REMARKS 12/31/01 - 04/28/02

Last modified: Thursday, June 13, 2002 6:15 AM

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04/28/02-- Holy Phallus! It's the legendary "Lingam of Livia" as it might have appeared during the primeval Age of Mist and Magic. This relic is considered by some to be the holy grail of modern archeology. According to world-famous archeologist Dr. Cindy Anna Jones, "Mythology hints of its magical properties; Too important to destroy, it was hidden to keep it from demons for whom it played a vital role in a fertility ritual." When asked about evidence supporting the existence of this race of demons, Dr. Jones answers, "Of course, they're probably references to metaphorical demons. Man has always demonized his enemies-- even before recorded history. The oral tradition passes and amplifies those accounts. As they were later expressed in ideograms, the metaphorical became the literal. Nevertheless, it seems that this enemy- whomever or whatever they were- was very real and posed a serious threat to our ancestors. At any rate, they certainly did a good job of hiding it since there aren't any demons around today, and we're still looking for the relic!"

Yeah, riiiiiiight...


04/20/02-- I wish I had some great new project or update to show, but I don't think I can fake it. So here's an attempt to give you something. The last few weeks have been filled with "stuff", so I haven't had much time or inspiration to write or undertake anything ambitious.

First off, I'd like to thank everyone whose arms I twisted to write something in the Message Board... and I apologize. I'm a little bit wiser now-- I realize that to have it work without a whip, I'd need to participate. No one likes talking to a wall, and if you give feedback or ask questions, you expect something. Contrary to what I'd intended, I quickly discovered that it was taking more of my time and there's a bunch of posts I should answer. DOH! Despite all the writing here, I'm actually an agonizingly slow writer, due to Tweak-itis.

The fact is, my board doesn't offer anything new and most who post are already active participants in other boards, notably Men With Dolls. The focus there is as much on customizing and female figures as it is on my board. The difference is, that board is kept alive naturally-- Not by anyone carrying a whip or dangling a carrot. Soooo, in a Rosanadanadana-ish way, I say "Never mind" and apologize for guilting folks into posting here. I'll figure out what to do with the thing-- possibly convert it back into a Guestbook? Leave it alone? Certainly, stop fretting about it.

Nevertheless, on the board I recall promising to show a rear shot of the Jungle Princess, so thar she be. Yep, she's got a big butt. Sorry it's not a nekkid shot but the view through the legs would probably show a bit too much of the authentic detailing I now regularly include. (Why? Because it's there.) I haven't done much customizing in the last few weeks, but the Jungle Princess project didn't die with a whimper-- there just wasn't anything interesting enough for an update. Since the last update, she's been painted and I've reinforced her pond scum costuming with jute, adding hidden hooks so that it was easily removeable (untying it was a hassle and rough on the delicate pond scum). This primitive type of costuming doesn't call for ornate decorations and jewelry, but I like the effect so I've decided to forego creating fun custom geegaws for her.

You may recognize the "Red Sonja"-looking figure as the pilot of my "Wespe" Super Armored Fighting Suit. I yanked her from that duty since it didn't make sense to work hard on the figure and then cover her up with clothes and a robot suit. The weird part was undressing her and seeing how scrawny she looked... what was I thinking??? That's odd because this was a fairly recent figure, and I don't recall undergoing shock treatment in the interim. But I guess we can quickly go through phases, and no doubt working on the meaty Jungle Princess changed my sense of aesthetics. So I haven't exactly been a slacker: Her bod was pretty heavily revised with wider hips, meatier legs, and smaller boobs. I didn't have a clue how I was going to costume her, since I neurotically avoid using specialty materials I've used before ("hey, that's the same leopard skin he used in that other figure!") . But I've reserved my cool 2mm chainmail for a still undetermined, "really special project", I haven't done a chainmail bikini yet and a bikini wouldn't use much of it. (Chainmail is one of those generic specialty materials that I don't mind being redundant with.) So the bikini was this morning's work. The bra is made of three pieces, joined (in a haphazard manner) with my tiny homemade rings. Chainmail is a horribly frustrating material to work with since it keeps shifting and slipping as you work on it. With rings of this size, everything has to be done with fine-tipped tweezers, one in each hand. About half of the rings disappeared into the carpet, and you quickly learn that there's little point in trying to find them. The bottom was a lot easier-- I glued the pieces to the leather and only had to connect the two pieces at the crotch. For what it's worth, I'm not trying to create a "Red Sonja" figure-- it's just a red-headed gal wearing a chainmail bikini. Actually, the hair is Auburn so I guess she should be called "Auburn Sonja"?

 


03/24/02-- Howdy Honda! The fact that I'm using this exotic channel of communication should be a clue that I've got very little of interest to say. Looking into the crystal ball, I can predict that there will be fewer reviews of exotic and expensive toys here in the future. That's because I'll probably be doing less wild spending. That's because I'll have fewer discretionary bucks to fuel the wild spending. That's because I'll be burdened with a car note. That's because my small-brained car got a hard-on for a telephone pole. Jeez... Being in the driver's seat, I was forced to watch this disgusting spectacle, up-close and personal. Yeah, shit happens, and dwelling on it don't accomplish nuttin'. This being my first auto accident, I see it as a unique experience-- riding a hydroplaning car down a steep hill & through a busy intersection is like a barely controllable rollercoaster ride from Hell. You don't have time to be scared since you're busy reacting, but you do have time to mentally tabulate the accumulating damage and know the exact moment at which your car becomes hopelessly FUBAR'd. At that fateful moment you lose the freedom of being (relatively) debt-free. So yeah, cutting the discretionary spending budget by hundreds of bucks a month does crimp one's style in the area of collecting. Consequently, so goes the ability to do those rude reviews which I rely on to make it seem like there's something going on when I don't really have anything going on. The alternative is... articles like this. Sorry.

Fortunately, customizing doesn't have to take much of a hit. Customizing has always been a potentially low cost endeavor which doesn't rely on the influx of new purchases. Of course money is like fuel which increases the range of options you have, and the money that's spent builds a foundation for future projects. One of the traits of a customizer is to accumulate waaay more than you need, as a byproduct-- but the underlying assumption is that whatever you've got left over probably will come in handy later. Since I've been doing this for so long, I've got lots of tools, supplies, parts, scraps and materials, enough boxed and unboxed fodder figures to last me for years, in addition to the custom figures that are begging to be redone or recycled. I may even resort to sewing or trying out my sand casting kit. As usual, the biggest obstacle to customizing is mustering the motivation to actually do it.

So if I seem sanguine about this unfortunate incident, it's because I can live with fewer toys; I'm fortunate to not have ruined someone else's day and to not have ended up in a hospital. Spending money on hospitals and doctors for self-maintenance seems soooo wasteful. It was about time to get a new car anyway, the new car is sooo pretty and soooo much more upscale, and now I don't have to deal with the old car's overheating problem. Whew... I sure am glad I didn't waste my time washing that sucker last weekend!

What's on the (Photographic) Plate? I'm glad I bought my digital camera before all of this happened because I splurged on a 'spensive one with a remote capture feature (Canon G2) that I could also use at work... which gave me an excuse to develop HTML generating routines in my DB for serving statistics and reports on our Mac-unfriendly LAN. Nobody asked for this, but I knew it would be kewl (and fun to develop) and consensus seems to be that it is... (Now if I could get them to pay for the camera or buy me one, that would be great.) My wife had mentioned wanting a digital camera, although she probably had "modestly-priced" in mind (just like at work); all these justifications can be twisted into a course of action which suits your desires, as long as you filter out the right parts and are willing to pay the price. At any rate, that's why I've been able to present bigger and better images of full figures. I haven't been considerate enough to avoid posting obnoxiously huge pics, but the good thing is that a huge pic can be cropped to frame a detail and retain good quality without using telephoto or macro (which kill depth of field). I still like the old setup for some closeup shots because I can control the composition and lighting more easily, but I'm still learning. The 'spensive camera can take very good pictures, but it gives you the freedom to take very bad ones too. Those are the ones I've mastered.

You know you're desperate for material when you talk about fish... (and blind 'em so you can talk about 'em) Back on the 05/15/01 update I showed some pics my fish in the (then) new aquarium. It's almost a year later, and I thought I should mention that the Elephant Nose (Dumbo) and Black Knife (Slinky) are still around... and bigger. The Black Knife has grown tremendously, now about doubled in length to around 8". The Neons and Ghost Shrimp didn't fare as well-- they disappeared one by one, which may account for some of that growth? Initially, I wondered whether the two would get along since they both use electrical sensing to find food and seemed to harass each other; the Elephant Nose doing most of the harassing, despite his much smaller mouth. Now that BK has outgrown EN by a few inches, BK isn't intimidated and ignores all the needling and thrashing around that EN does at feeding time. They have an odd relationship, like a nagging couple: EN hangs out with BK in the same corner of the tank and EN chases away any other fish that stray into their territory. They spend most of their time in this corner and only occasionally does BK venture out for his lightning fast tank-wide sweeps and foraging sessions. I've since added a second smaller Elephant Nose (top pic) and Baby Whale (bottom pic). These "newcomers" are independents and have found their separate spots in the tank but range the entire tank at feeding time. The Elephant Noses don't hang out together: Old-timer EN sees the younger one as just another fish to be chased off, and the younger one does the same for his little patch of the tank (although he's okay with the Chinese Algae Eater). The Baby Whale hangs out in the fake vegetation-- initially very shy, he now ventures out aggressively at feeding time and gets chased off a lot. He's the tank's whipping boy. I was concerned about feeding these guys at first-- For months, I fed Slinky & Dumbo live black worms because they didn't seem to eat anything when I first got them. I've since realized that fish are just shy at first. The new Elephant Nose will eat anything-- he gets excited like a puppy as he tries to suck down a shower of Goldfish flakes. Despite being optimized for bottom foraging, Mormyrids like the Baby Whale & Elephant Nose can locate and suck down light mid tank food like frozen white worms (mosquito larva) as well as forage for the heavier frozen bloodworms. The Black Knife can do all that too, plus suck food from the top, like freeze-dried plankton. He's a noisy eater.

Competing in the bottom feeding zone is a Chinese Algae Eater. I thought this would be a useful and perhaps entertaining fish since they're more active than an algae-eating Plecostomus. Unfortunately, he's not doing his job. He prefers bloodworms and has grown into the fattest CAE I've ever seen, while leaving the algae untouched; on top of that, he's a bully who chases other fish. I like odd-looking fish, so I added a Butterfly fish-- he's a top feeder with a humongous trap-like mouth. He floats at the top in one spot until feeding time, the ventures out. If he finds a floating cube of white worm, he quickly drags it all the way over to his area of the tank. Greedy bastard. Four platys round out the tank-- I didn't plan on that many but one slipped into the bag when I got the Baby Whale and one is the sole survivor of a small batch from a pre-pregnant platy. I thought it would be good to have a few all-zone feeders who swam around in the full tank instead of guarding a territory. They form their own clique and seem to have established their own pecking order.

It's interesting to watch fish and their behavioral quirks. Generally, it seems that what we would anthropomorphize as "asshole" behavior is a big part of survival in the territorial-centered instincts of small-brained creatures like fish. Unlike us, they're incapable of learning that there's no shortage of food and they don't need to be that way. [BTW, the fish weren't actually blinded... they just wouldn't stand still for a non-flash photo and it took about 20 shots to get these two.]


Happy New Year, first of all.

Wow, I haven't done any of these "Remarks" entries since September! That's because there hasn't been much downtime between projects, and I haven't had anything worthwhile to gripe about: I've done all my editorializing within the regular articles. During the last part of this year I've been pretty busy making up for the lull during the summer. Griping about about external things like Dragon's exclusives or rumor-mongering about the fate of 21C Toys would be luxuries that I haven't had time for lately.

The calendar year marks an artificial cycle in the parade of projects that appear on this website. Still, it does mean something to me since I mark everything with dates and archive projects by year. So at this time it's natural to want to evaluate the yearly output and compare it to previous years. Based on a straight count of new figures created, this wasn't a highly productive year. Of course, that would be the case if you were running out of things you wanted to make or running out of display room... It sure wasn't from slacking off. I believe that I put more work into those fewer figures and explored more new territory than in the past. Some of these projects seemed to take much longer to complete (or abandon) than in the past. Thinking about the Minerva project makes me shudder!

The year began with a continuation of the fantasy "Primal World" theme and closes out with a growing focus on the sci-fi robots theme. That will probably continue into 2002, until I've had enough or something else steals my attention. (Not to make you despair, but I've got two unbuilt 1:6 kits, the huge resin kit and 14 of the 1:20 plastic models to build... Gawd, now I'm depressed!) A long-standing and enduring attraction at this site are the Joe babes-- that will undoubtedly continue. I throw 'em in every once in a while because I'm not above pandering to visitors... and they aren't too painful for me to make, either. (I just wish I could figure out a way to make 'em work with robots.) So what about the military stuff? I think I've mentioned this before-- I like it just fine but damn! I don't like crowds and it's everywhere. The manufacturers are bombarding us with much more than we can buy (even being super selective), so I've narrowed my focus to get rid of the distracting noise. I'll probably regret that later since some of the stuff is swwwweeet! These are the best of times for the collector. For the customizer; you've gotta work your butt off to remain relevant!

Anyway, thanks for visiting and for looking at the pictures. And if you've actually been reading the text... gee, I apologize for wasting so much of your life!

--Jimbob, 12/31/01

 

(Here's one from the vaults...)

STICK A FORK IN 'EM (THEY'RE DONE)

A while back, I cleaned out some of the dead Customizer links on my GI Joe Index. Wow... Lots of 'em. This is no surprise... The worm's been turning for quite a while, and just about everyone knows that commercial Customizers were on the bloody end of the stick that companies like 21C and Dragon brought to the hobby.

To me, the closure of Action City defines the end of an era. They were one of the few Customizers that captured my attention when I first got on the Internet, and I remember agonizing over whether I should try Circle House or Action City: Both produced very kewl stuff and both were expensive, so it was a tough choice-- but Francis Tavares' awesome designs won me over. In their heyday, Customizers filled a void, acting as the sole source for unique, high-quality products that the manufacturers weren't producing. They were us-- Joeheads who decided to do something about it.

But we've grown up now, and exploration of the frontiers of the hobby is no longer in the hands of home-grown amateurs. This growth, while claiming these casualties, has greatly benefitted us as collectors. We can now buy professionally produced, high-quality products at a low price from reliable vendors. Buying from Customizers was something of a gamble. How long would it take? Would you ever see your stuff? It only took a few Customizers to cast a bad light on the whole shebang. These shortcomings were not excusable, but were understandable at least-- having the gumption to start a home business doesn't mean you know anything about how to run one properly. Patient customers endured some absurdly long waits, and many have been left with holes in their pockets after the proprietors seemingly dropped off the face of the earth. Sure, lots of Customizers have closed up shop, but commercial customizing isn't dead. It's adapted to exploit areas that are relatively safe from competition from the big companies: vehicles, headsculpts... narrow opportunity stuff.

On the other hand, non-commercial customizing has flourished due to the hobby's evolution. The change has "democratized" the concept of custom figures. "Kit-bashing" has become very popular-- the result of so many different figures and their accessories being available to so many people. A subculture of parts buying, trading and swapping has naturally evolved from this which makes it possible for the casual collector to participate in the creative side of the hobby. This coexists with those whose artistic skills allow them to go a step beyond. For those customizers, finding unique subject matter is more difficult since the body of subjects and articles which haven't been produced by the manufacturers is shrinking. But people are adaptable and aren't exclusively defined by what they sell. A commercial customizer may drop out of the business, but he still remains a customizer. A customizer may postpone entering the commercial arena until the climate is more hospitable. So there's no need to mourn the losses.

Still, Action City will be missed...

 


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