Monday, 20 May 2013

More Fisher Price Adventure People

After picking up a carded Frogman adventure person a few weeks back I started keeping an eye out for more loose figures. They don't really turn up that often on ebay here in the UK, there are loads in the US, but with high postage costs they aren't very good value. Occasionally you will see them turn up on the UK site, and have been bidding on any largish lots of them. And I have got lucky a couple of times and got a handful for about a quid each figure.

And this is my collection so far:

The space figures are by far my favorite, they just look extra cool. And the X-ray man reminds me a lot of the vintage Tron toys. There are some figures that seem to be very common, I already have a pile of the orange bike guys, and 3 extra of the blue guy with the headset.

A lot of the figures re-use body parts from other figures in the line. The Frogman that started me off on this collection is also available in yellow with a mustache,  and his head is used in a number of the astronauts. But you will see plenty of other figures that are just straight re-paints.

These are now on my list of toys to keep an eye out for. And they should be an easy set to complete as there are only 70 odd figures in the entire line.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Toy room - update

I have had a bit more spare time to spend sorting out the toy room, and it's starting to feel a bit more organized. All the vintage Star Wars figures are now out including the imperial army. Getting the Transformers out has been a bit of a pain as I can't remember what weapon goes with what figure, and some of the newer figures are really hard to transform.

I still have plenty more boxes to open and sort out. Most of this stuff has been hidden away for the last 6/7 years so some of it I don't even remember having. Which makes it kind of fun. Like going for a good rummage at a toy fair.

Alien Resurrection - Atom Zone screen used game

Back in the mid 90's I was working for a London based game company called Argonaut Software. I was working on the game license for the up coming film 'Alien Resurrection'. The game was due to come out on the PSOne and at the time a few other platforms. In the end I think it only came out on the PSOne. It was one of those games that just went from problem to problem and I left the project before it got finished.

Anyway, while working on this we were asked by 20th Century Fox to create a playable game that they could use within the film itself. I was tasked with creating the art for this over a few short days as they needed the game quickly. The game initially didn't have a name, but in the movie it was titled 'Atom Zone'.

You get to see Atom Zone very briefly on the bridge of the 'Betty'. I have no idea why you would have an arcade machine on the bridge of a space ship, but there ya go.

Recently while sorting out some old boxes I came across the backup CD's from this time and found a disc that contained all the original CGi models used in this game. With a little bit of fiddling I have managed to get them in a state that I can output images from the models. These model were originally created in a dos based piece of software called 3ds4. I have outputted images pretty much as they would have been at the time.

The above image shows a CGI version of the arcade machine case that I built to be used in intro sequence to the game. This was created from photos that I took on the set in LA. You don't really get to see the detail in the movie, but the case was fully decorated all round with some great retro art.

The game is only seen very very briefly in the movie, which is a shame considering the amount of work that went into it. It was fully playable, and had a choice of ships. At the time this was created using the fastest graphics cards around so that it could run at a high-resolution. It ran on a top end PC with two graphics cards to keep the frame rate up.

This first ship is the one you can see blowing up in the still from the movie. It was loosely based on the drop ship from 'Aliens'.

This second ship was the one you played as. This could be switched on and off depending on what view you wanted. This was not seen in the film.

 This final ship was a second type of enemy ship. More of a mother ship I guess. Again not seen in the film.

I have a few other models for the lasers, engine jets, an asteroid, and the explosion, but I have not bothered sorting those out. They are a little dull.

All of these ships models are fairly low detail compared to todays games, but they were all that the graphics cards could handle at the time.

The game was pre-recorded and then played onto a monitor inside the arcade machine box.

In total there were 3 of use who created this game, but we didn't get individual credits, just an overall company credit. You can read the Film Credits here. Atom Zone is listed under Argonaut Software.

Looking back, it's pretty crazy to have some work in an Alien film.

The screen captures are the top of this page come from here.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Star Wars Badges

These are not the sort of things I normally collect, but I saw these two badges at a recent flea market in Shepton Mallet and thought they looked pretty cool.  Both seem to be originals as they have Twentieth Century fox and Lucas film trademarks on them. The large blue badge is made by Factors Inc. Not bad for £3

I've got to work out how to display them now.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Modern Vs. Vintage figures

I've been collecting toys and action figures for more than 20 years now. It started with me re-collecting the figures I had in my youth as there weren't any modern figures I liked (this was back in the early 90's). Then with the re-releases of the Star Wars movies this all changed as it seemed most toy manufacturers jumped on the action figure band wagon and started producing figures from pretty much any film/tv show going.

Those first few years of new figures carried on with the idea that action figures are toys first, collectables second. Figures and ships weren't made screen accurate just a close version that could be played with by kids. Figures came with one or two weapons, limited movement and details, but were hard to break.

In the last few years I have come to find that I dislike the modern figures more and more. Toy makers no longer make toys, but collectables. This means that the figures are super detailed, come with a handful of weapons and accessories, but that they are also really delicate. You just have to look at a modern toy and an arm will fall off.

Transformers are by far the worst for breaking. They say they are designed to come apart, but many just fall apart with the lightest of touches. And I have even had some come out of the box broken as the plastic they are made of is so brittle. Vintage transformers were made of much sturdier stuff. Yes you could still break them if you played a little to rough, but they mostly could take a serious amount of wear.

I look back on 'vintage' figures and see how much better they are than these modern ones. There first and main job was to be played with. This meant they were well built, nothing fell off them (apart from the one weapon they came with), and they didn't mind being buried in sand, dunked in the bath, dropped down the stairs.

It's come to the point now that you often have to buy multiple versions of a figure in the hope one of them is a good one, not broken, no loose limbs, just well made.

These days I would rather buy some well played with vintage figures (ok they will be worn, but they will also still be able to be displayed or played with), than buy and be constantly disappointed when opening new figures.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Ray Harryhausen

I was very sad to hear that Ray Harryhausen has passed away. He has been and inspiration to me for pretty much all my working life. His creature designs and animation were always amazing, and stand up even in todays CGi world.

The current project I am working on 'Combat Monsters' even contains a Cyclops as this monster is the one that has always stuck in my mind. One of Rays best.

Modern CGi really can't compete with the skill, time and effort of stop motion.