Saturday, December 7, 2013

OrnaMENTAL Times

This Enterprise started out as a cake topping from my son's birthday.  It's a bit old, and if I was really inclined to, I could open it up and replace the watch battery that powers the few lights it has.

In the olden days, at my last job, we sold Hallmark ornaments, and I was able to pick some of them up at a fraction of their MSRP.


Again, an older one, and if I replace the battery, the bat-signal will light up!

I can't love animation as much as I do and NOT have some of these.

Is is just me, or is Superman's body just a little bit too long? Oh well, as a kid back in the '70s, I would've LOVED having this ornament.
Just a little proof that I am definitely still alive, AND still a nerd! Hope the Holidays are treating you well.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Latest Project: George Reeves Superman!

In the old days of the "Fortress of Solitude: West Coast" blog, I posted my opinions regarding the portrayal of Superman through the years. Though Christopher Reeve was great in the first two feature films, I still think that George Reeves is my favorite Superman.

Many many years ago, I'd wanted to make a drawing of Reeves, in a contemplative pose-- more a drawing of George Reeves than one of Superman.  It's kind of hard to explain; I wanted him to be in the costume that made him an enduring star, and yet I wanted the viewer to focus on Reeves the human being.  I wanted him to appear deep in thought, sort of oblivious to how the public loved him as Superman, sort of "here I am as Superman forever, but I'm also still George Bessolo..."  He needed to look flashy and heroic, yet vulnerable and disappointed in spite of it all.

In keeping with my habits... About 10 years later, I'm doing this painting!

It's acrylic paint on a 16 x 20 canvas, and  I just finished plotting the subject and some of the values in raw sienna. I think the likeness and pose are exactly what I'd originally wanted back last decade. What a procrastinating bum I am!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Model Madness: M48 Progress...

Well, this kit has been a slo-mo build. It's also been a bit frustrating in that the kit itself is VERY easy to assemble, but yet I can't do one step because I have to do some special step first, and I can't do that special step because I have to solve this other problem.... Anyways, I've been making some advancements. After painting the parts an initial coat of camouflage, I've begun the custom steps necessary to get this kit where I want it to be, as I described in the starting post.

You can see the rather large holes that I had to blast out in order to make a path for the LEDs.  On the right side you can see how I've bent the leads on the LED in a right angle to the bulb itself.

Now we get crafty. I needed hoods for the headlights, so I primed and paint both ends of a drinking straw.

I then measured and cut the length of tube i would need to hood the LEDs.

Meanwhile, the turret assembly is done, and not as bright green as this pic would indicate.

So here's the headlights, hooded and with leads concealed in shrink tubing. The arches that go over the headlights have been gutted to make room for the custom lighting.

And here's the inside under, with lights in place!

And here's the headlights with arches in place, looking rather frog-like!

We have headlights! I used a much stronger resistor in order to dim them down a bit.

Finally, you can see the hole in the bottom hull through which the wiring is to be fed through the floor of the wood base.  I may next have to tackle the base and get that going.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Model Madness: Tank Update

As you can see, I'm chugging along. I drilled open the end of the turret gun, which inexplicably was shut, and have been putting in a lot of time putting/sanding all of the gappy seams in the undercarriage.  The more I look at this kit, the more I realize that there's not too many parts to it, and that means soon it'll be time for some wiring and paint!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Next Project- M48A2 Patton Tank from Monogram

Though usually I build models or create "things" inspired by my favorite sci-fi/fantasy sources, I've decided to venture into the real past next with this build, the M48A2.  As the box indicates, it's 1/35 scale, meaning that it's almost 10 inches long, which is pretty good for tank kits (usually, they're 1/72 scale).  This Monogram kit comes with some troops as well, and.. get this... rubber treads!!!

Like my Frankenstein custom build from a few months ago, I'm going to create a custom base with scorched earth and puddles, and I'll also be installing two headlights (although as of right now I have no idea how I'm going to do that).  I'm also going to experiment with a sound card, to see if I can have a multi-button function for various sound effects (engine running, treads, some cannon fire, battle sounds).  This kit is going to present some really fun weathering opportunities, too.

You might be wondering (or not at all) about why I would select this one to build, instead of a Star Trek/Star Wars-themed work.  Well, my dad was in the Army, and was a tank mechanic, and this was one of the tanks he often worked on.  I'm going to build this for him, and then ship it to him in Tennessee as a surprise.  I'm aiming for a sculpture display look more than a model on this one, so the paintwork will be the top most important thing.  More to come.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Yoda Standee Done

At long last (well, come to think of it, it's only been a little over a week), the wood Yoda standee is completed.  I ended up changing my mind regarding using Envirotex, as it would make it heavier and also make it TOO reflective.  It would be difficult to actually display it somewhere in which you could see the image instead of yourself, reflected on the surface.  Instead, I went with Krylon Kamar Varnish, which did the job great, after about three coats.  It's super shiny, yet not heavy, and the brush strokes are still evident enough to break up the reflectivity of the surface.  All in all, I'm happy with it.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Almost Finished He Is

Almost ready for the Envirotex!
Added some yellowish highlights to the skin, as well as made the eyes a bit more "wet" and interesting.  I had to be real judicious with the hair, as even just a tiny bit more than what I painted resulted in him looking like "Yoda Fine."  Three Stooges fans will get it.


After a little trip to Wookiepedia, I discovered that the "amulet" around his neck wasn't that at all, but a "bissl," a three-piped flute.  I guess Yoda had to entertain himself during those 25 years or so exiled on Dagobah.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Next Project: Yoda Standee!

I've always loved Star Wars.  Well, to be more precise, from the time I was 5 years old (in 1977), until 1999, when The Phantom Menace was released, and then slightly again in 2013, with the promise of Lucas-free Star Wars films to come.

Anyways, like most guys my age, I had Underoos.  Yeah, Underoos.  Don't act like you don't know what they are, because you do.  Even if you're a chick, you know.  They made Wonder Woman Underoos.

I had some cool Superman ones, which I wore in lieu of an actual uniform.  I had blue pajama pants that I would wear under the red tighties, and boom! I was the man of steel.  Underoos also released a Star Wars line, and the packaging featured neat line drawings of the characters.  In particular, I remember a drawing of Yoda, which appeared on a Jedi Knight Certificate featured on the back of the packages, during the release of Return of the Jedi.  That same line drawing also was used on the back of the Topps trading cards for the film, whenever a Yoda scene was described.

I always loved that drawing of Yoda.  I think it was because in the films he was so obviously stuck to the floor, and here he was sort of leaning over, taking a step.  The pose was dynamic, and the face was slightly more toadish, and less cuddly and cute.  I never forgot that image, for some reason.  So fast forward 30 years.  Yes, it's been 30 years.

I went out to the garage and found this piece of panelling from some package long ago.  I looked at it and thought, "It's pretty tough, pretty rigid.  Would make a good standee.  It's about the size of either R2 or Yoda."  Well, I checked online and found out that Yoda is only 26 inches tall, so there was plenty of room on the board.
I first brought the board inside, cleaned it up, and sprayed some primer (this board is super-absorbent).

I propped up the board and used my art projector to place the Underoos image on the board.  Yeah, I'm too busy to sit down and free-hand this stuff!

I then painted in the preliminary black line work.  Most of this had to be replaced after placing the real colors in.

Most of the colors are in place, generally speaking.  Check out the belt; it's totally wrong.  The original image was so grainy and small that I had to try to fill in the blanks.  Well, it turned out that I didn't know Yoda's costume like I thought I did.  He doesn't have snaps on his belt pouches, and he doesn't have a belt buckle.

I little more definition going on in the face.  I'm going to plot in the hair last.  You can see the Topps card image, along with another variation of the drawing from a Star Wars Monopoly set that I have.  In all three products, the drawing has been modified slightly.

And here he is, with repaired belt and finished walking stick.  I'm still trying to find a good image of his amulet which hangs around his neck.  That's what I'll have to do next, and then it's on to shadows in the face and clothing.





Once I get the hair in place, I'll proceed to cut the form out of the board, and then I'll make it so that it will be hangable.  I'm going to coat the guy in Envirotex, so that he'll shine like glass.  More to come.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Frank's Final Resting Place

Though a bit overwhelmed by the Gill Man, he looks like he fits in fine... If you can even find him!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Revel Frankenstein-- Better Pics



The iPhone might be a technological wonder, but sometimes it doesn't take the best pics, so here's a couple of better ones!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Frankenstein Lives!

Well, okay.  After a couple of months have passed since I first got that kernel of an idea rattling around in my spacious head, the customized Monogram Frankenstein Monster kit has been realized.  I can say that this experience taught me all kinds of neat things; there was more than once when, after doing something almost by accident, I told myself, "Hey remember that for later!"

For instance, I now know that if I mix burn umber, crimson, and a bright cartoony green together (but not too well mixed), it will mimic a tarnished bronze finish.

I learned that if you apply 3m Bondo red putty to form foam, the putty will eat a bit at the foam, and make it slightly workable, and you can mimic striations in rock that way.

And most importantly of all, I took my first toddler steps with using lights (in this case, one light).

So, the end product is very satisfactory, and I learned along the way, so this was truly a worthwhile experience! Enjoy the gratuitous pics!
I used color home movie footage shot during the making of "Son of Frankenstein" for my color reference.  I'm really happy with the swirling look of the soil all around the base.


The 9v is behind the wooden gate, and of course, the switch is built into the fallen brick.  Next time, I'll better plan the placement of my switches before I build.

I'm happy with how tattered his clothing looks, as if he did just climb out of the sulfur pit!


I ended up placing the boy's "Fairie Tales" book at the bottom step, as if Frankenstein had just dropped it, as he became more intent upon violent revenge for Eygor's death...

The camera can't show it, but in total darkness, the green light faintly lights the raised arm and the wall sections.

The speckled mushrooms are a known poisonous variety!  I had to add about four different colors to the back walls to get them right.  There's red, brown, grey, you name it.


The shapes really show their stuff in this silhouetted image.  Even in darkness, you can read the image.

In this image, you can better see the various hues in the stones.


I love the burned-wool vest, and the varying values in it.

 The green light showcases all of the detail in the vest.   

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Paint Phase Underway...


Working on getting a smooth blend between where the steps transform into the the bulge of mud/earth.  The steps themseelves (and the walls behind) still aren't quite right.  But I do like the skulls!

I knew I liked the vest more than the one featured in the actual film, but I was really surprised once I started painting it! All of the random swirls and zags came to life!

I'm really looking forward to getting his green face in place.  This kit has come a LONG WAY from where it was, when I got it on Ebay years ago.  I'd almost forgotten that I had it!

The back of the vest.  It does kind of look like what his wool vest would've been like after temporarily falling into that burning pit of sulfur.

At last, Krogh's arm! Phew! This little thing was probably the biggest challenge of the entire build.  Anyways, there's the torn sleeve from his uniform, his leather glove, the metal top of the arm showing, the shoulder cup, and the two straps (with a buckle).  But it looks WICKED when Frankenstein is holding it, as you'll see!

I did a little research on early 20th century prosthetic arms, and saw one that most resemble Krogh's.  I replicated the shoulder cup, and though you can't tell, I even did this little trick with the Sculpey in order to make a faux leather texture-- just take the piece in your hand (pre-bake), and VERY lightly, apply your finger prints, in criss-crossing directions.  It'll be just enough ridges to make it look like rough leather.  Anyways, I'm going to gloss up the glove later on.