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!
 Clonetroopers!
 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:

Friday, July 24, 2015

Take them outside!

Sometimes you just need to take your toys outside.
This is an older shot, taken a few years ago. Creative Photoshop skills here. The Flight Pod is actually hooked onto a piece of curtain rod that I digitally erased.
I think this is a goblin from the Hobbit figure line. I like the weird looking creatures sometimes more than the standard characters from toy lines.
Gator - my custom troop. The Club used a similar formula for an update to Outback for their Zombie convention set. Everything works well with these pieces to make for an interesting character. Digitally tweaked like the rest of the pictures.
Tunnel Rat from Renegades, excellent figure. Great to shot in weird odd locations.
POC Jungle Duke because he's in the jungle? You've got to put him in his natural environment!
World War Hulk? Barbarian Hulk? Either way, he looks pretty dang cool! And then I notice that the harness isn't sitting down flush on his shoulder until I start editing the pictures. Sigh...
Thorin from the Hobbit series. That head sculpt looks pretty good on a standard Joe body as well. Maybe I'll come up with a new character?
Helix. Because...
Helix is probably one of the best, easily top five figures from the Rise of Cobra series. I don't know why Hasbro hasn't re-used the body, but it's a damn shame.

Recondo with arm mods. Gotta' put the jungle guy in the jungle!
Bilbo because I wanted a hobbit. Not a great figure, but still fun.
 The goblin again, but at the beach from my recent vacation. He's ugly, but very photogenic.
Barbarian Hulk on the beach again. It was just too damn hot and the wind was blowing sand everywhere. Moan, moan, bitch, bitch... #FirstWorldProblems
I've posted this one before. Repeater and Bombstrike recovering a downed drone.

I've done quite a few outdoor photoshoots over the years. That's one aspect I've always enjoyed about toy collecting. 
Stay young, have fun!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

FSS 4.0 Reveals: Quick Thoughts

Just a quick overview of all of the 12 members of the FSS 4.0.
From left to right, top to bottom.

Row 1:
Interrogator - Looks cool, glad to add the character to my modern mix. Hoping that the seemingly lower head is just a Photoshop thing.
Ice Ninja (Night Creeper) - I like the look, well designed, good use of parts. Ultimately an expensive troop builder, so he'll be off to the secondary market.
Nunchuk - Kind of a blah original figure, but effectively recreated. May need new military web gear.
Inferno BAT - Another expensive troop builder. I like BATs, but this one just looks dumb to me.

Row 2:
Outback - Over-sized head compared to body? Still, I like this version. Don't mind the white hair.
Barricade - I figured that the Club would go with the Delta suit torso/body. A bit too bright on the colors? Still a keeper. A favorite character.
Sneak Peek - Euro Tiger Force? I don't care. I'm glad to add the character to the mix.
Billy - Basically a brand new never produced figure. Billy has been around for quite a while. A welcome addition to most Joe collectors and well done by the Club. Not a huge fan of the bronze highlights, maybe Photoshop issue?

Row 3:
Law & Order - More accurate vintage colors, older vest. Looks great, but I'm not 100% sure about opening him. Some want him for a Bozigian autograph one day, but the key to the link between Kirk Bozigian and the original Law & Order was the head sculpt for Law was based on Kirk. Not the case with the new one.
Jammer - Action Force character? So what? Looks cool. Will he stay as Jammer or become a new Stalker?
Pathfinder - Decent upgrade, a little concerned about the small head and bulky vest, but he's a keeper.
Bullhorn - A real simple upgrade by the Club. A new head sculpt would have been nice, but he'll do. The original was pretty basic looking, so the Club redesign works. Hey Bullhorn, the 90's called. They want their headband back!

Mystery figure 13: The Club commented on this figure being an established female character with a new head sculpt. Intriguing! Cobra or GI Joe?

For the basic 12, it looks like 3 Cobras, 8 GI Joe/Allies, and 1 independent mercenary. I don't mind it too much, but Cobra offerings are going to be much tougher as the Club goes through the named Cobra personalities and are left with troop builders. 

If the Club could do some troop builders outside of the FSS realm and make some multi-packs, that would be pretty sweet. Maybe an intensive collector poll and lay out basic costs with an increased production run and hopeful strong fan response would be able to support something like this? That basic Cobra Trooper mold used for the Dollar General figures is ripe for an awesome upgrade.

Overall, I'm pleased with the Club offerings for FSS 4.0. Maybe I'm treading close to becoming a GI Joe Club apologist, but they do pretty good work.If they had the full resources of Hasbro, I'm sure they could crank out some even cooler figures. They are doing their best to support the brand as well as running the Transformer Club. 

Maybe one day, I'll actually make it to a national convention?

Monday, July 20, 2015

FSS 4.0 Reveals: Billy

Saving the best for last...
As I was headed down to Florida for a week of vacation, the Club revealed the last figure for FSS 4.0.

Cobra Commander's son, Billy, makes his appearance. I figured I ought to complete my thoughts on the reveal even though I'm late. So what.

Is his last name Kessler or Arboc? Does anyone really care that much? Arboc is an obvious anagram of Cobra, so that's kind of dumb. 
I do like what the Club has done with Billy. They've capture the missing eye from an attempt on his life, but no blatant appearance of mechanical limbs. Good, don't need them.

I do like the idea of the rebellious son of Cobra Commander on the side of the Joe team. I even like his training by Stormy and Snakes. Is he fully aligned with the Joe team? I don't know. Ultimately, that decision will be mine to make in my own twisted GI Joe world. I'm thinking he's more of an independent, working with the Joe team at times, but not an actual member.

I'll be looking forward to this figure. I'm guessing he may be a late release. Your thoughts?