Friday, April 04, 2008

Another samurai

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Special Technique

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Special Technique SamuRyan Edition 1

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Batman Joker tattoo GIFS by my friends

These two are by GuïtardeÐ. Thanks, G!
And this one is from Em. Thanks again!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Superhero Fight Club

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Samurai: Wind of Justice

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Samurai Vader

The signature look of the Star Wars movies has always owed a great debt to the past: the Rebel starships loosely resemble World War II aircraft, or at least "feel" like they do; the blasters are based on actual mid-20th century pistols and machine guns; and the costumes are evocative of several classical styles, including the Nazi-esque uniforms of the Imperial officers and semblance of the Samurai in the costume of Darth Vader.

Japan's Yoshitoku Company recently reversed the life-to-art rule by incorporating some of the Dark Lord's costume features back into the traditional design that helped inspire it. This year, Yoshitoku will be offering a "Samurai Vader" quarter-scale costume to Japanese fans celebrating Tango no Sekku, or Japan's "Boy's Day" festival on May 5.

One tradition of Tango no Sekku includes the displaying of the Samurai yoroi (armor) and kabuto (helmet) by a boy's family in the hopes that it will protect his spirit and ensure good health and prosperity. The yoroi and kabuto, while reduced in scale, require the same level of skill and attention to detail in their manufacture that the original full-size costumes once demanded. This centuries-old craftsmanship has been kept alive in the Yoshitoku Company for the last 300 years, providing the traditional Samurai accoutrements to families celebrating Japan's sons every year (Girl's Day, or Hinamatsuri, occurs on March 3, and includes the display of dolls dressed in traditional female costumes).

Opening its doors in 1711 as a shop selling toys and dolls in what is now Tokyo, Yoshitoku turned exclusively to doll manufacture after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. They now enjoy the admiration of the Imperial Household Agency for the imperial family, and even hosted a tutorial on Japanese doll manufacturing for Princess Diana while on a trip to Japan. According to Yoshitoku, this is the first time in their history that a crossover product such as the Samurai Vader has been produced.

"It was challenging for us to blend the entertainment character with our traditional products," a spokesman for the company says. "However, we thought it worth doing when Star Wars marked its 30th anniversary." While the blending of Darth Vader with the Samurai look appears seamless in the final design, the process of reconciling the similar but separate looks took some doing. "Since the Vader helmet itself was originally designed in the motif of a Samurai's kabuto, it was not difficult to find the similarity. However, it took time for us to consider what to add to the costumes in order to blend the sense of Star Wars with the style of traditional Japanese weapons. Also, we had difficulty in making the product appear like the ancient Japanese military commanders would have worn it."

Transforming Vader into a Samurai, or a Samurai into Vader, required the integration of several design motifs that married the traditional with the fantastic. "First, we hit on the idea of adding the 'front crest', which was designed based on the Imperial Icon, to the front of the helmet," says Yoshitoku. "By adding this, the 'leader of the Imperial Army' image is emphasized, as ancient Japanese military commanders used their ancestral family emblems on their front crest. We also added a Vader-like design to the face guard (called a menpo) which features a handcrafted look as if artisans of the past had done it."

Because it was important to maintain the traditional Samurai design motifs while incorporating features of Darth Vader, a specialized designer was brought in. "The design required an advanced design sense," says Yoshitoku, "so we decided to ask Mr. Takayuki Takeya, who is one of the most famous sculptors in Japan, to draw the designs." According to Yoshitoku, Takeya has created several product sculpts for Bandai, a Japanese toy and model manufacturer, and also created sculpts for Alien and Predator statues. Because he is so sought-after in Japan, Takeya was only able to provide design sketches for the Samurai Vader.

"Actual prototype production was done by Mr. Tatsushi Satoh under the lead of Mr. Noboru Kawakami [president of J.A.P. Inc., who produces silver Star Wars accessories in Japan]. The prototype made in the 1/1 size was scanned by a 3-D scanner and a rough prototype was made using a computer-controlled cutting machine. Mr. Sato then finished the prototype by hand and Mr. Takeya himself provided the fine-tuning."

Yoshitoku likes to point out that while some of the costume's parts required state-of-the-art technology to produce, many of its components were created using ancient skills and traditional materials. "Basically, many parts of the helmet (kabuto) and armor (yoroi) are made by hand," says Yoshitoku. "The materials used for each part are similar to those that were used for the real thing. While we can mass-produce the metallic parts that can be duplicated, we still have to assemble those parts by hand. Also, many of the materials include cloth and strings which essentially have to go through the traditional production process. Many of the artisans who master these skills are over 70 years old."

In addition to the helmet and armor, the full ensemble will include a traditional bow and sword. "For the sake of safety, no real blade is attached," says Yoshitoku. "For the image of Vader's lightsaber, we made the sheath (sword case) and bow in red. These [and the costume pieces] are all reduced four times (1/4 size) from its original size."

As the creation of these traditional pieces are considered high art in Japan and require a lot of hand-crafting, they will not come cheap. The kabuto (helmet) with bow and sword will cost about 180,000 yen (about $1,500), while the full ensemble including the yoroi (armor), kabuto, bow, and sword will run 330,000 yen (about $2,700). At this time, these items will only be offered in Japan.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Yoda (or Yoddha?)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

During the final session

As usual, click pictures for larger versions.

Prior to the final session

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Lone Wolf and Cub

Monday, April 02, 2007

All things ninja?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Buddha only needs one more session

Friday, March 16, 2007


Monday, March 05, 2007

Buddha spins

Heroes: Sylar Pokemon

Thanks, Kuryakin!

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Elektra and her army versus one guy?

Saturday, February 24, 2007



Fast TImes at Hero High


Friday, February 23, 2007



The Office ?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

I love comics

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Thanks, Missy, you rock!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Ask a Ninja, Question 34

Friday, February 02, 2007

Thanks again, Melissa, you da mon!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Dharma Space