Monday, August 30, 2021

Battlestar Galactica Viper Mark l

1977 was a big year for me.  Two great films came out that year. Roger Moore in A Spy Who Loved Me with that crazy Lotus Esprit that turned into a submarine. And, of course, Star Wars. With the Death Star, Tie Fighters and Y wings, and the iconic X Wing fighter. 

Now, most Star Wars aficionados know that John Dykstra was in charge of the special effects and worked to develop the computer motion-controlled cameras that could repeat the same movements multiple times so the camera could make multiple passes with various mattes attached, allowing to replace the blue screen in the background and add multiple effects onto the screen.

This revolutionized the film industry. However, 1977 came and went, and back on Earth, TV executives were looking for something that could capitalize on the Science Fiction frenzy that happened the year before, and they turned to Glen Larson for something that would bring back that excitement. That would be Battlestar Galactica.

In 1978, the original Battlestar Galactica series introduced us to the Viper Mark I, commonly known as the Starhound Class. As the battle between the twelve Colonies and the Cylon Empire progressed, it was constructed somewhere in the 7th Millennium to replace the now obsolete 6th Millennium fighter known as the Scorpion Mark I.

These small, quick, single-pilot ships were stationed on Colonial Battlestars, each with a squadron of 75 ships, and were built for both atmospheric and space flight. It was first used in the military as a defensive counterattack against the Cylon Fleet not long before the First Cylon War.

Another version, the Recon Viper, sometimes known as the Starchaser, is seen during a mission with Starbuck and is used for recon.

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So, the Viper is typically a one-person fighter. However, there must have been a two-person version. In the pilot, there is a scene after the attack on the colonies. Adama is rummaging through the burnt wreckage of his home and the remains of his wife, Apollo, Athena, and Zak's mother.  

Apollo is stationed by the Viper as crowds began to descend on the ship, and Apollo urges Adama to hurry. Here, Adama issues the proclamation that people need to find transport, get off the colonies, and follow Galactica to Earth. 

Now the Viper design. Like the X Wing, Ralph McQuarrie also contributed designs for Larson's production company. 

Today we are taking a look at the Eaglemoss Hero Collection. 

The Viper squadrons were now stationed in launching bays onboard the Battlestars and launched into space on rails designed to keep the ships centered in port and starboard launching tubes.

The emphasis on mobility, which was critical to the Viper's success as a fighter, was similar to WW2 aircraft. However, the ship was now piloted with the pilot's right hand holding a joystick (you probably thought that was a gaming phrase).

The joystick now has a three-button fan-shaped handle. On the right, a green "IM" button, in the center, a "Turbo" button, and on the left, a "fire" button. Which is a natural position for your thumb to be in.

IM stood for reversing thruster, and the turbo provided that extra surge of power.

The three separate engines may now be easily enabled or deactivated. These controls allowed the pilot to take immediate evasive action if necessary.

The cockpit was, of course, hinged, and the pilots climbed in the same way rebel pilots got into their X-Wings as pilots do today in their jet fighters.

If you recall, the Viper pilot's helmet is trapezoid in shape and lacks a faceplate from the front, and resembles an Egyptian Pharaoh's headdress. I've always believed the lights on the helmet's rim were some kind of force field designed to keep the vacuum of space out if their cockpit's canopy was ever breached.

Now, unfortunately, the cockpit of this Eaglemoss Viper is devoid of any detail or a Viper Pilot figure.

Now looking at this model, I find the detail quite fantastic and not getting paid for that. 

Now, lengthwise it is exactly the same as the Viper Mark 2. Which is 10.75" or 27.3 cm and has a 6" or 15.24 cm  Wingspan. The tail raises to about 5" or 12.7 cm in height.  

Now, to scale, that would put the Viper to about 28 and 1/2 feet or 8.7 meters.

I'll leave a link in the description.

As a teenager, I loved to make plastic models from kits that you could buy from the store. Star Trek, Space 1999, 2001 A Space Odyssey, Star Wars X Wings and Tie Fighters, The Battlestar Galactica original version, and of course, the Viper. 

I would even make models from scratch, and sometimes I would kit-bash kits like crazy.  In one case, I took the front end of a Viper and the backend of an X-Wing with the wings modified.  Unfortunately, the only picture I have from the time is pretty degraded. But hey.

However, as an adult, you find that time is the most important commodity you can have, and building plastic models takes up quite a bit of time. 

So model kits like this from Eaglemoss are great for collectors like me who live busy lives and want something from our favorite Science Fiction films and TV shows to enjoy daily as part of our home displays. I am delighted so far with the hero collection from Eaglemoss.  I like the detail, except for the lack of cockpit detail, I like the size, and I like that this Viper is ready to display in seconds.  And I like the price.

Thanks for the view. And, watch this video right here for more Cosplay and Film prop fun.

Take care.

Monday, August 23, 2021

The Black Death and the Plague Doctor mask

The Great Mortality or as it is better known to as the Black Death, was a time in 

the medieval history that saw the population of the world practically drop by half.

It was a turning point in history that left us with a new world rising from the ashes.

Join me as we travel back in time to Medieval Europe and take a look at a time and the headgear of the plague doctor

The year is 1347, and it's been almost 800 years since a plague ravages the Roman Empire  The bacterium Yersinia pestis ravaged the Mediterranean Basin, Europe, and the Near East, and Constantinople.  

Instead of focusing on the horrors of the Plague, I want to briefly discuss what good, if any came from these 300 years.

Before the Great Pestilence, Europe experienced a remarkable expansion period during the High Middle Ages (1050-1300 CE). This period was called the Medieval Climate Optimum.

However, by 1301 the weather was changing again.  As we enter 1347, many events took place to put the Great Pestilence on the map.

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The Black Death is the single most significant disease in Western civilization to date, an actual and literal plague. The word Plague derives from an ancient Greek medical term plêgê meaning "stroke"—it's a reference to the speed with which the disease brings down its victims—and this Plague was a real death-blow to medieval Europe. The Black Death, or simply "The Plague," came on its victims quickly and powerfully. It was such a debilitating disruption of facilities. It seemed to on-lookers in the day as if the person had been "struck" by some invisible force.

The "black" in Black Death more likely derives from the Latin word atra, meaning "black, dreadful." Death usually follows soon afterward, most often from septicemia (blood poisoning), due to massive internal hemorrhaging as the bloodstream grows congested with bacteria.

Before the outbreak in 1347, feudal Europe was divided socially by the three estates. While the system was made up of clergy (The First Estate), nobles (The Second Estate), and the peasants (The Third Estate).

It's probably safe to say that something on the order of a quarter to a third of the population of Europe died during the Great Pestilence, thus creating a tremendous upheaval of the three estate system

The Plague respected neither noble, cleric, or peasant.

With so much death, the peasants who were bound to the lord of the manor found that they could just go to the next manor and hire their labor out for more than a meager existence. Even then, the nobles tried to regulate the pay a lord could offer. And how much a worker could demand.  This really didn't work, and the feudal system started to crack.

Priests were not immune.  In many cases, but not all, the priest would or could do little for their flock.

Perhaps hasty last rites and then get the heck out of Plague-infested house.

Seeing that the church was of no real help, perhaps the survivors needed to rethink their relationship with the church.  

Scholars feel that this, like many other factors, was the slow brewing resentment that brought on the Protestant Reformation 200 years later.

The merchant class was proliferating.  Cash strapped nobles were quick to marry their children off to merchants who were more wealthy than the manor's lords. The merchants were eager to join the nobility.

Another positive result of the bubonic Plague was the development of medicine as a science in the West. Whereas in the late Middle Ages, Islamic doctors had, for centuries, been advocating sensible measures like general cleanliness and the value of studying anatomy. Western healers before 1347 were still burdened by the Medieval scorn of the body and ancient medical fallacies like the theory of "humors".

But when Plague wiped out nearly all the doctors in Europe, just as it had the clergy—physicians, like priests, attend to the dying and because of this was exposed at a higher rate to the more virulent pneumonic form of Plague—it precipitated a change in both personnel and precept.
Ironically, modern Western medicine owes much to the bacterium Yersinia pestis, one of its most horrifying failures.

It is here where we discuss the hazmat suit of the 14th century.  While the oldest drawings are from the 17th century, scholars have descriptions from much earlier of the suits that look like beaked birds.

Why the beak, you ask?

Well, the doctors of the time believed that epidemics were caused by miasma, or bad air, emanating from rotting organic matter. To counter the rotting stench, many times, people would carry flowers in their sleeves to smell them when the buboes' odor was overwhelming.

Doctors came up with long robes, gloves, and mask to keep from touching the diseased.
And the beak was there to hold the posies and other sweet-smelling items.

To filter out the miasma, so to say.

Well, as Halloween approaches, I thought it would be great to have a costume that represents this year.

Monday, August 9, 2021

The Cross of King Arthur | Reel Art

 Archeology is the search for facts, not truth, So,

When looking at the historical King Arthur, we, unfortunately, must put aside all the romantic characters and imagery that we have been exposed to throughout our lives. We forget the tales of knights in shining armor and start from scratch with the story of Arthur.

I am not even sure if there was a King Arthur. However, many Arthurian scholars do believe that there was someone who historically could fit the description.  

A beginning is a time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct. We must first place Arthur in his time, born in the late 5th or early 6th century CE. And take the most special care that you locate Arthur in his place. The Isle of Brittania is forever his place.

Knowing this --- we must forget the following details:

That Camelot was not a majestic stone castle but perhaps a defensive wooden fortress on a hill.

Merlin, The story of this character comes much later. There is a Welsh bard named Myrrdren. If you know French, you may be shocked by this name.  Perhaps it was Latinized to Merlinus.

The round table is not even mentioned until the second millennium CE

Sir Lancelot, Nope a 12th-century French addition to the stories

Guenevere - again, a 12th-century addition. However, we still use this name to some degree in its modern form --- Jennifer.

the Holy Grail - definitely a French addition which was not formerly sacred or even holy 

The chivalric code is once again, a later addition to set an example for a time that needed it.

Mordred - a later addition who could be either a villain or a hero depending on a particular point of view.

And the Isle of Avalon not mentioned until the 12th century either, but this where we have some possibilities.

The late 5th century was a tumultuous time in the Roman Empire.

In 410, the Goths sacked Rome, and the legions were recalled home to defend the Eternal city.

Thus gives rise to oral tales of a  hero that turned back to the Irish's tide from the west and the Angles and Saxons from the east. At least for another 300 years.

Romano-Britons defended themselves against the invaders.

These are the times of tales of Ambrosius Aurelianus and others but not one named Authur.

However, in the 600s CE, the name Arthur started showing up in the birth records of noble families in the post roman Britain.

So let's begin.

Somewhere between 500 to 550 CE, the Britons appear to have held back the invading Angle-Saxon advance. However, in the following years, they were pushed back into Cornwall and Wales. The territory held by the Saxons eventually became known as England, and the people in Wales were called 'Welsh' from the Saxon word 'weala,'  meaning 'foreigners' or worse slaves. The Welsh call themselves 'Cymry' indicating 'fellow countrymen' and their country 'Cymru.') 

The first reliable reference to Arthur is in the 'Historia Brittonum' written by the Welsh monk Nennius around the year 830 AD. He refers to Arthur as a warrior - not a king. He lists twelve battles fought by Arthur, including Mount Badon and the City Of The Legion. Most likely, his title was Dux Bellorum rather than Rex or King.

It was the Welsh cleric Geoffrey of Monmouth, wrote down in Books Five and Six of the Histories, he establishes the basis of the Arthurian legends that we know today.  His work, 'Historia Regum Britaniae' or in English known as The History of the Kings of Britain, also known initially as De gestis Britonum (On the Deeds of the Britons), was written in the year 1133 AD. He claimed to have based the work on an ancient Celtic document in his possession. It became a 'best-seller' of its time, and two hundred manuscripts still survive. It was later foreign writers have expanded his themes and added new strands to the story. By the way, Geoffrey's History is the first to mention King Lear's story that Shakespear would later retell and expand on this story.

The Norman chronicler Wace was the first to mention the Round Table, in his Roman de Brut of 1155. He simply says that Arthur devised the idea of a round table to prevent quarrels between his barons over the question of precedence. Now, Wace's version is more of a loose and expanded translation of almost 15,000 lines of Norman-French verse of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Latin History of the Kings of Britain.

Around 1177, Chrétien de Troyes adds Lancelot du Lac (meaning Lancelot of the Lake, also know as the knight of the cart. It Chrétien's that is one of the first stories of the Arthurian legend to feature Lancelot as a prominent character.

Robert de Boron from Burgundy was a French poet of the late 12th and early 13th centuries who wrote several poems within the Arthurian cycle. Joseph d'Arimathie [fr] and Merlin.   The Poem Joseph of Arimathea gives the grail its Holiness and sacredness. Remember, it is at this point in 1187 that the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem was surrendered to Saladin in the Holy Land. Robert wrote Joseph after 1191, which lines up with when the monks at Glastonbury claimed to have discovered the coffins of King Arthur and Guinevere. 

The first English version was written by a priest known as Layamon in around 1200 CE. He pretty much follows Wace's 1155 release of the Histories. However, in Layamon's version, Arthur did not die from his wounds, he remained on the Isle of Avalon - to return in the future.

Almost 300 years later, in 1485 and around 40 years after Gutenburg invented the printing press, William Caxton published 'Le Morte d'Azur' - one of the first printed books. Written by Sir Thomas Malory, this was a collection of eight stories that brilliantly drew together the whole saga and gave us the account we know today.

The legendary King Arthur and History Britain are tightly intertwined. There is too much information to include here, so this is where I am going to mention the Great Courses Plus, where you can take a course with a University Professor who teaches the Arthurian Legends.  Professor Dorsey Armstrong explains in 24 Lectures the history of Britain, and the Celtic, Latin, French, and English legends from the Low to High Middle Ages. She with take you on tour through the historical sites attached to the title of King Arthur.  I highly recommend the Great Courses Plus for this and many other subjects available. Oh, I am not sponsored by the great course, but because I enjoy the classes so much, I am sharing my affiliate link so you can also take part in this learning opportunity.

Rex quondam, Rexque Futurus

This Latin phrase was supposedly carved upon Arthur's tomb at Glastonbury, according to Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur 21:7:

Yet some men say in many parts of England that King Arthur is not dead, but had by the will of our Lord Jesu into another place... many men say that there is written upon his tomb this verse: Hic jacet Arthurus, Rex quondam, Rexque futurus.

Translated in full, the phrase is "Here lies Arthur, King Once, and King in the Future"--or as T.H. White so succinctly translates it, "The Once and Future King."

Of course, the Glastonbury Cross has a different inscription, usually given as: "HIC IACET SEPULTUS INCLITUS REX ARTURIUS IN INSULA AVALONIA": Here Lies the Tomb of the famous King Arthur on the Isle of Avalon.

As for King Arthur's return, the messianic element of the Arthurian mythos is not to be overlooked. While a common theme in medieval literature--Charlemagne is also said to sleep under a mountain--the reason for its attachment to King Arthur should be examined.

It is not uncommon for an oppressed people--in this case, the Britons, soon to be Welsh--to have a type of messianic figure in King Arthur, the last great British king, who waits on Avalon and will return in the time of greatest peril. Jesus will have a second coming, and this element of Christianity is most emphasized during times of crisis. Elijah is said to return; a son of Zoroaster will come; Baldr will be resurrected at Ragnarok; Charlemagne is under Chateau Montsegur2, Francis Drake and Drake's Drum; Holger Danske will rise from his repose (either below Kronborg Castle at Elsinore, or Nonnebakken at Odense) and fight to preserve Denmark in her hour of need1; and so on. The idea that a hero/savior will appear one day and drive out the oppressors is a popular one, and understandably so.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Today we are taking a look at an ancient alien race that has visited Earth over 5000 years ago, and during this time, they have been the guardians of this world. In their own Divine language, the word guardian can be translated as Mondoshawan.  Yes, that's right, we are going back to visit the world of the Fifth Element and explore these ancient creatures.

I tend to support the artists on Etsy. While looking around, I found a couple of items that would go very nicely with my Fifth Element shrine/display.  I found one item from 3DMirrorArt,

Now Austris, the same artist that created my Five Element stones, created something special. And another who created a replica key to the secret chamber in the Egyptian temple of the Fifth Element.

In the Fifth Element, the Mondoshawan are a race of aliens that are friendly to humans. They are a bit taller than humans, roughly 7 to 8 ft tall. The Mondoshawan are semi-biblical beings that serve as the caretakers of both the Four Elemental Stones (Water, Earth, Fire, Air) and the Fifth Element guardians. Although little is known of their homeworld or race, it can be assumed that it is some distance from Earth, remaining relatively secluded from the other races. We don't know much of what the Mondoshawan actually look like, as they are only seen wearing impenetrable golden armor. But we believe that they are a peaceful and ancient sapient race that appears to be similar in anatomical structure to grounded avians.

At some point in Ancient History, the Mondoshawan visited the Humans "before time was time."

And established a priestly order to protect the Fifth Element and the Chamber in Egypt.

A Dark Force or Evil attempted to destroy the world 5 millennia before 1914, the first time we are introduced to Mondoshawan in pre-World War 1 Egypt.  Some say that dark forces attacked Earth, possibly causing the Moon to form around Earth.

Evil is an apparently sentient and sapient living planetoid supposedly indestructible, which seeks to destroy all life, starting with Earth's. To this end -- the Mondoshawans seek to destroy this evil, stating that "time is not important, only life is important."

Near the Fifth Element, a Mondoshawan ship visits Earth, specifically the Chamber in Egypt. Upon arriving, the ship's crew were greeted by the current Priest who ensured them that the stones and Fifth Element were safe, despite an archaeologist and his apprentice investigating the chamber.

The Mondoshawans render the archaeologist unconscious and then extract the stones and Fifth Element inside the secret chamber.

When the priest asked why the Mondoshawan were taking Earth's only defense against Evil, the Leader, distinguished by the large spikes on his armor,  replied, "War is coming, stones not safe on Earth anymore." Unfortunately, he was shot at by the bewildered apprentice played by Jason Priestly and was sealed in the chamber, but not before passing the Key to the Priest with the command "Pass the knowledge to the next priest as it was passed on to you." The Mondoshawan then left Earth, returning 300 years later.

In the year 2214 the Mondoshawan returned with the Fifth Element as promised, they made their way back to Earth as the Great Evil returned. Unfortunately, Mangalores hired by Zorg shot down the Mondoshawan's ship as it passed Jupiter in a vicious attack that left only one survivor, the Fifth Element who was later retrieved by Human Scouts and reanimated back in the modern city of New York, Earth.

Although only the Mondoshawan accompanying the Fifth Element and Elemental Stones were seen, it is assumed there are other Mondoshawan. The Mondoshawan are also excellent strategists and back-up planners.

Although they failed to safely deliver the Fifth Element to Earth themselves, they did separate the Fifth Element from the Elemental Stones, preventing the loss of them all.

So, to start off with we have from Rbreplicas Store on Etsy. Russel Brown crafted this replica prop out of brass for the key and aluminum for the stand. It was and is part machined and laser cut from solid brass,

The key is 5 and three-quarters inches long which is 14.6 cm. AND is one and a half inches wide which is 3.81 cm

Rbreplicas has many machined parts from Star Wars, Andromeda Strain, Batman, James Bond, The Avengers, and other films. I enjoyed this piece and I will leave a link in the description

Now, this big box contains my Ancient Alien.

I felt as a science fiction film lover, and The Fifth Element being one of my favorite films I thought the character of the Mondoshawan is easily recognized by anyone who has seen the film. As I mentioned, this is the second item that I purchased from Austris and his prop store on Etsy 3DMirrorArt in Latvia. Now as his shop is in Europe, it does take about a month to arrive.

Now, the Mondoshawan is made out of PLA plastic, finished with acrylic paint with a coat of varnish

It stands just under 9 inches which is 20 cm tall and is 5 and a quarter wide which is 13.4 cm and a tad under 4 inches thick which is 10 centimeters.

So here they are. What do YOU think of my little fella and the key to the secret chamber? I feel that having something like this to adorn my shelf in front of the element stones would make a great display. Or should I have a separate shelf for these two movie items?

let me know in the comments.  Also, make sure you share your thoughts about these two prop pieces