roxybisquaint: (sarah happy)
So excited. So excited for season 2. Hey wait a minute! What's this? The action figures have already staked out the best spot on the couch! I may have to do something about that. They're not going to boss me around in my own house. Hmm. On second thought, they're looking pretty well armed. Maybe I'll just sit in the chair.



roxybisquaint: (hellboy easy way)
How freaking cool is this? The mailman knocked on my door this afternoon and handed me an unexpected package from an awesome friend. The contents: a Hellboy II Liz action figure!



Surprised, thrilled, delighted and super happy, I am.
Also, Liz has the most kickass boots ever. I am coveting them.
roxybisquaint: (sarah smoking gun)
I love doing package design. Maybe because I'm a total sucker for good packaging myself. Since I had these cool Sarah Connor Chronicles action figures sitting here looking all bored, I decided to design them one. Unfortunately I was rather limited in my graphics choices because I wanted to do this project in full print quality (in case I want to construct it later). The only images I had that were high enough resolution were the publicity stills released by FOX way back before season 1 started. Using those I was able to make the card 6"x9" like I wanted. I could probably make packages for John and Cameron too, but that would be it until I can get my hands on more high-res pics. For now, though, there's just a Sarah package. And through the magic of PhotoShop, I was able to sort of "glue" her onto the card to simulate a finished product:



If you post this photo anywhere, please credit me and link back to this post.
roxybisquaint: (sarah flashlight)
I've decided to make some packaging for my TSCC action figures because any respectable figure should have it's own awesome package design. Before getting started, I wanted to browse through some action figure packages to check card sizes, familiarize myself with what info is on them and also see if there were some plastic bubbles I could pillage the for my own packages. So I wandered down to the basement where all my carded action figures are stored. Some are in boxes on shelving and some are in storage carts.

Before I go any further, this is not some insanely huge collection I have; it's leftover inventory that I've been too lazy to liquidate ($5,000 worth of crap no one wants). BTW if anyone wants a Darth Maul, let me know. What, no takers? I do have some awesome Dragon figures, though. Those kick ass for WWII soldier realism.

Okay back to the story...
My crazy cat was very involved in this browsing because I had to move the carts around to get into the drawers, which exposed floor space he'd never walked through (a very exciting event to a cat). So while I was digging through stacks of figures in various drawers, he was milling about in parts unkown. I finally yanked out some 3 3/4" Funschool Joes (semi-knock-offs made in India that I think I'd orignally bought for maybe a buck a piece). Perfect. Those could be buried in the sand for 1,000 years and they'd still only be worth about a buck a piece.

I closed up the drawers, pushed the carts back into place and headed upstairs. There was some discussion about packaging and we ate some dinner. A little while later I headed back down to the basement to grab another action figure when I heard the muffled but familiar high pitched girly meow of my cat (he's a male).

Meeeeeeeeeeow. Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeow.

I go looked around and called his name.

Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeow.

I started moving storage carts around.

Meeeeeeeeeeow. Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeow.

I finally found him INSIDE a drawer.

There's something you need to know about my cat - he's BIG. When I hold him, it kind of looks like this (okay maybe not quite that ridiculous, but it looks like he's been enlarged in PhotoShop). You'll just have to trust me when I say he could not have gone unnoticed if he'd been in a drawer when I closed it earlier. My best guess is he squeezed himself into the lower drawer from the back through a temporary opening created when I had a middle drawer open. It still would have been tricky. He was crammed so tightly in the drawer (with some action figures) that he couldn't move until I got the drawer fully open and actually extracted him.

He was most grateful. He'd did lots of purring and rubbing against me and he hasn't left my side since. Maybe he'll stop lunging at my calves when I walk by him now (that's his favorite activity).
roxybisquaint: (sarah photo action figure)
Here they are at long last... my custom Sarah Connor Chronicles action figures. I've made custom figures from 3 3/4" GI Joes before (which is what these are made from), but never anything this involved and never figures that were supposed to look like existing characters. It was a challenge and a half. But with a pile of GI Joe parts, a box of Super Sculpey, a Dremel Stylus with several grinding bits, lots of sandpaper, some razor blades, my trusty pocket knife, jars of paint, tiny brushes, a magnifying glass, sheer determination, gallons of coffee and a vision, I did it. And I'm really happy with how they turned out.

Special thanks to my husband, who patiently spent night after night alone on the couch watching reruns of Hogan's Heroes while I toiled away in my laboratory. Also to [livejournal.com profile] cisaac for inspiring this project with "Want", a short fic about Ellison. And everyone who cheered me along in the process.

Click images to enlarge.



The pride of man, of parents as well, makes us believe that anything we create, we can control. Whether from clay or from metal, it is in the nature of us to make our own monsters. Our children, our alloys, all, built from our own imperfect flesh. We animate them with magic, and never truly know what they will do. - from episode 1.04 "Heavy Metal"



If you'd like to post any of my TSCC action figure photos anywhere, feel free, but please credit me and link back to this post.

View close-ups of the individual figures >> )

If you want to see know how I made these, you can backtrack through the whole process here:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Package Design
3 more characters made into action figures | Cameron gets a hair cut

Or take a cruise through my gallery of images from all the work on this project.
roxybisquaint: (sarah smoking gun)
I know, I know — enough with these in-progress photos already. Where the hell are the action figures?! They're coming. Soon. I promise. But I've put so much work into this, I couldn't skip over the last step: preparing accessories. So many GI Joe weapons are either really silly or way out of scale - bizarro futuristic guns, oversized pistols, undersized M-16s and the like. Fortunately, I found most of what I needed after digging through mountains of accessories.

Here I've got a pile of potential accessories and I've begun modifying. I cut the grenade launcher off the M-16 and shortened it's stock. The most realistic handgun I could find was way oversized, so I ended up cutting it down significantly into a properly scaled Glock-style pistol. I had to lose the trigger, but oh well.



There was not a single shotgun amongst my accessories and I really wanted Sarah to have one. What to do, what to do... )
roxybisquaint: (derek more guns)
I finally finished up painting the figures yesterday. Oh the hell I've been through over the last few days, dealing with details and last minute problems. As some of you know, Sarah's lower legs kept breaking and it wasn't until I discovered a design flaw in the style of leg I'd been using that I was able to prevent it from happening again. I reshaped where they connect to the thighs and all is well. So even problematic Sarah is done... yay!

I've moved on to accessories now - picking through hundreds if not thousands of weapons, etc. (my God I have a lot of accessories) to find some realistic looking pistols, M16s and various other tidbits. There was not a single shotgun to be found, though. I may try to make one for Sarah, but I have my doubts I can pull off something so small (I suspect it'll end up breaking when I try to shape).

Oh and lookie what I got for our gang! How could I not buy that? This is what happens when I have no work to do for a week.

Anyway... photos of the finished figures will be coming within a day or two.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10: The Unveiling
roxybisquaint: (sarah hope)
Painting is well underway and even though I said I wasn't going to show any of it, I've decided to give a sneak peek. All of the figures are in varying stages of about 25-50% done. I'm now focusing on Charley so he's about 90% finished. I had to sculpt a watch onto him yesterday after realizing he wears a big-ass one in the show and I didn't have one on him. If I'd realized that sooner I probably would have just chosen a set of arms that already had a watch. But since his sleeves and shirt were already painted with a custom-mixed color, arm patches, badge, buttons - I wasn't about to backtrack on all that so I sculpted a watch myself.

Anyway, here's Charley nearing completion:



I think I'll do Ellison next and then maybe Cromartie. Since I'm painting everyone's flesh to make arms and faces match, I also have to paint eyebrows and *gulp* eyes. I've never done eyes before and I'm scared I'm going to fuck it up. That's why I'm starting with secondary characters! In fact I'll probably grab some damaged Joe heads and practice on them first. You'll know how good of a job I think I did in the end by how close-up my pictures are of the finished product ;)

I know a lot of my pictures have been pretty poor quality during most of this because I was usually holding a camera in one hand and a figure in the other and didn't have the benefit of making a nice arrangement with a good light source. But I do promise large high quality pictures in the end.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10: The Unveiling
roxybisquaint: (john eww)
Thanks to the split verdict of my poll, I went ahead and made a duplicate head for John so he can have both season 1 emo hair and season 2 short hair. The first order of business was to finish up the short hair look. To do that, I simply added a little tuft of Sculpey to the front.

Then it was time for head duplication. You've already seen how I had to alter his neck, so I won't bore you with that again. That's the part I was dreading most about making a second head, but it was actually a lot quicker and easier since I'd been through the process once before. What I will show you this time is where I got the head(s) from:



It comes from a stupid underwater Deep Six figure and those suckers are hard to crack open. I had to cut it apart and then use a hammer and 6-in-1 tool to smash it open the rest of the way. For some reason this second head was much more difficult to get to. But once it was out, ground down and neck neck base molded on, it was time for EMO HAIR SCULPTING. Yeeeeeeeeee-haaaaaaaaaaa!



That was without a doubt the funnest part of this whole action figure process so far. I don't know if you guys like it, but I LOVE it. I think it's hilarious — just like John's hair was by the end of the season. After cooking the head to harden the hair, I did the usual shaping and here is the finished product:



After that, I assessed each figure and did some final prep work on everyone — added an EMT badge to Charley's shirt, sanded the military stripes off Ellison's legs, stuck some pockets on Derek's jacket and added a tuft to his hair, and I reshaped the soles of John's shoes to convert them from dress shoes to sneakers and sanded off his gloves (although I did those last 2 things to John after I took the photo below). And I think that's about it.



So guess what? It's finally painting time!
I'd like there to actually be some surprise to all this, so I probably won't show any of the painting process until they're done. Sit tight.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10: The Unveiling
roxybisquaint: (cameron damaged)
When last we met, there was news of Cameron having been damaged—melted in a pot of boiling water as I was hardening her freshly sculpted hair. A series of events led to this catastrophe. The plastic of her torso (which was a late 90s re-issue Baroness) was of a cheaper plastic than other Joe parts and apparently had less tolerance for heat. But I can't blame it all on the plastic. I had the flame up too high and left her in the water too long, causing her upper thighs to get a bit misshapen too. And making matters worse, the torso buckled outward, effectively attaching itself to the back of her hair. I tried, unsuccessfully, to save her head, the hair ended up breaking off in the process. So that left me basically starting from scratch on Cameron. Augh.

Fortunately, I had duplicate parts for her head, legs and abdomen. The arms had survived without incident, so all I needed was a new torso to get her reassembled. Instead of a Baroness torso, I had to go with a Scarlet one. It works better really and the only reason I didn't use it originally is because, well, it's a 1982 Scarlet piece! But Cameron was in need, so Scarlet went to the parts pile. After getting rid of the grenade on the chest, smoothing out some texture on the shoulder and filling in a seam across the chest, the new torso was ready. I also got rid of the watch on her wrist (cyborgs don't wear watches - Cameron's got an accurate internal clock).



For some reason, sculpting the hair this time was a lot harder. I just couldn't seem to get it on there right and I think I started over about a dozen times. But I eventually got it the way I wanted it and it was time to get her back into the water. I was much more careful, keeping the heat down lower and gently removing her head from the body before cooking (I wasn't taking any chances—this was the last good female torso I had for her). It went fine and Cameron's hair hardened without incident.



I'd forgotten that I still had to remove pouches off the sides of the legs again (just like last time), so I took care of that and then went to work on the final shaping of her hair. Just like with Sarah, Cameron's hair was somewhat big on top. With my trusty Dremel in hand, I reduced it down and did some shaping, smoothing and detailing. Aside from it being a little longer than I wanted (I was afraid I'd break it if I tried to shorten it), I'm pleased with the results.



Now because I'm going to make a second head for John (one with short hair, one with long hair), I'm still not ready to start painting. I'd also like to do a little more work on Derek's jacket and possibly his hair. But I'll be done with sculpting today regardless. Unfortunately, I've got a busy week coming up so I don't know how much time I'll actually have to devote to this for the next several days. I'll be so sad if I can't start painting, though. Something tells me I'll work it in somehow. It think these figures are going to turn out really good. I'm excited.

Oh yeah - I started thinking about accessories! Maybe an AR15 and a handgun for Sarah, a block of C4 and a handgun for Derek, medical bag for Charley, handgun for Ellison. I guess Cameron and Cromartie don't need accessories do they? And what about John? Maybe a laptop and a texbook (or backpack)? Suggestions welcome.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10: The Unveiling
roxybisquaint: (sarah happy)
<< As you can see, I couldn't be happier about how well Sarah's hair turned out. Seriously. I'm proud. And yeah, I know I was all about doing Cameron's hair, but when it came time to start sculpting, I choked. Since Sarah's hair is a big ol' mess, I figured it'd be best to start with hers in case things didn't go so well. But they did. It wasn't perfect by any means, but I did some obsessive Dremeling and damn, I think it's good. Hope you guys think so too. Keep in mind I had to make the bottom flare out a bit to I could get the head into the body and also allow it some movement. And of course there's really no consistent style to Sarah's hair to go by. It's different in every scene of every episode!

You may recall (I think I mentioned before) that this head had kind of a shelf on the forehead above the eyebrows to help hold the original hair piece. If I didn't get rid of that, Sarah would have looked like Frankenstein's monster. I tried sanding it down, but it was too close to the eyebrows to make any headway. I filled it with Sculpey instead and that worked quite well. So I had a nice smooth head to start with and didn't need to worry about covering any more of her forehead than what I wanted. Next, I went to town on the hair, piecing it in in sections and then boiled it to harden the Sculpey.



I know, boiling it seems weird, but it's a common method for doing this. Technically, you're supposed to bake it in an oven, but when you have it molded onto a plastic action figure, you'd melt the figure. Boiling is an alternate method. You can still melt a figure, though - I did that with Cameron tonight. Yeah, melted her torso, which is why she's not ready. There's work to be done and I'll explain that story when she is ready. In the meantime, I'm sleeping with a loaded Glock under my pillow. I think the damage has messed up her programming and she's reverted back to "KILL ROXY" mode. Maybe action figure John can fix her for me ;)

Anyway... Once Sarah's hair was fully hardened and dry, I did a lot of work Dremeling and sanding as usual (I'm never satisfied). I thought the hair was kind of big, so I took the overall size of it down and then had to add a lot of detail back in that I lost when sanding. But as I said in the beginning, I'm very pleased with the end result.



Aside from hair work, I also had a few other sculpting tidbits to deal with. Previously, I had Sarah in pushed up sleeves to be her brown leather jacket (from Queen's Gambit), but now it's going to be a black leather jacket. And that meant new arms with full sleeves. One of the arms I needed had a broken thumb, though (if you know Joes, you know that's a common problem). Anyway, I fixed it with some Sculpey. Sarah also had a knife on her boot that I hadn't yet gotten rid of yet. I wanted these boots because they have a knife holster on them like her mission boots, but since she doesn't actually carry a knife in it, the visible handle had to go. After grinding it off, I reshaped a small section of the leg.



And there you have it. Sarah can now join Ellison, John, Derek and Cromartie in the ready-to-paint pile. Charley is almost ready. I just need to sculpt a tiny EMT badge onto his shirt. Cameron's hair is ready for final shaping, but I have to replace her torso now and that means more work. The backup torso for her has a grenade on it that I'll need to grind off. Grrrrrr. Neverending process, it seems. I just want to freaking paint!!!! Soon.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10: The Unveiling
roxybisquaint: (sarah hope)
Converting Charley's and John's heads from older style to newer style (to fit the toros I'd chosen for them) was a rather annoying process. It was the reverse of what I had to do to Sarah's head. This time I had to build up the bases of the necks.

My first attempt, using Sculpey, wasn't successful. That stuff didn't harden enough to my liking, so I chipped it all off and got some Super Sculpey instead. I'm still not entirely pleased with the results, but it had nothing to do with the modeling clay. That stuff worked great. I'd hoped it would be as simple as adding a ball of Sculpey to the bottoms of the necks and sanding, but I had to deal with some unexpected issues. In addition to needing the shape of the neck bases altered, their necks also needed to be shortened and thinned. It became an ordeal. Fortunately, the unattractive results are almost completely hidden inside the bodies and paint will mask the rest.




After shortening and thinning their necks with the Dremel, I added Super Sculpey, boiled the heads to harden it and then went to work grinding and sanding until they fit properly. Not only did I have to work the necks, but the insides of the torsos needed modifying too. I had to widen the neck holes and grind away some of the internal neck supports. In the end, I got those damn heads in there and they can move fairly freely so... mission accomplished. I'm glad to be able to move on.

Next up is hair. I played around with making hair for Cameron last night (just a trial run to get a feel for it) and I think it's going to work out well. I hope I can get the hair done this week so I can actually start painting this weekend. Which reminds me, I need to check the status of my paints - make sure I have all the colors I need and that none are dried out or too thick (haven't used them in about a year and a half).

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10: The Unveiling
roxybisquaint: (sarah flashlight)
In a feat of amazing skill and bravery, I took Dremel with cutting blade to Sarah's neck and was victorious in converting a newer style GI Joe neck to an older style one. *takes bow*

This was pretty freakin' tricky to do. I was worried I was going to slice straight through the neck. I didn't though, as you can see from the pictures below. Basically, what I had was this round ball neck base and I needed to sand it down to a tubular shape and then carve in a slot all the way around. Did I mention this was tricky? First thing I did was pry off the hair since it was going to be in the way. Next, I used a couple grinding stone attachments on the Dremel to get the tube shape and then thin the neck overall (it was fatter than the old style necks even without the ball on the end). And then it was time to make the slot. After marking a pencil line around the neck, I used the cutting blade on the Dremel and made lots and lots of slow passes around the neck. Once the slot was deep enough and wide enough all the way around, I did some finish sanding and fit the head in place. (BTW, the Dremel Stylus is an awesome tool).



I'm not putting the hair back on because I'm not sure yet if I'm going to use it or sculpt new hair myself. So for now, Sarah will remain bald. Unfortunately, removing the hair revealed a ridge above the eyebrows that helped hold the hair in place. I can't sand it down without also sanding away the eyebrows, so I'll just have to contend with it and hope that if I do make new hair, I can mostly hide that ridge.

I've got everyone's clothing all worked out in my head except for Sarah, so opinions are welcome. It's really just color I'm undecided on. Brown leather jacket or black? Brown boots or black? Black jeans or khaki cargo pants? No visible pockets, though, so I'm thinking I'll make the pants be jeans. So, black jeans? Any color thoughts for the button-up shirt?

Next, I have to do all my sculpting, which includes making ball shaped bottoms for John and Charley's necks (reverse issue from Sarah's neck - they need to go from old style neck to newer style neck) and making hair for the chicks. I really really just want to start painting. I'm so impatient.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10: The Unveiling
roxybisquaint: (talking moose)
I've finished most of the grunt work on the figures now. There were, as expected, some parts changes along the way. Ellison got new arms because I liked the rolled-up sleeves look. Cameron also got new arms (I was going to have to paint the others flesh colored, now it'll be easier). I swapped John and Derek's abdomens because John's belt is more noticeable. Sarah got new legs because I liked the look of these boots better. Cromartie got new legs and a new abdomen because I'm going for his season finale "man in black" look. These legs had cowboy boots and this abdomen had a big belt buckle with a bull on it (yeah, I'm going to take a few liberties in punching up the western look).

So I think I'm satisfied now with my parts choices:


You're probably thinking "uh, what's different from last time?" Well let me tell you... lots and lots of power sanding, Dremeling and hand sanding. I removed some unwanted guns, pockets, pouches, etc. and reshaped a few parts. If you're curious about the process, I have photos of the work here.

Now I have to deal with the 3 heads that don't fit right. Sarah's neck will require some Dremeling and sanding and John and Charley's necks need some bulk added to them in order to fit their torsos. After that, it'll be hair time for Cameron (and maybe Sarah). And then I get to start bringing them to life with paint.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10: The Unveiling
roxybisquaint: (sarah kidding me)
Being a former seller and collector of action figures, I've decided to make a set of custom Sarah Connor Chronicles action figures from 3 3/4" GI Joes. Joes have always been my favorite and they're the easiest to customize since you can take them all apart and swap pieces around (not to mention I have lots of them). But as great as Joes are, there are still some obstacles. Not all pieces are interchangeable and there aren't many female parts to work with. I think it's going to be a fun challenge, though.

I'm making a set of 7 figures: Sarah, John, Cameron, Derek, Ellison, Charley, Cromartie

The huge task of sifting through hundreds of parts to select what I need is now done. Well, never say done until you actually start painting, but I think I'm done. Anyway, here's what I've assembled. Yeah, I know they don't look like much, but you'll just have to trust that I have a vision. And there's plenty more work to be done before these figures will be ready for painting.

Right now, I have issues with heads not fitting torsos on a few figures, which is a problem of mixing parts from the first 2 years of Joes with others (they changed the necks). I'll fix that by adding polymer clay to the base of John's and Charley's necks, and by grinding away some of Sarah's neck. You might also notice Cameron basically has no hair. I'll have to mold that (and if it works well, I might do Sarah's too since I'm not all that thrilled with what I've got now). I also need to cut/grind off some stuff from various parts.

As awesome as GI Joes are for customizing, the pitfall is that the body parts are generally loaded with weapons and gadgets that would look stupid for the characters. That's why Ellison, Charley and Cromartie ended up with the exact same lower bodies (choices are even more limited when you want shoes instead of boots and those particular legs only fit that particular abdomen) and why Derek and John have the same thighs and Sarah and Cameron have the same thighs.

So there it is - the early stages of making TSCC custom action figures. I've got Dremeling, sculpting and sanding to do next. And no doubt, I'll end up changing some parts during that process. Then I'll finally get to paint! In the end, they'll all look quite different than this:



So how did this come about? Well it was all due to [livejournal.com profile] cisaac's Ellison drabble "Want". In it, he has the line "When he was fifteen, he wanted to be a soldier. He wanted to drive a tank like his brother did. He wanted to be a hero and salute the flag. He would be G.I. Joe. Maybe be like that Roadblock character." And if you read the comments in that post, you'll see how that line snowballed into me doing this ;)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10: The Unveiling

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Roxy Bisquaint

March 2011

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