Of Course I Know Him…

Sideshow recently shipped a diptych of Obi-wan Kenobi collectibles, which draw a contrasting connection across decades of his life.   And because I’m incorrigible, I snagged them both.

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The Padawan Obi-wan Kenobi Sixth-scale Figure is a textbook illustration of Kenobi at the height of his youthful idealism.  Still beholden to his master, Qui-gon Jinn, this manifestation of Obi-wan is impassioned, energetic and enthusiastic.  When Yoda describes young Luke Skywalker as “reckless,” the ghost of Kenobi replies, “Was I any different when you taught me?”  This is the time in Kenobi’s life to which he referred in that iconic scene.  It was a time before he met the boy who would become his student.  Before that student became Kenobi’s equal and opposite – Darth Vader, the fallen Jedi who would betray everything in which Obi-wan believed.

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The Star Wars Mythos Obi-wan Kenobi: Desert Nomad statue, with aged Ewan McGregor portrait.

The second piece I’ve collected draws a nebulous connection to the younger Kenobi.  With its variety of display options – including an aged portrait of Ewan McGregor and a reverse-aged sculpt of Sir Alec Guinness – Sideshow’s Mythos Obi-wan Kenobi: Desert Nomad Statue paints a vivid picture of Kenobi’s exile in the Jundland Wastes of Tatooine.  Doggedly striding across that windswept desert world and burdened with the physical manifestations of his past, Kenobi stands resolute in his exile, accepting of his fate and determined to protect the offspring of his former friend from discovery.

It’s a special piece for me, as I wrote the backstory that accompanies it (seen here printed on the back of the Certificate of Authenticity that accompanies each piece).  It was a group effort between myself and Sideshow’s Creative Director, Tom Gilliland, who came up with the concept of a series of journal entries in which Obi-wan reflects on the circumstances of his exile.  The original story I wrote was a bit more involved, of course.  (I’m wordy, apparently.)  That’s the nature of writing.  I’m extremely pleased to have the final story in my hands.

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I’ve been published! :)

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The Star Wars Mythos Obi-wan Kenobi: Desert Nomad Statue with reverse-aged Sir Alec Guinness portrait.

Stalemate

BatmanVsPredatorI was 22 years old when the original Batman vs. Predator comic book was co-published in 1992 by DC Comics and Dark Horse.  The notion of two of my favorite characters crossing swords with each other would have been appealing to me no matter who created it.  But with Watchman co-creator Dave Gibbons at the helm, and the art rendered by Andy Kubert (the absurdly-talented spawn of the late Joe Kubert), I was positively giddy.
Years later, while watching Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy, an image jumped randomly into my head of the Christian Bale Batman in a fight with The Predator.  Given the high level of detail in the Dark Knight Rises Batman Sixth-Scale Figure from Hot Toys, and that company’s equally-realistic Classic Predator Sixth-Scale Figure, I felt like I had no choice but to throw these two figures at each other and see if they worked.
Among the Predator’s more terrifying aspects is his great strength, which enables him to  life a man off the ground by his neck and toss him about like a proverbial rag doll.  So I decided that I wanted that very thing:  The Predator holding Batman aloft by the neck, ready to deliver a coup-de-grace with his retractable twin blades, while the intractable Batman prepares to shove a Batarang right into The Predator’s eye.  Stalemate.
As it turns out, this is one of the most difficult combinations I’ve ever attempted.  Foremost among the issues was Batman’s magnetic head.  In a fit of engineering genius, Hot Toys saw fit to attach this Batman’s head to the body with magnets instead of the traditional ball-and-socket attachment.  It was a brilliant advancement.  But if you need your Batman to be held aloft by the neck, the magnets won’t support the weight of the body.
So I had to employ a stand.  In this case, I used a standard Hot Toys base with the typical groin-grabber supports, then used the supports to elevate Bruce from the ground by about an inch.  But the nature of the groin-grabber posts make it easy for a top-heavy figure to over-balance and plummet from the stand.  I needed more support for my elevated Batman.
Enter The Predator.  Once his open left hand is shoved onto Batman’s neck, a bit more stability is applied.  As an extra support, I used Batman’s outstretched left hand on the shoulder of The Predator.  It gives the appearance the Batman is lifting himself up, taking some of his weight off of his neck.  Add a Batarang to Bruce’s right hand, extend the blades on the Predator’s right hand, futz with the limbs of both figures to accentuate the realism of the poses, and you’re done!
Again, this WILL take quite a bit of patience.  The head of Batman alone had me cursing like a sailor.
I’ve included some detailed photos of the final poses for reference.  Feel free to comment below with any questions that I might be able to answer.  Have fun!

Am I A Prophet Or What?

When I shot this tongue-in-cheek photo for a review of the Sideshow Collectibles OOM-9 Battle Droid Commander Sixth Scale Figure, I had no idea how relevant it would prove to be today.

I’m cautiously optimistic about the use of JJ Abrams.  That’s not a mark against JJ, mind you.  I dig every film he’s ever made, and every television show he’s ever produced.  I’m sure he’ll do fine.  But I’m still going to be nervous until the opening crawl rolls across the screen at the AMC Dine-in Theater in Marina Del Ray in 2015.  (Wait.  Will I even be living here in 2015?)

Bad Robots...

Bad Robots…

REVIEW: Hot Toys Bespin Luke Skywalker

It's a before-and-after picture!

It’s a before-and-after picture!

A lot’s happened to Luke Skywalker by the time that “The Empire Strikes Back” begins.  Since his requisite call to action from his now-deceased mentor, Obi-wan Kenobi, Luke has rescued a Princess, destroyed a planet-killing space station, been promoted to a Commander in the Galactic Rebellion, become the leader of Rogue Squadron, and he’s learned more than a little about the ways of  the Jedi.

But, as my first Tae Kwon Do master used to say about me, Luke knew just about enough to get his ass kicked.

Luke Skywalker’s “Bespin” outfit is more than a costume.  It’s a wearable totem, identified with a phase of his growth.  When he dons these fatigues, thoughts of adventure and excitement still dominate his self-image.  By the end of “Empire,” this symbolic uniform is left in bloody tatters … along with whatever remained of Luke’s boyhood expectations.

Whilst clad in his Episode V garb, Luke was still at a pretty arrogant age in his own maturation myth.  Let’s call it “maturation adolescence.”  As Yoda put it, he needed to unlearn what he had learned.  But something didn’t quite click between Luke and his wizened Jedi Master.  Fortunately for the story, Darth Vader was more than willing to give Luke a good schooling.

Needless to say, after reading that (perhaps) overly-grandiose assessment of Luke in Empire, I had some pretty high hopes for Hot Toys when it was announced that they’d be delivering their own interpretation of the Bespin Luke Skywalker action figure as their inaugural Star Wars sixth-scale offering.  And, after all of my initial reservations, it seems that they have delivered in spades.

First, let me get this out of the way:  The Hot Toys Bespin Luke Skywalker Sixth-Scale Figure offers what is likely the best value for that scale of collectible in modern times.  For the bargain (!?) price of $299, collectors get not one, but two fully-costumed sixth-scale figures – as well as a sixth-scale environment.  (Most of my non-collector friends are likely choking at this point.  Breathe, friends.  Breathe.  You, too, wife.  It’s okay.)

One figure features Luke unscathed … pure as the virgin snow, unblemished by conflict or paternal abuse.  He’s clean, clad as a warrior, proud and strong, with a look of confidence on his face.

The other figure contradicts that confidence with a look of utter defeat.  Luke’s face is bloodied by battle, bearing a distinct look of despair.  His signature heroic garb is stained, clinging to him in tatters.

Each figure is the hyper-accurate accounting of the character that one would expect from Hot Toys.  This is a company that continues to ride the crest of the sixth-scale wave.

Though not without flaw, I’m compelled to say.  There was cause for the application of the occasional dollop of superglue to my own figure right out of the box.  The magnets holding the “hairpieces” to the head sculpts failed me on both heads, and had to be reapplied.  And I still need to dig up my wife’s tweezers to reinstall the inner magnet to Luke’s holster.  But this is all a part of the role of the sixth-scale collector.  Which is fine.  There’s little fun in it for me if I don’t get to play.  Futzing and tweaking are a part of the game, and I’m more than willing to man up and put my own spin on things.

So I did my best to pose my pristine Skywalker in a way that reflects his overconfidence, and his unrealistic expectations of himself.  It’s his residual self-image – indomitable, invulnerable.  Meanwhile, my “battle damaged” Luke clings helplessly to the Bespin weather vane that has come to represent the lowest point in his story, where he hangs in despair, contemplating the revelation that his greatest enemy is also his father, and that everything he was told to believe was a lie.

Hot Toys has delivered with this figure set.  It’s clear to me that the utmost amount of thought went into what every collector would consider to be essential in the quintessential Bespin Luke Skywalker figure.  My only qualm is with the typical Hot Toys tendency to tailor the clothing for relaxed, upright poses.  More dynamic poses will result in a sort of “high water” effect with the figures’ sleeves.

But that is my only irritation with these figures.  All other bases are effectively covered.  Every conceivable interchangeable hand is available for the collector to use.  Luke’s boots are made of a very realistic faux-leather material, and the double-jointed ankels enable easy alterations of the figures’ stances.

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On, Yoda! On, Batman!

Sideshow’s Holiday Yoda is a fun concept.  I love the notion of this diminutive, wizened master of a power beyond my comprehension wrapped up in the garb of St. Nick and distributing presents across the galaxy.  I mean, imagine him chucking aside that cane of his, then giggling like a fool while bouncing all over a holly-decked room bestowing gifts upon those poor children unlucky enough to be force-sensitive.  Or whatever.

Sideshow based the figure on a 1981 Lucasfilm Xmas card designed by legendary Star Wars concept artist, Ralph McQuarrie.  This sixth-scale figure perfectly captures the spirit of the holiday season using the magic of the Star Wars universe through the Jedi Master who trained youngling from the day of their initiation into the Jedi Order.

But Star Wars isn’t the only magic that touches the lives of millions.  And, since it’s only natural to assume that Yoda would need a ride, and since I’m still riding the wave generated by The Dark Knight Rises, this was the very first illustration that came to my mind.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Who's ready for Christmas!?

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yoda!

I’ve Sold Out … Already.

Finally!  A week later than (I) advertised, the blog post which Sideshow co-opted to be part of their Sideshow Experience site as a regular column … is now LIVE!!!  

How To Be A Poser

I feel pretty ridiculously lucky to have this opportunity.  I’m absolutely certain that there must be people out there who are better at posing sixth-scale figures than I am.  If so, I’d love to hear from you!  So hit me up!  Show me your stuff!  I’m sure we can find a way to include it in the SideshowExperience site.  

Cheers for looking!  And feel free to post any requests.  I’ll be happy to rise to the challenge.  :)