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1  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Discussion and Questions / Strange Crayola Markers(?) Help on: April 20, 2015 07:21:06 AM
I got these four unusual-looking Crayola markers(?), along with a bunch of other stuff, in a mystery bag of girls' toys, from a thrift store, over the weekend.  When I tried drawing with them, on a piece of paper, all four just left colorless wet markings (like I'm drawing with water), which was rather unusual, and their tips are also more paintbrush-like than a typical marker to boot.  It may just be that they're empty/depleted (if that's the case, it won't ruin my day, but dead markers would be a pretty thoughtless thing to package up in a bag for a child--not that it hasn't happened to me before), but I suspect that there might be some kind of gimmick involved that I just don't get.  Do any of you know what they are, and, if there's some kind of special feature involved, what is it and how does it work?  Maybe you're supposed to fill them up with water and use them with watercolor paint?

2  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Alice in Wonderland Glasses Bird on: March 26, 2015 08:28:39 AM

A bizarre hybrid of a bird and a pair of eyeglasses that Alice briefly encounters in Disney's 1951 Alice in Wonderland animated film, which was based upon the Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass children's books penned by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under his more-popularly-known pseudonym, Lewis Carroll.

This is the scene, from the movie, in which Alice meets up with the Glasses and Mirror Birds in the Tulgey Woods. The Glasses Bird silently perches upon Alice's shoulders, completely unnoticed by the girl, despite being literally in front of her nose, until she happens to look at her reflection in the Mirror Bird's face, spots the comical hitchhiker, and, weary of Wonderland's incessant nonsense and pranks, lifts the creature from her body and gently places it next to its avian friend on a tree branch before moving on deeper into the forest.

These are the quick pencil reference sketches/guides I made in my notebook to aid myself as I worked:

I started off by fabricating the legs, which are shown almost completed below. They're constructed from a series of hollow paper cylinders, strung with bendable wire for structural support and to provide the articulation.

I then proceeded to do the beak/nose and the frame for the lenses. Other than painting/assembling things, and making the transparent eyes, that's about all there was to this project, as the creature's cartoon design is very simplistic. As many of my figures end up being multi-day affairs, it was nice to work on something that could be modeled and painted in one afternoon for a change.

Here's the finished figure. The primary danger in crafting something like this is that, once completed, you'll want to try the glasses out on everything and anything that they'll fit! Speaking of which, I intentionally scaled the creature so that I could place it on a variety of my fashion dolls.

Hanging out with the Ace of Spades action figure I made last year:

All of the eyeglasses and eyeglass creatures I've made to date:

Here's a small gallery of various toys sporting Glasses Bird on their faces:

Build-a-Bear Workshop Sweet Gingerbread Girl:

Disney Fairies Periwinkle (Tinkerbell's sister):

Monster High Jackson Jekyll:

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Rainbow Dash:

Blooming Thumbelina Barbie (African American version):

Lined white paper, a white envelope, newsprint, cardboard from a box of tissue paper, white glue, wire twist ties, transparent plastic sheeting from a toy package, and acrylic paint.

5.4 cm (2.1") wide x 4.8 cm (1.9") high x 7.6 cm (3.0") long.
* The listed values will vary depending on how the figure's joints are positioned.

14 Points: Hips, knees, ankles, and all eight toes.

Several hours on March 24, 2015.
I also touched up the paint/finish the following day and replaced the original eyes, which I had made out of transparent tape as an experiment, with sturdier plastic ones. While the tape eyes looked/functioned fine, they were fairly thin/flimsy and had air bubble halos trapped around the paper pupils sandwiched inside.
3  CRAFTSTER CRAFT CHALLENGES / CHALLENGE 107 ENTRIES / Miniature Perfume Bottle Doll on: March 09, 2015 07:25:41 AM

While trying to come up with an idea for this challenge, I was looking at some of the bottles we have around the house to see if the shapes/colors would inspire me.  While searching through a sack of toy jewelry (I've got a small mountain of that stuff from the bags of random girls' toys that I'm always buying from local thrift stores), looking for a heart-shaped bottle, full of colored sand, that I knew was in there (I was envisioning glueing some eyes, lips, hair, and angel wings onto that to make a goofy-looking cherub), when I suddenly remembered that I also have some miniature perfume/makeup bottle accessories, from various dolls, so I dug out that Ziplock bag too and had a look. In particular, I focused on these three items that came with Mattel's 2005 My Scene: Goes to Hollywood Barbie.

It occurred to me that the center bottle resembled the shape of a woman's legs and torso in a gown, and thus, the idea for this project was born. Here's the quick concept sketch I drew:

This is the roughed-out anatomy mounted on the top of the toy perfume bottle. She's pretty scary-looking at this point, eh?

Here are several shots of the more-refined model, now impaled on a sewing needle (ouch!), for stability, with many of the final details and accessories added.

Finally, the finished product. As you saw in my initial sketch, I had originally planned to give her a big, long ponytail, but, while I was flocking her head with minced sewing thread, I decided that I liked her a lot better with shorter hair, so I kept it that way.

Scale comparison with an 11-12" Barbie Fashionistas Swapping Styles Artsy doll:

A plastic Barbie perfume bottle accessory, newsprint, white glue, minced sewing thread (hair), embroidery thread (dress top), a wire twist tie (jewelry), a magazine advertisement (clutch purse veneer), acrylic paint, ink, and marker.

2.7 cm (1.1") wide x 4.6 cm (1.8") tall.

Two days; March 7th and 8th, 2015.
4  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Chimera Toad on: February 23, 2015 11:16:22 AM

An unusual hybrid of multiple organisms that can be encountered in ASCII's 1996 Wizardry Side Story IV: Throb of the Demon's Heart (ウィザードリィ・外伝IV・胎魔の鼓動, or Uiza-dorii Gaiden IV: Taima no Kodou) Nintendo Super Famicom roleplaying video game (RPG). While the optional, in-game English translation given for the creature's Japanese name, こどくがえる (Kodokugaeru), is "Chimera Toad", in my opinion, that should be read as something like "Lonely/Solitary Frog" instead, as こどく (kodoku) means "isolation/loneliness/solitude" and かえる (kaeru) is frog (the "k" becomes a "g" in a compound word like that). Further, "chimera" is Greek in origin and is usually written phonetically as キメラ (kimera) in katakana characters and the Japanese word for toad is がま (gama), thus, if Chimera Toad was what the developers were truly after, then I feel that the monster should have been titled キメラがま (Kimeragama). All that said, I'm not even remotely fluent in Japanese, so it could be that there are linguistic rules/puns in play that I simply don't understand.

For reasons known only to their horrified psychiatrists, unethical mages with too much time on their hands have a tendency to take up the loathsome hobby of fusing together different organisms to create strange chimerae. Most of these abominations die moments after being joined, but, with enough determination, a steady supply of unfortunate test subjects, and more than a little luck, the heartless spellcaster may eventually stumble upon a combination of creatures that not only survives the horrific process but remains viable enough to breed true. An unlikely amalgamation of amphibian, reptile, and insect, the Chimera Toad is one such specimen.

A Chimera Toad can lash opponents with its sticky tongue (1D3 damage, and the organ is long enough to strike player characters located at the rear of the party, where physical attacks can't normally reach). Fortunately, for any Fairy player characters you may have, the creature will only hit, and not attempt to devour, tiny winged demihumans with said tongue. More worrisome are its serrated, praying-mantis-like arms, which can inflict painful lacerations (1D4 damage). Curiously, the creature favors standing erect, balancing uncertainly upon the tip of its muscular tail, when it lashes out with these chitinous appendages.

Chimera Toads may look intimidating, but, in comparison to many other Wizardry monsters, they aren't particularly dangerous (after all, they're only Level 2 creatures). When pitted against a party of adventurers, unless said heroes/heroines are novices and/or completely inept at their professions, a Chimera Toad isn't likely to survive the encounter, because it only has 4-8 (2D3+2) hit points and a rather poor Armor Class of 12 (for comparison, a normal, unarmored human adult has an AC of 10. Note that, in classic Dungeons & Dragons rules, which Wizardry is based upon, the larger your AC number is, the easier you are to hit.) A Chimera Toad's unimpressive AC can largely be attributed to the difficulty it has in coordinating the movements of a form that nature never intended to exist (you'd likely have troubles too, should you ever have the misfortune of waking up with sections of your body replaced with parts from other organisms). If things look desperate, a Chimera Toad can attempt to summon another of its kind to aid it in battle, by producing panic pheromones (this action has a 30% chance of success, and, while there is no limit to the number of times that reinforcements can be solicited in this manner, no single group of creatures can ever exceed nine members total).

The party taking on three Chimera Toads:

Chimera Toad game sprite (There are four possible upper/lower body color combinations):

"Wriggling Object" unidentified game sprite (monsters in Wizardry are often ambiguous silhouettes like this when you first encounter them--you have to fight the creature for a while, or cast the Priest spell "Latumapic" to reveal what they really are).  So, the Chimera Toad looks like this black rat until your party figures out otherwise.

Some mid-construction photos of the figure:

And the finished product:

Newsprint, tissue paper, brown paper from a grocery bag, wire twist ties, white glue, and acrylic paint.

4.3 cm (1.7") x 8.0 cm (3.2") [widest point x highest point]
* The listed measurements can vary, depending on how the joints are positioned.

Eight points: Coxae, femora, tibiae, and tarsi.
I had intended to make this figure an immobile sculpture, but, I reasoned that the long, thin insect arms would probably break off easily without some kind of rigid internal support (just the pressure of paint brush strokes would probably do it), so, I ran bendable wire through them, which, as I constructed the limbs from individual segments, has the added benefit of making them poseable.

Four days: February 18, 19, 20, and 22 (2015).
5  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Teensy Redhead & sheepBlue Figures on: February 13, 2015 08:47:43 AM
Wednesday evening, as I knew, from the tracking number on the package, that the 3D ATC dollhouse interior that sheepBlue made for me would be arriving in the mail the following day, I decided to make a tiny occupant for it. Of course, that turned out to be rather unwise, as I had absolutely no idea what scale (beyond an ATC's normal height & width) sheepBlue was using, so I was pretty much flying blind. Sure, I could have asked her, but I didn't want to ruin the surprise when I opened the package by knowing anything about what she made beyond the theme itself.

Anyway, in my usual rash manner, I reasoned that, if I were to partition a 2.5" x 3.5" card into the rooms/floors of a typical house, it'd make sense to do two floors on a horizontally-orientated card, and two-three on a vertically-aligned one, so, by my calculations, a floor would be around 1.3" inches high, and a correspondingly-scaled 6' human adult should be roughly 1" or 2.4 cm in height, which is pretty tiny, but do-able.

I made the doll by first constructing a wire armature (from a twist tie), so that the finished figure would be poseable (I wanted her to be able to sit on furniture if necessary), and then covered that in papier mache (newsprint & white glue) and built up the human form. Her orange hair is embroidery thread and the patterned dress is a photo of a rug I cut out of a Home Decorators Collection catalog and glued onto her body. The other details are acrylic paint, ink, and marker. I don't think she turned out all that great, and she's horribly out-of-scale with sheepBlue's bathroom, but, that's what I get for putting the cart before the horse.

And, because once I thought of it, I had to do it, I also modeled a teensy blue sheep friend for the doll. It will be good to have the architect on site if the plumbing in the bathroom backs up, lol!

6  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Barbara on: January 12, 2015 08:02:24 AM

Dominatrix flora that can be encountered in Namco's 1991 Marvel Land Sega Genesis video game (said title is an enhanced port of the 1989 arcade game of the same name and is also known as Talmit's Adventure in Europe). Barbara's moniker is a pun on the thorned rose that her head resembles as well as her weapon of choice, a prickly lash. This femme fatale's attack strategy consists of simply advancing on the protagonist, Prince Talmit (whose name is "Paco" in the original Japanese version), while repeatedly snapping her spiked scourge before her. Barbara's not nearly as fearsome as she looks though--a single hit, either from bouncing on top of her petaled head, or striking her with Talmit's Bunshin Whip (assuming you have said power-up), will instantly destroy her and net the player 300 points.

An animated gif that I made from Barbara's game sprites:

Barbara's "defeated" sprite, after you successfully vanquish her.

Below are a few screenshots depicting Barbaras, from Areas 6 and 7, respectively, in World 1, as well as her listing in the credits, which play after you successfully complete the game.

I began this project by experimenting with the creation of a paper rose, following a three-step pictoral tutorial that I had photographed out of some book/magazine years ago (saving instructional information like that, even if I have no immediate use for it, often pays dividends down the road). I cut out a long strip of white paper, from an envelope, and carefully wrapped/folded it into concentric "petal" tiers around a screwdriver shaft until I had the shape of the flower. Next, I made a simple stick body armature out of newsprint and white glue (no wire was used at all in this project).

Here's the body bulked up with additional paper padding and layers. If you're wondering, the darkened areas are the result of using a wood burner to shape/smooth/dry the form.

Barbara's prickly whip was next, which consists of a hollow cylindrical handle connected to a paper "snake" lash. The undulating business end was then coated with glue and tiny barbs were applied to finish the look. For her head, I already had a blue marble, covered with a coating of papier mache, that I had made months ago and never used, that just happened to be about the right size (again, it pays to hang onto stuff), so, I simply added a few more layers of papier mache, to increase its circumference slightly, then I attached a pair of lips, cut the hollow sphere free from the marble, and then modified it further by excising the mouth opening, adding a hole for the neck post, and cutting off the crown of the head to accommodate the flower structure. Finally, I made and glued twenty-one individual teeth into her gaping maw.

After some test fitting, I decided that my original folded blossom, while it looked nice, just wasn't working out, so I tried to make another . . . several attempts later, I found that, for reasons I can't explain, I just couldn't get any of my new paper roses to come out nearly as good as the first one. Thus, I reluctantly gave up on that approach and made another flower using a different technique, namely gluing rings of concentric individual petals around a cylindrical core shaft, rather than folding up the entire structure from a single, long strip of paper. In retrospect, I should have made the petals more durable by making them 2-or-3 ply thick, instead of just one layer of paper, as the relatively delicate shape of the flower got somewhat distorted during the subsequent painting/handling process.

Pictured are the fully-colored head and lash mounted on the unpainted figure. While the changes aren't too apparent, the body was also reworked fairly extensively at this point. I felt that the right arm was too long, in relation to the left, so I cut it off, excised a section out of the wrist and biceps to make it shorter, and then reassembled and glued it back onto her shoulder again. I also put a veneer on her high heel shoes (to emphasize their shape), added more mass to her frame/musculature, and dressed her up in a 3-ply paper bikini top and bottom.

Finally, here is the finished product. Barbara's top heavy, and balancing on high heels to boot, so she couldn't stand unassisted, as such, for stability purposes, I super-glued her feet onto a stand that I cut out of a sheet of transparent plastic.

Newsprint, an unused papier mache sphere from a previous project, white paper from a notebook and envelope,
tissue paper, white glue, acrylic paint, super glue, and transparent plastic (base only).

6.3 cm (2.5") wide x 5.2 cm (2.0") high.

Five days: January 4, 5, 6, 8, and 9 in 2015.
7  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Fastitocalon-F on: December 30, 2014 08:19:31 AM

Colorful, fish-like monsters that can be randomly encountered (usually three-at-a-time) in Squaresoft and Electronic Art's Final Fantasy VIII Sony Playstation (1999) and Microsoft Windows (2000) roleplaying video game. Contrary to their appearance, Fastitocalons live on dry land, not in the water. They can be observed rapidly tunneling through beach sand, or other fine debris, with only their large dorsal fins visible above the ground (given this behavior, it's not surprising that the locals often refer to Fastitocalons as "Land Sharks"). When the creature is struck, the fish suddenly erupts from its sandy habitat and takes to the skies to attack. Yes, folks, defying all logic and reason, not only does this flamboyant critter not live in an aquatic environment, but it can also fly! While aloft, the Fastitocalon-F effortlessly "swims" through thin air and charges at its prey to deliver painful slaps with its spined fins or bites with its sharp teeth.

The original Japanese name for this creature was フォカロル ("Fokaroru", which romanizes as "Focalor"). Duke Focalor is the forty-first of seventy-two demons catalogued in the Lesser Key of Solomon, a 17th century grimoire. That infernal fellow was said to have power over the winds and seas, but looked like a man with griffin wings, not a fish (and, curiously enough, that particular fallen angel actually had aspirations to return to Heaven, but, after waiting a period of 1,000 years, Focalor was ultimately denied redemption). Fastitocalon, on the other hand, is another title for the sea monster Aspidochelone (Greek for "Asp Turtle"). Said legendary creature was so gigantic that its back was often perceived as an island by passing sailors--a case of mistaken identity that often proved fatal when the malicious beast dragged both men and anchored ship(s) beneath the waves to drown. Some writers claim that Fastitocalon is actually one of Satan's many forms--perhaps that's why Square gave their interpretation of the creature a fiery color scheme, to suggest the burning flames of Hell. Aspidochelone/Fastitocalon is usually described as being either an enormous whale, turtle, or fish, so, while the FF8 monster is nowhere near the right size, at least it's in the ballpark, anatomically.

As it turns out, in the game, this specimen is actually a "fake" (hence the "F" suffix to its name); the true Fastitocalon is a larger (although still a dwarf compared to its namesake), and nastier, armored fish. To be honest, before doing research for this project, I had always just assumed that they were masculine and feminine variations of the same organism (I figured that the "F" was simply an abbreviation for "female"). Given real world examples of mimicry, it does make evolutionary sense that a smaller species of fish might evolve so that the most visible part of its anatomy closely resembles that of a more dangerous creature in order to deter potential predators. Unfortunately for adventurers, unless you pay careful attention to their distinctive cries (the larger variety has a deeper roar), it's impossible to tell which creature lurks beneath the sparkling sands, the real deal or the imposter, until the organism reveals itself, as both species share identical dorsal projections. So, before you go down to the shore and start poking those colorful, meandering fins with your gunblade, you might want to think twice, as you might end up disturbing a shark instead of a guppy . . .

Square's official artwork of the Fastitocalon (left) and Fastitocalon-F (right):

Below are some screenshots depicting three of the player characters (Squall, Selphie, and Zell) facing off against a trio of Fastitocalons.

Here are the fin patterns that I drew by hand in ink. Some of the designs went through several modifications until I had something that I was satisfied with. All of the fins are made from 2-ply notebook paper with cardboard spines glued onto their surfaces. From previous experience, I knew that fabricating seven fins was going to be tedious work, so that's why I began with them (whenever you have a job to accomplish, I recommend doing the part that you like the least first, if at all possible, to get it out of the way). During the process, I also took a couple of not-so-fun snow shoveling breaks to avoid getting burned out on fin construction.

Pictured below are the finished fins. As there isn't an actual body yet, they're obviously not attached to one another at this point, but I took a shot of them orientated correctly, between my fingers, to give myself an idea of how the finished fish would probably look.

During the next work session, I constructed the body, attached the fins in three phases, and built up progressively more detail in the features as I went along.

Finally, here is the finished product. It took several hours, but I think that this is one of the nicest-looking paint jobs that I've ever done.

Cardboard from a cereal box, newsprint, lined white notebook paper, white glue, acrylic paint, and gloss nail polish.

9.5 cm (3.7") wide x 4.2 cm (1.7") long x 11.5 cm (4.5") high.

Three days. I made all of the fins on December 21st, finished modeling the fish on the 25th, and painted/sealed the figure on the 29th.

8  Archive of Past Craftster Challenge Entries / CHALLENGE 105 ENTRIES / Kuchisake Onna on: December 08, 2014 07:21:13 AM

Kuchisake Onna (口裂け女, literally "Slit-mouthed Woman") is a Japanese urban legend that was first reported in the late 1970s. The particulars of her story vary, as myths have a tendency to do, but usually she's described as having once been a beautiful young woman that was driven insane after an operation or accident left her mouth horribly disfigured. The psychotic Kuchisake Onna now spends all of her time hunting the streets of Japan for solitary individuals to vent her rage upon (no one is safe from her predations, night or day, but school children are her preferred victims). With her damaged face concealed behind a surgical mask (which is not at all unusual in Japan, as many citizens wear them in public to prevent spreading, or catching, viruses), she corners her intended prey and then asks of him or her, "Do you think I'm beautiful?" If they answer "No", they are immediately attacked, if they reply "Yes", Kuchisaki Onna then leans in, removes her mask, and shrieks, "Even like this?" At that point, you're almost certainly doomed, regardless of whether you reply in the affirmative/negative, attempt to flee, or most likely of all, just stand there gaping at her in horrified silence, as nothing, except bloody violence, will satisfy Kuchisake Onna now. The enraged butcher immediately proceeds to either kill you outright or slice open your mouth until you resemble her, utilizing various edged implements (typically scissors, a sickle, or a knife).

 Outrunning Kuchisake Onna is nearly impossible, as her superhuman speed is legendary (she's capable of sprinting 100 yards in 3 seconds--some versions of the story explain this to be a result of her having been an Olympics-level athlete before her accident). However, there are several ways to thwart her. The first, and easiest, is to answer her "Am I beautiful?" question with, "You're average or so-so", instead of "Yes" or "No", as non-committal replies confuse the deranged lady, giving one time to escape. Similarly, you can frazzle her by ignoring her questions altogether and asking one of your own, such as, "Do you think I'm pretty?" In other words, Kuchisake Onna has a very one-track mind; she has difficulty in dealing with individuals that won't play into the role that her ritualized attack process requires. Kuchisake Onna also loves sweets, particularly hard candy, so she can be temporarily distracted by giving her some of those if you happen to be carrying any when you meet her. Finally, Kuchisake Onna absolutely loathes the smell of hair Pomade (supposedly because the doctor/dentist/lover responsible for her disfigurement reeked of it) and will flee if she so much as catches a whiff of the stuff--some even say that just chanting the word Pomade three times can drive her away.

I purchased a bunch of secondhand toys from the local St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store on Black Friday (11/28/14), including a 2011 Spin Master Liv Spa Makeover Sophie fashion doll for fifty cents. The gimmick with that particular assortment of figures was that their lips, eye shadow, finger/toenails, and the streaks in their hair all change color with the application of hot/cold water. Here's what Sophie looked like when I bought her, and before her transformation into the infamous Slit-mouthed Woman:

I removed Sophie's dress and wig cap, completely covered her head with plastic wrap to protect it, and then began to build up a gory, slit-mouthed veneer over her lower face using newsprint, white glue, and cardboard. Once I had it modeled to my satisfaction, I painted it with acrylics, enhanced the outlines of the teeth with ink, and then sealed it with transparent gloss nail polish to give the gash a nasty wet look. As it was modeled directly onto Sophie's face and conforms to her features, the new mouth stays on via friction alone--no tape, glue, etc. is needed to keep it in place.

The plastic wrap also ensured that the new mouth could be easily removed when I was finished working on it, as white glue adheres very poorly to that material.

Here we have the unassembled newsprint handle and cardboard blade of Kuchisake Onna's kama (sickle) accessory (a commonly-used gardening/weeding implement in Japan). The finished weapon has an aluminum foil veneer on the blade. Like most fashion dolls, Liv figures' hands really aren't designed for holding accessories very well (the shape of the hands are usually optimized for sliding in/out of sleeves more than anything else), so, I ended up securing the weapon into her grip with a transparent rubber band (which is typically what toy companies do for display purposes as well). If you really want to go through the trouble, it is often possible to tweak the grip of a toy's hands with the old hot/cold water trick (heat them up in boiling water to make the plastic more pliable, bend/flex them into the new configuration you want, and then plunge them into cold water to "fix" the plastic into its new shape).

Next, I played MacGyver to whip up her surgical mask. I cut out a rectangle of white material from the pocket of an old pair of dress pants (there were already holes in them anyway), affixed medical tape to both ends of the fabric, to add strength so that the strings won't rip through the quartet of holes that I subsequently punched through the material/tape sandwich with a large sewing needle, and then threaded carpet fibers through the four holes and tied them off to make the strings (the other day, I cut some loose fibers off of an unraveling carpet, so our cats wouldn't chew on them, and stuck them in my pocket, figuring that I'd find a use for the threads, and sure enough, I did).

While Kuchisake Onna can potentially be encountered wearing any sort of attire, I always think of her as wearing a trenchcoat, because that's what she's wearing in Shin Megami Tensei If . . . (Super Reincarnation of the Goddess If . . .), a 1994 Japanese Super Famicom (SNES) video game that I like (and besides, everybody knows homicidal weirdos wear trenchcoats). Raiding the wardrobes of my other sixth-scale figures, I ended up putting my Kuchisake Onna's outfit together using garments from X-Men 2 Nightcrawler (armless trenchcoat), G.I.JOE: Spy Troops Snake-Eyes (jumpsuit and shoes), and a Power Team Elite soldier (belt). Finally, as most Japanese have black hair, I swapped out the blonde color-changing wig that Spa Makeover Sophie came with for an ebony one (with a purple streak) from one of my other Liv dolls.

The final result:

9  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Roc the House on: December 01, 2014 08:13:58 AM

Phantom Birdhouse, a.k.a., Roc the House (I prefer the latter name to the former), is a character concept, designed and submitted by forum member "Eastwestkid", for October Toys' OMFG (Outlandish Mini Figure Guys) Kickstarter-funded toy series, that I decided to model in three dimensions. I believe that the "Phantom Birdhouse" title is a reference to the name of one of the OMFG series 1 figures, the Phantom Outhouse, and Rocs are giant, mythological birds, hence the word pun on "Rock the House". Visually, one could also draw comparisons to the Slavic witch Baba Yaga's chicken-legged house.

This is the illustration of Roc the House, posted by Eastwestkid, that I worked from. I love the design as-is, but I did decide to add tail feathers protruding from the back of the birdhouse, both to make the rear view more visually interesting (which would be rather plain otherwise) and to have the avian erupting from its home motif represented on all four sides. I also briefly considered having an eye peering out from the entry hole, but I think it looks cooler and creepier with nothing there.

Here are some photos from the construction process of this figure. I began by making the two legs and bird house structure. I think that just those three elements, all by themselves, result in a neat-looking monster too.

On the second day of work, I fabricated the wings, mouth, and rooftop bird ornament. The extra pair of wings that you can see in one of the photos below were leftovers that I didn't use (I'm going to hang onto them, as I might be able to employ them on another figure someday). I felt that the creature looked neat with a quartet of wings, so I shot a picture of it.

Here is the finished, but unassembled, figure on day three. Prior to painting, I made the tail, added another row of feathers to the wings, defined the legs/feet a bit more, and then went over everything with a wood burner to smooth out edges, add/deepen details, and harden/temper the paper/cardboard.

Color-wise, I had bluebirds on the mind, so that's what I went with. Originally, I had envisioned using brown, yellow, or white for the plumage, but ultimately opted for something more vibrant. I also considered black, which would have given things a more sinister vibe, but I was concerned that the feathers wouldn't show up very well in photographs if I went that route so I didn't.

The finished product:

Cardboard from a cereal box, newsprint, lined white notebook paper, white glue, and acrylic paint.

6.1 cm (2.4") wingspan x 6.1 cm (2.4") high. While it's purely coincidence in this case, it pleases me when a figure's maximum height and width end up measuring exactly the same.

Three days. I started this project on the morning of November 18th, resumed work on the 20th, and finished things off on the 25th. I'd estimate that Roc the House took about twelve hours altogether to complete.
10  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: General / King's Field S-Knight on: October 07, 2014 07:57:37 AM

Giant, mutant mollusks that can be encountered in From Software's 1995/1996 King's Field Sony Playstation first-person RPG (roleplaying game). It should be noted that said title is actually King's Field II, but, as the first game wasn't released in North America or Europe, the publisher decided to start the numbering system anew for those regions (likewise, King's Field III was retitled as King's Field II in said markets).

 This omnivorous gastropod is always hungry and has two options for bringing down its prey. If the target is close enough, the left head will simply lunge forward to take a bite out of its victim. On the other hand, if the potential meal stays outside of the mollusk's reach (and that's frequently the case, as the S-Knight moves very slowly), the right head will exhale a plume of acidic mist in their general direction, which, in addition to inflicting injury, will also poison the victim if it makes contact. It doesn't matter if this caustic vapor kills the target outright or not, because the toxin coursing through their system will shortly finish the job--all the S-Knight has to do is follow the trail left by its ailing victim until they inevitably succumb to the poison and collapse. While both of a S-Knight's attacks are relatively easy for an adventurer to avoid if they can stay near the sides, or rear, of the shell, where the creature can't easily see or reach them, particular care must be taken when confronting multiple monsters at once, as it's all too easy to get outflanked and sprayed by one S-Knight while you're trying to deal with another.

 As one would expect, striking a S-Knight's shell is an exercise in futility, as this natural armor is incredibly hard and durable, making it completely impervious to conventional weaponry. The creature's relatively soft heads and necks are what an adventurer should try to target when attempting to deal damage to this slimy adversary. S-Knights could hide inside their shells, for additional protection, if necessary, however, due to their large size and aggressiveness, very little intimidates them (armored humans brandishing weapons and spells don't impress a S-Knight in the least), as such, it's almost unheard of for one of these monsters to take a defensive stance when threatened. Slain S-Knights occasionally drop crystal shards but never gold pieces (snails have no interest or need for money, but apparently the slimes, fish, and man-eating plants in King's Field do--figure that one out).

 For comparison purposes, here are some screenshots of S-Knights from the game:

 This is what my papier-mch model looked like at the end of the first evening of work. As you can see, the snail's shell and body aren't attached to one another yet.

On the second day I touched the form up a bit, added a projection on the snail's back to connect with the shell, went over everything with a wood burner, glued some sand onto the shell (for texture), and then painted the figure.

The finished product:

 Newsprint, cardboard, white glue, tissue paper, acrylic paint, marker, ink, and sand.

 7.8 cm (3.1") wide x 3.6 cm (1.4") high

 Two days; October 3rd and 5th, 2014.
 The next day, I decided I wasn't satisfied with my paint work, so I redid and touched up some areas on the 6th.
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