Over the past several weeks I’ve been working on a series of DIY tutorials on how one can take a Made to Move Barbie doll (which has more articulated joints than the usual Barbie doll) and customize her into a Marvel Comics superhero known as the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.
Here’s some background. Last year I had gone to Third Eye Comics in Annapolis when I saw that Howard the Duck had undergone a revival. At that time I saw the premier first issue another comic book titled The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl that sounded pretty funny. I briefly thumbed through it and thought that it looked promising but I ended up not buying it because, with comic books being priced at $3.99 per issue, I really couldn’t afford to get hooked on another comic book series that would induce me to spend even more money.
A few months later I found that the first few issues of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl had been reprinted as a graphic novel so I bought it and enjoyed it very much. I can’t always get to a comic book store every month so I basically only get The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl when the last few issues are reprinted in graphic novel form. So far I’ve read the three graphic novels that reprinted the comic book issues—Squirrel Power; Squirrel You Know It’s True; and Squirrel, You Really Got Me Now. (A couple of new Squirrel Girl graphic novels have come out in the last few months—The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl & The Great Lakes Avengers and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up The Marvel Universe—but I haven’t read either of those yet.) I found them pretty hilarious and campy and the stories are such a contrast with most other Marvel Comic superheroes (such as The X-Men), who tend to suffer from all kinds of angst and they frequently delve into seriously depressing subject matter such as drug abuse and racism.
What I like about the reprinted graphic novels is that I can buy and read several issues at once. What’s cool about the reprint books is that they even repent the letters from fans that were originally printed in the separate comic book issues. I saw pictures of the various cosplay Squirrel Girl costumes that people have made. But I got an idea when I saw letters from fans clamoring for Squirrel Girl t-shirts, posters, and toys only to be told that the higher-ups at Marvel Comics have to decide on what spin-off products they want to license and release and they haven’t come to a decision on Squirrel Girl yet. (Right now they are focused on characters based on the movies such as the Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man.)
One guy went so far as to take a female action figure and modify it so she’ll resemble Squirrel Girl and he sent the picture to the comic book and it printed that photograph. I thought it was really cool. I decided to take that concept of modifying a doll and go a bit further by actually making a series of video tutorials on how it can be done. My decision was cemented when I visited Target and I saw the Made to Move Barbie doll that was on sale. This Made to Move doll has more articulated joints than the usual Barbie doll so she can achieve more lifelike poses. Here is what my doll looked like soon after I removed her from the package but before I began to modify her.
Drawing on my previous experience with refurbishing old thrift shop Barbie dolls into fairy dolls (such as the Leopard Fairy, Zebra Fairy, and the Red and White Flower Fairy), I decided to buy a Made to Move Barbie and convert her into the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl action figure while documenting the entire process with my smartphone. I ended up making it into a multi-part series of shorter videos (with the longest being just 10 minutes) just so people would have an easier time keeping up with the tutorial instead of having to watch a longer 20-30 minute video. I’m going to gradually release them online over the next few weeks.
So far I have completed the first three videos and I’m currently working on the fourth. I decided to wait until after I was around 80% complete with this video tutorial series before I even uploaded the first video because of my previous experience with taking an online video course. Last summer I took a series of free tutorials on how to do a mixed media book using a baby board book. The series was supposed to last 10 sessions and they were supposed to be uploaded over the summer months. The first three tutorials were uploaded over a three-week period but then she stopped uploading new ones. I patiently waited for new lessons that never materialized. At one point, after going for three weeks waiting for a fourth lesson, I posted something on the artist’s Facebook page asking when there would be more lessons in that lesson series. She responded the next day saying that she would upload new lessons soon. Except she never uploaded any new lessons, which was frustrating because I had a half-completed book. (Every now and then I add new art in it simply by winging it but I’ve currently misplaced it so I haven’t worked on it in a while.) I still see new art from her on her Facebook page so I know she’s still creating. It’s just that I wished she would have spent some of that time finishing that 10-part mixed media book video course because I had got a lot out of her first three lessons.
My frustration with that other artist’s free tutorial had made me resolve that I wouldn’t upload this multi-part video tutorial until I was nearly done with that course because I know what it’s like to have video lessons suddenly end before the course is finished and having an unfinished project because of it.
Here is part one of this new video series that I uploaded this past weekend. It’s basically an introduction where I briefly mention a few things about the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl then going into how to select a doll to use as a base for changing into the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. While I recommended getting the Made to Move Barbie, I also mentioned a cheaper alternative where people can buy a used Barbie at a local thrift shop. (I’ve purchased some used Barbies in the past that had more articulated joints than other Barbies, although these Barbies didn’t have as many articulated joints as the Made to Move Barbies.)
Future videos in this series will go into things like hair and clothes so watch this blog.
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