Monday, May 26, 2014

Preparing to Sail the 7 Seas

The musical A Pirate's Tale is slowly preparing for its premiere, and (at least for me) one of the most important parts of that is making the properties that all of the pirates need. First, on a ship there are many things, and since the show takes place in 1740, all most nothing can be considered contemporary. The second challenge is that there are 14 pirates in the show. Historically, pirates would often carry ALL of their weapons and valuables at the same time, so as to have everything close at hand. For the weapons, that might include the usual cutlass, or perhaps a small-sword. Then things start to become more serious and might regularly include a dagger, or at least a knife, and a variety of pistols. This is due to the fact that at the time, pistols fired one shot, and then had to be reloaded. Pistols also commonly mis-fired, and in the heat of battle became useless. The point to the preceding paragraph is that outfitting a crew of pirates, whether in real life, or in a show is usually an expensive proposition. That is where these two pistols came into play:

As you can tell, they do not look particularly realistic or impressive, and are in fact the least expensive pistols that I could source, having come from the Dollar Tree store. The first issue was to take the guns apart completely, and then fix the triggers and hammers into place. Once that was done, the pistols were reassembled and primed. The next step was to actually paint the pieces, and the fist part of this was to completely paint the guns silver. The grip plates were painted with a very light brown to resemble a hardwood color. Once the initial color fields were laid in, I was able to use gold leaf and dry brushing to bring out the details on the barrel and frame, resulting in this:

These could serve as props, but in order to add that final dose of realism, age needed to be added to the guns, in this case through liberal application of a black wash over the guns to both distress it, and to bring out details. The pieces were then given a coat of gloss sealer in order to protect their paint finishes over the course of the show. And the final product, ready for the stage:

A Larger Find of Smaller Treasures

Yesterday's purchase was a greater than usual lot of exactly 100 toys from kid's meals, spanning a time period from about 1980 to 2000. This has proven to be a slight challenge to actually catalog all of these toys, as they span so many varied licensed properties. Some of the pieces that have come out golden with a quick run through the collection include a set of four toys from McDonald's in 1988, those being an experimental group of Garfield vehicles. They were only released in two select markets (Erie, PA and Charleston, SC) and apparently flopped. The chance to pick up an in package set of four was a treat. That being said, there is still much cataloging to do.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Something Furry This Way Comes.

Yesterday's thrift shop find was a little bit of a surprise:

That is a Mint in Bag TY Ronald McDonald the Bear toy. Strangely enough, this is the second time I have picked up "Number 6" of a series in as many days.

A Pirate's Life for Me...

While going through a trunk that was mysteriously buried about 10 feet down in the backyard, under a suspicious pile of bones, I found this pistol. It appears to be of English make, from about 1730. It was also found with a map that leads to somewhere near what is now Point State Park, but may in fact be tied to some of the early incursions to the area by the British during the construction of Fort Duquesne by the French. 

Just kidding. In reality this is a former squirt gun now turned into a prop for a musical I am working on called A Pirate's Tale which will take place on the Gateway Clipper Fleet. For me, this is a combination of two firsts: my first show involving Pirates, and the first time I have done a show on a boat. 

One of the tasks is to come up with a variety of armaments for a cast of 14 pirates. To that end, I have also learned that pirates carried a lot of weapons with them. As a result, the director, the fight choreographer and myself came up with the solution of cheating with some of the weaponry,  which has resulted in my task to transform inexpensive toys to presentable props. Right now, this pistol is my favorite. I am also very glad that this piece gets featured nicely during the show. That being said, one pistol down, many more to go.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Yesterday's Toys

Yesterday's trip to Goodwill resulted in something slightly different. I enjoy toys, there are a certain few that I collect, but for the most part I do some work as a toy broker, investing and selling in the collectors' market. This is where the trip to Goodwill came up with today:

Three Happy Meal toys, two of them Star Wars bobble-heads from 2011, all of them for a grand total of 75 Cents. The real star of this assortment is this gem:

An in package Color Changing Invisible Woman from 1996. The current value on this comes in at about $8.50, but the price may potentially rise as there is another Fantastic Four movie currently filming, with a sequel already announced. All of these went right into the chest for sale and trade.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Geeking Out at Goodwill

I often check out thrift and second hand shops. There are many times I need a specific tool, or something extremely esoteric for a job, and these are often the best places to find exactly what I need. Sometimes, however, I get lucky and find a few things that I want.

While looking through a selection of grab bags, I had the good chance to find a very large Disney assortment. The only thing I didn't like was the price at $22. However, I was lucky enough to notice that the tag was marked for an additional 50% off. With this new information, I didn't hesitate, and picked it right up. 

Once I had it home and started checking it out, I realized what a deal I truly had. Here is just the highlights of the bag: 

As you can see, I especially lucked out in terms of Minions. There are three of the hard to find McDonald's toys of the Minions, as well as a very large plush of Tim. There was also a wide selection of vinyl Disney figures in the 3-4" range, and another good selection of un-opened kid's meal toys. Those will go right into the trunk for sale and trade. In the corner is a large Rex from Toy Story, and just to the left you can see this guy:

That is a Little People version of Buzz Lightyear, something I had never seen before. I might have to keep an eye out for more of these guys in the future. 

In addition to my haul, the bag also contained plush figures from the Disney store, including Perry the Platypus ($10 value), Rapunzel ($20 value) and Nemo ($20 value.) These were in my hands briefly before being relinquished to my girlfriend's Disney plush collection.

All in all, about $110 worth of toys and figures for $11.