REMARKS 05/08/00 - 12/27/00

Forward in Time   Back in Time


ONWARD THROUGH THE SMUT TO 2001

12/27/00- Yes, this would be one of those pompous "State of the Website" messages, written to let you know what you already know and to let you know that I know that you already know this. That being the case, it's probably a good idea to stop right now and look for those pics of the big-boobed babes featured elsewhere in this site. Me, I gotta hang out and finish this thing...

So first off: It's sad but true, but I produced fewer figures this year than I did last year. This is totally unrelated to the national economic downturn and the softening of demand for high-tech goods. It's what happens when you run out of room and go on those guitar sabbaticals. It's what happens when your wife changes jobs and starts coming home earlier. The projects were simpler too-- no megaproductions like the Maria Robot, the medieval armor or the latex-skinned "Teaser" she-monster. Complicated projects are fun, but require more brain cells and a longer attention span than I've been able to muster. But heck, I like the fantasy "Primal World" genre and I've enjoyed working on these simpler figures. They have much more exposed skin than would be appropriate in any other genre except "Exotic Dancers of the 21st Century". I'm not exactly an accomplished tailor, so the focus on sculpting and craftsy-type stuff suits my strengths and sidesteps my weaknesses.

The trend towards more racy, "PG-rated" material has been going on for at least a couple years now (actually, from the beginning). As I've explained, that's due to shrinking opportunities with the onslaught of excellent commercially-produced stuff. I'd be an idjit to tackle SWAT customizing, and my old Kubelwagen project remains here only because I believe we should own up to our abominations. Fact is, others can do it better: Realistic and historical subject matter requires expert knowledge and access to superior reference materials. Fantasy and sexually-charged subject matter doesn't require this, so again it's a case of playing to my strengths (or rather, avoiding my weaknesses). Besides, I like that stuff and putting it on the 'Net, fetishes & all, is kinda liberating. Sex is a marvelous, natural thing so wrapping neuroses around it seems sorta unhealthy. Relax-- If Sagan wanted us to be dignified, it wouldn't have given us such an amusing way of reproducing. Still, I do consciously try to draw the line just a inch or two beyond reasonable contemporary mainstream standards, so you'll probably never see any explicit clusterfuck diorama pics here. I also don't do blatant nipplage pics unless absolutely forced to do so: Even a crude bastard like me has standards.

Yes, I've become more of a crochety old bastard too, Bah humbugging on the e-mail. Only a fool looks for Love on the Internet, and it's damned hard to type with a condom stretched around your keyboard. Few ever seem to want to know about the Meaning of Life, but instead ask, "How do you make an Ewok?" I wanna know too, but do you think I'd bother George Lucas with such a personal question? It has been mentioned and it should be apparent that I'm less "dot-to-dot" on the instructional part... I've discussed this elsewhere, but it can be summed up by this word: --yawn-- I haven't learned any major new techniques lately, and the new minor tricks are mentioned in articles. WYSIWYG. Read the damn manual, cuz I ain't gonna rewrite it...

Faced with this kind of abuse, why should you continue to patronize this website? Well, I've got three words for you: "I don't know." Do it because you enjoy abuse. Do it because it's free and ad-free. Do it for Jesse Ventura and demented quasi-Libertarian propaganda. Do it for the hit counter. Do it because you're bored. Do it because made-up words sound funny and embiggen your vocabulary. Do it because I never lie and I'm always dead serious.

 

"Chests thrust proudly forward, onward to bigger and better things in 2001. Engage."

 


 

BUBES & TOOBS

12/12/00- It's been a long time, huh? I'm lucky I still remember how to do this simple html stuff. These are difficult times, with the endless recounting of shopping days left until the next election: I keep coming up with a different number. And they tell us that our votes count? (as long as they don't get lost or discarded) Dammit, give us a real choice, not a football game: Flash Gordon or Ming the Merciless. As far as I can tell, neither candidate has much to say about exploring the Earth's core or subjugating the Clay Creatures. Yawn.

I probably don't need to tell you this: As the pic above shows, I haven't been doing much new customizing lately. This is meant to be one of those obligatory "wassup" things. Most of my free time lately has been spent doing music & work-related stuff. That's not to say that I haven't been doing some customizing stuff-- the "Bubes & Toobs" thing is an attempt to use one of my bad "Princess Pneuma" castings. So much patchwork, and I still don't know how I'm going to integrate the tubes & finish the base. I guess it's supposed to be some kind of paperweight or pencil holder gift thingee? Recycling is good, even if all it does is use energy to reconfigure existing matter. (At least it doesn't bring new matter into an already crowded universe!)

 

Hey Baby...
Some more stuff dredged up from the past. The "Primal World" stuff is an enduring fave-- I like the theme and assume that even the depraved McFarlane Toys folks won't stoop so low as to make pierced-nippled, lingam-worshipping, Battle Baby-wielding demonesses. Anyway, I've haphazardly worked on a few things: dressed up Minx's helmet; added a few millimeters to DMG's height at the shins, given her some straw mat leggings, and gold-leafed her crotch decoration using Aleene's Crafting Foil. Maybe a few other things. Stuff like this usually doesn't merit mention, but I'm desperate for material.

As for the bigger world of mainstream Joe stuff- I deliberately haven't kept up very well. There's just too much product out there which takes up too much space and gobbles up too much money. Ignorance is bliss. That's the lesson I learned from the Stuart tank. (Now that I've got it, what???) Foolishly, I checked out the 21C motorcycle & sidecar set... I hope it disappears before my resolve weakens. (Remember dummy? You don't have anywhere to put it!!!) Too late...

Likewise for the Blue Box Cy Gal figures (whenever they get here). These look to be the Takara babes that I'd mentioned with great anticipation before. We'll see if they're all they're cracked up to be, since foxy by itself just don't cut it. Case in point: the skinned Jakks Pacific figures which are used in the Charlie's Angels dolls. Neat concept, and good looking but... (and that's a biiiig butt)... they can't stand and are barely poseable. Yep, they're DOLLS (not that there's anything wrong with that). They really don't fit in with the Joe concept unless you like mixing Joe with towering, statuesque statuettes. I'm surprised that the soft boobs haven't caused a stir. Of course, they did show some restraint by not using a raunchy marketing slogan, like "With SquishyTits!" and putting those "try me" cutouts in the packaging.

Spanish Castle Magic...
I finally did have the opportunity to check out one of those "Selena- L'amor Prohib... whatever" dolls. They were commissioned by small company to honor the slain Tejano songstress, Selena, so it's probably not a real mainstream distribution product. What makes this kind of unusual is that the body is constructed very much like a vintage-style Joe. The main construction differences are that the body segments are screw-assembled and the neck is molded onto the chest, for a Barbie-like head assembly. One other big difference is that the limbs & hinges use that sucky soft PVC formulation. And those plastic hinge pins that I like to bitch about. Consequently, you can't really tighten them. Even metal rivets don't work very well (and I have tried).

Work on this off & on project has been pretty slow. The Selena doll has pretty good proportioning, but is far from being good to go, out of the box (for me at least). I've spent a lot of time "reconfiguring" her, and it's been as much, if not more work than doing a Barbie/Jane conversion.

The other obstacle is inspiration (as I've mentioned too many times). No lie, it's really important. I don't make these big boobed figures just for the sake of making big boobed figures. I can start with that, but after a certain amount of development, I have to consider what the figure's going to be. It's got to have a place, a role to fill. Those big boobs must be meaningful. Yeah, right.

Well, it's sort of true. It's hard to decide what kind of face to make unless you know what role the figure's going to fill. Of course you can do it the other way and see what the face suggests. This one's a bit of both and pretty early in development. It was a Barbie head and neck (I lost the Selena one), adapted to be like a hybrid vintage-style neckpin. About the only Barbie part left is the lower part flexible PVC which joins with the neckpin and provides rotation & a little bit of side-to-side & up and down. It's that Barbie thang. Anyway, I wanted to make something for the Primal World. With big boobs. That suggested "female", but I didn't want to make another Amazon warrior like Minx. The Queen Bee position was already filled (by Demon Monkey Goddess)... blah, blah, blah... As you can see, it gets difficult to find roles after you've taken care of the major players. And it's hard to get worked up about making minor characters. As I was saying, she needed a face, so I started on that. Originally, she was much snarlier looking, but through several revisions I came to envision her as being sort of like an "imp". Aha! Every Demon Monkey Goddess needs minions, and an impish minion is a lot more interesting than a boring flunkee rank and file minion. But impish and mega-bazooms don't go together. So the project continues...


 

Hey Joe...
This where a lot of my free time and bux have been going. The guitar hobby has a collecting aspect as well as a customizing aspect. After foolishly spending big bux on expensive stompboxes, I sometimes foolishly gut and reconfigure them. The long-since gutted collectible Mutron box on the left contains a fuzz, octavia, overdrive, noisegate and homemade power supply. The former Crybaby wah is now a Roger Meyer wah with envelope-controlled filter & A/B signal switching (It's even got one of those cool dual mode LEDs). Fun stuff. And tinkering has a real useful aspect too - sooner or later the electrolytic capacitors in your equipment will need to be replaced (as mine did), and it's much cheaper to do it yourself. So you can spend that money on all those other stomp boxes which aren't shown here. (By the way, this is a good way of using up that remaining floor space which is inappropriate for displaying Joe stuff.)

Of course, there's the playing part, which is loads of fun. I've finally spent enough money to sound like Jimi Hendrix on the "Band of Gypsies" album. The learning part is limitless, and fortunately doesn't require additional physical real estate. It just fills up your brain, which has an automatic overflow mechanism to flush overcrowded memories of useless facts (stuff like those multiplication tables). Maybe that's why I'm having trouble recounting the days?

Anyway... until the next update, whenever that may be... Have a good 'un!

 

Jimbob --12/12/00

 


09/07/00- Is it a hiatus, a vacation, or am I just dead? I've resisted putting any kind of message up till now because I haven't quit doing the figure customizing-- I've just been doing other things. It seems weird to have to explain this, but I suppose that's an obligation when you've been throwing stuff out on the 'Net on a regular basis. I'm sorry I didn't say anything before, but the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into a month, and... I'm still doing stuff that I enjoy doing. (Imagine that?) I'm a very linear kinda guy, and there's just not enough time to maintain all the interests, so I go in cycles. (Just like in real life, music followed interest in Joes. Like a second childhood, y'know?)

I've also gotten very bad about answering e-mail (not that I was great about it before) so I've removed the link to that warm & friendly page. I believe that it's one of the hidden downsides of the information revolution-- businesses need to increase staffing to handle the extra load of casual e-mail inquiries, which often doesn't result in an offsetting volume of business. Small businesses have a much harder time dealing with this. I predict that in the future, everyone will be using autoresponders and autoresponders will be talking to autoresponders. On a personal level, it's invaluable for keeping in touch with your buds and great stuff if you enjoy spending your time communicating. But for folks who like to do stuff, it's just one more thing to distract and steal your clock cycles. Not much thought has been given to where we're supposed to find the extra time to deal with it.

Anyway, if you're among the many who have written but I haven't responded to, please don't take it personally. It seems that whenever I answer an e-mail, a response or a new one or two pops up to take its place! It's disheartening to see the heap grow like this and knowing that you'd have to dedicate full days and days of letter-writing just to catch up. Then you've gotta maintain. I guess that's why they invented secretaries? However, just don't be surprised if you do eventually get a reply to a message you sent long ago to that rude bastard, Jimbob.

For the Joe-Heads: Heck, we all know that the Stuart tank rocks. And the Jakks skin-covered gals are an interesting oddity. Dragon's machine gun crew and their cavalry set are sweet. Beyond that, I'm not inclined to suggest what you should be thinking about them in great detail: Go ahead, pay the admission price to discover for yourself. You won't regret it until the Visa bill arrives. I haven't been following the latest releases closely enough to provide advice on what one should do about a reported plague of hideous headsculpts (An enterprising customizer could probably tap the market of 1:6th scale paper bags with eyeholes?) Despite these occasional missteps, I believe that this is the "Golden Age of Joe": It appears that you have to have an abundance of both gold and time to keep up with it all! But if you've got the gold, get one (or all three) of Jose Luis Ayuso's 2K1 spacesuit. This has got to be one of the most kewl & most ambitious pieces to come from a customizer in a long time.

As for my custom figures and this website's maintenance: Through the years I've made bunches of figures, so I'm relatively satisfied in that department. Heck, where do you go after you've done the megameaty boobs gig? She-males? I'm not even gonna look up that skirt. Of course, there are other, more wholesome ideas -- a winged gargoyle & hard suit robot/sea/armor thing, off the top of my head -- but weighing the desire against the work involved (at this time)... Well, y'know, Dragon's putting out some really neat stuff that you can order quickly (online) to get your "fix" that the dreaded disease demands. As I've said, motivation is King, and that goes for writing about the process of customizing too. Being redundant is probably as boring for you as it is for me, and saying this again is another relapse into mindless redundancy... zzzzzzzzzz... Still, this isn't a goodbye message, and I haven't given up figure customizing, so don't get the wrong idea. I don't post updates whenever I take a dump either. Maybe I need to hit some tit bars to pick up a little inspiration?

For the Joe-Heads who are also Guitar-Heads: After years of cursing at and not playing my Deluxe Strat Plus, I adjusted the neck tilt and finally made a stab at figuring out how to change the strings through its fancy-schmantzy bridge (who'd a thunk???-- it takes friggin' tools!). Despite that nod to technofufu-ism, it's actually a great guitar! Surprisingly, your fingers don't forget and it only takes a little while to regain your speed and dexterity; stamina comes through the process of getting back into shape. Of course, all those familiar & frustrating learning plateaus come back too, but they seem strangely "refreshed".

I was on the verge of selling my '71 Twin Reverb, but priced reissued & used Deluxe Reverbs, as well as some mod "boutique" amps... whew$$$! That made me decide to refurbish the Twin with new capacitors & a speaker (Do not store amps in a garage if you live in Central Texas). It needs new tubes too, since the original 30-year old Fender ones prolly gone bad, ya reckon? Scoped out the scene: Lots of neat, pricey toys out there (or soon to be)-- the Pod & Flextone line of digital amplifier modellers sound great. Roland's GR-33 Guitar Synthesizer has intriguing specs, and their "Jam Station" (or whatever) looks to be the perfect tool for someone tired of dealing with the hassles of a band composed of live human beings. But the guitar thing has gotten really uhhhh... geekish?... these days, like everything else that has a Usenet group devoted to it. So many technical experts... so much talk about technical and subjective issues like "tone", guitar wood and gadget boxes. At the risk of showing some geezer stripes, I'd like to say that in the old days, we were satisfied if amps didn't smoke or make horrible crackling noises. If you broke a string, you replaced and tuned it by the time your solo came up. All the modern-world concern about tone is kinda perverted too-- despite technological advances, the best tone still comes from cranking your amp up LOUD which means inevitable loss of hearing which means that eventually you aren't gonna be able to appreciate the tone. This paradox was relayed to me by the speaker guru who does work for tone-master guitar god Eric Johnson. Like many professional musicians, EJ's concerned about retaining what's left of his hearing. SAY WHAT??? By the way, check out the relatively unknown artist Monte Montgomery if you want to hear some damn good guitarwork by someone who's also a damn good vocalist. (Hope he doesn't get too famous though so he'll continue to gig in this town.)

(Dead-endum, 09/08/00: Went back to see the Wizard of Amps to get some more capacitors, poked my head round back and who should be standing there but Eric Johnson! Double-take time, specially since I'd been listening to an Electromagnets tape on the way over. The fanboy instinct was strong, and seeing as how it would be pretty near impossible for him to autograph my black capacitors, he signed the Duracell package instead (above). It's been said that he can hear the tonal difference that the charge status of a battery has in a stompbox. Actually, he's much better than that-- he can hear the tonal difference while the battery is still in the package!!! No lie! ;^) Anyway, he's a really nice guy and his next album (live!) should be out next month. Kewl.

For the Joe-Heads who are also Pond-Heads: (I don't think there are any, and they probably don't call themselves "Pond-Heads".) The final convergence of the ponds is finished (for now), and I must say that it's been a very gratifying undertaking. There's an element of creativity involved along with the gratification of creation, but unlike figure customizing, it doesn't stop when you finish. Nature intervenes and brings tadpoles and snails. Plants grow. It's like a living sculpture. It's very restful to trance out there at 4:30 a.m., listening to the sound of water and hearing the Koi greedily fight for food. But it does require maintenance, and makes you appreciate the fact that Joes don't poop. At least, not yet.

TTYL,

Jimbob

 


07/13/00-- I posted the text below at The Dragon's Den today, responding to a thread about a site which linked directly to mine via a "Techniques" button in their site navigator frame. It made it look as if my site were part of theirs. Since that site's owner was called a "scalper", then by the link I might somehow appear to be supporting scalpers (?). First off, "scalper" is a charge which is sometimes too quickly & incorrectly leveled at businesses which simply charge more than some others. Some businesses have to charge more to cover their overhead, or because they don't receive as good a price break as larger businesses. Some companies also want a larger profit off of a smaller volume. By my definition, a scalper is someone who shops the retail channels for exclusive, limited availability items and jacks the price up. The line can get pretty muddy sometimes...

"...This morning I received an apologetic e-mail message from the owner of the "12 Inch Trooper" website, who explained that the web site design was done by "a school boy", who also managed the site. I trust that the problem with the links will be straightened out soon.

Regarding my moral culpability: You can't control how or who links to your site. Designing your site to "protect" it (including watermarking all the pics and placing logos and copyright notices on each page) is a real time gobbler, especially after you've uploaded hundreds of pages with over a thousand images. I assume that visitors will be savvy enough to tell, via the content, that it's a whole separate website since the internal links mainly go back to my "front door", and not the site which linked to it. I don't specifically endorse that site anywhere, but on the other hand, don't consider the netiquette "faux pas" to be reason enough for slamming them hard or "banishing" them. As I mentioned, that site's link is in my "Reciprocal Links" section where it accurately reflects the fact that they have a link to my site. It's not an endorsement.

In the vendor links section(s), I've removed links for business sites which have screwed people. I don't do that based on a few bad reports-- On the Internet, anyone can say anything about anyone. I rely on seeing a clear pattern of unscrupulous business practices reported by a wide sampling of trusted sources before I take that step.

Pricing of goods is the business owner's decision, and that's a matter between the prospective customer (who can comparison shop) and the proprietor (whose decisions determine how competitive they are). I regret editorializing about Small Blue Planet's "handling fee" at my site --a recent order placed with them seemed very reasonable. Unfortunately once you write something like that it's hard to change-- the impression has already been made, even if they later change their policy. It now means that I have to write an addendum or address the issue in some other way-- I owe them that much."

Brilliant, huh? Now that I've killed two birds with one stone, let me specify that on a $60 order at SBP, shipping of 6 lbs came to $9.68. Reasonable or not? I'll let you make up your own mind. But I'll point out that it looks like if you spend more, the bite of shipping (postage and handling) isn't as painful.

(By the way, I'm just treading water here, waiting for the sun to go down so I can work some more on my water garden. Once it's finished, then I promise I'll get back to customizing!!!)


07/11/00-- Just some quickie additions to the Remarks: Leggings for Dragon's Dave & Scott? David from Hong Kong sent some pics of cloth leggings that he's selling; They look pretty sweet! If you don't want to make your own, you might want to check them out at his website GI Joe Shop @ Hong Kong in the "Custom Accessories" section.

In that section, he's also got some pics of the Twilight Magic Works Die cast .45 Automatic, which I'd previously purchased from Cyberhobby. If you like high-quality kewl stuff, this may be for you. The hammer pulls back and the slide is spring-loaded, which is pretty amazing for such a small piece of work. Unlike larger die cast weapons, this one is a reasonable weight for a figure to heft. My only beef is with the magazines which are way too thin and don't have a detailed round at the top. You could certainly buy lots of plastic .45s for the price of this, but if you're looking for a special piece, check this out.

I also just received my "G4- Michael Chan" from Cyberhobby. This is a really nice figure dressed in a blue suit (The non-Cyberhobby versions come with a gray suit.), with the MP5 PDW in a suitcase and a belt loaded with gear. They also included a dual DVD of the movie "G4 Option Zero". Pretty weird, with two dialects of Chinese coming out of each speaker (with English subtitles). Some of the gear is recycled (which is understandable), but the civvie suit gives this figure a unique and new look, even with the familiar Michael Chan headsculpt. The clear coiled cord earpiece is a nice touch!


07/09 & 7/10/00-- I haven't had time or energy to attend to customizing/website/e-mail duties lately; besides it being an extremely busy time at work, fun homeowner things which cost lots of money have used up a fair number of weekends (and resources). After rebuilding a section of my roof before a total reroofing, I observe that carpentry is a lot like customizing-- just good old common sense --but on a much larger scale with more expensive tools and materials. And wasps. Hell, I never have to worry about those guys when customizing!

First off, from the world of Star Wars: I've been asked to announce the re-launching of the "new and improved" Niubniub's Universe for 07/10/00. Apparently, there were server problems with the first inauguration (those never happen, right? ;^). This is a kewl Star Wars diorama site in very well done web packaging... and it's obvious that this guy isn't saving for his retirement! Check it out.

The first 21st Century Toys Convention in Burbank is one of the biggest happenings of the moment; eye-popping convention coverage has been provided by The Frontline's website. The custom stuff is incredible and shows that the standards of customizing have been ratcheting up every year. Full Armor Toys sorta sprang up from nowhere and showed some really nifty Star Wars custom stuff, and there are probably plenty of other guys who you've never heard of who do outstanding work. It was also encouraging to see that 21C's Stuart tank is out of prototype stage (and looks great!), and hopefully we'll see it in some stores soon (and then face the agonizing decision of where to put it after contemplating the hit on our wallets). Their Kubelwagen is already out on the streets --kinda wished they'd produced that before the Schimmwagen since my shelf space for vehicles is limited... I may wait for the Dragon version since two is out of the question!

Speaking of the Schwimmwagen, David Williams of Australia has produced some decal graphics for it, which are available at his new website. I'm glad to welcome another valuable contributing member to the Joe customizing community, and his particular talent with graphics is especially welcome. And I'm sorry to have lost another contributor to this website (even though he did kindly offer to continue)-- From personal experience, I think it's wise to retain full editorial control over your own stuff. Anyway, be sure to check David's site regularly and let him know if he's slacking off! ;^)

I didn't go to the Burbank Convention, but I did get to go to the Austin Collector's Expo, where I got to hang out with Bruce of Bruce's Collectibles, a truly nice guy. Despite being a poverty case, I had to splurge on some of Dragon's newer stuff-- "Scott" the WWII rifleman is an long-anticipated addition to their line, and the Garand with the insertable stripper clips and working charging handle is a must-have. Despite the fact that the flexible molded gear's closure tabs are awfully fragile (two of mine broke off, but were easily repaired with Zap-a Gap), the overall design of the web gear is extremely user-friendly. It's obvious how the stuff fits on the figure, and the figure assembles in minutes. "Steve" of SEAL Team Six is another loaded-to-the-gills figure with more firepower than you can figure out to do with. Honestly though, I'm getting pretty overloaded with all these modern Special Forces variants; after a while they all start to look pretty much the same to me. Between them all though, lots of kewl customizing fodder-- IMO, it would be a lot more fun to come up with your own fictional take on a SF team (no one's done paisley before!).

An impressive surprise from Cotswold Collectibles: They're really picking up the quality! In my opinion, they've got the best wood grain finish I've ever seen on a toy gun (M-1 & M-14 carbine). Looking at it up close, it doesn't seem to be the result of any fancy exclusive technology, but the colors, texture and finish seem to be right on-- like miniature wood. Their new resin heads are much improved over the funky older soft ones; the sculpt actually looks like a real human and not a caricature.

I recently got the opportunity to see a crummy copy of the animation "FAKK-2". Bummer... Major bummer, since I had big expectations. This appears to be one of those cases where the supporting products are far better than the focus of the products. Fercryinoutloud, we don't lust after Julie Strain for her voice-- it's the visuals, stupid! The printed "FAKK2 Illustrated Movie Special" with Simon Bisley's artwork gives you the entire story with better images which actually look like Ms. Strain-Eastman. Most of the supporting products are based on those images; the tiny statuettes produced by Kaiyodo/Xebec Toys are okay, but I'm interested in seeing Clayburn Moore's action figures. My theory is that Eastman/Heavy Metal got screwed by their timing: they started the project using traditional cel animation (which requires simplified characters so they can be drawn consistently) as computer-generated animation was just beginning to take off, but were unable to change direction to take advantage of it after investing so much dough. It's unfortunate, but despite all this, the world of FAKK2 is still fertile inspiration for your own modeling creations.

Speaking of Inspiration: I toot my own horn for perhaps inspiring others to go down the path which by some accounts, leads to damnation. A little overly dramatic perhaps, but I'm pleased that it seems to fit in with my website's evolving objective of providing little in the way of point-to-point instruction, and letting you come up with your own solutions. It lets me keep my "trade secrets" (which aren't so secret if you just pick up on the hints), and it lets you enjoy the full credit and satisfaction of Creation. In my opinion, that's the way it should be, since it's not very interesting to see how well someone has followed paint-by-numbers instructions. What am I talking about? Joe-babes. Seems that lotsa people want 'em, and we're starting to see more people make them.

One of these would be Wes' postings at the Sandbox, which can be accessed at Deja.com under the subject "Adventures in Customizing". Follow his postings and you can see how he approached the alterations to a Barbie figure through his own hard work and problem solving skills. Despite the fact that he mentioned me in his posting, the full credit goes totally to his own effort and willpower. Another customizer, Jared G., sent me "FrankenBarbie" pics (WARNING: PG-RATED) and text commentary. These show his totally unique and innovative technique for altering that skeleton of a doll, Winona. She's a tad fleshier than the Winona you're used to seeing! My old buddy, the very talented Tung Nguyen shows an unusual twist on my figure "transexualizing" exploits-- check out his Sinestro project (and his other excellent stuff too!). Kewl, huh?

The point is that the motivation should be strong enough to get you over any bumps in the road. If it doesn't, then you're not motivated enough... Hell, a Pterodactyl will fly hundreds of miles across an ocean for the chance to mate! Same difference, eh?

I'm in the process of putting missing links in my long-neglected links page: these are the reciprocal ones for sites that I've learned have links to this web site. I should have done that a long time ago, but I just started so it's kind of disorganized and incomplete. There are bunches of other areas of the site that are overgrown with weeds and could probably use some kind of maintenance. The damn Guestbook service sucks and I should look into replacing that... so much work, so little time!

I'll try to get back into the customizing thing so you'll have a reason to check here periodically... once I get over my latest gardening and landscaping-on-a-shoestring-budget thing. Naturally, I've picked the worst time of the Texas year to get involved in outdoorsy stuff. Digging a pond in near 100 degree F heat just ain't the smart thing to do.

pic: Australopithecene from the Discovery Channel show, "Man: Where We Come From". He wasn't too smart either, but since his brain was less than half the size of mine, he had a good excuse...


06/17/00-- The REALLY BIG news comes from Jose Luis Ayuso of Spain, who sent me a link to his Twinch Squad site for a preview of his incredible 2K1 spacesuit set which will be for sale. Check it out for yourself since the pics are worth thousands of my words; I'm super impressed, and I'm sure you will be too. Jose's an old Sandboxer from waaay back. [12/2002- NOTE: As this played out, JLA left many complaining customers in his wake; There were a substantial number of reports from individuals claiming paid orders not being delivered and not being able to contact JLA, promises made and not kept. Distributors were forced to deal with the problem of defects for merchandise which was delivered. I now regret posting this promotional message and as a matter of policy, I will avoid posting product commentary involving small producers-- those individuals with feelings who I'd be reluctant to mercilessly trash. Big faceless corporations remain fair game though.]

Also, a huge thanks goes to Victor Mula for being a fine set of eyes and ears and for pointing me at this link to a special page at Kouki's site. This link shows you pics of some of the outstanding seamless figures he's made (which I've commented on before, but didn't realize that they were his). Kouki is an outstanding pioneer in the tech side of the figure/doll world, admired by me as The Master Figure Dissecter. His latest efforts make me feel kind of old-fashioned (grin). In retrospect, calling 'em "Gumbies" seems disrespectful, but I see his efforts as bringing a whole new respectability to the Gumby technique.

Again from Japan, some wonderful pics of WWII stuff on a scale you wouldn't believe-- tanks, buildings -- absolutely museum quality. These are labeled as "Custom World 3- Art Storm Co.", which must have some connection to Steiner's site. Check these out: page 1   page 2   page 3    (I got the links from SISHI-ZERO who posted them at The Dragon's Den.)

After the post-Workshed/post-Winona hubbub, I decided that I had to get off my duff and make something, so that's why I started my Lindsey project. As you can probably tell, it's sort of aimless (that's nothing new), and I'd originally hoped to make something for the Primal World thing. I don't think I'm finished with that yet, and seeing a Discovery Channel show on Early Man reawakened my interest in the general subject. I've also got an Anakin Rugrat project floundering in the background, and someday I may pick up the old Marx horse again to finish him off. Those things are still around, and need to be put to rest. Meanwhile, I'm having fun putting Lindsey's bikini in just about every conceivable gag outfit-- can you say "Valley Girl in Outer Space"? I won't bore you with all the pics...


06/02/00-- Gee... I would have some really groovy stuff to show, but I didn't wanna get my nice & clean workspace all messy again. But I have picked up a Dremel recently, and I will have something new sooner or later. I need to grow my fingerprints back before I can mess with clays again though. Probably before then, I'll have a review of Dragon's long-awaited Winona (once she arrives)... Seems that I've talked about her plenty of times, so it should be like bringing full closure to the affair. However, from nearly everything I've read, I have a feeling that it's going to a rude shock, and perhaps my article will dispel any impression that I work for Dragon, or blindly suck up to them. I guess I shouldn't speak before seeing, but I am sharpening the knives. On the other hand, maybe if I suck up to them real hard they'll send me their janitor's autograph?

You probably already know about this, but be sure to check out Francis Tavares' revamped website. He's reorganized it and added new material, but the eye-popping jaw-dropper is undoubtedly his Sturmgeschutz tank. Cast wheels and individually cast tread links. Stupendously great. As usual though, his pages understate all of his hard work so you might overlook the sheer number of new figures and the work he's put into each one. Each page of his site is roughly equal to about 5 - 10 of mine (in this case, prolly more like 50) in universal work units. Check it out!

Another thing which caught my eye recently was Andgor Toy Company's incredible leather boots! Absolutely kickass, and if I weren't currently a penniless pauper, I'd buy a pair just to torment myself with why I can't do stuff like that. (Yes, it's something to aspire to...) After seeing that, I had to change the snide commentary I'd put next to their link. Their website personna still gives me the heebie jeebies, but feedback about them has been pretty good, so I won't razz 'em too badly.

Otherwise, sorry but I can't think of anything to rant about this time...well, there's always something, but I don't want to think about that now. Gotta get this stuff uploaded and start making stuff before y'all fire me.


05/08/00-- Sorry for the lack of activity here lately. The hobby has taken a backseat to some real world activities, which normally don't get much attention beyond the old 9-to-5 (actually, 7-to-4). Ferinstance, I finally washed my car! You laugh, huh? Well, like I've said before, all the time it takes to make this junk gotta come from somewhere! It's like a sickness, but I'm trying to get better.... Putting in the homestead's rock garden took a whole weekend, planting shrubs in rocks ain't easy and then there's the storage shed.... It's the kinda stuff suburbanites are s'posed to do, and it keeps me in good standing with Herr Wifester.

Add the computer to the list of time-gobblers. Usually the forums gobble up enough time, but inexplicably, the DVD player stopped working, probably from installing something within the last month. It's a headache you don't want to experience. (Yer not s'posed ta install anything new on yer computer, doncha know?) After wasting a day trying to get a ballpark idea of where to look-- useless diagnostic tools with cryptic messages, ineffective reinstalls-- an obscure website directed me to Adaptec's site for an ASPI check program and their driver updates. Odd... everything worked just fine before...(?) Anyway, the upshot is that the DVD version of BBC's "Walking With Dinosaurs" kicks butt! If you like that kind of thing, this is about as close as we can get to experiencing the world of the Triassic, Jurassic & Cretaceous periods. Two recommendations: (1) Check the show out; (2) Get a standalone hardware DVD player if you want reliability that you can share with other people.

You've probably already seen my breezy article on 21st Century's new Super Soldier figure. I'll cut one open for ya now that I've got a spare; I'm curious about the innards. I'm sorry to be ragging on 21C so much, but I swear... I haven't seen gripes about the obvious stuff, almost as if this is some kind of sacred cow. The ankles on this figure are SHIT. Sorry, but it's true. Now that I've got a second one, I feel I can say that with some confidence. Maybe in boots they're okay, but I cannot get the naked figure to stand for more than 5 minutes. He's one of my few figures that I have displayed sitting down... he doesn't have a choice.

I'm working on stuff, but at a very leisurely pace-- early morning only. Probably not very interesting to you, but I'm working on a Marx horse for the Darkwolf figure-- I've posed the head slightly differently, so he doesn't look like a clone. It's great that Marx Toys is back in the saddle and planning to rerelease most of their vintage line, including the horses. I finally broke down and got their rereleased Silver Knight. Despite what people say about its flimsiness, it's virtually identical to the original: It never was a particularly sturdy toy, which is why it's so hard to find original armor with all the fastening tabs intact.

Otherwise, I'm just working on some little stuff like spears & knives. I haven't been possessed by Demons or anything like that. I'm really just waiting for the storage shed so I can do a massive cleanup and clear away some working room again. The N-scale mountains & buildings gotta go. Pity. And I've got to do something about the dust problem. All that grinding creates an huge mess that's almost impossible to stay on top of. Working outside isn't really practical in Texas with the heat & bugs; also, neighbors probably wouldn't be too happy about Dremel noises at 4 in the morning. Sheesh, what are ya supposed to do? Hmmmmm... Storage shed + electricity = air conditioning & light = workroom? It's twice the size of my current workroom. Heh heh... kinda exciting. So you can see why I'm in a holding pattern.

By the way, check out Scott Baker's new 13th Century Knight with a real metal helmet! It's great to see Scott back in the mix, since he's one of the few eclectic (non-military/law enforcement) Joe customizers (and a very good one too). Interesting website; check it out!

Rant of the Moment: Is it Custom or is it custom? The term "customize" is practically meaningless. It encapsulates the broad range of things that people do to their figures and vehicles. It gives a name to what happens when you change a stock factory-produced product to serve your preferences. A figure whose boots have been swapped could be sold as a "customized figure"-- it's technically accurate, even though it's not what most people would consider "custom".

Why is this a rant-worthy topic? Lately, there's been a growing trend to sell figures as "custom" which are stock figures wearing outfits and accessories mainly from mass produced products. Labeling these as "custom" can seem deceptive, even if that's not the intention. A naiive buyer might not recognize the part sources from a photo if they're not specified, and an auction's pricing gives no clue of the actual parts value of the prefab custom figure. A naiive buyer might perceive the "custom" appellation as meaning that the figure is special and unique.

By standard definition, such a figure is customized. And the practice helps people avoid buying retail figure sets for only certain parts that they want. But it's not "custom" in the traditional Joe community's definition, like a figure from Major Midnite. Such a custom figure might have an original sculpted head, accessories and hand-tailored clothing. The grounds for the distinction are somewhat snobbish, but fully justified: It takes a helluva lot more effort, talent and artistry to create original parts for a figure than it does to buy two figures and swap their clothes. Traditional custom work is usually associated with the names of individuals like Francis Tavares, Auggie Romero, Polo Moreno, Mike Maceda, et al... not faceless corporations. Because the output of these individuals is low, the figures they produce are special and unique.

You could call one a "prefab custom figure" and the other an "art custom figure", but they're awkward phrases. Besides, it's not as black and white as that. In the middle are figures which have continuously variable balances of mass-produced and artist-produced contributions. Since usage of terms isn't likely to change, it should be the duty of the conscientious seller to specify the source of all the components. Likewise, it should be the duty of the buyer to question the seller about this if the info isn't volunteered. If sources aren't specified, assume that it's all prefab retail stuff, and consider how much you'd pay someone for the work of assembling the parts and dressing the figure.

 

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