Friday, January 18, 2019

2018, the Year in Review

Holy Hell, what a ride! 

2018 found me in five different states, attending multiple conventions, driving, flying, and sailing countless miles, meeting new people, and building tons of cool stuff.  

Somewhere along the way I decided that this year I need to actually get out of my little workshop cave and go to some of the conventions where a lot of my work ends up anyway.  Early on my crew and I started making plans to attend at least a handful.  Why not?

Along the way I've been making a concerted effort to get away from the shop more often to be more sociable.  So there's also been a lot more interesting nights out.  Much of which have me finding pics on my phone that I can't explain the morning after.  Case in point:
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and indoor

Anyhow, read on for a rough timeline...

January of this year found me down in Los Angeles for a few weeks while catching up with Doctor Girlfriend:
Hiking to Griffith Observatory 2

I also spent a lot of time tinkering with a manuscript for my next book, hanging out with the dogs, and did a bit of helping out at my friend Fon Davis' shop doing some minor fabrication work.  Somewhere in there I also got to spend a lot of quality time at the Scum and Villainy Cantina in Hollywood:
Scum and Villainy Cantina Interior
This is now my favorite bar in the world.

By the time I got back to the shop I found a major backlog of works in progress that really needed to move from the "To-Do" list to the "Finally Done" list.  First among them was the T-60 Power Armor from Fallout 4:
Shin Fitting With Platforms

And the Shoretrooper Blaster that I decided to make on a whim:
Shoretrooper Blaster Finished

And the beginnings of a BB-8 build that I'm slowly never getting done:
Poking the Widget

January ended with my first-ever display at LumaCon, a local kid-friendly comic convention in Petaluma:

A week later I appeared on a Canadian TV show called the Daily Planet:
Daily Planet 06 Feb 2018 07

My friend Lewis Nowosad donned the rough parts of the T-60 and got to strut on camera.  Mark Ferrando stomped around for a bit in my Space Marine costume.  Even Leeloo got some screen time:
Daily Planet 06 Feb 2018 02

February also saw a lot of progress on the Grey Knight Terminator project:
Grey Knight Chest and Shoulders Test Fit with Helmet

Somewhere in there my Naval Reserve unit sent me off to Pearl Harbor for a couple of weeks:
Somewhere in Pearl

I should act like I was working very hard for every hour of those two weeks, but...  well:
Image may contain: Shawn M Thorsson, drink

Back home I got to catch up with the Petaluma Sea Scouts for a bit:
Scout Weekend

Then I had a fun Navy Reserve weekend in Monterey, followed by an extra day with the Lady Shawnon wandering around downtown and visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium:
Shawnon at Monterey Bay Aquarium

There were also a few chances to play around with my nephew and my dog:
Dude and Doggo

Somewhere along the way the BB-8 project started to get weird, but progress continued:
Iron BB

Once we rolled into March, my friend Mallory started making a bit of progress on her Leia bounty hunter disguise armor prototype:
Mallory Sanding Collar Armor

Meanwhile, Madison started tinkering with a Mandalorian costume:
Madison Painting Her Mando Helmet

I dusted off the War Machine project again:
WM Chest Parts on the Bench

March ended with a trip to WonderCon down in Anaheim.  There I got to attend one of the Legal Geeks mock trials.  In this case, the discrimination lawsuit against the Mos Eisley Cantina on behalf of R2-D2 and C-3PO:

Doctor Girlfriend and I spent the first day wandering around dressed as First Order TIE fighter pilots:

Since we were both in gloves, we got nearly no photos.  The next day we debuted her Thor costume:
Goddess Owning the Bridge
I got a lot of great pictures of that one.

The third day we spent in our Deadpool costumes made by my friend Fernando:

It ended up being the best time I've had a convention in ever.

In April I made it to Silicon Valley Comic Con.  I spent the first day in my "Shore Leave Trooper" costume because I felt like doing something half-assed:

It was still fun:

Then I spent Sunday in my TIE pilot costume:
FO TIE Pilot at Silicon Valley Comic Con

FO TIE Pilot at Silicon Valley Comic Con

Back in the workshop, I got into the grind to prepare for the Bay Area Maker Faire.  This meant finishing up the Fallout Power armor:
Test Fitting Shins

Sculpting and molding the last few pieces of the Grey Knight:
Sierra Finishing Hand Sculpt

Molding and casting tons of other little parts:
Danielle Pouring Minigun Parts

Painting stuff:
Agatha Painting Mouser Parts

Madi Painting Hand Details

Vinny Rusting shin

Working long hours after the dogs had passed out in the shop:
Doogs in the Shop

Or watching them find new friends:
Workshop Kitteh Returns

Eventually the time came to load everything out of the shop:
Empty Shop

The event came off without a hitch:

The Lady Shawnon managed to make the trip up for the weekend:
Shawnon Relaxing at the Booth

The new suits came out great:
Two Big New Things

And ED-209 was still looking good:
ED Looking Good

May wrapped up with me serving as one of the event judges at the Sea Scouts Ancient Mariners' Regatta.  That meant my days went by sitting in a rowing whaleboat, boiling in the sun while evaluating a bunch of teenage scout crews on their skills:
MSS Viking Crew During Flotilla Drill

But the evenings were pretty great:

I started June with a quick trick down to SoCal to catch up with Shawnon and see a fun burlesque show that was touring California:
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It was a good time all the way around and it was fun seeing how they managed to make classic Star Wars characters sexy:

Side note: I'll never look at Emperor Palpatine the same way again.

Either way, I'm still quite certain that mine was the sexiest girl there:
Image may contain: Shawnie Rose and Shawn M Thorsson, people smiling, indoor

Then I continued on to Camp Pendleton to see my brother-in-law retire from the US Marine Corps:
Corry Retirement

A few days later, my sister also retired from the Marines:
Sheryl Retirement

Somewhere in between, my niece graduated from high school:
Skylar Grad

So it was all all around good time with a stop at the girlfriend's place on the way back:

Otherwise, I spent June catching up on lots of little projects that had been kicking around for forever.  For example, I finally molded this helmet sculpt:
Alas, poor Ulrik

I did a bit more work on the War Machine armor:
WM Chest Test Fit with Helmet

I also pulled the canvas cover off of my tragically neglected boat:

Somewhere in there, I also got to help the Sea Scouts with their annual fundraiser running the parking lot at the Petaluma Fair:

Which, as usual, was a good chance to catch up with my sister Sheryl:

At the end of the month, I drove back down to Southern California so I could help Shawnon load all of her belongings into a U-Haul, drive everything to Las Vegas where she'll spend a year-long surgical internship, then drive back to LA to return the U-Haul, then drive back home.  That was a fun trip.  Made all that much more interesting by having both dogs along for the whole jaunt

About this time, I hired Rachel on as a new helper in the workshop:
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She's been an absolute godsend.

Come July, we finally put the finishing touches on this guy:

Made this beauty:

Which was a miniature version of the proposal that my friend Peter Rubin and I came up with for Petaluma's Public Art Committee's first major installation:
LUMA sea monster concept

It would've been amazing, but the committee decided they preferred a handful of bathtubs mounted on stilts.  Not even kidding.  Here's a link:

Somewhere in that month, my friend Hep stopped by and did a great photo shoot for this beast:
Fallout 4 Power Armor Costume Test
Always a joy to work with her.

Back in the shop, I installed lights in some helmets:
Helmet Eye Lights Installed

In the middle of the month I made my way down to San Diego Comic Con so I could attend it like normal people do and see what all the fuss was about:
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Once again, I neglected to take enough photos, but a good time was had:
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Image may contain: 9 people, including Shawn M Thorsson, Cassandra Brown and John Schlosser, people smiling, people sitting and indoor

I'm especially grateful to my friend Liz who dragged me out of my cave and talked me into making the trip:
Image may contain: Liz Anne Edmunds and Shawn M Thorsson, people smiling, hat and indoor
She also made a boatload of Jell-O shots to take the edge off.

Back in the cave, I started making this thing for no reason at all:
Primed Prototype

I finished July aboard the Sea Scout Ship Compass Rose:
Image may contain: ocean, sky, outdoor, water and nature

That was a little over a week and a half of cruising around the Sacramento Delta, running teenagers around in a ski boat, and generally having a good time:
Image may contain: one or more people, ocean, sky, outdoor and water

Early in August Rachel and I were laying up fiberglass parts in the workshop and heard a series of explosions off in the distance.  Then helicopters started flying overhead.  Looking outside, it turns out there was a sizable brush fire that burned several acres upwind of the us:
Neighborhood Fire Early On

We got to spend an hour or so watching as the bombers and helicopters from CAL FIRE dropped water and fire retardant until the flames were extinguished:
Neighborhood Fire Helo Water Drop

So that was exciting.

A few days later, my assistant Rachel and I loaded up a small display and drove up for the Seattle Mini Maker Faire:

It was  great trip that ended up being an opportunity to catch up with my friend Rich, have a few drinks, and hang out in Seattle.  I didn't take nearly enough photos, but that's okay because none of the pics I got made any sense at all:

About the same time as I got back from that trip, my grandfather got himself a pair of emus:
Because why not?

Dad had pulled focus and started concentrating his efforts on finishing the next monster truck build:

I also decided to get back into painting wargaming miniatures by way of needing a mindless hobby for my own mental health:

I'm a bit out of practice, but I've been enjoying the process:
Power Fist Drip

September saw my second annual appearance at Santa Rosa Toy Con.  I didn't get too too many photos, but this was my favorite by far:

I also started churning out limited batches of Combat Garden Gnomes again:
Gnomes in Progress

Leeloo continued her lifelong quest for the perfect stick:

As September gave way to October, I got a nice early start on Halloween preparations.  One of the key projects was making a couple copies of the Cobra Baroness costume for Rachel and Shawnon:
Catsuit Test Fit 1

While I worked on that, Rachel did the sewing for my Cobra Commander costume:
Cobra Commander Cape Test Fit

I also finished putting together my Judge costume from DREDD 3D:
Judge Thorsson

I decided I wanted multiple options for the custom judge badge.  I may have gotten a bit carried away:
Judge Badges

Somewhere in the middle of all of that, I flew down to Las Vegas so Shawnon and I could drive to Los Angeles together to meet up with a bunch of her friends at Disneyland:
Image may contain: 6 people, including Shawn M Thorsson, Shawnie Rose, Brian Chen and Lesley Estrada, people smiling, people standing, sky and outdoor

Forgot to mention that some time back in April I'd started printing out parts for a Star Wars battle droid whenever the 3D printers were idle.  By the time September rolled around it was showing quite a bit of progress:
Battledroid Parts 2

Towards the end of the month, I flew out to Las Vegas.  While there, I got to spend the weekend prior to Halloween with Shawnon out on the town in costume:

As usual, I didn't get nearly enough photos.  A few days later, Halloween proper was on a Wednesday.  By then I was in San Francisco partying it up with some of my crew from the workshop.  Fortunately, there were no photos of that night.

November we were back in the shop and working on all manner of awesomeness:
Eldar Longsword

By this time, half of the State of California was on fire and last year's record-breaking wildfires were overshadowed by this year's record-breaking wildfires.  In Petaluma, a few hours' drive from any of the blazes, the smoke filled the air everywhere you went:
Smoke is the New Fog

On clearer days, Dad made more progress on the new monster truck:
Hood Fitting

At this point, Death Snails started being a thing:
Death Snail German Helmet Closeup

As the month was drawing to an end, we got started on a build for Magic Wheelchair:
Dashboard Fit Test

Magic Wheelchair is a charitable organization that finds makers like me to fabricate custom wheelchair cosplays for disabled kids to take to conventions and whatnot.  In this case, we made a Davros chariot for a Doctor Who fan named Tori:
Tori's Magic Wheelchair Finished

It was unveiled at the Heroes & Villains Fan Fest in San Jose.  Tori loved it:

My crew and I spent the weekend at Heroes and Villains and had a pretty good time:


That was the last project and trip for the year.  December wound down with more building things, more running around a one last night of hijinks and drinking silliness:

I'm sure there were more key events that aren't fresh in my mind at the moment, but one way or another, I definitely got my money's worth out of these 12 months.

Stay tuned in the year to come.  There's going to be a lot more adventures, the final chapter of my storied career with the US Navy, and even more things moving from the To-Do List to the Done List.

Image may contain: sky, twilight, cloud, ocean, outdoor, nature and water


  1. Thanks for doing what you do. You really encourage making and creativity. Have a good 2019.

  2. Shawn, thank you for the glimpse into your remarkable year. I think that you can safely grade your annual assessment with an A+, for all you achieved. Your work for the Magic Wheelchair was selfless and inspirational. Thank you for sharing.