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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.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

2021, the Year in Review

This one was a lot.  I'd like to keep this brief, but there's just no real way.

My 2021 started off with all of the same pandemic challenges the whole world was facing.  As things began to ease up, we finally started to get a chance to get out and travel a bit.  While it was nowhere near my "normal" level of globetrotting, 2021 saw me get a little bit out and about according to my Google Maps history:
2021 Travel Timeline

Starting off in the shop, I'd gone most of a year without any real deadline projects and was starting to feel a bit stagnant.  Then my dear friend Peter Rubin came to me with my first film prop project of the year.  It turns out he was doing concept design work for the Netflix movie "Don't Look Up" and they needed a fruit that looked like so:

Peter's Alien Fruit Concept Art

Over the next three weeks, we churned out a bunch of them:
Alien Fruit Progress 060

The parts made in my shop were all plastic and rubber and not at all edible, no matter how tasty they looked:
Alien Fruit Progress 061

We sent them off to Melissa McSorley, the food stylist attached to the production, so she could insert the edible portions.  It was all kinds of rushed and exciting and in the end the scene it was made for was mostly cut down and all you get is a few glimpses of the finished thing on screen.  Here's the best shot I could get of it:
Alien Fruit on Screen

Still, it was nice to get back into the swing of things and that led to more film and TV collaborations like this next thing I can't talk about yet:
Secret Prop Project #993

In fact, I ended up with a lot of projects that I can't talk about this year.  So the rest of this writeup is going to seem like I didn't get all that much done.  Such is life.  

In February, I joined my friend Jenny and her family for a day trip to Yosemite.  I hadn't been there since junior high school and she was excited to check out the "fire falls."  I had it in my head that there was a giant bonfire that got shoved off of a cliff after dark, but in reality it turns out that there's a very narrow band of days each year where the light of the setting sun bounces off of this particular waterfall and gives the impression of a river of fire pouring down the cliff face:Firefall 2

It's no tumbling bonfire, but I'll admit it was still majestic as can be:
Firefall 1

Somewhere around that same time, dad was finishing up his Minty Green 1933 International Hotrod:
1933 International Hotrod

The Lady Shawnon finished making this stained glass window: 
Shawnon and Her Finished Window

Which made the perfect addition to this octagonal window on the front of my folks' house:
Stained Glass Window Installed

Somewhere in there I started making an NCR Ranger costume from Fallout: New Vegas:
Still Fits

I picked up a pretty great-looking duster to go with it, built the chest armor and shoulder armor, and got it all weathered up.  I even built the somewhat large rifle to go with it:
NCR Ranger Anti-Materiel Rifle

Now I just need to build the backpack tank assembly and that costume will be ready for a photoshoot out in the desert somewhere.

I also made some significant progress on my Heavy Infantry Mandalorian build from season one of the Mandalorian.  The biggest step forward was making molds of the Heavy Repeating Blaster:

Castings in Progress
Sooner or later I'll get a few of them painted up.

Around that same time, dad hacked up a rusty shell of an old Nash Metropolitan and grafted onto the frame of a downsized electric golf cart, creating the Mini Metro.  It's fun and ridiculous and the dogs really don't like it:
Mini Metro

That's also about the same time I was asked to make some tiny props for the Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins movie.  They were these Cobra logo lapel pins and a pair of aviator wings that show up on screen for the briefest of flashes, but they at least made it into the trailer (LINK)

Finished Lapel Pins on Screen

While I was wrapping those up, I also finished my replica of Thor's axe, "Jarnbjorn":
Jarnbjorn Finished009

As the pandemic wore on, we started getting a bit of cabin fever.  Since travel was still hard to justify, we had to settle for local adventures, taking the dogs down to the beach for some socially distant ball chasing, getting takeout food from our favorite local restaurants, and rejoicing when the local movie theater reopened with new pandemic measures

By early April, I guess I really needed another new hobby project.  So I decided to set aside an evening to upgrade my bookshelf aquarium setup.  I started with a blank 33-gallon glass tank and made a custom acrylic sump that fit inside of it:
Overflow Build and Install025

The goal was to create a self-contained unit without a bunch of auxiliary pumps and filters  and other eyesores hanging off the back of the tank.  Once all of the sand, rocks, water, and critters were transferred to the new setup, I think it looked pretty okay:
Daytime Lighting

After adding a few more chunks of live rock and a handful of additional animals, it really started to look good:
Stocked aquarium

The current highlight is this tiny little snowflake moray eel that lives in the crevices between the rocks:
Peekaboo Eel

Shortly after that, my crew and I started a huge run of employee appreciation trophies for 2K games.  I don't recall exactly how many of these we've made so far, but here's a snapshot from the fourth batch:

Since I needed something cool to do while that was going on and my new resin printers were sitting idle, I started printing out this gorgeous Darth Talon statue:
Base Colors Painted 1
One of these days I'll actually finish painting her.

As usual, there was no shortage of animal activity.  At one point we were hosting some new lambs in the back field:

Unfortunately, they're some kind of mixed breed sheep that includes a lot of Barbados Black Belly sheep, making them look more like goats.  This means that instead of cute, fluffy little lambs, you end up with these bedraggled, tragic-looking specimens:


We also had the neighborhood drag queen glitter chicken that started making regular visits:
Drag Queen Glitter Chicken

By summer, dad decided to line up his whole car collection for a photo.  At least the ones that run.  It turns out that they're hard to get all in one photo from ground level:
Dad's Collection Lined Up

Somewhere in there, I decided to focus on learning some sewing skills and turned out shirts for a couple of Cobra troopers:
VanDerp as Cobra Trooper
One of these days I'll do a photoshoot with those guys.

In order to free up more indoor parking spaces, dad and I started expanding one of the barns.  This has been a slow and steady project that only gets worked on when both time and money are available at the same time.  The first step was pouring a new section of low retaining wall:
20210605_113943

Once the forms were stripped, it sat waiting on another cash injection to coincide with a minute of free time.  These occasions are rare.

As pandemic restrictions started to ease, outdoor gatherings started to feel relatively safe again.  So on Sunday mornings, we would occasionally join up with the local car enthusiasts for the "Cars and Coffee" get togethers:
Cars and Coffee

These are rotating gatherings and we've attended meet-ups in Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Cotati, and Novato.  It's always fascinating to see what people show up with:
Cars and Coffee Star

Adding to the list of works in progress, I finally started a couple of Tusken Raider costumes.  While I probably should've just made one, the good folks at studiocreations.com sell their vacformed mask bases for such a bargain that I figured I might as well make two:
Wrapping WIP

It also gave me an opportunity to dye a whole bunch of fabric:
A Good Day to Dye

Running into a few speed bumps on his other builds, dad took the opportunity to repaint his stock International pickup in a neat black and tan scheme: 20210710_082440

I also started building the first set of HALO armor I've made in a while.
20210622_183624

Since I had the molds out of storage, I started not one, but two suits:
20210618_144649

Then I thought better of it and focused mostly on just building one:
Parts Nearly Complete

I've made sporadic progress on it in between all of the other emergent projects:
Marker Light Install

At least once or twice over the year, Shawnon has picked up some new chickens.  Here's one of the batches on arrival:
New Birbs!

In July my nephew turned five.  Since it seemed like a milestone and Shawnon and I tend to go to Disneyland at the slightest provocation, we decided to spoil him with a trip to the happiest place on Earth.  It helps that the kid is really into Star Wars at the moment:

After we returned, I tinkered with a few more frivolous projects:
Alas, poor T-800...

Croc Loki Printed 2

Initial Primer Test

Demolding the Front

20210114_215430

Later in July I went with the Petaluma Sea Scouts for a cruise up the Sacramento Delta to Westgate Landing.  On the way there, we stopped over in Vallejo where I snapped this pic:
Moored in Vallejo

Westgate landing was as awesome as usual:
Sunrise in the Delta

Some time after that, dad started hacking up this old winery truck:
Winery Truck in Progress

While the outside is designed to look dated, the running gear is all modern:



While he was starting that project, I was getting started on my next build for Magic Wheelchair.  With a little over two weeks to complete the build, my crew and I managed to bring this beauty together:
Not Too Shabby

We'd have had a few extra days to work on it, but we were already booked to go to Wasteland Weekend.  This is a four-day post-apocalyptic "pre-enactment" festival out in the Mojave Desert:


I spent the bulk of my time cruising around on the cheapo little kid-sized ATV we themed for the event:
ATV Needs Fenders
 
I used it to tow the ladies around, riding my red rocket:


There was much to see and do there and one of these days I'll get around to writing all about it.

When we'd returned from the Wasteland, Shawnon and I packed our bags for a trip to Missoula, Montana for the unveiling of Mason's Magic Wheelchair:


He was adorably shy about the whole thing, but once we got the costume assembled around his chair, he warmed right up:
Mason Driving the Dinosaur

On the way back from that trip, I stopped off in Seattle to catch up with my friend Rich:



Rich had recently purchased his new boat, so it was great to get a chance to sail back and forth across Puget Sound with him.  I should've taken more photos, but this is pretty much all I got:

Back in the workshop, I was visited not once, but three times by Penelope the Possum:

This poor little guy kept turning up on rainy nights.  Each time I'd dry him off, give him a handful of cat food, and find someplace safe and dry to release him.  I figure it's only a matter of time before he comes back again.

After Penelope's third visit, Shawnon got us a new Cat (possibly to deter me from trying to befriend a possum):
Ch√Ęteau de Chat

He's pretty, but he' also kind of a prick, unlike the possum.

We didn't get too too much time to plan for Halloween and I was not at all convinced that we were even going to get to do a thing.  In the end, we dusted off our Deadpool costumes and went to a couple of small house parties:

November found me building theme elements for a friend's escape room business.  I'm sure this thing makes sense in context, but I was only given the barest amount of information necessary to build it in order to prevent potential spoilers:
Gingerbread Escape Room

Just after that project wrapped, Shawnon and I flew to Maui for a long weekend:
Maui Selfie

We managed to go scuba diving a couple of times and get in a lot of relaxing.  It was nice there:
Maui Sunset

I returned to the shop just in time to dive into our Warhammer: Kill Team LIVE build, which involved a lot of fiberglass again:
Untrimmed Kill Team Shells

That pile of itchy and scratchy was turned into this stack of functional laser tag guns over the course of a few weeks:

Completed Guns Laid Out 1

These were used for the Kill Team: LIVE activation at PAX Unplugged, a tabletop gaming convention in Philadelphia.  Here's a group of fans getting hyped up for a match armed with Ork Shootaz:
Ork Kommando Kill Team

Here's another fan armed with an Imperial Guard Lasgun:
A Fan With a Lasgun

It was a very rushed project and a lot of fun along the way.  Stay tuned for future bloggage all about that build.

Once we'd wrapped that up, I got underway with the Sea Scouts to help out with the Petaluma Lighted Boat Parade:
Lighted Boat Parade

With a bit of spare time and money on hand, we had a new concrete slab poured for the barn extension:
Floored

That pretty much wrapped up the year.  

Once again, I made no progress at all on overhauling my boat:
HofG Moored

So I've got that to look forward to in 2022.

Stay tuned...