Sunday, August 23, 2009

G.I. Joe customized as MW2's Ghost

Combining my hobbies whenever I can doubles the fun for me. As a gamer, I'm looking forward to Modern Warfare 2. I also collect and customize 1/6-scale G.I. Joes.

When I saw the mock-up of MW2 character Ghost that Infinity Ward's Robert Bowling posted, I knew I had to create a G.I. Joe version of the character. I love the subtle, spooky camo skull pattern on his balaclava, and I figured I could paint it.

Hasbro recently renewed the 12-inch G.I. Joes, leading up to the current wave of G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra toys. In the wave prior to the ROC toys, there were two Joes with balaclavas: Beachhead and Shockblast.

The new generation of 1/6 heads are an improvement, with heavy rubber molds that hold good sculpts while still being durable for rough play. But Hasbro is also cutting corners, and instead of cloth shirts, most of them now have molded clothes on the upper bodies. I hate these molded upper bodies; they look cheap, and the articulation has less range of motion.

For Ghost, I used the molded balaclava heads of Beachhead and Shockblast. But Beachhead has a molded commando sweater, and Shockblast has a molded flak vest. I transplanted the heads onto bodies from a Duke and a Dusty, both of which have only molded T-shirts and look better wearing shirts. (Transplanting heads is an ugly but necessary chore for customizing. I won't go into the gruesome details here.)

Painting only required three colors: flat black, flat tan and flat dark tan. Water-based acrylics work best on plastic G.I. Joes, I find. I repainted Beachhead's green head to black, and gave Shockblast's black balaclava a bit of flat black to take the sheen off.

Using a fine brush, I painted the subtle skull cheekbones, jaw and teeth. I used the lighter tan to highlight the cheekbones.

Next, to assemble the uniform: Hasbro recycles G.I. Joe weapons and accessories year after year, so I scavenged some other toys for their gear. The Oakley glasses were a problem, because the ones I had were clear instead of tinted. Some glossy black paint took care of that. I put Oakleys on the Beachhead version and modern combat goggles on the Shockblast version.

The black jacket comes from a $1 action figure clothing set from Dollar Tree, believe it or not. It's actually from a firefighter outfit, with a bright yellow stripe removed. I bought a whole bunch of these sets because they work well for customizing.

The end result is pretty good, I think. I like the eyes of the Beachhead sculpt better, so that's my favorite of the two.

It just goes to show you how it would be possible to make a special Call of Duty series of G.I. Joes if Hasbro and Activision and Infinity Ward cut a licensing deal. I made these guys with a few dabs of paint, off-the-shelf accessories from other G.I. Joes and a shirt that literally cost a few cents.

Adding to my COD theme, I was dabbling with a blue paint marker recently and painted a G.I. Joe's M16A4 with a blue tiger paint scheme. Now it looks like Dusty is good at head-shots!

Now I need to find a good head sculpt with a Mohawk so I can make a Soap MacTavish character ...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Xbox Live update brings armor

Check out the new suit!

Republic clone armor is the first thing I bought on the new avatar marketplace on Xbox Live, after today's interface update. I'm eager to see what kind of things my friends customize their avatars with. Fortuscule got a guitar, but it didn't show up on the screen grab, for some reason.

What do y'all think about the new features?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra rocks!

Go see G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra! Fortiscule, Crownshend and I saw it together on Saturday, and it's great! Here are a few of my reactions, with no spoilers:

- Scarlett is way hot, especially in her black body armor.

- The friendship and banter between Duke and Ripcord is entertaining. Both are cooler characters than I expected.

- I had been dubious of the accelerator suits, but they turned out to be a minor part of the overall movie and worked well in the film. They looked great in the chase scene that's teased in the trailer.

- The over-the-top technology and gadgets are so prevalent, so overwhelming, that you either buy into the whole thing or you don't. We just sat back and enjoyed it.

- The action is fast, fast, fast. Your attention is so riveted that you hardly realize what a long film it is until it's over.

- The only thing I hated was the immobile mouth on Snake Eyes' mask. What was that supposed to be? The outline of his real mouth? Come on. Put a ventilated mask on it and let Ray Park breathe, for crying out loud. The mask made one of the coolest characters too weird. Ray Park's swordsmanship and martial arts, though, are incredible.

- There are so many great characters, there are endless possibilities for sequels and spin-offs. They should get cracking on that!

The Toys

The 12" Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow action figures were released prior to the movie, so I already had them. After leaving the movie, I found the new batch of four 12" action figures at Target. It's Duke, Ripcord, Cobra Commander and a Neo Viper. Duke and Ripcord are excellent head sculpts. I'll review the toys later, because knowing is half the battle.

Friday, August 7, 2009

DLC Achievements: Phooey

By Fartknocckker
Sythbane Squadron contributor

Since achievements were launched with the Xbox 360, they have changed the way a lot of people play games. They not only boost your Gamerscore but record your accomplishments.

Gaining 1,000 out of 1,000 points gives you a sense of pride from finishing the job 100 percent. When downloadable content (or DLC, as gamers call it) is released that includes new achievements for that same game, your 100 percent completion status is automatically stripped away. The only way to regain it is to buy the new content and earn the new achievements. It is a brilliant strategy to increase sales of DLC.

Back in June, I was on track to unlock my last cheevo for Call of Duty: World at War –- reaching 10th prestige in multiplayer. I had been working on it for seven months. This feat would put me at 100 percent. On June 11, Map Pack 2 was released with -- guess what? -- new achievements.

Bye-bye, 100 percent!

Map Pack 3 has been released with yet more achievements. These two releases of DLC has dropped my 100 percent to 68 percent complete.

To add insult to injury, the new fall update will display the number of your completed games. This means that number will always diminish as DLC with achievements is released for games in which you have already acquired the original 1,000 points. Your completion status is taken away, and you have to pay to get it back.

Downloadable content is a great way to enhance games. I know in the grand scheme of the universe, this completion percentage gripe is not a big problem. But it nevertheless leaves me 100 percent annoyed.

Sythbane Squadron contributor Fartknocckker always gives 110 percent.

Transformers blows up good

My review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen -- The Game is up on Techcetera. I know all of you SB-S folks love the robots as much as I do. Please check it out and leave comments!