Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Toy Talk - The Vintage ESB Wave Collection ROCKS!!!

For those who are very excited about the new Vintage line set to hit in about a month, your excitement is well placed! August 6 is the official release date but I did not feel like waiting so I ordered the entire first wave of ESB figures, x2 Cloud Cars and x2 Snowspeeders from TRU.com as they broke the street date. I just got the figures delivered to my door today super fast (and for free too)! After opening them I can honestly say that they are amazing! Hasbro raised their game here as you will soon see. The Luke Bespin is a really awesome figure, they even retooled his Lightsaber, Hilt & Blaster! For those who are worried about his frumpiness it's not bad at all, just leave the belt on! The entire wave is superb sans Vader. He sucks, but they made up for it by giving the Cloud Car Pilot a mustache. That made him better so I forgive Hasbro for the Uncle Fester Vader! I cannot wait to see the detail on the new vehicles, they should be here Thursday!

If the quality going forward is at this level we are in for a real treat! I took some quick pictures to share. I also put together some quick customs of a few already. It's a custom blog after all, I have to have something related to that, don't I? Luke's head fits on the Snowspeeder body perfectly and I also modified a Leia to make a SA Bespin escape version. If you can get them early too do not wait!
Check them out below and see for yourself:

Sunday, June 27, 2010

New Customs - KOTOR Armored Jedi Knight Hero Ven Swallow & Darth Malgus Sith Lord

Last year at the 2009 E3 Video Game expo show a CGI promo trailer was shown for the upcoming KOTOR game, it was nothing less of spectacular! Fans loved it and clamored for more, much more. This is what we all wanted (and expected) to see in the Star Wars prequels. This trailer was so good it makes the prequels look that much worse. Even the dialogue was better, just listen to that Sith Lord, he was obviously not that happy about watching the Jedi/Republic get all fat and cushy for 300 years! While I am at it, the scenery even looked more realistic! Just think if the prequels were made like both of the KOTOR game trailers...

Anyway, I happened to watch the new trailer 2 weeks ago and after that I watched  the first one again. I am still blown away at how awesome they are. The armored Jedi are really "Phiggiddy Phat"! Yes, I said Phiggiddy Phat. (Need a refresher of the first trailer? Click here) Once I plopped my rump down at my custom table I scoured my parts bin to make one of these armored Jedi. I have made them once before. I made this Keldor armored Jedi Knight in 2009 when the trailer came out. I made it with a slight twist...wait for it...wait for it...a blue metallic armor tint. Simply groundbreaking, blue instead of green.

I wanted to go back and do a better job on the armored Jedi. I really liked this conceptual drawing that I came across and used that for some reference.

I also pulled some screen grabs to try and get a better look at the old school Jedi. Since I was making this on the fly I was not planning on making any Sith Lords but how could I not make a Sith Lord to fight the hero? So I also put one together at the same time as the Jedi Hero to recreate the epic duel. While not 100% accurate sculpt wise I was happy with the paint schemes on both. I sculpted a new doo on Duke to resemble the main hero from the first video more. The green metallic took some time to get right but it pops well. The pictures really do not do it justice.

The Sith Lord for being made quickly actually came out better than I thought he would. I was not going for accuracy and thought of him as the younger brother of the Sith Lord from the video. But the face really came out nice and creepy, it captured that raw evil essence. To be honest, I actually liked him better than the Jedi.

After creating these two I am now inspired to go back and do them both again. when I do they will much more accurate. I figured out ways to improve on both on that front but for two figures on the fly I thought they were cool. What do you think of them?

BTW - What's up with Sith Lords and breathing masks? Has anyone ever done a study on Sith Lords in regards to lung cancer? They seem to be very prone to it.

As always your feedback comments and hate mail are welcome!

Star Tours Boarding Party - Kaink Upgrade Kit

As we all know the Star Tours Boarding Party Kaink was missing most of her outfit and signature staff leaving a lot of disappointment amongst fans. While we are happy they even made her (along with Teek) we all want to complete her. When I received my set I wanted to remedy that and did. After several requests I decided to sell this "Kaink Kit" to my fellow collectors.

Take a look at the pictures to see how it looks and what you get with it. Thanks!
BTW - If you are interested send me an email!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

"The Little Differences" - A-Wings and Y-Wings

If you have been following my Blog you'll know that I am a stickler for consistency in my collection. This week's "Little Differences" is all about consistency amongst vehicles. I am very selective with what I keep in my collection, so I only want the best versions of figures and vehicles. If either gets improved in a significant way the older version gets chopped up for fodder, traded or sold to help offset the cost of the new one. Like anything in life, there are some exceptions to the rule. There are those instances when a better version of a vehicle comes out with some improved parts rendering the older version slightly outdated. Some of those outdated vehicles sport unique decos that I do not want to part with as the overall sculpt is not outdated.But can they get updated for OCD consistency collectors like myself? YES!

This week I am going to focus on the A-Wings and the Y-Wings. To date, in the modern line each of those vehicles were released three times with three different decos respectively. On the third release of each vehicle style they received some new part upgrades. The 2007 Y-Wing received new larger front cannons and the 2008 A-Wing received an uber detailed cockpit:

Hasbro did a superb job refreshing both of these older vehicles that are still very much up to par to today's standards. (They do still need to fix the limp landing gear on the Y-Wing!) I particularly loved the lastest release of both but I really still liked my older versions of the respective vehicles. Being a consistency enthusiast I bought extras of each of the newer upgraded vehicles to see if I could swap the parts to upgrade the older versions.

The Y-Wing Cannons are very easy to change. I do suggest unscrewing the older versions so you do not stress the front fender to remove the old cannons. You only have to remove the front screws to slightly loosen it to get them out. (If you are lazy they can be pulled out.) Since I made the investment I also used the 2007 Y-Wing windshields, rear thrusters and engine frames on the OTC version to really overhaul it. I used the entire engine frame on the POTF2 one as well. This requires disassembling the vehicle, it's not rocket science just do it slowly and you will know where things go when you put it back together.

The A-wings are slightly more involved as you have to completely unscrew the vehicle body to change the cockpits out. Hasbro has updated some of the internal screw bosses to accommodate the new upgrades. Luckily they did not change too much as the new cockpits will fit perfectly into the older version molds.  I also used the Legacy side canons on the POTF2 version as well to make all three really sync up. Take a look the pictures, they speak for themselves. The Green a-Wing was always my favorite version of the A-Wing thus far and it looks really great with the new cockpit. Yes, I know this is not an inexpensive upgrade but to me it was very well worth it. My fleet is now upgraded and consistent...

Now look at my entire consistent A & Y Wing fleet together with the upgraded parts:

What did I do with the leftover ships you ask? Well, I reassembled them to be completed kit bashed versions and sold them as is on eBay to recoup some of the investment. You can also use the leftovers for customs or diorama fodder or battle damaged vehicles.

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

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Custom Flashback - My Star Wars Wedding Cake Topper (10/07)

I wanted to show off one of my greatest & most cherished customs that I have ever made. With my wife being as cool as she is, she was completely fine with my one request to create a custom Star Wars cake topper for our wedding cake. In most cases, anytime you see a Star Wars Wedding Cake topper it usually consists of Han & Leia as the respective Bride & Groom. As the Star Wars first couple, it does makes natural sense to have them on there but that is a little too cliche' for our tastes. Since our entire family knew I was a Toy Designer, a huge Star Wars collector and a customizer expectations were very high to make this special. (No pressure.) We knew off the bat that Aayla Secura would represent my Bride to be as my wife really liked like the character. My choice was fairly easy too, I am 6'5 and my brother calls me a simian so Chewbacca was the perfect 70's space monkey to represent me. Another observation that I have made on SW cake toppers was that every one that I have ever seen just had the figures plopped on them - as is! No tuxes or wedding dresses on them. For our custom cake topper that was not going to fly, so I set out to create the appropriate wedding attire for these figures. Take a look:

Tackling the Groom Chewbacca first, the tuxedo was not going to be an easy task as I have no sewing skills. I liked the challenge and I trusted in the customizing Force to pull this off. I used an Evolutions Palpatine cloak for the bulk of the tux, a POTF2 Princess Leia collection robe for the shirt and some "stocos28 Pleather" (He is my closest friends and fellow customizer) for the bow tie/jacket collars. The Buttons came from the shaft of a blaster rifle that I cut in small circular chunks. The Palpatine cloak was cut, wrapped and glued in the right spots until I got the look right with no mess. Amazingly, I nailed this on the first go around No redos, no joke.

My wife wanted her figure to be sleeveless to resemble her very own wedding dress so I had to modify the base of the existing figure. I used two Aayla figures but did a pop/swap reverse on her bare arms to avoid painting of the skin. I really did not want to paint the exposed figures upper body to have the most clean & consistent look I could. Plus, I knew I was going to work with white cloth so it could rub on the white material. I used the bare legs from the POTC Elizabeth Swan in Pirates Disguise to make this more realistic and matched the molded blue skin tone fairly well. With the figure assembled I fixed the facial make up and painted her head wrap white. The real challenge lied ahead, the Brides Dress! This took two tries to get it right. It also caused a lot of stress!

I tried using existing a cloth Princess Leia dress in the same fashion that I constructed Chewbacca's Tux but that did not pan out at all. In fact, it was a nightmare. Over the course of my career I learned that when you hit a creative block it's best to stop and leave it alone a few days to clear the mind. I took my own advice and it paid off.  On a random trip to Jo Ann fabrics to pick up some paint brushes I came across some Wedding Decorations in the store. As I walked down the aisle I spotted a 1:18th scale Wedding dress decoration - BINGO! It turned out to be the perfect base to work with, I removed the roughage & added silky material to look closer to the actual dress.

To finish off the topper I used an ornate wedding ring case as the base (I painted the top). I hot glued them on in case I ever needed to repair them they would be easy to remove & reattach.

Hope you enjoy! As always comments, feedback and hate mail are welcome!