…in which I get to sit down with Captain Lorca, Flash Gordon and the Green Power Ranger

 

Rhode Island Comic Con is not something I attend regularly. I went a few years back because my friends Tod, Barry and Dave were going to be there, as well as my friend Dean. So I packed myself up and went. It was fun. Got to do some unexpected things.

While there were stars all over the place, mingling with the crowd, and sat behind signing tables, I wasn’t overly interested until I saw Sam Jones sitting next to Gil Gerard, (Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers!) joking to each other, I saw the opportunity to get an autographed photo of the Highwayman. Because while most love Sam Jones for Flash Gordon (as do I), I know him better as my beloved Highwayman, a show that aired in the early 1980s and was cancelled well before its time.

Last year, 2016, I intended to go down to Rhode Island and see my friends again. For those who don’t know, Tod, Barry and Dave are the Regular Joes, and for the last five years have run the Regular Joes Podcast, which is a wonderful podcast about all things geeky. “They’re into movies and toys and TV shows, comics and collecting and superheroes. There’s no end to the useless stuff they know, but don’t call them geeks; they’re just Regular Joes.”

I didn’t get to go. Other things came up, and I couldn’t make it.

The Regular Joes usually set up in the lobby and run their podcast from there after the show, and sometimes they catch stars walking through the lobby and one time got Zabka’d, which means William Zabka wandered by as they were recording, and sat down with them for a lengthy chat.

Not last year. Last year was a bit of a miss, but the show was ok anyway. Still, I was determined not to miss this year.

Cut to 2017, and I am trying to get tickets for me and my daughter to go, but alas, I wanted too long and they were sold out. So I told my daughter I was just going down to meet my friends, which was not likely to prove interesting to her.

I got there around 8:30 and the Joes were just setting up in the lobby.

With them was their friend (and mine online for more than a decade) Derryl DePriest, who wrote the definitive book on GI Joe Collecting. Which, I might add, I brought with me so he could sign it at long last!

So they began the show, this time talking about how much better it was than last year – the Comic Con in general – and how engaging and delightful the guests were this year – and they highlighted Jason Isaacs (Captain Lorca from the new CBS series: Star Trek: Discovery) as the most fun and engaging chat they had. And while they were praising him up, dammit, the guy just walks by. Earlier in the day, he had said that due to being in the show, and how it is currently running, he couldn’t say much about it, but they did discuss “Star Trek: Discovery” a bit anyway. Now here he is, walking by!

We called him over and he enthusiastically sat down for almost a half-hour in which I sat silent (I was originally supposed to guest on the show) while the Joes and Isaacs dived into the various aspects of the new series, the controversy about fan reaction, theories of what’s coming up and just what’s going on, emphasizing that every person working on the show is a true Trek fan and they discuss “hard and soft canon” in great detail before making any decision.

It was a delightful interview in which Isaacs was – rather candid – about many things. He also got to talk about Harry Potter a bit, and how he has the script upstairs right now for the second season of “The OA”, and he is in it, which is actually breaking news!

Jones went on quite eagerly about all manner of thing including fan theories, and talked about how that Sunday night (it hadn’t aired yet) “shit is going to kick off” which implied that it was going to be a momentous episode.

Now I did mention my daughter earlier. Why? Well, she happens to be a huge Jason Isaacs fan since he was Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, and she loves him in the new “Discovery!” I really felt awful that she missed out on this, but really, who could have predicted????

After he left, (he had gotten up to go, then sat back down for more) Melody Anderson walked by and sat down for a shorter but lovely interview. Anderson played “Dale Arden” to Sam Jones’s “Flash Gordon” and talked about her favorite moment on the set, and also her favorite role, playing Marilyn Monroe in a Movie of the Week. Anderson, I believe, now is a counsellor for drug abuse victims. Good on her! She was delightful to talk to.

She even mentioned that Sam would be coming through the lobby within the next half-hour. True to her prediction, Sam Jones came through not five minutes later. We called him over and he said “I’d love to fellas, but I gotta pee first! Where’s the bathroom!” We pointed. After a few minutes, I had to go myself (honest!) and we met at the door. I went in and when I got back out, he was seated with the Joes, talking away.

He concentrated on the convention scene, and how he has come to see them as a wonderful thing. He used to do 3 a year for a while, but last year he did 42 conventions!

He talked about one particular incident in which a man in his forties, with his wife and two children, saw him in a restaurant and came over and said ‘hi’. After a few words, his wife and kids went to their table, but he hung back and said (paraphrased from my memory) “Sam, I have to tell you, when I was a teenager my father turned abusive, and one day I was in my room and I was going to commit suicide, but I glanced over and saw the ‘Flash Gordon’ VHS and it spoke to me. I put it on, and it saved my life. You gave me value. You gave my life value.”

Sam is not alone in this kind of interaction with fans. For an incredible story, see James Doohan’s (Star Trek’s Scotty) story of a suicidal fan he befriended.

So he sees these things as a venue to engage fans. People who may have saved up the entire year and this was their vacation – this was their one event that they had scrounged for, and he was going to make it worth it for them.

While he was talking, he called over Jason David Frank, the Green Power Ranger. Now while a lot of people are not in the know, the Green Power Ranger has a huge following. 15 million people follow him on Twitter and facebook. He engages a crowd like no other.

Sam called him over, and he took a seat on the couch and the two related their tales of engaging fans at the shows.

While they chatted about the convention scene, I snapped these photos. Poor lighting didn’t make for the best pics, but hey, they’re mine!

These guys gave us well over a half-hour of their time, and as that goes, we were floored.

I’m glad I went this year, and while I went to give the Regular Joes and Derryl (honorary Regular Joe) a copy of my latest GI Joe toy, the Huxter Labs/Cotswold Collectibles Mobile Motion Detector, I got much more in return.

 

NECA Blade Runner K’s Spinner Diorama

Since the Blade Runner 2049 movie came out, I am a bit surprised at the general lack of merchandise for what had promised to be a huge hit. Sadly, it flailed at box office, but is a gorgeous piece of cinema. I’ve seen it thrice and now it will go to video where I hope it finds its true audience, like the original did.

But NECA did create two vehicles from the film, both are K’s Peugeot spinner, in two different scales. In this article, I focus on the smaller one, which is to scale with standard Hot Wheels cars (1:64) and the ERTL Spinners from the 1980s.

In a previous article I talked about how I converted the ERTL Deckard Ground car from a brown hunk with a logo on top to a fairly accurate model of the real deal (using reference photos for color and detail).

Two weeks ago I took a model railroad figure (I bought a lot of them in bulk some years back for this purpose) and since they are too large for the scale, I cut the legs down (which also usefully made the suit jacket seem longer) and made a K figure, painted it up, and glued it to a CanDo Tank Display Case.

Here are the results, shown next to my previously-mentioned Deckard Ground Car reno, and the Hot Wheels Syd Mead Limo 1000 concept car.

The spinner is quite nice, but the one complaint I have is that it has no visible interior. While cars this size have no great detail inside usually, it is at least desirable to show an interior. This would have been nice. Rather, NECA saw fit to paint on a fake reflective blue wash that is supposed to fake glare. It fails. But the rest of the vehicle is quite nice, and even has a springy rear wheel, which was a nice and unnecessary touch.

Here, I show the three side-by-side-by-side, backed by one of my most prized possessions, a copy of the Blade Runner Sketchbook gifted to me while I was in college by my friend Todd Wareham, who I’m sure never knew how valuable a gift it would become. This book is a rare gem.

Note that I did not do anything to the car itself, but the figure is entirely customized from a set of 1:50 (too large) figures I bought several years ago for customization. I have used other figures to stand in for Simon Templar for the white Volvo P180 Matchbox released a few years ago.

This is the figure before I cut down the legs:

Then I primed it and painted it with craft paints.

Sorry for the blurry picture. I think putting it on a snowy base was a prime idea.

Each display base comes with a plastic box cover but I left them off for visibility.

 

Selling My 3D Prints – The Downside

I sell my 3D prints in various ways.

I have an ETSY shop called MoonbaseBeta to sell my Space 1999 Dinky Eagle pods, which are pods that never existed on the market, but many collectors want because they did appear on the show. These, I 3D print at home, assemble, and ship. Start to finish, it’s all me.

I have a Shapeways shop called FourthD in which I sell things for various collectors. Models for Space 1999 Dinky Eagles, for example, to replace parts or augment their collection with new parts that never existed on the market, like new pods, moon buggies to scale, etc. Plus some GI Joe scaled ray guns and pistols, etc. Shapeways does all the work. They print, they ship, all I do is upload my models and make them available to people.

On Shapeways, they print the model for their cost and profit. Then I get to add a bit for myself as markup which is how I make money. I usually charge anywhere between a few dimes to a few bucks, depending on how much of a percentage that is of the total price.

Yesterday I noticed one model up there I had left up for people to see and buy inadvertently during a mass editing session. But hey, fair game, the model was there, and someone ordered it. I got 0% markup. No harm no foul. I really didn’t care about that sale. So I edited the file to add a $1.28 markup fee.

Then this morning I saw this Correspondence on my Shapeways shop site, and here was my response.

I ask you: am I being unreasonable???

 

CSS HADFIELD – Canadian Space Station Hadfield Model

In the 1958 the Space Race was heating up. Model kits reflected this optimism and The Lindberg Line introduced the U.S. Space Station model kit.

The standard inflated-tire design was evident here, which showed itself in a lot of space station concept ideas. This could even be seen in a dual form in “2001: A Space Odyssey”, the 1968 Kubrick film.

I coveted this kit as a kid, but never got it. I managed to get a few other rocket model kits from the same line but never this space station.

Until recently when Lindberg released a dual reproduction kit of the Space Base (now called) and the Explorer Rocket. I snapped it up, and it sat on my shelf unbuilt for a few years.

I just recently finished it. Here it is, painted to my ability, which is … not terrible, but hardly expert.

The decals that were supposed to go on were on this sheet (though this sheet has decals for both the station and the rocket models.)

When I saw the American flag, which is for the Explorer Rocket, I thought: “Hey, why not make this a Canadian Space Station?” After all, Canada is deeply involved in the space program, and recently I recall Col. Chris Hadfield’s real stay on the International Space Station beginning with his launch on Dec 19, 2012. Memorably, he played “A Space Oddity” by Bowie for a YouTube video while up there.

So I thought I would commemorate this achievement by Canadian Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield by naming this station the Canadian Space Station Hadfield, with serial number CSS 12192012, the date Col. Hadfield launched towards the International Space Station. (Stupidly, I used the Empirical date notation of month, day, year, rather than the Canadian SI standard of day, month, year, but oh well…)

And you will note, the Hadfield Shuttle 1 and 2 are also labeled now.

This now proudly hangs upside down on a string in my 3D printing room, above my desk alongside a four-foot-long Discovery from 2001.

GI Joe Fan Pic with My Gear

As you should know by now if you follow this blog, I create GI Joe toys with my 3D printers, and Cotswold Collectibles sells them through its catalog. People generally find them quite enjoyable. Every now and then someone posts a photo.

This one was featured in Cotswold Collectibles’ E-News letter this week.

Phil Gilbert posts this photo of my Helijet with the wonderful uniform Cotswold put together for it, as well as the RACCS Platform which fits on the rear of the vintage Adventure Team Vehicle. On the RACCS is the RACCS Power Winch and the RACCS Spy Probe – Dual Carrier System. The driver is wearing two Drone Control Cuffs.

New Shapeways Dinky Eagle Restoration Project!

Announcing the first wave of my new Dinky Space 1999 Eagle Restoration/Repair Project!

I restored a Dinky a few months ago. I ordered some side attitude jets on eBay and they were very nice. But I was thinking I could make my own, and make them available on Shapeways. And for that matter, any part I wanted to restore, I could make myself and print it at Shapeways.

As of today, since my package of test prints has returned, and I have pushed all of the parts onto a Dinky Eagle I’m about to restore, I thought it would be a good time to announce to the collecting community that these are now purchasable on My Shapeways Store.

 

ATTITUDE JETS

(Click to be taken directly to the Shapeways item)

I started with the Attitude jets. Mine are modeled in the same way as the originals, except the rocket bells are not half-cylinders, they are fully round.

They come on a tree as a four-pack. You need only buy one item to get all four.

They are availble in white, red, yellow, silver, frosted, and raw aluminum.

 

RETRO JETS

(Click to be taken directly to the Shapeways item)

The original Dinky Retro Jets are paired with a connecting object that has no basis in reality. I decided to make these retro jets individual, which is far more accurate.

They are available in white, red, yellow, silver, frosted, polished nickel steel, and raw aluminum. (I LOVE the polished nickel steel!)

 

ENHANCED LANDING LEGS

(Click to be taken directly to the Shapeways item)

Also, I was thinking about how short and stubby the Dinky Eagle’s legs were, and how they were lacking fundamental detail. I opted to lengthen the legs to a more correct height, and add detail to the foot, and the hinged “heel” at the back.

They are available in white, metallic silver plastic, frosted plastic, stainless steel and polished nickel steel. Stainless Steel is my favorite of these. Frosted Ultra Detail seems a bit brittle and might break easier in play. The Strong & Flexible might take some doing to break.

 

REPLACEMENT LANDING LEGS

(Click to be taken directly to the Shapeways item)

Since this all really started with this Eagle I’m restoring having only 3 legs, I first modeled a leg after the original. These are also available. I have no pics but the connecting points are identical, so I am confident they will work fine.

No pics, since I have not yet printed one for myself.

 

VARIOUS PARTS, VARIOUS MATERIALS

Here are the prototypes I received today. There are other variations of each. See details on the individual items’ pages.

 

Future items I hope to include

  • Replacement spine in Strong & Flexible White Polished (other colors and materials may not work.)
  • Enhanced Spine that replaces the existing trough on the Dinky, and adds greebling underneath where it will screw onto the Eagle. Probably only in metals, which will be prohibitively expensive for most, but nice to have anyway.
  • Replacement Engine Tanks, more accurately modeled
  • Replacement Main Engine Bells with Baffles.
  • Landing Legs for Passenger Pod
  • Replacement Nuclear Canister

Space 1999 Konami Scale Landing Pad Display Base

I recently added a new item to my Moonbase Beta ETSY Store: A Konami Scaled Landing Pad Display Base. The display base is rather large in comparison to the Eagle, but it is only a bit undersized, and looks really awesome when done.

I liked it enough to make a kit out of it that was nice enough that I would be willing to sell it as a kit so people could make their own very affordable Konami display. It would take some work on their end, but not anything really difficult. This was a very fast project.

As I had the 3D parts already designed for a smaller base I had made for Konamis (which I sell on Shapeways as a series of separate parts) scaling them up, adapting them to work at this scale, was not that hard.

(NOTE: This kit does not include the Long Building. I figured no one would be able to display it anywhere, and if you want to add that, it shouldn’t be very hard with some foam-core or matte board and a sharp X-Acto knife.)

I separated out the parts so the rim is made up of 9 – 10 (depending on the diameter you use) separate pieces which have a slot for the foam-core base, and the House could fit on my printer in two parts, and the docking tube could extend/retract. I also made lights for the landing pad.

 

The Kit Includes

The kit features all of the 3D printed parts needed:

  • 10 Rim Pieces – (two variants so you can break up the design)
  • House Rear Section
  • House Front Section (with slot for docking tube)
  • Docking Tube (extendable)
  • Window Inserts
  • Landing Lights – You get way more than enough

 

The Kit Does NOT Include

This is what the user has to provide:

  • Black (or painted) foam core board – one circle measuring 28cm or 11″ in diameter
  • Red paper (or white paper) printed with the cross design – one cross with each segment measuring 2 3/4″ or 7.5cm. (I searched the internet and found a few interesting landing pad designs which I printed on red paper which worked beautifully!)
  • Crazy Glue to glue the two house halves together. Also to glue the windows in. You can also glue the rim edges together if you like, though they stay fairly nicely in place by friction, which allows you the bonus of breaking the display down and storing it easily. Crazy Glue can also be used for the lights, but I recommend White Glue for that job.
  • Konami Eagles!!! I presume you have at least one of these if you’re buying this kit.

 

Instructions

1) Cut a 28cm (or 11″) diameter circle from black foam core (or any other color painted black). I used Dollar Tree black foam core.

You will note it doesn’t have to be a perfect for the final result to look great!

2) Red Landing Cross. I took red paper and overprinted a gray pattern on it that I found on the internet. Without getting specific, search here and you will find some.

Print it as large on an 8.5 x 11″ sheet as you can. The Cross width (per section) is 7cm (2 3/4″). The whole cross can fit on one sheet.

3) Glue the two halves of the House together:

4) Slot in the Rim Edges. (Depending on your exact diameter, there may be a gap, but that goes under the house out of sight.) I include enough pieces to fit a base somewhat larger than I suggest. 9 pieces will fit mine, with a gap. I provide 10 pieces just in case.

5) Add Lights – This is the tricky part. Don’t worry, I include way more lights than you need. I start at one inner corner and put down the first light. Then I  add a light on one outer corner so the distance is the same from the corner to the light. Do this all around the landing cross.

  • Add Lights To All Corners, so they are the same distance from each corner, outer and inner:

  • Add a light to each mid-length between each corner light:


(Repeat all around the cross.)

  • Add a light in between each middle light and its corner:


(Repeat all around the cross)

This is a great method because it’s far easier to find a mid-point between two things than try to line up 5 of something with perfect spacing. DIVIDE AND CONQUER!

6) Glue in the windows (or if you like, use black cardboard. Whatever works for you.)

That’s really it. You’re done. And when you’re done it should look something like this:

(Forgive my rough quick placement of the rim pieces… I really banged this project out in an hour once the parts were printed.)

Variants:

  • Cut the cross out of the foam-core for a sunken landing cross

More Toys For Cotswold Collectables

Since December, I have been working nearly constantly at home printing new and re-order stuff for Cotswold Collectables.

Here is a portion (heavily edited) of the Feb 1 E-Newsletter they sent out:

cots-e-newsletter-feb-1-2017

While there were more items shown, and I did a cut in the center there, this shows how much of the space was devoted to my products. Not bad.

Most exciting, at the top, the new RACCS ATV Winch, which was revealed in images not long before. Those, as of this writing (Feb 9, 2017) are completed, waiting to be shipped to Cotswold for their pre-order fulfillment. Meanwhile just below is a very nice camo outfit featuring my new military colored Tranquilizing Bazooka for hunting the Invaders. These are currently printing and being assembled.

Below that, re-orders for RACCS MCU (Mobile Charging Unit), RACCS Spy Probe Dual Carrier System, a new Yellow/Black/Red Drone and Control Cuff, the Folding Tri-Copter blade, and the RACCS platform with hinges.

Big month here at Huxter Industries.

Huxter-Industries

Flash Gordon ship

Flash_Gordon_Ship_2017-01-17 06.51.36

Some years back, I captured several dozen really good close-up images of the actual aluminum (appears to be) studio model of Flash Gordon’s famous and iconic Art Deco/Atomic Age designed space ship. Whether or not it was the original studio model is up for debate, but I found it beautiful.

Here are some of those images

Flash_Gordon_Ship_03 Flash_Gordon_Ship_02 Flash_Gordon_Ship_01 Flash_Gordon_Ship_10 Flash_Gordon_Ship_09 Flash_Gordon_Ship_06 Flash_Gordon_Ship_04

I had always intended on modeling and 3D printing a replica for myself, and just recently I finally got around to it. Here are the results.

Flash_Gordon_Ship_2017-01-17 06.51.44 Flash_Gordon_Ship_2017-01-17 06.51.41 Flash_Gordon_Ship_2017-01-17 06.51.17 Flash_Gordon_Ship_2017-01-17 06.53.31 Flash_Gordon_Ship_2017-01-17 06.53.23 Flash_Gordon_Ship_2017-01-17 06.52.02 Flash_Gordon_Ship_2017-01-17 06.51.55

One thing I found is that my rivets printed with a bit too much support, so they get messy, a bit. I think I can adjust some printer settings and fix that.

This is also about 10 inches long, and printed at .2mm per layer. My printers can do a .15mm layer, so I will reprint this using that resolution later.

This version has doors that can open but only because they fit into the doorway by friction. This was a test print only to see what it would look like so I didn’t go to the trouble of adding a hinge to the door, yet.

I have since created a new version with a hinged door which I sent to a friend. (The hinges were not perfect, since the tolerances of my printer at this size were untested, the hinge covering areas were somewhat exposed. You could see the paper-clip hinge pin inside. But it did work.

So I moved the hinge pin a bit and have yet to reprint. My next print will be max resolution, with hopefully perfected hinges, and I will post those here when done.