Friday, May 11, 2018

3-D Designs in SketchUp

I am seriously addicted to making these designs for mini dioramas for action figures. I'm a teacher and the school year is winding down, well into the last three weeks. Grades have to be done by next Wednesday, students are just finishing up their last assignments, at least those who care.

Fortunately, I've got a classroom set of computers, so students can just play games when they've caught up all of their work. 

Me? I'm just monitoring them, keeping them from irritating each other (and me) too much. I'm also just messing around in SketchUp, just creating new designs. I find it a bit relaxing, just fiddling about and making new designs. Math skills are needed as well, so that's an added bonus.
This is one of my earlier designs. It's interesting, but a bit boring to me. The panels are cool enough, but there's too many of them.
This was more of an exercise in making doors. Non-functional doors, but still giving the appearance of a door.The wall panels are boring.
 
This is my basic template. I really didn't want to keep recreating a floor along with the walls, so I generally just stick with the basic floor panel. I think I've made a few adjustments and split the larger panels on the floor.
Making brick walls turned out to be fairly easy. They are close to being proportional in terms of cinder blocks. The dimensions on the model should be roughly 1/18th of an actual cinder block.
I added a door and door frame to this version of the brick walls. I've also added some cracks into the ground for some variety. I haven't printed either of the brick wall sets yet.
For this model, I wanted to add extra elements for a little more depth to the model. For the finished product, I printed three of the girders and they fit along the slots in the wall and the impressions in the floor. I've finally printed all of the pieces and am mostly satisfied how they printed. There are a couple of small tweaks that really need to be done to the walls. I am most proud of this design.
Lastly, for now, I've designed something that will have brackets and pipes going along the top edge of the large wall. Interesting design. I haven't tried printing anything yet, hopefully soon.

Now if only the printing didn't take so long...

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Canon vs Non-canon


 Image result for well actually

What exactly is "canon" in terms of G.I. Joe? Let's break down the word "canon" first. 

Canon, as defined by Merriam-Webster, has a variety of definitions, but the most applicable to this post is: "a sanctioned or accepted group or body of related works." Usually something that is canon is consider quite sacred and holy. 

In the case of G.I. Joe, there are generally two accepted works that are canon. You are either a fan of the work of Larry Hama with his run with the Marvel Comics version of GI Joe or a fan of the Sunbow cartoons. Sometimes, it's acceptable to mix them up a little. The problem with that whole line of thinking, is that, while wonderful, it's outdated. It's pure nostalgia now to a bunch of mostly 40 something adults. 

Plus the characters, when considering most of their origins, are pretty dang old. Quite a few of them served in Viet Nam and should be well into their 60's by now. Yes, both the comics and cartoons were great, but for me, they only serve as an influence into my own twisted toy universe.

If you've been a reader of this nonsense blog, you know that I'm a bit nuts in terms of my "Joe-verse". The way I see it, I bought the damn toys, they are mine to do as I please. Basically, Hama's work serves as my inspiration for the personality of each character and the cartoons provided them with voices. 

My world includes various elements of the original comics, the original cartoons, some Resolute, some Renegades, and bits of the two live action movies. Plus a good healthy dose of pure imagination. And a dash of real world politics!

Anyway, I've got a Facebook friend by the name of M.C. Austin. I don't really know him much at all, but he's mainly a friend due to our shared interest in GI Joe, much like so many other Facebook friends. One key difference is that M.C. is a bit like me and he has his own world-view of the conflict of GI Joe vs Cobra.

A few weeks ago, M.C. sent me a ton of IM's outlining key elements of his GI Joe world. Fascinating stuff, very imaginative, and quite cool! There are a few elements similar to my thoughts. I recently messaged M.C. and asked his permission if I could publish his thoughts on this ridiculous blog. He agreed!

So the remainder of this post is from the fertile mind of my GI Joe friend, M.C. Austin! If you are a hard core fan boy, steel yourself! You can get through it!


"The team got hammered by Congress over funding being secretly pushed in from an Extensive Enterprises dummy company.
A last plan enacted by CoCo and the Twins to bring then down.

It partially worked, causing the team to be either disbanded or taken from Hawk.
He chose to take the heat and retired to save the team.
As he left he contacted Colton and they decided to cash in a few favors around the globe, round up some capital and start a PMC, Pantheon Securities Incorporated.


Baroness tired of CoCo and his foolishness snapped and slit his throat in the middle of a meeting. Seeing this the others knew the jig was up.


Destro planned to take over, but she didn't want him going down the same path.
So she hired Firefly and had him demolish the castle with him in it. (But they didn't find Destro's body😉!)


Serpentor was a second in command to CoCo and for a moment thought he would get the lead. But Baroness refused to let him lead feeling he was as bad as CoCo, but fanatical.


He and Mindbender had a plan in the works to use cloning and dangerous bioweapons to take over the world.


A CG informant filled her in and she had them shot down over the Pacific by "Harpy"(one of the last Strato Vipers left) in a MkV Hurricane (WIP).
No survivors. . .


Back on the Joe side of life. .
When Hawk left he put out the word that any Joe (current or prospective) wanted to come work for him they could. So long as they got an honorable discharge. The only exceptions were former Cobra operatives that were vetted by himself Scarlett and Colton.


Beachhead stayed, because Beachhead 😂😂😂 and he's now a Colonel
So now he's the Joe team leader with Leatherneck as his number 2 to keep him in check.😉👍


The PMC is a loose knit team with discipline.
No ranks are needed, team leaders are assigned as per mission needs and can be fluid should the need arises.


Destro adopted a young girl in secret years ago. Had her trained and raised in the shadows in case of his death to carry on M.A.R.S and the McCullen clan since it seemed that Baroness wasn't in to making babies yet.
Also if they did the girl could be a secret guardian to the child/children.


The girl Destro adopted is Circe, the IG Elites know her and know she has taken control of their forces.
But she is also working to find out who dropped the castle on Destro and his closest troops.


The twins have retired after they did a Pearl Harbor job on Zartan and most of the 'Noks. The only ones left are Zarana, Zanya, Crowbar (a wacked out chemist) and Mako (a former SEAL thought dead after he ratted out a "sneak and peek" commissioned by the JCOS and given to SOCOM to infil on Cobra Island.


The failed op with Mako also left a few survivors one of which was a Colonel named Garret, who Mindbender did a piece of work on him making him believe that the US government left him to die on the island.


The program codenamed "Snakehouse", was one of the few that Baroness kept for a while.
Garret was deemed valuable due to him being a Delta operator, and the turned him into the CO of the Viper Corps.
He now goes by the the code-name Col. Dagger. . .


An upstart HEAT Viper under the tutelage of Scrap Iron pulled a prank on a squad on Techno Vipers that literally blew up in his face, and left him scarred for life was saved through an experiment with implants from Mindbender and Destro and given a metal mask serves as Dagger's right hand, and is known as Hammerhead.


An Undertow undercover as a SAW Viper came in from the cold to join Circe at MARS leaving a dozen broken troopers in his wake. . . Code-name Menace.


A female MI-6 operative turned on Britain after hearing her little brother went missing on a joint task force mission with SOCOM before the team shake up.
She is now one of the Night Stalkers at the Baroness' side as a liaison/bodyguard she also happens to be in a relationship with one of the company's operatives a former SAS Major by the code-name Anvil.


He had to send her in jail, but I think the Baroness has a plan to break her out (WIP).
The Crimson Guard are now their own group and are led by the latest version of "Project Fred" inductees. 
"Somewhat" still loyal to Cobra and the Baroness, the group is always looking to get a better deal and grow influence where they can.

The Twins had the 'Noks offed because they sold the info about the dummy company to a dirty Congressman too soon and it cost them billions.
The company had contracts to build vehicles to Joe team specs and had started getting plans from DOD on the requests made by Mainframe, Doc, Wild Bill, Ace and other respected Joes.


After the word got out DOD locked down the contracts but a couple blueprints and specs got loose. Some were from Hammer Co. and Stark Industries.
Once again, Firefly was paid to get in and destroy the files (by Mercer no less), but he missed some due to the info being on two different servers and MARS stole the remaining one."


Wild stuff! Interesting developments into the characters, especially what happens with Cobra. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on your GI Joe vs Cobra worldview. Leave me a comment! Heck, maybe we could connect and I'll post your Joe-verse thoughts on this silly ass blog.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

3-D Printing for My Collection

Have I written about 3-D Printing before? Maybe, maybe not. I started getting involved with 3-D printing as a part of my job as an Engineering Teacher for middle school students. The county that I had previously worked in had a big enough budget in which they could afford to buy a MakerBot Replicator+ for my classroom.

It also helped that I had previously worked with the 3-D design software SketchUp. It's a free 3-D design software and fairly easy to use. That's not always the case for students though, because they usually want immediate gratification and don't want to take the time to learn the tools. I'm trying, really, I am.

One of the first things that crossed my mind, was what can I make and print for my action figure collection? I've printed a few odd ball things, but what has really struck my interest lately, is making what I call mini-dioramas, maybe even figure review environments.

They are meant to be basically small in size and designed to pose one or two figures on the base, primarily with the goal of reviewing the figure or figures.

This is one of my earliest attempts. It's a very small "stage" with just enough room for one figure. This is a two piece print, with the walls being one unit and the floor is a separate piece.

Next up, I tried for some different wall detailing. Nice ideas, but I wasn't really thrilled with the end result. Improving and the design aspect is what I find the most enjoyable part of the whole process.
Bigger and bolder for these next three sets. This particular one is Death Star inspired. I liked the work that was involved in this one, but I wasn't really satisfied with the end result. It looks okay, but not quite what I'm looking for. The smaller wall looks great to me, but I'm not really thrilled about everything on the bigger wall.  
It's a much bigger set and can easily hold a few figures. I printed this in three sections, all flat on the print bed. I've got an issue with curling on large flat jobs and there are some issues with the quality of this one.

A much more simple design, very basic, but I like it... mostly. I tried something a little different and rotated the pieces so that they would print vertically. As long as the detailing doesn't stick out too far, the printer handled the overhang of the details with no problems.

Another different design. I don't recall my exact inspiration for this design. It's definitely Star Wars-ish. This one was fun to design in SketchUp. It involved a lot of math and trial and error in the designs on the larger of the two walls.
Eventually, I'm going to paint these. I think a flat coat of a gray may work. I'm sure that there are ways to weather them a bit as well. Time will tell. Right now, I'm just enjoying the process of designing right now. Stay tuned for more 3-D printing updates!

Monday, April 23, 2018

FSS 8.0 Line Up

The final line up for the Figure Subscription Service has been released! I'll try to update as the Club releases their reveals.

Code Name: CAPTAIN GRID-IRON
Looks good! Great parts choices. I wasn't sure how they could pull of an update, but he looks decent.
02. G.I. JOE MOBILE MISSILE SPECIALIST
Code Name: FAST DRAW
This guy was going to be tough. Most people figured that the Club would go with the rocket backpack from the PoC Duke figure. Makes sense. I'm not really crazy about the use of the Blowtorch vest and helmet. Not terrible though.


03. RED SHADOWS WEAPONS TECHNICIAN
Code Name: RED LASER
I don't know much about the Red Shadows and the various characters associated with them, but I do like the way the Club is reusing the Cobra Commander build. Looks good!
04. G.I. JOE BATTLE CORPS COMMANDER
Code Name: BULLET-PROOF
OMG!!! He doesn't have a removable helmet!!! Deth of teh line!!! Oh, my childhood!! Oh wait, I was in my 20's by the time Bullet-Proof came out. I think he looks pretty dang good. It's a decent reuse of the Dodger head sculpt and works just fine. Sure, there are other heads that may have worked, but did the Club have access to them? I don't know and most of the critics have no clue either. 
05. COBRA SHOCK TROOPS COMMANDER
Code Name: LT. CLAY MOORE
Yeah... not so much with this character. Not one of the better builds from the Club. I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, but this one just isn't working. Interesting choice of parts that seems to be eliciting a strong negative reaction from the fan base.
06. G.I. JOE V.A.M.P. DRIVER
Code Name: LANCE "CLUTCH" STEINBERG 
Oooh, let the butt hurt flow! It seems as if the Club tries to reproduce the vintage figure by using modern era parts. It doesn't always work out that way. First of all, the 1st wave of GI Joe characters, in terms of sculpting, were crap compared to later figures. Sculpting just improved throughout the history of the brand. In trying to replicate that original look, the Club chose some interesting parts. I think Clutch turned out just fine. He's not one of the strongest designs of this wave, but he'll do.
 
07. G.I. JOE ARCTIC ATTACK SOLDIER
Code Name: GREG "BLIZZARD" NATALE
A decent update to another snow trooper. Oh, the amount of butt hurt in regards to the choice of the head is breathtaking. OMG!!! Why didn't they make this or do that? Here's the deal, at least in my opinion. The Club is heading into being shut down at the end of 2018. The only thing they'll have left to do is to ship out the remains of FSS 8.0 and liquidate whatever inventory they have left. There's probably no time or money left to be put toward new tooling. I have no clue as to how the crew at the Club runs everything, but they've done it out of a genuine love of the brand. I think Blizzard turned out just fine. I suppose if I didn't like it, I could out to Walmart and buy GI Joe figures. Oh wait... #casuals
08. G.I. JOE DEFIANT SHUTTLE PILOT
Code Name: PAYLOAD (this guy is going to be a tough one to recreate)
Yup, Payload proved to be a tough one to do. Again, the amount of butt hurt has been near epic proportions. Quite a few folks actually like the design. I'm one of those who likes the design. Oh, but Payload is a pilot, not a space marine. Shut the hell up, he's a GI Joe, he's a soldier. Get over it.
09. COBRA B.A.T. LEADER
Code Name: OVER KILL
Based more on the VvsV version of Overkill, this design is well done. I'm not too crazy about the web gear, but I'm sure that I've got other pieces I can switch it out with. I'm really digging the robotic skull!
10. G.I. JOE L.R.R.P. TROOPER
Code Name: RECOIL 
Interesting design for Recoil. Thankfully, the Club didn't go with baby blue weapons that the original figure had. I'm guessing the Club couldn't do a new head sculpt to match the original hat, but this version with the removable helmet looks just fine. The camo pattern is nicely done!

11. G.I. JOE NINJA COMMANDO
Code Name: BUSHIDO (the snow ninja... oh boy...)
Well, yeah, this is certainly Bushido. One of the more goofy looking of the Ninja Force members, the Club did a decent enough job on him. Predictable build. Decent job on the helmet. I'm wishing I had jumped on the Zombie Initiative set when it was being clearanced by the Club. I've had a weakness for the modern era ninja figures, so he works for me.
12. COBRA MERCENARY
Code Name: MUNITIA
I don't really know much about the character, but this is a solid build. Well done by the Club!
13. XXXXXXXXX??? No hints yet as to yet about who this might be.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Jurassic World Indoraptor

I'm a sucker for dinosaur toys. Can't help it. I've loved dinosaurs since I was a kid. Dinosaur toys or GI Joe? I don't know which has been a part of my life the longest.

I probably had plenty of cheap plastic dinosaurs when I was a kid. I remember having a bag full of brightly colored plastic dinosaurs that I apparently had prior to a long airline flight. Yellow, red, green... all extremely bright.

Nearly everything I've encountered with dinosaurs, I have wanted to be a part of it. My childhood dream was to be a paleontologist. That didn't quite work out.

When the first Jurassic Park movie came out 25 years ago (what the?), I was thrilled to see how well the dinosaurs were done. I've continued to follow along with the movies and have bought a few of the dinosaur toys along the way.

With the new Jurassic World movies, I wasn't as impressed with the dinosaurs that were released for the movie. I did buy the two Jurassic Park sets from Toys R Us a few years ago. Each had a human figure to go with them. One was an allosaurus; the other was a pachyrhinosaurus.
Image result for jurassic park allosaurus toy png
The interesting thing about these two sets is that both of them were missing the human figures from the sets. They really weren't packaged very well and were easily stolen. That really didn't matter to me, I wanted the dinosaurs.

Now up to the current movie, Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom. Mattel took over the license from Hasbro and they have really done an amazing job with the line. The human figures are decent enough and most of the dinosaurs are well done. Of course, that's with the understanding that these are toys, meant for children, not grown-ass adults.

After looking through the line up of toys, there were really only two, maybe three creatures that interested me. One was the super mega massive Tyrannosaurus Rex. This thing is huge!! It's around three feet long! But that's my problem with it, it's just way too big for my collection.

The next item from the line that caught my attention was the Indoraptor. The indoraptor is a Jurassic World hybrid creature and loosely based on a mix of different actual dinosaurs. 
I really like raptors and this beast just works for me. Plus this indoraptor has some of the most amazing articulation for a dinosaur toy that I have ever seen. I'm sure some company out there somewhere has done something like this, but this thing is amazing.

Starting at the head, its jaws open (of course) and the neck has two pivot points. One is right at the base of the skull and the other is at the bottom of the neck. Each arm has a swivel, pivoting shoulder joint. The elbows and wrists both swivel and pivot. The legs have swivel and pivot knee and ankle joints. The cool thing about the legs are the hip joints; they turn but also swivel inward and outward. I've never seen that done on dinosaur hip joints. The tail also has two swivel joints as well. This beast has an amazing amount of articulation!




I highly recommend the Indoraptor. If you like well made dinosaurs. If you like well made toys. If you want something to chew up your action figures, DO IT! Get one! It's a fantastic toy!