Monday, 27 August 2018

#1028 Crimson Guard Officer, #1029 - Crimson Guard Trooper

#1028 - Crimson Guard Officer

#1029 - Crimson Guard Trooper

The Crimson Guard is probably my favorite Cobra troop. The 1986 Viper, Snow Serpent and Iron Grenadier are up there too, but the CG is the one that I dreamed of army building as a kid. Everything about the original figure is awesome, from the dark red uniform, the cool helmet, the ceremonial gold details and the rifle.

I have been hoping that Hasbro would release an ultimate vintage-accurate Crimson Guard, but that has not happened. The 25th was a decent start. However, the skinny legs, simian helmet and washed-out red hue weakened it. In the Retaliation Ultimate wave, we got a different version. The helmet and the red were improved. However, the lower legs and knees were changed for weaker ones.

I decided to combine both figures to attempt to improve them. My goal was make a figure that was heavily inspired by the vintage figure. Because I’m a bit crazy when it comes to army-building, I had enough parts to make 21 figures. I set them up in 4 rows of 5, that left one to transform into an officer. I simply added some silver paint to the face mask and some gold to the shoulder strap and voilĂ , Crimson Guard Officer.

Head, torso, arms, upper legs, backpack: Retaliation Crimson Guard
Lower Legs, belt, rifle: 25th Crimson Guard

Friday, 17 August 2018

#1024 Spirit, #1025 Doc, #1026 Cobra Commander and #1027 Stinger Driver

Playing catchup. Real life has kept me really busy lately, but I thought my blog was due for an update, so here are my four latest. Enjoy!

#1024 Spirit

Spirit made his way into my collection in 1984 for my birthday if I recall correctly. That same birthday, I also got the Silver Mirage Motorcycle and the Cobra Stinger. I recall that I played a lot with Freedom, but that Spirit got less attention. His skirt was bulky and I was not sure how to use him in my stories.

Although several modern era Spirit figures have been released over the last 10 years, none are truly ultimate in my opinion. For my version, I tried to stick close to the original figure for inspiration.

Head: BBTS Spirit with 25th Spirit pigtails
Torso, arms: Retaliation Kwinn
Legs,bracelet, sash and belt, backpack, gun and Freedom: 25th Spirit

#1025 Doc

A friend of mine gave me a couple of his Joes when he got tired of them when we were kids. That is how I ended up with Doc and Major Bludd. These were not figures that I would have bought with my allowance or put on a birthday wish list. Unfortunately, he did not take very good care of his toys. So, I had most of a Doc as a kid. The figure was intact, but worn and he gave me a chewed-up stretcher and a broken flare launcher. Doc did not get much use in my GI Joe play. His joints were so loose that he could not stand up, so he usually ended up being the first casualty in firefights. That way he could just lay there on the battlefield while the action happened all around him.

For my custom, I wanted to recreate the original toy as closely as possible. I went back and forth for the torso. At first, I thought about using the Kwinn torso, but looking at the original figure, Doc had more pockets and his collar was different so I modified a 50th Hit & Run torso. I think it looks more like the original now.

Head: Will Smith Men in Black
Torso, arms: 50th Hit & Run (modified)
Left thigh: 50th Cobra Officer
Right thigh and lower legs: DG Shipwreck
Helmet, flare launcher, stretcher: Vintage Doc

#1026 Cobra Commander (Cobra - The Early Years)

This figure was created for the 48-hour LBC (Lazy boy custom) contest during Custom Celebration XI (2018). I had been planning to make a business suit Cobra Commander for a while, but never got around to it. The contest gave me an opportunity to find the extra SDCC Destro I had stored away for this purpose.

The custom itself did not require painting. The only modification that was necessary was to modify the neck connection. To make the head fit, I filled the bottom of the hood with hot glue and placed it on the neck ball. While the glue was cooling I turned the head left and right gently to make sure it did not stay stuck. This created a fake neck socket that allows the head to be poseable, but also stay securely on the body.

Head: Retaliation Ultimate Cobra Commander
Everything else: SDCC Destro

#1027 Stinger Driver

I remember buying the Cobra Stinger with my birthday money in 1984. It was my first exposure to the VAMP mold. I have a pretty vivid memory of taking it out of the box and assembling it sitting on the living room floor. The Stinger Driver ended up in my collection that day. Sadly, like the Cobra Officer before him, he was relegated to secondary duty. He quickly became a floppy mess. I don’t know if he had a loose o-ring or he suffered from mold degradation, but I as much I loved the Stinger, I remember that the Driver got put in the HQ’s stockade and stayed there.

That said, with age and perspective, I have come to appreciate this figure. For my custom, I used a similar recipe as the SDCC Officer and changed the colors.

Head, torso, helmet: PoC Cobra Trooper
Upper arms: DG Cobra Commander
Legs: 25th Major Bludd
Harness: 25th Cobra Officer

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

#1021 Steel Brigade V1A, #1022 Steel Brigade V1B and #1023 Steel Brigade V2

Head: ROC Storm Shadow
Torso, upper arms, vest: 25th Airborne
Lower arms: DG Snake Eyes
Legs, helmet, weapon, backpack: PoC Steel Brigade v2

#1022 - Steel Brigade V1B

Head: ROC Storm Shadow
Torso, upper arms: 50th Flint
Lower arms: DG Snake Eyes
Legs, helmet, weapon, backpack: PoC Steel Brigade v2

#1023 - Steel Brigade V2

Even thought I was growing out of Joes when the first Steel Brigade figure was released, I remember seeing the advertisements for the figure as well as the insert. I learned of all the variants and the history of the figure when I started collecting as an adult in the early 2000s.

Since then, I have become a big Steel Brigade fan and have made several customs over the years. After making version 1A and 1B, I found all the parts to throw together a version 2.

Head: ROC Storm Shadow
Torso, upper arms: 50th Flint
Lower arms: DG Snake Eyes
Legs, helmet, weapon, backpack: PoC Steel Brigade v2

Sunday, 15 July 2018

#1019 Snake Eyes V2 and Timber and #1020 Hawk V2

Snake Eyes v2 was my first and only version of the character that I had a kid. Since I grew up mostly with the Sunbow cartoon and had very few issues of the comic, Snake Eyes was not more important than any other character in my stories. However, I had one comic issue that I loved – number 55 "Unmaskings". In it, a team of Joes rescue Snake Eyes (disguised as Flint) from a Terrordrome only to have him make a heroic stand to help them escape. That issue left a lasting impression and made this version of the ninja commando my favorite.

The Retaliation Ultimate Snake Eyes figure is a really solid one. It is by far the best representation of version 2 of the character. However, there were a few things that I thought could be improved. I felt that the torso was too long and slick, so I swapped it for a shorter one. Also, the head was the movie one, so I swapped that part out as well. Lastly, I repainted the gray parts to a darker gray including the visor.

For Timber, I repainted the Ultimate version from white to light gray to better match the original toy.

Head: Retaliation Snake Eyes
Torso: ROC Snake Eyes
Arms, legs, belts, bandolier: Retaliation Ultimate Snake Eyes
Uzi, sword: 25th Snake Eyes
Timber: Retaliation Ultimate Snake Eyes

#1020 - Hawk V2

I never had a Hawk figure growing up. When the character was introduced in the second season of the cartoon, I liked him a lot. He was a good leader for GI Joe. Only when I got older did I put 2 and 2 together and figure out that Hawk was one of the original 13. Version 2, with the brown jacket remains the iconic version of the character for me to this day.

For my custom, I started from the 25th torso. It is well sculpted, but suffers from bad articulation at the elbows, so I started by trimming those to increase the range. I also swapped out the hands, the legs and replaced the head with the terrific Law head. A Marauder helmet capped everything off. For the colors, I tried to replicate the original toy colors as best I could.

Head: Renegades Law
Torso, arms, belt, holster: 25th Hawk
Legs: Renegades Duke
Helmet, hands, goggles: Marauder MTF

Monday, 25 June 2018

Resurgence Adventure Team: Behind the Scenes


Resurgence: Adventure Team initial story draft
"After Cobra Commander's defeat at Cobra Mountain, the ruthless terrorist organization has fractured. While Major Bludd and his Skull Squad are searching for hidden Cobra arsenals to build an army, the Crimson Twins have teamed up with Crystal Ball to form a new splinter group - CHAOS. These Cobra Hunters of Artifacts, Occult and Supernatural are scouring the globe to search out ancient mystical relics in the hopes of harnessing their powers.

To stop CHAOS, Duke calls on the original GI Joe to assemble a new team of daring adventurers. These men and women, led by Joe Colton Jr, are the best of the best from a wide range of fields: physics, archeology, extreme sports, exploration, search and rescue and more. They must race across the globe, facing the elements and natural perils to find the mystical relics before their adversaries can use them for their nefarious purposes."

Group Shots
Old School

New Class



Behind the Scenes with Sam:
From sketch to custom figure:

Filecard secrets:
Joe Colton, Sr. and Jr. are from the same area as Hasbro.

For Joe Jr., I liked the idea that he had a parallel career path like Duke or Flint, but fate steered him to the Adventure Team instead of G.I. Joe.

Seawatch’s name is really Morrissey’s first name and he comes from the same hometown, Manchester, England.

For Finback, Duke is the top Marine Biology school in the country.

Night Wolf’s name comes from the Monty Python sketch “How Not to Be Seen.” Roy Bent is the man who wrote the book on it and he is listed as coming from Norfolk.

Ocelot’s home country’s race history is true, as are the military groups referenced.

Icepick and Uplink’s names are combinations of Bob and Doug McKenzie from SCTV’s Great White North and Strange Brew, along with the actors who played them, Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas.

I wanted Night Wolf to be as if an Anonymous member suddenly decided to use their skills in the real world.

For Dagon, I took the episode of the cartoon "Skeletons in the Closet" and created a Destro family member that handled all the magical grunt work for the rest of the family. The mask looked so much like that episode! Also, Boleskine is Aleister Crowley's old castle on Loch Ness that was owned by Jimmy Page at one time.

For Overdrive, I wanted to show that she came from a racing country -- Monaco has one of the most famous races in the world -- but she also turned her back on an easy life of luxury to be part of the Adventure Team.

Trailbreaker is named for one of my best friends in the world who lives in Nagoya, Japan.

Airlift was my take on how many Joes come from families with rich military traditions. I also wanted to contrast the main helicopter military teams in American and Australia, so I made Searchlight part of the 171st Aviation Squadron.

Searchlight was my attempt at following everyone's direction on making the team more worldly. I loved how some of the Adventure Team and Big Jim sets were sports based and then learned that in Australia, there is a competition that is a combination of lifeguarding and surfing.

I lifted the bit of Xamot being the wilder twin from the recent IDW G.I. Joe comics.

Krypt is my take on an Indiana Jones villain. All of the occult relics mentioned in his bio are real.

There really is a snake god named Glycon.

I worked in as many crazy G.I. Joe things into the COBRA Wardens as I could.

Glamour’s last name re-imagines Jem from Jem and the Holograms if she was raised by Pizzazz from The Misfits’ family.

My package art process by Doe138

I use Procreate on the iPad for all of the paintings and Photoshop to create the actual cards. Here's how it gets done.

1. Start with a line art drawing. A lot of times, I trace the figure so that I get the costume perfect, but I'm also using reference for a face I want the figure to look like, a weapon that I want to get perfect, costuming, etc.

2. The longest part of my process is laying down an underpainting with the Gesinski brush, which is similar to a Japanese watercolor brush. I use this to build layers of shadow and some light so that I have a more 3D looking painting when I start putting color in.

3. I lay in color in flat tones, like you would paint an animation cel. Each step, I erase around the lines, as layer masks are really rough in Procreate. Maybe someday I'll move up to an actual tablet and better software, but for $10 you can't go wrong.

4. Now, I add in textures, such as fishnets and fabric. I also use a light filter that I downloaded years ago that simulates the pores of the human face. It adds just a little something extra. Then, I use the Gesinski brush and several layers of soft light and luminesce to build light and shadow within the character, then double check my drawing. At this point, I may reink or even start drawing all over again within the color art to make the face look better or improve something else.

5 to 7. I wanted the magic that Glamour uses to pop, so I did several passes of splatter effects and shading.

8. I move the art to Photoshop as a PNG file so that it has no background color and place it into the shell that I have created for the card art. At this point, I often play with color and lighting all over again.

Unused Artwork