Saturday, February 24

Custom Pop Figure Tutorial, pt. 3

How I turned the Chosen One into the Multiverse Saving Bad Wolf

The first part of my Pop mod tutorial was about picking a Pop to mod and getting her prepped. The second part was about getting the basic painting done.

Step 3: Details . . .

Remember, I said I had a plan for the bits of Emma that didn’t match Rose. This is where they come in. Emma has a sheriff badge that is molded into her hip and a necklace around her neck (and I had no desire to try to carve either out, or try to paint over and ignore the weird 3D lines), so I had to find a way to work them into the character for Rose.

Now the necklace was easy. I just painted it silver to match the TARDIS key she wore around her neck (it was originally on a keychain, but was worn as a necklace during her season with the Tenth Doctor). Then clean up the edges with the same paint I used on the hand (under the chin, the color contrast is even less visible).

The badge became one of the Dimension Cannon jump disks (how she and a couple of other characters made it to the Doctor from the parallel dimension). 

Still, relatively easy: metallic silver base, dark yellow center, silver v-shaped arm and a gold button in the very middle. And yet, this step was an almost catastrophic failure.

I went against the advice of other modders and used a tiny drop of gold enamel paint for the center button. I thought that because it was on a layer of acrylic paint, I wouldn’t have the same problems (the paint refusing to dry, issues with it running with the top coat).

I was so wrong.

That tiny little dot of gold only partially dried, and when the top coat hit it, not only did it run . . . it spattered.

I caught it quick, and was able to limit the damage, but still ended up repainting a portion of the jacket, pants and the entirety of the dimension cannon.

This time, I sealed it and then added the button in metallic copper sharpie.

Not too bad, if I say so myself . . .

Final step: glue the head back on. I used E600 (because it was handy, and I can’t find my superglue). It worked ok, but I think I’d prefer less work time for the body to shift. So, next time . . . superglue.

I still need to make her gun (I will likely have to sculpt it out of clay, I may cobble one together and then mold it and cast it in resin, it will really depend on what I find), and the strap for over her shoulder, but for now Dimension Hopping Rose is finished. 

And here she is with my Mini Tenth Doctor (he was a keychain, I just unscrewed the eyehook from the top of his head).

I do have plans to make a Meta-Crisis Tenth Doctor to go with her, but finding a Pop who wears a suit with a t-shirt underneath (without ammo pouches or weird straps) has been difficult. 

As of right now, the closest I’ve seen is Bill from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, but the hair is all wrong. I’d prefer not have to buy another head, but I’m also not thrilled with having to sculpt his hair, so . . .

Until then, this will have to do.

I promise that the next things won’t be Doctor Who related (probably). I have two steampunk nerf gun mods that I’ve been waiting to share, as well as some cosplay stuff coming up (including a possible trip to WonderCon). So, unless I have a fanfic bite me and not let go, I should be on to other topics.

Monday, February 19

Custom Pop Figure Tutorial, pt. 2

How I turned the Chosen One into the Multiverse Saving Bad Wolf

Alright, so my last post  was about picking a Pop to mod and getting her prepped.  This is what I started with:

Step 2: Paint!

So, following the advice from Funkmeister I purchased inexpensive acrylic paints at one of my local craft stores. 

I’m pretty sure any of the brands would have worked just fine, but I ended up with a variety of colors in the Folkart Multi-Surface line. I also had a few colors of acrylic paint from my Testor hobby paints, and a sharpie for one tiny detail after it was sealed.

I started with the head. I decided to get a yellow-er blonde for Rose, as the Pop version tends to be a very pale, almost white blonde). The hair was actually the bare vinyl, so it ended up needing at least 4 coats to cover completely. With acrylics, it’s really easy to brush it onto thick and obscure small details, so build up thin layers instead of glopping it on thick. (Pro Tip: acrylic paint can be thinned with water, but add it drop at a time to get the best results.) 

This is where good brushes will save your sanity. Expect the coats to go on with some brush strokes. You can come back and smooth them to a point, but if you’re having too much trouble, brush them in the direction of the strands of hair. I only had visible brushstrokes on the bare vinyl.

Here’s the color difference with just half of my initial coat put on:

After I got the hair finished, I used a detail brush (size 000, I think) to paint the eyebrows darker (Miss Tyler has never been shy about being a bottle blonde), filling in the lighter ones already there (dry cotton swabs or brushes with a little water make for much easier mistake fixes). 

I then watered down a small amount of the brown paint to make a wash and dripped a small line of it along the middle part and hairline, to give Rose some exposed roots. After that dried, I came back with more of the yellow and cleaned up the edges, so only a hint of roots were showing.

Here’s the head (I sealed it with a clear Matte finish top coat):

Now, onto the body. I painted her boots and pants black (which I thinned, it was ridiculously thick to start with) and they ended up only needing one coat. Her jacket is a specific shade of dark blue with plum undertones, and I was able to mix deep maroon and midnight blue to get the right shade.

Remember, paint tends to dry darker, so if you aren’t sure about your color match, let a tiny dot air dry before committing to the whole area. This is also the time to be thrifty when mixing paint. Acrylic paint goes a lot farther than it looks like it will and a small change in color between batches can be really visible once it’s dry.

I also mixed the dark maroon with an off white/ cream to make Rose’s fuchsia shirt. I also repainted the areas of the hand where I had removed the sword (the paint I had was not quite a match for the original skin tone, but this hand is going to hold Rose’s BFG so it won’t be very visible.

Next time . . . Details and Finishing Touches

Saturday, February 17

Custom Pop Figure Tutorial, pt. 1

 How I turned the Chosen One into the Multiverse Saving Bad Wolf

Ok, so I have so many craft tutorials waiting for you guys (I’ve had two waiting for me to write them up for over a year), but this project has been in the works for even longer and I finally got it to the point I can share it.

You’ve probably seen the Funko Pop Vinyl figures at stores that sell character merchandise (Target, Wal-Mart, Hot Topic, Box Lunch, Think Geek, etc).

I love them. Hunny and I have been collecting them separately for the last few years (hers live safely at her office at work, mine have only recently been put out for display) and Funko doesn’t make every character I’d like them to. 

Which character, you ask? This one:

That, for those of you who are not Whovians (fans of Doctor Who) is Rose Tyler, specifically the Rose Tyler who found a way back to the Tenth Doctor after being stranded in a parallel dimension. She saves the multi-verse and deserves an updated Pop (the Funko version of her is from the first season of the re-boot, with the Ninth Doctor).

So, since her outfit is entirely different from the outfit on her Pop, I had to find a Pop that would be similar enough to be the base without needing too much more than repainting. And luckily I was able to find an Emma Swan (from Once Upon A Time) the very next time I went to Target.

Leather jacket over exposed long t-shirt with pants and boots? Check.
Hair that is close enough to the source image? Check.
Molded on sheriff badge and necklaces? I have a plan to work those in.
Sword? I can remove that. Big, ginormous gun? Nope. 
I’m gonna have to make that one . . .

She’ll do.

I’m home with a respiratory infection, so  . . . Craft Time!

I had already taken my source images (screenshots found on google) to get paints.

I stumbled upon Funkmiester’s Q&A page  which gave great advice for how to mod (modify) Pops, what kinds of paints/ brushes to use, how to disassemble them safely (good if you need to use a different head, or for ease in painting) and other tips and tricks to make customizing easier and more successful.

Step 1: Prepping Emma

I started by trying to remove the existing paint with nail polish remover. It didn’t remove anything. It may have re-toothed the surface (made it less even so paint sticks better), but you can probably skip this step.

I then put her in hot water (not boiling, but close) in a pot on the stove. The hot water helps release the adhesive and makes it easier to remove the head without tearing the vinyl. I kept her in for a few minutes (at a medium heat setting) and was able to get her head off pretty cleanly. I was hoping to remove her arms too (for ease in painting) but it was taking longer than I wanted (I wanted to be done painting before the kids got home from school) so I left them on.

I dried off both pieces, cut off the sword with my jewelry snips (if you have one available, an exacto blade cuts cleaner), and got ready to paint.    

Next time . . . Paint!

Monday, November 13

Halloween, part 2 (the girls)

Or: how to put together 5 costumes (with a surprise 6th 2 weeks early) on a budget

And now . . .  the girls’ costumes!

Raspberry had a very particular character outfit (one of several in said character’s movie), also cosplay level. Peach actually decided to re-wear one of her costumes from a previous year and 
Strawberry picked a character with an iconic (and set) look.

This year Raspberry decided that she wanted to be Mulan. Specifically, Mulan from the rooftop fight scene 
in the 1st movie.

 Ok, lots of layering, some pretty specific colors, 
but overall very do-able.

The bottom layer is a white, greek goddess costume dress. The blue v-neck originally had puff sleeves (I made the trim out of the same remnant fabric as the waist piece and some blue ribbon), and the pink sash is actually blanket binding (I could not find ribbon in the right color that was wide enough or the right type of fabric). I bought the shoes at a discount store and took a plastic dollar store fan 
and used yellow satin from my craft supplies to 
make it match the one she uses to disarm Shan Yu.

 White dress, blue v-neck blouse, fan: $1 each
Light blue long sleeve shirt: $2.50  
Shoes: $3  Remnant fabric: $1.50  
blanket binding: $3 after coupon
Blue ribbon: $3 after coupon  
Satin and thread from craft supplies: $0
Total: $16

Normally, I don’t let the kids reuse costumes 
(the birthday pictures get hard to identify if the kid is dressed the same every year) but due to my parents moving (my dad had been our photographer since the girls turned 2) we missed a year of pictures. 

Peach had found that year’s costumes hanging in the closet and insisted on being Hello Kitty again on the basis that they didn’t do birthday pictures that year, so there wouldn’t be a problem with her re-wearing the costume. 

After this argument, I just decided to go with it.

Her costume dress had lost a few crystals and she needed new shoes and tights as well as a long sleeve shirt for under her dress, but the main part of the costume was done. 
I had originally used part of a set of Hello Kitty crystal decals to decorate the pink dress I found, and still had enough of the set left to replace the missing crystals and 
add some more sparkle to the dress. 

Unfortunately, Peach and Strawberry refused to hold still long enough for good pictures of their costumes. 

I’ll try to remember to switch them out for the nice ones when we do pictures this year . . . but no promises. 

 Pink shoes: $4  white tights: $3 for 3 pairs  
long sleeve shirt:$1
Dress, crystal decals, face paint 
and hat we had from before: $0
Total: $8

And last but not least . . .

Strawberry has a thing for nice vampires lately. 
Last year she was Draculaura (from Monster High) 
and this year she decided to be 
Mavis from the Hotel Transylvania movies. 

 Luckily, Mavis has a fairly easy to re-create outfit 
(that stays pretty consistent). 
I never did find the sheer fingerless glove/ sleeves that she has (and I wasn’t paying $14 for a spider web pair from a costume shop), so I may need to look for a sheer top for her pictures. I also had to spray paint her high tops red (the only place I found any that would fit her only had grey) but I think it came together overall 
(I couldn’t find any kid size fangs in time, 
so I painted them on her bottom lip for the parade).

Black and red striped tights: $3  
High top shoes: $3  Black sweater dress: $1  
Spider drop earrings: $3 for 6 pair set
Red spray paint and 
face paint we already had: $0
Total: $10

So, for those keeping score . . .

Halloween 2017 kid costume total cost: $84

(for reference, that’s about the cost of 
2 ‘deluxe’ costumes at Target or Wal-Mart) 

or an average of $14 per costume!

Not too shabby (and nobody was covered in paper mache, cardboard or tinfoil *gives own mother the side eye*).

Anybody else go this in on Halloween costumes? And any ideas what I can do with 5 decent size pumpkins that 
didn’t get cut into jack-o-lanterns? 
Before they rot in my back yard?

Friday, November 10

Halloween, part 1 (the boys)

Or: how to put together 5 costumes (with a surprise 6th 2 weeks early) on a budget

I know it’s been a few years since I posted one of these (mostly due to real life craziness, not lack of things to share) 


This year’s Halloween costumes for my boys 
(The girls will be part 2)!

So, the last couple of years I have really had to step up my costume game. This year, the first since 
I started working again, was even more so.

Elroy is all about cosplay level costumes. Bam-Bam can’t make up his mind (this year he decided as he was getting dressed for the costume parade Halloween morning that he was an entirely different character
than he had dressed as.

Because my children get all grouchy when they don’t eat, I have a strict under $35 per child budget for costumes (as the most basic, won’t even survive trick or treating store bought costume starts at $35). Thrift stores are my secret weapon for costumes (I love Goodwill, and Thursdays the color of the week items are $1 each). So long as the shape and material are right, it’s not impossible to adapt pieces 
to what you need without too much trouble.

This year Elroy and I have been watching Attack on Titan 
(a beautiful, but incredibly dark anime) and he decided he wanted to be the main character, Eren, who becomes a Scout to fight the titans who are destroying humanity.

As per usual the last few years, 
Elroy’s costume was the most expensive. 
All the clothing was from Goodwill (the cloak was a lucky find, but was not discounted and ended up being the single most expensive piece this year). The jacket was too small, so I split the side and sleeve seams and added a 2 inch wide strip of vinyl (on sale at the craft store) to each side. It’s still fairly tight across the shoulders, but I don’t want to split the back, too. We used more of the vinyl to make, the straps, waist and belt, and put him in a pair of Hunny’s tall boots. He couldn’t have any weapons, 
so we plan to make the sword box and flight canister pieces when we do his birthday pictures this year.

And here’s the final product:

 Jacket, shirt (a hoodie with the hood removed), 
and capri pants: $1 each
Cloak, with scout symbol already on back: $15
Dark Brown Vinyl for jacket, straps & belt: 
1 yard for $8, after coupon
Belt buckle: $5, Rivets, glue & boots we already had: $0
Total: $31 (just under, but still . . .)
So, for my sanity in the lead up to Halloween, I have the kids decide their costumes early (so I have time to piece items and get things on sale). Like by 4th of July, early. 
Initially, he wanted to be the 11th Doctor 
(in the purple coat and old fashioned shoes). 
Then his teacher threw a big old wrench in my plans. 
All the 5th graders (I know!) had to do a biography presentation, the Wax Museum, which included dressing as their subject . . . on the 18th of October.

At this point, I had already found a grey coat for him that could be dyed purple as well as a black vest for underneath. 

Bam-Bam gets assigned Abe Lincoln. 

Ok, I can work with that.

I found plenty of portraits of him in not-black coats that are conveniently similar in style to the one I already got for him. And the black vest is tall enough to look like a waistcoat. I just need to find a passable cravat (I ended up finding a tie and tying it loosely at the fat end and tucking it in) and some dress shoes for him. But I was having a hard time finding any sort of old man boots for his actual costume . . . 

And then he changed his mind! 
He decided (after a birthday that did not include his own sonic screwdriver) that he would prefer to be a gunslinger from the old west instead (he found the plastic bullet bandoleer I had picked up for steampunk uses). 
Fine. Halloween morning, getting ready for school, Bam-Bam decides that he isn’t a gunslinger at all. 
He’s Van Helsing. At this point, I’m like . . . whatever, dude. 

Grey coat, vest, hat, belt, cowboy gun set and shoes: $1 each
Black pants: $8  Plastic bullet bandoleer of his own: $5
Jeans, shirt, brown western coat 
and bandanna we already had: $0)

Total: $19, for both costumes

Not bad, right?

Next up: the girls costumes!

Sunday, September 3


Ok, so it occurred to me that so much of the problem I had with River Song as a character could be fixed if Moffat had made her a later regeneration of Jenny (who had appeared two episodes earlier, in The Doctor’s Daughter). It would have had the same emotional impact (without the weird, circular paradox relationship) and it would have explained River’s reaction to seeing Donna (and Donna not recognizing her). River’s default to weapons and violence makes sense if it stems from Jenny’s early imprinted knowledge. Her knowledge and understanding of time travel makes more sense if she was made from Time Lord genetic material than being conceived on the TARDIS . . .

 I didn’t want to do an entire episode rewrite, 
so here’s my Forest of the Dead fix-it. Enjoy.

 “River, you whispered ‘Hello Dad,’ in my ear. The Time War killed my children. Cobb shot my daughter on Messaline. I waited hours for her to regenerate . . .” 
The Doctor trailed off as his mind spun through 
the names and faces of the children he’d lost.

“Hush now,” River replied quietly. “We have so much more running to do in your future, you know how much I love the running. Goodbye Dad.” 
Fear and hope warred in her eyes as she joined the two cables.

As a blinding light flared, the Doctor screamed “Jenny” 
before falling against the handcuffs in despair.

.         .         .         .         .         .         .         .         .         .         .         .              

“And the humans and the Hath built a new world in honor of 
The Man That Never Would.” With that, Jenny closed her diary, kissed Charlotte goodnight, and pausing on her way through the doorway, 
looked back at Ella and Joshua, whispering 
“Sweet dreams, everyone” before turning out the light.

Wednesday, May 17

The Yellow Razor

When my wife first came out to me (literally the next day) I decided to show her that I supported her and her transition by getting her a ‘starter pack’ of girl stuff. 
I got her women’s socks, some cute panties, a hair brush, some women’s deodorant, and a new razor. 
It was the same brand and model as the one I had been happily using for the prior year, only in a feminine pink instead of the metallic blue one I was using.

Months later, when the initial ‘jersey girl/ preteen’ phase of her transition settled into something more mature, and she realized that purple was her favorite color; 
I picked up a pretty purple razor for her. 

I chose not to buy myself the shimmery yellow one that I really liked, rationalizing that because I couldn’t use the blades that came with it (do to an allergy to the moisturizer strip) that the old one I had was still good enough 
and I didn’t actually need the new one I wanted. 

When my old one did need to be replaced, I got myself the pink one that came in the cheaper set, 
adding ‘mommy guilt’ to my earlier rationalizations.

But . . . my reaction to the feminine razor had 
nothing to do with Hunny’s transition. 
She wasn’t forcing me to keep the old one. 
She didn’t pick out the pink one for me. 
Had she been at the store with me, 
she likely would have just rolled her eyes, 
grabbed the set with the yellow one and gotten it for me. 
She would have seen that my reasons for not getting something nice for myself had to do with feeling like I don’t deserve it, not the brand of moisturizing strips or the price, 
and would have simply reminded me that 
I deserve nice things too.

There’s the desire for something nice that’s your own 
(which primary caregivers tend to sublimate into ‘mommy guilt’), that you don’t have to share, 
where you can put your own needs ahead of the children and spouses who you devote yourself to.

And then comes the guilt. That voice that is every single cruel stereotype and vicious piece of condescending ‘advice’ and shred of self-doubt you’ve ever heard or thought or felt.

How dare you not put your 
family/ children/ spouse’s needs before your own!

How dare you take food from your children’s mouths 
to get that thing you want!

You don’t really need it. 
And you’re selfish if you want it.

You’re taking advantage of your spouse by wasting money 
on (for me any purchase for myself over $30).

You don’t deserve the thing you want because 
you are selfish enough to want it.

And it’s ridiculous.

My own insecurities made me choose to treat myself as less deserving and continue to talk me out of getting myself the razor I want every time I could get it at the store.

I’m still working on my own application of self-care. 
But after I wrote this I was at Target . . . 

and I got myself the yellow razor.