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Customizing the Hasbro Star Wars First Order Snowspeeder Vehicle

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Side view of custom Hasbro First Order Snowspeeder by Mike Smith

As an ultra-passionate fan of Star Wars, most of my time is consumed with my studies. That is, ship and weapon design. Being the not so casual autistic genius that I am, I spend hundreds of hours researching the technical stuff within the Star Wars universe. One of the things that fascinated me the most about Star Wars is that the ships are beat up, dirty, and greasy. They feel and look real. So when I began collecting Star Wars toys, the super bright plastics didn’t appeal to me, as they look anything, but realistic. I wanted my toys to resemble the ships that I had seen on screen, in books and video games.

It wasn’t until 2016 that I began customizing Star Wars toys, as my earlier attempts at it had mostly ended in disappointment. I read dozens of tutorials and watched YouTube videos, however I was missing something. As I already stated, I am autistic, so I tend to get upset easily when things don’t go as I want them to. That changed for me when a really great guy out in Southern California posted some pics of his Legacy Millennium Falcon. I am not kidding when I tell you that it looked better than the studio model that I had seen at Industrial Light and Magic. I was impressed, but immediately bummed out. I knew there was no way that I could replicate what he had done.

Out of curiosity I began talking with him about the types of paint and techniques that he used. I was shocked when he told me that he used craft paint, specifically Apple Barrel brand paint from Wal-Mart! Every “expert” that I had encountered, including those who offered customized toys on commission, swore by Model Masters and Tamiya paints, while scoffing at the craft products. And yet here was a guy as skilled as anyone I’ve seen at ILM, who was telling me just the opposite. There had to be a catch, so I began doing more research. It wasn’t long before I found others who used the same products. After about a week, I decided to experiment on my own. I used the First Order Snowspeeder as a starting point, as it would be easy to clean up, and if need be, not an expensive loss if I messed it up.

Front view of custom Hasbro First Order Snowspeeder by Mike Smith

Front view of custom Hasbro First Order Snowspeeder by Mike Smith

First I started off by washing the toy in warm, soapy water, and allowing it to dry. (I learned later on that a blow dryer will aide in drying the toy more quickly, however you want one dedicated to your use for customizing, so as not to have hairs and lint blown onto the toy). The first thing that I did was buy the Apple Barrel paints, as well as some of the nicer paint brushes from Wal-Mart on the craft aisle. I also purchased 90% Isopropyl alcohol for cleanup, though you can use tap water if you clean up any mistakes immediately. If you wait, you’ll only create a dark smear from the excess paint. I began by painting the panel lines on the vehicle. That’s right, no Gundam markers here, I started off with an advanced technique all by coincidence. After learning about the paint markers, I still paint all of my panel lines by hand.

Next, I painted the engine intake and exhaust, as well as the heavy blaster cannon. I also painted dirt and grime into the floor board of the speeder. I completed it by painting the landing skid and cooling grills. Once the paint had a chance to completely dry, I used a spray on clear coat manufactured by Plaid, which is the same manufacturer as the paint that I used. It actually turned out really nice, and next I moved on to the Resistance X-Wing. The rest, as they say, is history. I don’t own one vehicle from Star Wars that I haven’t repainted in some way, if it’s nothing more than adding muzzle blast to the cannons.

Custom Hasbro X-Wing by Mike Smith

Custom Hasbro X-Wing by Mike Smith

For those interested, I offer some advice on repaints, whether you’re a beginner like myself, or an expert model maker:

Prepping the toy is essential. Make certain that you disassemble it as much as possible, then wash the individual parts in warm, soapy water. I use a soft tooth brush to scrub the individual parts, to aide in removing any bonding agent that might be left on the plastic from the molding process at the factory.

When drying with a cloth, as well as cleaning up paint, I recommend using Scott Shop Towels as they have virtually zero paper dust on them, and are soft.

I use  Q-Tips to aide in cleaning up excess paint as well, and there are also sponge tip applicators in the craft aisle at Wal-Mart, designed with different shaped tips, that can be used to reach areas inaccessible to a regular Q-Tip.

Apple Barrel brand paints are phenomenal, cost a fraction of what the mainlaine stuff does, but there are things to consider when using them. Dilution is the most important. Paints like Model Masters and Tamiya really don’t have to be diluted at all, and are fairly straight forward to use. Apple Barrel brand paints are virtually one hundred percent Pigment, with very little binder, and no solvent. If you’re going to use them, then I would suggest experimenting with them straight out of the bottle using a technique like dry brushing, then repeating the process with the paint diluted with water.

I paint each disassembled section, beginning with the panel lines, then moving on to details like engine intakes and exhaust, back blast from blaster fire, ext. Once all of the detailed work is complete, I will re assemble the toy, then weather it. Afterwards, I re-examine it for any corrections that need to be made before applying the top coat.

Back view of custom Hasbro First Order Snowspeeder by Mike Smith

Back view of custom Hasbro First Order Snowspeeder by Mike Smith

If you use the Apple Barrel brand paints, I recommend sticking with the Plaid brand clear coat, as it is especially formulated for those paints. I use Krylon Acrylic clear coat as well, but only when spray painting toys. Whichever brand you choose, be aware that it takes ten days for the clear coat to completely cure. Also be certain to keep the spray can at least twelve inches from the toy, and only spray very quick, short strokes side to side. On ships and vehicles I usually only apply two coats, three on larger stuff like the Falcon or a cruiser.

Vehicles and ships without panel lines look best with a wash, which takes multiple coats to get the right look.

So there you have my thoughts on repaints. If you guys have any questions, feel free to ask on the Outer Rim News social media sites, or message me on my Facebook page, Orion’s Belt Creations. If you haven’t already subscribed to Outer Rim News, please do so!

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Mike Smith is a 38 year old freelance writer from South Carolina. He spends his time customizing Star Wars toys, reading and writing science fiction, and spending time outdoors.

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Star Wars Toy Sales Fall in 2017

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Force Friday II Hasbro Figures

Since Disney released Star Wars The Force Awakens, Star Wars toys have been the biggest kids on the block. They have reigned supreme at Walmarts and Toys R’ Us’ around the world. Now a new report from the website Bloomberg, is giving us a look at what might be the norm for toy aisles for the next few years.

Toymakers betting big on movie tie-ins are losing out. For the first time in a few years Star Wars was not number one on the top toy list for the year. Even with a new Star Wars film, Star Wars toys finished in second place in 2017. It did however win out the nine week Christmas holiday time frame, but just couldn’t win the whole year.

Call it “Star Wars” burnout, or better yet “movie fatigue,” said Gerrick Johnson, an analyst for BMO Capital Markets. Hollywood and toymakers have fixated on toy-friendly films at a time when kids are increasingly turning to YouTube, Netflix and social media for entertainment.

The site points out that adult collectors are still buying Star Wars items, but kids are losing interest. Lucasfilm released Star Wars: The Last Jedi this year, but some in the industry think that the film didn’t feature enough new characters to justify the sales. “U.S. sales of the brand’s toys slowed in late 2017, Drew Crum, an analyst for Stifel Nicolaus & Co., wrote in a note to clients last week. This was despite “Last Jedi” being the top-grossing film released in the U.S. last year at $596 million.”

Another issue that has hurt sales was Toys R’ Us’ plan to file for bankruptcy. Toys R’ Us represents about 15% of the market, so this news may caused some consumer heartburn.

Ultimately the answer for increased sales may come down to simple marketing. Toymakers should look to 2017 as a lesson of the importance of marketing. Just because a movie has a toy tie-in, doesn’t mean it is as good as sold as it hits the shelf, especially if no one knows about the toys.

“There is a new paradigm,” Johnson said. “Just because there is a movie with a toy tie-in doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to work. It used to mean it would work.”

What are your thoughts? Do you collect Star Wars toys? Do you buy them for your kids? Leave your thoughts in the appropriate places…

Source :

Bloomberg

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Gentle Giant

Gentle Giant Vintage Royal Guard Jumbo Figure up for Pre-Order

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Gentle Giant Ltd expands our hugely collectible line of vintage Star Wars action figure 12” reproductions with the The Return of the Jedi Emperor’s Royal Guard Jumbo! These silent sentinels have fascinated Star Wars fans for over 3 decades and now you can protect your Emperor figure in his throne room or in your collection.

Digitally scanned from mint 3 3/4” vintage originals and reproduced in scale to the rest of the jumbo figure line. No detail has been overlooked. The Emperor’s Royal Guard is roto and injection molded and made of durable plastics, this fully-articulated jumbo figure includes a faithfully reproduced including his fabric soft-goods cloak and his force pike, just like you remember. That’s not all, this classic creation comes packaged on a re-sealable 1983 Return of the Jedi inspired blister card, with original photography and artwork!

The Royal Guard will set you back $80.00 and will be available Q2 of this year. You can pre-order directly from Gentle Giant’s website. Check out the gallery of official photos below!

About Gentle Giant:

Gentle Giant Ltd. designs, develops, and manufactures 3-D representations of beloved characters from a variety of franchise properties with worldwide name recognition. The company produces a wide range of products that includes busts, statues, bust-ups, action figures, and more… all crafted using the highest-quality polyresin, resin, plastic, PVC, and ABS. Utilizing the most advanced laser-scanning techniques and a team of incredibly talented artisans, Gentle Giant digitally captures the likenesses of actors, props, and scenery to accurately recreate these images in 3 dimensions for fans and collectors everywhere. You can’t go wrong when you purchase Gentle Giant!

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Gentle Giant

Gentle Giant’s Zuckuss Collector’s Gallery Statue is up for Pre-Order

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Zuckuss is the Gand bounty hunter that teamed up with 4-LOM to hunt Han Solo and collect the bounty for the Empire and as well as Jabba the Hutt. Zuckuss is sometimes known as “The Uncanny One” in the underground world of bounty hunters because of his tracking skills. He has an innate Force-sensitivity and has developed his skills after years of being a findsman. One way or another he always gets his mark.

The artists a Gentle Giant take you on a journey to see the moments just following the events of the death of Jabba, we find Zuckuss on Tattoine, at his feet, a chain left by Jabba’s escaped prize. Zuckuss is still on the hunt, reading the clues, catching the trail with his GRS-1 Snare Rifle in hand. Where Zuckuss goes, can 4-LOM be far behind?

Zuckuss is the fourth statue in our new 1:8th Collector’s Gallery line (and 3rd in our Bounty Hunters line), celebrating 40 years of the Star Wars universe. Each limited edition, hand-painted piece is cast in high quality polyresin with crisp details. This statue also comes individually numbered with a matching certificate of authenticity.

Zuckuss will set you back $159.00 and will be available Q2 of this year. You can pre-order directly from Gentle Giant’s website. Check out the gallery of official photos below!

About Gentle Giant:

Gentle Giant Ltd. designs, develops, and manufactures 3-D representations of beloved characters from a variety of franchise properties with worldwide name recognition. The company produces a wide range of products that includes busts, statues, bust-ups, action figures, and more… all crafted using the highest-quality polyresin, resin, plastic, PVC, and ABS. Utilizing the most advanced laser-scanning techniques and a team of incredibly talented artisans, Gentle Giant digitally captures the likenesses of actors, props, and scenery to accurately recreate these images in 3 dimensions for fans and collectors everywhere. You can’t go wrong when you purchase Gentle Giant!

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