Come On Baby, Light My Firefly!

It took me four Marvel toys to make one DC! Can you identify them? This project was a big May Kennedy mood. This blog says Firefly frequently, so hopefully it’ll pick up some bonus traffic from diehard Browncoats.

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“Your future’s so bright, I have to wear shades. Because you’ll be aflame.”

Firefly only gets toys made for appearances outside of comics such as cartoons & video games. He even got a movie tie-in despite not appearing in one yet. (The new Spin Master may be the first comic based one if you don’t count that “movie” one or the Imaginext version.) Based on this pattern, I expected Diamond Select Toys to produce one for Gotham’s reinvention. The line died before that because this Firefly had cooties. Once again I find myself in the improbable position of having to customize Batman characters. Manufacturers are supposed to take care of that so I can focus on rest of DC!

Since I got the more screen accurate Hela with Skurge for Christmas, my original MCU Hela is redundant. Looking at the cowled head, I realized it could be modified into Gotham’s Firefly. Both Cate Blanchett & Michelle Veintimilla have similar smirks & generous noses. (There’s plenty of variety to noses, but the English vocabulary to describe them is sorely lacking. 85% of the adjectives commonly used to describe noses insult them. It’s as if there’s one standard yet undefined nose & everything else is abomniable.) The textured bodysuit works too. The downside is that she’d be too big. (Firefly ought to be as tall as Selina Kyle, whose toy is as tall as Marvel Legends Jessica Jones.) I’d also have to do lots of sanding on her torso & legs. (Plus her hips are notoriously wobbly.) So my strategy shifted to attaching Hela’s head to a new base body.

Although it’s based more off concept art than the final film, I’ve become attached to the original antlered Hela head with its nifty eye makeup. So I decided I needed another for this custom. Unfortunately this seems to be the one Hela head nobody is parting with anymore. The photo printing on the more plentiful heads makes the Blanchett likeness too strong & I already have enough spare scalps on my workbench. The only loose one I found was in a lot with other heads I don’t want. I asked the seller about just buying the one & they declined. Then the lot was relisted with even more fodder. (During this period I actually researched how to make a cast of her head, which I abandoned once I found out how much a tub of molding polymer costs.) When that didn’t sell after a month, I finally convinced them to let me just purchase her noggin. (Sadly it didn’t include an extra sword too.) This caused the biggest delay in the project.

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“Hark! I art thou from the future, come to forewarn thee of Ragnarok!”

When you find the perfect body for the custom you’re planning only to discover it’s out of scale with the head selected. Zorii Bliss would be perfect  if she wasn’t too tiny. Even Holdo, the tallest of the Star Wars ladies, was too petite. It turns out Holdo & Hela parts don’t mix.

I finally decided that if I wanted something that scaled with Diamond Select Toys, I should just buy a DST. (It’s funny how my original plan to make use of a duplicate figure disintegrated.) I picked Spider-Gwen since she’s the right size & is the closest thing DST made to a blank female body. She looks older than the pre-collegiate Gwen Stacy it’s inspired by. (I’ve been informed Earth-65’s Gwen Stacy’s age fluctuates in the comics, so maybe it’s appropriate?) The unmasked head could work for a Lilly Rabe or Brit Morgan custom. The hooded head works great as the original mask Bridgit made herself.  Out of her five alternate hands, she has no fists or web-shooting hands? More importantly, she inexplicably came with hands that’d work great with non-included guns.

If you look back at my earliest customs, most have scant recipes. As I went along, my process descriptions grew more loquacious even when the customs were simple repaints. Every time I complete a step on Firefly, it felt like a dozen more sprang up. Now you’ll have enough instructions to build your own Ms. Pike at home!

Having finally acquired the elusive Hela head, I had to desecrate it. (I’m so glad I didn’t sacrifice my other one!) I yanked out her antlers, half of which needed the adhesive boiled free. Those gaps were filled in. Her peg hole was dremeled wider to fit upon Gwen’s neck. Not screwing that up gave me a rather satisfied feeling. The mask ridges were sanded down & sculpted over. There’s a strip of Historex tape (also used on Professor Pyg & Ra’s al Ghul) pasted across her forehead for the edge of her cowl. (During this span she resembled Rule 63 classic Karnak.) Burn scars were carved & sculpted on.

Goggles were cut from a plastic lid with a clear rubber band strap. I made them less snug to avoid scraping the all the lovely paintwork on her face each time I removed them. Much like Mr. Freeze without a dome, Firefly looks incomplete without antenna. (This promo image doesn’t resemble any of her costumes, but it does have antenna.) So I poked pins into foam earpieces to make her less screen accurate.

Firefly

Warrior Nun Bridgit doesn’t understand red eye remover.

Bridgit’s original Firefly suit worked great. It looked authentically homemade without being embarrassing. Not only did it instantly resemble the comics costume (it helps that the Post-Crisis look isn’t complex), it still left room for improvement. Full face masks are also a rarity for supervillainesses. I wish the compound eye pattern of her goggles carried over to her later lenses, but it was probably dropped to make it easier to see where she was aiming a genuine flamethrower.

To make the alternate masked head of her original costume, I scored crosshatching into Spider-Gwen’s mask. Then I folded up the hood slightly & glued it in place. Peripheral vision maters! The bottom of her hood was snipped off so it wouldn’t collide with her backpack. I thought it needed a pair of antenna to really capture the classic Firefly feel, so I pierced her cowl with pins.

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“Cale flamed up good, but Joe burned the brightest.”

Spider-Gwen’s body didn’t have enough sculpted webs to evoke the texture of Pike’s suit. (If only DST made a Mayday Parker!) I had to carve in my own. Fortunately DST plastic is soft enough to avoid breaking blades. Since they didn’t have to actually be a web design, I was free to be messy & uneven.

I mostly went with Firefly’s season four costume because the extra chunks of scrap metal bolted onto it make it her most advanced. They add some color to a montotone suit.  It’s got a tactical sci-fi aesthetic to set it apart from most of Batman’s rogues. Camilla Perez wore this suit too, but I’m aiming for for a Veintimilla likeness. (Filming Drunk Parents conflicted with season three.) Why did no one warn me this would make so much extra work for myself? Those additional armor plates were cut from a cardboard then pin-pricked to simulate rivets. Please ignore how asymmetrical they turned out.

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“I’ll be your substitute Siren until Tabitha shows up.”

Looking for the perfect flamethrower was tricky. I was kicking myself for buying a loose AIM scientist on eBay mere days before Hasbro Pulse started selling them individually … until I looked at the street sweeper shotgun this one came with. The gunmetal one that came with Deadpool would be more ideal to reduce paint rub, but he’d miss it more. This gold version seems too low-tech for AIM anyway. The folded stock was sliced off the top & the handles extended with pieces of sprue. A pen spring was wrapped around the barrel. Although definitely not screen accurate, I keep the circular magazine attached as an additional fuel source to further its Tommy gun vibe. The fuel line is a tiny hose. Its nozzle was cut from a lead model spear. Yep, this custom is metal!

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The flame burst was made from hot glue judiciously applied around a twist tie. Getting it to attach to the flamethrower without snapping the nozzle off the barrel became the latest problem. The initial sculpture was twice as long as what you see here. Although very pleased with how it turned out, I had to cut it in twain because it was too heavy. Luckily I was able to extract the twist tie spine. Then I cut it open so it could wrap around the muzzle. The muzzle’s basin is too shallow to accommodate a support peg for the the flame for a more natural look.  At least Bridgit no longer has to worry about making herself crispy from a backfiring weapon anymore. A flamethrower connected to jet pack, possibly sharing the same fuel supply, still seems like an obvious design flaw though.

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“I am the Goddess of Fire! Does that make me Hestia?”

The AIM scientist also came with two identical harnesses when he’s only going to need one, so the other was converted into Bridgit’s belts. Because this was a crisscross harness, it had to be quartered. I deliberately used the more textured portions for her utility belt, although you can hardly notice with the plastic model lenses glued on as cartridges. The pouches were molded in the wrong direction, so they were cut off & glued on perpendicular to the waist belt. The smoother portions were used for the underboob belt with a strip of Historex tape on top. The buckles are cardboard & plastic. I’m so proud of myself that I didn’t superglue the waist swivel or chest balljoint stuck!

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“Now I’m the beauty & the baker!”

Her gauntlets, boots, thigh plate, & knee pads were cut from a circular piece of corrugated cardboard that came with a small cheesecake. Grooves were cut into her boots. I think her thigh plate is supposed to function like a holster, but there’s nothing on it to secure a her flamethrower. Maybe it’s magnetic? I finally realized it’s just to protect her thigh from having a giant gun smack directly against it. This piece was glued above the thigh swivel while its strap is a piece of Historex tape glued beneath the joint to keep it usable. (Her collar is also made of this.) For the rare instances she’s not wielding her weapon (pretty much just these photos), I installed an oversize hook fashioned from a paperclip to her belt. I am solving engineering problems that did not heretofore exist by methods as yet untried!

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Bridgit’s boots were modified to have less extreme heels in season four. Platform boots are absolutely not a thing you should wear whilst jumping across cafeteria benches wielding a flamethrower, but that’s what makes Firefly a bona fide supervillainess. They’re so impractical they loop around to awesome, so I had to keep them. The first version of her lifts were cut from three layers of foam rubber & spackled over for extra stability. Her weight still compressed them outward so she became less tall than when I first affixed them. They were too squishy looking, so I tore them off & replaced them with sawn down plastic brackets. I had to fill in the shallow grooves with black to make them stand out against glossy silver. It’s more cartoony than I would’ve liked, but the linework distracts from the numerous imperfections that would’ve been more obvious otherwise. These are boots fit for both clubbing & curb stomping!

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“So you got wings right off the bat, but I can’t even get a cane or any question marks on my suit?”

I definitely wanted to give Brigit the winged jetpack she should’ve gotten in Gotham. (The closest she got to flying was when she was shot in the back by a star of Firefly, but at least it reset her to her original actress.) The jetpack that comes with the Walmart exclusive Black Widow would work great with wings attached. Unfortunately it proved impossible to get one loose for a reasonable price & my Natasha won’t part with hers. So I went with MCU Wasp’s winged backpack instead. The Marvel Select version is permanently attached to her back, so I had to invest in the slightly smaller Marvel Legends version. The whole transaction cost me $6.66, which I took as a good omen. This one has more appropriate insectile wings than comics Firefly. So overall it wound up working better than my original plan.

A hole was drilled into her back to accommodate the wingpack’s plug. I expected to be getting Black Widow’s slide-on jetpack by this point, so I’d already glued on the unberboob harness. That made me extra nervous about wrecking her torso so late in the game, but it was surprisingly non-disastrous. Foam filled in the gaps on the sides of her backpack & provided shoulder support. I nixed the wires from her pack to her shoulder pads so they wouldn’t constantly be wrecked whilst turning her heads. An aerosol spray nozzle was harvested for its exhaust thruster (installed where the series had a fuel tank). The two canisters are from an airplane model with googly eyes glued to the ends. The completed backpack looks like an adorable face! I don’t have any flight stands strong enough to support her  & my camera is all fritzy, so you’ll have to imagine the flying action shots for the time being.

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“If we believe there’s even a one percent chance that she’s got an S-shield on her belt buckle, we have to take it as an absolute certainty that she is our enemy!” Grappling Hook v. Jet Pack: Dawn of Ascension

Firefly was Gotham’s first costumed villain unless you count Black Mask’s dad or Electrocutioner. Although this iteration was genderswapped (Bridgit Pike & Brie Larvan are stealing all the bug-villain gigs from dudes!), they resisted sexing-up her look like so many villainesses. Half of Bridgit’s face was scarred like Two-Face but on the opposite side (or the same half as Sandor Clegane). She doesn’t even try to seduce anyone during crimes. When you consider Batman’s female rogues (Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Talia al Ghul, Nocturna, Roxy Rocket) this is practically revolutionary. Also novel is her being a Latina criminal who’s not a narco unlike Carmen Guerra, whom Veintimilla played on The Gifted.

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My Legion of Horribles is missing its TV-accurate Mr. Freeze because it was either buy him or the parts needed to finish Firefly. I speak for all of us when I say I made the right call.

Hugo Strange made Bridgit fireproof by possibly melding a new suit suit to her body.  The Immortal Arson Fist never complains about it like characters in similar situations, so Hugo must’ve added secret zippers to her Silverhawks cosplay. She can remove her gloves & stick them into molten metal without complaint. He could’ve healed her scars better, but at least he gave her nifty red irises. Even the exposed part of Bridgit’s face no longer burns, although she mysteriously lost one eyebrow by the time she resurfaces in season three. I think her scars changed too? Inconsistency? In my Gotham? Let’s presume he modified her lungs to be immune to smoke inhalation too. Dressing like a baked potato makes the Empress of Incineration resistant to mind control.

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How Phil Coulson really became Ghost Rider.

The obscure light-based Firefly got a complete grimdark pyromaniac overhaul in Knightfall. I didn’t even realize that wasn’t how Firefly’s always been until the Pre-Crisis version popped up on Brave & The Bold. The original seems like a combo of Rainbow Raider (He didn’t exist before 1980?) & Mysterio but predated both. Arson was already Firebug’s shtick, so why not revamp him? It’s still weird how Firefly’s popularity eclipsed Killer Moth’s despite being more one-note.

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“‘Thanks for getting me a guest spot on your TV show, partner,’ he said sarcastically.”

Although Arrow used the classic Garfield Lynns version, its execution of Firefly was a huge waste with an unintentionally hilarious death. Gotham’s reinvention of her a literal Cinderella was far superior. I’m still mad she didn’t go out in a blaze of glory in the final season! There should’ve been an episode where Bridgit Pike sets fire to the rain.

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“Pyro taught me how to make fire animals for your kid’s next birthday party!”

Bridgit Pike has been incorporated into regular DC continuity. “Lady Firefly’s” armor resembles a more colorful version of Firefly from The Batman. (Firefly is rumored to be part of the unrelated The Batman movie.) In addition to a wingless jetpack & wrist flamethrowers like Pyro, her suit also has absurdly long antenna. Comic Bridgit doesn’t appear to have the same origin as her televisual counterpart nor a strong likeness to either actress. Since she debuted after yet another reboot, it’s a pity continuity wasn’t rejiggered to make Pike the original Firefly.

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Do Firefly’s antenna serve a purpose beyond aesthetics? Are they a hands-free device for contacting employers? Do they scan police bands? Since it doesn’t have any apparent controls, is it a means of telepathically controlling her jetpack? Or do they allow her to listen to sick beats on the radio? There are many quasi-romantic songs about arson. Cheese it with all the willful fire-setting, you horny music Ians! Also equating passion with fire evokes STDs, so update your metaphors. Tell us your favorite torch song in the comments so the whole world will know you’re a freak.

Bridgit may’ve gotten horrifically burnt playing with fire, but she arose from the ashes like a dark phoenix to get back up on that flaming horse. So that’s inspirational! This Dieselpunk demolitions dame doesn’t need fire mansplained to her! So now you know what I’ve been laboring on for months instead of my second novel!

LegionOfHorribles

The Legion of Horribly Out of Scale

6 thoughts on “Come On Baby, Light My Firefly!

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