December 21, 2014

DIY Baymax Ornament

My tree is now satisifed with its decorations because I made a Baymax ornament:

I couldn't find any Baymax ornaments at Disneyland or at Hallmark so that left only one choice. This ornament was incredibly easy to make.

Clear plastic ornament - it's easier if you can split it in half
White acrylic paint
Paint brush - I like foam ones
Black Sharpie

Cover the ornament in thin layers of white acrylic paint, waiting until each layer dries before adding new paint.
Once the paint is thick enough to be opaque and it's dry, pencil on Baymax's eyes. Fill in the outline with the Sharpie.

The end! Easy as can be, and the result is adorable.

December 20, 2014

Star Wars Insider #154

The latest issue of Star Wars Insider is here! You'll find plenty of great articles including a piece about the costumes of The Empire Strikes Back, 50 Greatest Reasons to Love the Original Trilogy, and two interviews by me. I talk to Star Wars Rebels concept artist Chris Glenn about his work on the series (including making that awesome phoenix logo) and Joe Salcedo from ANOVOS about their screen accurate replica of Han Solo's holster. There's even an opportunity to win one!

Plus, check out the cool design for Ezra's lightsaber that was revealed in the interview with Glenn:

Get your copy of Star Wars Insider at places like Barnes & Noble (or any place that has a wide selection of magazines) or subscribe to get every issue!

December 19, 2014

Agent Carter Cookies

Marvel's Agent Carter is premiering so soon. The series drops with a two hour pilot on Tuesday, January 6th, on ABC at 9:00pm. You should write it on your calendar now. Go ahead, I'll wait. In anticipation of the series (and I am so excited!), I've been hanging onto every social media post from star Hayley Atwell, ABC, everyone. And yesterday, Atwell posted a picture of these lovely Peggy Carter cookies featuring Peggy, a tube of lipstick, and a gun on Instagram:

With a little digging, I saw they were made by Daphne. She made a batch of Agent Carter cookies a week ago for her roommate who is a writer on the show, and they found their way to Atwell. I'd like a dozen of these, please. With a side of espionage.

December 18, 2014

I Played Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures On the Best Table Ever

Star Wars fans continually amaze me. It's a subject I've touched on before, and I don't imagine I'll tire of repeating it. They channel their passion into all forms of art, including custom gaming tables. A pal of mine, Ruark Dreher, took his enthusiasm and engineering skills and designed an epic (only word for it) custom table for Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures. Look:

Isn't it beautiful? I featured the table on a few weeks ago, and you can read all the details there but in short: The playing space is appropriate tournament size at 3 feet by 3 feet. The edges of the table are covered in logos. And that acrylic playing surface? It lights up in a few different colors. There are lots of little touches too that make the game more organized and easier to play. I learned this firsthand when I played X-Wing Miniatures for the first time ever on this table. I promise I didn't drool on it.

I've been meaning to play Fantasy Flight Games' Star Wars miniatures game since it was released but was intimidated by it for some reason. I think I have an aversion to the phrase "expansion pack," and the game has plenty of those. The expansion packs aren't a barrier to entry though, and in fact, you can have a fine game with just the starter pack/core set.

A photo posted by Amy Ratcliffe (@amy_geek) on

For my first game, I was spoiled. Not only did I play on the beautiful table pictured above, but I was able to choose from a wide selection of ships, pilots, and upgrades. Ruark has a rather impressive collection of X-Wing Miniatures game pieces. He also has fancy touches like a tower that holds the movement pieces, dice cups, and plastic lids that are used for storing the game or rolling dice on. I also played with several people (we played in teams) that know the game and were able to walk me through the basics. I have a lot to learn, but it was relatively simple to get the basics down and start playing. I wasn't expecting the mechanics to be easy to pick up, but I was wrong. Now, once you get into complex moves, strategy, and upgrades... that gets more tricky. I'll get there one day.

And I truly will because after playing one 3.5 hour game, I'm hooked. I'm drawn to the fact that you can play with two players or in teams, I like the game play, and I really appreciate the details on the miniatures. When you're not actively playing, the ships are more than nice enough to display with your other collectibles. I've already purchased the core set and the Millennium Falcon from my local gaming store (I'm not ready to play with the Falcon just yet, but it's a gorgeous model and I've heard it's been out of stock and hard to track down for a while). I'm also already looking into playing mats because if I'm going to play X-Wing Miniatures, I want to do so on a starfield. I'm going to try out a custom one with a starfield printed on a vinyl material. It was just over $10 to print so we'll see how it works out.

If you're intrigued, you can get the core set on Amazon along with plenty of expansion packs. Check your local gaming store for more options and accessories. I promise it's simple to learn and a blast to play.

Do you already play X-Wing Miniatures? Tell me about your ships, your favorite sites for tips and tricks, and what sort of play mat you use (if any)!

BB-8 Christmas Ornament

Remember the little soccer ball droid that rolled around the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer? If you haven't heard, the official name for the droid is BB-8. He (or she) captured my eye because hello, it was adorable. There has been piles of fan art featuring the droid, and someone posted an image of a handmade BB-8 Christmas ornament on Imgur. Look:

I've been wanting to make one from ping pong balls or foam and seeing this ornament only makes me want to craft my own BB-8 decoration more. I'll just add it to my list of crafts I'd like to finish before Christmas (it's a long list!).

h/t The Star Wars Report

December 17, 2014

Review: Geonosis Infantry Battle Droids by Sideshow Collectibles

Remember that set of Star Wars Geonosis Infantry Battle Droids by Sideshow Collectibles I'm giving away? I unboxed a set to review them, and I have to admit these battle droids are way more fun than I expected them to be. As per the usual with any product made by Sideshow, the figures are detailed with paint that adds depth and texture. And the articulation on these guys? Forget about it.

The box comes with two Geonosis Infantry Battle Droids. This is ideal. A single battle droid wouldn't be as interesting; two droids means you can create lots of silly scenes or re-create moments from Attack of the Clones. Plus, having two droids means you can make them crack jokes back and forth while you're posing them - which you'll want to do over and over again.

The packaging was both simple and secure. I had the droids out of the box and in position in about a minute, but that doesn't mean they weren't protected and safe in their box. They were folded up - an indicator of how flexible they are - and awaiting deployment.

Accessories include two guns and two backpacks - the backpacks have extendable (and sturdy!) antennas (or antennae). I particularly like the weathering on the backpack and the droids. Definitely gives the droids the metal appearance just like in the movie.

Look at all those joints waiting to be posed! 

I've never had such a fantastic time posing sixth scale figures before. The design of battle droids means the characters are made to be action figures and collectibles. Practically everything moves. The neck extends and can be pushed down. The head can be moved up and down and side to side. Every joint of the arms and hands move. The elbows stuck a little at first but moved smoothly after I flexed them a few times. The droids' "fingers" are flexible and that makes it easy for them to grip their guns. The hips, knees, and feet can be positioned at different angles with ease.

All of those articulation points made it a blast to pose these droids in every which way. The flexibility gives them a ton of personality since their stances informs the way you interpret their emotions. I couldn't stop switching it up:

I call this the sassy battle droid pose.

The "Oh no, what have I done?!" battle droid pose.

The crossed arms, pouty battle droid pose.

The petulant or nap-time battle droid pose.

The dancing on duty battle droid pose.

The "Did you hear that?" battle droid pose.

The water cooler chat battle droid pose.

And this pose doesn't have a name - I just wanted to show off the articulation.

Who knew battle droids could be this cool? I think I'm going to start incorporating these guys into my regular decor and pose/dress them up for different occasions. As of this weekend, they'll be decorating a miniature Christmas tree and wearing tiny Santa hats.

Here's all the important technical information:
The figure is 12 inches tall.
Dave Whitford is responsible for the paint design.
The set comes with:
Figure Set includes: Two "Battle Damaged" Veteran Battle Droids as encountered on the planet Geonosis
Each Battle Droid has a fully articulated body and unique detailed paint deco
Two (2) E-5 Blaster Rifles
Two (2) Communications Backpacks with Extendable Antennas

You can purchase a set of your own droids for $129.99 from Sideshow Collectibles.

Or enter my giveaway to win your own set of Battle Droids! I think I'm going to have to ask the winner to pose the droids and send me pictures. Related: if you own these droids and have taken any silly pictures, please share them! Post links in the comments or send them to me on Twitter.

Full disclosure: The Geonosis Infantry Battle Droids were provided by Sideshow Collectibles for review purposes. This did not affect my review of the product.

Baby Groot Ornament Will Make Your Christmas Tree Cooler Than the Awesome Mix

It is a truth universally acknowledged that baby Groot makes anything and everything better. The appearance of the moving and grooving sapling version of Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy is one of those rare magical, unforgettable sort of scenes. It was also one of the cutest moments of cinema in 2014. Now that the holiday season is here and Guardians of the Galaxy is available on Blu-ray and DVD (get it on Amazon!), people are inserting a little Groot into their celebrations. He makes a perfect addition to any Christmas tree because he is a tree. I've seen an incredibly well made Groot tree topper and now, this precious, adorable, cute, insert-more-adjectives here felt ornament.

Instructables user LD_P made this happy little Grootmas addition with felt in light brown, black, green, and red, matching embroidery thread, mini Christmas light trim, and a few other basics. No sewing machine is required - you'll do it all by hand. And honestly, the hardest part will probably be getting the body shape just right.

Learn how to make your very own baby Groot Christmas tree ornament:

Want more geeky holiday inspiration?  I've got a Pinterest board for that.

h/t Instructables

December 16, 2014

Jewelry and More from PopCycled Baubles

You can never have enough jewelry, and that's doubly true if said jewelry includes comic book art. Laura Rosado's store PopCycled Baubles has plenty of options in that category. Rosado uses art from comic books and upcycles panels into wearable art and accessories. She makes pendants, cases, coasters, and compacts featuring everything from the TARDIS to Batgirl. Her products are a great way to incorporate your passion for comics into your outfits or into your home decor. Some examples of her work:

Her shop isn't limited to upcycled art either; she also makes purses. She uses licensed and themed fabrics to create bags inspired by Wonder Woman, Harley Queen, Frozen, and more. And yes, she takes custom orders.

You can shop for all the shinies at PopCycled Baubles on Etsy and keep up with the latest releases on Facebook.

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