Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tube Shot Glasses

Those are "Luau Tube Shot Glasses," which cost me a buck at... just some discount store in Queens. In case it wasn't already obvious, I didn't pick these up for a party or anything.

Actually, four of the glasses are, at least for the time being, completely superfluous to me. I bought this solely for the two green ones:

Bet you know where this is going. That's right: I was gambling the size would be right. And, wouldn't you know it...

With absolutely no energy expended or work required, I've got a pretty nice energy blast for my 13 inch DC Direct Green Lantern figure. The opening wedges over his fist, and (at least so far) hasn't scraped the paint or given me any problems. Perfect fit, actually:

The two glasses stack, allowing for an extended blast. Alternatively, they can always be divvied up:

The figure on the right, in case you missed it, is the custom I can be a Green Lantern Barbie my wife made. It's not quite as snug a fit there, but it balances fairly well.

I'm not crazy about the bottoms of the glasses, and I might eventually attach something more interesting, assuming I can find something that works as a construct. In the meantime, not too bad for a buck and no work.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Photos from the Bat-Cave

Here are a few more pictures of the Bat-Computer with a few of my Batmobiles in the background.

I'm not sure why Batman's monitoring a video of someone taking a picture...

The suit display is a custom my wife made a few years ago.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Custom: DCIH Scale Bat-Computer

Here's my interpretation of the famed Bat-Computer scaled for 3 3/4th inch figures, complete with lights, console, chair, and digital Oracle.

The base came from one of the Walmart exclusive Iron Man Hall of Armor figures I bought on clearance. I took it apart, removed the semi-transparent floor and some other obstructions, then pulled the LEDs up through the grating.

The chair and console came from Playmate's line of Star Trek figures made for the Abrams movie. I'm not sure which figure(s) these particular pieces originally came with (they might even have been part of the Bridge playset), though they're all pretty much interchangeable, anyway.

I painted the chair black, along with the top of the console (leaving the decal as-is, of course). I also painted the bottom silver, so it would be closer to the color of the base. The bottom of the chair unscrews, so I detached it, put it beneath the grate, and screwed it back together using a slightly longer screw. Honestly, this aspect's given me nothing but trouble: if I were doing it over again, I'd just glue the chair to the base and save myself the hassle.

Once that was all reassembled, I worked on the monitors. All of those pieces are acrylic squares I found in a couple of stores specializing in plastic parts that I found almost across the street from each other in Chinatown (that's also where I found those clear plastic cubes).

A few of the pieces above didn't make it into the final project. I'm sure I'll find a use for them at some point.

The Oracle picture was traced out of a Birds of Prey graphic novel. For the monitors containing text, I used Martha Stewart brand transfers I found at Michaels (normally, I wouldn't bother to specify the brand, but it just amuses me too much).

I looked everywhere for triangular wedges of clear plastic I could use to get some of the monitors to sit at an angle, but couldn't find anything. Instead, I cut strips of plastic out of the "World's Finest Dog" packages, then folded them into triangular shapes.

I think I used the better part of a tube of super-glue putting everything together. And, as usual, it didn't quite go off without a hitch. The orange "Alert" panel wound up at an angle (superglue doesn't give you second chances), and I wound up smearing some glue on the screen. I thought I got most of it off using nail polish remover, but the pictures are more revealing than my eye alone.

It's got a few imperfections, but - frankly - I love this thing. Those clear cubes do an amazing job refracting the blue light, and some of the screens really seem to glow.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Iron Man 2 Hall of Armor Mark II and III

Getting from my apartment to Target isn't easy, and my wife and I don't go often. It takes us more than an hour on the subway, which isn't the most enjoyable environment to be hauling back a bag of stuff.

Still, we generally make the trip once every three or four months. This time, we stumbled across these on clearance for $3.07 each, marked down from ten. I actually picked up two of each: the bases are versatile, not to mention useful in custom projects.

Taken as is, the concept is a lot better than the execution. The lights are nice, but the dark plastic on the base diffuses them a bit too much. In addition, using what amounts to a toy version of the chest piece worn by Stark as the base leaves you with something too tall and missing a top.

The figures are pretty good, with the Mark II significantly nicer than the III. Of course, I've got more Iron Man Armor than I know what to do with now.

Overall, a heck of a bargain at three bucks and change.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Review: DC Universe Classics Sinestro Corps Batman

Impulse was the identity used by Bart Allen to fight crime before he decided the name, "Kid Flash" was better. It's also the kind of purchase that resulted in today's review.

Sinestro Corps Batman was an idea teased in an issue of Brave and the Bold. When the Sinestro Corps rings were scouring the Universe looking for recruits, one tried to grab Bruce. It makes a great deal of sense, actually: if you're looking for the beings most adept at manipulating and utilizing fear, do you grab the Scarecrow or the guy the Scarecrow has nightmares about?

As it worked out, Bruce's willpower (along with the yellow ring's analysis that he'd recently worn a Green Lantern ring... long story) overcame the yellow ring and drove it off.

I've often wondered what would have happened if the ring had won out. I think the Sinestro Corps war would have been a lot shorter. This is Batman we're talking about: he could have mastered the ring in a heartbeat, infiltrated the organization, leaked Sinestro's plans to the Guardians, and helped bring down the corps from the inside. Maybe he should have just let the ring hijack him to Qward - it might have saved the Universe a whole lot of trouble and pain.

I enjoyed the page where Batman "fought" the ring, but I didn't really need this figure to commemorate it. I honestly had every intention of skipping this one. But it was relatively cheap, it came with a big chunk of Validus - not to mention a yellow construct batarang - and I was weak. So here we are.

I want tip my proverbial hat to Mattel for the back of the packaging. I've long given them credit for bothering to put accurate character info on the back of DCUC figures (most companies don't - heck, Mattel doesn't take the time for most of their other DC lines), but this time they're kind of outdone themselves. They seem to have used their generic Batman bio, then photoshopped this over it:

Granted, if you're a kid without a background in DC Comics, you'll likely be lost. But Mattel seems to have realized that kids aren't buying these, anyway. For those of us dorky enough to appreciate what's going on, this is a really good metaphor for what the figure is about. So kudos, Matty: take a bow. I don't care what everyone says about you (and I do mean EVERYONE) - you're all right in my book!

I have mixed feelings about the head sculpt. Overall, I like it, though it might be a little overly dramatic. Still, you never know when you'll want a really angry Batman head, so it's nice to have around.

The body is, for all intents and purposes, a generic Sinestro Corps soldier with a cape and spikes on the forearm. The figure's wearing a yellow ring, of course, though the paint's a little sloppy on mine. Regardless, this certainly has custom potential - getting the head/cape off wouldn't be hard. As for the spikes... I imagine most Sinestro Corps members would be perfectly happy wearing those fashion accessories.

The construct's also pretty cool. I like it as is, but it's tough finding a base for a yellow power blast that snaps onto a DCUC figure's wrist and could therefore wind up custom-fodder. As for the batarang, I could always paint it black and maybe give it to my 12 inch Batman.

The pin is kind of cool, at least compared to most of the ones I've gotten. I've never been crazy about these, but that might just be me. Nah, it's a stupid idea, and Mattel should replace these with additional accessories.

The Validus torso was a big part of what made me break down and buy the figure. If I don't wind up getting the remaining parts, it certainly has custom potential. This started around $18 - $20 in New York City (so I'm assuming he was a few bucks less out there in the suburbs commonly referred to as "America"). I found this one going for $13 at a local toy and luggage store in Queens. They had a few other figures from the line, but I passed them up for now. There's at least one more from this wave I'd consider at that price - the modern Starman - but he was MIAF (Missing In Action-Figure: came up with that all by myself). If the others get cheaper... maybe. I'm already halfway to Validus, so I'm certainly tempted to finish the figure, but only if I can get a decent deal.

As for Batman, I'm torn on whether I want to use it for custom bait or keep it as is. On one hand, I'm not sure I need another Batman, and certainly not one from a single, obscure page. On the other hand, he looks awfully good beside that custom Green Lantern Batman I put together:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Custom: Ace, the Bat-Hound

Remember that German Shepherd from the "World's Famous" packs of dogs I reviewed the other day? Well, here's the updated version.

Most of you probably know Ace from his animated appearances on Krypto, Batman: Brave and the Bold, and (in a highly altered form) on Batman Beyond. Actually, most of probably don't know Ace at all. But the few who do probably know him from those shows.

Ace dates back to the Golden Age of comics. And, like Vicki Vale, Bat-Mite, and Batgirl, he exists because the Superman comics had an analog in Krypto. Yup, throughout the fifties, Batman writers basically just copied whatever was working in Superman.

More recently, Ace had a cameo during a flashback in Batman Inc. Personally, I'm thrilled to see him make an appearance. I want my Batman Comics dark and moody. But I want them dark and moody with super-pets.

One of my new goals in life is to pitch a new Ace: the Bat-Hound series to DC editorial. The time is right. I mean, DC's already reverting the 90's: why not push the envelope and go for the 1950's?

At any rate, this Ace was fairly easy to create. I sculpted the mask using Kneadatite, then painted the whole thing. I left some of the original black paint around the ears, nose, and mouth, and I didn't touch the eyes, but the rest is all new.

I sculpted a bat-symbol, again using Kneadatite, on some black jewelry wire, and hung it around Ace's neck.

I'm actually fairly close to model on this Ace, with the exception of the shape of the bat-symbol (given its size, I decided it wasn't imperative it matched the 50's version, so long as it looked like a bat) and his eyes, which were white in the original design. This time, I wasn't being lazy: that was a deliberate choice. I liked the look of the original toy's eyes, and I didn't want to lose the expression. It seems to me that Ace is confused as to why he's wearing a mask, and that feels right.

Here's a before/after picture showing Ace with one of the "World's Famous" German Shepherds:

And here's one of Ace and his master:

Another picture, for good measure:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Picture: Justice

This should make more sense tomorrow.

Monday, June 20, 2011

World's Famous Dog Play Sets

Not "World Famous," mind you: the packaging states these are "World's Famous." Oops.

These are another find at the Toys R Us Express in Queens. The green sticker means they were 70% off, so I paid $1.35 a pack. Not bad, though not quite a steal.

These are fine for what they are, which is cheap miniature plastic animals. And when I say fine, that's all I mean. They look all right, but the plastic paws, particularly on the smaller dogs, are way too soft and rubbery.

I picked up three packs: two with the German Shepherd and one with the retriever. I haven't found a use for the others yet, but I'm working on a custom project using one of the German Shepherds as a base. More on that in a day or two.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Custom: JLU Ra's Al Ghul

I feel weird posting a custom Ra's so soon after the DC Direct head swap. I certainly like the character, but he's getting a little more attention here than he probably should.

This was actually more a custom of opportunity than anything else. I bought a Speed Racer Captain Terror action figure, and he came with that awesome cape. It reminded me of the type Ra's is always wearing, and that got me thinking.

First up, I'm well aware how far off model I am. Ra's cape is traditionally green, his clasp is different, and he's generally depicted in a vest, not a suit. But there's a perfectly good reason for the changes.

I was lazy.

Besides the cape, this was put together using an old Batman: TAS Ra's and a JLU Old Man Bruce figure from the Batman Beyond 3-pack.

I was actually planning on just using Bruce's arms on a Two-Face body until I removed Bruce's overcoat and discovered he was the same figure underneath. Live and learn.

A head swap and some paint later, and he's ready to show off his new cape. Not too shabby, I think.

I'd be remiss not to mention that this isn't the only JLU Ghul custom we own in this scale and style. My wife made an awesome Talia a few years back. You can find pictures here.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Action League Batman with Batcycle

I came across this in a Lots Less in Downtown Manhattan for $7.99 and couldn't decide whether or not to buy it. Well, the coin came up heads, so here we are.

This is a pretty cool toy, all things considered. The bike is obviously the high point here, and it's a nice, generic version of Batman's ride. It's a deformed version of Bat's bike in Brave and the Bold, which is in turn a deformed version of various cycles he's had in the comics. Like all the Brave and the Bold Action League toys, it's not really clear what connects this to the show as opposed to DC Comics in general. But the line has now spun off to include the larger comics Universe, so... problem solved.

The figure himself is a little dull, but he's really just here to sit on the bike. I'm a glad he can actually hold the handlebars and fits in the seat. On the other hand, that meant skipping the cape, which doesn't do the figure - or his balance - any favors. A cloth cape, or maybe just a detachable one, would have been a nice touch.

Batman's weapon isn't all that exciting either. I'm not really sure what it's even supposed to be. It looks kind of like a battering-ram gun or something. The design is reminiscent of firing projectiles conforming to over-sensitive safety regulations. But this doesn't fire: it's all one molded piece.

Whatever. The bike's cool, which is all that really matters. At eight bucks, this feels fair, though still not much of a bargain. Six would be less ambiguous, but the $10 - $15 Toys R Us has been asking is just ridiculous. Still, it's a nice piece, and I'm happy to add it to my collection.

Not everyone's glad to see it, though. In fact, Robin's downright pissed. He's asked if he could have the sidecar back:

Joking aside, I find it intriguing that the bike works as well as it does with six inch figures. If you were to replace the wheels with ones larger further down and sculpt out the bottom, you could conceivably turn this into a Batcycle suitable for 6 inch figures.

Not that I'm going to, at least any time soon. I'm happy with this toy as is. Besides, I've already got a 12th scale custom Batcycle:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pretty in Green

Beautiful, isn't it? For only a few dollars at your local CVS, you too could have a lovely plastic bracelet and earring set. Absolutely stunning.

Just make sure you're careful when you cut the band: otherwise the beads go flying everywhere.

Remember that custom Green Lantern figure I made a while back? Remember when I said I  wanted to get him a marble or something to use as a crystal ball? Well, I came across this before I found a marble.

It's a good size, good color, and the holes actually make it easier for him to hold. I'll keep my eyes open in case I find something better, but for the time being I'm pretty happy. Here's what he looks like in flight: