So. Many. Chocobos. And all shiny.
So. It was near the end of Desert Bus 9 (of course) when I decided that I wanted to push further for something a little... more for DB10. I mean, the tenth Desert Bus for Hope! It's a party! A celebration! And then I thought, well, why not make something of a chocobo-drawn bus-coach thing? Because. Apparently that's how my brain works.
So let's talk about Lucius the chocobo first, yes? He’s my biggest poseable chocobo to date, all 1 pound, 5 ounces of heavy stainless steel wire armature, yarn and polyfil. I was inspired mainly by FFXV chocobos this time around, but I'm sure the other influences can be seen. Each feather of his tail and crest are individually wired. Along with his top and bottom jaw/beak, neck, wings, first four primary feathers on each wing, legs and toes (which I'd really wanted to make "traditional", hence huge claws). Fully extended, he has a wingspan of 15 inches, which also happens to be about how tall he is with a “relaxed crest”. He likes dancing, greens, and going maybe a little faster than he ought to when pulling the party bus. You didn't hear that from me, though.
And then matters got a little more complicated. This is kind of a concept piece, so hang with me here folks. What I'd actually wanted to do was make this with real working wheels and bike chains for tractor treads with optional flip-out "rockets". Yes, honestly. And I'd gone about testing how to get that to happen, but. Admittedly, a whole bunch of real life things got in the way. It just wasn't going to be possible to see through the way I really wanted, not in the time I'd allowed myself to devote entirely to the Craft-Along project. So, I gave myself another challenge. I'm an old. I remember the '80s. Specifically, I remember action figures and playsets from the '80s. And how we couldn't really afford them, so I made my own out of cardboard and paper.
This started out as cardboard and paper! Then foam, more cardboard, layers of things and fabric and finally a top coat of glossy acrylic medium to give it a plastic-y look. I, uh. Kind of went all out. I suppose. I've been working for years on combining lightweight materials and techniques to allow them to be flexible and sturdy while still being reasonably lightweight. Success! I even managed to experiment with texture so that it looks a little like the rough papery cardboard that some of the commercial playsets used to come with, long long ago. I'm... not sure who would ever actually pick up on that besides me, but that's not the point. While I was working on the initial base for this, right as I was cutting things and evening them out, I suddenly had this delightful image in my head of someone who found an old piece of junk bus abandoned in the desert and just decided to slap on a new coat of paint, re-upholster the interior, and let a chocobo pull it. The image clearly stuck with me, because uneven (but alarmingly strongly reinforced) surfaces abound.
As for the interior itself, it was partly inspired by real Arizona buses. But mostly I had the fabric laying around and I thought it was hilariously "party bus-like", hence. The seats are even cushioned, by the way. Only the best for the toys. Plenty of room for luggage too, I'll have you know.
Then of course I am me, so that couldn't be the end of it. I made real silk velvet curtains in dark blue, then decided what I really needed for the back wind was an assortment of Desert Bus shift flags! All hand-painted with a slight sparkly sheen, to be expected from me. Both the curtains and the shift flags all attach to the bus via magnets. I then added a little makeshift pine tree air freshener insignia to the front, with the tree obviously covered in glitter (sorry Tally!)... and then somewhat painstakingly made a harness for Lucius. I mean. This is my life now. I may as well embrace it.
In any case. More on how you may just be able to get your hands on this as Desert Bus for Hope approaches.
Best rainy day activity for kids and chocobos? Totally dress-up. Grab some fabric, make some props, make a mess (...then clean it up...), and have a blast!
Story of my life: I hadn't really meant these to turn out quite so large... or with so many accessories... but things happen and I'm really, really happy with the result. I don't even know if anyone else will love these as much as I do, but I am remarkably hopeful. The chocobo bodies themselves are redesigned from the inside out, with a much more solid structure to allow more stability, and feature fully wired and poseable toes, legs, wings (along with the first three primary feathers of each wing; the rest are un-wired for easy folding), necks, heads, and feature limited articulated top and bottom beak-jaw-things.
And then the costumes, oh boy. Initially I'd had the idea to do just a couple of super-fancy accessories for each of them, but I just kind of... kept coming to the thought, "Remember when dress-up used to be fun, and cosplay wasn't about exacting proficiency?" So, I decided that I would do something "simple" and make it look at though excited, unpracticed hands made these things. ...I was, at that point, not aware of how insanely difficult it would be. I mean yes, lots of things got simplified, and it was a lot of fun putting it all together! But. That came with figuring out how to make everything look super-simplified while also making them stable and ultimately well-made. I think I finally fulled it off, anyway. And of course they can swap outfits. I mean, come on.
Thank you burningdragoon for your generosity with a final bid of $719.00!
Codename: ch0c0b0. Charlene to her friends. Cybernetically enhanced after... some dramatic thing that happened, Charlene is part machine but still all chocobo. Her wings were replaced with solar panels, her leg enhancements allow her to outrun even the Hardy Daytona, can pick up hundreds of radio stations, and of course she gets WiFi, like, anywhere. She prefers organic oil, by the way.
My second and final Desert Bus for Hope 2014 chocobo! For once, this design was actually greatly simplified. I'd had the concept of "chocoborg" in my head since last year's Desert Bus, and I had every intention to go full-on RoboCop with the body... until I realized maybe that was a little disturbing for a chocobo meant to raise money for charity. So I cut way back, went "mostly organic with enhancements", and now you have a ch0c0b0. The beak is static, but her head, neck, legs, toes, and individual tail feathers are all poseable. While I'd meant all of the "hardware" to be silver, I kind of stopped at leaving some of the gold and copper components "silver frosted" because it looked nice. Artsy reasons.
As for the wings... I'd meant for them to have a much wider range of motion. I even had a demo rigged up, and it worked, and I was all set to use it on the chocobo body, but... then I realized it would be just a little bulkier and a bit more fragile than I was comfortable with. (Maybe next time?) So, alas, the wings are now mostly static, though they can be moved back and forth, and up and down with a gentle hand. The wing materials themselves are flexible, though I'd recommend some delicate handling.
The only metal used here were the screws and a touch of wire, by the way. I had a little fun playing with other materials for a metal look.
She was sold for $600 and I watched the snipe happen while I was eating dinner. Heh.
Miss Diana is all gussied up and ready for a long drive. A long, long, long drive. Well hey, it's for charity!
My first completed Desert Bus for Hope 2014 chocobo! And wow did that take... some time. In extremely massive hindsight, maybe I should have waited until Desert Bus 10 before making a Desert Bus-themed chocobo, but... Desert Bus 8, ∞, infinity and beyond... uh, there was a reason in there somewhere. Not important.
My initial thought had been another armored chocobo, which I was perfectly prepared to do, and then... well. I wanted to change up the legs a little. Changing up the legs kind of required changing up the body type a touch, which I was perfectly okay with since I'd wanted to incorporate various chocobo types. But then that meant changing up the tail and the head/face a little too, and... well, the body became more advanced, so I thought instead of armor (and accidentally making her look far too much like another chocobo I'd already made; they're each individuals) I would just go ahead and make her a little hat. Which was a production in itself, but the Desert Bus for Hope symbol came out decently (and unfortunately looks much better in person) and the hat worked out. I knew that I wanted her to have a sash of some kind, so I just decided to bead one so that I could add an optional expanding section to turn it into either a choker or a double-wrap bracelet for whoever's lucky enough to wind up with this little lady for a companion. Then came the little tail decoration. Because... I'm me and she needed more sparkly.
The result: a fully poseable bus driving chocobo! Her bottom jaw, crest, head, neck, legs, toes, wings and each individual tail feather are all individually wired. And she's just so stylish, too.
She was ultimately sold for $1,300. I'm still recovering.
Ewan's shy. Really he is. It's just that when he gets the opportunity to shine, he turns out to be a charisma bomb. He'll play just about any game quietly, but give him a chance at something action-y and he'll be making the kind of moves and commentary that'll have a whole room enamored and laughing. Well, if you can understand chocobo, that is.
To say that I "went a little overboard" may be an understatement. I think I rocketed straight to the sea floor only to rip through the molten heart of the planet and emerge on the other side. But, you know, shiny results! So beyond just spending however many days (over a week; I refuse to figure out more) making this poseable chocobo with wired legs, head, neck, wings and tail, I spent several weeks hand-sewing and hand-beading his blanket, headpiece, those two decorative "front flaps" (I r a artist I no wurds), all of the various bands for the saddle, then of course formed the saddle and panel armor from scrap leather, added several layers of iridescent gold pigment, and finished off with a little decorative gold chain with three lovely Swarovski crystals and a couple of tail pieces comprised of glass beads and gorgeously dyed jade. I feel as if I succeeded in... something.
A note on the leather panel armor: it's not so much the weight but the way the weight is carried that makes it necessary to adjust his legs so he's not going to go tumbling forward when the armor is on. The "tail pieces" are actually counter-weights to help alleviate that problem, but adjustment is still necessary. There's a whole bunch of stylish combinations to be achieved from all of these pieces, so of course Ewan's set to be a star in any situation.
Very soon he'll be on his way to join Desert Bus for Hope's lovely crowd of awesome goodies. More on that soon.
Ren is really quite fond of showing off. He's got a bit of a habit of overdoing it sometimes, so what he really needs is a companion who can balance him out with a little "common sense". Of course, this doesn't mean there can't be some mutual showing off. I bet he could out-perform any human on Dance Dance Revolution--if only they made a chocobo-compatible version.
So I was trying something. I wanted the look of my "classic" chocobos with a little more internal structure and... here you have Ren. His legs and toes are wired as usual, but there's extra poseability in his neck/head, tail and wings. He is a touch "bejeweled" as well, with a number of secure glass beads for a touch of sparkle.
Of course the "way more than a touch" of sparkle comes from that parade ensemble he's got there, a beautifully deep midnight blue real silk velvet hand-sewn with an assortment of glass beads and 98 real Swarovski crystals. Ninety-eight. I really wish I hadn't figured that out. Luckily I lost track of how many weeks this took altogether, but my hands are currently trying to scream the answer at me.
Ahem, point being. This guy will be off to Desert Bus for Hope headquarters very soon. More details as the date approaches.
Lady Abigail (or just Abby to her friends) is still a little new at this. Oh, she knows how to march, knows every whistle and command, can walk in step or run ahead and around. It's the whole armor thing that she has yet to get used to. Her handler thought it might be a good idea to get her started with something custom-made, something unique and personal. Hey, even chocobos like to feel special.
I'd been thinking about making a fully-wired, completely poseable chocobo for some time now. I just hadn't actually given in to such insane ideas until now. The reception to my Desert Bus chocobos was just so good that I felt I should really push myself and rise to the ridiculously complicated challenge. But I'm glad I did! The result is lovely Abby with a wired beak, head and neck, legs, toes, wings (all of her primary feathers are also wired) and tail. And she has claws! I've been wanting to put claws on a chocobo for years!
And then, after all that, I decided she needed armor. (Because I'm kind of unsmart.) So... I went right for some scrap leather I've had for years and started cutting. Well that was a learning experience, but seeing as how the result makes me extremely happy, it was worth the work. Stylized forget-me-nots are the flowers that grace Abby's armor, and once I figured out how to firmly secure rhinestones to leather, I couldn't resist having some "flower buds" on her helmet/mask. Both pieces of armor attach easily with little handmade hook and eye findings and chain, and it's really easier than it looks.
She also needed that lovely blue velvet blanket. Yes, real silk velvet. Yes, it attracts light colored fuzzies like crazy, but it's SO SOFT and shimmery and yes.
And of course she's my chocobo, so she needed a touch of bling. I beaded her a couple of wired "anklets" and then decided her wings needed a little sparkle, so I made her some "wingbands" too. She seems to like them.
Abby's a big girl. In her "natural" pose, she stands 12 inches high to the very top of her crest. With her tail up, she's 6 inches from her chest to her tail, but with her tail extended out that measurement jumps to just over 10 inches. Fully extended, her wingspan is 15.5 inches. She can quite solidly support a Square-Enix action figure bareback, and can easily support the lighter ones with full armor on.
She's playful, sweet and loves her greens. But she won't turn down a slice of cheesecake. Just so you know.
RPGs. All day, every day. She can cast magic with her eyes closed, level up a character with one foot while having a snack with the other, plus a casual conversation. EXP is the spice of life, but it's how you use it that really matters.
Estelle is the third and final chocobo made specifically for Desert Bus for Hope's charity auction. If you're interested in getting this gal for yourself or checking out the rest of the handmade geekery up for auction, please check in with Desert Bus for Hope on November 17. If at all possible, there will be previews available the week before.
Standing at 9.5 inches in height to the very top of her crest (just over 5 inches from chest to tail, and 3.5 inches at her widest point) she's a little bigger than my standard adult chocobos. But all rules go out the window with rainbow birds, y'know? Her body is soft and squishy and poseable to a point, made of acrylic yarn and filled with fiberfill. Underneath layers and layers of yarn, her feet are wired for balance and poseability. (And she should be able to hold up relatively light figures just fine, hint hint.) Her eyes are blue fiber optic/"cat's eye" beads that have a really lovely glow that the camera decided it didn't really want to capture. Pft. If not already obvious, this is not a toy for the young'uns. I do hope she'll manage to make a fine gamer's companion, though; especially when you've got a lot of grinding to do. There's nothing wrong with teamwork and trading off.