Monday, April 30, 2007

Stormtrooper of the week: Part 8

This is a random pack in "hologram" piece from the Hasbro 2006 Saga Collection Line of action figures. It's basically a little bonus piece of plastic that resembles the little holograms used throughout the movies. You could get one of twelve different hologram figures packed with your action figure from this series in either red or blue. Here is the red one of a Stormtrooper. Kind of a nice little pose, I often thought about having my son take one of these and paint it with all his War Hammer paints in the correct colors, he's a much more skilled model painter than I could ever be.

I lucked out when I would buy figures from this line as most of the time the little hologram was a character I liked, or that there where enough of a certain figure on the shelves that I could flip over and look on the back of the package to see what hologram I was going to get. I know that takes the fun out of random extras, but if Hasbro really wanted it to be random they would have not packaged the hologram figure in a little see through bubble on the back would they?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Wookie, a Droid, and some coffee filters

I was probably weird when I was a kid because while I had Chewbacca and C3-P0 figures, they were not necessarily my favorite characters from the saga. Which makes this post a little strange to begin with. These are from the Star Wars Galactic Heroes line by the Brothers Hassenfeld. I always thought this was a cool idea, taking characters and applying a different "cutesie" style to them. Just wasn't too excited about fur ball and golden rod here.

I had an interview with Hasbro back in 2000 for a design position, and one of the comments made by one of the managers about the sketch area of my portfolio was that the Star Wars team would love some of my Star Wars Kids stuff since they were currently working on a line similar in style. I can only assume he meant the Playskool Star Wars stuff that later became this line of miniature figures. All I can say is they thought of way more characters than I did, and theirs looks a little cooler too.

Back to old Chewy and his Droid friend. Earlier this week I realized about 9:00 in the evening that I had run out of coffee filters and it was off to the store. Now I have never bought coffee filters before, I had just picked up the habit of drinking coffee recently from my wife and she had always purchased the coffee supplies. So filters could cost fifteen bucks for all I knew. I ran to the store with just my debit card and no cash, we had already done our grocery shopping for the week and coffee filters were all I needed to get. Ninety-nine cents! That's all they cost? Two hundred filters for ninety-nine cents!? I actually thought about buying five dollars worth for a split second, but it would take me the rest of the year to go through two hundred. We didn't need anything else, so my wife said she was getting a magazine and I headed to the Toy Isle.

I had been buying some of these Galactic Heroes and they had two packs at the store. I had the second one already, so I said what the hell and picked up Chewy. I know there is probably tons of stuff that I could have purchased that would probably have been a much more sound buy, but these looked sort of fun. We went home and I finished up some chores before going off to bed. That's when I saw the Star Wars guys staring at me from the package, so I set them free. What a surprise, these little guys are pretty fun. C3-P0 can be broken down and put in a net on Chewbacca's back all-la Empire Strikes Back. They actually represent that scene better than the regular figures do, plus you can put C3-P0 back together!

I'm still not sure about the characters, but these two little toys are fast becoming some of my favorite Galactic Heroes so there could be some hope for a Wookie and a Droid, especially if they can make coffee.


Today you are getting two for the price of one since I've been away taking some Flash 8 courses. Enjoy.

Back when Batman: the Animated Series was on the air McDonald's had a Happy Meal promotion featuring some of the characters from the cartoon. There really isn't anything to special about these toys and they can be found pretty easily on Ebay, garage sales, or at flea markets. I actually ate a Happy Meal and lived to tell about it to get this Batman along with some of his friends. As I post more I'm sure I'll astound you with more tales of Junk food for toys.

Like I said there is nothing really special about this toy, except that he is a pretty cool action figure that was packed in a kid's meal in 1993. This has to be one of my favorite Batmans though, and I have several. I think I ended up with the whole set except for the Joker Mobile. I just couldn't handle another Cheese burger or Chicken Parts meal. Not to long after this they did the same thing with the Spider-man cartoon and I would hit the drive threw once again looking for my Happy Meal Fix. The Spider-man and Batman are about the same scale which makes it that much cooler. One thing that isn't cool is now I have to loose weight from all that crap I ate in the Nineties. Happy Meals aren't that Happy are they? At least I have the toys to go along with my high cholesterol.

Star Tek Puzzle Manual

I purchased this book back in elementary school from one of those school book club flyers. Do they even have those Book Clubs anymore, if not they do not know what they are missing. Take a little trip with me back to the days when kids could roam the streets on a Saturday Afternoon and not worry about being abducted by some stranger with candy. Back to the days of the Book Club order forms. I'm betting all two of my readers probably remember these. These were two to four page catalogs printed on newsprint usually from a company called "Troll" or something to that effect.

You never new when one of these were coming, usually on a Friday so you had the weekend to go over it with a fine tooth comb. The teacher would pass these out and if you were lucky she would give you time to look over them in class and discuss plans with your friends on purchasing the great literary finds on this Elementary School Best Seller List. I usually skimmed through these wether it was allowed or not in class perusing the print for some of my favorite subjects of the time, Spider-man, Star Trek, Evel Knievel, you know the usual suspects.

I lucked out on this occasion because not only did I find this manual that was sure to get me through the toughest of Star Fleet Tests of Skill, but it came with a pretty snazzy poster of the cover illustration. Side note I recently found this poster in a stack of childhood books, I know surprise, surprise. The next best thing to the handing out of the order form, or the cafeteria running out of regular milk and being forced to serve only chocolate, was the day the book orders came in. It would take about two to three weeks, I think the teachers held onto them longer though because they were reading our books.

Well needless to say I must have convinced my Mother and/or Father that this book was a necessity or I wouldn't be writing about it now. The thing about this book that continues to stump me was the logic behind the puzzles, one puzzle in particular. This puzzle was one of those situational puzzles were there are three security guards escorting three prisoners, they came to a river where there was a small boat that could carry two at a time. The trick was that the guards could never be out numbered by the prisoners, but they all had to cross the river to get to a shuttle craft to get back to the Enterprise. The thing that continued to through me was that the guards were not armed. I'm sure that Star Fleet protocol called for all security personnel to carry phasers. I know that this really does not have any baring on solving the problem, but I could not get past that point.

I was beside myself as I set out to solve this little security problem, I finally gave up after a week and looked up the answer in the back of the book (yes a week) and what I saw still did not satisfy me in the least bit. The author of this puzzle actually suggested at one point that prisoners were all separated from the guards, now I new this quiz had to be written by a Klingon! There's the proof in black in white. You think about it, if you trusted the prisoners to point where you didn't need weapons and allowed them to separate themselves from the guards, why not just send them a nice little invite to meet your landing party across the river for refreshments and a nice little trip in a shuttle craft to the pride of Star Fleet, the U.S.S. Enterprise, where they will be whisked away at warp speed to the nearest star base for a trial by their peers and eventual incarceration? To this very day I find myself in traffic wondering why the hell they took a shuttle craft and just not beamed the guards and prisoners up to the Enterprise in one shot.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It's the Batmobile!

To me this was always the coolest looking Batmobile. Now don't get me wrong I love the look of the 60's T.V. Batmobile, but when this monster came across the screen for the first time, I remember thinking that finally someone gets it. This is not the reason for this post though. I grabbed this Batmobile off the shelf to snap a picture and thought I would write about the first thing I thought about when I picked it up.

Well here goes... This little 1989 Die-cast and plastic car reminds me of one of my good friends, Rey. Matter of a fact when ever I see any of the Ertl Batman toys from that year I wonder what Rey is up to. Rey is a buddy of mine from art school and we would make regular trips to the comic shops and toy stores. I think we both thought that the 1989 Batman Movie was the greatest. To this day I have never met anyone that was just as fanatical about Batman toys and comics. Rey would swing by the house (then apartment) on a Saturday and pick up my son and I for some Batman toy shopping, it was on one of these runs that I picked this Batmobile up, this might actually be the first Batmobile I bought as an "adult" collector. Little did I know at the time that I would continue to collect Batmobiles as time went on. Rey moved away not to long after that, which was a good thing and a bad thing. Bad because Photography class just wasn't as much fun, Good because Rey met a nice young lady and ended up marrying her and starting a little family up north. Hopefully he's still going on the hunt for the latest Batman toys and comics for his children.

It's funny how something as goofy as a toy can make you think of old friends and fun times.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Stormtrooper of the Week: Part 7

Legos and Star Wars, what a perfect combination. Star Wars brought us the "used car" Sci Fi look, where everything looked beat up like it was actually being used. I think that this is one of the reasons that makes the movie somewhat believable or pulls you into that fantasy world. You look at it and can identify with the surroundings, even though it out of this world. What does this have to do with Lego? Well besides the "used car" look, Star Wars also struck me as a very cobbled together sort of environment. Take the Jawas for instance, they were always tinkering with things, repairing, modifying, and building. The Millennium Falcon not only looked like it was built from the ground up when we first met it, but Han Solo himself said he had made some modifications himself.

If you look back to the original Kenner line of toys they had a really neat set called the Droid Factory that illustrated this point even further. Now even though I never had the Droid Factory, an believe me I wanted it, I still appreciated what Kenner was trying to do with this set by furthering the Star Wars experience and expanding it's universe. So in a way Lego has made a never-ending droid factory with it's product lines. Capturing not only the fantasy of the Star Wars universe, but that spirit of building and modifying ships and creatures capturing your imagination.

This post though is about our Stormtrooper of the week. The Lego Stormtrooper. This guy is from some of the first sets which is primarily evident by the build- a -blaster accessory, Lego has since come up with better looking blasters that are a little more to scale with the figure. The best part of this trooper has to be the helmet. The helmet is really an outstanding yet simple sculpt, almost stylized in a way. It really is a wonderfully executed piece of Lego technology. As with the sets these little troopers come with, they can be popped apart, modified, posed, and built into armies and armies of troopers for the Imperial Forces. This and they're just cool little Lego figures... I mean who doesn't love these little Lego dudes?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Jar Jar in bad taste?

Here's a quick post featuring a fun little book on one of my favorite subjects, collecting Star Wars. I guess this would be classified as a coffee table book. It contains some of the coolest pieces from the beginnings of the Star Wars merchandising monster. It was assembled by one of the greatest Star Wars collectors that ever existed, and probably ever will, Stephen Sansweet. This book has been out for quite some time and can be found on Amazon. What made me think to post this book was the earlier post on Star Wars Celebration I.

When I was contributing art to the kids magazine, Mr. Sansweet was one of my editors, actually the one at Lucasfilm. I've always enjoyed reading the various columns he has written and numerous books that he has had published, so naturally I was looking forward to meeting him at the convention. The only chance I had was at a book signing he was doing, so I thought it would be nice to drop by and introduce myself and talk briefly. Well I stood in line for about thirty minutes, which is good for a convention, and when I got my chance to meet him he looked a little puzzled that I was not carrying a book for him to sign. I told him I wasn't looking for an autograph that I was one of the artists that he had the pleasure to comment on before anything saw print. When I introduced my self and shook his hand, he said "Oh, you're the guy who drew the farting Jar Jar!" and something to the effect of " I hope the rest of your drawings are a little more tasteful in the future". I didn't know what to say to that, I was kind of wishing I had this book and just had him sign it, but in my defense it's all about breaking those glass ceilings. I mean Jar Jar has to fart too, right?

Drawing Star Wars

Wow, talk about falling behind! It's been a busy week so while I have a chance I'm doubling my efforts and dropping a few posts to catch up. Talking about catching up, I feel so left out of the current Star Wars artist frenzy, mainly because once Star Wars Kids Magazine went by the wayside I stopped working in the galaxy far, far away and concentrated on other areas of my chosen profession. I always wondered what it would be like to go back and revisit some of the Star Wars subject matter now that I have a little more experience in illustration under my belt.

While I'm on the subject of illustration experience here's a fun link to a Star Wars artist that I've met once while attending the Star Wars Celebration I back in 99'. All the Star Wars Kids artists at the time were asked to donate some time at the Star Wars Kids booth drawing caricatures for donations to a children's home. Matt Busch's scheduled time overlapped some with mine and I had the chance to talk with him some. This chance meeting gave us a little time to swap some quick war stories and even some caricatures of each other while we were waiting around. I think I got the better end of the exchange since I made away with a pretty sweet caricature of yours truly dressed as Darth Vader. I still have it around the office somewhere, I'm wonder if he kept the one I did? I doubt it, for some reason no one likes being dressed as Jar Jar.

Well it looks like Matt has stayed busy drawing Star Wars and is even releasing a book on the subject. It looks like it's going to filled with some great stuff. I'll definitely be checking it out.

Old is new again!

Why a Mego Kirk you ask? Well a couple reasons, one Mego is coming back baby! Well, an official reproduction of the old Star Trek Megos
anyway. Now the one in the photo above is the real deal, but the rereleases will have Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Klingon, Andorian, and a Romulan! Needles to say, I've already pre ordered the first set. The second reason is this. This Mego fan is making his own display systems in the same style as the originals from Mego! So not only can I get a cool set of Star Trek figures, but a vintage looking environment to display them in! It's a proud day for geeks everywhere!

To learn more than I'll ever know about Megos check out the Mego Museum right here.

Worky Work Work!

Here's some pics of my home away from home. This is my work office at the Toy Factory. I'm pretty lucky to have a cool boss that has no objections to me painting the walls Tennessee orange and drawing on the opposite walls. This is sort of a work in progress, and it is pretty clean right now. As I get it more moved in I'll snap a few more pics.

Stormtrooper of the Week: Part 6

I haven't forgot, just a little busy. So here he is, the Stormtroooper of the week! This has to be one of the best 3 3/4" Stormtrooper figures around. This guy is from the 2004 Original Trilogy Collection, or OTC for short. If you had to have one action figure of a Stormtrooper, this would be the one to get.

The idea behind the OTC is that the toys are re visioned versions of the classic toys complete with reproductions of the vintage packaging. Now, I'm a sucker for the vintage look on just about anything so naturally I was drawn to these. I will say this that the new interpretations of these characters are simply awesome. This little trooper is highly posable and very detailed. Hasbro really knocked it out of the park when they made this guy. If you were lucky to find one of these in the stores you would have probably paid $9.99 for him, Ebay will set you back some more. I'm not in the habit of recommending toys, but as Ferris Bueller would say "If you have the means and can afford it's primo"

To help illustrate the posability of this little jewel I snapped a few poses and composited them together in Photoshop. Before anyone says anything though, yes I realized I messed up the "M" in YMCA, I didn't catch it till I had torn down the set up and was processing the image, you get the idea though.

Would you like to learn more about the OTC, I refer you to the all knowing Rebelscum.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Bend-Ems Stormtrooper

Here is a fun little Stormtrooper that came out in the mid nineties. They are from a company called Just Toys (great name) and are part of the Star Wars Bend-Ems line of toys. These were the closest things to present day Star Wars action figures before Kenner/Hasbro started releasing new figures.

These Stormtroopers came carded and in box sets usually packed with a Topps trading card or sometimes (in the sets) a collectable coin. Most of these figures did not come with separate accessories, such as weapons, but when a figure did have a weapon it was molded to their hand.

While I like the Stormtrooper figure from this series, my favorites have to be Darth Vader and Boba Fett. If you have a moment check out a new Star Wars collectors site I found called that has these archived with photos and packaging descriptions.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Warrior, come out an playyyaaa...

Okay so that was a lame joke, oh well it sounded better in the concept stage.

Here are a couple of loose images of the Tron Warrior from an earlier post. For the siplicity of this figure he's just plain awesome. A whopping four points of articulation and a glow in the dark weapon. Even the deco is as about as simple as you can get. I think for this reason alone that makes this figure great.

I'm sure I could come up with a multi jointed, super deluxe version of this guy, but you still cannot beat this one for that classic action figure design and playability. ah the good ol' days.

Set Phasers to Stun

I've been wanting to get one of these for a little while now and if I was writing a review I would recommend getting one of these toys if you were into Star Trek. This is the Classic Phaser from Art Asylum. These guys are known for outstanding detail in their toys and it shows with this one. For example, every switch and button works on this thing, it's great, you can even set the phaser to overload like in the series and it will make the sound F/X and light up. This will come in handy if you want to sabotage an enemy vessel by setting it to overload and then tossing it into an exhaust port. I really would not suggest throwing this around, being made of plastic it might get damaged and it probably would not be good for the electronics.
What really makes this toy over the top is that it separates from the type two phaser into the much smaller type one phaser just like the show. Plus like the show the base of the type two will not function without the type one in place. Another great feature is that you can set the beam intensity and scroll through several different phaser settings each with a different sound F/X. Man what I would have given to have had one of these when I was a kid.

Before this little jewel there was a type two phaser made by Playmates Toys in the 90's. This phaser could not separate and only made a couple of sounds, but it was still a solid little toy that looked authentic enough. I have one of these as well and maybe in a future post I'll put up a little side by side shot.

Going even further back to when I was just a little "Trekkie" the only way to get a phaser that was close to the show was to build it yourself with one of the AMT Star Trek Explorer Set model kits that were out at the time. These could be found pretty much until the early 70's, I myself went through several of these kits as each of my previous ones would get damaged in some off planet adventure. One time a group of my buddies and myself decided it would be a great idea to go as Star Trek characters for Halloween. A buddy of mine called Bo Bo went as Kirk and another friend went as Spock (ears and all) and I was my favorite red shirt Scotty. We all went out and picked up the model kit, built our equipment, Moms were recruited for costumes, and we were off. The cool thing about these costumes were that you could go down to your local dime store and purchase an official Trek shirt in any one of the three colors, so it was just pants and boots that were needed after that.

Years later I found my shirt still in good order packed away and my son went as a red shirt for Halloween that year. True to form he had to have a phaser and communicator to go with it, but the models were no longer around and Playmates had not released their toys for the Classic series yet. So it was off to the garage to make some props from scratch. I cobbled a rough phaser and communicator together, slapped some paint on it and we were off to trick or treat. Maybe a Halloween Costume Party is in order this year, I doubt the shirt still fits me though. Well with that thought I'm off to drive my wife crazy and chase the bassets around the place. Beam me up Scotty!

Thursday, April 5, 2007


Here's a blast from the past. A catalog page from a little company called Play By Play full of Batman Goodness. These are actually product that I have worked on either laying out the graphics, coming up with the product pattern, or generating the concept artwork. The inflates were especially fun because I had to come up with shapes that could be translated into inflatable toys.

As you can see the Batmobile from the Batman the Animated Series didn't quite turn out like the one in the show. I was told this was as close as the vendor could get to the actual drawing. I think given the time and knowledge of inflate construction I could have got this one closer. Never the less I'm still happy with the results of most of the items. The Batman cowl was my all time favorite. I based it on an old Ideal toy from way back in the day, I believe the early sixties. I originally made this so my son could have a cool Batman mask to show off to his buddies. Most of the time I had my son in mind when I was designing new stuff, always a good inspiration. The cowl went through two prototype stages before we started producing them. The first prototype was constructed of white vinyl and could fit an adult sized head, I loved it and would wear it around the office doing my "I'm Batman" impersonation. I was outvoted and it was sized down for a child's average head size. Like kids are going to play with these things, huh. The Bat-a-rang and Grappling Hook were no brainers, I mean you have to have these to go along with the rest of the costume, right?

Besides inflates I was in charge of all things basketball for most of my time at Play By Play. The red and blue Batman basketball was actually the first time that a gradient was used on a basketball. Play By Play was at the top of it's game during this time and we made numerous advances in basketball artwork science. It was always great having product managers that would push the vendors to try and figure out how to make our designs work. The art department was very fortunate that we could try a few out of the box ideas and include them in the line. Not a big deal now, but for the time, we introduced glow in the dark basketballs, photos printed on basketballs, gradients, and designs that crossed the center lines, just to name a few. All these are common place now. Oh well, it wasn't rocket science, just art.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007


This past weekend we celebrated my birthday and while I don't usually single out one gift as being my favorite, because I appreciate all the gifts given to me, this one stands out. This is a graphic novel given to me by my son. He knows I'm a fan of Frank Miller's illustration and stories, plus he was there when I went on and on about the movie. The cool thing about this is that this is the first gift from him that he picked out and payed for himself, and if I say so myself he did a bang up job, not only is it a cool little book but a first edition at that! Wow, I'm getting older and he's growing up. You make me proud boy.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007


One of my favorite cartoons of all time is Batman The Animated Series (BTAS for short). This cartoon had really great stylized artwork that has been compared, in style, to the old Max Fleiser Superman cartoon of the 30's. Bruce Timm was the madman behind this cartoon, as well as the newer Justice League Unlimited Series. If you're into Batman animation, then you probably know more than I would about Bruce and team and the great imagery that they have produced over the years.

What I bring to you today is a page from the BTAS style guide. If you have read past posts you would know that I'm sucker for these style guides and that the guides themselves are used by Licensees to produce everything from toys to household goodies. This page would be used to check your color usage and scale of the characters in relationship to each other. I happen to have the whole guide for this cartoon and I consider it among one of my favorite guides. This actual guide was used as reference for plush and inflatable development back in the late 90's. I had worked on a few BTAS products for a small amusement toy company around that time, and when the license was up they were going to through out the old guides and offered them to me instead. I will be bringing you some of those items that I had developed for the amusement industry in future posts so stay tuned.

Monday, April 2, 2007

PEZ Strikes Back!

The Stormtrooper of the week is from the Star Wars PEZ collection. He's your standard issue Imperial Stormtrooper with a twist, instead of having a blaster he's full of PEZ candy! These have been a round for a few years now, they would have been great having growing up. I do remember that Topps had a Stormtrooper Head full of candy. I would throw my paper route and stop mid way through at a little gas station that had sodas and candy and buy the latest sugary treats. I think they had Darth Vader, C3-P0, Chewbacca, and the Stormtrooper. Full of either sweet tart like candy or gum pellets. I used to think they were pretty cool and remember trying to get the whole set. If I'm not mistaken I think at about the time Empire Strikes Back hit theaters they even added a Boba Fett. Maybe I can find one of these to post (or at least a photo of one). I don't think I'll eat any candy from it though, probably wouldn't be a good idea.

If you like PEZ though, These little Imperial Troops will keep them organized and ready for any tasty mission.