Signed books available right here?

I’ve considered it for a while, and I’d like to hear thoughts on having signed books available right here in the shop. I know people have reported having trouble with IndyPlanet’s checkout system or would rather get a signed copy from the artist, so I’m opening the idea for discussion.

To clarify, I’d have to markup the price of the books even though I can get them at cost, which is a little over $6, generally. Including shipping to me, that’s not bad. Now, think about it this way: to break even, I’d have to markup the books to about $12 on individual sales. To make a profit, we’re talking $18 – before my own shipping cost is added on. Fortunately, if I can order a bunch at a time, the cost is driven down for me.

This would mean I could do an unsigned book for about $6.50-$7 and a signed book for $7.50-8. A fair price, all things considered. Individual shipping to you via flat-rate (My preferred method because it’s insured!) comes out to $5.75. So, we’re talking $12.25-12-75 and $13.25-13.75 with shipping. Still pretty fair, all things considered.

Why would I reveal the prices? Well, I like letting people know what they’re paying for. I was taught early on “Honesty is the best policy” and I’ve stuck to that consistently for years. I’m being honest with you concerning the prices of these books, but for those who want printed copies and don’t want the hassle of IndyPlanet’s checkout system or want it signed by the artist, well, this would be a golden opportunity, don’t you think?

The other consideration I’ve put out before for discussion is doing a signed book and plush action figure combo pack for $25. I’ve had people agree that would be an extremely good deal, but I’m opening it for discussion again. I really do want as much input as possible on these ideas.

Villain or not? Stygere

Stygere has got the longest fuse of the Keres. His mother and sisters are quick to anger, he isn’t. Instead, he stays angry most particularly at them, for all the arguing. He’s a dangerous enemy, but doesn’t often show anger toward the heroes. In fact, they have a suspicion that he wants to join them against his mother and sisters. He’s left clues to their plans that have helped the heroes out of many deadly traps.

He’s an enigma to the heroes, but among the many things he won’t admit openly is that he does want to rebel against his mother and sisters. Unfortunately, the few times he’s tried, they nearly killed him for it. So, rather than risk life and limb against them, he secretly helps the heroes without their fully realizing it. He’s considered donning a masked identity to confuse both sides. Unfortunately, he figures they’d recognize his voice and he’d simply be in greater trouble.

A small mystery that might nag at the reader of Dream Angel #2 and #3, is how Kaida knew Larissa was in trouble with Ker and several Reprobates. The heroes figure he was simply flying overhead and saw something that looked out of place causing him to land and investigate. What the heroes wouldn’t know is Stygere planted a clue. One that would attract the Pegasus centaur without anyone knowing. He also left an anonymous clue with the local police. Which is connected to the heroes’ communications thanks to Larissa. This, Stygere knows, and put to good use. It’s common knowledge the heroes and police are working together to solve crimes within the city. So he figures anyone could have left the tip and he wouldn’t get blamed.

He doesn’t want to openly help the heroes, so he flies under the radar with subtle hints and clues to tip them off. His mother and sisters are left frustrated when the heroes escape, but he’s secretly pleased.

What do you think? Is Stygere an interesting character? Stygere makes his comic book debut in Dream Angel #1, which is available in the shop. Also available in the shop is his plush action figure.

Leopard with a mission: Kumo Hanahadashii

Kumo Hanahadashii is a very, very stubborn leopard. To match, he’s very clumsy. So clumsy, in fact, he makes Kaida seem a great deal less clumsy than he is.

kumoTo compound his problems, he’s madly in love with Cristiane Jewel. On top of everything, he’s fiercely jealous. This mixture makes him big time trouble.

He’s a skilled archer and the first time he meets Dream Angel, he very nearly shoots her down. After she convinces him she doesn’t know where Cristiane is, he decides to help her look and promptly runs face first into a tree.

Unfortunately for him, Cristiane loves Virgo, who loves Athalia. Of course, this creates tension among the cats. Cristiane and Kumo are both leopards, Virgo and Athalia are both tigers. All Virgo and Athalia want is for Cristiane and Kumo to go away, but the two create nothing but trouble for them. Kumo’s jealousy of Cristiane’s affections for Virgo causes him to attempt to fight Virgo for her and Athalia’s caught in the middle.

Virgo’s affection for Athalia isn’t out in the open, it’s subtle and quietly understood between the two. For Kumo, that means he’s interested in Cristiane.

For Dream Angel, Torakatai and everyone else, the entanglement among the four is problematic until they’re directed at Nyxus, the Keres and the assorted creatures they bring along. When that happens, it’s better to stand back and let the cats have their fun as they send them flying the hard way.

Luckily in a fight, Kumo lives up to the translation of his name: Blur Extreme, or more appropriately, extreme blur. Fast with a bow, just as fast with a sword and quite rough on opponents with claws and teeth if he’s disarmed.

Kumo makes his comic book debut in Dream Angel #19, which can be found in the shop. It’s a good idea to consider getting the books that came before it, so the story makes sense! Also soon to be found in the shop is his plush action figure.

Leopard with a mission: Kumo Hanahadashii

Kumo Hanahadashii is a very, very stubborn leopard. To match, he’s very clumsy. So clumsy, in fact, he makes Kaida seem a great deal less clumsy than he is.

kumoTo compound his problems, he’s madly in love with Cristiane Jewel. On top of everything, he’s fiercely jealous. This mixture makes him big time trouble.

He’s a skilled archer and the first time he meets Dream Angel, he very nearly shoots her down. After she convinces him she doesn’t know where Cristiane is, he decides to help her look and promptly runs face first into a tree.

Unfortunately for him, Cristiane loves Virgo, who loves Athalia. Of course, this creates tension among the cats. Cristiane and Kumo are both leopards, Virgo and Athalia are both tigers. All Virgo and Athalia want is for Cristiane and Kumo to go away, but the two create nothing but trouble for them. Kumo’s jealousy of Cristiane’s affections for Virgo causes him to attempt to fight Virgo for her and Athalia’s caught in the middle.

Virgo’s affection for Athalia isn’t out in the open, it’s subtle and quietly understood between the two. For Kumo, that means he’s interested in Cristiane.

For Dream Angel, Torakatai and everyone else, the entanglement among the four is problematic until they’re directed at Nyxus, the Keres and the assorted creatures they bring along. When that happens, it’s better to stand back and let the cats have their fun as they send them flying the hard way.

Luckily in a fight, Kumo lives up to the translation of his name: Blur Extreme, or more appropriately, extreme blur. Fast with a bow, just as fast with a sword and quite rough on opponents with claws and teeth if he’s disarmed.

Kumo makes his comic book debut in Dream Angel #19, which can be found in the shop. It’s a good idea to consider getting the books that came before it, so the story makes sense! Also soon to be found in the shop is his plush action figure.

Anatomy of a plush action figure

All the human plush action figures in the shop mention having a wire armature, but I’ve come across people who don’t know what that means. So, let’s explore that and learn what it means, shall we?

If you haven’t explored the shop, I suggest you do. The plush action figures are an impressive sight. The question is, what do I mean when I say they’ve got a full body wire armature?

I’m sure you’ve seen a normal rag doll – limp, soft, cuddly – right? Most people know about Raggedy Ann and Andy. They’re prime examples of rag dolls. What’s that got to do with the plush action figures and what’s the difference? Let’s analyze that.

A doll (stuffed, of course) is limp, soft and cuddly. This one isn’t stuffed yet, but quite limp. If stuffed as it is, it would still be pretty limp, soft and cuddly, but not capable of being posed. There’s our key difference.

Looks like a stick figure, doesn’t it? Well, in place of a full skeleton, this wire gets to play the part of one. This goes inside that limp body and makes it stiff but still flexible. Sure, there’s still flexibility limits – how far the fabric and thread will stretch with the wire – but with this wire inside, the figure becomes more than a doll. It starts to become a plush action figure. Okay, in doll making terms, that would translate to art doll, but since we’re talking comic book characters, plush action figure sounds better, right? Moving on to the armature inside the body now.

Not so limp anymore, but kinda flat, right? Let’s finish the job, but pardon the nudity! We’re not done yet.

From here, underwear is sewn on. Along with hair. The face is sculpted and painted. Even some body details are sculpted. Once dressed, this character is ready for his close up! Carefully posed, yes, he could possibly stand on his own, but having a stand to help is always better. Let’s take a look at some finished examples:

The ever-charming Dream Angel looks beautiful, doesn’t she? Yep, she’s got that wire inside and if you look closely at her knees, they’ve been needle sculpted and so has her face. Yep, she’s in the shop and quite available for purchase as Arora with her Dream Angel outfit also available for purchase.

This gentleman and his two brothers are quite the spectacular sight. Like Dream Angel, they sport the wire in their bodies, but in his case, it’s that stunning red dragon on the back of his shirt that’s the real eye-catcher. He’s in the shop along with his brothers. This fellow’s Restu Sazaisaki.

Miss Pink Hammer here demonstrates just how interesting the wire armature can be as she holds a cool pose to show off her hammer. She’s also in the shop.

As you can see, these plush action figures are a lot more interesting and full of surprises than an ordinary doll. On top of the wire, they have one more interesting feature that’s available, though: magnetic hands.

This feature is more for older collectors than kids, though, because the magnets are powerful and the accessories they enable the figures to hold quite small at times. For example, the weapons available in the shop are frequently small.

Small, and yes, can cause harm despite being soft like the figures that can hold them.

Fascinating, aren’t these action figures? Can plastic figures boast half as much flexibility? Perhaps larger ones might, but can they be hugged at night? No. Can they be washed when they get dirty? Not too easily. Well, there you have it. This should unravel the mystery of the plush action figures. Awesome, aren’t they?

What do you look for in an action figure?

What do you look for in an action figure?

Action figure. Brings to mind the image of a stiff plastic figurine, doesn’t it? Asking what you look for in an action figure isn’t always an easy question to answer. I know what I look for: articulation – movement of the joints. True, I’m a girl and played with Barbie, but I was always frustrated by how little the dolls moved. Then along came Hot Skatin’ Barbie and Ken! Ahhh, they moved nicely, but were still… stiff.

I’ve seen more modern action figures – usually 20+ inches tall – that could move wrists, fingers, ankles and other more sophisticated areas, but in the end, they’re always… stiff. Plastic is fine, but it has a nasty habit of breaking, too. So, what I look for is durability alongside the movement.

I bet you’re thinking, “Well, what do you expect for something made of plastic?” Don’t get me wrong: I’m not dissing Barbie or the plastic action figure, just pointing out that they lack flexibility without being oversized and overpriced. This is where my action figures can step up to the plate.

This might sound like a cheap sales ploy, but hear me out anyway.

My action figures are soft and far more articulate than Barbie or any plastic action figure could hope to be. Why, you ask? They have a wire armature inside their soft bodies.

I’ll confess I’m like most kids – I enjoyed taking favorite toys to bed, but the plastic ones never made it – I was always afraid those stiff hands with the thumb sticking out would poke an eye out – even Bedtime Barbie had this problem! So, you tell me: would you prefer the plastic that the kid could choke on or lose an eye to in their sleep, or a soft but still articulate action figure they can take to bed and cuddle with?

Let me share a story with you.

When I first started making the Dream Angel series, I did the art by hand, but was constantly annoyed by not being able to keep characters’ color schemes straight. The first plush action figures I made were to be visual reference to alleviate that problem. They were 5″ tall and made of felt. They looked quite good, too. The funny part was when I posted pictures of them on Facebook and got a cry of “I want this one! Where can I buy it?” I probably should’ve expected the reaction, but in truth, I didn’t.

Well, long story short, I wound up making a store for these early action figures. Eventually, I realized kids would want to play with these and felt is certainly not durable enough for play. The new set I made is 10″ tall (they’re in the shop as options for some characters, by the way!) and these did better than the felt ones. Along the way, someone suggested I make them look more realistic instead of cartoony cute.

This led me to etsy and a seller listed as Prairie Crocus Studios for the 11″ and 12″ pattern after the somewhat disaster of trying to design an 18″ pattern and the good-but-complicated 16″ pattern (which is in the shop as an option for some characters, as well.) As it turns out, the 11″ and 12″ figures are just right and look very good with the soft sculpture faces and wire armatures. The result has been awe-inspiring, impressive and worth every penny:

 

aroku plush action figureThis 12″ fellow  (who is Aroku Sazaisaki) is certainly a fine delight and looks amazing (trust me, the picture hardly does him justice!) He’s soft, articulate, cuddly and an awesome superhero created by my very good friend Winston Jordan for his series Dragon Trio. Matter of fact, this guy’s the middle brother of the Trio.

Now here is a cute plush that can hold a pose and still cuddle up in bed.

Everything I always wanted as a kid from action figures. Yep, you caught me: I’m a Bat-fan. Of course my favorite growing up was the 60’s Batman movie made from the TV series with Adam West and Burt Ward. Yes, I would’ve loved cuddling up with a cute but still articulate stuffed Batman (and still would, of course!).

To my delight, fans have had this sort of reaction:

“Jennifer this doll is just incredible. You really did your best work yet. I can’t stop staring at this. A true work of art…” – Jerrie Lee.

That was said of the Aroku’s counterpart, midora plush action figureMidora, whom as you can see, is holding a nice kicking pose thanks to the wire armature in her body. She’s excellent at charming her way into the hearts of many and a favorite for fan art in the Facebook group Independent Creators’ Connection.

Certainly sounds like those patterns have paid for themselves, wouldn’t you agree?

Granted, I still look at regular plastic action figures in stores and to date, haven’t seen any like mine. These are entirely unique and despite using the same patterns, no two are ever exactly the same. Pretty good to get a one-of-a-kind action figure that’s washable, huggable and posable at the same time.

Okay my little sales ploy is over, but you have to admit, there’s benefits to be considered with what I’ve pointed out in that little sales ploy. I’ll be plainly honest here: They’re exactly what I would’ve wanted as a kid: the ability to hug and cuddle with my favorite characters, plus they can be posed? You bet I’d have wanted them!

So, what do you look for in an action figure? Keep it polite and constructive, please!

Anatomy of a plush action figure

All the human plush action figures in the shop mention having a wire armature, but I’ve come across people who don’t know what that means. So, let’s explore that and learn what it means, shall we?

If you haven’t explored the shop, I suggest you do. The plush action figures are an impressive sight. The question is, what do I mean when I say they’ve got a full body wire armature?

I’m sure you’ve seen a normal rag doll – limp, soft, cuddly – right? Most people know about Raggedy Ann and Andy. They’re prime examples of rag dolls. What’s that got to do with the plush action figures and what’s the difference? Let’s analyze that.

A doll (stuffed, of course) is limp, soft and cuddly. This one isn’t stuffed yet, but quite limp. If stuffed as it is, it would still be pretty limp, soft and cuddly, but not capable of being posed. There’s our key difference.

Looks like a stick figure, doesn’t it? Well, in place of a full skeleton, this wire gets to play the part of one. This goes inside that limp body and makes it stiff but still flexible. Sure, there’s still flexibility limits – how far the fabric and thread will stretch with the wire – but with this wire inside, the figure becomes more than a doll. It starts to become a plush action figure. Okay, in doll making terms, that would translate to art doll, but since we’re talking comic book characters, plush action figure sounds better, right? Moving on to the armature inside the body now.

Not so limp anymore, but kinda flat, right? Let’s finish the job, but pardon the nudity! We’re not done yet.

From here, underwear is sewn on. Along with hair. The face is sculpted and painted. Even some body details are sculpted. Once dressed, this character is ready for his close up! Carefully posed, yes, he could possibly stand on his own, but having a stand to help is always better. Let’s take a look at some finished examples:

The ever-charming Dream Angel looks beautiful, doesn’t she? Yep, she’s got that wire inside and if you look closely at her knees, they’ve been needle sculpted and so has her face. Yep, she’s in the shop and quite available for purchase as Arora with her Dream Angel outfit also available for purchase.

This gentleman and his two brothers are quite the spectacular sight. Like Dream Angel, they sport the wire in their bodies, but in his case, it’s that stunning red dragon on the back of his shirt that’s the real eye-catcher. He’s in the shop along with his brothers. This fellow’s Restu Sazaisaki.

Miss Pink Hammer here demonstrates just how interesting the wire armature can be as she holds a cool pose to show off her hammer. She’s also in the shop.

As you can see, these plush action figures are a lot more interesting and full of surprises than an ordinary doll. On top of the wire, they have one more interesting feature that’s available, though: magnetic hands.

This feature is more for older collectors than kids, though, because the magnets are powerful and the accessories they enable the figures to hold quite small at times. For example, the weapons available in the shop are frequently small.

Small, and yes, can cause harm despite being soft like the figures that can hold them.

Fascinating, aren’t these action figures? Can plastic figures boast half as much flexibility? Perhaps larger ones might, but can they be hugged at night? No. Can they be washed when they get dirty? Not too easily. Well, there you have it. This should unravel the mystery of the plush action figures. Awesome, aren’t they?

Villain or not? Stygere

Stygere has got the longest fuse of the Keres. His mother and sisters are quick to anger, he isn’t. Instead, he stays angry most particularly at them, for all the arguing. He’s a dangerous enemy, but doesn’t often show anger toward the heroes. In fact, they have a suspicion that he wants to join them against his mother and sisters. He’s left clues to their plans that have helped the heroes out of many deadly traps.

He’s an enigma to the heroes, but among the many things he won’t admit openly is that he does want to rebel against his mother and sisters. Unfortunately, the few times he’s tried, they nearly killed him for it. So, rather than risk life and limb against them, he secretly helps the heroes without their fully realizing it. He’s considered donning a masked identity to confuse both sides. Unfortunately, he figures they’d recognize his voice and he’d simply be in greater trouble.

A small mystery that might nag at the reader of Dream Angel #2 and #3, is how Kaida knew Larissa was in trouble with Ker and several Reprobates. The heroes figure he was simply flying overhead and saw something that looked out of place causing him to land and investigate. What the heroes wouldn’t know is Stygere planted a clue. One that would attract the Pegasus centaur without anyone knowing. He also left an anonymous clue with the local police. Which is connected to the heroes’ communications thanks to Larissa. This, Stygere knows, and put to good use. It’s common knowledge the heroes and police are working together to solve crimes within the city. So he figures anyone could have left the tip and he wouldn’t get blamed.

He doesn’t want to openly help the heroes, so he flies under the radar with subtle hints and clues to tip them off. His mother and sisters are left frustrated when the heroes escape, but he’s secretly pleased.

What do you think? Is Stygere an interesting character? Stygere makes his comic book debut in Dream Angel #1, which is available in the shop. Also available in the shop is his plush action figure.

Strength of resistance: Teikou no Senshi

teikou no senshiDream Angel and Teikou no Senshi are the Batman and Robin of the Dream Angel universe, but it’s no use debating which is which with the girls. They often switch roles. With the discovery of their both knowing Japanese, they found confusing their opponents to be the best weapon. The only opponents they can’t confuse with it are Foxy and Hellbot, who can translate.

Teikou no Senshi’s natural strength comes from her healing power. The source of that power, a quite unique bracelet, is mysterious and even Ryu has no idea what its full capabilities are. All anyone is sure of is that it gives Teikou no Senshi limited flight, healing power and enhanced physical strength.

Teikou no Senshi’s power seems almost completely untapped. The only person who has any real idea what her full potential is, is Nyxus and she’s not likely to divulge the secrets of the bracelet. Not to an enemy, anyway. To an ally, that’s a different story. She does tell some of its secrets to Kageki so she might use the abilities to destroy Dream Angel.

For Teikou no Senshi, keeping her secret was easy once she figured out who Dream Angel is. With that secret, she was able to dodge suspicion many times until their enemies revealed her secret. Once that happened, she decided there was no point in keeping the mask, tossed it aside and started kicking butt. She doesn’t hold the Keres in high regard and gives less respect to the Reprobates, whom she can usually disarm in only a couple moves.

She doesn’t have Dream Angel’s hand-to-hand combat training, but she picks up a few tricks. She also learns from Virgo when they have some spare time to train. She even manages to sneak in some target practice with Torakatai, who takes a liking to her faster than he does with Dream Angel.
What do you think? Is Teikou no Senshi an interesting character? She makes her comic book debut in Dream Angel #1, which is available in the shop. Also available in the shop is the Teikou no Senshi outfit for Elizabeth Amphitrite.

Patient older brother: Virgo FireKeeper

virgoVirgo FireKeeper is a dedicated older brother. Dedicated to avenging his parents’ murders, that is. Of course, today’s question is where did this tiger man come from and what makes him so special in the Dream Angel universe?

I have a decent respect for a number of interesting subjects. Mythology, fantasy, the occult, religion, just to name a few. Astrology is another that’s come around in my various readings. The interest in that one can be traced to Sailor Moon. Not many know that I have a very firm love of Sailor Moon. Fewer know that I didn’t fully get involved in the series as a whole until high school – long after the manga and anime had come out initially.

Before discovering a strong love of Sailors Uranus and Neptune (the latter of whom I’m quite a bit like), I held a healthy respect for Sailor Mercury as I could readily relate to the bookish genius girl and her inability to effectively socialize with others. It’s fair to say I’m not a genius in the same sense as she is with her IQ of 300, but being bookish and unable to effectively socialize with others fits me quite well. What’s this got to do with the tiger man Virgo? Well, I’m getting to that, if you’ll bear with me a moment.

For those that might not know, the characters of the Sailor Moon universe are heavily based on Greek and Roman mythology, but also astrology. My relating to Sailor Mercury translates over to Virgo. According to astrology, Sailor Mercury’s sign is Virgo. See where he gets his name? The source of his character design comes from a strong love and respect of tigers mixed with a love of manga/anime cat-people.

In the real world, tigers are endangered, in the Dream Angel universe, tiger people are even closer to extinction. With his parents’ murders, Virgo finds his reason to fight against Nyxus and begins to fight for his species’ survival as well. Along the way, Dream Angel becomes a friend and valuable ally.

What do you think? Is Virgo an interesting character? Virgo makes his comic book debut in Dream Angel #6, which is available in the shop. Getting the books that came before it is highly recommended, so the story makes sense. Also available in the shop is his plush action figure.