Monday, December 31, 2012

Something PRECIOUS Came in the Mail Today!

In an unassuming bubble mailer came this circular object from some short guy named Bilbo.

This here is a pretty nice replica I got for dirt cheap of the One Ring of Sauron from The Lord Of The Rings. It's tungsten with gold finish and laser engraved elvish inscription:

"One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them."

Getting chills yet? Or are you under its power and can't stop glazing at it. Well, you can't haves it! It's MINE! My precious! It belongs to us! Gnnnnaaaaaaaagghhhh!!!!!!!

Sorry, don't know what came over me.

So I find out the ring size used for filming was a size 11, so naturally that's what I got. I have no intention of wearing it as I'll be putting this on display with the rest of my props. But interestingly, it fits! (Or did it resize itself, claiming me as its slave?)

Luke Skywalker Force Fx Lightsaber (Removable Blade) Review

Got this surprise gift from my wife for Christmas. Not being able to afford a "true" honest-to-goodness replica of Luke's iconic lightsaber from Episode IV, I've been eyeing the next best thing... the Force Fx version by Master Replicas. But, now that MR has regrettably gone belly up, I'm glad Hasbro has taken care of the Force Fx lines.

To my delight, Hasbro offers premium versions with easy-to-remove blades, allowing them to be displayed like pretty convincing replicas. This is the one I have here.

The craftsmanship could have been a little better, as there's evidence of tiny scratches near the screws, caused by an obvious slip of the hand from the assemblers. There are also a few minor scuffs and tiny traces of adhesive in a couple of areas. Again, quality control is the issue here. Which brings me to a long debated issue. Hasbro took over the Force Fx line of sabers first made famous by Master Replicas, the original distributor. Having learned that both lines are made in the same factory there shouldn't be any major difference in quality, though purists swear by the Master Replicas sabers, insisting the latter are of far superiors quality. This is difficult to prove definitively since there can be variances throughout any product line, even from the same manufacturer. If anything, it's possible Hasbro has somewhat looser quality control guidelines than Master Replicas did. Again, I can't be certain as I don't own identical Hasbro and Master Replicas samples to compare against each other.

Now on to this lovely item. First of all, yes, it is lovely to behold. Having seen many Force Fx sabers first hand, I can say with confidence that this is by far one of the most screen-accurate ones to date, and unlike most of the other sabers, this one does not seem to have been made larger and thicker to accommodate the internal electronics. The shape and form seems to be pretty spot on.

Most of the details are surprisingly faithful to the filming prop, which was fashioned out of an old fashioned Graflex camera flash handle. To the untrained eye, the hilt looks just like a Graflex handle, complete with all the screws and surface details you'd expect, with only a few minor details either simplified or removed. The metal is also a little thicker than it should be, but still pretty nice.

Having a miniature Luke saber replica on hand made by Master Replicas (made to the same specifications as their full-size limited edition replicas, except at 45% the original size) I decided to do a side-by side comparison. I can see where the Force Fx saber deviates in a few details (chrome where there should be brushed aluminum, a separate cast part when it should be one part, etc.) but none, in my opinion really detract from its overall presentation. In my opinion, it's a pretty convincing prop replica.

The blade is ridiculously easy to remove. Simply unscrew the top "button" and pull it out, releasing the blade.

You can then slide in the included insert which replicates the emitter. Plastic yes, but it does the trick.

The blade glows pretty nicely. Unfortunately I didn't have fresh batteries to test just how bright it gets, but it looks pretty great, especially in the dark, with only minor dim spots between the internal LED strips (should be less visible with new batteries).

The sound module is a topic of some controversy. Some say it's not as loud as what Master Replicas offered in the past. Again, I can't really prove this as I don't have two identical samples from both distributors, but I can say that my Empire Strikes Back Darth Vader Force Fx saber by Master Replicas is much louder and has a better quality speaker. Still, in my opinion, not bad at all.

Included are a display base and a belt clip so you can wear this thing to the mall and show all the chicks just what a catch you are.

Overal, this is a fine "toy". Yes, that what it is, an expensive toy for those of us who refuse to grow up. Seriously, every time I pick up one of these Force Fx sabers I'm suddenly seven years old. But it's also an impressibly accurate replica of Luke's iconic weapon as seen in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope and sure looks darn good on a shelf!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

What I've Been Up To This Christmas

Well as it's a little late to say "merry Christmas" at least I have an excuse. I've been meaning to set up our nativity scene figures outside for the past two years but I had to rig something so they don't topple over, and to avoid a quick and easy theft. How sad it is when you need to take some measures to avoid your Christmas decorations from getting stolen... baby Jesus being the most common target for kids who have nothing better to do than to steal it. Well, enough of that. This year I decided to finally put them up.

For the background I carved 2 pieces of insulation foam and painted to look like an old plaster wall that has been crumbling in the elements, exposing the stone underneath.

I'm pretty happy with the way it came out.

I decided to do a simple base out of a solid wood panel to which I can easily affix the figures with screws and mending brackets. Worked like a charm. The wood base was very loosely painted to give the illusion of stone.

Hope you had a very merry Christmas, and have a happy new year. Be back in 2013!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

New Art Print Available

"Dance Macabre"

Click HERE for a higher resolution preview. 

This Victorian era engraving features a group of skeletal musicians engaged in musical celebration. This print is available various sizes.

Close up detail

Close up detail

Click HERE for more info.