Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Road To Comic Con: Adjusting The Sculpt

     Good evening, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to another entry of Coffee With The Cynic's blog.  Today we are starting our Road To Comic Con series leading up to the Brandon Comic Con hosted by C4 - Central Canada Comic Con.  The event is the weekend of September 8th and 9th at the Keystone Centre in Brandon, Manitoba.  The family and I will be there and while they're going to do a group Diablo 3 themed set, I'm not that into Diablo so I'm playing more to my strengths.  When Mattel announced the Super Colossal T. Rex toy for their Fallen Kingdom toyline, I figured that would make a great prop for the Con if it was customized into the Baby Rex from The Lost World: Jurassic Park.  So Scholar had a brilliant costume idea for me: since I have long hair, it wouldn't really make sense for me to be Ian Malcolm or Nick Van Owen, right?  Well, she suggested that I do a gender swap of Sarah Harding so that I can have long, frayed hair and won't have to shave my beard either but that's for another time.

     First, we have our main prop, the Super Colossal Rex which needs to go from this...

     ...to this.  Or at least as close to it as possible.

     As you can see, there are some things that need to be changed.  1) This toy represents the Tyrannosaurus from Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, so any scars that she may have will need to be filled in, 2) the eyeballs are way too small on this sculpt so we'll have to mold some new ones and 3) the teeth on this sculpt are just a little too big and molded together so those will have to either be filed down or removed entirely and replaced with new ones, I honestly haven't decided yet.  Thankfully, I think I know what we can use for 1 and 2.  This is all going to be trial and error so let's see how this goes.

     First off, the sculpt has some seam lines on it from being put together in the assembly line.  Some are more noticeable than others so I followed a literal rule of thumb: I ran my thumb over the seam line and if it felt like my skin was getting into the seam, it got patched up.  So I used this Tamiya modelling putty to cover those up.  This is a more liquidy than the Milliput we'll be using later and the surfaces where the seam lines sit are fairly smooth so I'm hoping that it won't be as noticeable.  So we just take this tube...

     ...and basically dab the stuff on like a bingo marker.  Then, depending on how much room I had to maneuver around on the sculpt, I used either a foam brush or a tooth pick to flatten out the putty and use any excess to continue along the seam lines.  I repeated this process over any seam lines that stood out until I had gone over the entire dinosaur.  If you're using this stuff, try not to rush but do bear in mind that this stuff dries and cures fast.  Like, not even two minutes after I had taken this picture, it was firming up.

     If anyone reading doesn't have this figure, for reasons I don't fully understand Mattel decided to have the ankles articulated.  I myself am not a fan of this feature so I patched up those lines too.

     Okay, so now that the seam lines have been puttied, we need to make sure the rule of thumb still applies.  I found when doing this that sometimes the Tamiya putty dried into pointy bits so if my thumb catches those, I gently sand down those points with the corner of a sanding block.  No need to scrub it back and forth, just a few soft strokes should do it because we don't want to accidentally sand off some of the texture of the sculpt.

     For those of you who don't know, Milliput is a two part putty epoxy that you knead together for model making, sculpting or even household repairs.  I use this stuff on the Hasbro Jurassic World figures to fill in those annoying screwholes and it works great.  So we're gonna fill in those Velociraptor/Indominus Rex scars.  Now this stuff takes a full 24 hours to cure (I'm pretty sure) so there's plenty of wiggle room just in case if I need to run some sculpting tools over it.

     Since this box was almost done, I just lumped these two parts together since we'll probably end up using this whole chunk.  Simply mix the two pieces together and knead/roll them in your hands for about five minutes or until it is one solid color.  Then I tore little pieces off, rolled them into long thing strips...

     ...and then laid them into the scars.  Once they're in, I flattened the pieces with my thumb to fill out the scar lines so that the putty doesn't stick out above the sculpt, or at least try to.  Worst case scenario, I can always sand these down later.

     Yeah, some sanding will probably be in order.  In the meantime, let's get some creases in that Milliput to match the sculpt.

     That's better.  Needs a few more but I scratched them in off camera.

     I also noticed these creases at the front of the snout.  I don't know if they're just from the fact that this sculpt is of a female Rex or of a more elderly animal (the Rex on Isla Nublar has got to be close to thirty, which is believed to be the age of the largest and best preserved T. Rex specimen, "Sue") but the infant from The Lost World doesn't really have these (at least not to this degree) so they need to be filled in too.

     So this is what's left of the Milliput and it looks to be about the right size to fit in the socket.  So what I'm going to do is turn this ball into a couple of eyeballs with eyelids and stick them into the sockets.  First, we tear a piece off and roll it flat...

     ...then cut it in half.  Now we have a set of eyelids.  Repeat with another piece of Milliput and roll the remaining ball smooth.  Cut the ball in half, put the eyelids on the top and bottom of the half balls and then stick into the eye sockets on the figure.  Make sure the eyes don't cover the ridges around the eye socket.  How does it look from the front?

     In comparison to the infant Tyrannosaur maquette?

     Alright, I'm pretty happy with how the eyes look.  Now, we can't really do much else until the Milliput cures. When I went by my desk about 12 hours later to do laundry, the Milliput was rock hard but I had a bunch of housework to do so for all intents and purposes...

     I sanded down the Milliput on the Rex just to smoothen it out.  I left a bit of texture on it just because it doesn't feel off when you run your finger on it and I didn't want to sand any of the sculpt away.

     Now for the teeth and gums.  I've decided that I am going to cut these retail model teeth out with an Exacto knife and use Milliput to not only sculpt new teeth but also a gum-line that will house the teeth.   As you can see, the teeth on this figure don't actually come out of the gums and I think we can do better.  So first, the knife and the teeth come out.

     The teeth are made of a soft, rubbery plastic so this knife cut through them like they were made of butter.

     Man, a Tyrannosaur with no teeth.  This just feels...wrong.  Let's fix this as fast as we can because it hurts.


     So I found two teeth of approximately the same size and stuck them together with the Tamiya putty so that this custom will have nice, rounded teeth and not flattened ones like the factory model.  Upon closer inspection, I found that the infant's teeth aren't all quite the same size, especially along the bottom jaw but this tooth will serve as a reference so we'll just wrap some Milliput around it.

      Let's see how it looks next to the Rex's head.

     I think I can work with that.  If I have to make smaller teeth, that shouldn't be too much of a problem.  Before we jump into that, we need to see just how many we need so we gotta make some gums for this guy.

     Just as a precaution, I had a couple little chunks of Milliput left over so I molded them into a couple more teeth so that my references would have some variety rather than trying to cut and paste the same tooth over and over, so to speak.

     So every Jurassic Rex has an overbite and while this does make things easier, we do still need to make sure the mouth will shut smoothly, so we'll ball up some Milliput...

     ...put some along the jawline...

     ...and test.  Voila, it closes nicely.  Now we'll fill out the rest of the gum-lines and then we can start adding our teeth.

     So here's the left over Milliput from the gum-line with the reference teeth.  I always make up too much of this stuff but at least I'll be able to put this to good use with the teeth.  So I made little indentations in the gums with the cured teeth and then sculpted new teeth with the fresh Milliput.  I would've used the three in the final sculpt but cured Milliput doesn't like to stick to fresh Milliput I've found out.  So about half an hour later of rolling bits of Milliput and sticking them to the gums...

     ...we have this.  Perhaps it isn't 100% accurate to the infant but I was on a bit of a time limit when I worked on this.  If need be, I can always try sanding down the teeth to make them more fine tipped but right now, I'm really happy with how these turned out.

     I do believe this covers any physical alterations needed to the sculpt so keep your ears to the ground for Part 2 where we'll be discussing painting the dinosaur.  As always folks, thank you so much for reading and if you like what you see on this blog, you be sure to nudge that "Follow" button and stay cynical!

     -The Cynic

Friday, June 1, 2018

Carnosaur (1993) Review

     Good evening, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to another entry of Coffee With The Cynic's movie reviews.  I've been kinda dogging it on the movie reviews as of late and I wanted to get back into them but I wasn't entirely sure just what to review.  After asking some friends over Facebook, I have a solid list of suggestions to get through and we're starting with 1993's Carnosaur, starring Diane Ladd, Jennifer Runyon, Raphael Sbarge and Clint Howard.  The movie is about a scientist (Ladd) who is able to genetically recreate dinosaurs by modifying bird and reptile DNA only to have one get loose in the Nevada countryside.  Naturally, it starts racking up a huge body count and an an environmentalist (Runyon) and a night-man (Sbarge) get caught up in the middle of things.
     Much like that other dinosaur movie turning 25 years old this year, Carnosaur is based off of a novel, this one written by John Bronsan (under the pseudonym Harry Adam Knight).  I actually used to have the novel (and given how much it fetches for now, I hope I still have it) but I remember the novel is actually quite good and would recommend anyone read it if the opportunity presents itself.  The novel was published in 1984 but the film wouldn't be released until May 21, 1993.  The movie is quite different from the book and should I relocate a copy of the novel, I'll do a comparison of the two.  However, I will be going into specifics here so if you want to watch Carnosaur first, you can watch the full movie here on YouTube.  Consider that your spoiler warning.

This guy handles seeing a living dinosaur pretty calmly.  It doesn't last.
     Carnosaur had a budget of $850,000 and was produced by B-movie legend Roger Corman.  I'm telling you this just so you can adjust your expectations accordingly if you haven't seen it.  Is the movie good?  No, not really.  That means it's bad, right?  Well, not really.
     One of the more interesting things about Carnosaur is how it specifically labels what animals went into the DNA mix to create the dinosaurs (all, like, 4 of them you see onscreen, anyway) and at least of those behavioral traits is discussed in full.  When the rampaging Deinonychus gets large enough that it can start attacking people's heads, the characters discuss later that the victim's eyes have been ripped out, which sounds more in line with a bird than a bobcat.  So they're supporting the whole dinosaur/bird connection and since one of the bird DNA strands used was a vulture, that totally makes sense.
     To tell the truth, for a movie with such a low budget and tight time frame for production, the dinosaurs don't look too bad.   Honestly, they don't look great but given how nowadays most low budget dinosaurs tend to look like this, Carnosaur is actually a welcome relief because at least for the most part, I know the dinosaurs are actually on set interacting with something, whether it be the actors or on a miniature set.  The same can be said about the gore FX, to be honest.  At least it was all practical.

The full-body mini hand puppet of the T. Rex.  A full sized animatronic was also built for the movie.
     Are there problems with Carnosaur?  Hell yeah, there's problems with Carnosaur although some may say that these "problems" are part of the charm.  Remember the involvement of Roger Corman and the less than a million dollar budget so I don't want to sound too harsh on it.
     While I wouldn't necessarily say anyone here turns in a spectacular performance (not even Diane Ladd, who also happens to be Laura Dern's mother), it also certainly doesn't help that the script doesn't give them a whole lot to work with.  Any character motivations or relationships just seem to be there because the plot dictates that they need to be.  Runyon's Thrush and Sbarge's Doc befriend each other in this movie for no other reason other than Doc probably wants to slip Thrush his meat whistle and even then it's not spelled out.  There's also one part later where the sheriff (Harrison Page) goes out to investigate some screams in town after tending to his sick wife and daughters and he's all distraught like, "I'm all there is!  Come on out, I've got nothing to lose!  It's just you and me!"  I know that his wife and kids were shown to be sick earlier on but their deaths are never really shown or mentioned other than that.  It lingers on one of their faces with their eyes open but seeing as how they were still breathing, I figured they were still alive.  What were they sick with?  Well...
     Okay, so I know any movie dealing with recreating dinosaurs uses impossible science as a plot device to get the dinosaurs back into the modern world but Carnosaur might just take the cake.  Okay, so Diane Ladd thinks that human beings are just the worst (her words, not mine) and wants to give the planet back to the dinosaurs.  How?  By engineering an airborne virus that makes women fall ill with a fever and impregnate them with dinosaur embryos so then they lay eggs but passing an egg through the birth canal tears them apart from the inside, except for Ladd's character who gives birth to a dinosaur more akin to how John Hurt gave birth to a Xenomorph in Alien.  I am not making this up.  The movie starts off with chickens exploding by laying the dinosaur eggs but then as the movie progresses, you see at least two women die from this, neither of which are the sheriff's wife or daughters.  Naturally, the government gets wind of this virus effecting only females so they scramble to keep this outbreak contained before humanity's breeding capabilities are wiped out.
     I also noticed a flaw in Ladd's character's plan.  If you want to give the Earth back to the dinosaurs, fine but...where are the herbivores?  There are only two species shown in the movie, Deinonychus and Tyrannosaurus Rex.  Both are carnivores so if you're going to bring back the dinosaurs, shouldn't you be trying to breed other species too?  I know, I know, budget and all that but still, I couldn't help but think that trying to give the Earth back to the dinosaurs but only bringing back two species may not pan out well in the long run.

I mean, they can't snack on tree-huggers forever.
     In closing, Carnosaur may not be a particularly good movie but it isn't frustratingly bad or even so bad it's hilarious.  I actually respect Carnosaur for being as alright as it is.  These guys and gals were like, "Alright, we've got a very limited budget, a not so good script and a tight window of time to get this movie done but you know what?  We're going to make the best damn movie we can!"  With those circumstances, I think Carnosaur could've been much, much worse.  I don't think I'm going to remember much of the movie come next week but with that said, I don't feel like I wasted the 80 minute runtime revisiting it.  I'm giving Carnosaur the ranking of Indifferent.

Yeah, that happened...
     The movie went on to gross $1.8 million at the box office and was received pretty negatively, with Roger Ebert calling it the worst movie of 1993.  Despite all that, Carnosaur went on to have not one but two sequels and a spin-off.  The Carnosaur sequels are on YouTube as well so when I have time, I'll be giving them a revisit.  Until then, what do you think of Carnosaur?  Whether you're talking about the book or the movie, sound off in the comments below.  As always folks, thank you so much for reading and if you like what you see on this blog, you be sure to nudge that "Follow" button and stay cynical!

     -The Cynic

Jurassic Park 25th Anniversary Funko Reviews: Dennis Nedry & Exclusive Ian Malcolm

     Good evening, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to another entry of Coffee With The Cynic.  Today, we are jumping back into looking at the Funko Pop Jurassic Park 25th Anniversary line, this time the Dennis Nedry and the exclusive injured or “sexy” Ian Malcolm figures.  I’ve already looked at the other figures in previous entries (you can find the links to those reviews to your right) so let’s jump right into these ones.

     First, we have Dennis Nedry, the saboteur of Jurassic Park.  Taking Nedry out of the box, he actually feels lighter than I would’ve expected him to be.  The other Funko humans have a bit of weight to them but Nedry feels lighter than what I remember the other ones being.  Weird.  Nothing immediately jumps out at me as far as paint errors or knicks go at first glance but let’s take a closer look.

     Holy crap, look at that badge!  I’ve mentioned Funko’s attention to detail before but I’m still taken aback by the detail put into Nedry’s ID badge.  It even has a glossy sheen to it to simulate the laminated plastic that covers the actual work badges.  Very, very nice indeed!

     The raincoat has a semi-gloss finish to it to simulate the waterproof material the coat in the film is made out of so points for that.  I’ve scoured around the figure and can only find a couple of itty bitty paint goofs, like this yellow dot on his hand instead of his coat.  This was only one of maybe five color goofs, the others being a couple of pale spots on his hair, a drop of yellow on his pants and the underside of his shoes aren’t entirely black.  All of these are so small and insignificant you wouldn’t even notice they were there if you didn’t already know.

     Of course, we can’t talk about Nedry without looking at the Barbasol can.  While the can does not actually say Barbasol (probably due to copyrights), the can itself does look more or less spot on to the can used to smuggle dinosaur embryos in the film.  It even sports a higher sheen to have it look more metallic.  To be completely honest, I think this may just be the best painted human Jurassic Park Funko I have reviewed so far but we do have another one to look at.

     Aw, yeah…sexy Malcolm.  I feel like we need to put this on while we talk about this figure.  As soon as it was announced that this was going to be a thing, I knew I needed to get it out of sheer absurdity.  Hell, Scholar wasn’t interested in getting the Jurassic Park Funkos but even she wanted one of these.  When it was announced that it was going to be a Target exclusive, I thought we were SOL since we don’t have Target here in Canada but fortunately, EB Games (known as Gamestop in the States) is distributing it up here.  I’ve bought three of these already: one for me, one for Scholar and one for a friend in Vegas who was having a helluva time tracking one down.  I’ve heard rumblings of EB cracking down on people ordering multiples of the exclusives and I don’t want to tempt fate and find myself blocked from ordering from their site so if you need help finding one, ask someone else.

     Looking at this one on closer inspection, I find that the hair is better painted than the regular Ian Malcolm Funko I have.  Nice solid black all around, no missed spots, I think the hair is a little shinier than the other one to have that sweaty, wet feel to it.

     This figure may not sport any chest hair the way his onscreen counterpart did but check out those abs!  This is just another example of me looking at something and thinking, “Jesus, I need to go back to the gym…”  The drop of blood on the left hand is a nice touch but I do see some paint goofs here.  It’s just a bit of the fleshtone bleeding onto his leather coat but if I see one, it’s only fair that I point it out, nitpick or not.

     For some reason, I thought the pants of the regular Malcolm had a glossy sheen to them but I checked and they don’t.  I’m fine with this because this lets the belt stand out on the leg here.  To be honest, it looks like there might be some paint goofs here (albeit nearly microscopic) but the blood drops make sense and any bleeding of the brown paint could easily pass off as crusted mud on his pants from laying on the ground in front of the Tyrannosaurus paddock.  I will let anyone know who hasn’t bought this yet that the legs aren’t level with one another so it feels more wobbly than expected.  Not a deal breaker because exclusive Jurassic Park item but again, just letting you know.

     Overall, really happy with these acquisitions.  There is just one more Jurassic Park 25th Anniversary Funko to get but Ellie with the Jeep has not been released yet (although I have heard that it may have actually been cancelled).  I’ve seen on Facebook that the Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Funkos are starting to hit shelves in some places but I’m not entirely sure how many of those (if any) I’ll end up getting because we have some projects at home that are taking priority so I have to be very conservative with my collecting this year.  Plus, I haven’t seen Fallen Kingdom yet and I don’t want to go too crazy on collecting the merchandise just in case if it isn’t any good.

     So folks, what do you think of these Funkos?  Are you thinking of grabbing them?  If you have them, what do you think about them?  Let me know down in the comments below.  As always folks, thank you so much for reading and if you like what you see on this blog, you be sure to nudge that “Follow” button and stay cynical!

     -The Cynic