Darkness Falls Behind the Scenes – The Cobra Compound

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’d officially announced the begin date of my next Dio-Story “Darkness Falls” via YouTube, and I’ve been working hard continuously since then to make sure that deadline is met.

If you’ve been wondering why some FSS Reviews have lagged behind, well hopefully that provides some insight.  :)

As part of my work on the Darkness Falls dio-story, I dove headlong into set building once again, which was something I only touched on briefly in previous stories.  This time around I ventured into the Facebook Group depths, hitting up the DioStructure group, and immediately was inspired.  I posted this article over on JoeCustoms first, because I’ve been soliciting advice from many of those great customizers, and I think they helped me develop this Cobra Compound into what it is.  But now I think enough time has passed that I can post it up here as well in case anyone has missed it.  Read the full story to see the run down!

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I have no idea what I’m doing – a Cobra temple interior

As folks who have been paying attention probably know, I’ve been actively working on my next Dio-Story for several months at this p0int.  I even documented some of the set building process in my “Behind the Curtain” series for this Dio-Story.  I was feeling really good about how things were coming along and anticipated having much of the filming done at this point and ready to hopefully launch the dio-story by the end of the year.

Then the house move came about…  and I haven’t mentioned this to too many folks yet, but in the process of moving, the load in the U Haul truck shifted, and almost all of my constructed dio sets were destroyed.  My Cobra Temple awesomely constructed by Eric “Capolan” Vaughn?  Crushed.  The Cobra Commander throne room so crucial to the climax of the story?  Done.

It was pretty depressing.

But I’m determined to continue moving forward on this, and as part of that, I’m reconstructing the interior to the Cobra Temple, going in a slightly different direction.  Capolan’s Temple set was fantastic.  I absolutely loved it, and it served me great, but as the story of Darkness Falls has evolved in my head, I needed a little bit more size and scope, so I started from scratch to rebuild the internal lobby of the temple.  Yes, this means there will likely be some design differences and inconsistencies throughout the scope of the story, but I’m hoping some suspension of disbelief will allow folks to overlook that and just appreciate the story.

To give folks a bit of a taste of this new Cobra Interior, I documented the process, which will hopefully give people something to hold them over until Darkness Falls launches.  Though that launch probably won’t happen until next year at this point.  Click the “Read the Rest of the Story” link below to check out the process of constructing this new Cobra Temple interior.

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The benefits of a three-day weekend – Reviews upcoming and rambling

Yes, tomorrow is “Labor Day” which means I do not have to go into the office (though I am on call as always… gotta love being in IT), so I should have some extra time to get some content ready for posting.

Last week I received the new Pursuit of Cobra Bravo Vehicles, the VAMP and the Fury, and I am in the process of gathering images for the review.  I also managed to snag some Pursuit of Cobra figures at retail (*GASP!*) so I’m hoping to possibly have a review of one of them leading into next week as well.

I know news seems a bit slow these days, but I’ll be doing my best to get content rolling again.

I also got another awesome package in the mail from the generous folks from the Canadian JoeCon, and as always, I’ll work with them to get reviews up in their awesome newsletter as well as on the site as well, so keep your eyes open for those, too.

I will admit, too, that the Pursuit of Cobra and G.I. Joe: Resolute are really fueling my dio-story fire once again as well…and with a break in “continuity” in the wings with G.I. Joe: Renegades, it almost seems like a natural time to work in my own little twist on the G.I. Joe universe and finally finish Darkness Falls.  I can’t promise anything, but the sets are pretty much built, the story is written, and all I need is the time.  Which of course, is the hardest thing to come by.

We’ll see.

Hopefully the pay off will be worth it.  I’m usually my own harshest critic, but I must admit, I am very happy with the way my dio-story universe wraps up in Darkness Falls.  It feels like some great closure to my own story, and could potentially provide a bridge to future events as well.  Maybe once the kids are in college.  ;)

Darkness Falls update – the Throne Room is complete!

The throne room doesn’t see a whole lot of use in Darkness Falls, but what it’s used for plays a critical part in the story, so I wanted to capture the spirit of Cobra Commander’s “home” so to speak.  Huge thanks to dino-viper on JoeSightings.com for the idea about the terrariums (which I ended up finding on eBay here), and I was really psyched when I found that crystal globe…one cheap rubber snake later and there’s a neat statue for the room as well.

Overall, I’m pretty happy how it came out.  I wanted to add a different color scheme with the steps under the throne, but I’m not real happy with the results there.  Beyond that, though, I think it looks decent.  It’ll work.

Darkness Falls Update – More Dio-Story Set Pics

So the construction on my diorama sets for Darkness Falls have been continuing on, even if I haven’t said much about it recently.  I had three fairly elaborate sets to build, and I think they’re pretty much squared away.  I need to add some trimming to the throne room, but the foundations are all set.  The three sets are as follows:

  • COBRA Foyer

Basically a large cavernous room the focus of a pretty major shoot out.  The last element I really needed were sandbags, and as I should have expected, Marauder, Inc. came through!  They carry some great PTE sand bags that I used for the set, though I did clean them out of all their stock.  I need to pick up a few more once they get more in.

  • COBRA Tech Center

This was pretty straight forward, thanks to Joe Amaro’s fantastic G.I. Joe Base templates.  Some foamcore, some print cartridges, glue sticks, and I was able to cobble together a pretty effective COBRA tech center.  Tried to make it appear as if it was an underground room, though it didn’t come out quite as good as I’d hoped.  Still, I think it’ll be workable.

  • COBRA Throne Room

Anyone notice a theme here?  :shifty:  The throne room is fairly obvious in purpose, I’d think.  I know it doesn’t look like much now, but I plan on adding some neat accessories to hopefully spice it up a bit.  Once that’s done, I think I feel good enough about these to lock ’em up until I’m ready to shoot in them next year.  Check out the pics below!

More progress on the COBRA Foyer construction for Darkness Falls

Throughout the week I’ve been burning the midnight oil working on the COBRA Foyer for the Darkness Falls dio-story, and am happy to report that I’m pretty much done.  Pretty much all I have left is to glue some stones on the third arch, and maybe clean up some of the white foamcore showing through.  Besides that, I think I’m happy where I’m at.

Now, I’ve started work on the COBRA Comm Center, which is a computer console room.  My initial plans kind of went out the window unfortunately as Michael’s apparently no longer carries the “Texture Copper” scrap book paper by ProvoCraft. 

So, I had to adjust those plans a bit, but construction is still going forward on that one.  Check out the gallery below for the most recent progress pics on the COBRA Foyer.

Darkness Falls update – more set building wrapped up

It’s been a bit of a challenge getting time aside to continue construction on the COBRA Foyer, but slowly but surely it’s coming together.  Sure, some of the seams are visible in the rock wall, but that will be easily resolved with Photoshop during post-production.

Base is all foamcore, with scrapbook paper walls and floor, plus a catwalk constructed out of balsa wood, bass wood, and some black paint.  The latest treasure trove I found was at a hobby store…AM Models produces an HO Scale “stone wall” that comes in pieces to be assembled, and I used those small stones as the stones surrounding the arches, which came out pretty nicely, I think.  I also included some figure pictures for scale.  Some serious hot glue clean up is required before I wrap this all up.

Left to complete is the two doors, stone trim around the base of the walls, and a pair of stone columns in the middle of the floor.  I need some COBRA wall decorations and some other little trimming.  It’s not stellar, but it’ll work.

GeneralsJoes wants your input on Darkness Falls…

Production is continuing hot and heavy on the next monster Dio-Story installment, Darkness Falls.  I’ve torn through set construction fairly nicely, getting the large COBRA Foyer about 75% done, and writing up concepts (and working on budgets…  :shifty: ) for the last two sets required for the story.  I’ve already edited the story considerably to eliminate one of the more complicated set pieces that seemed unnecessary, and have further tweaked the script.

I really think folks will like this one…until the ending at least.  I have a couple things that might piss some folks off.  We’ll see. 

Anyway.  I’m looking for your input, GeneralsJoes readers.  I’ve launched a poll at MisterPoll.com trying to decide a few things.  The first thing up for debate:  Figure format.

My dio-stories have always been strictly old school o-ring (well, “old school” meaning new sculpts up through 2005), mainly because the Anniversary/Modern Era stuff wasn’t around yet.  But I have a number of newer figures (prior to the Rise of COBRA stuff, that’s being reserved for the “next chapter” if there will be one) that I really want to use.  But I want to get a barometer for what folks want to see.  So, give me your input.  Check out the poll below and let me know your thoughts.

Darkness Falls update – The Set Building begins…

So I really want to keep folks in the loop as production begins (or continues as the case may be) for my final dio-story installment, Darkness Falls.  Well, over the past few days I’ve begun design and production on one of the various diorama sets that are required for the story.

One of the main focus points of the story features a battle in an underground cavern converted into a base of operations.  Obviously, without giving too much away, I wanted to just sort of show off where I am so far.  I did some rough sketches of what I wanted, based on what the story called for, plus what my dio building capabilities are.  I am NOT an expert by a long shot.  In fact, I’d say everything I know I just stole from Capolan over on JoeCustoms, and I don’t do it nearly as well as he does.

Regardless, for better or worse, I’m pressing forward and just hoping what I come up with is good enough to not draw anyone out of the story, since the sets are merely a compliment to the story itself.  They should not be the focus.

This is the very rough, early stages.  For what you see above, the following was required:

  • 3 Sheets of Foamcore (30″ long by 20″ wide)
  • Scrapbook Paper – Nostalgiques “Rough Pavement” (for the floor)
  • Scrapbook Paper – ProvoCraft “Texture Copper” (for the walls)
  • Glue Stick (for the scrapbook paper to the foamcore)
  • Hot Glue Gun (for gluing the foamcore together)

Both scrapbook paper patterns were found at a Michael’s Craft Store.

I did some rough measuring, leaving the foamcore at 30″ long, since a lot of action takes place on scene.  Cut down the back and side walls a bit, and then cut the door designs using a straight edge and a roll of packing tape.  :shifty:  Very important to have a sharp knife blade to cut clean, and another VERY important thing is to cut straight down through the foamcore, and not on an angle.  You want as clean and straight an edge as possible for the hot glue to seam.

So I cut each sheet and marked it as needed, then glued the back and two sides to the bottom to get the frame for the typical “3 wall stage” set up.  Obviously you keep on wall either off or removable so you have a place to shoot pictures.  I’ve found that gluing to the outside of the bottom frame creates a more durable seal as well (instead of gluing everything to the top of it and using it as a true base).

Then I took another piece of foamcore and cut it down to match the height of the others, and cut out the arches (again using the straight edge and trusty packing tape).  I put the scrapbook paper down on the base and the two walls partially in preparation of the other wall.

And that’s pretty much it so far.  This doesn’t take very long, and really, it’s almost more a matter of finding the right material rather than the work itself.  Measure twice, cut once.  :shifty:

Some folks have also expressed interest in seeing my collection and my work area, so I shot a few pics of that, too, while doing pictures for the in progress diorama shots.  It’s a mess, and it’s in my garage, which is unfortunately unheated (so it’s tough to work out there a couple months out of the year), but it gives me a nice space to spread out and do some work.  It’s also the only place I currently have to showcase my Joe stuff, though it’s not as nicely displayed as I’d like.  Check these pics out below…the screw drawers are all full of vintage Real American Hero figures.  On the other wall of the garage I have about 25 or so other cabinets as well.

GeneralsJoes Dio-Stories: A Peek Behind the Curtain, Part 1

Long title, simple concept.

When I announced my Rise of COBRA mini dio-story project earlier this week,  I mentioned that I had a finale in mind when I initially produced my dio-stories…a clear beginning and an end.  What I didn’t necessarily mention was that I have actually already written the end.  I have it down on paper, I know what happens, what’s next, and how I might transition to a Rise of COBRA/Pursuit of COBRA universe, if that is my intention.  Click the Read the rest of the story link below to continue on…

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