Saturday, December 2, 2017

A Couple of Small Updates

Just a few updates...

 -- John

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Website Updates for Mandarake

I got around to describing the Mandarake Non Standard Edition Babel II Poseidon - quite a figure that displays amazingly well with classic Shogun Warriors! Click here:

Mandarake Non Standard Edition Babel II Poseidon

Sunday, September 24, 2017

2017.09.24 Site Updates - Toynami Jumbo Bender

Toynami Shogun Warriors Futurama Jumbo Bender

Did several site updates - mostly adding photos to several sections. The new page is the

Toynami Shogun Warriors Jumbo Bender

Hope you enjoy!

-- John

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Site Updates - US Mattel Raydeen Page

I realized last week that I hadn't updated the Raydeen page - so here it is complete with many photos and comparisons between the figure and box versions:

Mattel Raydeen page

Let me know if you see anything out-of-the-ordinary. I still need to take some photos comparing 1st and 2nd US issue figures (I only have an image of the back panel change).

-- John

All Mattel images and captions are copyright Mattel, all Popy images and captions are copyright Popy/Bandai and used without permission. All other content, including images and editorial, is Copyright © 1997-2017 John Eaton and/or contributors unless otherwise stated. If there are any comments or objections, please contact John Eaton, by clicking here.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Making My Own Jumbos

Casting a Kamen Rider Fist

Making my own Jumbo Machinder Toys

I've recently become quite enamored with the idea of making my own Jumbo Machinders. More than what we think of as a "Custom" (that's when you take an existing Shogun Warrior and modify it to either be more like it's more-detailed Popy cousin or use the basic available torsos, arms and legs to make new Jumbos by adding a custom head or other bits), I've been thinking of making my own JMs. I started thinking about this again after receiving some reproduction bits from Wesley Bourne (Bourno's Jumbo Works) and Derik Larson (Shogun Plastics) - the quality of the castings and materials were quite superior to what was available when I first started to think about making my own items. You can follow my exploit as they occur on John's Toys Facebook Page.

This has evolved over the years - initially the poly resins that were readily available were too fragile and difficult to work with - I had taken a foray into them about a dozen years ago and basically gave up on them - either the detail was too lacking or the output was so fragile a drop on the tabletop would cause a break or chip. The cast pieces were more like model kit plastics but brittle - also there's a constant fight against air pockets and surface bubbles requiring lots of clean up, filler and paint. To me, to make a JM I needed plastics that could hold up to handling during play (at least light play) which would require a resiliency like the blow molded polyethelenes and PVCs used today in large production. Also, I would want to be able to color the output so I didn't have to rely on the pain chipping or wearing off.

With the above in mind I started researching what was available and asking questions of those that are currently doing JM repro parts - I've also made a few friends along the way. So I ended up watching a lot of online tutorials and had come to a few conclusions:
  1. The plastics needed are now available. It would require a mix of various types - some softer that are more like vinyl. Some harder and very durable more like PVC, and something in-between.
  2. To get really accurate castings will require two pieces of equipment - the first is a vacuum pot (this removes the trapped air in the silicone so you don't get bad molds); the second is a pressure pot - you place the "cooking" castings in the pot and apply pressure which forces any trapped air out of the casting (also a reason to have molds that don't have bubbles in them as the trapped air can break the mold or distort the mold so the casting isn't right).
  3. The techniques are a mix of roto-casting and straight-up mold-casting. The latter is what it sounds like and something I've done in the past for small parts. The former is a technique of adding layers of liquid resin to a mold and spinning it around to build-up the thickness. This latter is also the way to most accurately approximate the blow-mold techniques used by Popy, Bullmark and others in making JMs.
So with the above in mind I started to first source the equipment, second prepare some space in my shop (which is setup for woodworking) and third, find sources of the materials (I had ordered directly from Smooth-On previously).

There are several articles on converting a Paint Pressure Pot from Harbor Freight into a casting pressure pot so I started with that. I waited until it went on sale and then used a 25% off coupon so ended up buying the unit for about $50 at the local Harbor Freight. Right now it's still sitting in the box - there are some mods that I need to do and I may add a heater to the bottom (this speeds up and improves the casting). I'm going to leave this for the most accurate part creation so I'm deferring it for now.
Harbor Freight Vacuum Paint Pot

The second item I sourced was a vacuum chamber - there were several articles online about making your own from PVC, using it for both vacuum and pressure, but I deferred on this. I simply didn't want to risk the chance of a mess and really the cost of the pressure pot (above) and the vacuum kit I ended up buying wasn't too bad. Since I would have had to buy a vacuum pump anyway (something that can get to 29 bars of pressure), buying a kit that included the pot and bits was quite reasonable. My searches found this unit on eBay that works quite well for me. Here's a link to the seller - I bought the two gallon unit - I think in retrospect I should have bought the 3.7. Costs was less than $130.

In the meanwhile I started sourcing plastics and defaulted to what I know - ordering a few items from Smooth-On (they were sample kits). I also began a dialog with others making parts that ended up as an hour-long conversation with Wesley Bourne who arguably is doing some of the finest JM reproduction work. I've also exchanged lots of instant messages with Rudy Albarran (Robo Werks Customs) who is producing some remarkable custom items. The conversations with these two have been invaluable in correcting some of my mistakes as I've progressed AND they've been awesome in recommending different plastics to try for different effects (harder, softer, etc). More on that later.

The third task was to find some space in my shop - it's a very cramped spaced setup for woodworking and in the beginning I cleared off my primary bench (behind a tablesaw) but ultimately cleared off my carving bench for sculpting and eventually for airbrushing. This ended up taking quite a bit of effort and time, to finally put back several items that have been overflowing on surfaces and reorganizing equipment so there's enough room. I drape plastic over surfaces to prevent too much dust from penetrating into the plastics and rubbers - but right now it's still too cramped and "trippy" so there's more work to do.

So once I got things setup and had both plastics (resin) and rubbers (silicone) to work with I decided to start experimenting. My friend John Vang had mentioned that there was a need for the LJN Commander Voltron Sword - this was something provided in the US version of GoLion but unavailable to the foreign market. Since I had one I figured this would make a good first test.

To do this type of casting you build up walls (they can be made of polymer-clay - this is clay that doesn't dry-out/harden and doesn't have sulfur in it like natural clay, which impedes the curing of platinum-activated silicone) and a foundation being careful of seams.

Building the mold chamber from polymer clay
Keys are added (the round indents) so the mold doesn't move during curing
Silicone casting mix is added after vacuuming
First half of mold completed
Second half poured - air holes made with bits of wire
Second Half Poured
Halves with excellent detail retention
First Successful Cast using Injection using Smooth-On 65D
So I had intended to try the pressure pot on the sword but it's too big to fit in the pot, even standing up. Also, I had created the mold to be on-edge which I now thing is a mistake. I used a large syringe to force in the plastic - this was after my first mishap trying to first vacuum out any air - the resin kicked while in the pot so it activates much too fast. My second cast produced the sword above.I used a syringe to inject the resins which works well but with the short working time there were still air pockets along some edges. I talked things over a bit with Rudy and he suggested using a slower activated resin from Specialty Resin and Chemical (SRC) so I ordered some 12 minute working time. My next cast provided plenty of working time - maybe a bit too much.

Second "Successful" cast using SRC Slow Activated Resin
I've also decided to relocate my fill any air holes and try this again with the mold flat. I also want the casting to be closer to the silver color of the original instead of the gray (options are light like you see or darker, but neither approximate the slightly silver plastic - to solve this I've ordered silver powder and will try it after I've modified the mold).

While experimenting with the sword I also began mold making of the two fists that came with a Popy Kamen Rider V3 figure - these would be reused for my custom figure. I also started molding a head for the figure using reference photos. The idea is to create a "blank" set of custom molds that could be slightly modified for several different figures - at least that's the idea. I would begin by copying the Kamen Rider figure but working down the chest padding so the figure would have more natural proportions - then adding bits for each custom figure). That's the theory anyway.

Sot he process is similar to what I did on the sword. I'm using Smooth-On Sorta Clear 40 which is a transparent silicone for mold making with a shore hardness of 40 (pretty stiff).

First Half of Mold Poured
Building up the clay
Mold Cavity Made
Second Half Poured
Empty Mold - kinda neat, huh?
Three coats of resin
Cavity Filled
First Roto-Cast
Oops on the Trimming!

As you can see I ended up breaking part of the cast while trimming. I learned a few things with this attempt:

  1. I should have used keys in the mold - I got interrupted (someone actually knocked on the door of all things) and forgot to add them before pouring the second half of the mold. While the cast isn't too bad there is a little shift in the mold line that will probably bug me until I redo the mold. I'm leaving it as is for now.
  2. I used way too much resin - there's three "fills" in there and it's quite gloopy inside the cavity. I started with too much and then made the walls too thick with three applications - next time I'm trying less and using two.
  3. I need to be more patient in cutting away the flashing - I basically just "wasted" this cast.
  4. The white (two drops of white added) is a bit whiter than the original blow-mold but I like it!
So I tried a second cast using only two coats and about half the resin and the results were better - but I got some discoloration - not sure if that's due to a lack of mixing of the pigment or what.

First cast top, second cast bottom
Discoloration - make sure you mix the pigment well!
Original left, 2nd cast right
Compare: Original L, 1st cast center, 2nd cast R

Compare: Original L, 1st cast center, 2nd cast R
So at this point I decided to cast the second fist. With this I wanted to fix the missing-keys issue. I also had some different casting materials - this is Mold Star 16 Fast (30 minute cure time) - it's a bit softer but you don't have to wait hours to actually use the mold.

First Half clayed
First Half Mold Box (see the keys?)
First Half Cast
Second Half Cast
2 layers of resin (used a bit too much)
Comparison - originals on left, repros on right
Note the differences in the whites
So that's where I am at this point. I've ordered more Silicone rubber to make casts as I'm down to about a quart (started with a gallon of the Sorta Clear 40). This time I'm trying the food grade platinum cure from SRC - it's much cheaper than the Sorta Clear and I think it'll work for most of the roto-casting I'll be doing. I've had good success with their slow-cure resin and have ordered a gallon of their 65D to see how it stands up to the Smooth-On version.

General Lessons Learned so Far

  1. Molds are Expensive - the main cost to this "hobby" is the mold making materials. A gallon of Sorta Clear 40 runs about $150 plus shipping (I can buy it at The Engineer Guy in Atlanta but it's almost an hour away and I have to pay tax). I'm trying the SRC Cast-a-Mold Platinum silicone at $110 per gallon and will report on it once it arrives. I used about a gallon of silicone to make the two fists and the swords. To produce a whole figure I'm thinking 5 more gallons just for the basic figure. This isn't a hobby to get into if you're on a tight budget and I can totally understand why the other customizers (Wes, Rudy and Derik) charge what they do. I've never complained but I know others do - what they do is worth it's weight in gold, in my opinion.
  2. Roto-casting is Relatively Inexpensive - thus far the fists have required only a couple of ounces to make. The 65D from Smooth-On is $85 per gallon, the SRC is $67 per gallon. You end up using very little resin for this method and the results are very good.
  3. Injection molding - the way to get super accurate results on complex casting is using injection molding - you basically draw resin into a fat syringe (I initially used one made for glue then found the 60mm catheter syringes on Amazon that work very well) and inject into a tapered port. You do need adequate air-venting so the resin flows into all areas of the mold.
  4. The materials are basically odorless as they don't contain any solvents or VOCs. Actually the mold release has the most obnoxious odor - I'm going to try talcum powder in the future.
  5. This is actually quite fun and challenging. It's relatively easy to get started and getting the 80-90% results doesn't take much effort. Going above that and getting really professional results takes a lot more patience, research, process and experience. I guess it's like anything else.

Final Words

I've also begun sculpting the head - thus far the polymer clay isn't working for me. I may have to sculpt using sulfer-based clay and cast masters using Tin-Cured silicone. A bit of a pain but unless I can find a better medium that's what I'm thinking of doing. That's it for now - next article on Making My Own Jumbos will be on 3D Printing.

You can follow my exploit as they occur on John's Toys Facebook Page.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Baddass Raydeen Cosplay from 2011

This was posted today in one of the Shogun Warriors FB groups:

I did a bit of research and found the Flickr album from FanExpo 2011:

Here's a couple more screen grabs:

Badass, right?

-- John

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Added Nakajima Tekkaman

Nakajima Space Knight Tekkaman

For you Nakajima enthusiasts, I've added a new page featuring Space Knight Tekkaman

Nakajima Space Knight Tekkaman

Much more to come...

-- John

Monday, May 22, 2017

Mid-May Updates - Shogun Warriors Kits and Coloring Book

I had some time this morning for a few more updates, including detailed images of the first release Monogram kits:

Monogram Catalog Page

I also posted a few images from the Whitman Shogun Warriors Coloring Book.

-- John

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Shogun Warriors Updates - Dragun and the 79 Mattel Catalog

Mattel Shogun Warriors Dragun - 3 Variations

I'm really buried at work so I've only had a chance to update one page and to create a new page:

  • Mattel Dragun - new images of the three Dragun figures and two Dragun box variations.
  • 79 Mattel Catalog - Details and photos from the third year catalog featuring the Shogun Warriors!
Hope you enjoy them - I plan on breaking out the Shogun Models into separate pages with better details and multiple images next.

-- John

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Repairing a Mattel Shogun Warriors Godzilla Lever

Recently there have been several ads on eBay regarding the repair of the Godzilla Lever - the red stick protruding from the back of the Mattel Godzilla's head that projects the "tongue" of flame. The first Godzilla I ever owned, purchased at an estate sale back in the 90's for $20, had a broken lever - there was just enough to friction-grab with a finger to make the flame but still, a defect. Since then I've owned about a half dozen Godzillas will broken levers - currently I have three. Initially I thought about buying one each of those offered on eBay (only two at the time - since then a third option has been offered) but settled on the one offered by Derik Larson of Shogun Plastics. I've purchased from Derik before - his missile replacements are the best you can buy, in my opinion and an improvement over those offered by Popy and later Mattel.

These are the current ads:

Ad #1: Premium Replacement Lever for TOHO 1977 Mattel Shogun Warriors Godzilla by seller megos_and_movies


***Premium Replacement lever to install in your flaming tongue mechanism! Never before offered until me!! Original Design; not a recast!!

If you’re here looking, then you already know you need this premium manufactured part for your Vintage 1977 TOHO Godzilla. This part was meticulously designed in CAD software (not an undersized recast) and 3d printed. For the purists of the hobby, to prevent fraud, the part does not look exactly as the original; but it functions exactly the same and is much stronger. I have received great praise from my part regarding all aspects. Plus, because it is not a shrunken recast, mine fits proper without modification because its tolerance is true. Don't be fooled by a exact reproduction recast - it is smaller than the original. This sale is ONLY for the replacement lever as seen in the photo with the tape measure. The flame assembly and Godzilla are only photographed to illustrate what it looks like installed. Feel free to ask any questions. I will assist the best I can if you need help installing.

*Note - The response to this part has been greatly appreciated. If you have a 1st Gen head with the three visible plug holes on his leftside, the head will need separated differently than a 2nd Gen head and is more challenging. I also offer installation service, at additional cost, if you require it. Just look at my other eBay items for sale.
It goes without saying, if you buy this part, please be advised some novice mechanical abilities may be required. To ensure 100% satisfaction, I would ask you open your head before buying one of my parts - that way when you receive your purchase, all you have to do is assemble and Play!
My Notes on Ad #1:
This is an interesting design - looks to have been a CAD copy of the original with an extended lever 3D printed. In my mind a bit clunky but functional - it's also the first attempt to fix a common problem, so kudos to the seller. There's a bit in the ad that's misleading "Don't be fooled by a exact reproduction recast - it is smaller than the original." - I believe this was added once the second version (Ad #2 below) was released by a competitor - more info in my notes below.

Ad #2: Godzilla Replacement Tongue Flame Lever-Mattel Shogun Warriors- 1977 Toho - NEW! by seller

Mattel Jumbo Godzilla

Tongue Flame Lever Replacement
Toho 1977 - Shogun Warriors Jumbo Machinder

Exact Replica of the original lever!
Looks just like the original and works just like the original.
Lever is the thicker reinforced version from the 3rd version.
Mattel revised the lever on the 3rd version Godzilla and made it thicker
and reinforced it.

Lever still fits all versions.
Replacement is Made of high impact strong plastic
Cast from the original lever!

Look at the pictures and judge for yourself.

Get the lever with the smooth surfaces of the original,
Get the Lever with the Rich deep color of the original.

My Notes on Ad #2:
As indicated in the first ad, this is indeed a recast of the original lever, using the reinforced design from the later version Godzilla (it has the side bits that make it harder to break). I compared this to the original lever and it's almost imperceptibly smaller (it's common for recast parts to be slightly smaller due to shrinkage, especially when using inferior materials - however this lever is made from premium plastic and has almost no shrinkage - about the thickness of a piece of paper or from a digital gauge, about 50 microns). The plastic approximates the original PVC but is made from more of a nylon material that should improve the durability even more than the reinforcements - it's not like most collectors will be playing with Godzilla in the backyard where he can be dropped - I think that's how most levers were broken, during rough play). The color is quite a good match also.

Ad #3: Premium SLIP ON Lever handle for TOHO 1977 Mattel Shogun Warriors Godzilla by seller megos_and_movies

***Premium all NEW DESIGN, SLIP ON lever handle to install on your flaming tongue mechanism! Never before offered by any other seller!! Original Design, NO head disassembly required!!

If you’re here looking, then you already know you need this premium manufactured part for your Vintage 1977 TOHO Godzilla. This part was meticulously designed in CAD software Don't be fooled by an exact Lever reproduction recast - it is smaller than the original. This sale is ONLY for the replacement SLIP ON lever. handle. This lever handle has been installed on Gen1 and Gen2 heads successfully, without any disassembly of the head!! There will be rare cases where the internal gear of the flame mechanism moved when initially broken years ago and that would prevent proper application.. Please make sure before buying my lever that your broken flame mech lever is in the top position. The SLIP ON lever handle has a very tight tolerance, yet easy installation. In rare cases of Gen1 heads, the tollerance may be snug and when combined with a weak flame mech spring, the lever will install, but the return action of the lever will be reduced.  For best results, pull the tongue out a little; this will move the broken lever into a better position and allow you to slide the handle down over the broken lever stem. This item is intended to let you work the flame action, but not abuse it. The tolerance is within microns and does not require any adhesive.

My Notes on Ad #3:
This is an intriguing design as it allows for a fix without taking the head apart. More on that in a bit. I'm not sure if you need to use a bit of glue or if the friction fit is enough. I think this is a better design than the seller's original offering as it provides an alternative to get the toy working and it foregoes taking the head off and apart.

The Repair

As already mentioned, I decided to go with the second option (the third wasn't available) and contacted Derik for three levers (I also bought a couple of other items - like a replacement shooting fist that allows other fists to be attached to Godzilla - I love it!). Here's a summary of the steps involved in doing this repair:
  1. Remove Godzilla's head
  2. Separate the head's two halves
  3. Remove the mechanism
  4. Remove the lever
  5. Replace lever
  6. Put head back together
  7. Replace head

Repair Details:

1. Remove Godzilla's head - this is the simplest as it requires the removal of the four screws.

2. Separate the head's two halves - there are two different versions of the head - the earliest has plugs hiding screws - the hardest part is removing the plugs without damaging them.

Head with plugs: You will went to use a small metal probe or a micro flat-bit screw driver - in either case you may need to nudge the side of the plug with the tip of an X-acto blade. Once removed the head is easy to separate.

Glued Head: The later heads were glued together - you will want to gently scribe the surfaces to loosen the two halves so the plastic doesn't break - I use the tip of a new X-acto blade, running over the seam until I feel it separate. Be careful not to slip and damage the surface (or cut yourself!). Most of the glue is around the mouth and neck joints. Once it's loose all the way around you can pull the head apart - the pins are glued so they will break but you'll re-glue them when you put it back together. If they are stubborn you may need to use something to pry to head apart or cut apart the pins at the joint line from inside the head.

Godzilla Head - Glue Areas and Pins

3. Remove the Mechanism - the mechanism just lifts out - take a photo so you can get it back in the same place.

Godzilla Head Halves - Note the Placement

Godzilla Head - Old Lever Mechanism

Godzilla Head - New Lever Mechanism
4. Remove the lever - I first tried probing it with a micro-screwdriver and don't recommend this - the pin holding the lever into the assembly is knurled and you won't have much success this way - you can probably pry the lever off with a pair of pliers but you could damage the assembly. Better to use a 5/32" punch which fits the pin exactly. Make sure you have something sturdy supporting the two halves (I used a slightly opened vise in my shop). Don't have a punch? You can use a small nail (cut off the point).


Godzilla Head Mechanism - Remove the Pin with a 5/32" Punch

Godzilla Head Mechanism - Remove the Pin with a 5/32" Punch

Use a vise or something sturday for support

5. Replace lever - make sure that the gears and the hole for the pin align and press it in. If it fits too loosely you may want to put a dab of epoxy in the lever hole. Make sure you do a test that the mechanism works before putting the head back together.

Align the gears and hole

Replace the pin

6. Put head back together - align everything up and test fit. Once you're happy you can add a few dabs of super glue and use a couple of rubber bands as clamps.

7. Replace head - the head screws back in much the way it came out. Put the screws in half way before tightening - you want to reuse the same holes in the head and body.

-- John

All Mattel images and captions are copyright Mattel, all Popy images and captions are copyright Popy/Bandai and used without permission. All other content, including images and editorial, is Copyright © 1997-2017 John Eaton and/or contributors unless otherwise stated. If there are any comments or objections, please contact John Eaton, by clicking here.