Is my PC an Autobot? Not YET.

Autobot symbol stencils

Have you ever wanted to have something custom? Something made so it’s uniquely yours, and different from all other versions of that thing/ Some people customize their cars, or have custom jewelry designed, or have clothes made that are one of a kind. I get this urge every once in a while, but I often ignore it. Not this time.

Spray painted computer case side

This time I went for it. My PC was going to have an Autobot badge on it. Spray painted and messy, like it had been applied hastily in the war with the Decepticons.

The first step was the stencil. I’d tried making one before, and I’d ended up with some mixed results. So I took a good friend up on his invite to a crafternoon, and set to work. I tried jigsawing through thin wood, but it snapped when one cut got too close to another. Plan B was gluing two sheets of card stock together, then gluing the outline to that. An x-acto knife did the work of making the holes, and the stencil was ready!

Stenciled autobot symbol on a computer case side

It had been so long since I’d spray painted that I was basically starting over. Wait, had I ever used spray paint before? I had to have. Well, the primer/paint mix worked really, really well. It covered great, and two coats was probably a little too much. I had made one mistake, though, and MonkeyLinkMega saw it right away. I’d left the stencil at 8.5″ x 11″, rather than squaring it up more tightly around the symbol.

Spray painted autobot symbol on computer case side

He had a solution, as well. He suggested taping over the symbol, and then going over it in blue. I used painter’s tape to make the square, and hit it with a light-ish (probably heavier than I wanted) spray and let it dry. It looked SO much better! But I wasn’t satisfied with it. Not yet. It needed just a little bit more.

Customized computer case

I taped again, even tighter around the symbol, and did a very light spray of red. That did it. It was just what I wanted.

You may have asked yourself why I usually ignore the urge to customize my things. I’ve got a story to tell about that, so stay tuned for a blog post down the line.

Like the Shrikebats of Dromedon

Kup in robot mode

Have you ever listened to a military veteran tell stories of a war? Have you ever heard them recount how much the Battle of WhateverTheHeck relates to the current situation? Meet Kup; he’s that guy. On top of that, he’s still an incredibly effective soldier for the Autobot cause, can wrangle Hot Rod, Grimlock, and Wheelie during emergency situations, and still has his Cybertronian alt mode.

Kup in Cybertronian truck mode

Kup taught us all about the Universal Greeting – Bah weep grah nah weep ninibong. He helps the Autobots make it through Optimus Prime’s death, and helps Hod Rod on his journey to becoming Rodimus Prime. Yes, he did it through nagging and war stories, but he did it!

Maybe I should write something about the toy.

Both the Cybertronian truck mode and the robot mode are incredibly accurate to the 1986 Transformers movie. The joints are tight enough to keep a pose, but loose enough to be posed in the first place. The toy comes with both Kup’s gun and the energon dispenser that he uses in combination with the Universal Greeting.

I was quite happy to add this Studio Series Kup to my collection, and doubly impressed with the continued accuracy of the Studio Series figues.

Animated Soundwave

Animated Soundwave in robot mode

There is a Transformers series that is set in a futuristic Detroit, and that series is Transformers: Animated. The art style is less realistic than many, and the story is definitely targeted to a younger audience. The human friend of the Autobots, Sari, is actually both competent and relatable to the target audience. I really enjoyed the Easter eggs and one-shot callback characters that appear throughout.

Unlike in most of the Transformers timelines, in this one, Soundwave doesn’t begin as a Decepticon. He begins as a robot toy of Sari’s, and begins to develop into a full-fledged transformer after coming into contact with a shard of the Allspark. This sort of process can be seen in later shows and movies, like the first Bayverse live-action movie.

Animated Soundwave in vehicle mode

As per usual, Soundwave is accompanied by his mini-con/drone/whatever, Laserbeak. And this time around, Soundwave turns into something akin to a Scion xB, while Laserbeak turns into a flying V electric guitar. There’s also an “electrostatic” version of the toy, with a dark gray and red color scheme rather than blue, and Ratbat as a keytar rather than Laserbeak. In the secondary market, this version is much harder to come by, despite any and all whining I may have done.

This is the second iteration of this toy that I’ve owned, and both have had extremely loose knees (much like me). That makes posing a lot more difficult than it could be, but not impossible. I’m very happy to have this one back in my collection, and am now on the lookout for a copy of the Animated series to add to my DVD/Blu-Ray collection.

Trash to Soil

Compost bin built from old pallets

Despite my relatively short hair and deep love of showering, I’m a bit of a hippie. I reuse as much as I can. I recycle as much as I can. I prioritize buying used, rather than new, to prevent the impact of the new item’s manufacturing.

However, since the move to Detroit, I haven’t had a compost bin. I’d had one, off and on, for the last 13 years or so. When I moved to the apartment in Detroit, though, there wasn’t the opportunity to put one out back. And every time I threw out coffee grounds or banana peels or potato peels, it felt wrong to put them in the trash.

Then I bought the house. I spent that first winter without one, and still feeling wrong about it. So, when spring came, I got a line on some available used pallets out by the street in an industrial zone, and I put them into the back of the Prius wagon. Some power tool usage later, and I had an assembled compost bin, complete with a gap on the bottom for turning the compost once it got going. And it HAS been going. Kitchen scraps (no meat or bone), yard waste, and occasional grass clippings have all gone in, and have done the decomposing goodness.

I’m quite happy to have a compost bin again. It feels like another step back toward living my ideals, and that feels good.

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Satisfaction guaranteed. Or your money back!

Junkheap in motorcycle mode

While Wreck-Gar is the most well-known of the Junkions, he is most certainly not the only one. Meet Junkheap, also known as Junkyard. You can see him (actually several of him) following Wreck-Gar into battle in the 1986 film. In some of the later episodes of the G1 show, he is a merchant and trader. But, Skippy, you might ask, why did you purchase a Studio Series figure for a character that barely gets any screen time in the movie?

Junkheap in robot mode

Is it because the Planet of Junk and its inhabitants are the pinnacle of re-use? Nope. It’s because I needed a motorcycle for Wreck-Gar to ride. One of the coolest parts of the Junkions’ transformations is that they are designed to ride each other, rather than being designed for much smaller creatures, like humans. And so, Wreck-Gar wouldn’t REALLY be complete without something… er… someone to ride. It is worth noting that Junkheap is not just a repaint. The toy keeps to the idea that the Junkions are made of random, but similar, junk. Every piece of him is different than Wreck-Gar, despite their very similar general construction and vehicle modes. Getting the motorcycle mode to clip together just right is a bit finicky, though. Definitely a bit more difficult to transform than his compatriot.

Akira pose wreck-gar among his friends

I mentioned all of this to MonkeyLinkMega, and he suggested – no, he demanded – that I pose him like the motorcycle pose in Akira. Well, I couldn’t very well deny such a brilliant request, could I? So here you have it. Wreck-Gar, riding Junkheap, in the same pose as Kaneda and his bike. They’re surrounded by Studio Series ’86 Kup and Perceptor.

Making Family Candles

Separated wax in bowls

Remember those crafty project posts I used to do? Well, I’ve completed a few of these projects while the site was having trouble. So, without further ado, we resume the crafty goodness!

I really enjoy making candles from old wax. When you burn a candle, there’s always some left behind, and it can either go into the trash, or it can be melted back down and formed into a new candle. I’m sure that it’s no surprise to my regular readers that I prefer the latter.

A very old box of Gulf wax

The blue wax came from some leftovers of varying shades, as well as a purple candle, if I remember correctly. The red came from a massive candle that my parents received as a housewarming gift when they moved to Shelby Township. I burned that candle, because I can’t bring myself to melt down a full, unused candle. It feels wrong. Anyway, even after burning, it produced a LARGE amount of red wax, so I had plenty to work with. The white wax came from very old “new” paraffin wax from Gulf. I was confused as to why wax would have a Gasoline manufacturer’s logo on it, so I looked up what paraffin wax is made out of.

It’s a byproduct of oil processing. *facepalm*

Finished family candles

Let’s blow on by that for a moment, and focus on the next step: making the candles. I didn’t have enough blue or green to spread throughout the candles, so I poured them in my candle, and left most of the red and white for the others. Each layer had a sprinkling of dried leaves and flowers that had been gifted to me by those related by blood and by choice. From what I’ve been told, I did a decent job of preventing bubbles, and none of the glass used has cracked or overheated. I still have a few to hand out, because I operate at a Skippy’s pace. :) All in all, this craft project was a lot of fun, and giving the candles away gives me some really good feelings. A+, would craft again.

Rhinox, Maximize!

Rhinox in robot mode

Studio Series Beast Wars? That’s a joke, right? There’s no way they’d actually attempt show-accurate toys after the travesty that was…

Well hot damn, they did. Aside from Optimus Primal, Rhinox was my favorite Beast Wars character. He’s stocky. He moves with purpose and consideration of what’s around him, because of his size and weight. He’s a tinkerer, an engineer, and prefers to consider his options, in contrast to some of his hot-headed compatriots. But once he’s pushed to action? Watch out! Those twin chain guns come out and before you know it, pieces of Predacon are everywhere.

The first thing that I noticed was that in order to have both a show-accurate robot mode AND a show-accurate rhino mode, they had to sacrifice a show-accurate transformation. The rhino’s jaw does not open wide and fold down over his chest and back. The proportions just don’t work without extra CGI magic. The transformation is pretty complex, but the instructions are just clear enough to get me through.

Rhinox in rhino mode

The rhino mode is accurate, but limited in poseability. I mean, it’s a rhino. I wasn’t expecting anything else. On the other hand, the robot mode really impressed me. I expected all sorts of bits of shell to restrict movement, but there isn’t any.

Take that, Big Convoy!

I do wish the chain guns were a more show-accurate size, but I’m thankful that they got the look spot-on from the front. I would probably have bought this at full price, but I picked it up on sale with Kup and Perceptor. Overall, this figure is a win!

The site has returned!

Thank you for bearing with me as the site was down. The mighty server upon which it rests needed an upgrade, and I wanted to put the site up right this time. It wasn’t put up incorrectly, exactly, but it did have AGES of cobbled-together junk and cruft and all sorts of yak hair.

Changes are on the horizon (hopefully the near kind of horizon), as I intend to make this page my nexus on the web. And as always, I’m open to suggestions about what you’d like to see here in that vein.

I feel like I need a couple of UNDER CONSTRUCTION gifs and maybe a flashing red bubble light or six…