Saturday, August 29, 2015

50th Anniversary Reviews: Round Two

The next wave of GI Joe product has arrived and it's time to take a closer look at some of the offerings.
In my opinion, Gung Ho is the best figure from all of the  two packs, three packs, or vehicle sets. I'm not 100% sure, but I think Gung Ho is a brand new figure, no reuse of any other parts. The prototype of this figure appeared a few years ago as part of the "Concept Case" shown by Hasbro at a GI Joe Convention. I'm pretty sure nearly all Joe fans have been quite pleased with this release.

Hasbro captured the original spirit pf the figure in this new version. While not as big as Leatherneck or Retaliation Roadblock, Gung Ho is still larger than the the average GI Joe figure. I've always thought that Gung Ho was a big dude based on cartoon and comic appearances. Not a huge beast like Hasbro did with Leatherneck, but still an above average person.

The drawbacks of this figure are minor. I'm not really thrilled with the weapon load-out, primarily because the mini-gun is a bit too cumbersome and the other weapons seem a bit small. That's not a big deal when I've got a huge supply of weapons for him to chose from. I don't think a character has to be locked in to using a weapon similar to his original version. 

Hasbro did a nice job matching the baby blue color pallette of the original figure. Yeah, that's a nice match, but I think most Joe fans would have been happy with a more subdued shade of blue or perhaps some green tones. Not a major complaint. Maybe if I luck up and find another, I might try my hand at a paint job. And I'm not really thrilled with the lower legs. I'd rather have the side to side pivot of the ankles over the new style of foot articulation.

The Cobra Shadow Guard that came with Gung Ho headed off to eBay. Not a huge fan of the figure, I thought I could maybe make a few bucks on a resale.

Next up is Storm Shadow and Spirit. This version of Storm Shadow reflects the design of the original figure when he switched from Cobra to GI Joe. Stormy looks pretty good, but his head perches a bit too high on his neck. I've drilled out the head a little to make it sit down a little lower. Stormy has a decent collection of weapons. Ninjas everywhere.
This is an interesting take on Spirit. The skin tones are much darker than previous versions. More accurate ethnically? Don't know, but he still looks pretty cool. I really don't like the vest that Hasbro used; it's too clunky and interferes with head movement. I'll probably use an extra vest from a Retaliation GI Joe trooper since they share the same torso.
Next up is the Shipwreck and Cobra Commander two pack. I really like this version of Shipwreck. Hasbro picked a nice selection of parts for the build. I was originally thinking custom potential, but I think he's my default Shipwreck now.
A black uniform Cobra Commander with snappy red highlights. The red hood and the red gloves look pretty cool in contrast to the black uniform. The red shoes? Oh, how pretty! They just don't work. Decent figure, but the red shoes kind of spoil him a little.
Next up is Alpine from one of the three packs. This figure has been notoriously difficult to get due to the limited release of the original DVD set that he came with. I wanted this set primarily for Alpine, but once he's in hand, I'm not really impressed. Sure, he looks great, but he's a bit of a throwback to the 25th Anniversary era of figure construction. I'm still glad to have him in my collection. 

The Rock Viper that came with him? I get the inclusion as an opponent to Alpine, but I've never been a fan of the figure. Off to eBay!

Next up is the Iron Grenadier and Steel Brigade two-pack. Not much to say here, these two are just straight re-released figures. I like the IG, but I've never been that impressed with them to go nuts with the troop building. A big bulky figure, kind of cumbersome. Those blue and white paint apps on the legs are just sloppy.
Can't go wrong with another Steel Brigade figure. This has always been an excellent figure, but I may use him as custom fodder. I usually use the vests on some other figure. Personally I think a better two-pack would have been the Steel Brigade trooper and this next guy...
The Cobra Shock Trooper. Always a winner (mostly). A great set of gear and loads of custom potential. The drawback, for me, about this figure, has always been the head sculpt. Without all the gear, it just seemed to be a bit too high. I've wound up using most of the ones that I do have as customs, one serving as a body for Scrap Iron, while the rest have been mixed with the Renegades Cobra Troopers.
In my opinion, these two would have made for a better two-pack. Hell, they are both basically the same figure. Same body, same webgear, and I think that they would make for better opponents.

Just one more quick look at Gung Ho and Shipwreck. The new body for Gung Ho does give him some height and bulk when compared to Shipwreck. That's the way I always figured that Gung Ho would be.

But I'm still not really thrilled with the overall look of Gung Ho. That outfit is just a bit dated and it's just too much baby blue. I've got to do something about him.

Overall, of the figures that I have bought, this is a pretty decent set of figures. I've recently seen the two vehicle sets and am tempted, but I'm not ready to drop that kind of money on them right now.

Hoping for bigger and better things for GI Joe in 2016.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Women of GI Joe

I imagine ever since Scarlett showed up way back in 1982, I've always had a fascination with the women of GI Joe. There's been only a few back in the original run - Scarlett, Cover Girl, Lady Jaye, Jinx.

I've never had a problem with adding additional female troops to the team and have always looked out for other female figures that would be fairly compatible with the various GI Joe female bodies.

Click on Helix' picture to see many more!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Action Figures and 3-D Printing

3-D printing is pretty damn cool.

I have limited access to the use of a 3-D printer and I've recently tried to make some original designs for use with my various action figures. One of my most notable attempts was to create a small "stage" to use as an environment to just take simple photos of the figures.

I use Google SketchUp as the design tool to create the actual 3-D model that will eventually be printed. I decided to create a corner with a floor platform.

The design phase went pretty well; at least I thought so. In creating the various extrusions coming out from the wall just a little, I have discovered that I'm really not that creative and just need to "play" with SketchUp more.

I used white PLA filament and the original print turned out decent, but there were errors in the print. More on that later. The next option that I decided to try was to add color. I used a combination of permanent markers and acrylic paint (of dubious quality). Mistakes were made. Bad choices. Combined with the mediocre detailing, it looked like shit. So just spray paint the whole damn thing, right?
Not good. Not good at all. As the paint dried, it kind of shriveled and distorted the wall section and the floor panel. Ugh.
Oh, that's good! The paint bubbled up on the plastic! Wonderful...
Time to try again. 

For the next print, I tried a new color filament - Army Green!
 The color doesn't quite hold true for this picture. It's a bit too washed out.
Here are the two pieces glued together. There's a slight curve on the front edge due to the cooling of the material as it is extruded and layered. That's a design issue to consider. On the original print, I printed both pieces on separate print jobs. This time, I figured I would just load them together and print both together. Not a good choice. The closest edges had stringy filaments connecting them together as the print head went from one piece to the other.

The printer builds from the bottom up, laying down thin layers of material in tiny little layers. That's also a drawback to current 3-D technology because the tiny layers show up in the finished print. I'm thinking they could be sanded; maybe I'll try that on another print in the future.

In general, I'm pleased with what I created, but I'm not satisfied. This will work for now as I go back into the redesign stage. I really need to improve on my "geebly" skills for all the extra detailing. Plain walls are boring, but these look weak in their design. It's the learning curve, that's all.
Here's another shot of a design flaw with the extrusions that I pulled out of the wall in SketchUp. The printer wants to just build the bottom edge of the extrusion but it really doesn't have any surface to print it on. As you look at that square-ish shape with the circle pulled out of it, you can see the distorted bottom right corner. The printer just couldn't recreate the design. Additionally, along the bottom edge of each extruded shape, there were loose filaments as the printer lay down filament in an attempt to create the pulled out shapes. You following me? Play along...

So there's things I need to consider as I redesign new pieces similar to this. I won't paint this one and I won't reprint it. That's what is fun about this whole process. The math involved in creating the virtual 3-D objects as well as figuring out how to create the slots needed to assembled the pieces.

Another option may be to build them in individual walls and assemble them at the corner. If the model is flat on the printer bed surface with the detailing rising out, then the details may print cleaner. Lessons learned, I suppose.

For now, I'm back to the virtual studio to try again. Stay tuned for future 3-D printing updates!

I decided to take a bunch of pictures of various figures just to showcase how the environment can work as a background. Enjoy!
 Looks decent, but those crappy details... Ugh!
 No, Tartarus. You're too big.
 Goblins and Dwarves?
 Hulk like!
 Bombstrike is pleased!
 No, Al... You don't fit.

Stay tuned for more 3-D printing updates!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Oreobuilder's Blog: GI Joe Resurgence II

The crew over at Oreobuilder's Blog is made up of some amazing customizers. I first became aware of the blog when they did a proper 50th Anniversary salute to GI Joe. They've begun a project called GI Joe: Resurgence II, continuing their story line from resurgence in which new characters, with a few older characters, were introduced. July will feature daily updates on Resurgence II. I'm going to just list each day's entry with a direct link on this ridiculous blog so that a few more people can see the wonder of Oreobuilder's Blog.

I can't guarantee that I'll be able to keep up with new updates every single day, but I'll try. With vacation and back to work at the end of the month, I'll probably fall behind, but I will get the list caught up eventually. I'm guessing you'll almost be grateful that these are customs and not real figures, because you would be BROKE after buying all of them!

Day 01: Strongarm and Landmine & Sniffer
Day 02: Kobura Kai
Day 03: Vampyrebat w. Vector Viper
Day 04: Silent Master
Day 05: Nega-Watt
Day 06: Grease Monkey
Day 07: Mail Away Dusty & Roadblock
Day 08: GI Joe Cougar w Treads and Switch Gears
Day 09: High Noon
Day 10: Meathead & Desert Viper
Day 11: Eagle Eye
Day 12: Techno-BAT & Cobra Debugger w/ Icebreaker
Day 13: Prodigy
Day 14: Chuckles & Destro
Day 15: Bonesaw
Day 16: Upshot
Day 17: Doc
Day 18: Cobra Sand Wolf & Desert Vipers
Day 19: Groundpounder & Sun Devil
Day 20: SWARM Locust
Day 21: Kickback
Day 22: SWARM Command Mech w Glitch 2.0
Day 23: SWARM Invasion 3-pack
Day 24: SWARM Hunters Battle Unit
Day 25: Steel Brigade Squad
Day 26: Neat Freak
Day 27: GI Joe Dragonfire w Mongoose
Day 28: Devilsharc w Overboard
Day 29: HISS VI w Sabot Viper
Day 30: Cobra Anaconda w WORMS
Day 31: Catalogs & Final Thoughts