Customs – Night Fox

A while back I got a screamin’ deal on a Ninja Combat Cruiser for $15.  I HATE the name and only call it that to be ironic.  It’s a truck and it’s cool and right now it’s the ride for my Slaughter’s Marauders (that I got on another screamin’ deal).

And for being all about ninjas and the Arashikage clan tattoos and all that other silly shit from G.I. Joe: Retaliation, it came with an all-black mistake called, “Night Fox”.

THIS.  I mean, holy shit.

THIS. I mean, holy shit.

I don’t… I don’t even… He had a good vest (though it wouldn’t even let him fit in the fucking truck) and a passable head.

So just to be a cheeky bitch, and not because I have any great love of Night Fox, I decided to make a custom for him using leftover stuff I’ve had for ages and the original head.

Night Fox

Night Fox

Lookin' fo' a drive by foo'

Lookin’ fo’ a drive by foo’

Recipe:

Night Fox from back

Whu? Where’d he go?

Biggest Nail – I quite like how the drybrushing “desert camo” came out and I put a slight sheen across his goggles too.  Plus a touch-up on the grenades on his vest.  I’m totally happy with that stuff.

Night Fox - Front View

Night Fox from front

Biggest Fail – Some of his joints are pretty loose and one of his knees even scraped back to the basecoat when I was posing him.  As hard as it may sound, it really isn’t that easy to make a figure entirely black and have it stay.

Night Fox posed

Fully posable bitches!

As with all my customs these days, he’s fully playable and poseable too.  Because otherwise they’re not action figures, they’re statues, and I’ve never had much fun playing with statues.  Sure, I like lookin’ at ’em, but you can’t play with ’em.

Night Fox in Dune Buggy

Wait, there’s no “10” OR “2” dammit.

One of my first vehicle customs, this desert dune buggy was more of an accessorising kit-out instead of a proper custom, but my ASD 4-yo pulled it off the shelf and had a lot of fun with it.  The end result is actually kind of good in that now I have a good excuse to clean it up and redo it.

This time though, no sloppy enamels or mis-placed accessories.  I’m going to do it right with a good amount of gear and a proper BFG on the top.

Customs – Wet-Suit

When a fellow Tanker did a trade with me for some random customs parts it was all good, but when his amazingly big-hearted self offered to buy me Joes from the US (that we can NOT get here in Oz) and ship them to me and only charge me what he paid I was floored.

I offered to get him anything I could from here (which isn’t a lot unless you like Australiana touristy crap, and some do) he declined, simply saying that he was doing what he’d hope somebody else would do for him if he couldn’t get Joes.

Well I still tried to get my wife to make his wife nail polish or something (she’s amazingly good at her customs too doncha know) he still declined.  But… I got him to tell me his favourite Joes and that’s when I got inspired to make him this custom.

Dod Ear, I hope you like it, because I had a great time making him.

Wet-Suit front

I always did kind of like that yellow.

Wet-Suit Front

More like diarrhea camo than nuclear urine.

Wet-Suit and gear

I took all my stuff off except the stuff that wouldn’t come off. I’m not Superman here.

Wet-Suit with weapons

Part James Bond, part silly yellow ninja.

Wet-Suit helmetless

The wry smile kind of ruins the Tough Guy Schtick, but I try to make it work.

Wet-Suit left front

I can zap you underwater too.

Wet-Suit geared up

With this helmet on, I’M the fishbowl!

Wet-Suit close up

It’s like looking out the door of my apartment…

Wet-Suit close up lhs

This backpack isn’t that heavy… IN THE WATER.

Wet-Suit Back Left

Zap, Zap!

Customs – Ninja Force Tiger Claw

Ninja Force Tiger Claw - front

I may not like being short, but somebody had to do it.

Ninja Force Tiger Claw - front

I got a big sword too, except I’m cooler because I talk.

Ninja Force Tiger Claw - front

Still pretty dang tough.

Ninja Force Tiger Claw - old and new

Yeah, the tiger claw is on the wrong side, so what? My sword is friggin’ HUGE.

Recipe:

Biggest Fail: By quirk of fate, the parts I used for his arms were all on the long side while his legs were all on the short side.  He looks like a weirdly-orangutastic thing.

Biggest Nail: I’m really, really happy with how the paint apps came out.  I think this might have been the first figure where I was totally happy with the paintjob.

Customs – Ninja Force Kamakura

Ninja Force Kamakura - front

Before I went blue and cool, I was green. Super green.

Ninja Force Kamakura - front

Uzi AND a big sword. Thanks Snake.

Ninja Force Kamakura - back

It’s not the green, it’s the puke yellow.

Ninja Force Kamakura - old and new

WHOA, bet you’re glad they pulled you out of that diarrheatic elephant’s butt.

Recipe:

Biggest Fail: The hood got a bit melty and ended up looking like a decroded piece of crap.

Biggest Nail: I actually love his arms and legs being from ROC Flash.  I know it’s probably not everybody’s same notion, but I frickin’ love it.

Customs – Ninja Force Zartan

As with the rest of the Ninja Force customs I had planned, I put together the parts for this one two years ago and have only just reinvigorated myself with my customs.

Sure, a bit ambitious to take on the project of the entire crappyass, dayglo 90’s G.I. Joe Ninja Force all at once.  I see that now.  But them limits, they is there to be pushed.

I knew that I would put off Zartan and his zany colours and wacky mohawk though, because I was anxious about trying to sculpt that damn mohawk!  I looked around for custom cast heads too, but I don’t remember finding anything that would work.  I even bought some proper Green Stuff (shit is spendy!) for sculpting, but Chief Craft Supervisor Wife got ahold of it and I haven’t seen it since.

Then one day I was looking at the Banzai that I did (will link later) and I remembered that his hair was originally off of one of the ROC ladies that I have heaps of.

Sure enough, I got to looking at ROC Baroness’s hair, particularly along the bottom, and I had an idea.  I cut off the bottom section of her hair, sculpted and curved it and heatgunned it and sho’ nuff, it was an awesome-looking mohawk.

Because really, go big or go home.  If I’m making crazy biker ninja assassin in flouros and leather, what’s the point of a nice, conservative mohawk?

Ninja Force Zartan shooting bow

Kwapang! Gotcha squirrel!

 

It was Head Art Executive Wife’s suggestion to bag the green pants and do orange and green stripes down some “snazzy” pants.  The orange and green are strips of electrical tape and the pants are just black with a silver wash.  Thanks Wifeage!

Ninja Force Zartan w/knives

Knifey Spooney mate… um, no.

 

I originally had those funky Retaliation Storm Shadow lower legs on him too, but there was something about them that didn’t work and I ended up with ROC Nitro Viper’s boots instead.

And while I understand the irony in pointing out something subtle, because it’s too subtle, the boots are black with a purple wash.  Because you can’t go wrong when tying together flouro orange, green and purple.  Wait, what?

Ninja Force Zartan old and new

Dude, you’ll never get the ladies with those pants…

 

Old school!  Shit, just noticed I’m missing heaps of stuff for that O-ring.

Well, I stayed simple on accessories deliberately because I felt that the NF stuff came with too much and I like the idea of Zarty carrying his bow and little else.

Ninja Force Zartan looking badass

In case the mohawk didn’t get my point across, I cut the sleeves off my leather jacket too.

 

I also noticed that the O-ring version has the armguard on the wrong arm, so I fixed that.

Recipe:

Recipe Gear:

  • Jacket – Mutt Williams (Indiana Jones).  I think this is the first time I’ve used something from a toyline that’s not G.I.Joe!  The chain is from one of my daughters’ broken necklaces that swished around the bottom of their jewellery box so long that I dug it out and threw it in my customs fodder.
  • Bow – DG Storm Shadow, modded with string and with arrows from ROC Night Creeper’s crossbow.
  • Knives – 25th Anniversary ANYBODY (Stalker and Snake Eyes, probably).
Ninja Force Zartan and bow

I’m badass. That’s the point. I’m a badass.

 

Biggest Fail: The seams of the pants are very obvious because of how the wash laid down on it.  If I could do it over, I’d find a better way to get that wash on so that the paint doesn’t gather like that.  Also, the sheathe for the knives is too tight and one of the knives already has some paint stripping off.

Biggest Nail: While I love his head and I’m pretty proud of it, I LOVE that bow.  Gives me happy vibes every time.

Customs – Agent Jinx

It was well over a year ago that I was cruising through my endeavour to make a modern version of all the old G.I. Joe Ninja Force* figures.  I think I bumbled my way through Dojo and T’Jbang before making some that I actually liked, like Tiger Claw and Kamakura.

I was gung-ho for the rest though, such to the point that I had the parts all picked out for each one and in their own plastic compartment in my morgue-like customs container.

Now, nearly two years later, and I’ve gotten a workspace set up and have reignited the passion, and Jinx was my first jump back into the fray.

*Yes, I know she wasn’t technically “Ninja Force” but she’s a ninja and… a force… and needed an homage.  Shoosh.

Agent Jinx w/staff

The blindfold is more for you, really, than it is for me.

 

Naturally since the SDCC versions are absolutely fantastic and don’t need a thing done to ’em, this one is based off the Valor Vs Venom (VVV can bite my ass) Agent Jinx, that came in a 2-pack with a weird-looking Slice.  The figures were, yeah, weird, but the card art was cool and she was kickass in the cartoon.

Old School VVV Jinx

Impossibly tiny waist and head yet monstrous shoulders… I’m like Barbie on roids!

 

I don’t even have the figure (can’t find one cheap enough on eBay) so I had to work off of pictures I found on YoJoe.com and such.

jinx3

jinx2

jinx4

And one off this trading card, though I’m not sure where it’s from.

Agent Jinx w/staff again

See, I don’t need the blindfold to whup some ay-uss.

 

Agent Jinx and SDCC Jinxes

Jinxy, Jinxy, Jinxy

 

Part of what took me so long to even attempt a Jinx was that I had NO idea what I was going to do for parts and, more importantly, a head.  No way in hell I could afford an SDCC version just for parts and I wasn’t up to scratch with modding/painting a Scarlett or something.

I had pretty much planned to wait for my skills to catch up or just get braver, or both.  Ha!

Couple of years ago, I had one of those rare moments where my father actually sent me money for my birthday like I’m 12 and I very uncharacteristically spent it on myself.  I’ve always wanted to be one of “those guys” that can just buy an SDCC or some sort of HTF figure and then play with it.  I know this isn’t the Holy Grail for anybody, really, but being able to pick up the red AND the white SDCC Jinxes was a situation I’ll probably NEVER be in again.  I’m pretty damn happy I could though!

‘Cept the white ones feet don’t bloody stay on her stand, dammit.

And they went right ahead and made the Retaliation Jinx the exact same mold as the red one, cheeky buggers.  If I’d known they’d do that, I’da just painted a RET one.  Heh.

Agent Jinx from behind

I got a lotta longass hair. Or would it be asslong hair?

 

Luck shined when I won an auction from some caster on eBay.  I picked up an SDCC-style Jinx head for $4 (I think) and put here in the parts box.

Then stalled.  And procrastinated.  And waited.

So yeah, two years later and I’m all full of piss and vinegar, ready to paint a flat-grey head!

Agent Jinx with sword

Forgot my blindfold again, SCHWING!

 

Which, holy shit, was not easy.  I read Jin Saotome’s tutorials on painting eyes and shit, I hit up HissTankers for advice, I Googled and I practiced and nothing could have prepared me for not only the steadiness needed for that intimate level of detail but also making her Japanese!

I stayed off the coffee though and gave it a solid go, bringing it to my Chief Art Director Wife to see what she thought.  While terribly sweet and supportive, there was a lot of “Not Asian enough” and “her hair needs a different treatment, some sort of layer or wash” (Ha! I just got that!  Wash!) and “is she half-Japanese? Because that could pass…”

And pass it did, because I was happy and was getting seriously scared at fucking this thing up (“Don’t overwork it!” they’d cry in my art classes).

Agent Jinx and SDCC Jinx

Let’s go shoppin’ girls! For BLOOD.

 

Recipe body:

  • Head – Custom cast from Unknown off eBay (from SDCC Kim Arashikage).  LOVED that it was cast off of the SDCC, but there was a huge glorping fault along the inside of her ponytail that took some work to clear out.
  • TorsoResolute Baroness. Chose this one for the collar aspect, though it took a LOT of painting on Liquid Green Stuff and sanding and sculpting and sculpting and sanding to get rid of the snake scales and the cobra logo embossed on her chest.
  • Upper ArmsROC Scarlett (Impact Armour).  I had some other arms picked out that SO did not work.  Can’t remember why I made half of the parts choices I did, but I’m glad I stopped smoking so much crack.
  • Lower Arms/HandsROC Baroness (Paris Pursuit).  And the bracelets are just electrical wire I snipped off a broken toy my 4-yo had.
  • SkirtPOC Storm Shadow.  I trimmed a seam out thinking I’d make it more petite and finish it down the side, but I totally forgot to make it flexible for movement.  Sure enough, first time I posed her, I “snapped” that seam back open.  It looked alright enough, so I left it!  Holy shit though, would I have LOVED to have known about the indomitable Vortious Custom Accessories.  He’s got this belt, that would’ve been fkn PERFECT.  Think I might order it anyway and revisit this Jinx custom again someday.
  • Upper LegsROC Baroness.  With some sanding and modding.  The original legs I had picked were 25th Ann Storm Shadow’s (I used the lowers) and they just… wouldn’t… FIT.  Then, remembering I no longer smoke the crackrock, I put some female legs on her and it all worked out.  Hell, they had the leg strap things too!  HOW did I miss that the first time I was selecting parts?!
  • KneesRenegades Firefly.  Think they’re also off the Resolute Cobra Troopers, but I had an extra Firefly, so there you go.
  • Lower Legs25th Anniversary Storm Shadow.  These got sanded and shaved and sanded and the texture was just perfect.  Though, in hindsight, I might’ve just gone with the ones off the Retaliation Jinx (for whatever odd reason, I had extras) but I kind of like doing it my own way…
  • FeetROC Scarlett (Impact Armour).  Again, I had others picked out and NO idea why.  These worked for the “boot-like” look of her ninja kickers, and that’s just a spare bit of plastic I’d carved off of a rocket launcher or something glued to the top of her feet.

Recipe Gear:

  • Naginata (staff)Retaliation Jinx.  Painted the grips and blade.
  • SwordPOC Snake Eyes.  For whatever reason, I had an extra one of these.  SCORE.  The scabbard is just glued on.
  • KnifeRenegades Firefly.  I think.  I can’t remember, but it’s close enough to his.  The scabbard is black electrical tape.
  • Blindfold – Straps from the fencing helmet that comes with Retaliation Red Ninja.  I had a couple extra of these, one of which had no mask, so it was easy enough to cobble them together and make a strap all the way around the head.  Wrinkled fabric casts are VERY forgiving sometimes, so I didn’t have to sand/glue too much.

Biggest Fail:

Probably her skirt.  The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that I’m going to order that belt from Vortious Custom Accessories and rework that thing.  Overall though, I’d like to be a bit more pedantic about the paint and trim and such.

Biggest Nail:

Think I did alright on her head.  First time I’d ever attempted painting a face and eyes and such, so I’m pretty pleased how she turned out.  Though you can see the obvious discrepancies between her eyebrows and eyes and such.  I’m still happy though, maybe my standards are just low!

SDCC Jinx and Agent Jinx

Slightly surprised eyebrows aren’t my forte.

 

SDCC Jinx and Agent Jinx

Sure, you’re surprised, but why do my eyebrows look slightly furry?

 

 

Customs – Alley Vipers Revisited

So a while back, coupla years ago, I had a couple of the Defense of Cobra Island (DOCI) Alley Vipers that I got for cheap from Sinodolls on eBay that don’t come with any gear.  None.  Bare.

I tried to make the gear myself and had a… well, a real learning experience.

Welp, when I saw another one come up in auction for a penny, I grabbed him up and decided that I was going to try and do this thing proper.  Make the equipment as near to the real thing as I could without casting it myself or getting parts from somewhere else and painting those.

I started by sanding off the shitty enamel paint from before.  I tried to be kind to myself too, reminding that it was all I could find nearby and all I could afford, etc. but it was still a pain in the ass.

Not having much else to work with, I kept the base helmets and vests and sanded the fuck outta them.  I had one extra vest I’d put on another figure as a placeholder until I got his proper vest and the helmet is off of Blowtorch as well (though it IS glued on).  So I had enough for three… schweet!

Getting the helmet styled into the proper Alley Viper fit was the first step, and I used the Pursuit of Cobra (POC) Alley Viper as a template for the entire deal.

Helmets WIP

Helmets WIP

 

Here’s the old helmet with the old, crappy, visor, with his friends behind him.  Wifeage once again came to the rescue with some of her acrylic nails, giving me the ones that were too big for her, and I’ll be goldarned but if you lay ’em tip-to-tip, like a clamshell, and set ’em up against the back of the helmet, it’s perfect!

I glued ’em on and sanded ’em to fit, then painted on Liquid Green Stuff (which is brilliant).

Helmets WIP

Helmets WIP, glued the fake nails on

 

I traced the POC AV’s visor and used it as a template for cutting out the new visors.  That’s an old pill bottle from one of wife’s medications that I carved up into weird butterfly shapes.

Helmets WIP

Green stuff and sanding

 

I took a cheapshit rifle from a pack of G.I. No’s (True Heroes I think?) and sliced the barrel a few times, making nubs for the hinge of the visor.  The exact same size as the drillbit that I have for my hand-powered hobby drill (Games Workshop again).

Visors fitted on

Visors fitted on

 

It takes a bit of working with ’em, using the heatgun to soften the plastic a bit and then lots of blowing on ’em to cool it down, but they fit real nice at the end of it.

And they stay up!

And they stay up!

Visors WIP

Visors WIP

Using the thicker plastic from the cheapass rifle barrel was a better call than the metal pin from a thumbtack I used last time.

Alley Viper shield WIP

Alley Viper shield WIP

 

Next up was the shield, which I wanted to be strong so I cut up an old conditioner bottle.

Lesson here: cheap conditioner bottles have remarkably hard plastic.

Once again, I traced the POC AV’s shield and used that as a template for paper, then cardboard.  I wasn’t sure how to make the “raised” areas of the shield, nor how to shape it, until I started using my actual brain.  Then I cut the main shield in half, sanded a bit of a “round” to the top and bottom and glued it together at an angle.

Then I cut two pieces to double-layer the top and then again for the bottom.

Alley Viper shield WIP

Alley Viper shield WIP

 

I took a sword from the “100 Pieces Bulk Lot” auctions you get from Sinodolls as well (comes with about 6-10 of the swords from VVV Storm Shadow) and cut the grip off, then used the blade as a “brace” for the handle.  LOTS of super glue and we rollin’.

Alley Viper Gear WIP

Alley Viper Gear WIP – First coat of orange

 

Then I started painting shit orange, just to see how we go.

Now I used Photoshop to colourmatch the orange and blue from the DOCI AV to the shit I can get at Games Workshop in Freo (who’ve got a new manager that’s friggin’ awesome).  When I FB msg’ed the shop, AwesomeMgrGuy got back to me with a big yes that they had both Dragonsnot Orange and Elfjizz Blue (kidding, Trollslayer Orange and Altdorf Guard Blue, or some shit like that).  Legend.

Alley Viper Gear WIP

Alley Viper Gear WIP – Orange w/white basecoats

 

Oh, that’s right.  Last time I did this, Wifeage smartly suggested a white basecoat.  DUMBASS, I forgot.

But then I remembered, so as to limit my dumbassery.

I basecoated the vests, helmets and visors, but the second and third shields were cut from an old Napisan bottle (laundry powder) which was MUCH softer and easier to work with.  It’s white already, so I used a basecoat of hers for her nails as a primer and then got to painting.

Alley Viper Gear WIP

Alley Viper Gear WIP – 3rd and 4th coats of orange.

 

And BANG, there you go.  Some are only on one coat, but nearly everything got a primer coat plus 4-6 coats of orange.

Using an acrylic this time though, instead of enamel, meant that I only needed to wait 15-20 minutes between coats, as opposed to AN ENTIRE DAY like last time.

SO much sanding, sanding, sanding and cutting, cutting, cutting though, with those shields and those helmets/visors.  I vowed that I wouldn’t touch a paintbrush until I had them just how I wanted them, with the right corners and edges and whatnot.  Laborious, but glorious.

Alley Viper Gear WIP

Alley Viper Gear WIP – Gettin’ my blue on

 

K, funny thing.  I was cutting up the vests, from this guy:

0372-jurassic-joe2

As I managed to get a few of him for SUPER cheap too (and a Night Adder vest, same thing).

But yeah, I was cutting off the pouches from three separate vests for my beautiful new DOCI AV’s and forgot that I have three cats.  When I came back in the morning, several pouches were missing off my work area.  I scoured the floor with my li’l headlamp on and couldn’t find ’em for the life of me.  I’m NOT going through a mound of catshit for a pouch the size of a kibblebit, but I was tempted.

I was sad though, I had to mismatch some pouches now because I wanted each vest to be interchangeable and none to be any different from the others.

So I forgot to take pictures for a while.  During all the gluing and painting of the vests, really.

Then, when I remembered to take pictures, my SD card was gone because Wifeage needed to borrow it for her Canon Asskicker 450D because we had a kookaburra in the backyard.

kookaburra

Sittin’ in the ol’ gumtree…

 

LOVE living here.

So yeah, I got all the pouches glued on, with some borrowed from:

  • Renegades Ripcord
  • Agent Helix
  • POC Firefly

The guns are from the Rise of Cobra (ROC) Elite Viper and the scopes are from Marauders (with some modding).  The knives are 25th Ann. standard Joe issue and the batons are from various fodder here and there, though Renegades Law & Order, Renegades Cobra Trooper and POC AV all use them too.

With a couple of stickers from CobraStickers.com and some backpacks from G.I. No and I’m all set.  Oh, and yeah I had to carve the knife scabbard off their forearms for their vest, so sacrifices were made, sadly.

Alley Viper Gear WIP

Alley Viper Gear WIP – Boys gettin’ geared up.

 

Now some from my “new” photography studio!  That’s right, I’m BIG TIME now baby.  I cut up an old grey singlet and aimed both desklamps inward.  Score.

Wifeage to the rescue again tho, she loaned me the tripod for my camera.

Side, front and back views

Alley Viper Gear WIP – Lookin’ good boys

 

Alley Viper Gear WIP

Front and centre!

 

Just their vests, because that was the hardest part.

Alley Viper Gear WIP

Pile O’ Gear – missing a backpack!

 

All their gear: 3 helmets, 3 vests, 3 shields (w/baton holder), 3 guns (w/removable scope), 2 backpacks (because I can’t find a shop that sells G.I. No’s down here and TRU is too far away.

Alley Viper Gear WIP

Damn sexy

 

Alley Viper Gear WIP

Playing with camera settings

 

Alley Viper Gear WIP

Hey, who’re yer friends?

 

Alley Viper Gear WIP

Peek A BOO!

 

Alley Viper Gear WIP

POC, DOCI, RET

 

Alley Viper Gear WIP

Visors up (and mine stays up! Still excited!)

 

All up, there are some glaring differences from the factory stuff, shields edging and pouches and logos and whatnot, but overall I’m very, very pleased.  I reckon they pass the “squint test” too, in that if you squint just right with them next to “real” Alley Viper’s gear, you can’t hardly tell the difference.  Score.

 

It’s not just an ice rink, it’s our home.

From the AIHL’s Sydney Bears to The Hills Shire Council,

Hockey to us is a lifestyle. It’s waking up every morning after dreaming you’ve scored a big goal in an even bigger game. It’s about giving it your all on the ice even when your mind tells you to quit but your heart and pride tells you to carry on. It’s about the blood, the sweat and the tears you sacrifice day in and day out for your team. It’s about losing your mind when you win and the pain you feel when you lose. It’s about the friendships you forge with your teammates. It’s not just a game, but also a tradition. We love hockey. It has given us joy, it has given us pain but most importantly, it has given us a home. This is what you want to knock down for a profit. Not just an ice rink, but our home.

********

This is my excerpt, from the petition I signed on Change.org this morning:

Because Australia is more than roos and barbies and crocs.  It’s rapidly gaining international recognition as a place to send budding hockey stars to get some more experience.  With the increasing exposure through livestream’s the sport is growing now more than ever before.  Facebook has shrunken the world and the AIHL is only going to get bigger.

Plus, let’s not forget the people that frequent this rink.  The families that enjoy an afternoon skate every now and again, the kids learning to bonk around in pads for the first time and little Jessica, who is 7, and wants very much to be both a ballerina on ice and a goal-scoring right wing.  With this rink near her house, she’ll never know that she lives in Australia and there’s no natural ice here and that ice hockey isn’t a native sport.  She’ll have every opportunity that little Emily has in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan, but with our Aussie life.

Finally, let’s not forget that industrious corporate ambition rarely does ANYTHING GOOD for this planet and the people that live on it.  The vast majority of this kind of action is designed to do one thing: Make Someone Richer.  That’s right, “richer” because they’re never Not Rich to start with and they NEVER undertake these projects thinking, “Ya know, I’d like to build some affordable housing around here to give something back to the community…”  They do it for greed, pure and simple.

So this is me, one man, one voice, asking you not to forget these things.  I sincerely hope you don’t.

********

So go there and sign this thing.  It’s a good thing to do.

Nobody ever had to beg me to play hockey

“You know,” my roommate said to me over the wind and traffic noise in his CJ7 Jeep as we blasted down the highway, “Nobody ever had to beg me to play hockey.”

We were roommates and teammates on Colorado’s 2nd-ever team in the Major League Roller Hockey comp. The 1st-ever team was the region’s Golden Boys, the top players and shiniest roller hockey heroes in Denver’s surrounds. The Rocky Mountain Wolverines boasted years and years of collegiate and junior ice hockey talent and the leftovers, politically and otherwise, tried out for the “other” team in a bit of a coup (or a fu-coup, as it were).

Our coach/owner was as ragtag as we were and we all loved the idea that nobody expected us to even form a team, let alone win anything. Coach was as full of big talk and big promises as he was empty when the bar tab came around. We exchanged looks at times, but we all believed because we wanted to play so badly.

We started out as the Mile High Moose and we played a couple of interesting games against the Wolverines to kick off MLRH’s sophomore season, even besting them in the second game (while their best player was at a tournament in Vegas). Coach played with the team finances and had plans for our compensation comensurate on selling merchandise and tickets. We were sure we could do it, even if the money was tight. Coach hired out buses to haul us to our “home rink” an hour north of Denver in Greeley for our games and sometimes even practices.

The questions on his suitability in regards to finances began immediately and this didn’t help. A string of canceled home games against neighbouring state’s teams brought even more questions. The Fort Worth and Salt Lake City teams were both hesitant to make any trip to play the newcomers, even the highly-touted Wolverines.

Cinderella Falls Flat

Only a few weeks into the season and the bottom dropped out. Practice was canceled when the rink owner came and told us all to either pay up or get out. Coach was nowhere to be found, nor was he answering his phone, and every entity the team had contact with came forth with bills showing all that we owed. We were a team that hadn’t paid a dime to anyone but had made promises to everyone. We were dropped like hot rocks and had all gone home to cry in our beers while the impressive Wolverines kept playing and kept winning and kept impressing.

We as a team, had all ponied up our hard-earned dough to become a part of something with the promise that we’d get our gear comped, our rink time covered, our travel covered, and a nice check at the end of the season. We’d lost it all.

Then our phone rang. It was one of our captains, a former college player who was our lockerroom leader, if not the one wearing the actual “C” on his jersey. He’d spoken to the head of the league, just for giggles, and wanted to gauge interest in continuing the team for the season under new ownership. Player ownership.

He’d barely made three phone calls before the word spread like bushfire through the entire team. We were back on and all was forgiven at the rink, if not the bus depot. Roommate and I jabbered excitedly to each other in-between phone calls to teammates and sponsors, even members of the Wolverines!

Cinderella Gets Back Up

Our first practice was the only rinktime we could get, 6 PM on a Tuesday. That meant ditching work early for us paid-by-the-hour fellas and a horrific hour+ drive in rush hour to Colorado’s smelliest city. We couldn’t have been happier to do it.

Top-down, sunburnt and running late, we piled out of the Jeep and into the lockerroom excitedly looking forward to seeing all of our teammates. A little over half were there, with apologies from 3 more. That was it. The absence of our former captain, a friend of the coach’s, was notable.

Reeling a bit, we took the Sport Court and practiced anyway, and it was grand. We stopped a bit early so that our “new” captain could address the team with all the specifics. We were now MLRH’s only player-owned, player-managed, team, and we were allowed in the league that season on a highly-probationary status only through the good graces of the league chairman and his belief in us. He reckoned we showed heart and he wanted to see what we could do, even covering the rink fees in the early stages.

We were now the Colorado Mustangs, and we were ready to actually get serious about winning.

Captain wasn’t done with the announcements either. One of the Wolverine’s golden boys, a friend and teammate on their top line, was dissatisfied with how that team was going. He wasn’t happy with the owner and he didn’t like the egos that swelled the second a paycheck was mentioned. His ice time had shrunk, sure, but he reckoned we showed heart too, and he wanted in.

Mustangs Ride

Roommate and I were excited but needed closure, so I used his for-work-only cellphone to ring each of the guys on the team that had missed our first official practice as a Miracle Team.

Responses, as expected, varied.

“Aw yeah, I ah… couldn’t ah… couldn’t get out of work, yeah.”

“Was that today? Oops. I’ll make the next one… I guess.”

“Yeah, I’m cool with the team and all, but driving to Greeley?!”

The former captain was at least up-front and candid with me, telling me that he’d lost his money too and was too damn old to go hanging on to “foolish hopes and dreams”.

Reaching the end of the list I hung up the phone and looked at Roommate, my face showing precisely how I felt about their responses. He just shook his head and pointed the Jeep south, toward our ramshackle place that reeked of hockey equipment and dog.

“You know, nobody ever had to beg me to play hockey. Never in my whole life have I ever had to be begged to play.”

I never have either

I’ve played on blistering blacktop in the height of a Houston summer, sweating so much that my equipment bag gained 13 pounds in one game. I’ve slept 14 to a double-bed room in a dive outside of Austin. I’ve hallucinated about seeing giant hockey skates covering the pre-dawn highway while driving a truckload of sleeping teammates back from an all-night tournament in Dallas. I’ve played 4 straight games in a tennis-court league because nobody’s goalies showed up on a 100-degree day.

When I left Texas A&M for Denver, I spent my unemployed days doing odd jobs, looking for work and parked in the stands of the roller hockey rink, sitting next to my bag and holding my stick aloft in adverstisement of my goaltending availabilities. I’ve played 5 nights a week for 6 teams while working and going to Uni full-time. I’ve played semi-pro roller hockey in the Major League.

The Colorado Mustangs won every game the rest of that season except our last two, losing to the Wolverines in the Regional Semi-final, with the winner promised a trip to Buffalo to take on the East Coast’s best.

I slept in shithole dives in Dallas and in the back of a truck in Salt Lake City. Whereas our first coach had told me unequivocally that I was only there in case his precious starting goalie got injured or shellacked for 20 goals and that I would probably NEVER see playing time, this “new” team saw me splitting time with that precious goalie and posting better numbers during our road trips, despite being 10 years older.

And nobody ever had to beg me to play.

Save the Canberra Knights

The AIHL’s Canberra Knights ownership has folded the team, first claiming monetary issues and then talent issues after informing the players via Facebook earlier this week. News stories abound and the Facebook discussion is as fervent as the supporter’s pledging money on the team’s crowd-sourcing page.

I just listened to Jordie Gavin’s interview on Canberra’s Sports Radio. He and the rest of the boys just want to play.

They just want to play.

And I don’t think anybody should stand in the way of that.

Good luck boys, I’m here if you need anybody in net during your Perth trips.

Here’s that DONATE link once again: https://www.mycause.com.au/page/canberraaihlteam

Customs – Night Viper

One of my absolute FAVOURITE O-ring Joes was the Night Viper.  I loved him so much that I frequently swapped heads for a cool-looking Joe (like Dial-Tone or Falcon) to make them like, undercover.  Not even terribly sure why I loved it so much, just did.

So of course I was stoked when they announced a Night Viper coming out in the Retaliation line of toys.  Thing is, I’d already had the parts and bits together for this project though.  Plus, when I got a gander at the one they’d come out with, $40 on eBay and all, I saw just another kitbash with some cool colouring.  Stupid Hasbro.

So I was even more motivated to make my own.

Recipe (body):

  • Head – Night Adder
  • Chest/Torso/Arms – POC Snake Eyes
  • Upper legs (outer) – ROC Duke (Impact Armor)
  • Upper legs (inner) – ROC Ripcord
  • Knees – POC Gayass Tornado Kick Snake Eyes
  • Lower legs – POC Gayass Whirlwind Kick Storm Shadow
  • Feet – ROC Charbroil with bits I cut off POC Gayass Tornado Kick Snake Eyes shins

Recipe (gear):

  • Visor – ROC Snake Eyes, bits and pieces, spotting scope from Marauder Gun Runners.
  • Webgear – Bits and pieces, belt from ROC Snake Eyes, belt from ROC Impact Armor Duke
  • Flashlight/Knife/Knife Scabbard – Marauders again.
  • Rifle (w/strap) – ROC Grand Slam
  • Rifle (painted) – Heavily modded crap gun from True Heroes set.  Cut and glued in most of the stock, clip and scope.

Hardest Part – Carving and cutting and drilling and fitting that inner thigh piece to the outer thigh piece.  The biggest gripe I have towards the ROC Impact Armor legs was the weird way it tapered in on the inner thigh.  Ripcord’s inner thigh looked great there, but the holes didn’t line up, so it took a lot of work on that harder plastic to get it to fit.

Easiest part – Cutting up the bits from other backpacks and webgear and gluing the night vision head-scope thing together.  LOVED making that sucker.

Biggest Fail – The huge gap at the top of his left leg.  And making the foot armor thingo so thick that he can’t bend his toes up.  Also was going to do ROC Flash’s head with ROC Charbroil’s helmet, where he could take it off and be all human underneath, but it was going to be too much work and I got lazy.

Biggest nail – The gear, I reckon.  I love the headscope (except that it doesn’t go up far enough), the webgear, the flashlight and knife and the rifle.

Thanks again to Seebs for the old school Night Viper.  Frickin’ LOVE that guy.