That's all for this time, until next time, have a good one!
VIETNAM STORY, the display...
Good Morning Campers, Point Man here. I was able to get quite a lot of photos at the Ft. Thomas show and I thought that I would start sharing some of them in the UPDATE. You can get a pretty good overview of the show by clicking on the link on the home page, but there are enough photos that I can fill in a little more detail on a good number of the displays that were there. We're going to start with my own display since I know it best.
My display was about Vietnam as told through my online series; VIETNAM STORY. The display was composed of a 1:6th diorama and 1:1 scale elements. My display included an information board that tried to explain just that.
Knowing that kids and adults would be viewing the display. I tried to give them a little bit of information about the real world history which provides the basis for my story. Since they would be looking at a diorama depicting a Vietnam firebase, part of what I wanted to do was explain what a firebase was. A portion of the board was also dedicated to talking about my 1:6th version of Vietnam.
In the series, Firebase Cooper is a base that supports brown water navy operation in one sector of the Mekong Delta. The base provides artillery support as well as logistical support for the Navy river boats. My particular unit of the 9th Infantry is there to protect the base.
The model of the base was built from insulation foam, which was mounted onto two frames made of a cheap pine. The resulting two-piece diorama is very light and easy to move. Once I had the general shape carved out. I covered the foam with a light layer of joint compound and then the entire thing was painted.
After a coat of latex paint was brushed on, I used various colors of spray paint to create the look of clay. Some texturing was then added with a white glue/water mixture to seal it.
Then details such as the boards on the ground, the oil drums, crates, etc. were added to the scene. The 155 mm howitzer is the Hasbro Korean gun. 155's were used in Vietnam as well. The observation tower is from World Peace Keepers. Both pieces were supplied to me by Dr. Zorkon. Thanks Doc!
The hardest, most time consuming part of the project was the 155 sandbags that grace the diorama. These were all sewn, filled and tied by Mrs. Point Man, who deserves the credit for making the diorama work.
As I said earlier though, the diorama was only part of the display. The other part consisted of the information board and the 1:1 display. The largest part of this section was the torso mannequin with the Vietnam Jungle Jacket (3rd pattern) and gear. I thought having a uniform as part of the display would be a neat way for the kids to see the connection between real world and the 1:6th models.
There were a lot of parts to the display, weapons, personal items, gear (such as the butt pack and flak jacket in this photo. A lot of personal gear as well - sunblock, a radio and a copy of Life Magazine from 1968, a packet of letters and a pack of Kools.
The centerpiece of the display was three glass cases. What most people viewing the items didn't realize was that all the items in the cases except the medals and patches were reproduction items made by myself. There were ration pack items and Vietnam personal documents. The center case contained "Doc's Diary" from VIETNAM STORY. It is an exact 1:1 reproduction of the diary in the story. I had to explain to several people that it was not a real diary, which gave me a chance to tell them about the website and the story.
Overall, I found building the display to be a very satisfying project. First of all, I needed the diorama for my story anyway, so it was just a matter of adding a 1:1 component to it for a more "educational" display. And the great thing is, I already have my display for next year done. I might change out some of the actors so that the scene is a little different, but it will be a whole lot easier to get ready for next year than it was this year.
That's all for this time, until next time, have a good one!
FIREBASE COOPER...Progress Report...
Well, this was a busy weekend for me. I hope everyone has had a good one. I worked on a variety of things related to the Ft. Thomas show, like mounting the signs on cardboard, getting my presentation board painted and oh yeah, finishing the firebase. I filled a lot of sandbags this weekend. So, here's a teaser of what you will see in three weeks in my display...
Have yet to put any figures into the scene, hoping it will like a little more lively with soldiers, but man, does it feel good to have this thing done. My list for Ft. Thomas is getting shorted ant that is good. Well, until next time, have a good one!
Thought we might start the week out with a review. I don't know that I can talk too much about this figure because I don't really have any data and I obviously haven't seen the real figure yet, but we will retreat back to the old axiom that a picture is worth a thousand words. Several pictures then should be equivalent to a lengthy short story...
Following some of Hot Toys lines (like Batman), I know that sometimes the reviews are mixed, especially when you consider the price, but I have to tell you that I certainly do like the looks of this one - Chris Taylor from Platoon. It looks like the actor Charlie Sheen and the uniform and gear looks first rate. Not only that, Hot Toys seems to have a commitment to accuracy as evidenced by the fact that they spend the money to get the license for their figures. And of course I am into Vietnam figures, so I was bound to like this one.
But then, really what's not to like. They give you two heads and plenty of gear. It looks to be a pretty sweet figure. Years ago I bought a Sideshow version of this figure and though the sculpt and the uniform survived to surface into my Vietnam saga, the gear did not. The Sideshow gear was pretty sub-standard.
But, enough of what I think, here are the rest of the pictures. You all tell me what you think of this one. I think it is pretty cool, but I will not spend as much as I know it's probably going to be to get my hands on one. I sure hope it gets parted out though, I want that claymore bag and the LAW.
Well, I think it looks pretty sharp, but I am interested in hearing what you all think about the figure. And, will it be the only one? or will there be more characters from the movie? Inquiring minds want to know. Well, that is all for this time round, so until next time,
GI DIARY - Planning for Vietnam
Sometimes in the course of doing a graphic novel like VIETNAM STORY, I am sort of surprised at the way things go. Case in point was my Justin Case series, in which the characters of the story ended up on the holodeck of my Star Trek starship, the USS Bunker Hill. I don't think anyone was expecting that, including me. I find it interesting that if you stay with a story long enough, the characters and situations have a way of taking on a life of their own. I have heard novelist talk about that happening when they are writing. If it can happen in a novel, I suppose that it is possible on some level with a graphic novel. Thus, it raises the question for me, where is Vietnam Story going next.
I would love to be able to answer that question, but I really do not have a clue. Since I started this thing, I have created a lot of new characters. I have easily tripled the number of Vietnam figures, so there are a lot of characters to introduce and a lot of ways to do it. Whereas I had one squad when I started, I now have two, which is equivalent to half the platoon. Considering the amount of space I usually work in, it won't be too hard to trick people into believing they are looking at an entire platoon.
I have also added about half that number in special forces figures as well as a small Marine contingent and an armored gun Jeep. The additional characters allow me to head off in some directions that were not possible before, but if that is not enough. I am well on my way to completing two modules that will give me a significant set of the firebase, which will add even more possibilities.
So here's the question, what would you like to see happen in the series? If you were writing it, what would you write next? Is there a certain aspect of the conflict that you would like to see played out. I am not saying that I am going to necessarily do everything that everyone suggests, but I would like to know what you all think about the series and where you think it should go. It will be fun to see if any of us are right. I have some pretty specific ideas about how I want to do certain things, it will be interesting to see if they really turn out that way. As I said, sometimes I am surprised as well. There is no question about one thing though, once the firebase set is finished, the story will be continuing.
Well, that's all for tonight. Until next time, have a good one!
POINT MAN's PBR
Tonight we are going to look at an oldie but goodie - my PBR, well...I say mine, I guess that really isn't true anymore since I no longer have possession, but since I built it, I guess I have the right to still feature it on occasion.
I would guess that if you still want to buy one, they are still available, at least they are still on James DeSimmone's site, you can always email him and find out. I guess my point in showing it though is to encourage those of you who might already have another one of his models that with a little work, you can make it look pretty good.
And work it did require. I pretty much kept the hull and thru everything else away. Even the hull received major modifications to make it look more like a MK II PBR. The first thing that was required however was a deck. The hull was simply that - a hull. After floating it in the bathtub to see how high it would float in water, I decided that it was going to need quite a bit more weight. The deck was cut out of a piece 3/4" presswood that I had lying around. The raised section in the aft section was created with four pieces of 2x4". Everything was then covered with thin styrene.
Once there was a deck, then a styrene bulkhead was added to the cabin and the various shields were added. The model is not scale width, so I had to mess with the spacing quite a bit to get what I am defending as a "close enough for government work" look; not accurate, but generally capturing the feel of a PBR.
The foredeck suffered the same problems as the rest of the vessel, it wasn't big enough and the compression was really too much for the level of detail I wanted to include. The result was more of a caricature than a scale model, but it certainly worked in photos. The foredeck had to be rebuilt with styrene and a new hole cut for the gun tub, speaking of which, that was replaced too. The front of the cabin had to be rebuilt with styrene and putty to give it more height and a more correct shape.
Then that support structure for the canopy and the railings all had to be built out of brass tubing. That actually didn't turn out to be as hard as I thought it would be, for which I was grateful. Painting, weathering and detailing was next and there was plenty of it.
I have always gone for a cluttered look with all my vehicles, because I like that "lived in-fought in" look. In the small confines, the clutter really is intensified (it actually doesn't take as much to do the job).
Once the boat was built I had to decide how I was going to photograph it on a regular basis. I didn't live near a creek and the boat weighed about 25 lbs. I decided that I would build a water set for it instead. Out of a piece of plywood, I cut a whole the shape of the hull and lined the edges with felt, so that I wouldn't scratch my paint job up setting and removing the boat from the diorama. Then I painted the plywood with a variety of different colors and over sprays to try to build up some depth to the "Water". As you can see from the pictures, it never
really did look like water, but it was a nice foundation for Photoshopping the water into each scene. This was a fairly complicated process, building up layers of opaque images to create waves, reflections and wakes. I really never want to do it again.
When we left Colorado to move to Ohio, I left the PBR with someone in our Joe Club. I was kind of afraid to dry and move it and I was pretty sure I wouldn't have room for it. Yes, it was under-scaled, but it was still one big model. I don't regret it too much because it really wasn't about possessing it, all of the fun was in building, photographing it and then working with the images. Now mind you, it is not a project that I recommend. It was a tremendous pain in the butt...period. You have really got to love the Vietnam era to tackle one of these babies.
Well, that is all for this week, until Sunday night, have a good one!
Well, we move tonight from WWII desert Jeep to Vietnam and my armored Mutt - The RAT PATROL. It is funny (funny strange, not funny ha-ha) that I should pick a name from a TV series about WWII troops fighting in the desert in Jeeps. But maybe not so strange when you think about it.
The Rat Patrol TV show aired during the 1960's and wasn't unknown to GIs in Vietnam (perhaps not as popular as COMBAT, but known none the less).
The Rat Patrol-ran for two seasons, a total of 56 color episodes, on ABC from September 12, 1966 to September 16, 1968. The show starred Christopher George as Troy, and Eric Braden as Dietrich; writers included Larry Cohen and Lorenzo Semple Jr.
THE RAT PATROL followed the adventures of an elite team of commandos of 111th Armor Recon, attached to the Long Range Desert Group, as they wreaked havoc with Rommel’s Afrika Korps during WW II. Led by the charismatic Sergeant Sam Troy, our heroes often found themselves pitted against their German nemesis DAK Hauptmann Dietrich. And yes, there is evidence that it was popular with folks in Vietnam.
But wait...there's more. Check out this helmet cover, it is hard to see, but you will see the words RAT PATROL on the cover as well as a very crude drawing of a little Jeep with some kind of gun mounted on it.
Anyway, that's my inspiration for the RAT PATROL armored Mutt. I don't know where I came up with the Mickey Mouse Idea, I guess I decided on the name RAT PATROL and then began thinking about a VC Rat and then the Mickey Mouse thing happened. Well, that's how "art" is sometimes.
Just an interesting little side note, as I was researching the Rat Patrol TV show, I found a reference to a MARX Rat Patrol Jeep with figures. I sure never saw this thing before. I had no idea that Marx did anything like this at all. It was definitely based on the television show, though I am curious as to whether or not it was a licensed product. Interesting that one of the figures is holding an M-16. Mistake, or done intentionally? Does anyone know? And was MARX copying the Hasbro Desert Jeep, or was it the other way around?
Here's the Hasbro piece by the way (below). By today's standard, it isn't much, but to tell you the truth, when this thing first came out, I wanted one as badly as everyone else.
Vietnam Story is the story of infantry combat in Southeast Asia. The story is told through the Journal of combat medic, ‘DOC’ Thompson. The feel of the story is entirely “first-person”. I wanted to create a sense of anticipation in the story by giving it a “real-time” feeling. Writing the first episode, I found that this is more difficult than I anticipated and I spent a lot of time correcting my dialog.
I have always had a strong interest in the Vietnam conflict having grown up in the generation that watched it on the news each night. I received my Selective Service card not long after the fall of Saigon, so certainly Vietnam was on my mind a great deal during its closing days. Fan’s of Green Leader’s Ultimate Soldier Fan Site have long been familiar with my online comics such as the Haunted Tank and the First Generation. I also did a Vietnam series based on a PBR skipper and his crew.
Upon moving from Colorado to Ohio, I left the PBR with someone I knew in Denver. After being in Ohio a while the Vietnam bug bit me again and I began to think about improving my Vietnam era troops. As I looked through my Vietnam troops and gear I realized that what I had was all over the board and none of it really looked all that good. I decided that I would put together an infantry squad and that I would try to make it look as first class as I could. I decided how many figures I wanted to put in that squad (based mostly on the number of uniforms I had available) and then I began to order gear from Echo Base Toys. My infantry soldiers would have real canvas pouches, belts and harnesses and the jungle boots would be constructed from real material and leather. I chose to buy TOY SOLDIER gear for these upgrades. I have heard a lot of complaints about their boots as compared to NEWLINE MINIATURES, but the price was right for me and I decided that I would make them work. The figures in my unit are all Dragon figures. I also ordered some olive drab strap material in a couple of different widths from GOOD STUFF TO GO. I used this to put new straps on some equipment items as well as for rifle straps.
Helmets and helmet covers came from a variety of sources. Actually my favorite helmet cover is the one made by SOLDIERS OF THE WORLD. It stretches on most helmets nice and tight and once weathered with some pastels looks quite realistic. The straping material was used to make new chinstraps for all of my helmets as well as helmet bands. I have seen a lot of different helmet bands out there, but the one on my 1:1 Scale helmet is olive drab in a stretchy canvas-like material. That is what I tried to duplicate. I also used helmet covers from Dragon and Sideshow, all of which got some degree of pastel weathering.
Unit patches (9th Infantry) name tapes, etc were all done in ADOBE INDESIGN and were printed on fabric paper with an inkjet printer. I also did a lot of online searching to find a lot of different kinds of Vietnam era paper items, everything from military script and manuals to Playboy magazines. If anyone is interested in that sort of stuff, I have some good quality images that I am willing to share, already sized.
It took me a couple of weeks to get the unit put together and then I pulled out my collection of fake plants and got to work on putting together the four different scenes that make up the first episode. I tried to get the “Jungle” as thick as I could so that I could eliminate as much background removal as possible. After a shoot, I spend most of my “post-production” time in photoshop removing backgrounds and substituting basement walls with realistic scenery. I wanted to cut that time down as much as possible, so I used a really dark background behind the foliage and tried to keep the shots fairly tight. There was still a lot of clipping, but it went fairly quick. The final touch was to add diary pages into the final art. The diary pages carry through a lot of the narration in a first-person real time manner, giving the impression that Doc Thompson is telling us the story as it happens. He also tells us that he is scared and that he worries about doing well under fire. If you write those sort of things in third-person, they come from outside of the character and they are not nearly as effective in their impact.
Doc Thompson, besides being the platoon medic, is an artist. His drawings dot the pages of the diary. The drawings were actually done in photoshop with a filter. I got the idea for the artwork from an actual medic’s diary that I found online. I just thought that it would add an additional dimension to the character.
The first two episodes of Vietnam Story have posted on Green Leader’s site at this point in time and the troops there seem to really like it. I think the reason that it did well is that there hasn’t been a lot done with Vietnam storylines in 1:6th even though most of us have some interest in the subject matter. I have several more episodes planned for the series, but haven’t been motivated to build some scenery that I need until just recently. The number of troops in my command have grown as well and though I haven't been able to do all of them with the expensive gear, they all look fairly good. If you haven't seen any of Vietnam Story, you can catch it on my site, which is listed on the Home page of the SSCC.
That's all for now, until next time, have a good one!