Sunday, September 21, 2008

Meet the Scout action figure

Well, after a week of not really trying, the Scout is done. I can't quite get faces to look exactly how I want them to be with Sculpey, but hey, it's better than what unskilled hack jobs can do.
First: the features
  • Removable cloth cap and cardstock/wire headset.
  • Aluminum sheet metal dog tags strung on grey thread.
  • Socks. Amazing that I could get shoes to fit with socks on.
  • Gym shoes. Standard issue, repainted black with white stripes.
  • Baseball bat swinging action. Unmodified from Shia LaBeouf figure, but arm modified to allow greater range of motion.
  • Duffel bag holds his scattergun when not in use. Also hides his "Growth". (See problems, below)
  • Feet are flat enough to allow freestanding poses without doll stand assist.
  • Weapons are 110 lb cardstock.
  • Decapitated Shia LaBeouf.
Now the glaring problems
  • Clothes are a bit fuzzy looking instead of that weird glossy look.
  • Cheated with masking tape for the hand tape. Not worth sculpting it onto his hands.
  • Body color doesn't quite match the head yet. Haven't bothered, might do it later.
  • Lacks a decent stand to properly showcase his true in-game abilities
  • Still has a square "growth" coming out of his back for activating the Bonk! baseball bat action.
Modified joint stiffness for his swinging arm allows for the Scout to hold some poses.

"Anyone keeping track of the number of heads batted in?"

So far, the Scout is the second most expensive to build, due to his stock body costing $20 at a Wal-Mart. The most expensive is the Spy, with a Ultimate Soldier body ($23 paid, $35 retail). If you plan on making a Scout of your own, the clothes are ridiculously simple to sew, driving down overall costs. Find a willing sculptor, some children willing to sew for food, and you'll have your own Scout in a week!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Strangest $2.50 I've ever spent this month

Went to a yard sale today. Not sure what I was expecting to find there, but I didn't expect to find anything useful. For $2.50, I bought a My Scene doll for experimentation/decapitation, along with a bag of miscellaneous accessories for Barbie and My Scene (MS). For you normal people out there, My Scene was Mattel's 2004 rebuttal to Bratz. I guess that makes MS the anti-anti-Barbie. "Why", you ask, "do I know what that is?" I wish I could make up a reason like "my sister has them" or "a guy held me up at gunpoint until I knew all of the history behind girl dolls from the 2000's", but I boldly went to a site I've never gone before to find out the unknown. Simply, I wanted to know what I bought and whether I could use it as a cheap resource for doll joints. Turns out, they've been discontinued for sale in the US as of 2008. Hooray?

Anyways, inside that bag of random stuff, I got this lovely item.
Why make one by yourself when machines/children in an impoverished country can do it for you for little effort on your part! I was expecting Bratz and the anti-Bratz ripoffs MS to have ghastly whorish clothing, but this single item wasn't too tacky or slutty at all. Quite tame, and it covers her knees! Preposterous! If you could see what I saw inside that bag, you'd be concerned about how whorish Barbie and her rip off bretheren look. Of course, this comes from a guy who has a pile of military garb and decapitated heads in a cup on his desk. If I had my way, Barbie would have dress shirts, ties and MP5K sub machine guns hidden in briefcases. Luckily, the world is run by people who don't collect heads in a cup.

I rather like the look and how it semi-fulfills the "little black dress" item for my doll inventory. On a side note, I had the straps cross over the neck to hold it properly. Now might be a good time to publish my findings so far about the anatomy of a Mattel doll. The reason for the alternative strap position is that MS dolls have a larger overall chest circumference than Hotaru does. Hotaru has a larger one than Barbie, however. Barbie and MS dolls have borderline anorexic limb structure and narrow shoulder spans, probably due to a lack of heavy lifting and an overall reliance of male archetypes like Ken to pay laborers $3 an hour to move things for them.

However, I was startled to find that MS has near ball joint shoulder and hips, instead of the Barbie "I'm gonna strangle you!" arms. (Appears they actually spent some money to add some articulation since the 1950's) These joints are perfect for modifying them into a Phyrexian Negator.
(My favorite 5/5 trampler, by the way. Always wanted one as a figure.)

Tomorrow, we'll Meet the Scout. And by tomorrow, I mean today.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A brand new 1968 Dispense-o-matic!

Now, my Team Fortress 2 action figures can have unlimited ammo and strange red healing radiation with floating addition signs, all at the comfort of my desk. I finally got around to finishing the Dispenser papercraft that has been floating around the internet for a while now.
Rather than go into the hassle of designing my own dispenser, I scaled the template up by 140%. It seems a bit big to me. Oh well. The massive size will enhance that 1960's big US appliances look. The model is fairly accurate, save some color mismatches. It could use some more finishing touches, like pronounced bolts and nuts instead of drawn on ones. It was detailed enough to serve as a permanent part of the TF2 desk clutter.

A handy compartment below allows me to stash all the miscellaneous junk that's accumulated decapitating all these soldiers to make my TF2 action figures. It's an actual dispenser stocked with items now. There's a few pistols, grenades and lots of ammo belts stashed away.

On the backlog, I've been working on the Scout figure. Spent today working on the headset. Unfortunately, Shia LaBeouf is taking his revenge for his untimely modification beyond the decapitation by cursing me with his strangely off colored body. His body is a noticeably off shade from the other figures I've made and that makes the initial paint job for the scout head unsightly. It's like he has a really bad tan line. Anyways, some shots of the Scout in progress.

I've decided to make his shoulder slung bag useful by stashing his scattergun in it. I intend on having his baseball bat out for quick Bonk! action, courtesy of Shia LaBeouf's patented "whack off action" feature. The bag also hides the unsightly button popping out of his back. Dual purpose!

The remaining things left for the Scout are to paint stripes on his shoes, redo the paint job on his head, redo the tape on his hands and get dog tags. Probably won't get those done this weekend. He's looking decent as is, save the unsightly coloration disparity on his body.

More updates and google keyword padding to come. I will be the first search result eventually when people look for Team Fortress 2 action figures. Once I figure out how that works.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Desk Vignettes #5: Worst Date Ever.

"And this is where I store all the little maggots I've beaten in combat! That's Shia LaBeouf, Ken, Steve, Capt. Price, Little Susie, Uwe, Hugo, Steve, George, PeeWee and STEVE!"

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Desk Vignettes #4: A Spy's Guide to Getting Girls (part 1)

Since the oven's kaput til Monday, stopping Scout sculpey fun, here's some Sniper/Spy love.

Sometimes, it seems like it's too late to snag that girl. The Spy has ways to get around that.

To best increase your chances, it helps to dress to impress. Best to hide that shiv when you do it though. Nothing scares a lady off like a guy holding a knife.

Strike up a conversation.

Know what she likes and try your best to get her interested. In this case, Hotaru can't resist the idea of six long, hot and heaving barrels of minigun.


Weekend Project: Things That Start With "S"

Today's incidental theme is stuff that starts with "S" that aren't going anywhere. The Spy's gloves stand at the sanding and priming stage, sitting somewhere on a shelf, slowly setting. His suit still stands semi-complete, sans stripes. Sometime, I'll sew some stripes using some similar colored stitching.

The stove isn't starting, so I can't bake the sculpey to finish off the head sculpt. This skinny head sculpt is for the Scout, having now decapitated Shia LaBeouf. Since I'm waiting for the weather to clear for my gas stove to regain the ability to spark on again, I also made the Sandvich. Not a very stupendous or difficult sculpt, but I had leftover sculpey that wasn't solid from the humidity. It'll join the Sniper coffee mug in the accessories pile.

Here's the Scout with his cap, stolen from a Soldiers of the World figure. The cap's the wrong shape and style, so I should sew a proper one. Can't do that without the head properly cured though.

Progress as it comes.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Desk Vignettes #3: "Can I play TF2 with you guys?"

Story time, featuring Shia LaBeouf! I'll add my own story this time, using mostly dialogue from TF2 whenever possible. For those who like to make up their own, feel free to ignore the scrbbles that make your head hurt and look at the pictures.

SOLDIER: That was an amazing killing spree! By ME!
SHIA: Hey guys! I'm Shia LaBeouf. I'm new here. Why are all of you standing around a cup full of heads?
ENGINEER: Were you that guy who was in Transformers?
SHIA: Yeah. I was also in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull!
ENGINEER: Durned robots. I could've handled them better than you did, ma'am.
MEDIC: I zid not like ze crystal skull. But I do like watching ze hurting in zat film.
SOLDIER: You didn't take your lumps like a man, private Twinkletoes, hiding behind CG!

SOLDIER: Alright, give him hell, boys!
SHIA: Uh oh.
SOLDIER: If god had wanted you to live, he would not have created ME!
DEMOMAN: Don't worry! I'LL be gentle!
ENGINEER: I'm going to beat you like a rented mule, boy.
MEDIC: Come over here, I promise to heal you!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Figure Review: Indiana Jones and the Shia LaBeouf with Whack Off Action

In a change of pace, I decided to pick up a Shia LaBeouf/Mutt Williams doll for maniacal purposes. Why? To test a hypothesis I have regarding its potential usefulness. Since no sane person would buy this for their permanent collection if they're not 4 years old (yes, it says "Ages 4+"), let alone review it, I'll spare you the pain of owning one of these and tell you what it's like.

First off, I'd like to say that I don't like the film, and I bought this with malicious intent of doing grievous harm to it as I modded it for my next victim, the Scout from Team Fortress 2. Why buy such a random waste of $19.95 at Wal-Mart, you say? It has two benefits to the design: thinner arms for the scout; and a gimmicky push button sword swing action. Anyways, now that we have procured our target, let's free Shia/Mutt from the box and start doing harm.

Since the doll has a modified body to give it a swinging action, there's a couple issues to be aware of. There is no shoulder articulation aside from the rack and pinion action mechanism that rotates his arm to do sword chops. It's actually more like a flail than an arm, since the entire arm behaves like a cheap $1 toy snake. The wrist and elbow are extremely loose, like it's trying to demonstrate ragdoll physics. Great for the "knife throwing action", bad for posing. You can't swing the right arm out to the side for posing, and I learned that the hard way by snapping off one of the support pins holding his shoulder in place. Awesome, since I was going to enjoy popping bits off this bugger anyways. Nothing like a change of pace from decapitation to shoulder dislocation!

As you can see here, I've removed the right swinging action arm. Note the two holes in the shoulder socket assembly. There are two rubbery pins there that hold it in place. If you wish to mod your Shia LaBeouf figure (which leads to the question, why did you buy one and why do you want to do what I'm about to do anyways?) to have full range of arm motion, you'll need to use an X-acto knife (or if you wish, an UBERSAW!) to cut through the pins, if you don't like snapping off his shoulder while giggling with sadistic pleasure. Got to say, they gave him a really ripped body to go with his skinny arms.

Next, you'll have to probably glue back those pin chunks that may have fallen out into the shoulder assembly (the part with the two holes from the previous image). Why? Additional structural support for the bolt, silly! Unless you want Lethal Weapon shoulder dislocation action for your figure, but I don't think Shia LaBeouf is that badass to have that type of action. I'm using a 1/8" diameter bolt, with a length of about 10 mm. Anything up to 14mm is fine. You'll now need to drill a 1/8" dia hole through the center of the shoulder assembly. The shoulder ball diameter is roughly 17mm, so use that as a guide in determining your hole placement. If you're into unnecessary labor and lots of frustration, you can do this with a Gamer's Workshop hand drill and a cylindrical file. I suggest using a drill or a Dremel. Since I'm cheap and bootleg, I chose the former.

If you made the hole tighter than what it should be, great! You can simply feed the bolt though and the threads will eat the plastic and hold it in place. If not, you'll need to drill out a recess for a nut/washer and epoxy that into place. With that done, there's one more thing I did to stiffen the elbow. Using the staple resource of Magic: the Gathering cards, I laminated three cards' worth of thickness together and stuffed that into the gap in between the elbow joint. Regular Elmer's glue secured that into place. It's just as stiff as his left arm now.

Now, onto the figure itself. With a stiffer arm, he's better capable of swinging weapons down without the silly floppy arm motion. He came with boots, which were rather nice, but he's going to be using some Soldiers of the World gym shoes. His pants are nicely done, but there's the glaring problem of the obtrusive rectangular button coming out of his back. His shirt comes with a rectangular hole in the back for the button, and I'll be doing some modification to make that less annoying in the future. As for his accessories, the sword is nice, but the child proof dagger is really childish. I'm actually surprised that the sword isn't blunt like the dagger, since it's a hazard for 4 year olds. Then again, they'd probably swallow the dagger anyways.

Overall, the figure is a great alternative to Ultimate Soldiers for modding purposes, being cheaper and not overtly muscular. Highly recommend you probably buy something else though. Not worth the $20 as a permanent unmodified figure for your collection.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

This Weekend's Project Progress: The Heavy Weapons Guy

Well, I had difficulties continuing with the Heavy Weapons Guy's minigun. I've come to accept that I improperly scaled it to 1:5 than 1:6 scale. Might have to scrap it and redo it properly. However, that doesn't mean that I still can't make headway on him. First, a pic on this weekend's progress, then some notes on the construction.
I still need to work on the gun. The hands aren't properly done yet, and need some epoxy and a coat of enamel for the gloves. If you're wondering about the suit, I can't find maroon cloth. Pink was the best I could get close to, and it's not too off from the in-game model. Actually, it's fairly off, but I tried. I still like how the suit came out, and I'll probably be fine redoing it in maroon. I'll do the stripes for the suit using a colored pencil if I ever get the suit made. The suit still needs some fasteners. Debating using buttons instead of velcro for a better look.

The head sculpt was fairly straightforward. Just two hours of work, and not a lot of problems. However, my sculpey had started to harden/dry out/become useless without slave labor kneading it soft after being exposed to hot and weird weather lately. I should just buy a new box and throw what I have left away. My hands can't handle the additional effort needed to make it workable.

The cigarette comes through the paper mask, and is removable. It's a simple piece of wire with half the insulation removed and jammed into a premade hole in his mouth. The mask was assembled in a similar manner, using insulated wire poking through the mask.
I decided to experiment with the Heavy's body by using a different, more expensive body. I chose The Ultimate Soldier's line of figures, (Retail $35, I paid $23) a British Paratrooper from WWII. For $35, you'd expect something really articulated, but he's actually worse than the $8/$5 figures I bought. Only one elbow point as opposed to two, and barely any waist movement. However, the joints are superbly stiff and he has a lot of heft to it. Not to mention, his shoes are smaller and his right leg is for some reason shorter than his left. Terrible flaw. Always something wrong with the right leg for every figure I've bought.

The default hands were unable to hold anything but a mop and bucket, so I decided to go for it and slice a finger free. Lo and behold, he can now hold a pistol. I got so excited I did it for both hands, so he can gangster wield 1911's now. I'll have to sand down the fingers before I apply epoxy so he can permanently have finger dexterity.

More progress when it comes. However, I like him without gloves right now.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Hair Club for Dolls (Not just a member, but a victim!)

3 dollars at a Michael's craft store got me one of the silliest purchases I've ever had to bring up to a counter. Sadly, I was contemplating getting a Barbie to test whether my girls had bigger dimensions than Barbie. I opted not to, since Barbie nowadays dresses like a whore. I may be weird, but I have decency limits for my dolls. I chose this throwaway use of my money to accomplish one major task: make Lia's hair less stiff.

"Crochet instructions included". Some use that is, as I don't crochet...yet. I'll abstain from the prom dress instructions and opt to continue what I've been doing: reverse engineering clothing patterns from military garb. Who wears a prom dress to a gun fight anyways. You'd burn holes from all that brass, and you'd be hard pressed to carry an additional magazine on your person.

Now, onto the primary objective: less stiff hair. Right now, Lia utilizes strips of brown construction paper glued to a scalp to form hair. Great for that "I made this out of paper" look, but the stiffness tends to pop her scalp off when she's seated, due to the stiff length of hair acting as a lever arm. Therefore, I decided to go for a synthetic, non-paper hairdo. That and to satisfy my massive hair fetish. ( luscious and shiny...must stroke...must rub face in it) After about three hours of gluing and about half an hour of cursing, here's the finished product.

I kind of miss the bangs. Might handle that issue in a futher revision. Now, about the construction process. I liberally and literally de-faced the victim doll, after the traditional decapitation. I certainly could have done it without decapitating the doll, but I must satisfy that other fetish I have of lopping off doll heads. (Or do I have a fascination of putting heads in a cup...) Rather than take the skilled and leisurely route of rooting the hair into the scalp, I went for the haphazard WWII medic route and started sawing off bits and cutting. I eventually obtained some bundles of hair that I glued to the blank scalp using a hot glue gun. Interestingly enough, the extreme heat of the glue gun nozzle blackened the hair. It's a cheap and dirty way of securing hair to a substrate, but I had few options. I suggest using small dabs of glue and working quickly. Anything more than a pinhead in drop size results in a mess. I highly suggest working from the bottom of the scalp and applying small quantities of hair at a time.

Right now, the hair is a bit too poofy. I'll figure out how to control it later. Kind of like mine in real life, but I never bothered to control that either. Except that I like this result better, and it doesn't deform when I sleep.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Engineering a Minigun (Day 3)

I've plugged up the ammo drum. Started the morning watching the movie Mr. Deeds while putting together the handle fixtures. It's made of 8x layered cardstock with notches etched through 70% of the thickness to allow for bending. It's like having a mitered set of plates to fit together, but with the top layers continuous to allow for greater rigidity. I elected this method than having separate sections cut to fit for lamination as it allows less measuring and fitting. It also lets me saw things apart with that nice sadistic glee you get from hacking something apart.

Anyways, I've shifted mediums for additional rigidity. Using 1mm thick cardboard from the back of sketchbooks for the ammo drum face, I can achieve greater strength than Magic: The Gathering cards laminated to fit such a large surface. (A card takes up about 62mmx88mm, and the circle diameter is 73mm, so I'd have to make a new composite just to fit the area, which is fairly risky.) However, Magic cards work just fine for the handle. I'll have to reinforce the sides and joints to allow the handle to support the massive load the 20+ sheets of cardstock now place.

Missing parts: Foreward and aft handles, ejection port cover, back and front conical drum covers, and the fairly useless pipe underneath.