Thursday, October 22, 2020
Thursday, October 8, 2020
Brad Hill, also known as "SirCreate", is an artist and sculptor whose work appears regularly in Gallery1988 showings. Every month, Hill sculpts, molds and paints two very limited figures from various pop culture franchises. He calls these "Peeks" because he places the figures in a small wooden box with a window in the center of one panel...where you can peek in at the figures. I first became aware of him and his work when I saw and missed out on buying his "Weird Al" Yankovic Peek, which I'll never forgive myself for. At the time, I didn't realize how popular these items were, as they would regularly sell out within seconds of release. Still, despite my ever-lasting shame of missing the Weird Al Peek, I quickly developed a love for these little things.
We're all pretty aware of my obsession with the Fantastic Four's Ben Grimm, so when I saw that the Thing was up next on the Peek docket, I did my best to try and get one.
And then I missed that one, too, but I was able to get, and subsequently trade, the other offering for the month: Alexander Hamilton as portrayed by friend-of-Weird-Al Lin-Manuel Miranda. Was Hamilton the more desirable of the two? Possibly in 2020, but never for me, and I happily made the trade for the FF's resident orange rock monster.
It just arrived in the mail a few days ago, so let's take a look at it. First, you might be wondering just how big these figures are. Well, here's some perspective:
Contrary to popular opinion (right?), I do not have "Andre the Giant grabbing a can of beer" sized hands, so you can see how tiny these things really are. Each figure, this included, is right around ONE INCH in height. The level of detail for something so small is incredible. In this picture, you can just see the infinitesimal "4" on the Thing's waistband.
He even has blue eyes!
Here's a shot of the whole package, with the box branded with Hill's initials.
And here we can see that this - and every - production run was limited to just 18 figures.
Friday, September 25, 2020
The first item is a big one, figuratively and literally. It's a 1/4 scale maquette from Sideshow Collectibles.
What we have here is obviously, from the pants to the more human-like face, based on Michael Chiklis and the 2005 Fantastic Four movies. It's been 15 years since the first one came out, and I suppose people have mellowed on it a bit, but only in comparison to the most recent reboot. Anyway, my thoughts on either franchise are well known, so I'll just move ahead and say that Chiklis did an all right job, and I wish his costume had a thicker brow like in the comics.
Regardless of my meanderings on the movies themselves, this statue is still impressive. It might be the biggest I own.
My cat was also, apparently, very interested in the statue.
The sculpt is very precise and the details are intricate. Ben comes with a big cigar and a "4" emblem on his belt.
The 4 also makes a more subtle appearance on his boots.
This particular statue was limited to 1000 copies, and I've got #202.
I got this statue as a gift, and before I got it, I was warned that it wasn't in perfect shape. But the person who gave it to me got it at a substantial discount - if you've seen any Sideshow products before, you know how pricey they can be - because the statue had some nicks in it.
That's okay, because it just means the statue was displayed by someone who enjoyed it...and by someone who likes the Thing. How could I be upset over that? Anyway, there were quite a few bumps and scrapes on ol' Ben Grimm when I got him. The most egregious was a little chip taken right out of his nose, as you can see above.
There was also a rather noticeable scratch on his right boot.
I figured that I didn't have anything to lose, so I bought some enamel paints and took a shot at repairing the statue as best I could. There was nothing major to fix - no broken fingers or limbs - so the work I put into it was a few hours at best. I had to mix some colors to try and find the right shade in several spots...it seemed that the closer I looked, the more nicks I found.
This is the result for the nose, soon after I painted it. It's since dried and has become less glossy, making it less noticeable. I think you can spot it now that I've pointed it out, but if you didn't know about the original damage, I doubt that anyone would think that it wasn't as it was supposed to be.
I'm happy with it, at any rate, and I think I've restored a lot of value to it - and I like the way it looks, which is more important than any hypothetical resale value. We all know that I'm never getting rid of this.
Next up is the new Marvel Zombies Thing Funko Pop!
Funko announced this figure in advance of the all-virtual Comic-Con 2020. I made it through the quagmire that was Funko's online waiting room and was able to place an order for this figure.
The stickers are silly, but I'm hypocritically happy that I got the official Comic-Con sticker as opposed to the more generic "summer convention" sticker.
This guy is the second 10-inch Thing figure from Funko, following the Target-exclusive Thing from earlier in the year. The figure is huge and I don't know where to put it, honestly. But I had to try and get it!
Here's some more detail, with undead Ben's bony hand reaching out for you. All right.
Lastly, I finally hung this framed animation cel on my wall. This cel comes from the 1960s Fantastic Four cartoon - I got it a while ago for a greeeeeeeat price. It was trimmed and had a cheap black mat stapled to it that was bleeding color onto the cel. I removed the mat and had it reframed and I think it looks pretty good! It also looks like he's trying to punch his way through the wall, which, hey, is in character.
That's it! Enjoy your lives!
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
I recently picked up the two-part Avengers storyline that brought Iron Man and Wonder Man (and eventually the full Avengers lineup) to Pittsburgh, and I thought I'd give it a look here on the ol' blog. The storyline runs through Avengers 192 and 193. The A+ team of George Perez and Joe Sinnott drew the cover to issue 192, and it seems that Perez had read up on all of the latest Pittsburgh cliches for the non-superhero stuff: men in hardhats (with literal blue collars), smokestacks, industry. Checks all of the boxes.
If you look closely at the guy in the middle, I think his hardhat says "Weiner". Cool.
If you've ever seen a Monday Night Football Steelers broadcast, you've seen this shot. And you've heard them talk about the city's confluence of three rivers. So we're hitting the ground running, right from page one. This issue had a cover date of February, 1980, meaning it came out right a the end of the decade, and when this image still probably fit for Pittsburgh. Fun fact: they do still make steel in Pittsburgh forty years later, but it's actually not the only thing that happens, or has ever happened, in the city.
But then, as a result of holding onto the Mjolnir sliver, Conroy is transformed into the Pittsburgh Steeler! No, wait, I guess he chose another name. Okay.
"Battleground: Pittsburgh!" is a great title. I like it.
Issue 192 was pretty light on any Pittsburgh-specific details. Yes, it takes place at a steel mill, and I guess a lot of folks (still) associate that with Pittsburgh, but this story really could have taken place anywhere. After reading this, my hopes weren't very high for the second chapter:
"Inferno Unleashed!" The other title was better. This issue has a cover by none other than Frank Miller and Bob McLeod! And is that supposed to be an incline car??
On the first page, one thing stood out to me: the plot credit for the Pittsburgh Comix Club. I've gotta believe that the writer or editorial team knew that they had to add a little more specific information in this issue, so they sought out a local fan club to help out.
And then they let Inferno simply walk into the river, I guess never to return? The Avengers sure do like to have loose ends tied up, no matter how it has to happen!
Oh, and there's an ad for Star Trek: The Motion Picture on the back cover!
So, this wasn't a great story overall, but it's obvious that the Pittsburgh Comix Club had a big hand in adding a lot of references to the second half, and that, at least, was enjoyable. Both of the issues felt quite a lot like filler to me, and the story ends with a mystically-powered force of nature walking off unchecked toward a populated city, but I guess we'll have to take what we can get with these issues. It was still fun to see Pittsburgh so prominently featured in two Bronze Age issues of the Avengers.