Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Where Did the Summer Go?!!

Another summer is winding down and once again I'm wondering where the time went. I seldom wonder where the winter goes; I'm just glad it's going. With summer, though, there is a child-like sense of anticipation as Memorial Day approaches and a sense of melancholy as Labor Day disappears (although my wife would disagree with that). Anyway, the sunny, sweaty months have past and I've barely touched this blog. Frankly, I just haven't been much into the past-times that I usually discuss here: action figures, childhood toys, and model building. My preoccupation with various writing projects have left me with little interest in customizing, and my limited resources have not allowed me to indulge in frantic eBay bidding. I did pick up a few things during the summer that I guess I should mention.

After being completely knocked over by the Iron Man movie, I picked up a 12" Iron Man action figure during a trip to Target. This is not the really cool one with the removable mask, but it still has some nice features like the variety of jet exhaust noises it makes as you pretend to fly him through the air and the orange plastic blobs that he can shoot from a rocket launcher in his sleeve. The figure is also really sturdy and a nice rendering of the movie version of the suit. Once upon a time, I plotted to make a Captain Action-style costume of a 60s version Iron Man, but I could never get around how to construct a proper mask. I've made masks from Poly-vinyl clay before, like my Hawkman and Dr. Fate customs, but I was intimidated by Iron Man for some reason. I may get around to it sometime.

Another action figure I picked up during that same Target trip was a talking Indiana Jones. Indy was another character I long hoped to make a custom figure of, but other projects took precedence. Since the latest movie initiated a series of 12" figures, I decided to just buy one of the ready made dolls and scratch that character off my list. I bought the talking version mainly because I liked the head sculpt better than the non-talking version, and the talking one came with more accessories. It still doesn't look much Harrison Ford, however, and the talking feature is a bit creepy.

When you stick your finger in his stomach, his mouth opens in an expression of sheer agony. Then the recorded sayings are played, all lifted from previous Indiana Jones movies (e.g., "Snakes! Why did it have to be snakes?"). If the mouth moved up and down like a ventriloquist dummy, the effect might work, but because the mouth just hangs open in that painful look of indigestion, Indy appears to be possessed by some ancient Mayan god who is talking through him.

"Burritos! Why did it have to be burritos?!!"

My wife Kathy and I have become hooked on the new Dr. Who series, especially since David Tennant took over the role. One day, Kathy surprised me with a David Tennant-version Dr. Who action figure. I had seen the smaller, molded plastic versions on eBay, but this is a 12" figure with cloth clothing. The accessories are pretty skimpy with just the sonic screwdriver, but the tight-fitting suit is spot on. I'm in the process of designing a 1/6th scale TARDIS to go with the figure, but I have to find some time to use my brother's workshop to put it together.

Finally, I was sad to see that my local hobby shop closed this summer. When I was single and living in Dundalk, one of the few advantages of living in my neighborhood was being able to walk to this nifty hobby shop to pick up models and model-building supplies whenever I needed them. Just before I got married, I moved to a house in Towson and was relieved to discover a similar hobby shop within walking distance. If I happened to be working on a model or action figure and discovered I needed glue or a particular color of paint, I could just wander down to the hobby shop and pick it up. Well, the owners decided to retire and I will now have to get in the car and expel carbon gases into the atmosphere to get to my nearest hobby store. Before the store closed, I went in to see what they had on sale. Sadly, all the model kits I was interested in had already been sold, so I settled for a kit of the U.S.A.F. Bell X-1 Rocket. I'm not really interested in building it as a complete model, but I thought I would use it for parts on some other custom project (whatever that may be).

As I bought the kit, I had hoped to find some pithy thing to say to the owners on my final visit to the store. The woman at the register thanked me for my years of patronage, and I thanked them as well and left. No big speech or teary farewell. I wish I wasn't so afraid of expressing my feelings in such moments. I always let them slip away and regret it later. I will miss that little shop, though.

Well, that was my summer. I hope to get more into the swing of things in the coming months and post more frequently. The crisp Fall weather always gives me a jolt of adrenalin, so I'm eager to make use of it.

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