Friday, April 30, 2010

LOST Muppet


It's no secret I am a huge, HUGE fan of LOST. It comes to an end next month, and I am very bummed about it. There simply isn't anything as good on television in my opinion as this show.

A couple of days ago a buddy pointed me in the direction of this photo.


Now, I'm absolutely sure it reveals nothing of consequence about the plot of the last episodes, because the producers and main writers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, shown in the photo, don't do ANYTHING without a purpose to it. It's their nature.

Cool pic though, huh?

Well, how about this? Here's an isolated area of the pic.


Imagine my complete glee to see an action figure that I actually designed and art directed through production sitting on their desk amongst the clutter. Yes it's Beaker, the action figure that was released with the Muppet Labs Playset, a companion piece to the very first series of Muppet figures we released at Palisades Toys.


Seeing that figure in there raised my mood level a solid 4.815162342 points. I'll take that.

OUT...


Thursday, April 29, 2010

1988


A really interesting article on Autism's alarming rise since 1988. Many thanks to my soul sister Sinead for posting this in her Facebook Status Update. It is a very interesting article.

Read it at your leisure, but this is what struck me and resonated with me for some reason.

We require a Manhattan-Project style operation spearheaded by the Federal government, and we needed it ten years ago. This crisis is too serious to ignore in mild complacency any longer.

Think about what that means. Essentially...the Autism rate and its dramatic increases each year is an epidemic. And the reference to The Manhattan Project is much like talking about landing on the moon. If we as a nation devote a huge amount of energy and resources to something, we are usually going to achieve amazing things.


The issue is we don't do that when it comes to most diseases/disorders. We nibble at a lot of things, we don't take voracious bites out of any ONE thing. That, and the private sector is much less interested in curing disease and much more interested in promoting getting your dick hard or growing your hair back or steering many people who actually are NOT clinically depressed into trying way too many medications.

Anyway, rant over. And the article isn't a rant, it is actually a very informative look at trends and dates and possible environmental factors leading to the rise in Autism.

Thanks Sinead for the pointer. It certainly got me to thinking...

OUT...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Club


Man the weather is nice outside today. What the hell am I doing indoors? I gotta get out there and mow the lawn, I just need to wait until the sun gets into the front yard completely and dries the dew. Shouldn't be too much longer.

You should take a look at Ellen's blog today. She writes a great one called To The Max!, or 'Love That Max!'. It was 'To The Max!' and it still shows up that way in my subscription but the photo and title say 'Love That Max!'. I must somehow convince her that 'To The Max!' is the most genius title ever and she should keep it.


Anyhoo...she gave me a nod, and I appreciate it, and wanted to return the favor. And her post today is very uplifting, very inspiring. They usually are, but she talks about her journey over the years in an attempt to explain what I had been wondering...How are you so upbeat and positive as a parent of a child with Special Circumstances?

I wonder that about many of the folks who write their blogs so fluidly and so filled with hope, joy and faith. I could rattle them off, but just look to your right. They are all there, and they all have something beautiful and insightful and unique to offer. Often, any one of those parents, and others, will write something that will point me in a new direction or give me something very different to think about.

And think I do, all day long, as I spend most of my conscious hours alone in the house. And most of the time? Honestly? Not upbeat. Not happy. Not hopeful. Not smiling.

But in a way, I chalk much of it up to clutter. Even BEFORE Bennett's diagnosis of Autism, even before the surgery, even before the brain tumor, even before the Infantile Spasms of the very first seizure that we had no clue about whatsoever...I had issues to overcome. So I wasn't entering the situation with a clean bill of mental health. Like a garage that hasn't been cleaned out in years, a lot of debris had settled in my mind and my head was, well, still is, in need of a good yard sale.


And Jen knows this. Which is, I suppose, why she hasn't divorced my ass yet. The statistic for divorce among married couples with a Special Circumstances child is something like 80-90%. I learned that only recently, and it was shocking, but then of course it wasn't. Make sense? That's OK, it doesn't to me either.

What is my point here? I gotta have one right? I guess my point is that I certainly owe a debt of gratitude to the bloggers that I follow, and those I have yet to discover. Their honesty, the willingness of them to share their experiences, has probably been the one thing keeping me from tipping over the edge.

Because it reminds me that we are not alone in this, that others have been there/done that and experienced a lot of the same feelings and fears as we have. It's comforting. It's needed. And I am not sure what I would have done in this situation without them.


We are all part of a very unique group of people, just like our children are. We exist inside a clubhouse that anyone who is not living there can never truly understand. And that's OK that those people outside the club don't really know what it's like. They simply are not capable of knowing.

It's not their fault, so I don't hold it against them. Because I know that I would not have been capable in January 2009 of understanding what it was like for anybody in the club.

That's just how it is.

So go read some other blogs listed on the right side of this blog if you ever get the chance and don't already. Great people, with some great things to say. You'll be glad you did, ESPECIALLY if you are NOT a member of the club...because you have an chance to get as close to understanding the mindset of the membership as you are ever gonna get without having to live with the daily pain of it.

It's an opportunity. Take advantage.

OUT...


Monday, April 26, 2010

Get Things Started...Again


I've spent a lot of time both here at at my old Creatus Maximus blog sharing the past experiences I had and talking about the old toys and collectibles I had a hand in making while working for ReSaurus and Palisades Toys. That's how I am...sentimental. But also, I have a sincere appreciation for those days because as of yet nothing has come close to matching those two experiences in my career.

Got close last year while working with Mike Horn, former Prez of Palisades Toys, but we weren't able to get back to where we once belonged with it before some problems with the company that funded MVP forced Mike to fly solo on it for a while and for me to go back into looking for work.

Today's Blogzilly was supposed to be all about Bennett. It was supposed to be about some startling discoveries I made and suspicions I confirmed over the weekend while cataloging and labeling some Home Digital Video Discs. It's some very fascinating and heartbreaking stuff.

And I will get to it. I'll bet you can't wait.

But hey...something came up that allows me to dodge that particular subject at least for another day. A friend on the dying message board I still keep active pointed me in the direction of a 'retrospective' of a line of toys that I sank my teeth into during my time working for Palisades Toys. This line of action figures, based on the characters from The Muppet Show and the Muppet films, still resonates with a lot of people apparently.


Some of those people, who are part of the website Pop Culture Network, host a web show called 'That New Toy Smell' and decided to dedicate one of their episodes to a little retro-reviewing. Recently they put together a retrospective look at the figures and playsets from the Palisades Muppets line, and I thought I would link you to it.

The episode is in four parts. However...we don't get to the actual introduction to Palisades until the VERY end of Part 1. Part 2 is the main 'feature' so to speak, and Part 3 is sort of a wrap-up discussion. Part 4 is essentially dealing with other elements of their show.

*EDIT: I tried to embed the videos, but they won't fit no matter which configuration I tried. So I'm just gonna have links.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

While not entirely accurate in some of the information, for the most part it is a good overview. For example, Palisades did not start in 2002. It started many years prior than that. Also, the Muppet Labs came out first and then the Electric Mayhem second. Shit like that. And the line was, in fact, not carried by very many stores...it just seemed that way to these guys probably because they were at the stores THEY went to, but not enough other stores took it to sustain the numbers. The line was struggling to be a break-even proposition all the time, and by the end it was, for those last few series and figures.

And ToysRUS only carried the first and second waves, poorly placed the figures and didn't take anything else. Target only took Series 4 and 5, but LONG after they actually debuted at specialty shops. People almost didn't care by then. I also believe they went against Palisades suggestions and over-ordered on the playsets and MEGA figures, thus prompting them to have poorer sell-through, resulting in them ceasing to carry the line.

But if there is one thing you can take away from this retrospective it is this...they talk about the details, the little things, the love they have for those aspects of the line. It was like that for us, we loved to cover all the details, and what you see is just a result of people working on something they really loved and wanted to do.

And you can't forget Palisades 13th Man. The fans, who volunteered their time and their knowledge and their criticism, for no compensation other than some free figs, was an IMMEASURABLE resource. On ALL the lines. And it still shocks me to this day that more companies do not get more fans involved in their lines. It is such a staggering resource of knowledge that is largely un-tapped.

Anyway, thought you might get a kick out of the retrospective, especially those of you who have never seen any of those figures. In fact, on their table there where they have all the stuff laid out? That is about 30% of the entire line of figures. You should see pics of the entire collection in one location.

Mind-blowing.

OUT...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Swiper No Swipee?


Sometimes, other people's blogs that I read are just better than anything I am going to be able to write on any given day. In those instances I am not above stealing their material and either posting it here or linking to it.

In this case, I am gonna do both. I got this from the blog Better Than Normal, a blog written by one of my Cyber-Sisters Melanie. She writes about her son, Daniel, and has a very nice Welcome Message that makes me think I need to come up with something like that for my blog. It is a little dense and confusing and not easily processed for any newbie.

Much like me. But I digress yet again. Here is the piece of writing I wanted to steal from Melanie and post here. I edited it a bit. Of COURSE I can't NOT screw around with it. :)

I AM THE CHILD

I am the child who cannot talk.

You often pity me, I see it in your eyes. You wonder how much I am aware of -- I see that as well. I am aware of much -- whether you are happy or sad or fearful, patient or impatient, full of love and desire, or if you are just doing your duty by me.

I marvel at your frustration, knowing mine to be far greater, for I cannot express myself or my needs as you do.

You cannot conceive my isolation, so complete it is at times. I do not gift you with clever conversation, cute remarks to be laughed over and repeated.

I do not give you answers to your everyday questions, responses over my well-being, sharing my needs, or comments about the world about me. I do not give you rewards as defined by the world's standards -- great strides in development that you can credit yourself; I do not give you understanding as you know it.

What I give you is so much more valuable -- I give you instead opportunities.

Opportunities to discover the depth of your character, not mine; the depth of your love, your commitment, your patience, your abilities; the opportunity to explore your spirit more deeply than you imagined possible.

I drive you further than you would ever go on your own, working harder, seeking answers to your many questions with no answers.

I am the child who cannot walk.

The world seems to pass me by.

You see the longing in my eyes to get out of this chair, to run and play like other children. There is much you take for granted. I want the toys on the shelf, I need to go to the bathroom, oh I've dropped my fork again.

I am dependent on you in these ways.

My gift to you is to make you more aware of your great fortune, your healthy back and legs, your ability to do for yourself. Sometimes people appear not to notice me; I always notice them. I feel not so much envy as desire, desire to stand upright, to put one foot in front of the other, to be independent.

I give you awareness.

I am the child who is mentally impaired.

I don't learn easily, if you judge me by the world's measuring stick, what I do know is infinite joy in simple things.

I am not burdened as you are with the strife and conflicts of a more complicated life. My gift to you is to grant you the freedom to enjoy things as a child, to teach you how much your arms around me mean, to give you love.

I give you the gift of simplicity.

I am the disabled child.

I am your teacher.

If you allow me, I will teach you what is really important in life. I will give you and teach you unconditional love. I gift you with my innocent trust, my dependency upon you.

I teach you about how precious this life is and about not taking things for granted.

I teach you about forgetting your own needs and desires and dreams. I teach you giving.

Most of all I teach you hope and faith.

- Author Unknown -

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Re-Examining the Skull


My favorite movie trilogy of all time?

No brainer. The Star Wars Original Trilogy.

If I had but one Trilogy to take with me to a desert island, it would be that. Hopefully I would have a chance to watch it, even though I might have to pause it every 108 minutes to press the button and keep the world from ending. But I digress...

What's my second favorite Trilogy of all time? The Indiana Jones Trilogy. Funny that George Lucas is responsible for 6 of my all-time favorite movie-going experiences.

Though, now that I think about it, after the release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull two years ago, I'm not sure that (since there probably won't be a 5th and 6th installment) you can call it The Indiana Jones Trilogy anymore.


You'd have to call it The Indiana Jones Quadrilogy I suppose.

That's if...IF...you even accept KOTCS as a legitimate installment and not some awful attempt to cash in on the character of Indy while Harrison Ford was still alive. Many people do not accept the film. Many people despise the film. I was one of those people.

By the way...KOTCS is shorthand for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, like how we in Geektown refer to Raiders of the Lost Ark as ROTLA or Planet of the Apes as POTA and so on. We also, in Geektown, do not add the 'Indiana Jones and the' to the front of Raiders of the Lost Ark, no matter how many times we see the changed name in print. We also don't call Star Wars by the name Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. We call it Star Wars. Or 'the original Star Wars'. Or 'the first one'.


Are you taking notes? And hug a geek today. We need it.

But back to KOTCS. When I walked out the theater after seeing it with my wife I was about as pissed off and fired up as she has EVER seen me after a film. I could not stop talking about what a piece of shit it was, and how much I hated George Lucas for butt-fucking my childhood memories for a second time.

I was livid. I was furious. I swore I would never, EVER, own a copy of it.

This coming from a guy who, as one of my good friends would tell you while laughing at me about this character trait (as he likes to do about all my quirky traits), pretty much likes any movie I ever see. Even ones that people would say 'WTF!?!' to.


I enjoyed The Godfather: Part III and just pretend Michael's daughter is suffering from a form of Asperger's Disorder and then the acting of Sophia Coppola is just fine with me. I thought The Matrix: Reloaded was the best of the series. I thought Alien 3 was terrific and I thought Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was just as good as Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

But man oh man...driving home from KOTCS I was just insane over how much I hated it.

Fast forward to Fall 2009.


I'd had a copy of LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues for the X-Box 360 for a LONG time. I got it when it first came out, played it five minutes, and then set it down for a number of reasons. I had too much going on with Bennett at the time, I was super busy with MVP work and I wasn't thrilled with the fact that most of the game was centered on KOTCS.

Fast forward again, to a couple of weeks ago. Much to my horror, I was up shit creek without a new game to play. I use my X-Box 360 these days as my therapist. I immerse myself in that while hiding from certain realities of my life at this particular moment. It's a phase. Hopefully.

I had played through Bioshock 2 and Batman: Arkham Asylum and didn't have any new games or a lot of extra cash to go pick up anything brand new. So I went to my little game binder looking for a game I hadn't played in a while or something and saw LEGO Indy 2. I figure...what the fuck, might as well PLAY the game since I had nothing else to play.


After a while, I began to really enjoy it, the gameplay differences, which when I first gave it a try had me a bit irked, were actually real improvements in the gameplay and so I barreled through the game and got super into it. But playing through the KOTCS segments was a little confusing, simply because I really did not remember much about KOTCS.

About a week ago, I found a used copy of KOTCS on eBay and ordered it. Got it for .99 cents, how could I possibly lose? I was morbidly curious. Could I watch the film a second time, at least so that I could understand the LEGO stuff a bit better now that I was playing through the game? After this amount of time had passed, would I have a better experience?


I certainly have not had a better experience with Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. The more time goes by, the more I see it, the worse I think it gets. Especially after spending some time watching the greatest movie review of all time about it, which pretty much summed up everything I ever thought about the film.

If you ever have some time to kill, I highly recommend watching all the parts of that review. It is HYSTERICAL but also very, very insightful. But...it takes some time. Each segment, and there are 7, is around ten minutes, which makes for over an hour, so maybe you watch one part per day? But trust me...once you get going you will not want to stop.

So I put KOTCS in and start watching it. Long story short? (Too late!) I really liked it. Is it the best Indy film in the series? No. Is it the worst? Yes, but in a trilogy of films where all of the films are good and it's 20 years later, how can it NOT be?

But is it a worthy chapter in the saga of Henry Jones, Jr.? Absolutely.


I remember all the things that I, and my fellow nerd brethren, bitched about. The monkeys, the CGI, the aliens, the ants, the refrigerator, etc. None of that stuff bothered me anymore. At all. I still had a VERY difficult time looking at Marion Botoxwood...um, I mean Ravenwood, but hey...I just pretended that maybe the Joker was one of her ex-boyfriends and then I was cool with it.

But the best part of re-watching it this time was that, now that my anger had abated and my mind more open, I saw things that were fantastic about the film that I simply was in no position to see with my eyes as they were the first time I watched it.


The subtle changes in the Indy character that would come with age. The introduction of Indy by pulling him out of the trunk of a car was genius and sublime. Mutt William's character was actually very under-stated, and the first time I saw it I found him over the top. I found myself liking Mutt and appreciating his journey into worlds that actually frightened him, as hard as he tried to act as if he wasn't afraid of anything.

As for the Inter-dimensional Aliens? Why not? Are they any less believable than a 900-year old man living in a cave with no food protecting the cup of Jesus Christ? Is Indy surviving a nuclear blast in a lead-lined fridge any less believable than jumping out of an airplane with a rubber raft and surviving? Besides...it was worth it for the payoff of the silhouette of Indiana Jones, a character of pure fantasy, against the stark, gritty, gut-wrenching realism of that mushroom cloud.

Bottom line is all of the Indiana Jones films have moments of extreme un-believability. Trust me...anyone who has ever been punched square in the face knows what I mean when I say this. You simply don't get back up and start punching again...and again...and again...you get your bell rung like Indy did by the German boxer in ROTLA you end up as a Nazi prisoner.


Why else did Ben Burtt use the sound of a baseball bat hitting a pile of leather coats for all the punch sounds? Because he needed an over-the-top sound for the over-the-top fights. He even said, when preparing to do the sound work on ROTLA , that when he heard that Indiana Jones hat would never come off, he understood EXACTLY the type of film he would be creating sounds for.

Which reminds me of another brilliant thing about KOTCS. During the fist fight between Indiana Jones and Colonel Dovchenko amidst the anthills, Indiana Jones loses his hat. That's very significant and shows the age of the character. I think Spielberg was very deliberate with that action.


I could write a entire blog about Irina Spalko, the film's antagonist. Cate Blanchett created probably the second best Indiana Jones villain in the series, and I don't mean second to Rene Belloq either. See, I think Belloq was the WEAKEST villain of the series. He barely if ever has any face-to-face time with Indiana Jones in ROTLA. Yes, he was a great character, but he really wasn't the 'villain', not in the purest form of the word.

Indy was much more pre-occupied with fighting Time and the Nazi Quest for the Ark as a whole in the first film and Belloq was barely a threat. In the end it is the G-Man who dispatches Belloq and his cohorts to an eternity of damnation. Indy is just a bystander. (BTW...Mola Ram was the best of the Indy villains, from a pure 'villainy' perspective. Just my opinion, but it happens to be True.)


Spalko, on the other hand, is in the film a lot, with a great deal of one-on-one interaction with the aging archeologist. It is clear that the character, despite her Ukranian single-mindedness as far as duty to the Soviet Union, has a great deal of respect and appreciation for Indiana Jones, who he is and what he represents. She even, I think, in some ways was attracted to him. I think if there was more of an Elsa/Jones dynamic and THEN Marion shows up...well, talk about some good drama potential lost.

Anyway, I could go on and on, as I am prone to do, once again breaking all the rules of writing blogs. But suffice it to say, I am now a believer and happy to add the term Quadrilogyto my vocabulary.

Lessons learned?

1. Time heals lots of stuff.
2. Things aren't always what they appear to be.
3. Sometimes your first impression can be very, very wrong.
4. It's important to give anything, or anyone, a second chance.
5. It's still OK to love George Lucas.


And lets not forget another important lesson. LEGO games kick ass. In fact, they kick so much ass consider this fact. I have never in my life watched a Harry Potter film. And yet in June, when LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 comes out, I will be playing the game. Perhaps that might inspire me to give the films a chance. I hear they are pretty cool.

OUT...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Eddie Wires is Still My Personal Jesus


And most of the people who read this blog have NO idea who I am even talking about.

Well, a few years ago I worked for a company called Palisades Toys. Worked with Eddie for the first time there I think. I don't think I knew him in the ReSaurus days. Anyway, this is a guy who paints stuff for different companies in the Toy/Collectible Bidness like nobody else. His work is just outstanding.

If you feel like checking out his website, which he seriously needs to update, feel free to go to his website and marvel at all things Eddie.

If that doesn't float your boat, maybe this will. An old Palisades interview I did with him from back in the day. For one of our web features called The Daily Bit.


Why the sudden nostalgia for Eddie? We sort of re-connected this past year by working on MVP Collection stuff together, and it re-invigorated our relationship. So now we keep in better touch. The problem? Once we get on the phone with each other we're like two high school chicks...we talk for hours.

So we try to limit it.

Anyway, we got sucked into one of those marathons recently, and it got me thinking about the old days with Eddie and all the different projects we did together. So I dug this up...

Monday, November 17th, 2003
Inside the Painters Studio…

EDDIE WIRES

Note from Ken: I was gonna write up an introductory paragraph or two on Eddie, but in typical Wires fashion he saved me a ton of work by doing it himself. See, that is what makes me love Eddie…in every way he makes my job easy. After sending him whatever to be worked on, the truth is I forget about it, because I know that what he sends back is gonna be awesome. Always has been. The guy is simply that good.

So instead of me babbling on, let’s hear about Eddie in his own words…



I’ve been in the toy industry for 5 years and it’s been a long strange trip to get here.

Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be in the comic industry/ media entertainment industry. Some of my earliest memories are of lying on the floor with big stack of comics and reading them, or going to the movies with my family. Through High school and college (I wanted to be a teacher, but I hated sitting in class) that looked like the route I might pursue, but I got sucked into the bar and nightclub business as a profession. It is so hard to walk away from a job where you bring home hundreds of dollars in cash every night.

So on a professional level I only did illustration locally (in Atlanta, GA) and video and film production in my spare time. It just got to be soul destroying because if it was a big production a lot of studios brought in their own people anyway, and if it was local, you had 500 people fighting over the same nickel. And as far as actually sitting and drawing, I could never get myself to sit for any length of time, which is also a huge irony now.

My wife had a great job that transferred us all around the country for about 4 years, so I was constantly having to get new bar jobs every couple of months. With her working during the day, and me working at night, I delved back into my old hobby of building models (figures, tanks, planes, etc).

Being the incredibly lucky guy that I am, all of my chips just fell into the right slots once we reached Southern California. Now if I could just get that luck to transcend when I pick my lottery tickets.

Seriously though, I still have many days where I can’t believe I am doing what I am doing for a living. I still get excited every time FedEx comes to my door. If you were to tell me six years ago that this is where I would be at now, I would have told you to shut up and poured you another drink. It is unbelievable and amazing all at the same time.”

And now, on to the questions…

How in the name of all that is holy do you do the bulk amount of work that you do?
I am an insomniac work-aholic with an addictive tendency


Rumor has it that you collect 12-inch figures. What's the crown jewel of that collection? What item do you wish you had in the vaults but have as yet been unable to get?
The crown Jewel is Marvel Studios Punisher. He is one of my favorite comic characters, and I love the 12” military genre, and he lends himself perfectly to it. I actually have few of them all decked out in different gear and weapons. Plus I worked on him, so it makes it just that much sweeter.


As far as who is not in the collection, Toys McCoy Indiana Jones. I remember when he came out and I saw him in San Diego for like, $250 and I passed because I thought he was way marked up. I was sure I could find one cheaper. Then I actually found out about the whole limited run thing and now wish I had access to a time machine. There is one in a collectible shop a few blocks from my house, but the owner wants $1,000.00 for it. It’s been there for 3 years, and although I could write it off as R&D, I just can’t justify spending that much on a toy. That and my wife would kill me.

It's interesting that a guy who paints figures for a living would gravitate towards 12-inch figures, since the strength of a good 12-inch has so little do with paint. What draws you to them?
I think it is just the way the format lends itself to detailing and accuracy. The weapons have springs and working slides, and all of the pouches open, etc. I have this all-encompassing passion for world history, mainly dealing with the subject of war, and I think that helps feed my obsession. And to see all of the advancements of modern warfare technology reproduced in little pieces of 1/6 scale plastic makes it all that more enticing.


How did you get your start in this biz?
I am extremely lucky. I have a little bit of ability, but I keep ending up in the right place at the right time, and talking to the right people. There have been many people that I have met in this business from the beginning that really keep me inspired to keep doing the best I can on every project.


What single item captured the subtlety you provide with your brushes in the final product? Which one dropped the ball the hardest?
I think a lot of the (your) Muppet stuff shows the amount of layers of paint put into the prototypes.
The Lord of the Rings (from Toy Biz) has really hit the ground running. The level of detail they kept in the Fellowship assortments was amazing, but it is like night and day compared to the Return of the King assortments.


I can’t really remember any specifics on bad product. A lot of it was with smaller companies in the beginning of my career that had to cut tons of corners just to get the product to market. Unfortunately, paint apps are the first things to get cut.

Let's hear about your work...tell us some of the cooler items that you worked on that we might not know about.
The stuff I’ve worked on that is cool has come out in stores. Some of the coolest stuff that hasn’t mostly belongs to Lord of the Rings, and contractually, I can’t talk about it. There was a Resident Evil model kit from Toy Biz that got cancelled, but for the most part it is all out there, or in some stage of production.


I heard that you don't use an airbrush very often. How are you able to maintain such a smooth and non-brushy look without it?
It has taken me a few years to find a paint I like. I’ve done so much experimenting with paints and brushes, etc. But, I work with the stuff I like up to 16 hours a day sometimes, so I am starting to get the feel for all of its properties and what it can do. I try just to use the airbrush only for shading and highlights, but lately, I have found that if it is a big area, I can actually spray my favorite product. But that’s more for saving time than anything else.


Who would win in a fight, Minnie Mouse or Minnie Driver?
It would depend on who got their bikini top torn off first.


What final product that you did not work on blows your mind when it comes to paint application?
A lot of the McFarlane Sports Picks blow my mind. I can’t get over how real some of them look. If I were into sports I would definitely be collecting that line. I also like the new trend in the high-end 12” market where they are adding weathering to the gear and uniforms in the final product. It saves me not having to do it. The stuff Sideshow puts out is amazing. I mean, I could go on and on about how much nice stuff there is out there, and I think a lot of companies are using that approach to keep the paint applications in. It makes for a much nicer finished product.


What is your favorite How-To Book?
I actually have two: “How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way” and “How to Talk Dirty and Influence People”


You and I share an intense like of movie music and we both use it often for inspiration while working. What is it about that kind of music that makes it so prominent in the studio?
I think it relegates us to fond memories. Movies and music evoke great emotions, and I think when our subconscious is satisfied and happy reliving the scenes from these movies, our conscious mind has an easier time concentrating on the task at hand. I find that I am very productive when I have epic soundtrack scores playing in the CD player (LotR, Conan, Gladiator, etc), and I think it is because we enjoy those movies so much, our subconscious can’t help but smile.


What is your favorite breakfast food?
Quaker OH’s.


You are, for one day, put in charge of the factory production line responsible for painting mass-produced figures. What do you tell them in order to try to get them to do a better job overall on mass-produced items?
Work faster to make me more money or I’ll ki...no seriously, I guess it would be something like, “More wipes. Drybrush, drybrush, drybrush. Money is no object here.”


What is the best model kit you have every painted?
I did a halfway decent Damaged T2 a few years ago. It was one of my first portfolio pieces before I was a working professional. I don’t have the piece anymore, but I use it on my website, which desperately needs an update, on the under construction pages. I actually bought a Soryamma Amazon Kit that I am just dying to get cracking on.


What is your favorite word?
Okay. Or some derivative of “Yes”.


What is your least favorite word?
No


What turns you on?
My wife


What turns you off?
The Internet. All of the angry people with all of the anonymous venom spitting and flaming and product bashing. Just because you’re entitled to your opinion doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone wants to hear it. And 99% of these people with nothing better to do wouldn’t say 2 words if they were faced with the same topic in a face-to-face setting. The Internet is a breeding ground for the false courage of the crazy brave. And nobody is creative in their critiquing. It’s always “that sucks” or “I would...” or “why didn’t...”


What sound do you love?
My Lesbian Cat suckling herself in the middle of the night. It’s crazy.


What sound do you hate?
Same as above.


What is your favorite curse word?
I’m sure it is the F-word or some derivative thereof, but just to keep it interesting I will say “Cockamamie”


What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
Professional DVD watcher. Here’s some DVDs. Watch them. Here’s a check.


What profession would you not like to participate in?
I was a pursuant of the custodial arts when I was younger, so I guess I would not really like to go back into that profession again.


If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
“Well, clerical error or not, if your name is in the book, you can come in.”



Cool huh? Damn how time flies. Eddie lives in Georgia now. At the time of this writing he was hip deep in Marvel Legends Toy Biz stuff and living in LA. Now he is in Georgia working on other kinds of products.

But he still loves Zombies.

And that, in the end, is the most important thing.

Enjoy these pics that Eddie sent in with that old Daily Bit and then I’m outta here.





Monday, April 19, 2010

Where is Your U-Zone?


Do you have a place that you go to sort of get away from people in your immediate surroundings? Some folks have gardens, dens, giant bathrooms, offices, hell I know one guy who turned his garage into sort of a Man Cave. TV in there and everything. No A/C or heat, but I don't think that matters when you need the decompression time.

It's 5:35PM, on a Monday afternoon. I have the feeling things are going to be rough again with Bennett tonight like they were yesterday. Molar City. Pain. Resulting in screeching, throwing, slapping, biting and a generally unpleasant disposition.

My solution?

Retreat to the basement. What I like to call the Fortress of Sold-it-tude. It really isn't a place for fun, it's all about work. I have stuff to count, stuff to wrap, stuff to ship, stuff to photograph and stuff to go through, and this is where I go when I need to have a zone just for me. Hell I spend most of the day down here anyway.


Damn...having the laptop this close to the wireless router the Internet is super speedy. I'm probably losing sperm the longer I'm down here, though. I hate all this stuff we know nothing about floating in the air.

But here, in this homage to capitalism, I am usually left all alone. No comfortable chairs, no frills really. Carter comes down occasionally to look at some of the toys, but the No-Touch-Under-Pain-Of-Death rule applies, and he gets bored fast.

So here I stand (no desk), listening to the sounds of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom on my iPod Speaker Dock. Nice. Kick Mola Rom's ass, Indy! He betrayed Shiva!!!


Where's your U-Zone? Where do you go and what do you do when you need a few minutes to an hour to just be alone without the pressure of the world kicking you in the balls or slapping you in the face?

Lemme hear about it...


Friday, April 16, 2010

Stuff I Want Back


As you may or may not know, one of the things I do to stay afloat in these lean times other than some occasional freelance work (got a gig right now that is awesome...I'm totally freaking out over it), is sell stuff on the Internet.

You see, I've been a collector of toys, action figures, statues and the like for as long as I can remember, though never quite as much as after I got out of graduate school. Then I went berserk. I used to have rooms and rooms of the stuff, as you can see in this blog I wrote last October.

The philosophy about collecting nowadays is as true this morning as it was the last time I wrote about it. I purchase nothing unless I believe it will increase in value and I have to be able to, if necessary, let it go if I have to when times are tough.

Reason I thought about this today is because this week I spent a lot of time photographing my Kubrick collection. Not the Kubrick figures I sometimes buy to re-sell, I'm talking about my pride and joy collection. The ones all bagged and in a bin down in the basement marked 'KUBRICK COLLECTION: NOT FOR SALE'.


Well, if necessary, they will go on the auction block as well, and though I am far, far from that place right now, I had some time and thought it would be good to get a lot of them photographed and stored in my computer.

So this got me to thinking...what have I let go of in the past five years that I really, truly, wish I didn't have to? What are those things that I would REALLY try to get back if I ever ended up in a situation where I had the means? And so...a new segment, 'The Stuff I Want Back', is born.

And this one today is a no-brainer. The original Kenner Star Wars Death Star Playset. Here is a description from a website called Star Wars: The Power of Collecting - The Archive Database, one of many websites devoted to all things Star Wars Merchandise.


The first and greatest of Kenner's Star Wars playsets, the Death Star Space Station was any kid's dream. It was a full 20 inches tall, with four floors on which one could recreate a whole range of exciting Star Wars scenes. It had a really cool looking gun mount on its top level, a retractable bridge in its middle portion, even a working trash compactor component, which, of course, was located in its inner depths. But best of all was the Dianoga, a creature so great that multiple mini-series should be filmed about its life dwelling within the murky depths of the trash compactor. In the film, kids only got to see its single beady eye, peeking up out of the trash at Luke and his counterparts. But Kenner took us one step further. Once you saw their toy version of the thing, you realized that not only did it possess a single eye extending upwards on a periscope-like neck, it had a freakin' mouth in its chest. Cool, huh? Well, ok, the thing was ridiculous. But ridiculous is cool.

The Death Star has always been popular with collectors. However, piecing together a loose example can be quite a challenge, as several of its parts are small and easily lost. The plastic "rope," which hung over the gap spanned by the bridge, is particularly hard to locate. The set also came with blocks of foam, which kids were supposed to cut up into mock "trash" for the compactor, as well as two flimsy cardboard inserts, intended to represent either the inner walls of the space station or its detailed exterior, depending on which of their sides you looked at.

In unused, packaged condition, the toy is downright rare, and the values of examples in this state can extend into the area of four figures.


I loved mine. LOVED it. If it had been a woman I'd have done it. I protected it, I nurtured it, I treated it with the respect it so richly deserved. They simply do not make playsets this cool for Star Wars these days. But one day, there was a need, and I let it go. Drink in the photos I took of one of the few surviving toys from my childhood.








Would I have liked to have given this to one of my boys? Well, yeah. But shit happens, and like I've said, it's just a thing...expendable. I know that the month I sold this we really needed the scratch, and you certainly can't beat that.

OUT...


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Just Me and The Kid


This week is Spring Break for a lot of folks. Although it varies from state to state, place to place, this is that time of year when schools have that week off for the kids to go do...whatever kids do these days (I'm so freakin' grateful I don't have daughters). I know when I was a kid I never, not one time, actually went to some far-off location for Spring Break. Nor did I ever see boobies.

But then again, I was a fuggin' geek. What would I have done at one of these shin-digs? Probably not a whole lot.

Anyway, it's Spring Break at Bennett's school as well, since it actually works like a real school. Does that mean he will be out all summer though? No...they have a summer program for those deemed 'Super Needy'.

Bennett's been deemed.


Mon-Tue and Thu-Fri the grandparents on my wife's side have stepped in to be the Bennett Caregiver of the Day. But they were busy today, so I get the duty. Hee hee...he said 'duty'. Heh heh.

So far this morning within the first ten minutes he scratched my face and broke my glasses and I've had to use my back-up pair of sunglasses until I can find my old clear pair. It's mighty dark in here. I'll have to take them to the shop tomorrow to be repaired. That blows.


Other than that, it's been fairly uneventful as far as him being out of control. We've actually had a little fun together thus far.

I mention these little new things from time to time that he does. But I like to call them Wolf Nuggets. Why? Because, as always, yes it's great, but never, EVER, forget the words of Winston Wolf.

Anyway...he can now 'High Five'. Now granted, I don't generally 'High Five' anybody. Not even at sporting events. I guess I have intimacy issues. But the kids love it, and now, if I say 'High Five' to the B-Man, he will run over and slap my hand and await praise and 'yays'.


That's pretty cool. And although I taught my dog to do that too, it still is something nice to see in The Kid. Reminds me. I miss Parker. So here's a pic (that's Jen's sister with him). He's living out the rest of his days in Colorado with a cousin. We had to let him go when Carter was born because he would get so excited he would trample all over Carter in his excitement, even knocking him down stairs. Not his fault, but he had to go cause we weren't sure WHAT was gonna happen.


Maybe it's time to get a new beast for the house. I sure do miss having one. And although these days I look a little beastly, I don't count as a family pet.

Anyway, back to the B-Man.

OUT...