Thursday, November 25, 2010

Fight Club Soap!

I got an unexpected addition to my prop collection just the other day when this arrived via the mail:

Pretty neat! This is still wrapped in plastic, which explains the odd shine to it as seen in the photo.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Multipass Build and Tutorial Complete!

After YEARS AND YEARS of sitting on the project workbench, I have FINALLY finished a complete build up of the Fifth Element MultiPass!

UPDATE: If you are interested in a kit of this prop, I have a few available. Please email me at jablonskyexpress _at_ yahoo _dot_ com.

Check it:

Here is the online tutorial where I document every single step involved in the build up of this kit.

I think I actually started this project sometime around 2003. Don't get me wrong, I haven't been working on it steadily since then! It was definitly birthed in fits and starts. I did a run of pass kits earlier in the year, and just now finally got around to doing a build up of my own. It's been a long road, but I'm very happy with the results. I'm quite confident in saying that it is the best, most accurate multipass available to the collector today. I have seen a few others out there, but they don't come close. Yay!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Han In Carbonite Side Panel Found and Acquired

A number of years ago, I did a build up of the full sized Han Solo in Carbonite, as seen in The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of The Jedi. I purchased a set of resin control boxes, but was not entirely satisfied with them, and consequently never finished them nor installed them.

Flash forward a few years, and our man Philip Wise from Rebelscum found the original part used to make them. Philip acquired a number of the panels, and I of course grabbed one. Here's what it looks like out of the box:

The entire story of the discovery can be found over on the Replica Props Forum. I was thinking of copying the text to this blog for archival purposes, but in case Philip adds info, I don't want it to be outdated.

The punchline is that the dash belongs to a Volvo 343 345 (1979-1981 era).

HUGE thanks to PW for not only finding this piece, but also for sharing the information with collectors and even making them available.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Reader Mailbag

A reader named Kal wrote me this the other day:

"matt- i have been making costumes for a very short time now and have basically sticking to the plain-jane fabric emblems. you are the first person i have seen to show you made your costumes with molded emblems that YOU made instead of store bought. this has peeked my intrest of how to make my own. i understand that you identified the products you used but how did you make the casting molds. please any help you have would be fantastic. i am especially interested in the superman chest piece.
most of my questions are concerning did you carve your own mold or not. what casting materials are good. and so on. sorry to trouble you"

Where to start! First up, welcome to the madness, and thanks for taking the time to write. Always nice to know someone other than my mother is reading this blog :)

Ok, so lets start with the Superman Returns chest emblem. It sounds to me like your main question is regarding mold making. THAT I can help with. I even have a few blog posts that show the process I go through when doing it. But let me back up a little, and talk about products.

For making your own molds, there's really only a few things you need. Your main component is silicon mold making compound, or RTV. I get mine from Silpak. They have a VERY lame website, so your best bet might be to call them. I use their 1328 A/B product, though I buy the fast kick catalyst, the blue stuff. This makes it cure a little faster, but also makes the mold life shorter.

You also need a mold release. This is stuff you spray onto the thing you are molding to ensure that the rubber does not stick to it. You also spray it directly into the mold before pulling out a copy. It is also used as a barrier if you are making a two part mold.I use Ease Release 200 from Smooth-On. It's basically a spray on vaseline.

So those are the key components to building a mold. The actual process of making a mold is a little complex, but the good news is that I have covered it in previous blog posts. One REALLY important tool to getting high quality molds is a vacuum chamber. This will suck all of the air out of your rubber before pouring, and will lead to a bubble free mold. This means fewer imperfections in your pulls.

Here are some older blog posts that show some detail on the molds I made Superman Returns project:

Chest Emblem Mold

Sonic and Molding

A great post about putting together box for a dump mold.
Superman Returns Belt - Prepping For The Mold

And the actual pouring of the dump mold.
Superman Returns belt - Pouring The Mold

With all of that said, I don't have much to say about the actual creation of the chest emblem master, as I did not make it from scratch. It is in fact a production made chest emblem. It's the real deal. However, I'm pretty sure I understand the process they used to make it. If I had to guess, I would say that they sculpted the S-Shape, then vacuu-formed over it a sheet of styrene with the micro-s's laser etched into it.

Anyhow, that's all I've got for today. If you have more questions, please don't hesitate to ask. I hope the molding information is of use.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Indiana Jones Grail Diary

I got in the mail just yesterday this really amazing replica of Henry Jones' Grail Diary, as seen in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade".

But first, to give credit where credit is due. This amazing piece was made by an ultra-talented gent who goes by the name of Sarednab. You can find his website here:

This is a prop I have wanted to add to my collection ever since I saw the movie, which if I recall correctly, was around my senior year in high school. So it's been a LONG time. I can say with certainty that it was worth the wait. This is one of those great replicas that out-lives the expectations.

When I opened the shipping envelope, I found this:

A very nice touch that the diary is shipped in the same manner that Indy recieves it in the movie. A great touch. It's stuff like this that makes prop purchases like this one all the more worthwhile. It's as if acquiring the piece is an experience, not just an acquisition.

Also very cool that the maker included a reproduction of a hand written note from Henry to Indy. Good stuff.

And once unwrapped, we see the diary in all its glory:

The purpose of this blog is not to document the details of the individual pages or inserts, as those can be found all over the web. Well, I mean, you can find documentation of Serednabs work all over the web. But I'll show a few detail pics of the stuff that is inside the pages, just so you can get an idea of the insane amount of detail that goes into each one of these.

I am thinking this will be one of my last prop purchases for the year. I was actually planning on making 2010 a VERY light year as far as acquisitions go, but so many neat pieces came up that I just had to get. This was one of them. I'm not a HUGE collector of Indy props, though I am of course a huge fan of the franchise. All three of the movies are just great. (Yup, that's right. I deny the existence of that Shia movie!!!) But for Indy, I have tried to really focus on truly iconic props from the movies. A few z-listers have fallen into my hands, by my collecting philosophy has sort of switched to the position of "If I need to explain to you where the prop came from, I don't want it in my collection". This diary will make a fine complement to my Holy Grail replica that I built up a number of years ago.

Thanks again Sarednab for making this happen!

Thursday, November 4, 2010 Superman Returns Boots

A friend of mine pointed me over to this website to check out the Superman Returns boots they are making:

I took at look at what was being offered, and emailed the site owner to see if he was interested in collaborating on making the boots a bit more accurate. After a couple emails and a few photos, the design was IMMENSELY improved. Take a look at these pictures of the current model:

While they are not 100% accurate, they certainly capture the feel and style of the screen used boots. I am going to work with Keith a bit more to see if we can get them one step closer to being correct as far as the pattern goes. As they stand in these pics, they are really darn close. Keith is using vinyl for these, which is a good choice as it is much cheaper than leather, and also easier to work with. From what I understand, there are a couple different textures being used, which is pretty cool.

Not that my stamp of approval is worth anything, but I recommend these boots. They are the best on the market that I have seen. There's a few folks out there that are offering boots, but none come close to Keiths in terms of accuracy. The price is also really fantastic. Please check out their website, and tell them that Matt Munson says hello.

Halloween Night!

Of all the halloween’s I’ve attended in my entire life, the one of 2010 EASILY goes down in the record books as the best one ever. EVER. No, really. It was amazing. This post will be sort of long winded, as there’s a few things about the costume that I want to document for future reference, along with a bit of a “highlight reel” from the day itself.

As readers will know, I have been working hard over the past few weeks to build up a Batman costume from “The Dark Knight”. It all came together really quickly, and turned out really well. But I did cut a lot of corners, and it certainly does not measure up to the normal standards of Matt Munson perfection. But the real lesson I learned this past weekend was that it just doesn’t matter. In this blog I have theorized numerous times that 99% of the population would not notice the little errors in my costume that bothered me. Turns out, I was more right than I knew.

But I digress. Let me take a step back to set the scene.

I finished the suit a few days prior to Halloween, and packed it all up into a suitcase that I had purchased specifically for this event. I packed the cowl in bubble wrap and put that in my backpack, and then headed off to New York. My plan was to attend the Halloween bash in the villiage. I arrived at LaGuardia on Saturday afternoon, to beautifully clear skies, though with a bit of a chill to the air.

I was spending the weekend with a friend in Brooklyn, who was kind enough to host. We spent Saturday night at a local house party, where my costume consisted of street clothes and my dark knight cowl. In retrospect, I totally should have suited up for the event, but it all worked out in the end. What surprised me here were the reactions I was getting to JUST the cowl. People were freaking out at how good it looked! They were used to the off the shelf stuff that is readily available at Party City type places a few days before Halloween. I guess they were just not ready for someone who actually spent time on their costume.

Sunday started pretty late, and I started prepping to get the full suit up done in the late afternoon. Before the sun had set, we were all dressed and ready to head out to one of those “Safe” Halloween neighborhood block parties a couple miles away. The idea was that Tom’s daughters would do their Halloween business here, and after that, he and I would head off to “the City”.

I thought long and hard about what to do about the neck. Before I left for New York, I had contemplated re-doing the neck part, as it was VERY uncomfortable. It was very tight, and rather constricting. It also kind of pushed my chin up a bunch. It made turning my head a tad difficult too. Overall, just a bad fit. On Sunday, I decided I was going to strip off the armor and the mesh fabric, leaving behind only the black milliskin hood that I had sewn up. This was a really tough decision for me, as it would mean sacrificing a great deal of accuracy. I reassured myself again and again by saying “nobody is going to stop me on the street and say ‘Great suit! BUT, I couldn’t help but notice that your neck armor is missing’”. I mean, come on. Knowing that I would be in this thing all night, comfort was going to have to be king. So I peeled off the armor, and spent about an hour with the X-Acto knife stripping the threads out so I could remove the mesh.

Once I got fully suited up, I noticed a few things about the costume. Keep in mind, this was the FIRST time I had done a full suit up. First of all, the backs of my knees were chafing. I don’t even know what they were chafing on, but it felt like there was a pine cone in my suit. Same thing with the lower back. This was from where I had sewn the darts into it. They were digging into me. In all of the test fittings I had done, I was wearing a t-shirt under the mesh, preventing the fabric from irritating me. Now that it was just the body suit, it was a different story. The cowl fit great. In fact, it was the most comfortable part of the costume. The only time my vision was blocked was when I tried to look down, like at my belt. Other than that, my vision was entirely unencumbered. Overall, the stuit fit amazingly well. All of the little tweaks I had made totally panned out. Particularly the gauntlets.

The removable cod piece and zippered mesh suit was amazing. Had the armor not made me so inflexible, I would have been patting myself on the back all night long for that one. Even with my superman costume, going to the bathroom is a real process. In previous batman suits, I LITERALLY had to take the entire thing off in order to go. This suit provide only about twice as much work as my normal street clothes. It was quite cool.

Before the sun set, I was already being mobbed by kids who wanted photos.

I even got to be in the parade, which was where I got my first taste of super stardom. The camera flashes were almost blinding! All those people calling my name! Well, not MY name. But you get the idea.

Then it was time to head into town. We took the subway, of course.

Though a couple of people were staring, the rest were just acting like it was business as usual.

Once we got down to the village, it was just insanity. I actually didn't get many photos this year, which is something I will need to pay closer attention to next year. Here's me with Two-Face and Kick-Ass.

And yes, even Batman has to txt!

This may sound odd, but without doubt, the coolest part of the costume was the cape. Which is interesting because it is the cape that really motivated me to begin this project initially. An online friend acquired some behind the scenes intel on how to make a super accurate cape, and I purchased one thinking that MAYBE some day I would actually get around to building the full suit. When the cape arrived, I knew I had to do it for Halloween. The cape is so amazing. It’s got so much fabric in it, and it’s so light. The great news about Halloween this year is that occasionally a wind would kick up and the cape would just dance. I was in some photos where there was a wind coming from my side, or behind, and the cape just swarmed up around me. Really amazing look. People were literally ooh-ing and aah-ing when the cape lit up like that. It was spectacular!

After all was said and done, I headed home the next day.

There were a few failure points for the suit, which I will document here if only so I can keep track of them for next year. I lost a set of fins on one of the gauntlets. Because they were too big for the channel that was cut into the gauntlet, I ended up splitting the fins up in to three separate pieces, one piece for each set of fins. I either snagged one of the fins on something, or the glue just didn’t hold well enough. But I lost one of those. The Velcro on the seams of one of the gauntlets also gave out. I was actually planning on re-doing that anyway, so this isn’t really a big deal. The Velcro I had glued onto the forearms of the body suit also completely came off. I will need to repair that. The left boot dug a nice hole into my heel, which is still pretty raw as I write this. I knew pretty quickly in the evening that this was going to be a problem, but I guess I just worked through it. I don’t know if this means I need to break the boots in a little more, or if there’s something I can put in the boot to prevent trouble in the future.

The gloves also saw a little separation around the wrist. Not sure why. Maybe I was just opening and closing them too much. I may want to replace those. I need to do something about the backs of the knees and the lower back. Maybe I will sew a cotton panel into the undersuit to prevent the mesh from digging into me at those points.

Overall, the armor stayed attached incredibly well. I’m stunned at how well it held together. Some of the pieces right around the front got bent and are showing some creases. Probably from where I sat down. There are also some scuffs on the armor, but I can probably fix that with a little plasti-dip. I suppose I need to decide if the plan is to keep this costume pristine, or if it’s to make it a wearable suit. I am leaning towards the latter. I was smart enough to pack with me a little bottle of Dap, which I used right before I headed out to re-stick one of the leg pieces which was lifting up.