Feb 262012
 

Today I took Xander to Autorama in Detroit.  We got to see some pretty cool cars, but the real excitement came from meeting Billy the Exterminator. Xander LOVES this show, Billy is very much Xanders childhood hero so making the trek out to the D was completely worth it.  I actually could not believe how long the line was to see Billy, we arrived at about 1:00 and unfortunately found ourselves far beyond the “End of line” sign holder which met we were not guaranteed an autograph.  Fortunately the wait (about 2.5 hours) turned out to be quite entertaining.  We met some nice people, had some fun watching Billy on Netflix, and ate some cookies and icecream.  What more could a kid want… except maybe some classic Detroit Coneys… yum!

 

Billy was awesome.  I always feel really good when you wait in a long line to see someone who has been signing autographs for hours and are completely happy and appreciative of YOU coming out to see them.  I think its great, he let Xander tell him about his favorite episode and even signed his spikes.  What an awesome time!

After Billy, Dad got to find his hero, the Bumblebee Camaro from Transformers 3.  Love that car!

 

Finally, a bonus, Spongebob Squarepants.  oh, make no mistake, Xander says Spongebob was cool, but Billy was his favorite.

It was a great day in the D.

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Sep 292011
 

The highlight of the Detroit Fanfare for me was Robocop! You may have heard about the Detroit Robocop statue project, if not you can find more information about it here.

Ever since I heard about the project I’ve been looking for a unique way to celebrate the fact that Detroit was getting a Robocop statue. I wasn’t quite sure what to do until finally I found out that Peter Weller was going to be in Detroit.

I picked up some Robocop models from http://www.bambammodelproductions.com/blog/sci-fi/robocop/. Pictures/site probably looks familiar, I recently did the site for BamBam and did a lot of the photos for them. =)

Anyways, here’s the semi-finished model, signed by Robo himself. I still need to paint the figures, but the base is done. I had a lot of fun with this one.

Peter Weller was great, he let me take the picture even though the fanfare people did not allow it, This was a great addition to the collection. This is a hometown gem for the collection, I cant wait to finish it.

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Sep 252011
 

There were some great artists at the Detroit Fanfare this weekend. These were just a few of what the ones that really stood out.

Kurt Einhaus | http://kurteinhausart.com/fantasy-painting/

Michael Calandra | http://www.calandrastudio.com/Calandra_Studio.html

Dave Aikins | http://daveaikins.com/

Dave is an interesting character, I had the pleasure of meeting him at the Motorcity Comic-con in May, this time I came prepared. Dave does the artwork for both Zombies and for Many of the Nickelodeon books such as Dora, Diego, SpongeBob and Backyardagins. So while I got my Zombies game box personalized with some cool zombie art, Xander got a few of his favorite books signed as well.

Jeremy Bastian | http://jeremybastian.blogspot.com/ Jeremy was one of the Artist for The Guild Tink one shot comic; he did the Tink tall tale story piece. Of course I had him sign the comic for me.

Diana Harlan Stein | http://www.naiadstudios.com/
Diana did a great transformer character for Xander, this is a photo of a copy, but check it out.

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May 142011
 

I had a great time at the Motor City Comic Con today. I got to meet some great celebs and artists, get some cool autographs and photos and buy some nice stuff for the geek den. I really wanted to take my son Xander with me, but he was still recovering from a cold, so it will need to wait till next year.

Here are some of the better photos from the event.


Tricia Helfer signing my Battle Star Galactica poster at the Motor City Comic Con. I didn’t really know what to say, so I just told her I was nervous, but i love her work.

Brent Spiner giving me a “Manly hug”. It was really great to meet him, it brought bake a lot of great memories of watching Next Gen with my dad as a kid. He signed the perfect photo for me, its of him as Data painting. It’s going to be hung up in my Painting room.

I had the great honor to meet and get a personally signed print by Larry Elmore.

Random Starwars goodness, some great photos of the 501st Legion and Rebel Legion.

                  

    

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Nov 012010
 

Halloween 2010 was our expectants sons due date.  He is yet to come meet the rest of the family, but he should be here any time.  We still had some fun this Halloween while we waited for Tophers arrival, apple picking, tricker-treating and of course what’s Halloween without Ewoks and Space Invaders? 

   

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Aug 292010
 

While in Cincinatti for the Iron Wind Metals trip I went to the Newport Aquarium in KY. Newport is the family favorite vacation spot, Harmony and I love to come here any chance we can.

Here are some of the photographs I took this time with our Nikon D90. I’m still very much in the playing stage of the Camera. I really need to read the manual and take a photography class.

Sea Turtle. I call him Squirt.

In the Shark Tank. Practicing for the real thing, a five day Great White diving trip of Guadalupe Island is being planned for October 2011.

Octopus. I didn’t just post this because he kinda looks like a Tree-ent…

Lionfish.

Owl.

Alligators.

Jellyfish. It was surprisingly hard to get a good picture of a jellyfish, these things morph all over the place.

Sand Tiger Shark.

Lil Shark. This little guy just wanted sand dumped on his head. He was so cute, acted just like a pet.

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Aug 292010
 

Iron Wind Metals

Last Friday I had the pleasure of taking a tour of the Iron Wind Metals factory. For anyone who doesn’t already know, Iron Wind Metals is a company specializing in creating pewter figures for games such as Battletech, Crimson Skies, and Shadowrun just to name a few. Iron Wind actually crafts many of the original Ral Partha miniatures that I used to ogle over eighteen years ago when I first became interested in Battletech and painting pewter figures or “cool robots” as I referred to them when I was a kid so this was especially cool for me.

Upon our arrival, the owner of Iron Wind Metals, Michael Noe, very graciously gave us our tour of the factory. I must say, Michael really increased my interest in the miniature crafting hobby. I’ve always loved Battletech, but this experience really helped to evolve my interest towards the art and the industry as a whole. The process of crafting miniatures is very interesting; I never realized how much effort actually went into creating these highly detailed figures. This trip really gave me a new appreciation for the miniatures I build and paint.

Micheal Noe.

Our tour of Iron Wind began in Michael’s office with a very interesting story of the history of Iron Wind Metals. I would love to be able to repeat the history, but I’m sure I would mess it up, I was pretty overwhelmed by everything to see and learn. I was able to find another post about the history of Ral Partha and Iron Wind Metals at Purple Pawn, but if you are really interested in learning about the history of Iron Wind Metals, I would highly recommend chatting with Michael if you ever have the opportunity. It’s all the little facts and interesting side stories about the items that litter the factory that really made the tour great. Rare figures, original artwork, interesting photos, Viking funerals and random treasures throughout the shop made the trip worth it in itself.

We continued the tour throughout the rest of the factory, learning the processes from sculpting to casting, to shipping. I will do my best to try and re-explain some of the process of how miniatures are created, I think the next time I do something like this I will need to take notes or film it. It was very hard to retain all the information while being overwhelmed with excitement.

Iron Wind uses a method called spin casting to create their miniatures. Once a new design is sculpted, the model is pressed into a rubber disk that when heated liquefies around the model, when the rubber hardens you are left with a master mold. These master molds will later be used to create the final production molds used when casting the pewter miniatures.

This master mold looks very clean; take a look at the difference between this mold and one of the production molds.

The production molds are the actual molds that are used to create the miniatures that you receive at home, it’s important to have these production copies to ensure that the original master mold is not damaged. An interesting difference you may notice between the original master mold and the production molds is the large amount of grooves coming off the mold. These grooves aren’t cracks; they are purposely added to the mold. Ever wonder where flash (excess pewter off a model) comes from? It’s because of these grooves carved into the rubber. These are added to the mold to allow air bubbles and excess pewter to escape as the mold fills up. The spin casting process uses centrifugal force to disperse the pewter into the entire mold. As the mold spins the pewter continues to be forced out through the vents allowing any trapped air and excess pewter to spill over to these areas. This helps to ensure air bubbles are not left in the final model providing a higher quality piece.

After a production mold is created, it’s time to cast the miniature. Large stacks of solid pewter bars and vats of molten metal can be found throughout the workshop. When a new miniature needs to be crafted the production mold is selected from its shelf and placed in the centrifuge, the liquid pewter is then ladled into the mold through the top.

In about a minute the pewter hardens, and solid pewter disk can be removed. At this time the miniatures are inspected, any models that have any flaws are returned along with the pewter disk to the pot to be reused for the next batch.

Thousands of molds were lined up around the factory; among them were some of the original Ral Partha master molds. Many of these models are no longer produced, but it sounds like the possibility does exist that some of these very cool originals could resurface at some point in the future.

Another very interesting surprise learned during the trip, a new scale of Battletech miniatures are being produced to be used for the new Battletech Quick strike rules. These smaller versions will later be available in a box set. These Mini-Mechs are just as detailed as their larger counterparts, they look great. I definitely plan on getting a few sets of them for large scale battles.

Before rummaging the shop for some great loot, I had the privilege of having a beer with Michael.

Thanks Michael, we had a great trip.

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