Friday, October 27, 2006

Carnor Jax and Kir Kanos

The first of Hasbro's new Comic Packs arrived today - the exclusive Carnor Jax/Kir Kanos set. For those that don't know, Carnor Jax and Kir Kanos are the central characters of the Crimson Empire series of comics. Jax and Kanos were Royal Imperial Guards, the Emperor's most loyal bodyguards. Following the events of Dark Empire, Kanos learns that Jax is responsible for the flaw in the Emperor's clones that allow Luke Skywalker to finally defeat Palpatine's clones. Jax hunts Kanos as he is the last one with knowledge of Jax's betrayal, while Kanos attempts to kill Jax for his treason. The Royal Guards have always been one of my favorite character designs, and I've always been disappointed we never saw them do anything in the movies (except for that travesty of a scene in ROTS - Yoda sucks). I've been aware that there was a story focusing on the Imperial Guards for sometime but hadn't ever devled into it, until a couple of months ago when I found out there was a Trade Paperback containing all 6 issues of the story, and was available specially bundled with two Gentle Giant Bust-ups, the Royal Guard and an exclusive Holographic Emperor. I found it on eBay for $15 and grabbed it. Comics being what they are I finished reading it in 15 or 20 minutes. I've read it a couple of times since, and it's one of my favorite stories. I'm saddened that Jax (who is a cool character, in my opinion) betrayed the Emperor (who is one of my absolute favorite characters), but then he aspired to be a Sith, and that is the way of the Sith, schemeing to attain more power and advantage over rivals. Anyway, I loved the story, and it prompted me to start hunting down the trade paperback versions of Dark Empire (which I've found) and Dark Empire II, so I could read the Clone Emperor storyline. Anyone familiar with the ROTS Royal Guards released last year may be interested to know that the armor underneathe the cloak is patterned after Royal Guards as seen in Crimson Empire. When I finally read Crimson Empire I was already aware that Hasbro had announced the Jax/Kanos pack, and was already planning to get it, but reading the story cemented my desire to have these figures. I don't remember exactly but I wouldn't be surprised to find out I pre-ordered the figures as soon as I finished the book. And now, after the long wait the figures arrived... A few people complained that the paint was sloppy, or that the figures were clumsly placed in the bubbles and didn't make for a good display - which doesn't bother me, because I open my toys. Well, my two sets didn't disappoint me at all packaging wise. There was nothing wrong with how either of the figures in my two sets were placed in the packaging, the feet seemed aimed in the proper direction, and the figs were holding their weapons, and everything looked just great, and I'm going to leave one set unopened for a while, because it does look good. But I opened one set as soon as I was able. My thoughts on the figures themselves are as follows.

Kir Kanos

Kir Kanos wears a mostly red version of the Royal Guard armor, though his sleeves and pants above his boots are mostly black. The helmet's not as tight on his chest as I would like - I guess it's at least partly because of the gathering of the cape material at his throat, it keeps the lower front of the helmet away from his body - it's soft plastic, but it still cool. The black on the figure is not as dark as I would like, but it looks really good, the new forearms look great, it's too bad they didn't see fit to upgrade the elbows to ball/socket joint. His right hand is very soft and too open to hold the staff by itself. The cape is great, much better than the ROTS fabric, and shiny to boot.

Carnor Jax

Carnor Jax aspires to me the next Sith Lord and it shows in his choice of armor. He wears an awesome looking black variation of the armor, with red sleeves and pants, basically the reverse of Kanos' armor, except the helmet coloring is even cooler. Same issue with the helmet being pushed away from his body by the cape, and I think the visor should be a deep black rather than the red/black it is. I love the black of the boots, chest/shoulder and arm armor, as it's a very shiny black. The black on the belt, holster, and the bodysuit are a different shade of black which makes for a nice variety. Again, the the cape is greate material, not as shiny as the red cape, nor are both sides the same shinyness, with the inner side being better. The bladed staves are really cool weapons, and I'm glad Hasbro included them. While I would have liked it had Hasbro included the force pike from the Saga figure (especially since I never got that figure, and I never will, since the ROTS version is far superior from what I've seen), the only accessory I really wish Hasbro had included is a Saga2 style stand. Or any stand, as they're a little hard to balance on their own. I love these figures. The articulation could stand a little improving, I personally don't care too much about the lack of waist articulation, though a little swivel ability would be useful, but the most important spots for me would be the elbows, then to have some ankle movement. For a fun variation you can put Jax's helmet on Kanos and I think it looks pretty good, but the reverse is not true. In short, I love 'em, they're totally worth $20, and even more so the $15 I got them for, thanks to the sale at HasbroToyShop at the beginning of the month. I'm really glad I bought two sets, and I encourage anyone that likes at all the Royal Guards, Crimson Empire, or just armored guys in red and black to buy a set or two. Anyone that's interested can get them from,, and, from where they are available as the standalone Jax/Kanos 2-pack, or bundled with the Crimson Empire TPB and 2 Bust-ups. Crimson Empire TPB and Bust-ups available seperately, as well.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Jedi Props: Holo Projector — Day 4 — Version 1 Complete!

In foraging through various forums (The Custom Saber Shop, Jedi Council Forums, The Jedi Assembly) I was inspired to build some props to go with my Anakin costume, namely: a Holocron, a Communicator, and a Holo-projector. I decided that I had sufficient skill to try to create these myself, and will herein chronicle my attempt.

Day 4 — Oct 14, 2006

The LED arrived today so I was able to continue working on the projector; it's bigger than I expected. Due to poor planning and poor design the battery holders I purchased do not fit inside th container with the LED. Actually, again, due to poor design—there really wasn't much design, I just threw this together off the top of my head, it would have benefited from some planning—I attached the batteries in the worst possible way, I soldered wires to them, so they're very impractical to change. I didn't even have the foresight to use new batteries, so they're not even at full charge. So if I have time before Halloween I'll cut the battery holders apart so I can use those contacts for soldering, and the batteries will be replaceable. Additionally, I'm thinking I'll do a version 2 of this in the next couple of months using a circular Altoids® container. But, it's been wired together, batteries to the switch to the resistor to the LED to the batteries. The LED is bright enough that it shines through the reflecter enough to tell there's a single point of light, plus it can be rather blinding if the light reflects into your eyes just right. I found that a small piece of white cloth between the LED and the reflecter diffuses the light sufficiently.
Things I learned
Plan the thing all the way through before begining construction. The switch I bought is much too large—the one I wanted was a momentary switch which didn't fit my requirements, but the one I did purchase takes up too much space inside. The hole I cut out of the plastic container for the reflecter ended up being too big. I had first thought to attach the reflector to the breadboard so I cut the hole big enough to put the reflector through. After realizing how tall the LED was I realized it would have been better to attach the reflector to the surface of the container, but there was no longer enough plastic to attach it to.

Finished! Pics!

Here you can see the uglyness that is the innards of this poorly designed holoprojector. Click for larger versions. Here is the completed projector, lit up, with the kitchen light on. (The tape is to hold the reflector down while the adhesive sets. The completed projector, lit up, in the dark. The holoprojector receives a transmission from Darth Maul. Well, there you have it. My first homemade Star Wars collectible/prop/whatever. I'll probably grab another Bubble Tape® and begin working on version 2 pretty soon—next week if I can, but I have to go to Washington Wed–Sat for my brother marriage, so I won't have much time, so I doubt V2 will be done by Halloween. EDIT: Forgot the following (big) source of inspiration - [url=]Padawan's Guide[/url]

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Jedi Props: Holo Projector — Day 3 – Pics!

In foraging through various forums (The Custom Saber Shop, Jedi Council Forums, The Jedi Assembly) I was inspired to build some props to go with my Anakin costume, namely: a Holocron, a Communicator, and a Holo-projector. I decided that I had sufficient skill to try to create these myself, and will herein chronicle my attempt.
Parts List
1 Bubble Tape container — 89¢ @ Walmart 1 Bubble Tape container — $1.39 @ gas station 1 can Black Spray paint for plastic — $6 @ NAPA Auto Parts ($4 at Walmart, oops) 1 clear/white bicycle reflector — 50¢ @ local bike shop 2 AAA Battery Holders — 99¢ each @ Radio Shack 1 Latching Switch — $2.59 @ Radio Shack 4x 440 machine screws & nuts — free stuff from Dad 1 1.75"x2.25" breadboard — more free stuff from Dad copper LED heatsink — from previously purchased Luxeon lightsaber 1 Royal Blue 1W LED — $10 @ 1 56 Ohm Resistor

Assembly & Fabrication

Day 1 — Oct 7, 2006

The first thing I did was wash the powdered sugar out of the bubble tape container (which I purchased yesterday), then wipe it down with rubbing alcohol. I put 2 or 3 coats of black spray paint on it. After examining the paint job I noticed a tiny spot where there was no paint. I picked at it lightly with my fingernail and paint flecked off! I late was at Walmart and bought a can of clear protective paint, hoping that would protect the paint from scratching. It didn't, and so I began the quest for a more appropriate paint.

Day 2 — Oct 9, 2006

Went to the bike shop, NAPA Auto Parts, Walmart and Radio Shack to pick up the reflector, batter holders and spray paint for plastic, also swung by my dad's house for some nuts and screws. Upon returning home I attempted to remove the previous paintjob. It scratched off easily, but was messy and tedious, so I attempted to use Goof Off to remove, which began smearing the paint and attacking the plastic. I decided to trash that container and went to a nearby gas station to purchase a second container - this one was lime green. Since I now had a reflector I traced out the section on top of the bubble gum container that would be removed for the reflector. I used a knife to cut the bulk of the plastic out, then used a Dremel to polish up the cut to the proper shape. I also used the Dremel to remove some excess material inside the container that prevented the two battery holders from fitting. Then came the second attempt at painting. After letting the first coat dry there was a remarkable difference in the feel of the paint, like it was almost part of the plastic (which it was kinda supposed to be). Gave it another coat and went to work on the breadboard. The breadboard had a couple holes drilled in it to secure the battery holders, and a rectangle to accomadate the heatsink. I ordered the LED before quitting for the night.

Day 3 — Oct 10, 2006 – Pics!

I took inpiration for the following elements: Switch, Silver stripes Reflector, grate

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