REMARKS 02/13/01 - 03/18/01

Last modified: Saturday, January 5, 2002 10:32 AM

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03/18/01- SEX, DRUGS & ROCK 'N' ROLL Thank you Sideshow Toy for making this dream a reality. I bought David for $12.50 with the intention of stripping him and doing something unthinkable with his body. Wish I'd bought two, cuz when I set him up with Gretchen, it was like magic. They belonged together.

That was several weeks ago, but you know how it is with Doll Years. The fertility drugs did their work and the sextuplets have already begun kindergarden; soon they'll leave the nest for college. In the between time, Gretchen quit the entertainment industry, took some correspondence courses and found employment as a Project Engineer in Los Alamos, NM. Moving David's giant bronze statue, "30 Foot Willy", to their new home was difficult, but it made a fine addition to their backyard. Until it and Gretchen's job were destroyed retroactively by the raging fires. Alas, both were uninsured. To ease the pain, David bought 5 Epiphone Les Pauls, reasoning that the strings would last longer if the playing were distributed over 5 guitars. Still, David and Gretchen remain optimistic and hopeful about the future. You can do far worse than to live in a giant twig and branch structure nestled high in the trees. As Gretchen says, "At least I have my mammaries..."

Congrats to Mrs. Jimbob, a.k.a. Mrs. Assistant Vice President. Damn, I'm proud! A toast to the working women of the world, from one lazy-butt hubby... (Hey, I did mow the yard!)

03/11/01- Not really that much going on. I'm coasting on the customizing front, as you can tell from the minor updates. Basically, I'm waiting...and hopefully you'll see why later. Earlier, I said that my pocketbook would be relatively safe, barring any unanticipated pleasant surprises... well, Evil Genius Toys sprung one on me in the form of their Playboy Playmate fashion doll. Rrrrrrrr... It's not clear what format these figures will be, but that doesn't change the fact that they'll impact my finances. For me, it's better later than now.

Speaking of foxes, I picked up the Heavy Metal 2000 ("FAKK2") DVD... I've gotten over the disappointment of my first viewing of the feature (it isn't that bad, it just suffers from the advance hype). I like the extra stuff, a short program about the Queen of B-Movies, Julie Strain (Supergoddess). She's a real sweetie who happens to look really good dressed up as FAKK2, or any of a number of skimpy costumes. I consider her a big inspiration, completely in tune with the spirit of this site. Maybe I'll get lucky and she'll personally C&D me for posting this picture of her without permission? Either way, it's still nice to have a picture of her hanging out here. (Nyuk, nyuk.) Go rent some Andy Sidaris films now, okay?

Here's something you must check out: Bean's WWII Jeep, hosted at the Unofficial Ultimate Soldier website. It's a SOTW jeep that's been modified for R/C with bunches of neato bells and whistles and detailing. This has got to be one of the most ambitious and over-the-top projects I've ever run across. In particular, I'm in awe of the range of skills that went into executing this project, and the seamless way it all came together. It's probably natural to be bummed that you can't buy such a kewl wonder, but it's far more healthy to see it as a wealth of amazing ideas. If you can execute just a tenth of 'em, you'll be a happy and very satisfied camper.

There's been some discussion at the Sandbox about the possible effects of the current economic downturn (okay, it's a recession and it's been going on for quite a while now) on the hobby. I believe that it could have a significant impact, and that we've already responded to it in a way. I suspect that few people now automatically buy every Dragon or 21C figure that's released. This isn't surprising since there's so much coming out, especially with new companies entering the fray and with our level of expectations rising. Even Hasbro seems to be recently recommitted to GI Joe. However, this could be a case of unfortunate timing since everyone's reacting to signals that were sent out 6 months to a year ago. Logically, it's not a good thing for a business to be ramping up production as sales prospects are dropping. I don't think the established, diversified companies like Hasbro have too much to worry about. Smaller companies like 21st Century Toys aren't as well diversified though, and seem particularly vulnerable. If Cotswold has indeed been scooped up by Gearbox Toys, who can say if they'll continue to support that division if the market goes south? That would be a major blow to the hobby since Cotswold, as a small owner-run business, has hung in there during the lean-- no, barren years. What does this mean? Who knows. We'll probably see the manufacturers react with scaled back plans-- not everything shown at Toy Fair will be produced. (Maybe this is another reason why 21C didn't allow photos at Toy Fair?) At any rate, we probably have enough toys to keep us occupied for quite a long while. We may have to channel our spendaholic energies elsewhere. That wouldn't be such a bad a thing, now would it? One day at a time...

02/28/01- Now that the Toy Fair frenzy had died down a little bit, we can prepare ourselves for the onslaught of planned spending and be caught unawares and short of change by the pleasant surprises. That's what they mean by "ignorance is bliss". Fortunately, there are only a few things that I must buy; it's a bittersweet relief that no new must-have vehicles are in the works. While installing more shelves last night, I plotted moving the behemoth Stuart and a good portion of the WWII collection from the closet "display" to the storage shed "display" to make room for the overflow of heaped modelling supplies, tools and raw materials. You need to be near your tools, for they are your true friends. Of course the modelling stuff is expensive too... there's an air engraver that I'd really like to get, but it's a mere $700- $800... kaff kaff! But that's cheaper than a low quality microscope-- a couple thousand bucks. The good ones cost a Lexus. Yeah, right. It's tough being both a collector & modeller. First and foremost though, I consider myself a consumer, and it's damned hard to be a good consumer.

Check This Out: Francis Tavares has set up a second website named Paragon to showcase his other creations. That would be work which doesn't fit into the WWII theme of his excellent Battlefields site. This isn't really a new thing for him-- like most artists, his interests are diverse. I've showcased his James Bond figure here since March 2000, when he didn't have a forum for his other work. Now that problem's been solved, and I think we can look forward to more neat stuff from Francis! Coincidentally, his first project there is entitled "Maximus Crowe"... guess who?

For those who might be concerned that Francis is giving up his WWII customizing... get real! That's his first true love!

Speaking of Things Which Seem Like Changes: I'm going through one of those damned crises, again. It's comes from a neurosis about time, productivity and discipline. Once again I feel like I'm being driven by the website. Instead of focusing on doing quality work, I've tricked myself into focusing on providing website entertainment and playing the role of the Internet "Personality". It's an easy trap to fall into: I like to write (although I didn't feel that way while attending school) and it feeds that insatiable ego (Woo hoo, I got over 500 visits last Wednesday!). Website hits are like empty calories, when ya think about it.

The "Generic Fantasy Warrior" project is a wake-up call. I'm embarrassed about the attitude I've expressed in the commentary: If I don't care about the project, why bother? I seem to abandon projects before they're fully explored so that I can move on to the next one: Why haven't I detailed any of the swords I've made, and why was I satisfied to leave Livia's bracelets as undetailed tubes? [top pic: The grip shaping is wrong, and the engraving is crude. But ya gotta start experimenting somewhere. It took nearly an hour to create the simple hilt.] Those are only a few examples. The answer has to be that I'm pacing myself to provide website entertainment; rushing to post new material and new projects, doing PR things like the Guestbook instead of concentrating on the substance of the craft. Where's my friggin' Integrity? Whip out the flail & thumbscrews, it's clobberin' time.

I don't know exactly what this means. I'm not abandoning the GFW project (and I've just come across some really cool material!) but I'll work on it from inspiration instead of rushing through it so I can move on. And work on some old unfinished stuff too. And hopefully, learn some new stuff. As for the Guestbook-- While it's been fun, I'm wary of some undesirable directions it could go. But I don't like to say bitchy things to force it to go where I think it should go. Wifey says that I don't have the temperment for it anyway-- I'm too much of a self-reliance nazi. Rather than close or moderate it, I'll let it grow unattended, weeds & all... kinda like a real Guestbook! And the e-mail link once again goes into hiding: I didn't get takers for jpeg hosting and realistically I don't think that maintaining visitor galleries would be a wise investment of my time. There are other venues for that, like Photopoint.

I do realize that this solution takes care of my problems, but doesn't help the folks who with questions. The problem there is that I'm only one person and there are many of you. Somehow, I figured this stuff out and you can too if you're patient with yourself. Many questions can be answered by hunkering down and experimenting, or by reasoning it out-- it shouldn't matter if your solutions are the same as mine, as long as you like your results. Other questions can probably be answered in public forums like listservers or discussion groups. In that spirit, I'd like to finish this off with a couple of my favorite self-reliance nazi sentiments (neither of these guys are known to be Nazis ;^):

"Deeds, not words." (-MERK)
"Don't dreeeeam it, beeeeee it." (-Frank'n'Furter)

Rest assured, since I do like to write and I'm not going away, the site will continue to get the usual updates and smart-aleck commentary...

02/23/01- It's Friday and I've just posted a bunch of rambling reading for y'all. I'd have uploaded earlier, but I had no time to do the finishing touches. The "Generic Warrior" project is very much a work-in-progress, but I felt that I should post something. The "Artie" project wasn't a real project, and I slapped together a second one (minus the hand articulation) in about three or four hours. Anyway, expect the GW project to continue for a while since it's early and it's not a project that generates a lot of momentum.

The Jackie review isn't totally unfair and I didn't write it just to get under the skin of 21C loyalists. Just calling 'em as I see 'em. Of course, you should take my opinions with a grain of salt because I have my own specific standards for judging figures. They make sense to me, but I know that many people aren't as critical or don't look for the same things as I. I do try to consider those viewpoints, but usually the language can't help but betray what I really think. And this is a customizing website, after all... What I don't accommodate is loyalty to manufacturers. Although I currently prefer Dragon figures, I'm not adverse to tearing them a new asshole whenever I feel they deserve it.

This site is linked to a site in Taiwan, which unfortunately I can't read (so I don't even know the site's name). I don't know if it's a commercial site, but what really rocks are their pictures of a custom Dragon figure outfitted for the movie "Gladiator". It's an outstanding piece of work and stuff like this sets standards for us to judge our own work by, besides giving us lots of ideas. It makes me embarrassed about my Generic Warrior, and that's exactly the kind of motivation it takes to get us unpaid customizers off of our slacker butts. Fortunately, there's no easy ordering info (that I can discern) which removes the easy option of just buying the thing.

In the Guestbook, Pablolobo provided a URL to Azone's stuff at Hobbylink Japan, and had asked what I thought of it. I wasn't even aware of the company, much less the amount of stuff that they produce for 1/6th scale figures. It's a little hard to form opinions based on the tiny in-package pictures though. It would be important to know what figures these will fit of course. Then there's the thing of liking to see the product before ordering, particularly if you're unfamiliar with quality of a company's products. But they do have a lot of stuff and a bunch of it is medievalish-fantasy based. Personally, I won't be ordering any of it because of those questions, but also because it's fun to make the stuff. Typically, this genre does not require any major tailoring talent and the materials to make accessories are fairly common. It's not like having to produce an MG-34 from scratch! Sure, there's the real specialty stuff-- like the miraculous chain mail that Scott Baker does (and you're not going to find that in any stores, much less at a price you can afford!) -- but you can adjust your expectations more modestly and produce some very appealing figures from this genre. Use the Azone products for ideas, or stuff that you're sure you can't produce (they do have some neat masks). It would be sad to think that the only thing which keeps us engaged with the craft is that some stuff isn't available or that we can't afford it. The craft aspect really can enrich your enjoyment of the hobby. (It's a wishful thought... I'm not proud of it, but I tumble for manufactured goods just as easily as the next guy!)

Finally, a big Internet welcome to Rommie and her website! Even though it's not a customizing website, it deserves mention here because she's a She (I assume? ;^) and the focus is 1/6th femfigs, a topic of occasional interest around here. It will be refreshing for the Joe community to get a less drooling viewpoint from someone who doesn't treat Joettes as mere objects to be leered at and cut apart. Check it out!

02/21/01- No Toy Fair this time, but here's a pic from a slow-moving project. (Funny how turning the contrast way up can make something which looks really shitty seem halfway presentable.) No, this isn't supposed to be Medieval, and that's indicative of a real issue: my Fantasy stuff is motivated by what I think looks kewl-- it's all over the place, stomping on the toes of real History. The stuff which looks kewl spans such a long period of time, but I want it all in one place. But I still have enough sense not to squeeze in modern automatic weapons and blasters though.

Staying within the realm of primitive weaponry has considerable appeal. Modern and futuristic weaponry doesn't have as much dramatic potential, since they can operate at considerable distance. Guys trading shots isn't as exciting as a high energy swordfight. Star Wars, which is a good part Fantasy, had to conceive of the lightsabre in order to expand the possibilities for dramatic close combat.

This isn't to glorify the horror of real blood and gore, but humans crave drama. Watching it on film with an intervening piece of glass is very different from Real Life, and I think the majority of children can make the distinction. As a kid, I watched Ultraseven slice monster's limbs and heads off -- blood spurting/foaming out -- whereas nowadays the monsters just explode and disappear. That sure didn't prep me for watching that gruesome stuff they show on that medical channel though.

02/17/01-- So far, this seems to be about Toyfair 2001, so here's some more. I was a little slow posting this, but earlier this week I received this info about Toyfair from Igrowl99. Thanks, dude!

"Greets, I`m just reading your comments on the 2001 Toyfair, and I`d like to thank you for providing this info. I was lucky enough to attend this past sunday, and saw a few things you may not know about.

I picked up some folders and paperwork from a few companies, unfortunately wasn't able to see the big boys..doh!!! But I did see some rockin stuff, including the prototype for InToyz`s new 12" is it impressive. Seeing all 5 fingers move like that was something. I also like their smaller scale stuff, they are working on a smaller series of figs that have thin rubber clothes with a well articulated armature underneath. Their 1/6th scale weaponry was outstanding.

You`ll definitely want to check this out if you haven`t seen it before: ALFREX CO.,LTD This Japanese company is making some incredible 1/6th scale Samurai dolls. They have articulation that impressed the hell out of me, including a shoulder joint that I haven`t seen the likes of yet. You can view some great pics of the naked body in various positions at their website, and there is some notes about design ( but not much). The figs had some of the best facial sculpts I have ever seen.

I happened upon the booth of the company that makes Get Real Girl dolls and picked up an order form and catalog. They are kinda pricey, even tho the wholesale price per doll is $13.50, the minimum order is 18 dolls. Also featured in this fold out are Get Real Guys, tho the dolls themselves I didn`t see at their display. If they are jointed anything like the girls, which they appear to be, they might be useful, altho scrawny ;p The friendly hostess type girl at the display gave me a freebie lil backpack keychain, and I of course tried to convince her to give me a doll as a freebie... . . - - . g e t . r e a l . g i r l . - - . . -

Saw Sideshow Toys as well, and was so impressed by the new Buffy and Gentlemen figures, that me and a friend bought 4 cases ;p Their 12" male body seems to be an amalgamation of a Dragon and a 21st Century super soldier, with some tweaking and some extra swivels, and a really cool ankle joint. ( you probably know all this already lol )

I ran into something a bit perplexing.....Found a setup of a company called Gearbox toys and collectibles. They had mostly die cast cars and the like, but lo and behold I see a few shelves of what looks to be Cotswold figs. So I ask the lady about em, and she says "We bought the company" I say " You bought Cotswold??" She says "Yes" Any idea if this is true? The catalog I got from them has photos of the Cots dolls and says they are available exclusively from them. Tho maybe they mean the embossed, leather bound, book-boxed version is exclusive to them........

Also of some possible interest to you, a company called X-Plus USA is releasing high quality figures of various Ray Harryhausen creations, the Cyclops, Talos, Ymir etc. X-Plus USA Main Page

I`m kicking myself for not trying harder to track down the larger companies, but since my buddies and I weren`t serious buyers, it`s doubtful we would have been able to see em anyway. I hear all the larger companies required appointments to be seen, tho I could be wrong... "

Note: Many links in this installment, some of which may disappear in time. It's not my intention to rip these sites off by jumping directly into articles or images; it's merely to illustrate what I'm talking about. I encourage you to browse the sites more fully.

02/13/01- The amount of recent activity in Joedom is astounding... and NYC's Toy Fair hints at even more for the future! There are new players with kewl new product like Sideshow Toy, Blue Box International, Hot Toys, InToyz... and major redesigns of the figures from the biggies, Formative International (SOTW) and Hasbro-- plus a rumored redesign of Cotswold's, and perhaps a strategic partnership for mass market distribution?

It makes you forget that the economy is down, folks are getting pink slips in high tech industries and my gas bill was frickin' outrageous. From the blissful toyland mindset, you forget that there's a considerable lag between when manufacturers make their plans and the time products hit the market. The ripple effect of higher energy prices affects everything-- production, shipping & sales. That translates into higher prices across the board, and we may eventually see that in our toy purchases, or the decisions that the toymakers make. Joeheads are fanatical spenders, but paying essential bills probably takes precedence even for the most die-hard. Toymakers and retailers probably know this and they've got their bucks at risk.

Yeah, this is a sour note in an otherwise blissful song-- not a whole lot you can do about it, huh? But it's not a regular topic of discussion, so that's why I bring it up. On the bright side, consumer confidence remains high despite the news, so everyone's assuming an inevitable recovery. Greenspan expects stuff to be rough for about a year. Cross your fingers and hope for the best. At any rate, assuming we stay on course, here are some links & comments for stuff which I think is interesting.

Sideshow Toy: Damn. Buffy is to die for. Given the job they did on Frankie, imagine what they'll do with Buffy? Incredible likeness of Sarah Michelle Geller. They also have really serious looking WWI stuff... 'bout time someone took this on.

BBI & Hot Toys (the Aviator stuff): I'd sworn off getting stuff out of my defined "areas of interest" because you can drown under getting a little bit of this, a little bit of that... that stuff's the first to get boxed when I need the space. However, the fully decked out pilot outfits have that kewlness factor, plus BBI's doing a detailed cockpit section. Neat-o, but where am I gonna put it? The next three CY Girls are lookers and getters so mine will be gotten soon. Ms. Mai's a looker but it's a shame that she's a scantily-articulated 12-inch looker; the smaller version looks way better. Yowza!!!

Dragon: German stuff is still kewl, their quality and innovation still rules. As for their focus on other subject matter, it's not for me; I've had my fill of modern, and Mr. McNamara's war never appealed to me. Still, Neo-Eve China Strike babe is on the way, even though those rubber dolls really suck for customizing purposes. But I wanna see. (I thought I had a couple links to her but at this writing, they've already disappeared!)

21st Century Toys: Damn, those maniacs churn out stuff... way too much for me to stay on top of, so I rarely buy unless it's spur of the moment and I see something that really knocks me out. In the old days of less plentitude, I bought almost everything (even multiples) just because. Still waiting for Matilda and her sister, and now there's the Baroness. Hey, from the description, it's a female Marquis de Sade doll! Cool. We needed one of those. Unfortunately, 21C's put a photo blackout on their Toy Fair stuff, presumably to quiet complaints about product differing from the prototypes. Haw! Frickin' crybabies.

Formative International's redesigned body: This is already out on the streets and is similar to their motorized version so this isn't anything terribly new. The good thing is that these are cheap-- as in affordable, a "Yugo Joe". It does bring up the question: Hey, aren't we running out of room? Plan to upgrade all those older bodies with the new style? What happens to the old ones? Me, I've only got room to be a "Honda Joe" collector (can't afford the Ferraris), but I'm gonna snatch up some old body styles since those will be the hard-to-find ones since everyone's making super-articulated figures. Why? They're better customizing fodder for figures which show skin...

Hasbro's redesigned body ( It's not surprising that Hasbro's done this; they needed to do it to stay in the game, since the double hinges define the modern figure and everyone's doing it. This is just a photo of the prototype, but to me it seems to scream, "shelfdiver, hooooo!" - The center of gravity is awfully high on that sucker. Hopefully, they'll fix the ankles. The bottom half of the figure seems to be a couple scales too small relative to the top half; the CC figure is kind of like that with its high waist, so maybe it's just a tradition? The articulated "Gung Ho Grip"... An improvement? Not IMO. It's more playworthy than Dragon's "bendie" style, but you've always got those hand articulation seams showing. I bitch about that stuff a lot because I make near-naked figures, but this is a more mainstream concern: you rarely cover the hands with costuming. Consequently for an adult type who likes realism, it's a step backwards. Still, Hasbro gets credit for having gotten back in the game recently after having squandered their considerable advantage as the creator of Joe. They're putting out a lot of interesting sets-- the VN War Memorial for example-- but their recent WWII German pales in comparison to those other companies who I shouldn't compare them to.

Hey, there's another one! It's the InToyz superarticulated 12" bod. The fingers are individually articulated (Hasbro's is in 2 groups per hand), and the neck and shoulder have an extra joint for all those hard-to-do Kama Sutra positions. It's getting hard to decide whether to be excited about this stuff or not. Who cares what I think: If the Toyfair buyers aren't excited about the importance of the prone position, we may never see this...

Y'know, there might be enough money left over to pay another $300 gas bill...

toy fair 2001 coverage
The Toycellar (great written reportage)
Not Your Average Joe
Master Collector
Action Figure Collecting
Small Blue Planet


newbie manufacturers
InToyz Not much there yet, although their Minigun looks pretty cool.
Sideshow Toy Mass-market manufacturers (as in TRU-available). Really cool stuff now; more cool stuff to come.
Blue Box International More neat stuff from some fairly new guys.

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