The USS Mystic — a kitbashed starship from Star Trek

The USS Mystic

The USS Mystic

So one day I was looking at my model kit of the NSEA Protector, the starship from the fun flick Galaxy Quest, and realizing that, as much as I loved the movie, I really had no desire to build this model of the ship.

She's been known to make the kessel run in faster than 12 parsecs!

She’s been known to make the kessel run in faster than 12 parsecs!

I was thinking about putting it up for sale online, and had even thought about just throwing it out. But then I saw that I also had an un-built model of the USS Enterprise-C, from Star Trek, it gave me an idea.

Available for diplomatic missions, special rescue assignments and for slapping the crap out of the Romulans.

Available for diplomatic missions, special rescue assignments and for slapping the crap out of the Romulans.

Why not combine the two ships into one? Build the Enterprise-C, but give her the engines from the Protector. The result is the USS Mystic, a test bed that the Federation build for a completely new engine system.

The pool and spa areas are available for use to everybody...except the rotten Romulans.

The pool and spa areas are available for use to everybody…except the rotten Romulans.

Because it’s an experimental ship, it has the designation NX-3000. The USS Excelsior had NX-2000, so I thought I’d raise it by a thousand.

"Let's see what's out there..."

“Let’s see what’s out there…”

I like the new look. The Protector’s engine section makes this starship look like it wants to soar.

"To boldly go..."

“To boldly go…”

The lighted areas of the ship you see the in last two photos were ‘lit’ in Corel Photo Paint. –SF

Daredevil — a review

There's a power outage in just a select few areas tonight.

There’s a power outage in just a select few areas tonight.

I’ve never read the Daredevil comics, because he never really interested me in the first place. It’s not that I hated the character, there was only so many hours in a day, you know? And when I was a kid I was reading everything else. Superman, the Flash, Spider-Man, Batman…but mainly Batman and the Flash.

My first exposure to Daredevil came with the notorious Ben Affleck film, which was produced well before the dawn of this new Golden Age of Marvel cinema. While I didn’t really HATE Affleck’s Daredevil as much as some did, I admit that it certainly is a flawed and imperfect film.

No, I won't be representing you because I can tell you're guilty by the sound of your heartbeat. Next case....

No, I won’t be representing you because I can tell you’re guilty by the sound of your heartbeat. Next case….

Flash forward to another golden age that’s happening now, that of TV streaming, which is led by another media powerhouse, Netflix. After enjoying success with House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, Netflix has dived into the superhero arena with a new improved version of Daredevil.

And oh boy, has it ever been improved! Daredevil/Matt Murdock is well-played this time by Charlie Cox in a more understated, subtle performance that draws the viewer to him. Wilson Fisk, Daredevil’s main adversary, is played by Vincent D’Onofrio, who’s astoundingly good in the part–so much so that he easily makes it his own. It doesn’t hurt that the writing for this series is incredibly intelligent, dealing with the origin of both Daredevil and his nemesis the Kingpin in a slow-burn build up that’s mesmerizing to watch.

You mind repeating that again? Didn't quite catch it the first time because I was beating the stuffing out of your friends.

You mind repeating that again? Didn’t quite catch it the first time because I was beating the stuffing out of your friends.

The acting, writing and direction are all several steps above what’s available on other superhero shows, and bear in mind that a lot of these present day comic book shows (like The Flash and Arrow) are extremely entertaining. But the producers of Daredevil, led by writer/producer Drew Goddard, strive to up the ante whenever they can–like the incredible battle sequence at the end of the second episode, which runs continuously for several minutes with no cuts. There’s also their interesting choice to introduce Fisk as a shy man bumbling his way through asking a woman out for a date, after previously setting him up to be akin to the antichrist.

We either can do this the easy way, or my way.

We either can do this the easy way, or my way.

That’s the mark of a truly great series; just when you think you can predict where it’s going, the writers pull the rug out from under you (and the characters) in a smart way that not only still makes sense, but sends the story careening along an exciting path. This series was made for binge-watching; although the episodes stand alone, when viewed together, you get the feel of watching an epic motion picture, or reading a sprawling novel with a cast of richly imagined characters. Thank you, Marvel, for recognizing there are comics fans who enjoy a complex and gritty story, and thank you Netflix, for bringing this outstanding tale to us. –SF

Interstellar — a review

Is the ship supposed to be making that weird creaking sound?

Is the ship supposed to be making that weird creaking sound?

“We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.”

Two years after ending his superior Batman trilogy with The Dark Knight Rises, director Christopher Nolan re-teams with Alfred the butler (Michael Cain) and Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) to take us back into outer space in what obviously feels like this generation’s answer to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001. Interstellar is more like 2001 than Star Trek or Star Wars because it deals with more hard science issues, such as astronauts aging slower than the loved ones whom they leave behind on earth. There’s none of this “let’s warp on over to the planet Vulcan in twenty minutes,” or making the Kessel run in 12 parsecs.

OK, so just follow that second star to the right and...well, you know the rest.

OK, so just follow that second star to the right and…well, you know the rest.

Which is not to say that I hate those two 800 pound gorillas of the science fiction film and TV world–far from it, I love both of them to bits. I enjoy a good fantasy just as much as anybody else. And that’s exactly what those franchises are: fantasies. Because they don’t pay much attention to science. And while there are many who may also bitterly nitpick the science in Interstellar, the movie has got to be given credit for at least trying to address the issues that real-life astronauts will have to face on a long-haul journey. That, and also for trying to reignite the sense of wonder and adventure we once had with the space program.

Hey, it's just a coffee table from Ikea, right? How hard can it be to put together?

Hey, it’s just a coffee table from Ikea, right? How hard can it be to put together?

Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper, a former NASA pilot who’s turned farmer in a run-down future where the world is slowly starving to death. Crops are failing, and while the ever-sturdy corn seems to be holding its own, it won’t be long before that dies out. Thanks to some weird, ghost-like activity in his daughter’s bedroom, Cooper discovers that dust has fallen to the floor in a binary pattern–which, when translated, reveals the current location of a covert NASA in an underground facility, where they are secretly building a new spaceship that will take a crew of explorers. When they ask Cooper if he would pilot the ship, he’s understandably reluctant to lead the expedition, saying he has children.

Everybody remember where we parked!

Everybody remember where we parked!

“Then get out there and save them,” Michael Caine’s NASA scientist tells him. Some time ago, a group of astronauts known as Rangers had set out on scouting missions through a wormhole that had formed forty eight years prior in the orbit of Saturn. The voyage that follows is exciting and nerve-wracking, thanks to the fact that Nolan made sure the viewer is fully invested in the characters from the beginning. It’s also a very imaginative ride that’s visually stunning, utilizing real sets instead of copious CGI. You feel like you’re right in there with Nolan’s pioneers. Watching Interstellar, it’s hard not to feel envious of the future generations that will make the climb outward from the cradle of Earth. But if this film sparks the imagination of just one future scientist or space explorer, then it will have done its job. This one’s a keeper, the rare, intelligent science fiction film in the same vein as Contact. Don’t miss it. –SF

Just checking my rock

My rock of Gibraltar

My rock of Gibraltar

Seeing how this is the first weekend without any snow on the ground, I went for a little inspection of my property. I found this rock, looking like its been perfectly cut in half for me.

After washing it with the hose, I took it inside to inspect it for fossils. Sometimes, whenever a rock cracks cleanly open like this, you might get a fossilized image of a creature that lived millions of years ago.

Behold, one rock becomes two!

Behold, one rock becomes two!

But, as you can see, there was nothing imprinted inside the rock. Cancel the call to the Museum of Natural History! Oh well, it was worth the look. 🙂

Colonial One model kit — an out of the box review

The front of the box.

The front of the box.

Moebius Models released the new Colonial One model kit from the 2003 Battlestar Galactica TV series.

The back of the box.

The back of the box.

This was the ship that Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) was riding in when the Cylons launched their devastating attack on the Twelve Colonies. It was just a simple starliner, a spaceship equivalent to an airliner.

A look at the parts on the sprues.

A look at the parts on the sprues.

When it was revealed that Laura was the last surviving member of the government, she became the president, and the starliner became her Air Force One (hence the in-series name Colonial One).

More parts on the sprue.

More parts on the sprue.

Colonial One was not a large vessel–at least not compared to the Battlestar Galactica. Colonial One could fit inside one of the Galactica’s flight pods.

The stand and a very small piece of the ship--both are in clear plastic, so I'm keeping them bagged so I won't lose them.

The stand and a very small piece of the ship–both are in clear plastic, so I’m keeping them bagged so I won’t lose them.

But, unlike the Galactica, the Colonial One could land on a planet. It had landing gear–which the model also has. Moebius has given you the option of building the model with the landing gear up or down.

The main body of the ship, still on the sprue.

The main body of the ship, still on the sprue.

The main body measures nine inches in length; it’s 1:350 scale, which actually puts it in the same scale as the 1:350 scale USS Enterprise models (the refit and the original ship) released a few years back.

Original artwork by the ship's designer.

Original artwork by the ship’s designer.

All in all, this is a nice little model kit that’s a must have for fans of BSG, as well as builders of SF ships. It even comes with a mini-poster by Richard Livingston, who created the ship. I’ll post pictures of the build soon.

The Dragon’s Egg Complete

Is that a cracking sound I hear?

Is that a cracking sound I hear?

So here’s the finished Dragon’s Egg, based on the Game of Thrones Eggs.

Is it a dragon...or Rodan?

Is it a dragon…or Rodan?

After giving it a flat black base coat, I painted each of the “shells” a Kelly Green. I also gave it just a hint of metallic green here and there.

An egg in hand.

An egg in hand.

It’s about the same size as a regular chicken egg, based on a plastic Easter egg that I bought as part of a set in the supermarket. I always wanted to do something with one of these little plastic Easter eggs, and I always wanted one of the dragon’s eggs from GOT, and here you go. –SF

Painting the dragon’s egg

The base coat is the first coat on this here egg.

The base coat is the first coat on this here egg.

Well, the putty dried nicely. The entire plastic Easter egg is encased in a hard Dragon shell. So I started painting it. This is the base coat, which is flat black. I want the nooks and crannies to remain black, while the rest of the egg will be painted green.

More to come.

My Game Of Thrones Dragon Egg

The incredible, inedible dragon's egg

The incredible, inedible dragon’s egg

Whenever I use Apoxie Putty for a model project, I will always wind up using far more than I need–which makes sense, because then I don’t have to worry about stopping the project to mix more putty.

The problem with the putty is that it will harden no matter what, and so to avoid wasting it, I’ve been sticking the excess putty onto a plastic Easter egg in the hopes or recreating the dragon’s egg design from the TV series Game Of Thrones.

The picture above shows the now completely covered egg, alongside a regular plastic Easter egg for comparison. Once this is completely dry, I will start painting it. I’ll post further progress pictures on this blog as they happen. –SF

Battlestar Galactica is back (again)

By your command.

By your command.

Fans of the original Battlestar Galactica series can rejoice! It’s finally being released on Blu-Ray by Universal. There is a deluxe (and expensive) edition that features the original series, Galactica 1980 and the 1979 theatrical movie all in one set.

There is also several hours worth of special features included, some of which have been released on the DVD sets of the original BSG series.

The deluxe version, known as the Definitive Collection, also has everything in widescreen as well as the original fullscreen that it was shown in. But a question I have is this: is the widescreen truly the original widescreen print? Or did they simply reformat the old TV fullscreen print so it would better fit newer, hi-def TVs?

According to the Universal press release, this new release has been remastered especially for Blu-Ray. There were some rumors that the effects have been updated, but this is not the case. The effects shots are the originals produced back in the late 1970s.

In any event, you can pre-order this right now at Amazon:

Bye, winter (I think)

What's that dark stuff down there? Why, it's the ground! It's been so long since I've seen it!

What’s that dark stuff down there? Why, it’s the ground! It’s been so long since I’ve seen it!

We just had one of these spring snow storms, and I have to say that I really love spring snow storms. Not because of the storm itself, which usually roars in with an intimidating fury of white, but what happens after the storm.

That’s right, it doesn’t matter how much snow we wind up getting during a spring snow storm, because the next day, the temperatures climb back into the fifties and that nice, strong sun wipes it all away.

I’m tempted to say that this is the LAST snow storm of the season, but I never do. Because whenever I say something like that, we usually get hit with more snow. Snow is persistent, and it never realizes that it has overstayed its welcome. –SF