Thursday, December 16, 2010

New Custom - Jabba's Palace Guard Fozec

One of the greatest things about Star Wars is all of the looming loser background characters that populated the films. Some of these D-listers did not even have a full screen shot and some just had a few fleeting seconds of being barley visible (usually behind another D-Listers head)! There are some exceptions to these characters as some are quite interesting and would make great figures! Despite the screen time handicap the fine folks at Lucasfilm (in an effort to mine every dime out of these films) decided to give the some of these scrubs names and stories to make them more marketable. I think the most famous of all of the Star Wars back ground characters is the "Ice Cream Maker Guy" Willrow Hood. Hasbro did the unthinkable by actually producing an official  figure of him after years of fans hounding them and pols requesting him. The biggest thanks goes to Scott over at Jedidefender who spearheaded the cause by creating a website that got other fans on board for Willrow. The figure turned out great and is one of my favorite figures in the line, he is great for customs too! Hasbro earned a lot of Nerd cred with this figure and all they asked was for fans to support him at retail. By supporting him it keeps the door open for other really obscure characters that are such an essential part of this line. Fans did keep their end of the deal by supporting the Willrow figure so he did not peg warm like the very awesome but over produced Yarna.

There are still a lot of great back ground bums and beasts to make. One of those characters that is, in my opinion, worthy of an official figure is named Fozec. Fozec is a human guard who works at Jabba's Palace, he also happened to have decent amount of screen time. If you do not know who Fozec is chances are you probably do, if you saw him:

There were rumors at one point that the actor who played Willrow Hood also played Fozec. It was never confirmed and is pretty irrelevant so there is no need to ponder this niche' theory of geekdom. I thought this would be a great figure to make a custom of given my love for all things Jabba. I came up with the idea after thinking about Willrow and decided to use his head for my second Fozec custom. I also had a spare big Thuggee dude from defunct Indiana Jones line, it was a perfect base to create the mighty Fozec. I added some other parts and sculpted the chest/hood armor. I had a hard time finding reference for him so some costume details are a little off. Here is the final result of my Fozec v2, LMK what you guys think:


I think Fozec would make a great figure to add to Jabba's growing modern ranks of goons. It's worth noting that he is on Hasbro's radar screen, they had him scheduled in the basic figure line several times but he kept getting bumped out for more prominent characters. They did confirm in a recent Q&A that he will be released some day in the very near future. 2013 may be a good time as it's the 30th Anniversary of ROTJ. (Hasbro if you read this please release a Sail Barge too in that year, I will buy two! I am good for it, look at my collection!)

As always your feedback comments and hate mail are welcome!

Friday, December 10, 2010

New Customs - "Store Brand" Sith Lords

Have you ever noticed that most Sith Lords have some serious respiratory issues? While the Dark side may be tempting with all of it's enticing power, it really does comes at a high price, to your breathing! Maybe, just maybe, Sith Lords are so angry because they do not get a good nights rest due to not being able to breathe properly. That said, when I make custom Sith Lords I impulsively have to include some kind of breathing apparatus, attached to their face. (It's just a default bad habit rule that I have.)

I really love making generic Sith Lords, with so many Jedi out there it's nice to have a Sith army to combat them! That aspect alone is what makes the KOTOR and Legacy time lines so cool, you actually see large battles with Lightsaber wielding warriors! Over the years I have made a lot of generic Sith Lords, some were better than others but there are the occasional gems that really came together nicely. I think it's time some of those gems get the front page treatment, it also been a long time since I spotlighted a generic character custom on the front page. Lets take a look at a few "Generic Store Brand" Sith Lords that I made:

Sith Death Adder
Can you guess where hise name came from? For some reason I had the old school Sega arcade game Golden Axe on the mind. (For those younglings reading this who have no idea what an Arcade is, look it up on the internet. You missed out on some good time but you saved some money!) Golden Axe had some influence on this custom and his name, on top of that it sounds like a new class of Sith. The Skulls on a Spike armor combined with the TFU Sith Stalker belt really complimented each other me thinks. I also shredded up the cape to finish up his deadly persona.

Sith Night Creeper
Not sure if this guy can "Creep" around too successfully in noisy full plate armor but the name had a nice ring to it. The paint job on the armor is what I thought made him really cool. I used four different colors to achieve the finish but it turned out great, the pics do not do it justice. I used the head from the 25th Mercenary Wraith figure and gave the face a complete new paint job to look ghoulish. The beady eyed helmet that flips up added a nice "Darth Vadery" reveal touch.

Darth Scabboius
This is the quintessential Sith Lord with bad respiratory issues due to the horrific wounds inflicted to his face. He is a deadly foot soldier of the Sith with a thirst for battle (and picking his face scabs)!

So I would love to hear your thoughts and hate mail. Should I continue to spotlight "JACKOFTRADZE Generic Store Brand Characters" or stick to the renditions of real characters? 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Little Differences - Ultimate Sailbarge, Jedi Knight & Endor Luke Skywalker V2 & Endor Rebel Troopers

This weeks "Little Differences" segment will start with converting the brand new (and near perfect) Vintage line Jedi Luke figure into his other iconic looks in ROTJ. This first part of this article is a bit of a rehash from a past one I wrote, however I really think it is worth revisiting. If you like to have the most updated figures with previous gear/outfits this is "geared" for you. If you want a trip on the "way back machine" you can see my previous article here. I have to tip my hat off to Hasbro, they finally reached a point where they are really hitting home runs with every figure they make, including main characters which they always seemed to struggle with previously. The Vintage line has been outstanding, keep it up Hasbro!

I will be showing you a few easy mods to satisfy your collection until Hasbro does. They confirmed in 2012 we will see a new Jabba Palace Jedi Luke but do you really want to wait that long? Per my previous article, the Jedi Luke I use to like the most was the Battle of Endor Battle Pack version. Underneath his Camo poncho he had a soft goods Jedi tunic that was a huget improvement from the TAC version. These soft good robes will be crucial to easily modify the new Luke, all you have to do is a simple swap. Next, you need to find a pair of extra hands that match Luke's flesh tone if you really want to get accurate. Remember, Luke only donned the black Michael Jackson like glove after it was shot on Jabba's Sail Barge. (I found a perfect set of hands to use, unfortunately I forgot which figure they came from...) Once you have an adequate pair of hands you will need do the old boil and pop trick to swap them out. Here are two shots of my Jedi Lukes in two different scenes (Note: I bought and modified several Lukes to have them in my specific displays.)

Next up is the Endor Luke, you will be using that leftover Camo Poncho from the figure you "borrowed" the robes from. This is also a quick swap, the helmet does not sit on the new head sculpt perfect but it does not look horrible either. It's also worth noting that this Luke can ride the dated Speederbike perfectly!

Speaking of Endor, these next mods will help you increase the variety of your Endor Rebel Strike Team! Like Luke, the new Rebel Commando is a really well executed figure, his gear and articulation are truly top notch! The only issue that I have with this figure is that he is a beardo! Hasbro really seems to be obsessed with facial hair on their recent Rebel Troopers. This makes army building with them a little less attractive. (I would have bought so many more of this trooper if he was clean shaven.) That said, it is pretty easy to swap heads but this figures neck is not as standard as say the Hoth Rebel Trooper. The neck of this figure lurches forward a bit, so finding the right head to fit properly is a lot more tricky when compared to other figures. Most of the more generic Star Wars heads will require some dremmeling to fit properly on this figure.

I really love retiring older figures so when this new and superior version was released, I knew it was time for my Saga era Endor Rebels to be discharged! I decided to experiment with some of their gear and swap the jacket on the new Vintage Endor Commando to see if it would work. It did, the Saga version jacket fit on the new Rebel fairly well, even the backpack hole lined up! The only downside to this swap is that the jacket limits the figures shoulder articulation. Since I display my figure and not play with them it did not bother me at all. Take a look to see some of the variations I created with different heads and gear:

To continue the experiment further with customizing my Endor troops, I wanted to use the Dressellian Major Panno .I bought several of these lumpy headed aliens to create a squad. (I do expect Hasbro to release a "Pruneface" variant to lead them one day. Until that happens I thought it would be fun to diversify the E.T. squad by using the trusty boil and pop method, I swapped some of his parts with the Vintage Rebel Commando. I used that figures legs and belt harness with the upper half of Major Panno to create a unique looking Dressellian . Major Panno was also a very well done figure, he was so well done that the new Rebel Commando actually used his legs but the Rebel Commando does have a new wider pelvis. The only complaint I had with Panno was that is was very hard to find one that was not crossed eyed. Take a look at this E.T.'s eyes,  would you trust him with a gun?

As you can see the "Little Differences" can make a big difference to your figures! Until next time!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Page Updates: Picture Overhaul on My Collection & Jabba's Palace Display pages!

Get ready for a lot of custom cheer with an Imperial Class Star Destroyer size update to the Blog this month! I will start by updating my two most popular Blog sections: My Collection Room and the Jabba Palace display pages! It's been well over two months since I updated my collection room pictures and with all of the the great product that was released in the last few months (including the superb ROTJ wave) now is the perfect time! There have been a lot of changes to the display shelves including oodles of new figures and vehicles! I also trimmed some figure fat by shedding some outdated figures and upgraded weapons on my favorite troops. Here is a preview of an updated display shelf to entice you:

As usual, I reshot and replaced every single picture on the page! For those of you that view my collection on a regular basis, it really is an entirely new experience for you! The page still features the super large pictures, just click on them and you will be able to view the details up close.

I also added a lot of detail and figures to my Jabba Palace display page including giving it plenty of green pork! Here is a quick preview:

Enjoy these updates, there will be a lot more updates coming this week!!!