17 December 2014

Countdown to Christmas Day 9: All I want is an Andy Suriano O.M.A.C.!

You can't go wrong with the BATMAN BRAVE AND BOLD animated show.  30 minutes of action, adventure, and fun.  Batman usually teams up with 2 characters from the DC Comics Universe and the character selection can be ... diverse.

O.M.A.C. was a 1970's Jack Kirby-created science fiction comic where grey-man Buddy Blank is transformed into the powerhouse One Man Army Corps, who receives logistical support from a computer satellite, Brother Eye.  I always thought O.M.A.C. was an awesome idea.  In many ways, I dig him as a dystopian Superman.  As of December 2014, Ryan Carey is writing a great deconstruction of the series at Sequart.  In it, he reveals OMAC was Kirby's vision of a futuristic Captain America.  That kinda blows my mind and I see it.  I love this book. 

Andy Suriano is an Emmy award winning animator, who has a long-time love for Jack Kirby comics.  And Plastic Man.  He drew a few issues of the BATMAN BRAVE AND BOLD comic.  I made him a Kamandi figure here.  He agrees with me that Kirby is King:

When Warner Bros released the 7-figure Justice League set in the Brave and Bold style, I took one look at that Superman figure and knew what to do:

I used a series of high gloss metallic flake paints to give OMAC the sheen that Kirby's artwork portrays.  I make his chest symbol have a gem ala ULTRA MAN, 'cuz it looks great.

Do yourself a favor this holiday- grab the OMAC comic, read Ryan's great essays, and get your mind right- KIRBY IS KING!



Countdown Day 10 is here.

Countdown Day 11 is here.

Countdown Day 12 is here.

15 December 2014

Countdown to Christmas Day 11: Chris Burnham's Batwing

Our 12th Day of Christmas countdown is here.

It's getting to be that time of the year, here at the Flying Batmobile Ranch.  The holidays are coming and with it, the wish list of kick ass Batman toys that never got made.  We all loved that Grant Morrison's BATMAN INC so much, the boys hunkered down and made up a bunch of the figures that got lost on the way to the toy shelf, like El Gaucho or the super-cool Batman of Japan by that talented kid Chris Burnham.

This year, they decided to make Chris' character, "Batwing, the Batman of Africa".  The best part of Batwing is that he originally appeared in a great 70's classic BATMAN story, "THE BATMAN NOBODY KNOWS" (BATMAN #250).

Bruce Wayne takes a couple of Gotham kids out camping (don't ask) and they all sit around the campfire, telling tall tales of what they think the Batman really is.  This guy is right on target:


Grant Morrison liked that Dick Giordano artwork so much, he had Chris mix it into the BATMAN INC story and boom:

Now we're talking.  Chris certainly took most of the design from this one page and integrated it into the armored Bat-suit the character wore:

"Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Shaft, and Super-Fly all rolled into one!"

"Sweet Christmas!"

Batman, Inc

Countdown Day 10 is here.

20 November 2014

Happy 50th to the New Look Batmobile!

In 1963, BATMAN comics weren't so hot.

There are conflicting reports regarding motives, some focused on low sales, other speculate about leveraging the Bob Kane studio off the books.  Nonetheless, the facts remain the same: editor Julius Schwartz was brought in to revitalize the Batman and he did so with sweeping mandates.  Gone were most of the (now 20 year-old) villains.    Good bye Batwoman, Bat-Girl, Bat hound, and Bat-Mite alien cosplayer.  Hello new artists Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella.  Hello new costume designs.

Hello new Batmobile.

BATMAN #164 (May, 1964)

Artist Carmine Infantino bucked 20 years of Batmobile design tradition with an open sports coupe, flared rear fenders and a minimalist bat head decal on the hood to replace the bat shield.  I loved it so much, I had his collaborator Joe Giella re-create the following panel, with the Dynamic Duo in costume:

New Look Batmobile (Giella, 2003)

There were two artists who worked on the BATMAN comics, with Giella finishing the black and white ink art for both: Shelly Moldoff drew most of them, and his interpretation of the New Look Batmobile is pictured above.  Infantino, in contrast, NEVER DREW IT THE SAME WAY TWICE!  He was always tweaking his art and I loved that.  I flipped through all of his comics and decided to pick one issue to base my version -DETECTIVE COMICS #351- which featured the Batmobile racing against a new villain, the Cluemaster.

Infantino's New Look Batmobile, circa 1964.  It always looked like it was propelled.

More often than not, he drew this view of the car

Great side and front shots

I based my model on a 1953 Corvette.  The front end was modified to capture the Batmobile hood and fender design and I added resin wings and rocket tubes to the rear fenders.  

A few details from the Corvette were retained, especially the interior and windscreen chrome.

The interior was flocked.  I picked grey upholstery to stay consistent with my ongoing Batmobile garage.

The angle of the bat fins were never the same twice!

This is my favorite Batmobile from the 60's comics and I am especially happy to have Mr. Giella so willing to re-create it's dynamic debut!

Joe would later go on to design the next Batmobile, which first appeared in the BATMAN newspaper comic strip.

Happy 50th to the New Look Batmobile!  Enjoy!

13 November 2014

Thankful for Strange. Adam Strange.

All the cowhands here at the Flying Batmobile Ranch love settling down after a long day in the shop and watching another episode of BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD.  They were bright, entertaining blasts of Batman awesomeness with guaranteed guest heroes and villains in each and every episode.  Among those guest team-ups, Adam Strange gets big votes.

Adam Strange was DC Comic's sci-fi answer to Buck Rogers mixed with Flash Gordon: An archeologist gets zapped to a galaxy far, far away, where he is the hero of every story.  He grabs a rocket jet pack, teams up with the local scientist and his lovely daughter, and shots things with a ray gun.  Every now and then, the zap wears off and he finds himself back on Earth.  Boom, that's the pitch.

My first memory of an Adam Strange comic was when the Justice League came to visit Adam and were dissolved by his Evil Villain, Kanjar Ro:

I liked how he could dissolve the Super Heroes, but left behind the super suits.  I was five.

As you can imagine, that's a perfect fit for Batman ha ha.  Sure enough, it really could work:

  Adam Strange never really joined a super hero team, probably because of that zap thing to the galaxy far far away thing, but he was always fun.  Hence, we had to make his Brave and Bold figure:

Adam was made from that clean-shaven Aquaman figure that is now on sale in most Target stores, along with a Black Manta holster and two resin cast Christmas light bulbs for his jet pack.  Mrs. Bosslady figured out where the caps to the toothpaste tubes went and we went looking for that zap beam to the galaxy far far away thing.  Ray gun courtesy of Captain Action.


In Adam Strange's early appearances in MYSTERY IN SPACE, he wore a helmet.  We found some of Miss 8's gum ball trinkets and constructed accordingly.

Our favorite Batman now gets another favorite Batman toy.  That's something to be thankful for!


31 October 2014

Bat Manga! Meets Lord Death Man

Fans of the site know how much I like the Sixties Manga of Batman comics, drawn by the legendary Jiro Kuwata.  What I like about the manga is best exemplified by the super villain "Lord Death Man".

As Adam West was doing the batusi, Japanese manga publication house Shōnen Gahōsha licensed the right to make Batman manga, which they did between 1966-1967.

I don't think Batman and Robin made sense to the Japanese manga makers and Kuwata-san took the basic outline of the BATMAN comics published in 1966 and ... made some changes.  For example, Batman looked a little more devilish:

Jiro Kuwata, 1966
 My most favorite "tweak" was taking a rather nondescript story about a bank robber who could not die and transforming it into a nightmare of a story about Lord Death Man:

Manga and Western editions of the Death Man story
I urge you to enjoy this panel-by-panel critique of the two versions.  Needless to say, Kuwata-san's versions of these American comics are a great perspective on the two cultures.

When the producers of the BATMAN BRAVE AND BOLD cartoon wanted to make a Bat Manga! episode, they (of course) choose the Lord Death Man story.  It's my all-time favorite episode:

Lord Death Man, from the BATMAN show
When I first made the Bat Manga! statue, I had in mind a set of four statues, with a special "variant" fifth statue.  Saul Ferris, the BATMANGA! co-editor, was always interested in a Lord Death Man statue and now I can finally oblige him:

Lord Death Man statue (2014)
I certainly took the color palette of the show and tried to sculpt a death head that was a combination of Kuwata-san's art and the animated work.

Saul had asked for "aged" works, and so the base has been scuffed up.  The skeleton was hand painted to give a sense of a "knock off" kind of job.

I hope Saul likes it!  I am looking forward to getting one with my set of five statues, as I now understand that there is to be a full collection of the Kuwata Bat Manga! stories.

Happy Hallowe'en!

Next up: Boy Wonder Manga!

21 February 2014

A Brave and Bold Valentine v2.0

Digging that ARROW show?    We've written about our love for the Emerald Archer here and were very excited to see a familiar face make an appearance on the show: The Black Canary!
The Black Canary might be one of DC COMICS' best characters who has survived over 70 years of publication.  She was a featured character in the BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD show and she was one of the first female characters we made for the show here.
The challenge of our Brave and Bold female figure sculpt is what to do with that outstretched arm: originally meant as a Catwoman figure showing off her claws, we tried having The Canary hold her old mask with it.  Still, there's always room for improvement...
We've played around and decided to try a hands-on-hips sculpt! Additionally, we decided to go for glossy boots and leather jacket.  The Black Canary is so much fun, we just had to make her twice.

24 December 2013


Oh, the pitch-perfect wonder of the BATMAN THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD show.  A fantastical re-invention of a childhood of bright colors and brighter imaginations driving the stories of Batman and his friends.  We couldn't get enough of it, so of course it was cancelled.
The only disappointment?  Lousy toys.  Sure, toys designed with features that children could play with may appeal to children, but how am I going to develop my line of adult collectibles around that?  And, of course, NO WOMEN.
After perfecting a female buck, ideas started coming to mind about other heroines to join the B&B team.  Who better to start that off with than Black Canary?
Black Canary was trained by the legendary Wildcat and the Justice Society of America.  Eventually, she took off her mask and decided to fight crime on her own!
I decided to pay tribute to that moment in designing our Black Canary figure:
Eventually, Black Canary meets the brash Green Arrow and the two decide to team up.
This figure was a long time in coming and I hope the recipient enjoys it!  Our next heroine shouldn't take as long to join the team!