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Virtual Action Figures

6 Apr

Some people collect action figures. I collect virtual action figures. 

Freedom Force - Iron Man

All right, I also collect action figures. But nevertheless …

Behold! My Virtual Action Figure collection.

Using the game Freedom Force (Irrational Games, 2002), I have built (or I like to think curated) a collection of character meshes and skins. I’ve always considered it a collection of digital action figures, which I have preserved by meticulously copying files from PC to PC as I’ve upgraded my hardware over the years. Recently I re-installed Freedom Force from Steam and have been spending time with my collection again.

In the run up to Iron Man 3, I am dedicating this entry to ol’ shellhead himself. In my collection I have eight Iron Man suits.

My collection represents heroes from what I consider to be the best age of comic books (i.e. when I was feverishly collecting comic books as a kid in the late 1970s to the late 1980s). Today, one of my favorite pastimes is to run the game in “Watch Mode” and recreate some epic moments from my childhood. In the run up to Iron Man 3, I am dedicating this entry to ol’ shellhead himself.

For example, here’s Iron Man facing off against the Raiders, three mercenaries in the employ of the Cord Conglomerate (a rival of Stark Industries). Here’s that first encounter with the raiders straight out of Iron Man #145 (April, 1981).

What about this classic battle between shellhead and the Titanium Man? (You have to remember that this was during the height of the Cold War. So billionaire/industrialist/super-hero Tony Stark had to have an arch-nemesis who was from the Soviet Union and wore similar hi-tech armor, right?)

For those of you who have only come to know and love Tony since the first movie (Iron Man, 2008), here’s a recreation of Tony in his Mark I armor escaping from the desert camp of the terrorists of the Ten Rings. (I am using the Mark I from the comics, not the movies, by the way.)

Again, for the movie fans … most of you probably don’t know that the alien race called the Chitauri, Loki’s invasion force, was originally just another name for the Skrulls in the Marvel Ultimates universe. Here’s my comic book-style recreation of the movie’s final battle scene, with the shape-shifting Skrulls standing in for the Chitauri. I decided to throw in a special guest star, too!

And finally … the one disappointment from the Avengers movie (The Avengers, 2012) was that we never got to see Iron Man go toe-to-toe with the Hulk. So here’s what might have happened.

(I think the computer gets the outcome right.)

You might have noticed that I have tons of characters in my collection: from Marvel, DC Comics and even some others. Who would you like to see in action? I just might have them in my collection.  Let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

NOTE:

I must emphasize that I am not an animator nor a digital artist. I didn’t create any of these skins or meshes. I owe everything to what the awesome Freedom Force modding community has generously shared on the web for free for over 10 years. Special shout out to folks like the Beyonder, Courtnall6, Tommyboy, Renegade, Grenadier and the gentlemen of Heroforce, who keep Freedom Force modding alive even today. Thank you all!

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Grumpy Fanboy’s Top Legion of Super-Heroes On-screen Appearances

5 Sep

Toyfare #158 announced that DC Direct will soon be launching 12 new action figures from Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes. I’ve always had a soft spot for teenagers with super-powers – Captain Marvel, the Teen Titans, the X-Men – but I love the Legion most of all.

Since they first appeared in Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958), the Legion of Super-Heroes has rarely had more than cult-status success, never quite achieving the popularity levels of other comic book teams like the Justice League, the Avengers or the Fantastic Four.

So if you’re a long-time Legion fan like myself, you’ve waited breathlessly for any appearance of the Legion outside the pages of the comic books. Here’s a quick look at all their on-screen appearances so far:

“New Kids in Town”, Superman the Animated Series

Aired in 1998, Cosmic Boy, Chameleon Boy and Saturn Girl travel back in time and team with young Clark Kent. Although these three get the most air time, other Legionnaires make cameo appearances, too.

You get no more than a glimpse of the Legion but seeing these familiar characters for the first time in animation was a real treat. To my knowledge, this is the first time the Legion appeared in a story outside of the printed page.

“Far From Home”, Justice League Unlimited

Aired in 2006, Brainiac 5 and Bouncing Boy travel back in time and bring Supergirl, Green Arrow and Green Lantern to the 31st century to rescue the rest of the Legion from the Fatal Five. You also get to see Blok, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Shadow Lass, Timber Wolf, Ultra Boy and Wildfire in action. At the end of the episode, Supergirl decides to stay behind and fulfill her destiny as a full time Legionnaire.

Overall, a satisfying story though I wish it had focused on more of my favorite Legionnaires. (I mean, why Bouncing Boy???) I also particularly enjoyed the emphasis on  Kara, who appears in her more familiar blue & red outfit for the first time in the series.

Legion of Super-Heroes animated series

Aired in September 2006, the Legion with a core team of Bouncing Boy, Brainiac 5, Lightning Lad, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Superman and Timber Wolf were introduced with its own full series. Other Legionnaires such as Chameleon Boy, Cosmic Boy, Colossal Boy, Ferro Lad, Matter-Eater Lad, and Triplicate Girl would also appear in later episodes. The series lasted two seasons, the longest ever on-screen run of the LSH.

The extended exposure was terrific and the series even revisited familiar events in Legion lore, such as the death of Ferro Lad at the hands of the Sun-Eater. I did not like that Brainiac 5 was turned into a machine and that (again) Bouncing Boy was selected to be a central character. The introduction in the second season of Superman X, a clone of the original, to fight side-by-side with the original Superman was a strange choice. What were they thinking???

“Legion”, Smallville

Aired in January 2009, the Legion of Super-Heroes appeared in live action for the first time ever.  Reprising their first appearance in the comics, the original Legionnaires Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl travel back in time to rescue Clark from a time-displaced menace.

As much as I hate Smallville for its low production value, lousy acting and – most of all – its penchant for shitting all over DC Universe continuity, I couldn’t help but download this episode. Seeing the original three Legionnaires raise their flight rings and say “Long Live the Legion!” still makes this appearance worth seeing.

Check out my Youtube channel for more appearances of the Legion of Super-Heroes in my Virtual Action Figure Collection. LLL!