Flying Blind!

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F L Y I N G  B L I N D :

T H E  H A W K M A N  R O C K E T  C Y C L E  S C A L E  M O D E L  P R O J E C T .

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Completed 1/10th Rocket Cycle.

An upcoming centrepiece of the Gordon’s Alive! collection and a stunning work of art in its own right, this entirely scratchbuilt accurate replica of the famous Hawkman Rocket Cycle now finally exists as a strictly limited edition model kit.

A true labour of love initiated by a lifelong obsession and borne of frustration with no official reproduction (toy or otherwise) ever coming to pass, UK based fan Chris King gathered a multitude of reference and resources to recreate Flash Gordon’s most iconic screen ride.  His pursuit of excellence eventually caught the attention of Hollywood where his plans would evolve into something he never could’ve imagined!

Chris takes up the story from here –

“When Bif Bang Pow released their first wave of 9 inch tall Flash Gordon movie action figures, it finally seemed like the 30 year old wait for a rocket cycle vehicle/toy would be over. Sadly, BFP were only able to complete a second wave of figures before their license expired with King Features Syndicate and they did not renew it due to an apparent lack of demand for the product.

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Rare bluescreen shot of the Rocket Cycle in action at Shepperton Studios.

I realised that the only way to get a model of the Rocket Cycle would be to tackle the project myself. For the first stage, I thought it would be a good idea to model the design in the computer to iron out any unknowns in the design of the cycle. After seeing Stinson Lenz’s amazing Google sketch-up computer model of the cockpit interior of the Millennium Falcon studio set, I commissioned him to produce the Rocket Cycle computer model.

Using the Google sketch-up software meant that we could rotate and view the model from any angle and this enabled us to overlay the model onto reference photos/Blu-Ray screen shots to see how closely we could match it. After several months of going through this process of marking up/updating and checking against the small number of reference photos available, we got to a point where we were happy that the computer model had achieved the required proportions and Lenz was able to produce plans, elevations and cross sections at 1:10 scale so the project could be handed over to a physical model maker.

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 Computer Model Versus actual prop.

After advertising for the skills of a model maker on various forums, Pete Fielding of Standing Stone Studios stepped forward to accept the challenge and embraced the project wholeheartedly

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Original Rocket Cycle Studio Miniature

I had been sharing progress photos of the project on the Replica Prop Forum and it was this exposure which led to me being contacted by Bryan Felty who was the set designer for an upcoming Seth McFarlane movie TED which was in production and was going to feature an extended cameo by original Flash Gordon actor Sam J Jones. Seth McFarlane was a huge Flash Gordon movie fan and wanted to recreate the Rocket Cycle scene which meant that construction of a full size prop was required. Bryan was also a member of the Replica Prop Forum and was very impressed with the research / development that we’d done on the project to date. Due to the aforementioned lack of decent reference photos of the cycle, he asked for my assistance in the production of drawings to enable the prop department to construct the full size prop. I was happy to oblige and the resulting Rocket Cycle soared splendidly across the sky with Flash at the helm again in the movie.

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 Rocket Cycle Props – Then and now.

During the construction of the physical model, it became apparent that tweaks were required to the position of the raised “plates” and rivets compared to what had been modelled in the compute, so lots of mark-ups were done to try and illustrate where changes needed to be made. The last part of the project was to mark-up where every single rivet should be located based on the appearance of the prop that was used for most of the shots in the movie. (The same prop was dressed with different rivet numbers/locations depending on which shot you look at – the reasons for this known only to the prop makers).

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Some of Chris King’s photo reference for rivet placements – assisted by never-before-seen photos of the original prop (bottom left)

In the end, only 3 models were ever produced – one of them is owned by Jason Lenzi (co-creator of Bif Bang Pow), Chris King (project manager and 7 year old kid turned 41) and the model featured here now owned by Martin of Gordon’s Alive!…”

As of this writing, my kit – the final copy –  is being assembled and painted by talented modelmaker Alex Clayson.  Below is a gallery of his progress showing the raw fibreglass shell as it is filled for strength before the base can be attached and peripherals added. Chris King was so detail-oriented that he even produced accurate decal sheets for the Hawkman logo and flags – the latter printed onto fabric to create a more authentic appearance.  Look out for the finished kit in a future post and then a gallery here all of its own!

20150615_105517The Flash Gordon 8″ figure made ready to have its joints filled and become a seamless pilot statue for the Rocket Cycle once repainted. 

 

Recent Posts

SLEDGE Presents…

What began as just another pipe-dream kickstarter project had the second of its glamorous big screen premiere’s in LA this month.  After months of shooting and editing, LIFE AFTER FLASH finally blazed across the screen in a private showing at the Prince Charles Cinema in London.

GORDON’S ALIVE! Was invited and has been along for the entire ride, following the progress of debut Director Lisa Downs and her Producer/Partner Ashley Pugh as their idea evolved from a modest fan-funded endeavour to an expansive long-awaited retrospective of the 1980 movie.  This past year, hours of footage featuring interviews with said fans, cast, crew and celebrity aficionados have been whittled down to a punchy two hours of almost nonstop fun and revelation about the cult classic.  Those seeking insider gossip straight from the set and anecdotes about the making of the film will come away satisfied but more than that, the documentary elegantly manages to tell the tale of the legacy and lasting effects through the eyes of the leading man.  Sam J. Jones story takes many unexpected twists and turns that are tragic as they are uplifting.  What follows is a review of both the movie and the night straight from the red carpet as one of the attendees…

Artist Franchesco’s poster with new upgrades by Bob Lindenmeyer…

The Savior of the Universe with a captive audience…

 

Life After Flash (2017) Directed by Lisa Downs

Review by M. Lakin, GORDONISALIVE.com

So what exactly does one do having once been the saviour of the Universe? How do you top that in terms of career or indeed in life? This is the basis of a new documentary destined to be as cult a phenomenon as the 1981 movie which spawned it, but ultimately offers so much more.   Indeed, this no-holds-barred account of Flash Gordon’s (actor Sam J. Jones) meteoric rise and just as spectacular fall from grace is surprisingly as tragic as it is uplifting.  He saved every one of us, but who, or what, would save him?

The original film (Directed by Mike Hodges), despite being considered a flop in the US, nonetheless endures to this day and has maintained an almost-feverish fanbase across the world.  Satisfying then, that after decades void of accompanying material, much of the footage is devoted to life during Flash as much as beyond, with rare glimpses into the making of the movie accompanied by sharp, contemporary recollections of cast, crew and fans, providing the kind of DVD extra every release has lacked to date.   There are, in fact, many fun revelations shared here that will impress even the most hardcore of fans courtesy of contributors like Brian May, Roberto Rodriguez and Alex Ross.

One is quick to point out that this shouldn’t be classed as mere supplementary material, however, as Downs cuts  back and forth between the archive footage and talking heads with considerable attention to pace, never allowing them to become too self-indulgent (except for the darling Peter Wyngarde, who’s sly indulgence almost steals the picture).  Indeed, it is as if the final cut was liberally sprinkled with uproarious quotes from man-mountain Brian Blessed at the most opportune moments, his anecdotes serving as both invaluable tales of the production and much-needed comic-relief.

Quite why a film about what is regarded as a camp classic would require comic relief is arguably the most compelling reason to watch this picture- as despite being disguised as a celebration of all things Flash, there is a wonderfully involving narrative thread about what Life After Flash holds for the stars of the film, but most appropriately, (and poignantly) Flash himself.

For it may be late in coming, but here Sam J. Jones finally proves himself to be a legitimate star, even if not on the screen as once anticipated.  Uniquely bombastic and All-American, Jones now divides his time between convention appearances and his Security company.  The journey is in turn bizarre and heartbreaking but at its end it’s understood how and why he’s still just a man, with a super-man’s courage…

 

Promo video from the private screening and afterparty…

My first Premiere..!

The Prince Charles has cultivated a reputation for showing the best alternative and cult films over the decades, so it was more than appropriate that Life After Flash should carry on the tradition. Even the uncomfortable velvet-covered seats could not dampen the enthusiasm of the audience as the much-anticipated result of their work played out publicly for the first time.  From the outset, the stirring music and amazing new series of neon-style graphics echoing the original film hit the right note with the fans and the atmosphere was electric throughout.

Once the picture was over we were invited to the afterparty held at swanky venue 101 Wardour St. where, in typical Lisa Downs style (see BFI 35th Anniversary Gala) no expense was spared to celebrate the debut of what will hopefully become an equally glittering career.  The stars were in attendance (with Sam Jones himself leading the procession through central London like the Pied Piper) and guests were treated to free champagne, a photo booth, raffle with spectacular prizes and an intimate Q&A with stars & Directors.

On a personal note, it was a pleasure for me to have time to sit and talk with fellow contributors and fans again, having met and made many friends during the 35th celebration.  By my side as usual was my old mate Chris King and we were delighted to see that Bob Lindenmayer had once again made the trip overseas for the occasion.  It was a blast talking to Ed Emmerson, recalling the ’80’s with David Dumbell and his lovely wife Maxine and fantastic to finally cross paths with David Oliver, prop collector and archivist extraordinaire.  Most of this took place, it should be noted, as Sam Jones himself casually tucked into his dinner literally feet away, still managing to mingle with fans, and keeping with tradition, last to leave.

At the time of writing Life After Flash is seeking a distributor.  One can’t help but think that parties like NETFLIX could, and should, rip this clean out of Lisa’s hands and get it onto the screens of fans across the world where it richly deserves to be.  Until then, GORDON’S ALIVE! will endeavour to bring you the latest on the project…

 

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