Sunday, January 8, 2017

2016: the Year in Review

So there I was on the morning of January first 2016, somewhere in the frozen backwaters of upstate New York, penniless and hungover with no idea how I was going to get home.  Little did I know, 2016 was going to present me with one of the busiest, craziest, hardest, best, and worst years ever.

For a longer summation, read on...


January in Ithaca gave me a lot of opportunities to stay shut in and work on my book.  I also had time to churn out the second costume that I would be using for illustrations.  Fortunately, the Lady Shawnon was willing to don the whole thing and pose for photos in the only environment that would make it look right:


I would've preferred a heavier blanket of snow on the ground, but as it is I owe her big for this photoshoot.

I ended up making it home a couple of weeks into the year and set about making more Star Wars replicas in earnest.  By February I'd made some pretty good headway on the new version of the TIE fighter pilot helmet:
WIP on Display Stand Side

I made a few copies for some friends with the 501st Legion.  When I went to drop them off with my friend Matt, I met the next kind of dog I want:


A little while later, I was asked to make a few more pieces for a fan film:
FN-2199 Vacation

So that was fun:


April started off with Bain, my Siberian husky and longtime friend, getting run over by a truck.  He was still breathing by the time I got to him, but somewhere on the way to the veterinarian he died in the passenger seat.  Here he is in happier times:
Bain on Porch
He'll be missed.

After that and well into April I ended up working at another shop on a project that was all kinds of fascinating and nothing I can talk about.  This seems to be a growing trend.


The month ended with the beginning of the Maker Media mascot costume:
Cardboard Mockup for Scale

That was the cardboard mockup used to test the movement and functionality of the design concept.  Once I was satisfied that the thing was going to work, I started working on all of the forms and molds to build it in durable, lightweight, shiny, red fiberglass.

In the middle of that madness, we also finished the Hunter costume for the cover of my book and had a quick photoshoot at my friend Michi's studio:


That done, it was time to get back to work on Makey.  Here he is at the Bay Area Maker Faire in May:
IMG_20160520_104825148

I didn't get to see Makey's debut performance though.  I was in Florida, watching the Lady Shawnon get her doctorate:


Now she's the Lady Doctor Shawnon:
Doctor Hot Chick

Since we were in the neighborhood, we snuck in a couple of days at Disneyworld:



I didn't get too many photos there.  In fact, most of them were snapshots of Shawnon going through extra security screening:

As chance would have it, she was randomly selected every single time we entered each of the parks.  This happened several times a day over the three days we were there.  Apparently she looks pretty sketchy.

Days after returning from that trip, I was aboard the Sea Scout Ship Compass Rose for the annual Ancient Mariners Regatta:
AMR 14

The crew was in good spirits:
AMR 12

I spent the weekend camped out in one of the whaleboats judging the Flotilla event (a precision rowing drill, hard to explain if you're not one of us), but mostly it was a chance to relax in the shade on the dock:


By the time the weekend had ended, the crew had performed admirably and we snapped this one semi-serious photo before they returned to the ship, exhausted, and began the voyage home:
Serious Crew is Serious

By June they were back at it, running the parking concession at the local fairgrounds (our annual fundraising effort).  The whole ordeal is a lot of long hours in the hot sun directing traffic, but they managed to stay upbeat and energetic the entire time:
Cleanup Crew

At about that same time, I started work on another huge rushed project.  Here I am beginning to make some of the molds:
Moldmaking in Progress

The end result: after only 39 days my crew and I had built the Schick Hydrobot that would go out and make its first public appearance at San Diego Comic Con:
Outside at SDCC

Somewhere in the middle of that mad rush, Shawnon finished up her time in New York and drove home with her cousin Kristen.  With them they brought Leeloo's buddy Dozer to stay with me for a while:
Coconut Retrievers

Once the Hydrobot project had been completed, I was able to shift gears and work at a somewhat more relaxed pace on a few backburner projects.

Here's an early look at the beginning stages of my Fallout power armor build:
Roughing In More Shape

Then there's the Sith Stalker project that I've been tinkering with for too long:
Sith Stalker Armor Test Fitting

September was a busy month that culminated with me flying out to Pearl Harbor for an excercise with the Navy.  My role there was classified* but I still got a few minutes of free time here and there:


So I got Shawnon to fly out to visit for the duration:
Shawnon Visits Oahu

There are worse places in the world to be stuck with a beautiful woman:

Shawnon Visits Oahu

By the time October rolled around, I finally managed to button up a few much-needed improvements to the workshop:
Roofed Shop Expansion

The Lady Doctor Shawnon helped me with the roofing bit:
Doctor Girlfriend on the Roof

She ended up heading off to begin a rotating internship in Southern California a few days later.

Right after that, my book hit store shelves.  Here I am at a signing event at the local Barnes & Noble:


The other guy in this photo is Alexander Belfor, author and creator of "the Final Hunt" which is where the character on the cover of my book came from.  You can find out more about that here: LINK

The next weekend, I went out with the Scout ship to see the Fleet Week airshow in San Francisco Bay:
Watching Airshow

There I spotted the next boat I want:
Lady Washington
Time to start saving up...


The rest of the month was my usual shotgun blast of workshop progress:
Carrying Prototype Parts
This thing is going to be HUGE when I finish it.

And there's this guy who I need to build a flamethrower for:
Flametrooper Test Fit

The end of October had me drive south to meet up with Shawnon, then fly out to Orlando for her friend Hahn's wedding:


We also squeezed in another day at Disneyworld.

Sadly, I didn't get to do Halloween proper.  Instead, we spent the evening flying back to Southern California.  But at least the view was nice:
Departing Orlando

November found me back in the workshop playing catchup and adding new fun things to my to-do list:
Hovertank Pilot Helmet First Primer Pass

December began in much the same way:
Juuuuust Right

Spraying Black with Chicken Helper

Yawning Leeloo

Strapped Version 1

Crammed into December was also a week of Navy training down in San Diego.  Most of it was classified* stuff taught in secure spaces where I wasn't allowed to take pictures, but the evenings were pretty much spent watching the sun set with wine:




After that, the Schick Hydrobot was conspicuously visible during the Video Game Awards in Los Angeles:


For the holidays, I headed to Southern California to spend a few days with the Lady Doctor Shawnon and her family. I even brought Leeloo.  Good times all the way around.


So December was insanely busy.

The last thing I managed to do before the year ended was to reorganize a bit of space and clear off a bit more workbench:
Shop Backdrop Sorted

Expect amazing things to happen in the coming year.

*"Classified" should never be confused with "exciting," or even "interesting."  Don't feel like you're missing out.

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