Python Storm Lord V2

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This second full on Samurai figure that I’ve constructed. It’s hot on the heels of my previous Samurai figure (which was in collaboration with a private collector). I had so many ideas filling up my brain on these guys! This figure features some more elaborative elements that are not part of the previous Samurai. I have a tendency to overkill some of my characters, but I really wanted to go all the way with this guy.

This piece features the “square-mail” on the helmet (and not just on the skirt), giving that segmented armor protection from the head all the way down to the hand. The Samurai helmet and arm/thigh armor that I casted for this piece, are from the same molds as the previous Samurai.

This guy also sports the Anakin boots that I recasted in resin and modified to fit the Sideshow / Hot Toys trooper body (it actually moves and swivels!). The same boots are featured on the Battle Android Seekers. I casted them with a mixture of brown and blue dye to give them that cool grey color. I painted the shins blue to match the blue highlights on the rest of the figure and finished them off with a muddy wash to bring out the leathery boot look.

 

Battle Android Seeker

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“Battle Android Seeker” is the super secret custom 12″ figure for Toy Tokyo for SDCC 2011.

Similar to last years SDCC figure being an homage to Cobra Commander, this figure is an homage to Starscream and the Seeker Jets of Transformers fame.

In our universe these android brawlers were created from a mixture of alien and earth based tech. Programmed with skills observed from a dozen martial artists, these automatons can use virtually any object as a weapon. The primary function for these soldiers is tracking and extraction. Be it object or man, the seeker will hunt down the Goods on the Comiccon floor.

“….They call me the Seeker…. I’ve been searching low and high”

Smirking Cloud Serpent

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Smirking Cloud Serpent, was a warrior chief folded into the Python branch of troopers early on. Initially contracted to track down crafty enemies who had the resources to disapear in the far off corners of the galaxy. A silent, confident and strict enforcer, manhunting parties lead by Cloud Serpent never end empty handed.

This piece began as a Mandalorian re-imagining of the Aztec god, Quetzalcoatl. When I was finished with the piece, “Mandalorian Quetzalcoatl” felt too specific and direct a name. I wanted she/he to feel more distant and mythical. In the Aztec pantheon of gods, Quetzalcoatl’s father is Mixcoatl. Mixcoatl translates to “Cloud Serpent”. For me this title is a more accurate fit than Quetzalcoatl, which translates to “Feathered Serpent”. In the end, I was very pleased with the way the kit-bashed Gundam elements accented the Mandalore Armor. This figure is one of a kind.

Python Master Force Bender

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Continuing a series that mixes Star Wars and Python Patrol (of G.I. Joe / Cobra fame) comes the Python Master Force Bender.

Leading his small stealthy battalion into nearly any conflict on land or in space, the Master is seasoned for all challenges. Calculating and precise the Master has served a secret neutral sect of force users. Neither light nor dark, he has survived decades of galactic political change by remaining unaffiliated with Jedi or Sith. He’s been in the shadows for so long that no one remembers his face….. and to be honest, no one is certain if the current Master is the same man from so long ago. Perhaps he is a former force bending disciple that’s taken up the role of faceless leadership.

One clue that this may be the same man is the additional respirator that has been retrofitted to his armor. It’s possible that he is so ancient he may need an additional purifier and life support system to function normally.

Contradictorily, some believe that he may in fact be a being of pour force. With no real body he is contained in armor to disguise his true nature. If his secret were confirmed, the Sith would take on a savage manhunt to find this outer-rim warrior and exploit his non corporeal talents.

Storm Shadow Scout & Clone Troopers

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A short time after our Cobra-lalilulelo show I started to customize Storm and Clone Troopers for my personal collection. One sub-genre of Troopers I began to put together is inspired by the Geometric-Camo pattern found on the second version of Storm Shadow from 1988.

I’m not a huge fan of Star Wars, in fact I barely like it. What I am a big fan of is Ralph Mcquarrie designs, and Star Wars is all about Mcquarrie’s design sense. His robot and Trooper designs are some of the most iconic imagery in science fiction. I know that partially due to the Clone Wars, the amount of Trooper interest has seemed to soar consistently over the past ten years. Never really waning in three decades, it just continues to steam along down the tracks getting faster and heavier.

Which brings me to the purpose of this gallery. The pieces shown here feature my original fabric and clothing patterns, supplimented by Trooper armor from mixed 1/6 scale sources.

I was a die-hard fan of G.I. Joe right up to about 1994. I know there’re a lot of purist out there who either cut themselves off at 1989 or just simply never stopped collecting the Joes (through all of the editions and iterations). For me, the line is drawn by the splitting of the franchise into all of these sub categories. In the early to mid 90’s there were whole sets devoted to ninja’s, echo terrorists, drug dealing gangsters, space pirates, and even a series of licensed Street Fighter G.I. Joe’s. After that point I guess I just got burnt out. Regardless, all of those sets seemed to focus on one old school 80’s character but completely re-imagined. Typically that one character now had a whole thematic team behind him, to fit in with their re-imagined look.

Snakeeyes and Storm Shadow finally fought Cobra together with their own ninja students; Flint led an elite group of Haz-mat looking guys to fight against Cobra’s Eco Terrorists; Stalker had a group of urban commandos set to infiltrate and take down drug related organized crime; and I’m not sure what the deal was with the space themed characters and Street Fighter stuff. Either way, it all boiled down to creating a whole team for one or two old school characters to lead into battle… and I loved them.

Ever since I was about 7 or 8 years old I was taking apart G.I. Joes and swapping their parts around to make my own characters. Flash forward to now. I’m still doing the same thing only at a much larger scale. I’ve been generating a Storm Shadow inspired team of Troopers. Each one is a little different with their own personality, but still intended to be a team led into battle by one old school character…

Mandalorean Stealth Jungler

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In a series of Ninja-esque custom characters this was the next logical choice. This Camo-Mandalorian warrior is made with a similar fabric pattern as the Hollow Walker and Smirking Python figures. The main addition is of course the armor. Gathered from a variety of sources and painted to match with a worn copper and silver motif. (side note: the head and body armor are from separate sources)

This piece fits in with the continuing series of custom Jedi’s and Troopers

Smirking Python TOYSREVIL Edition

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About the time I was working on the Smirking Python exclusive custom for Toy Tokyo, I contact Andy from TOYSREVIL, to see if he was also interested in an exclusive. To my delight he was.

I showed him some samples and he was really into this Python Patrol inspired fabric. I was very excited to work on a project with him as he’s very enthusiastic about toys. He has a lot of information and he sees so many toys that his criticism are undeniably spot on. He’s also been very generous with his time blogging about my work, as well as my wife’s work.

This is undeniably another pattern inspired by one of my favorite Cobra figures, the Python Patrol Crimson Guardsman. Ironically he was not crimson in color. He was in fact yellow and grey. On the breast of his yellow military jacket, there was a separate “bib” of fabric, distinguished by a dark grey and light grey pattern (that was reminiscent of a wire metal fence). A similar pattern appears on the Python Patrol Tele-Viper and  the Python Patrol Viper.

Like my previous patterns I created this in Photoshop and uploaded it to the Spoonflower site, to be printed on cotton fabric.

Hollow Walker

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After making Storm Shadow and the figures for the Cobra-lalilulelo Show, I was still really interested in making 1/6 scale Ninja figures. The owner/operator of Toy Tokyo was interested in the idea of making an exclusive underground 12″ action figure for SDCC 2010. A new character began to form.

For this piece I really wanted to experiment with pattern making in a way I never did before. I came up with this camo pattern that ended up looking great in 1/6 scale samples.

They really liked the Hollow Walker samples over at Toy Tokyo. We agreed that if we were to go forward with making a figure, a small run was best. I picked 4 because I assumed that I could actually make that many with the given time,  and still pay close attention to detail.

Hollow Walker is essentially the same basic figure as Storm Shadow. The first major change is our original Cobra Commander inspired “Hooded” head sculpt. Originally we casted 8 resin copies of this particular head sculpt. I used a couple heads for figures in the “Cobra-lalilulelo” Show. I had 4 unpainted heads left over from the previous project. It seemed like a perfect pairing. I hand sewed 4 of these clothing sets in total and painted each head in a slightly different motif.

Battlecat Gallery

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Of all the pieces I’ve made, this is perhaps my favorite Needle Felted Sculpture. Battlecat, based on the He-man’s famous mount, is the third Needle felted piece that I’ve made.

He is the best realized character for me. Which essentially means that I had this design fully formed in my mind, and it represents one of the first times a sculpture came out exactly how I imagined.

Storm Shadow Gallery

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The flagship custom piece for our 2009 Cobra-lalilulelo was this Storm Shadow.

I designed the fabric pattern based on the 3 3/4 Storm Shadow from 1988 (which is actually the second action figure version of the character). After completing the pattern I sent it out to Spoonflower.com who did a great job printing this out on quilting weight cotton.

For me and many of my friends that 1988 figure is one of the holy grails of ’80’s action figures. It was so popular. It felt like everyone I knew had it. I, on the other hand, did not and still don’t to this day. I never saw it in the store to buy, and at that time I was a die hard G.I. Joe fan.

I had this large shoe box of G.I. Joe and Cobra figures when I was a kid. The best part about those figures was that if you had the right screw driver you could easily take them apart. I skinny philips head could be inserted into the back hole of the figure (where a pack normally would go), and presto! The figure would break down into about 7-8 pieces. You could also unscrew the thigh portion of each leg, thus breaking them down even further.

In those days Joes cost about about $1.99, which meant that you could acquire many many figures. In a matter of seconds you had the means to create your own figures from your imagination. Yep, even then I was ripping things apart to satisfy my own imagination.

When I started to get really hardcore into customizing 1/6 scale figures this was a “must have” figure. What started out as a personal project evolved into a whole art show.

Storm Shadow

As I’ve stated before, some of these G.I. Joe and Cobra characters can be very difficult to translate into a modern 1/6 scale figure. Mainly because each time they were presented in a comic, cartoon or toy, they’re depicted with slightly different details. It makes it tough for me to pin down specific elements, because the details that I find iconic are not necessarily the same for others. Nothing could be truer than as for the original Storm Shadow. At his core, he’s your basic white ninja. However, there’s the little things like sleeves or no sleeves; bow and arrow or swords; one sword or two swords; ninja sword or samurai sword; arm wraps or tattooed forearm; tight hood or loose hood; baggy and loose uniform or tight and form fitting; does he have a thick strap holding his gear on or a rope (that doubles as a something he can climb with)?…..

In the comic, depending on the artist, he almost always looks a little different. The common thread holding all the versions together: he’s always in white, which is an odd choice for a ninja when you think about it, but I digress…..

I approached this character logically. He’s a ninja, so I gave him ninja swords. I also gave him a little pack, which is a little nod to G.I. Joe: resolute, but it makes a lot of sense for me, as imagine him sneaking into places stealing little artifacts and/or important documents and espionage related materials. Also: no sleeves, as imagined him whirling around his arms in furious blur of ninja attacks.

Ripper

This is another Dreadnok that’s part of a long term commission project. It’s tough because I’m drawing from slightly different elements of each character from the Cartoon, the comic, and of course the original 3 3/4″ figures, to create a definitive look strained through the popProlific filter.

Ripper is especially annoying, because the cartoon and comic usually depict him as wearing a leopard print tank top. The original 3 3/4” figure (and accompanying card art) depicts him with a torn and tattered camo tank top. Since almost 30 years have gone by since this character first appeared it’s hard to gauge which look is definitive. Some people have fallen in love with the toy, others find the cartoon burned into their consciousness.

For this commissioned series, the most important direction for me is to reproduce the 3 3/4” figure to a 12” size. Occasionally I incorporate details from other forms of G.I. Joe media, but for the most part it’s the toys the guide my primary direction.

Intelligence Officer

After reworking this peice more times than I have ever done on a 1/6 scale figure, I finally come out with a version of this gal that I’m proud of. Part of a private comission of 11 figures, this is by far my favorite female custom I’ve ever done. Made with real leather for the body armor and an original vinyl under suit, this figure is accompanied by a varied list of minor bits and pieces to complete the final look.

The main difficulty in reproducing these characters at 1/6 scale is that, in the ’80s, each time they were presented in a comic, cartoon or toy, they have slightly different details. It makes it tough to pin down specific elements. Mainly it’s her gloves boots and body armor that change slightly from version to version.

There are however, more glaring differences. For example, the first animated version of Baroness has a skin tight blue body suit. In later (more popular) versions of her, she has a dark grey or black uniform. In comics she frequently has her signature ribbed body armor, but at other times she’s wearing a slutty corset… as much as I love the slutty corset, this is not true to the character. The original toy and the cartoon line up together pretty well….. so 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

Grasshopper Pretender- “…on a mountain crossing” version

Ultra Magnus anime style head with a mix of 3a elements. Unlike other 3a 1/6 robots this custom features robotic 3a Armstrong forearms that have been modified onto a sideshow Prometheus body. In addition he features 3a robot feet and ankle joints modified onto the Prometheus body as well.

Suit is hand painted, with 3a vest and pockets… I just had to jump into to the 3a kitbash world…

Shadow Master- “…on a mountain crossing” version

Manga inspired Storm Shadow. I rarely use anime and manga inspired head scultps, but this combination of costuming and facial expression just seemed too perfect. This design was inspired from the conceptual elements of three other commissions. I suppose that it was initially born during the Cobra- lalilulelo show, but the character crystalized, as I excepted more ninja and GI Joe themed commissions.

Black & White Mixy Mix part 2

This is the second figure in the Snake Eyes / Storm Shadow mix-up project.

Picture if you will, an alternate reality where it is Snake Eyes who is believed to have killed the Hard Master, Storm Shadow’s uncle and head of the Arashikage Ninja Clan. Fleeing the scene of the murder, it is Snake Eyes who eventually makes his way to Cobra, while Storm Shadow allies himself with the GI Joe team rather than Cobra, in quest to find his uncle’s killer.

This character is the Storm Shadow half of that alternate story. Essentially a kitbash consisting of a lot of altered pieces to bring this vision into focus. If you look close, you’ll see that the gun holster, the Vader/Zartan glove combo, and the collar, all have a unifying ribbed quality. It was really important for me match all of the ribbed pieces, it added a subtle modern “Metal Gear” quality.

In maintaining the theme of the original 3 3/4 scale figures, I wanted to portray this character as straight forward, but distinct. Stripping down the ninja/commando concept to a black BDU with an old school ninja mask, the final character is a little bit Fire Fly and a little bit Deadpool.

Black & White Mixy Mix part 1

For lack of a better name for this project I’m just going to call it “Black and White Mixy Mix” Last December I was commissioned to create a set of two figures that took the principle character elements from Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow and essentially swapped them. With no hard conceptual sketches, the look of these two characters developed slowly over the course of six months into the badass warriors you see before.

The basic principle for this character was that he was Snake Eyes, but instead of joining G.I. Joe (and going down the path of the righteous good guy), he went the route of mercenary/ninja to infiltrate Cobra and find the the man who murdered his sensei. I was really going for an archer theme with this guy, and I always liked seeing Snake Eyes with a little more armor to go with his visor. The chain whip also worked for me because it had that element of savageness about it, and I think it would work well with his silence.

The head is a resin cast of a sideshow “Beach Head” head, that was modified with a Snake Eyes visor. I wanted to give this guys head sculpt some tooth, so I chose a basic head with an awesome wool balaclava sculpt, and fixed the visor to that. I also want to make an Arctic themed Snake Eyes custom in the future….

Captain Rogers

What if Buck Rogers, Iron Man, and Captain America raised a child in a “3 Men & a Baby” scenario? He might turn out like this:

Blowtorch Specialist (details)

I like Torch so much I decided he needed an additional gallery.

These are some pics the give slightly tighter view of some of the details that went into this piece.

I did my best to cram as much detail into this figure as possible… perhaps I agonized unnecessarily, but I had such a powerful vision of this character’s final appearance, that I had to see through to the end…

Blowtorch Specialist

I Put a crazy amount of detail into this guy. Perhaps it was the fact that Torch was the first 3 3/4 Dreadnok figure that I owned as a kid that forced me to do it…. I’m not sure. But I’ve always wanted to make this guy. Part of the reason I resisted for so long is because I knew it would take a long time to put him together correctly. Even though I worked on a few other figures at the same time, it’s easy to say Torch took almost 2 weeks alone. There was a lot of refitting (and paint detail) going on to get him right.

This is one of those scenarios where I’m really glad that someone commissioned me to craft such an intense character. I needed that push to make him a creative priority. In addition, the fact that someone ordered him allowed me to go all out, because honestly, I knew that he would be appreciated. I’ve been scared in the past that I would put a ton of work into this character (or a character like it), and he would just end up sitting on a shelf somewhere in my collection and be lost (at this point he majority of the figures in my personal collection are customized).

I actually get a lot of joy out of making these elaborate and very faithful interpretations of G.I. Joe characters, photographing them, and then sending them out into the world. It feels amazing to share this vision of the Joe universe with other people who have a passion for these classic ’80s characters.

I took great pains to get all his little details in there, I took some liberties with the pack, but I still made it appear to be functional. All the extra pieces have intended purpose, like a small fuel filter attached to the main gas tank or the thin hose supplying primer gas, to get the flame thrower started. I can truthfully say that some of the pieces that I used to make Torch I have been carefully storing away for 12 years. Specifically some of the smaller pieces that come from older 7″ action figures. I had all the details locked away in my brain and I’m always on the look out for specific pieces. For example the neck piece came from an old Mcfarlane Toys Clown figure and the shackle on his bicep came from a “Silent Screamers” Frankenstein’s Monster figure.

Master of Disguise V2

I had created a Zartan for the Cobra-lalilulelo Show a while back. For this version I was visually drawing more from the Comic book interpretation of the character (which I always felt was scarier and more imposing than his cartoon counterpart).

Additionally, this figure was one in a series of 11 different characters that I was commissioned to create. I wanted him to fit in with that series, and the high tech look didn’t sit well for me when I stood him next to the other characters. That’s why I decided to go in slightly different direction with him than the previous version. I also created a dirty version with pitted craggy armor, but I decided that didn’t fit either when you puthim next to the other Dreadnoks in this series of 11 figures. He looked like a rag-a-muffin and not a biker gang leader.

The first Zartan was bulkier and had a younger face. This version on the contrary is older and more slimmed down. The younger version has some hoses and more rough electronic looking pieces. Chronologically speaking this makes more sense for me. My logic is that in his youth he is stricken with this bizar physical condition that he needs to get a handle on ASAP. To that end, his suit is developed as a survival piece, much like the Batman characters Mr. Freeze or Clayface III  (Also known as Preston Payne) wear a life support suit.

At this stage in his life his body is regulated to the point where he can sustain a certain period of time not restricted to a life support suit. It’s more likely that he needs to rehabilitate his body once a day in chamber (much like Darth Vader), and therefore doesn’t need to carry all that tech around with him all day. This allows him more mobility and an easier time disguising himself.

This would also coincide with him developing a more unified Dreadnoks organization. More members… more crime… more money… all contributing to better tech. And better tech always means slimmed down and more stream lined.

Perhaps one day I’ll revisit the idea of doing a craggy armored, rag-a-muffin older Zartan. To reflect the point in his life when the sickness finally overcomes him, and the different chapters of Dreadnoks begin to splinter off into other gangs as they lose confidence in Zartan’s abilities.