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Star Wars Action Figures / Building A Better Boba Fett
« on: January 23, 2011, 11:03 AM »
Greetings gang!

After being away for a long while, I am BACK with an all-new ambitious, STAR WARS custom action figure project.

This is a custom, 3-3/4 " scale Boba Fett action figure that I've planned for about a year, and finally started working on 3 months ago.  The figure is nearing completetion, and I hope you like it.

You know, as a STAR WARS Action Figure customizer, I get asked all the time why I have a preference for non scene-specific action figures.

Well, this latest offering of Han Solo in Torture Rack demonstrates exactly why. Scene-specific action figures almost always turn out to be un-attractive.  Call me “old-school”, but in MY view, a neutral, non-scene specific action figure will ALWAYS be more attractive-looking than one with an odd grimace of pain sculpted onto its face, or mussed hair (like this one has). The Torture Rack itself looks GREAT, and Han’s SA arms seem okay… but that’s about it, I’m afraid.

During his appearance in The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, Han Solo was the object of many women’s desires.  And it was partially because he did NOT look anything like this action figure.

I KNOW I’m not the only one that feels this way about this action figure.  Judging by the number of collectors who have stated that they want to see the “definitive version” of Bespin Han Solo, I’d say I have a LOT of company on this issue.

Long before Hasbro showed photos of this figure, they stated that it would basically be a “kit-bashed” effort with a new head sculpt.  And that was exactly what we got.  But certainly a better collection of existing Han Solo body parts could have been used to create this figure.

As an Action Figure customizer, I know a little something about kit-bashing, and this collection of parts is NOT what I would have used.

The new SA arms seem fine,  but everything else seems mis-matched and thrown together.. not to mention anatomically incorrect.  Han’s hips are FAR too narrow here! There has been a tendency by Hasbro as of late to make Han Solo somewhat ANOREXIC looking with an overly small head.  This trend began as far back as the VOTC Han Solo and has stuck ever since.  And the strained tendons sculpted into this action figure’s throat don’t exactly help matters. 

Furthermore, the decision to use the bulky ill-fitting  “life-preserver” vest from VSC Endor Han Solo was another mis-step that only serves to make the figure appear top-heavy and accentuates how wrong those narrow hips and skinny thighs are for this character.

Look, I hate to sound like some whinny brat who is throwing a tantrum for not getting his action figures exactly the way he wants from Hasbro. And I have tried to avoid giving this post a hateful/spiteful tone.  This is all simply an observation… just me (as a Hasbro product consumer) doing my part to ensure that we get better and better figures.  And by and large, Hasbro HAS given us exactly that!  Their STAR WARS product offerings during this 30th Anniversarry year have been stellar, I must say.

But this Torture Rack Han Solo figure was a “swing and a miss” by a long shot.  I know some collectors say that they don't mind this figure's appearance because they intend to leave him strapped to the torture rack and that he looks fine in there.  But I believe that an action figure SHOULD look good in OR out of a packed-in accessory.  Certainly, he should be anatomically correct.

I have been updating my own custom “definitive Bespin Han Solo” figure for quite some time.  And I think that I will certainly prove that better existing parts could have been used to kit-bash together a nicer looking figure than what we’ve been given here.

Ironically, I am just waiting to get my hands on this Han Solo in Torture Rack figure so that I can use his arms, and my custom will be complete.  And of course, that excellent torture rack alone makes the price of this figure MORE than worth it.

Using Photoshop, I’ve put together a preview of what I’m cooking up with my custom. I did not bother to color-correct everything and make sure that all colors match with each other, but I think you get my intention...

About 2 months ago, I went up to my collection room and spent some time admiring my hoard of TAC  Jawas.  I’m not entirely sure why, but I just LOVE those new little buggers!

Anyhow, I decided to see what my new little scavengers would look like in a makeshift droid auction in front of their Sandcrawler.

I pulled my Vintage Kenner Radio Controlled Jawa Sandcrawler off the shelf, posed a bunch of droids and TAC Jawas around it... and my heart sank.

That tiny, dinky, out-of-scale, pathetic Sandcrawler looked ridiculous next to my new  Jawas!  I loved this Sandcrawler as a kid, but now… it just wasn’t working for me.

Anyone that knows ME (and my severe STAR WARS Collector mental illness) knows that I could NOT allow that to stand!!

I immediately got in touch with a model builder friend of mine from South America and commissioned him to build me a NEW Radio Controlled Jawa Sandcrawler toy in correct scale to 3-3/4 inch figures!!

Some detail adjustments to the Sancrawler are currently being finished up, and I will be taking delivery very shortly. I cannot wait!!!

This behemoth measures 29 inches (that’s 2-1/2 FEET) in height, and 61 inches (that’s 5.1 Feet) in length.  It features a removable side panel for access to the crawler's ore-processing room, a removable top panel for access to the detailed cockpit, a front loading main ramp into the main hold, and working interior / exterior lights.

I have a feeling my Jawas are going to be VERY happy when “Sandy” arrives.


An open letter to HASBRO TOYS:

Dear Hasbro,

Apologies for this very long post, but it's important.

As many people who know me can attest, I am a HUGE fan (and consumer) of your STAR WARS toy products.

I've been collecting STAR WARS toys for 30 years, and I think you guys are doing an AMAZING job giving collectors what we want year after year!!!  

We are certainly a nit-picky bunch, but you guys have been steadily improving the quality of products from your STAR WARS brand.

Bravo to you all !!! Kudos and congratulations!!  I wish you all many continued years of success.

I am writting because I read in one of your recent Q&A sessions that an upgrade of a (close to) correctly-scaled MILLENNIUM FALCON toy is NOT out of the realm of possibility as a future product.

I wanted to write and tell you what a THRILL such an offering would be for all of us collectors... of all ages!!

I cannot stress enough how a properly scaled, and upgraded Millennium Falcon would be a DREAM COME TRUE for us all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now I know such a toy would be BIG... really BIG!   we're talkin' about 5.5 feet in length and about 4 feet in diameter saucer portion).  And certainly it would have to be EXPENSIVE (figure about a $400 - $450 price point).

But I'm telling you, die-hard STAR WARS fans and collectors EVERYWHERE  would DEFINITELY BUY THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Seriously, this could be THE GREATEST Star Wars toy EVER MADE... if done correctly!!!!   Here are the features that I'd like to see:

1) An accurate sculpt spaceship that closely resembles the Lucasfilm model's proportion.  (No more wierd Kenner proportions). I'd like nice, LONG mandibles, and six round (sculpted) vents in the aft section of the ship that are actually covered with grates (not stickers). A pivoting and rotating Radar Dish that would actually have separate detailing pieces of the antenna array inside the dish.  Of course the weathering and paint deco on the hull would have to be TOPS.

2) There would be the correct design and number of landing gear that would fold up inside the hull of the ship and be concealed inside of closing panels.

3)  The boarding ramp would be re-structured to be the correct design, with FOUR (4) hydraulic struts that retract into  the entry hull of the ship.

4)  A retractable light blaster cannon that lowers and pivots from a concealed compartment on the ships's underside hull.

5)  Dorsal and Ventral Quad Laser Turrets with manual "pump action" cannons attached to the same pivot rack mount as seen in the film.

6) Working Concussion Missles Launcher operating from between the mandibles.

7) Electronic lights and sounds:  Working headlights on the mandibles, rear engines lights, "proximity alert" sound FX, Quad Laser turret sound FX, engine flyby sound FX, Hyperdrive sound FX.

8)  Full Detailed Cockpit Environment  featuring accurately sculpted pilot and co-pilot seats that pivot, two pivoting rear passenger seats, accurately sculpted dashboard with pilot and co-pilot flight wheel controls, working rear cabin door.

9)  Fully Detailed Interior Environment accessable by lifting off various hull panels would feature:  

Accurately designed Main Hold with seating banquet nook and Dejark Holochess Table, accurate floor panel grating, Navigation console and chair.  

SIDE NOTE:  It would be cool if Hasbro threw in a bag full of crates, and barrels and junk nick-knacks that were littered about the Falcon's hold.

Access Tunnel leading to cockpit.  Accessable by Main Hold, and by Entry Ramp area. No more cardboard panel with a drawing of the tunnel !!

2 Hidden compartment floor panels (along access tunnel leading toward entry ramp). The two compartments should be large enough to hold three figures each.

Vertical ladder at the core of the ship leading to dorsal and ventral Quad Laser Turret Gun Ports.  Ports should be designed with instrumentation along the walls, swivelling turret chairs with "hand grip" steering for Luke and Han, and  targeting scope monitors.  Gun ports should have large round circular windows with transparent canopies.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Both Gun Ports should be designed so that they are canted at 90º in relation to the rest of the ship.  With Luke and Han figures seated in their gunport chairs, the "vertical" ladder at the ship's core SHOULD appear to them to be a HORIZONAL passageway where they can speak to one another.

Medical Bunk Bed Station  for Luke to recover from his devastating first saber battle with Darth Vader.

Fellow collectors... who's with me?  Let your voice be heard loud and clear!!!

Collections / DARKLORD'S Collection**UPDATE**1/23/11
« on: November 7, 2006, 01:59 AM »
Here are some shots of my collection storage room.  I consider this entire collection LOOSE because virtually all items have been pulled from their packaging and enjoyed.  I just keep the boxes as a way to store and protect the toys from damage afterward.  All action figures (approx. 4,200) are loose and stored in zip lock baggies and are kept in Darth Vader, C-3P0, and vinyl Collector cases...

I began collecting in 1978 and have not stopped since.  I never really fell out of the collecting pattern I established as a kid:  re-enact the Original Trilogy of films with the toys.  To me, that meant armies of troopers, squadrons of ships etc.   As a 43 year old man, I'd say that this Original Trilogy re-enactment fantasy ship has pretty much sailed!  LOL!   Nevertheless, the collection continues to build under those parameters.

This is a mix of some older and more recent photos of my collection...

My Imperial Forces...

I reached 500 Stormtroopers at some point in 2009

Star Wars Ships and Vehicles / Custom Vehicle Boxes/Packaging
« on: October 28, 2006, 09:48 AM »
Hi Gang!

Some days it just doesn’t pay to get outta bed!

My STAR WARS toy collection  is located on most of the second floor of my home.

I came home one night about  3 months ago and found that my kitchen (located on the 1st floor) had become a virtual  swimming pool due to a ruptured waterpipe  up on the third floor.

The water leaked through the second floor ceiling (flooding my STAR WARS Collection room),  and through the first floor ceiling to flood the kitchen.  There was SEVERE damage along the way.

For me the MOST heartbreaking damage was to my STAR WARS toy collection on the second floor!!

Boxed VINTAGE  Kenner collectibles  as well as MODERN Hasbro pieces were completely  WATER-LOGGED!!!

The toys themselves were (for the most part) un-damaged.    But the packaging for these collectibles were reduced to useless soggy lumps of cardboard!!!

My friends, I don’t mind telling you, I damn-near  broke into tears.

Nearly 30 years of collecting just... soggy.

Now, I've posted this thread HERE in the customizing section because in the tradition of true customizing,  I've decided to take this bittter LEMON of a situation and turn into LEMONADE. 

I have begun to design NEW CUSTOM PACKAGING for all of the (newly) loose toys.

I have created my own CUSTOM GRAPHICS for these boxes using photos of my custom  action figures,  and photos of the actual loose toys composited in ADOBE PHOTOSHOP.

I also decided to base the STYLE of my packaging on  Kenner’s VINTAGE boxes. 

You see,  I really don’t care for the flimsy modern “window” boxes that  present the toy in a “posed” state. 

Call me “old School”, but I prefer the packaged  toy to be contained in a windowless box  protected from damaging sunlight. And the box should have exciting, colorful graphics.

Now,  before anyone asks,  I am NOT offering these custom boxes for sale.  I have only created them for my own personal collection.

In some cases,  the photography work for these boxes  is my own.  But  in many cases,  I have  downloaded photos from throughout the web and from the Rebelscum  toy archives to create these.

Therefore, it would simply be un-ethical for me to profit from the work of others.  So I will NOT do it.  Please do not ask. I hope you understand.

Without further ado,  here are my custom box designs so far…

Roberto  DARKLORD Williams

Other Collectibles / 6 Foot Millennium Falcon "Extraordinaire"
« on: February 16, 2006, 12:34 AM »
Howdy gang!!!

Another poster by the name of "skyvvalker" on another message board posted this question, so I CANNOT claim it as my own.  But KUDOS to him, because I think it a good topic!!   Anyway here goes...

Do any of you guys and gals here own one of the 6 foot long Toys R Us MILLENNIUM FALCON Extraordinaires?

Skyvvalker himself owns one:>nu%3D3273>674>783>WSNRCG%3D32334494<9%3B58nu0mrj

Steve Sansweet's got one:

Philip Wise has one (upper right corner)

And there is one on display at the Star Toys Museum of Meerkat Meade in suburban Baltimore, Maryland:

Is there ANYONE else out there who is a proud owner of one of these GORGEOUS Collectibles??

For those of you that may NOT know:

The 6 foot long(!) MILLENNIUM FALCON "Extraordinaire"  (with working lights, Radar Dish, and Twin quad laser cannons (dorsal AND ventral) is a direct "tool-up" of Kenner / Hasbro's  various toy Falcons.  

The "Extraordinaire" is a close approximation of the Millennium Falcon's true size if it were correctly scaled for the 3.75 inch scale figures!  These were made of  sturdy styrene plastic, and have all of the same details, deco, and decals as Hasbro's 1995 POTFII  Falcon.

There were ONLY (approximately) 700 of these made for display in Toys R Us stores around the country.  Each one had a numbered, engraved brass plaque bolted to the circular gun-port area of the dorsal quad-laser cannon.  

These Falcons  could be seen hanging from the celings of Toy R Us stores back in 1997 during the height of the release of the STAR WARS Trilogy, Special Edition.

Out of the 700 that were made, a (smaller) undetermined number of them survived their  months of display in the nation's various Toys R Us stores as MINT specimens.

In late 1997, Toys R Us held a nationwide charity raffle, giving away 500 of the existing "Extraordinaire" Falcons.

Initially, there was some talk that Hasbro would actually REFURBISH any of the non-mint / damaged Falcons to "like-new" condition before shipping them out to all of the raffle winners.  Any missing or broken parts (Laser Cannons, Radar Dish,  Power pack. etc) would supposedly be replaced.

However, right before the raffle winners were awarded their prize, it was then announced that these were going to be shipped in "as-is" condition"!!

That means that quite a few raffle winners got "Extraordinaire" Falcons that were beat-up, dirty, and / or with missing parts.

Now, some of those winners were fortunate enough to know that they should contact Hasbro and request replacement parts.  I know of at least ONE "Extraordinaire" owner that did just THAT back in 1998, and got his replacement parts!  

But, everyone else was outta luck.  They were stuck with "Less-than-mint" Falcons (which they presumably either still own OR have sold off in the secondary market).

I am happy to say that I too am the proud owner of a MINT MILLENNIUM FALCON "Extraordinaire" , and she is THE absolute "holy-grail" of my collection!  My "Extraordinaire" is numbered as  "#315".

I no longer have my "Extraordinaire" on display.  I was quite concerned with her gathering dust and being exposed to harsh, damaging sunlight.  So, back in '98, I had a very good friend manufacture a LARGE cardboard carton to store her inside of.  This box ended up being as large as a king-sized BED!!  In addition, I bought  a HUGE clear plastic tarp from a hardware store and fashioned a  very neat air-tight sealed "envelope" to store her inside of before putting her in the new BIG box carton for storage.

But just last month, I got the old "geek-play" itch, and  pulled the big Falcon out of storage!!!
Let me tell you... my wife and I had an absolute BALL attacking the big Falcon with four of those new Target Tie Fighters with Larger Wings!  I haven't had that much STAR WARS "play" fun since I was a twelve year old!!

I'm telling you... the scale between these Ties and the Falcon "Extraordinaire" is absolutely SUBLIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I particularly enjoyed the sight of one of those gorgeous Ties "firing" upon the Falcon's big Radar Dish!!

Wifey and I had a grand ol' time, making the screaming Tie Fighter sounds and laser sounds, and quoting dialogue: "They're coming in too fast!!" "We've lost the lateral controls!!!" "Don't worry!! She'll hold together!!" Hear me baby? Hold together."

Oh Yeah!!!! And we even played the John Williams "Tie Fighter Attack" music score on the stereo system for full effect!!!

And THEN, we... Oh!... um... heh-heh... Sorry. I, uh... geeked-out again a little bit. So sorry about that. Heh...

Anyway, if any of you are interested, here are some pics of MY Falcon "Extraordinaire" before she was put away in storage. These were taken in the bedroom of my old small apartment before we bought our current home. She used to stand on edge, in a corner of the room next to the window.
You can get a sense of her sheer SIZE with the STAR WARS Han and Chewie standees displayed next to her. Han is 6 feet tall!

TV-9D9 / How do YOU Watch the STAR WARS Saga At Home?
« on: December 19, 2005, 11:54 AM »
Hi Gang!

Like some of you, I built my "Home Theater" almost exclusively with viewings of the STAR WARS Saga in mind!!

I recently finished construction on it (just in time for the DVD release of  EPISODE III.

My wife and I live in an apartment in Brooklyn, NY,  and our funds are limited, so a full-blown dedicated "screening room" was not an option for us.  Instead we designed and converted our living room into a theater space and put in as much slick detail as we could.

This room still awaits wall to wall carpeting.

The Theater wall features, semi-circular "stage",   lit "cubby" spaces (awaiting carpeting), 119"-Wide archway opening, and "King Blue" velvet drapes and trim. 

All lighting in the room is linked to electronic dimmers.

A full 5.1 THX sound system is installed in the room:  A Denon AV Reciever sends sounds to two B&W CDM 7NT Series tower speakers (one on either side of the TV).

A third (smaller) 7NT is installed above the TV (as the center channel). 

The left and right surround speakers are B&W  CDM "In-Walls" (concealed behind two framed pictures on the back wall behind the couch). 

The sub-woofer is the small Sunfire "Super Junior"  9" cube.  It's tucked in a corner under one of the end tables.

The TV is a 70" Hitachi LCD.

Unfortunately, this TV being all Black does NOT photograph very well at all.  I tried everything.  But the more light I threw on it, the more glossy reflections I got on its flat surface.  You can even see the reflection of my table lamp in the lower right hand corner of the screen.

For this reason, I had to use photoshop to lighten the outer cabinet details of the TV so they would be visible.  But this photo VERY closely approximates what the Theater looks like in person.

Naturally, I chose a nice STAR WARS image to have on the screen when I took the picture.

How about YOU?  Let's see how you all watch the STAR WARS Saga at home!!!


Roberto DARKLORD Williams

Star Wars Action Figures / DARKLORD'S Customs
« on: November 26, 2004, 11:14 PM »
LANDO CALRISSIAN: Skiff Guard Disguise
Custom Action Figure and Photo by Roberto Williams

Generally, I liked Kenner’s vintage Lando Skiff Guard Disguise (1983) very much. But I did NOT like Hasbro’s POTF II “overly buff” Lando Skiff Guard (1996). I LOVED Hasbro’s SAGA Lando: Jabba’s Palace (2004).

This was a simple straight-forward custom. I just wanted ALL the Lando’s in my collection to have a consistent head sculpt (POTJ Lando Bespin Escape - my favorite). So this was basically a head-swap. But since the new head is slightly larger than the original, I needed to create a better-fitting (larger) helmet, while still retaining the tusked face webbing. Also the stock Vibro-blade weapon was replaced with a sturdier one from the Vintage line. This is an example of a custom Action figure where most of the work went into the accessories!  A paint-job awaits the vibro blade.

“We’re on our way!!”

1) POTJ Lando Calrissian: Bespin Escape (Head (Hollowed-out for ball-jointed use)
2) SAGA Lando Calrissian: Jabba’s Sail Barge (Full Body, Blaster pistol, Helmet (face webbing portion only) )
3) Vintage Kenner Lando Calrissian: Skiff Guard Disguise (Vibro-blade)
4) POTF II Lando Calrissian: Skiff Guard Disguise (Helmet)

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