this particular shop, for $30 a pop. Kirilaw was equally impressed by them, and I insisted on a set of two. Apollo and Artemis now will reside to the left and right of the fireplace.

Who says you can’t have non-toy stuff around the house.

November 16, 2008

The Munny Battles

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — fairplaythings @ 4:50 pm

The Commercial-Free Ongoing History of New Munnies (most recent first):

  1. Commission #2: Acadia Axeman (axe sculpted)
  2. TF:A Bumblebee (head sketch)
  3. Mystery Project IV
  4. Christmas Commission #1
  5. Harley Quinn
  6. Wheeljack (pencil outline, shoulder cannon crafted)
  7. Superman Blue
  8. Crimson Guard (7″) (dyed body and head)
  9. Crimson Guard B (dyed body and head)
  10. Cliffjumper B (dyed body and head)
  11. Cliffjumper (dyed body and head)
  12. Baroness (7″) (dyed body and sprayed head)
  13. Bumblebee (dyed body and head)
  14. Undecided (Bumblebee? Prince Gavyn? - dyed body and head)
  15. Crimson Guard A (dyed body and head)
  16. Batwoman B (dyed body, sprayed head, painted boots)
  17. Batwoman A (dyed body, painted body detail, sprayed head)
  18. Huntress (Total Justice uniform) (dyed body, flesh painted head)
  19. Snake-Eyes II-B (dyed body and head)
  20. Snake-Eyes II-A (dyed body and head)
  21. The President
  22. AoA Sunfire (7″ glow-in-dark)
  23. Mr. Terrific (7″) (dyed head and arms)
  24. Vibe
  25. Angel - Blue Suit-B (body design and paint)
  26. Skeletor (head and body design)
  27. Hordak B (head design)
  28. Hordak A (head design)
  29. He-Man B (with sword and shield)
  30. He-Man A (with sword and shield)
  31. Blue Beetle: Ted Kord B (body/head design)
  32. Blue Beetle: Ted Kord A (body/head design)
  33. Liberty Bell B (body design)
  34. Liberty Bell A (body design)
  35. Red Son Superman
  36. Power Girl
  37. Non-Munny Mystery Project 1 (to add accessories and prep head)
  38. Micronaut Grey Baron (most detailing complete)
  39. Micronaut Gold Baron Karza B (sketch details on body)
  40. Micronaut Gold Baron Karza A (add black naval)
  41. Micronaut Acroyear B (head painted, arms dyed)
  42. Micronaut Baron Karza B
  43. Micronaut Acroyear
  44. Micronaut Force Commander
  45. Micronaut Marionette (finish hair)
  46. Micronaut Baron Karza A
  47. Death’s Head (head and pack pieces only)
  48. Sinestro: Sinestro Corps B (prime pink munny body)
  49. Sinestro: Sinestro Corps A
  50. Mazinger B (finish head ship)
  51. Machine Man
  52. Electro (correct glue splash on mask)
  53. Mazinger
  54. Klaw!
  55. Mystery Project III: BW Inferno
  56. Archangel (finalize wings)
  57. Spider Woman: Julia Carpenter (black costume)
  58. Spider Woman: Jessica Drew
  59. Iron Fist
  60. Captain Marvel
  61. X-Men Angel (red suit, feather wings)
  62. Mystery Project II: Hellboy
  63. X-Men Angel (blue suit, metal wings)
  64. Mystery Project: Spider-Girl
  65. Unicorn
  66. Green Lantern Kyle Rayner (Jim Lee threads)
  67. Green Lantern Hal Jordan (current threads)
  68. Captain Britain (70s groove)
  69. Stargirl
  70. Captain Canuck
  71. TF:A Prowl
  72. BW Inferno (7″)
  73. BW Scorponok
  74. Tarantulas
  75. Terrorsaur
  76. BW Optimus Prime (7″)
  77. BW Blackarachnia
  78. BW Waspinator
  79. Tomaz (7″)
  80. Zamot (7″)
  81. Zartan (7″)
  82. Snake Eyes (7″)
  83. HISS Driver (7″)
  84. Rip It (7″)
  85. Cobra Soldier (7″)
  86. Cobra Officer (7″)
  87. BW Megatron (7″)
  88. Destro (7″)
  89. Cobra Commander (7″)
  90. Scarlett (7″)
  91. Mr. Terrific Michael Holmes (7″)
  92. Mr. Terrific Terry Sloane (7″)

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