About Me

My photo
I make toys for kids who don't want to grow up. I'm on the lookout for new projects. If you're interested in commissioning me to build something ridiculous, shoot me an email.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Les Grossman Rocks!

While I liked the movie Tropic Thunder, I can honestly say that the one thing that really made it for me was Tom Cruise as Les Grossman. This year he's apparently helping to promote the MTV Movie Awards as Les Grossman. I couldn't care less about the awards show, but if you liked this character in Tropic Thunder as much as I did, you'll agree that the promo spots are brilliant. Enjoy:

Tom Cruise yelling at himself. Awesome!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Brass in the Grass 2010

Sunday morning I went up to the North end of Santa Rosa to check out the annual "Brass in the Grass" show. This is a showcasing of pre-war cars, trucks, bikes, and boats; and they encourage folks to attend in period clothing. The venue was pretty classy all the way around and it was a pretty good time. Here's an overall shot I snapped on the way in:
Brass in the Grass

This old boat-tail Speedster really grabbed me:
Boat Tail 2

Mostly because of the back end:
Boat Tail
Then there was this Art Deco masterpiece:
Brass in the Grass DeSoto

An old Ford pickup that makes me really want one of my own:
Brass in the Grass Ford Pickup

Another speedster:

Delivery truck:
Delivery Truck

Here's a lovingly restored Harley:
Brass in the Grass Harley

And a Buick that made the title "Brass in the Grass" mean something:
Brass in the Grass Buick

While there was plenty of shiny stuff to look at, I really liked some of the rusty, dusty pieces as well. Like this 1909 Overland:

Tons of great details on this car. Check out the horn:
Overland Horn

There were some military vehicles there too (which may have violated the "pre-war only" requirement) but I didn't take many pictures of them. It seems like almost all you ever see are Jeeps. While they're interesting enough, they've gotten kinda boring. There was one dressed up in Navy colors though. And an ambulance:
Jeep Ambulance

In the central area of the show were a row of American Bantams. These are adorable little cars. Really little. There was a whole row of them and they look like a lot of fun:
Bantam 1

Here's one configured as a delivery vehicle. There's no door on the back of the rear box, so whatever it was delivering had to go in and out of the cargo area through the space behind the seat:
Bantam 2

And here's another convertible Bantam with the top up:
Bantam 3

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, there were vintage boats as well. I was hoping to see a lot more, but all that was there was a perfectly-restored Chris Craft and this gorgeous Garwood runabout:
Brass in the Grass Garwood

The Garwood plant shut down production of civilian craft for the duration of World War II while they were making landing craft and whatnot. This was the first boat delivered in 1946 when they'd re-tooled for pleasure craft again. It also violates the pre-war-only requirement, but it's pretty enough that nobody was complaining. Here's a detail shot of the other end:
Brass in the Grass Garwood Detail

I really wish I had the resources to be able to keep up with all of the brightwork on one of these.

So yeah, lots of neat stuff to see there. Now back to the workshop...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I Wish I Was Making This Up

A Star Trek cologne:
Shirtless Kirk
Useful stuff for guys who want to smell like Shatner. Now all we need to find is a clip of that guy from the Old Spice commercials pushing airfare on Priceline...

This is an actual product by the way. You can pre-order it at Entertainment Earth.

Sometimes I Really Miss New York

A little while ago I stumbled across this picture from the 2010 New York Dance Parade:

I know what you're thinking. You're wondering exactly how someone manages poledancing as part of a parade. There's not exactly stripper poles arranged down the middle of every street in the Village (yet), so you've got to find a way to bring your own pole. You could mount it on the back of a truck or build a float to tow around, but apparently that's not ecologically responsible. Instead, the NYC-based group "Poleriders" has mounted their stage on the back of a rickshaw:

I'm sure it's okay for parades, but apparently the group makes a regular habit of taking this rig for rides around town. Fortunately, nobody's thought to shut them down for obvious safety reasons. Not only are none of them wearing helmets, but (as shown above) there's no way the guy pedalling will ever be able to pay attention to where he's going.

Apparently they can be hired for advertising, events, and promotions. Not a terribly idea. Either way, I like their slogan: let the good times roll.

2010 Bay Area Maker Faire

This past Saturday I went to the Bay Area Maker Faire, an annual event where thousands of talented folks got together to show off their creations and innovations. I brought my camera along, but made the mistake of spending more time gawking and making mental notes than I spent taking pictures. I still managed to get a few interesting shots.

The first thing to notice when we walked in were three guys zipping around in carts dressed up as cupcakes:
Maker Faire Cupcake Scooter
Then there was this large installation piece right inside the front gate:
crank thing

It was simple enough, but the mechanism was still really interesting:
Cams and rollers

A bit further in, there was a rocketship:
Maker Faire Rocketship

The rocketship was not small and they were giving tours:
Maker Faire Rocketship 2
The rocketship was built on site and dismantled afterward. I really want to know what they do with this thing after the Faire. Then I need to find a place to park it...

Elsewhere inside was a low-budget engineering consultant:
Maker Faire consulting engineer

There was also a contingent from the Bay Area R2 Builders Club:
Maker Faire R2D2s
I stopped for a few minutes to listen in on some of the questions passers-by were asking the builders. My favorite was the almost unanswerable "how much does one of these cost?" to which the builder replied, "I had to choose between building an R2 or restoring an old Camaro. R2 won." Classic geekery.

The R2 units weren't the only famous robot replicas though. There were others:
Maker Faire robots
There was also a booth labelled "DIY Pixar" where I was hoping to see some fullsized Wall-E mockups or the like, but alas, there wasn't much there. I get the idea that most of their exhibition didn't show up.

Elsewhere on the grounds there was no shortage of interesting vehicles:
Maker Faire Cycles 2
Maker Faire Cycles

This little steampunk scooter was covered in all sorts of intricate details, but I couldn't help thinking it was a bit overdone:
Maker Faire scooter
I missed most of the steampunk end of the exhibition, but I'm told there were all sorts of amazing things to see there.

Instead, I saw the largest xylophone I've ever seen:
Maker Faire xylophone

And an android-propelled chariot:
Maker Faire chariot

My favorite vehicle though, by far, was the Mega Spider. This was an all-electric octopod that the builders were taking for a spin around the Faire:
Maker Faire Mega Spider 2

Here's a shot of it from the other side:
Maker Faire Mega Spider
In addition to the odd assortment of vehicles, there was an odd assortment of people:
Maker Faire crowd

I spent a few minutes watching one of the bands. I don't remember what they sounded like because I was busy being fascinated by the fact that the lead singer was playing a guitar made from a shovel:
Maker Faire shovel musician

There were other interesting folks everywhere you looked:
Maker Faire crowd 2

There were also hands-on demonstrations of all kinds. Here's a soldering demo:
Maker Faire Soldering

On top of all this, there were interesting artwork installations all over the place:
Maker Faire sculpture

Some of them were pretty whimsical:
Maker Faire zombie kit

And many of them included flames:
Maker Faire fire 4

The biggest burning thing was this structure:
Maker Faire fire 3

Some of the burning parts were spinning inside of it. There were also control paddles all over it so members of the crowd could push or pull parts of the sculpture to make plumes of flame shoot out of the to of the arch:
Maker Faire fire 2

There were also some wildly unorthodox pieces for sale. I had a hard time talking myself out of buying one of these giant fishing flies:
Giant Fishing Flies

And it was all I could do to keep from coming home with this wind vane:
Maker Faire Ultimate Windvane

It was a tough place to walk around when you're someone like me. Every place I looked, all I did was come up with wild new ideas for all manner of projects to add to my to-do list. For example:
Fire Breathing Snailwagon

Doesn't everyone need a fire-breathing snailwagon?

Monday, May 24, 2010

"When it Will Be Silent"

This is a short student film shot by Dan Sachar, at the demilitarized zone between Israel and Jordan, as a sophomore project for Sapir Academic College, Israel.


Military Vehicle of the Week

I tend to get pretty excited about tanks for sale. Sherman tanks especially. If I had to pick one thing that really made me think I wanted to have one when I grew up, one solitary influence that was more responsible than anything else for putting the idea in my head, it was the 1984 movie Tank with James Garner.

If you've never seen it, go rent a copy from Blockbuster, put it in your Netflix queue, or just plain order it from Amazon so you can kick back with a bowl of popcorn and watch a man and his tank terrorize a small town to defend the honor of some bar strumpet. Good clean fun.

But I'm about to go off track.

The reason I'm reminded of this wonderfully timeless motion picture is because the star of the film is up for auction on eBay. No, not James Garner, but rather the 1942 M4A3 Sherman Tank which played the title role. You can see the listing by clicking HERE.

It's rare enough to have an opportunity to buy a Sherman. Rarer still to find one that was in a movie. But so far this is the only one I know of that the movie was named after:

Here's a shot of it in the film:

If only I had half a million dollars to spend...

HALO Project Update: Larger Chest Prototype

Quite a while since I've updated this project. So I guess it's due.

As you may know, I'm not just building one suit to fit me. Instead, I'm making a variety of suits to fit a whole group of friends so we can go run amok on Halloween as one great group of geeks together.

The problem with making suits to fit different people is getting the sizes right. For the most part, this will be pretty simple. The arm and leg parts will all be the same size, and many of the pieces are adjustable. Taller folks will just have bigger gaps at the elbows, hips, and knees.

The only piece that really must be sized to fit is the chest piece. The one I've made up so far is just the right size for someone my size. It works passably well for someone a bit smaller, but not at all for someone bigger. That's why I've been slowly finishing a larger model that will fit significantly larger wearers. It began its life in a hotel room last summer:
cut apart

Most of the work involving noxious fumes was done out on the rooftop:
Chest primed

I've gone ahead and filled and smoothed the insides of these pieces, so they'll be molded inside and out:
inside chest

Along the way, I've tried the prototype on every shape and size of person I can find to make sure I'm happy with the fit. For example, Sam here is about 6'7" tall:
Master Chief Sam Newman

It probably would've been completed sooner, but I've had the misfortune of spending WAY too much time away from the workshop studying reference images and screenshots of the game. As a result, I've been putting in every last little detail I can find, many of which nobody else would ever key into:
Shoulder Details
Chest Details
Chest Details

The other day I decided to stop looking for more little details to add and call the chest armor good enough. I gave the pieces all a coat of black primer, then I sprayed it with a coat of my standard prototype shade of light red:
Glossy Chest

I also did the same thing with the back armor:
Glossy Back

As is always the case, the pieces that looked just fine in flat black turned out to look absolutely terrible with a glossy finish. So yesterday I ended up doing some fine sanding on both parts. I also had a friend of mine over and he spent the afternoon making the insert for the lower back. So at the end of the day it looked about like so:
Back Wet-Sanded

The only other thing I got done was a lot of sanding and a little bondo work on the shoulder boxes:
Sanding Shoulders

Monday's (today's) goal is to have the four main parts completely ready to mold. Then I'll build the mold walls and finalize the smaller parts on Tuesday, mothermold and small part molds on Wednesday, jacket mold for the big parts Thursday, and hopefully have my first pulls coming out of the mold on Friday.

Stay tuned...