Sunday, April 27, 2014

April Adventure: Leaping Lemurs!

"We should have brought a picnic!"
Elsa has gotten a frankly enormous horse. Maximus appears rather nervous about this giant as the girls ride through the meadow. The tide of Spring has fully washed over the kingdom (or is that queendom?), and everywhere you look, the world is coming alive.With the warmer weather has come something unexpected, reports of a strange creature in the monstrous peach tree that marks the edge of the wildlands.

"Elsa... Something with glowing yellow eyes is looking at me!"
Punzie is eager to investigate, and upon reaching the monstrous tree, she leaps into action, bounding out of the saddle and scurrying up the tree. As she scrambles upwards, she spots some unexpected movement, uncomfortably close. Warily, she pauses to look inside the large hole she's using as a foothold.

"Rapunzel! Get down!"
Elsa notices the normally-energetic girl pausing, and slides from the saddle to approach the great tree. A chill bites in the wind as the Snow Queen worries for her cousin, who abruptly yelps and jumps higher in the tree.

To the girl's shock, a ringtailed lemur pops out of the den it has made in the trunk of the great tree. Curiously, it looks first up at Rapunzel, and then down again at the stunned Elsa. Rapunzel's squeal of delight initially startles the creature back into hiding, but in moments it has scurried up to perch in her lap.

"Awwww, he's barely more than a baby! Let's keep him!"
"Rapunzel, you are NOT keeping that thing."
Elsa raises herself up to the duo with a brief icy elevator, and is relieved to find that Rapunzel is fine. Despite Punzie's entreaties to try petting their furry little guest, the Snow Queen is not convinced that is such a great idea. Considerably cheered by the happy ending their investigation has produced, the girls head for home without the lemur.

Outtake: Or so Elsa thought. 


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Meow Plushie

I've been watching the anime series Space Dandy on Toonami. Love the series, but it's odd narrative style, random 4th wall breaking humor and all-genders fanservice could put some people off.

Anyway, I came to the realization that I needed a plush of the cat-like alien "Meow" in my life.

Meow character design sheet
The series is still pretty new (it simultaneously premiered in America and Japan in January), so there's not much merchandise available for it yet that I've found. And certainly no plush. I made a very, very simple plush of the plushie character Pokota from Slayers Re:Evolution-R when that came out, so I wondered if I could actually make one of Meow. He's a lot more complex than the few, simple shapes that made up Pokota! For the sake of simplifying matters some, I decided to try and emulate the style of the Japanese end theme.

End theme animation (Japan)
With the ears/antennae to consider, this design was still pretty complicated compared to the rather flat Pokota I'd made. I decided to omit Meow's clothing for now, and just work on the body. Here's what I came up with:
Front view
He has a lot of problems, honestly. His eyes are too far apart (and too small), his antennae aren't oriented quite right, his neck's too short, arms too long, body too chubby and he's a little pigeon-toed, but for a first attempt, I don't think he's too terribly bad!
Back view
His tail is probably way too long, as well. The biggest accomplishment I had was managing to make his "star mark" on his back. (Well, that and actually making something that's almost recognizable as the character from scratch!)

Odd, spacey markings!
He's pretty good-sized, too! I'd say he's roughly one Finn in size:
Everyone loves cuddling with Meow!
As it turns out, that's a really good cuddling size, ha ha! I'm brainstorming ideas for how to improve the shape of his head, and then I'm going to buy some more fleece and take another stab at this guy. If I can get a good basic Meow made, then I guess I'm going to be trying to recreate his weird sarong-jumper and I'll start looking for American Girl-sized crocs.
They're not even the right size...!
Seriously Meow, crocs were NEVER cool. Why would you wear those?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Style(?) Starz doll

I scored big at the resale store this weekend.

Yeah... I went a little nuts. I was especially giddy to find the Liv fashion pack. I asked the store owner's wife if they had any more, but she said that she had cleared out the store room herself that morning. (darn!)

This should keep me in goodies to dissect for a while (except for the Monster High fashion packs, those are going to new happy homes), so let's take a look!

I've been tempted by the Bratz Style Starz dolls before, hoping that their wigs would fit and look good on the couple of Liv dolls I have. They looked like they were about the right size, after all.

The back of the box shows the other dolls in the line, and has a "collector card" that you can cut out and keep if you want. I remember seeing all these dolls in our store except the one with blue hair. All of the dolls apparently came with giant platform heels, and a microphone that plays a unique song. 

The doll and extra wig are attached by about a million threads sewn through their hair on the back of this card. It was NOT easy getting them loose. There's also a tiny brush, which I'm not even going to bother cutting loose. Goodbye, tiny useless brush!

Even though Cloe has added a foot of scale height via those shoes, she's still not quite tall enough to sing directly into that wobbly microphone.

I thought that maybe she was supposed to stand on the microphone platform and use it as a doll stand, but she absolutely cannot stand unassisted. Not sure how much of that is the doll's fault, the KISS-inspired shoes' fault, or the giant hair's fault. All three combine in a perfect storm of "Not Standing Up, Ever".

Let's take a look at the wigs, though. Since the wig on the doll seemed to be really well-seated, I thought maybe it had an anchor like Liv wigs.

I was mistaken. So what was holding it on so tightly?

Plastic staples. Three of them. That's also what was holding the spare wig to the base.

 Minus the staples, the wigs stay on okay, but not fantastic.
Cloe still can't stand unassisted. Meanwhile that huge wig looks like a 50's B-movie monster, coming to devour her.

Alexis looks pretty good in it, though. A note about that microphone: it doesn't stay well in that stand at all. The slightest touch and it will leap from that perch and swan dive into the floor.

The wigs do stay on pretty well, though.

I think this two-toned wig looks pretty great, too.

Meanwhile, removing Cloe's jacket reveals... Oh my. Oh. My. And I suppose that there's only one thing left to do now that we're down to the clothes portion of the program...

Ree: "I OBJECT!"
Oh.. Um, sorry folks, we seem to have a party crasher. Well Ree, I typically do let Nii crash these things and steal the doll's clothes... It's sort of how these things go.

Ree: "But... Just look at this! It barely counts as clothes!"
Nii: "Ree, you need to go back to your hair appointment. Seriously."
Ree, did you really charge over here in the middle of your haircut? Go back. Go back and get finished up, then we can talk about this. If you stay, I'm going to have to insist that you do something to help out.

Nii: "Exactly. Here, hold this. I feel a musical number coming on."
Ree: "Ugh.... Can you put the coat on, at least?"

Someone with a hairstyle that regrettable doesn't get to complain about much, Ree. Anyway, as you can see, there's not a lot to this doll's outfit. The top piece is actually sewn on off-center, so on the actual Bratz doll it uh... didn't line up right. On Nii, there's enough extra material that you can sort of adjust it. Let's humor Ree and see it with the jacket.

Ree: "What the... That somehow makes it WORSE!"
Nii: "Should I take it off?"
Ree: "Could you just... CHANGE, please?"

The jacket is a bit too big for Monster High bodies, and the style is kind of weird. I'm still not sure how I didn't notice this get-up before buying the doll.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Adventure: March

A long time ago, well only a little over 100 years ago, there was a guy. This guy built himself a tiny, two-story cabin out in the rolling hills of Arkansas, perched just a little above a babbling brook.

But the man and his family moved away, and then back again, and then the man passed away. His family scattered to their own homes, up the hills and further beyond.
Time was not at all kind to the little cabin, and though it stood for over a century, held up by carefully hand-worked beams and sad little additions so that it could be used for storage when the property changed hands, the roof finally blew off of the little cabin, and the weather and time began to decay the little cabin in earnest.
Even the stairs began to rot and collapse in on themselves, as the rain and the wind dug their claws into the little cabin. And that is where our story ends and begins. One of my ancestors built this little cabin, and I had the opportunity to visit it during the last weekend in March. It's fading fast, and the current property owner is probably going to knock it down soon.

Elsa and Rapunzel came along, but they discovered quickly that there was not a lot to do way out here, where AT&T's cellphone service doesn't reach.

There was a good deal of very steep hiking, though. Elsa took a look around. She originally wanted to investigate the old cabin further...

...But eventually decided that she didn't want to get in the way of the non-doll people present.

Rapunzel fell out of a tree, and was "grounded" to the car while everyone else looked around. She insists that the tree moved, but both Elsa and I are skeptical.

Mostly, we just wanted to keep her from running off to explore the bigger, nicer old ruin a couple of hills over from where we were.
She sulked about that pretty much the whole way home.

It was a pain to find this place, but I'm glad I went and checked it out. This area was a wilderness rather than a cow pasture back in the day, and even today it's rather frightening to realize that you could be one empty tank of gas away from civilization (read: the one gas station for MILES) while no hope of calling for help. There are horror movies based on this concept, you know? But it is such beautiful country, I can't help but think I'd like to stay there for a while.