Saturday, September 24, 2011

Exploring Fandom


When Melinda and I had to return early from Dragon*Con, it was very disappointing.  We had a pretty good geek-out fix, but it would have been nice to have seen it all the way through.

The first Saturday after we got back happened to be a home UT football game and we had tickets.  Now this was quite a culture shock.  Going from geek mecca to jock mecca in less than 7 days.  However, as I sat there and watched people and the game, I began to notice that the two fandoms were not that different.

Now before I get too far into this, what is fandom?  Basically fandom is just being a fan of something.  Sports fan, Sci-Fi fan, gaming fan, all are fandoms and they have all the sub-levels down to teams, movies, games, players, actors, characters, etc.  All simply fans of something.  Problem is geek fans and sport fans have never really gotten along.  Even in Atlanta with Dragon*Con fans outnumbering the sport fans nearly 20 to 1, there was hostility between the two.  Sport fans refusing to acknowledge the fascination of Dragon*Con and dismissing it as just a bunch of nerds.  However, I will try to now prove, the two fandoms are not that different at all, and both sides should just admit it and end the hostilities.


Both fandoms enjoy gatherings in large groups.  These gatherings have various activities.  What the D*C groups would call gaming and cosplay, the sport groups call corn hole and showing support.  D*C groups will gather and debate various movies, comics, games, etc. while the sport groups will debate stats, records, recruitment, etc.  See, same stuff, just different names.  Here, let me show you some pictures from the two gatherings.


IMG_6596IMG_6598IMG_6611IMG_6604 (Medium)
Crowds of people, all dressed in bright crazy colored clothes trying to get from point A to point B and hanging out in between. 

UT Football Game

IMAG0273 (2)




Crowds of people in brightly colored crazy clothes trying to get from point A to point B.  Only difference?  This group is more outdoor based.  Wow.  Huge difference isn’t it?


Yes, geek gatherings have a lot to do with costuming.  We create elaborate costumes to show off our support for our fandom and to get attention.



At the UT Game

UT Fan 1UT Fan 2UT Fan 3UT Fan 4

Fewer pictures because these guys can be hard to catch, but they’re there.

For heavens sake, both sides even have furries.

IMG_6529UT Fan 3

Sports fandom just call their furries “mascots”.

So, really, are we that different.  We all like to get together with our friends, hang out, and talk about the fandom.  Both sides are very aggressive about their support for their fandoms.  Try telling a UT fan Alabama is the better team or try telling a Trekkie that Star Wars is better.  Either could result in at least a verbal beat down.

Try thinking about that next time before you throw out the work “jock” at someone, or yell out “Get me to somewhere with sports and away from these nerds” (actual quote overheard at Dragon*Con).  We’re not all that different from each other.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Speed Prop Building or Are You Crazy?


Sometimes I think too much.  I make too many plans.  Then I get frustrated when things don’t work out to the complicated plan.  Sometimes just sitting back and letting things just happen is the best way.  Sometimes not.

The day before we were to leave for Dragon*Con, I took off work so that I could pack and just try to relax before we left.  Work had been more hectic than usual and I had not had any time off in 2011.  Instead of packing, I decided to relax my own unique way.  Could I build a prop to take to Dragon*Con in just one day without spending any money?  I had concerns about the drill arm for Subject Delta surviving the trip to Atlanta and then surviving the full weekend.  If it were broken, badly damaged, or stopped spinning, that would be bad.  Plus, I could just get tired of carrying it.  It isn’t exactly light.

Looking at Delta’s arsenal and what I had lying around, I decided the perfect thing to build would be the launcher.  I also had just gotten the Subject Omega action figure and he came with the launcher.  Perfect for reference.


Now I knew that in just one day, I could not make an exact replica.  That would be impossible, but could I make something that looked enough like it to make people say “Oh cool!  The Launcher!”

Looking at the general shape of things, I would need:
A big tube, smaller tubes, some pipe, a big box, and a handle of some sort.
Easy enough to find around my shop.


The main body tube is just the old tank from the original Subject Delta concept (it was too heavy to use). Now it will get a second chance at life.  The box is just a cigar box I still had.  Kind of pained me to have to paint it, but it was for a good cause.  I would make the handle portion out of MDF easy enough.  Some metal straps, screws and glue for assembly and it was well on its way.



The clamps are holding the MDF back together with glue from where it split when I screwed it onto the tube.  Yes I pre-drilled holes, but this MDF is a bit old and splits easily.

The outer barrel tubes (blast deflector/heater) would be made from 1/2 inch PVC bent to shape and mounted on MDF brackets.


                      IMAG0246      IMAG0244

After this came paint and distressing, and once it was dry, I added some copper pipe for details.  The pink bits inside the barrel are just foam bits that covered the screws where they broke through the pipe.  I didn’t have time to cut them all off.

The final result was not bad if I say so myself.


At Dragon*Con, it was actually my wife in her Eleanor costume that used the launcher more than Delta.  That is because her syringe actually did not survive the trip.

         Delta and Eleanor 2    Delta and Eleanor 3      Delta and Eleanor        Delta and Launcher 2Delta and Launcher

Well, that is what I can build in one day with no work distractions.  I was happy, and as it turned out, it was a good practice for what came next.

After we got back from Dragon*Con, and I got better (con-crud hit Saturday night, and we had to leave Sunday), a friend of mine posted on facebook that he needed a prop Mauser and quickly.  He made the post Tuesday afternoon, and needed it by Thursday morning.  I was also back to my real world job and couldn’t take time off.  After talking to him, he just really needed a photo ready prop.  It didn’t have to be highly detailed, just enough to get good reference in photos and maybe use at cons for a while.  I took the challenge.

I found a scale picture of the Mauser to use, printed it, and cut it out into the components I thought it would need to be built in using my old friend MDF.



I broke it into 4 pieces: barrel, action, body, and handle.  I got the pieces cut out after work and assembled the barrel and action, then glued it all together.  Hoping it would be ready for paint Wednesday.IMAG0287

PiecesBarrel Detail

DSCN0163Test Fit


A few things didn’t glue as I had planned, the handle being the biggest issue, but given the truncated time table, it would have to work. 

If anyone out there has ever had to paint MDF, you may know that if you have sanded the surface, or have exposed cut edges, painting is a pain because it just soaks up the paint.  I had to quickly seal the whole thing with some fiberglass resin.  Then painting was easy enough.


You can see in the pictures an area where the resin roughed up while drying.  If I had time to sand and re-coat I would have, but again, this had to be ready in no time.

I delivered it to my friend and he was very pleased with it.  There may be a more detailed one in the future, but for now, it was just what he was after.

Speed prop building has been pretty successful.