Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Boba Fett - Something To Prove

Though I'm not crazy about the whole Jango/Boba Fett plotline from the prequel trilogy, the Clone Wars' depiction of Boba Fett growing into the role of bounty hunter does have a certain appeal. I was actually inspired by a custom of a younger Jango Fett by AgentClaret, as I initially mistook it for a younger Boba.
This got me thinking about how Boba Fett might look like when he's finally old enough to just fit into the armor of his dead father. I used undersized parts in some places, while other pieces are intentionally oversized, hopefully to give just enough skewed proportion to show that things don't quite fit right and he's yet to grow into evertything.

I opted for the animated style head, but gave the eyes and eyebrows a repaint to give them a bit more of a real world appearance.

His armor is configured much like the Boba Fett we recognize from ESB and ROTJ, but the pieces are still unpainted and are the original gunmetal as when Jango wore them. I'm sure the expanded universe states exactly when the helmet got its famous dent, but I've gone ahead and added it here to allude toward his adult appearance, like the single sided gunbelt and the choice of weapons.

Parts Recipe:
B'arin Apma - Torso, Left Gauntlet, Boots
Dred Priest - Legs
Rav Bralor - Arms
Boba Fett - Head, Hands
Boba Fett - Blaster Carbine
Jango Fett - Gun Belt, Blaster
Various Episode 2 Jangos - Gauntlet, Helmet, Backpack

"Customs For the Kid" does a great video tribute of my work!

Father and son customizing team Darth Daddy and Elias have posted an updated video tribute to my Star Wars customs at their site, customsforthekid.blogspot.com. I'm honored to be cited as an influence on their work, they do a wonderful job of showcasing many of the impressive customizers among our community, and their own custom work is continuing to impress me with its creativity and detail. We're lucky to have such an enthusiastic team in the Star Wars customizing community!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Walon Vau - Mandalorian Mercenary

Walon Vau is another character from the Republic Commando series by Karen Traviss.

Walon acts as a foil for Kal throughout the series, so the two seemed a natural choice to make as a set.

I tried to make him tall and gaunt, to match the "cadaverous" description he's given, and attempted to make his figure more visually interesting than a mando sculpt just dipped in black paint, going for a gray jumpsuit beneath the armor plates, and detailing with brown and gunmetal.

Parts Recipe::
Spc. Altitude - Head
Dred Priest - Torso, Arms, Feet, Blaster
B'arin Apma - Waist, Legs, Pack

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kal Skirata - Mandalorian Patriarch

Based on the character from Karen Traviss's Republic Commando series, Kal Skirata marks one of the first times I've actually tackled an Expanded Universe character. I'm always reluctant to do customs of established characters because the Customizer's Curse means an official one will be announced within a few days of finishing a custom based on an existing character.

I read the books over a year ago, and skimmed Wookieepedia for a quick refresher, but I went off my impression of what I remember about the character so I'm sure he's not entirely accurate.

I'm not sure he ever wore his jacket and armor together, but I liked the idea and differentiates him from just another Boba/Jango palette swap.

Parts Recipe:
Mij Gilamar - Base Figure, Helmet
Rebel Trooper - Coat
ROC Shipwreck - Gloves
Indiana Jones - Forearms
El-Les - Shatter Gun

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mandalorian Commander

Another simple repaint with a head swap, though this one did involve transplanting a second holster so he dual wield those pistols for a little old west flavor. Mandalorians are fun because with just a few signature elements (a t-visor, a range finder, or their armor pattern and symbols) you can do countless color and accessory variation. I'm in awe of the customizers who so far as original sculpted helmets and such to make Mando's of varying alien species. Mine, for now, remain mostly humanoid.

I thought the black and white color scheme with red visor made him look rather dynamic, denoting him as a commander or some other rank of importance on the battlefield, though the red and white have a distinct "medic" feeling to them.

Parts Recipe:
Concept Boba Fett - Helmet
Concept Snow Trooper - Base figure, additional pistol and holster

Mandalorian Sniper

The Clone Wars figures are often disappointing to me as a customizer, due to their exaggerated proportions. Some of the figures, though, are close enough to work as fodder. This Mandalorian Sniper, for example, is mostly a minor repaint with the helmet from a McQuarrie concept art Boba Fett. Nothing complicated or fancy, but a nice "background" character to fill out a Mando crowd.

Parts Recipe:
TCW Pre Vizsla - Base Figure
Concept Boba Fett - Helmet

Friday, April 15, 2011

Glenda - Helicopter Pilot

Glenda is yet another update to an Argentinian figure, though this one hardly counts as a custom. Hasbro actually made an official release of Scarlett in these color. I gave her head a quick paintjob, swapped her feet to match the original figure's white boots, and added Argentina's flag to her shoulder with a water-slide decal. Nothing fancy, but she helps round out my Argentina team.

Parts Recipe:
Scarlett - Base Figure
ROC Storm Shadow - Feet

Sokerk - Falcon Soldier

Sokerk is another Argentinian figure update. I tried to be mostly true to the corresponding modern parts the the original figure was made up of, though I made a few swaps for similar looking parts here for ease of painting.

Individually, he might be a bit bland, but I think as a group he and my other Argentina customs make a nice team, along with the 2009 con exclusives.

Parts Recipe:
Spc. Altitude - Head, Lower Legs, Feet
Sgt. Airbone - Arms, Hands, Harness
Dusty - Torso, Thighs
Doc - Helmet

Call of Cthulhu - The Haunting original maps

And now for something completely different! Despite being scattered across three states, I was recently able to get an RPG going amongst my friends. It's been years since I played, and longer since I tried to run a tabletop game. The natural choice seemed to be Star Wars Saga Edition, but I couldn't quite work up the confidence for the somewhat elaborate combat. Then I came across the Call of Cthulhu Quick Start Rules.

I fell in love with the simplicity of the system immediately. I'd heard about the sanity system for a long time, and the percentile based skill system was familiar from my RIFTS days, but the streamlined rules which favored story and horror over stats seemed like a perfect match for our experiment in running a table top RPG virtually.

Skype's conference call feature would serve as our vocal link up, while RPTool's MapTool proved to be a wonderful way to coordinate combat and visuals.

While I fancy myself quite well versed in the arcane arts of PhotoShop, using it to design the maps for our adventure was a new challenge for me. I'm mostly please with the results, but found object creation and placement endlessly frustrating. Ultimately I ended up using Google Sketchup's extensive object library to generate top down views to import into my map. The results are a bit more barren and unpopulated than I'd like, but worked quite well for our scenario.

The Second Floor

The Ground Floor

The Basement

Thursday, April 14, 2011

John Henry - Steampunk Mechanic

...and though most of John Henry's early life has become the subject of much debate and folklore, it is known he was responsible for leading the legendary Talcott Rebellion. Talcott, of course, was the location of the first major automoton "uprising." Chesapeake and Ohio Railway had pitted their best steel drivers against new automotons designed to replace the workers. Inspired by Henry's incredible strength and endurance, the men were able to keep pace with the machines. The machines perceived this as a threat to their "jobs," and therefore their purpose and existence. Due to the less regulated programming of the time and before the adoption of the Lovelace Protocols, the automotons came to the conclusion that the execution of the railway workers was part of their current directive.

The slaughter of the workers was swift and would have been complete if not for the leadership, strength, and courage of John Henry. Armed only with his 20 pound hammer, Henry was able to hold off the marauding contraptions until the other workers were able to rally and regroup. Victory came at a price for John Henry; by the time the others were able to join in him in battle, his arms were ruined... muscles torn to shreds and bones shattered. Though he'd saved his fellow workers and their jobs, his life as a steel driver was finished.

Henry now servers as Chief Engineer aboard the Ourobors, and is fiercly loyal to both Captain Earhart and President Lincoln. He has regained the use of his arms through a set of exoskeletal mechanical braces of his own design, having become obsessed with machinary after the Talcott Rebellion. He harbors an intense mistrust of all forms of automoton...

Parts Recipe:
ROC Heavy Duty - Head
POC Recondo - Torso
ROC Roadblock - Legs
Iron Man Mk I - Arms
Shock Trooper - Sledge Hammer Head
Road Pig - Sledge Hammer Handle

Torment - COBRA Combat Trainer

Created for the 2010 JoeCustoms.com Original Character Custom Contest, I was honored to have this figure win Staff's Choice. The goal was to create original characters to fit into the establish G.I. Joe world. Here's he's biography:

"File Name: Vargas, SergioPrimary Military Specialty: Drill Sergeant
Secondary Military Specialty: Special Forces Senior Sergeant
Birthplace: Chia, Cundinamarca, Colombia

From Mindbender's assessment: "I half expected the brute to try and eat the Rorschach cards when we began his evaluation. Imagine my surprise that behind his rasping voice and curt, almost monosyllabic speech was a brilliant and cultured mind. He is however narcissistic bordering on sociopathic with cruel, sadistic tendencies. During his evaluation period training recruits the mortality rate has increased substantially, but the results are inarguable... the recruits that do survive his training more than make up for those lost. Projected recuperation of long term investment on each individual recruit has increased phenomenally."

Originally a drill sergeant in the Colombian Army with extensive combat experience, TORMENT was ejected from service due to use of excessive violence in training. Began selling his training services to local rebels and grew to notoriety within the related drug trade for his effectiveness. Recruited by Dark Water International's Venezuelan branch to train local contracted militia and security for oil interests. Fired after his methods brought international attention and criticism to his employer. Began selling his services world wide; confirmed operations in numerous former Soviet republics, Africa, Middle East, etc.

Lost his eye while personally demonstrating new training regimen. Finished the demonstration despite the injury; this unrelenting attitude is one of many contributing factors to his high training mortality rate, and his immense success and effectiveness."

Parts Recipe:
Street Fighter Sagat - Head (converter to neck ball compatible)
Croc Master - Torso (heavily modified), Upper Arms
Shipwreck - Arms
Resolute Duke - Hands
City Strike SnakeEyes - Legs
ARAH SnakeEyes Nunchuck - Swagger Stick staff
Resolute Cobra Commander Dagger - Swagger Stick head

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

T.N.T - Bomb Deactivator

 First a little GI Joe history for those of you unfamiliar with some of the more obscure aspects of the line. Often the GI Joe brand was released over seas by various foreign toy companies. Often these were just repacks with foreign packaging, but sometimes these companies repainted and kitbashed parts are made entirely new characters.

T.N.T. is based on his Argentinian release, in order to fill out the ranks of Argentina figures done in the modern style started by the 2009 GI Joe convention exclusive.

T.N.T.'s  specialty is listed as Bomb Deactivator, but his parts and accessories, along with variant accessories give him quite a confusing appearance. He's got the sculpt and backpack of a flamethrower soldier, and while the armor padding makes sense for bomb disposal, the silver suggest flame retardant material . Add to that the fact he came with a medic's helmet and different assault rifles (though one variation did equip him with the blowtorch to go with his backpack) and he certainly doesn't look like JUST a "bomb deactivator" to me.

So in my mind, T.N.T. is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. Not every international counter part to GI Joe enjoy's the funding and resources of the American team, so sometimes the Argentina members have to double up on their roles and duties. T.N.T. here always draws the short stick and ends up having to take a crash course in whatever specialty is needed.

I made a few minor tweaks to the paint job, but tried to be as true to the original figure as I could. I did have to go with a smaller head so the helmet would fit.

Parts Recipe:
Blowtorch - Base figure, Backpack
ROC Grand Slam - Head
ROC Doc - Helmet
ROC Charbroil - Flamethrower, Hose
ROC Tunnel Rat - Satchel

Jedi Pirate

Here's another Rogue Jedi for the current YAKFinities Contest. Like my Jedi Drifter, he's abandoned his lightsaber and the Force in order to remain hidden. The little guy on his shoulder actually negates the Force around him, acting as a sort of cloak or shadow. Also like the Drifter, I used some subdued tans and browns to allude to his Jedi past without the usual garb and trappings of a Knight.

Parts Recipe:
Djas Puhr - Head, Hands
PoP:SoT Dastan (Warrior) - Base Figure
Grand Admiral Thrawn - Ysalamiri (pet)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Jedi Drifter

The current "YAKfinities" contest theme is Dark/Rogue Jedi and will run until the end of June. I decided on making a few Jedi as they might appear in the Dark Times, having abandoned the Force and their lightsabers for new identities. I tried to incorporate a few "Jedi" parts and use their recognizable earthy color scheme to give the figure a distinct Jedi feel though her design is obviously more of a gunslinger.

Parts Recipe:
T'ra Saa - Torso, Legs, Arms

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Back in Action!

Ugh, almost a month and a half of silence. That's no good! Well, I finally got around to finishing up about a dozen new figures and got them photographed this afternoon. It's so tempting to just dump them all at once, but I'm going to try and be good and give each figure the consideration it deserves and doll them out over the next week. I'll be covering all the bases, too, from Star Wars and Zombies to video game characters and some more obscure GI Joe characters. And I've got some more on the work bench I think fans of my 80's Villains will appreciate, so please forgive my absence and keep checking in for more figures!

Thanks for your continued support!

Patient Zero - The First Infected

Every outbreak has to start somewhere, so I suppose it's fitting that my first real zombie custom figure is called Patient Zero. He went through multiple painting attempts as I tried to learn a little more about dry brushing to achieve a dirty look that didn't just look sloppy. It's not an easy balance. The skin tone looks a little more "stone" than "rot" than I'd like, but he's really just meant to be the first of many simple scene-fillers to pose against my L4D survivor customs.

Visually he mixes elements of L4D's drab zombie color scheme and The Walking Dead's gritty, white-eyes illustrations. 

Parts Recipe: