REMARKS 09/06/02 - 09/30/02

Last modified: Tuesday, December 31, 2002 7:27 AM

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09/30/02- AWE... In my opinion, it's the greatest achievement of my country, but really an achievement which belongs to all Mankind. The competition of the Cold War space race drove it and sold it, but it showed all Mankind a path to a hope-filled future. Today, remembering it offers a stark contrast to the dark future that our current administration is ushering us towards. It's a sign of the times that a Wranger commercial perverts Creedence Clearwater Revival's anti-war song, "Favorite Son", by snipping it into a flag-waving vehicle to sell jeans. I suppose that it's a little ironic that one of the best tributes to this achievement was produced by a Chinese company: The American company which got there first did a lousy job (Just because it's a toy doesn't mean that the helmet's gotta be oversized!). So if you're not okay with funneling money into the war chest of those guys who have WOMD, stay away from this one and be happy with the Hasbro version... (except that was probably manufactured over there too, wasn't it?)

Make Toys, not War.

09/22/02- Yeah... sorry, it's a pic of a past project-- old Big-Butted Bunny. I hauled her out for some minor additions because her role got upgraded and because of this (150k pic). That's a pic of the parts you get off of a "Dark Ages Spawn: The Samurai Wars: Scorpion Assassin" figure. Before I say any more, let me thank and credit xxian for posting cool pics in a Message Board topic (I'm hoping that the links continue to work). He was the first to come up with the idea of peeling off the detailing of a McFarlane figure and reconstructing/reconfiguring it on 1:6 figures. Very cool idea, but his figures look even better! There are 5 different Samurai Wars figures to peel detail from, and that's just one of the many series in McFarlane's toy line.

I didn't wanna step on xxian's idea or take my fantasy stuff in a Samurai direction, but the parts were very tempting. The spikey helmet decorations looked perfect on the recent "Armoured Cheesecake" helmet. I couldn't bring myself to do it though, because it made it look Samurai-ish, and too much like where it came from (?- if that makes sense to you-?). On the other hand, I borrowed a knee pad for shoulder armour because it looked more generic. Bunny needed shoulder armor but I'd been too lazy to sculpt any. If I'd done it, it probably would have been much simpler in the detailing (Personally, I think that some of the McFarlane stuff is a little overdone, but it's really a matter of taste). Anyway, one of the knee pieces seemed generic enough for that so I cast a duplicate for the other shoulder. Unfortunately (and the reason I made the "overdone" comment), a lot of the pieces aren't sculpted symmetrically, so identical pieces don't produce left/right mirrors. Quite a bit of the detailing is like that, which limits its generic utility.

The other thing I really liked was the sword/cleaver. The McFarlane stuff tends to be exaggerated and bigger-than-life, so even though the figure scale is smaller, many of the parts and accessories work okay at 1:6. I decided to make my own version, partially for the satifaction of outfitting a hero character with a home-made, metal-bladed one, but also so I could give the lighter plastic one to a skeleton figure (Those guys are too light to hold anything substantial). The blade was cut and polished in brass (because it's softer), electroplated in nickel (for the silver color), then corroded in gun bluing and weathered with a faint fake rust. Naturally, the lighting of the pic makes the plastic blade look better (sigh)...

Figures like this are great for getting ideas-- You can spend hours poring over historical references or looking at fantasy art for ideas, but McFarlane figures tend to cram all those ideas and details into one small three dimensional package. The results can be a little garish and busy, but you can pick and use the ones you like.

Lord of the Rings Helmets-- Because I was curious, I got two of these 1/4 scale helmets: the Orc Trapjaw and the Orc Hide. The 'Net pictures look good, but what can you really tell about them without seeing and feeling them in person? So... Okay... they're heavy. That's because they're cast in metal. They're similar to an old iron ashtray or knick-knack-- they're a single piece casting (the trapjaw isn't articulated) and come with a nice little display stand which has a rubber knob on the top and rubber feet to keep things from shifting around. The metal is aged in a dark color, with some fake rust washes and bright metal showing through at wear spots. (The wear is only marginally convincing because the metal underneath is so bright.) My verdict: They are what they are, but a little lacking. If they'd been really neat, I'd probably have been eager to some buy more even though they really don't have any useful purpose that I can think of (Unlike 1:6 scale figures, ha ha).

09/19/02- Rants? Hah! If you've tried to access this site by typing in "", you've probably seen the alternate portal to this hellhole. Yes, it's a prank, but it's also a snide response to seeing a hobby discussion forum close its doors to casual visitors. Ya gotta register, just like what the anti-gun block has been pushing for decades. WTF is going on with this hobby? Big egos have always been a part of the online experience of our hobby, but somehow the proliferation of ezboard discussion forums has made it worse-- little kingdoms being carved out of the formerly unrestricted landscape. It's proof that the spirit of MasteRB8 lives on. Of course, a webmaster is entitled to do whatever he wants-- browsing a site is a privilege, not a right. But thankfully there are other forums without delusions of grandeur, and I vote with my mouse. Nyah, nyaaaah. As for my own delusions of grandeur... well, they don't bother me at all!!!

Ya want some more? Here's some more! A certain well-known online retailer has been very aggressive about adding me to all their promotional SPAMLISTS, without my consent. I ordered from them once using that e-mail address. I discovered this when I checked the email account I got for my wife. She doesn't use it, and I hadn't checked it since May. I knew something was up when the computer bogged down from downloading message after message from this vendor. I decided to cancel the download and check the web-based version of mail to see what was up... Great Googly Moogly! There were scads of huge attached-pic messages queued up for download. Downloading them through my mail reader would have tied up my computer for 10-20 minutes! The most appalling part of this was that the first message contained a happy greeting from the moderator saying that I'd been added to their maillist: At the bottom of the message was Yahoo group's sig line saying that people who have been added to lists without consent should report it to their abuse department. Jeeeeeeez, what GALL! While I didn't do that, I did unsubscribe and eventually received Yahoo Groups' confirmation. End of story, you'd think... right? Wrong Bucko! Today, I received SPAM from the vendor coming from a DIFFERENT SERVER!!!   @#$%@!!! Well, I've sent them an e-mail and if it doesn't stop, I'm clearing my workbench of all projects and naming names.

Grrrrrr... Arrrgh...

Okay... I'm done. Sorry for venting. Move along now.

09/16/02- Here's another figure that I slapped together recently-- number two in my collection of quickie figs which don't merit articles. The defiled headsculpt (from Hasbro's Korean War Recoilless Rifle figure; SAJOE body used for Demon Warrior #2 ) was planted on a ME/TC/Ertl vintage style body with some difficulty. Unfortunately, the vintage style head is mellon-sized, and the new Hasbro bodies have good sized heads, but really fat necks. I'm beginning to think that this cruelty is deliberate...

Yep, he's old and wrinkly, has a high forehead, weird reflective eyes and pointy ears. Sort of like a humorless version of Yoda, except he's taller and doesn't have green skin. Okay, maybe he's not very much like Yoda after all. Maybe Bruce Willis in a bad makeup job? He's not intended as an evil character, despite the dour expression. He's just a serious and sad kinda guy with a lot of regrets. This was less about making a kewl figure than about making a placeholder for the background of the story. (In real storytelling you don't bore people with that, but for this, you can go hog wild.) If I cared enough, I'd make something for him to wear instead of using the other part of Qui Gon Jinn's outfit.

09/06/02- See? I'm not really between projects, I'm actually doing the same project again, making a second Demon Warrior. Hard to tell from the pic but he's actually dark skinned, which shows that the bad guys are at least equal-opportunity corrupters, despite all their other flaws. I want to give him bare fingers but trying to tint the SAJOE's Caucasian hands the right color was quite an ordeal. This guy might wind up as an archer and maybe I'll give him a different helmet. In either case, it doesn't merit billing as a separate project so I'll probably add a second page of pics of the completed figure (when he's done) to the original article.

Yes, I have a few unfinished projects hanging around in the background... make that a lot of unfinished ones, stretching back for a couple years. That should tell you that I enjoy starting and breezing through projects more than I enjoy putting the finishing touches on them. So many furniture figures to make, so little time! I've also done a little more work on "Impotentate" from the previous entry here, so I'll have do some family roundup photos again. The in-context pics add a dimension that ya don't get from individual figure pics.

Queen of the Damned DVD I don't claim to be a movie critic and I'm unapologetic about my low standards when it comes to movies-- if it's something escapist like sci-fi or fantasy, a movie's gotta be pretty horribly boring or cringeworthy for me to not like it. Even stilted dialog and bad acting don't faze me (Deathstalker, Inframan). In the case of the kiddie flick "Harry Potter", I didn't hate it. I just found it to be boring and the advance hype raised my expectations to a level which wasn't met by the viewing experience; with "Queen of the Damned", my expectations were lowered by advance Internet browsing-- and I was pleasantly surprised by a movie which surpassed my expectations. The story kept me interested (I use my butt's soreness as a gauge of this) and the visuals/effects weren't cheesy-- again, by my standards. Of course, the big attraction is Aaliyah as Akasha, QoTD... Her role definitely earns this movie a place in your collection of shows about Sexy-Evil-Women-Who-Could-Beat-the-Shit-Outta-You. You might recognize that as a particular fascination of mine-- a lot of my female figures are built like that, or have that kind of flavor. I think it's a fairly common demented male fantasy. However, it's not one that many actually crave in real life, and we certainly don't want our beloved soulmates to be like that.

This interest seems to coincide with our desire to immerse our imaginations in a simpler, black & white world. In fantasy, this kind of simplicity gives us unambiguously evil villains and righteous, pure heroes-- none of that "moral relativism" that makes some folks so uncomfortable. Even when characters are given depth and may try to fool us, by the end of the story we usually know where everyone stands. Real world is a different story: The world is a lot more gray, people and situations are much more complex and the story doesn't end with a final verdict... more accurately: The story doesn't have an ending that we get to see. Fantasy allows us to take vacations from Reality.

Legend DVD Ridley Scott's movie from the late '80s is another great film of the fantasy genre-- It's been released in a super-duper "Ultimate" DVD package, with both the European and US theatrical release versions. This show's most familiar icon is Tim Curry's role as "Darkness", probably the best rendition of a big red horned one that's ever been seen on film before. The film is a rich feast of visuals -- the goblin "Blix" and the swamp witch "Meg" are also fantastic jobs of creature creation. It's a strange flick-- a fairy tale that's nightmarish, but tempered with humor.


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