The Perfect Alt-Art X-wing Miniatures Card

A good friend of mine gifted me the perfect “alternative artwork” card for an X-wing miniature I painted up last year. The ship I painted is a Kihraxz Fighter, and I painted it up with the old crimson and navy blue color scheme used by the terrorist organization from the old G.I. Joe toys and comics, Cobra.

In the X-wing Miniatures game there is a pilot for that particular ship who goes by the name Talonbane Cobra. I don’t recall whether or not this fact inspired me to paint that particular ship in “Cobra colors” (I don’t recall it doing so, but it probably did — at least on a subconscious level).

Anyway, some other X-wing Miniatures aficionado must have also been a Cobra fan, because someone made up an alt-art game card for that particular pilot and then had a bunch of them printed up professionally on actual card stock. A friend of mine snagged a copy at the X-wing Regional Championship earlier this month as a gift for me.

The artwork appears to have been done by Paul La Rue. I don’t know if he was commissioned to create the card or if he is a fan of the game himself (I suspect the latter, judging by the rest of his artwork on his site). Check out his site if you want to see more great alt-art card for the X-wing Miniatures game.

New Leather Jacket

cobra1sI recently purchased a bespoke leather jacket from a company in Pakistan called Mont5. I had been casually looking for a nice leather jacket for a year or so ever since losing so much weight and I finally found a great looking jacket on their site. I did a little investigating into the company and it seemed legit, so I figured I’d finally buy a nice leather jacket.

I noticed the company did custom laser engraving, so I inquired about getting a Cobra logo engraved onto one of the front pockets. The employee at Mont5 who got back to me confirmed that this was possible (for an additional charge) and was excited at the prospect of doing so. What followed were several months of frustration, but, in the end, I finally got the jacket I wanted: a tailored, top-grain leather jacket with a cobra logo etched into it.

As fantastic as the final product is, I have to admit that the entire process of getting it into my hands could have been a lot smoother. I have no choice but to lay the blame entirely at Mont5’s feet for delaying my acquisition of the jacket by three whole months (so much for wearing it over the summer). I really have to wonder what was going on in the minds of some of the people working there, given the very clear instructions I had repeatedly provided them.

Here is a timeline of how everything went down:

May 19, 2017

I email Mont5, inquiring as to the possibility of doing the custom engraving on the front pocket. I provide a photoshopped image of their jacket (taken from their website) with the desired logo on it.

May 20, 2017

Mont5 responds. The engraving is, indeed, doable (for an additional charge).

I respond saying the additional charge is reasonable. I also ask about a possible second engraving on the back, providing another photoshopped image of what I want.

May 24, 2017

Mont5 responds. The second engraving is doable (for an additional charge).

We email back and forth, hammering out the details. I provide Mont5 with a vector graphic of the Cobra logo.

May 30, 2017

Sizing and other details all finalized. The order for the jacket is officially placed and paid for.

Jun 19, 2017

I receive the jacket. DHL dings me about $75 in import charges (surprise, surprise — DHL are complete crooks).

Unfortunately, both logos are about 50% of the size they were supposed to be. This is very odd since I provide photoshopped images depicting exactly what I wanted. I contact Mont5 with my disappointment.

Jun 20, 2017

Mont5 admits error. The larger engraving that I wanted on the back is too large for the engraving machine, and the sizes for both engravings were not properly communicated to the manufacturing department. Mont5 offers to either refund my money if I send the jacket back, or refund half the cost if I want to keep the jacket.

I refused both options. I really like the jacket, and I am certain that what I asked for could be done. Communication back and forth begins. My contact at Mont5 agrees to look into the possibility of doing a larger engraving.

Jun 23, 2017

Mont5 requests the jacket be sent back while they work on making me a new one.

Jun 26, 2017

I send the jacket back. DHL charges me a ludicrous amount — over $100 — but I accept it as a sunk cost at this point.

Jul 3, 2017

I hear from Mont5. They refused delivery of the jacket because DHL wanted another $75 from them for import charges. According to Mont5, this is apparently illegal since the parcel is a returned commercial product. DHL doesn’t give a shit.

Jul 11, 2017

DHL notifies me that the package was rejected. Over the next few days I talk with DHL on multiple occasions, with each time the conversation going as if it were the first time I’ve contacted them. I’m not sure if DHL is just incompetent or is trying to wear me down to the point where I will accept to paying the import fees for Mont5 to receive the jacket.

I relay the hassles I experience with DHL to Mont5. They instruct me to not pay DHL anything and just consider the jacket a lost cause. DHL contacts me and wants to send the jacket back to me, with additional charges, of course. I tell DHL to return the package while secretly having no intention of ever accepting delivery since I’m not paying them another dime. I cut off all contact with DHL, blocking their number from my phone.

Jul 17, 2017

Mont5 informs me that there is no way they can print the second engraving on the back at the desired size. The initiate a full refund of the jacket.

I contact Mont5 and say that I’m okay with having a new jacket made with only the one engraving on the front pocket. I instruct that the front pocket engraving needed to be larger and re-positioned slightly.

Jul 18, 2017

Mont5 accepts the request to redo the jacket with only the one engraving which is small enough for their engraving machine to do.

Aug 1, 2017

Mont5 sends me images of the completed jacket before sending it to me. The logo is, again, the wrong size and position. There is also a minor issue with seams at the bottom of the jacket not aligning properly. I send back more photoshopped images showing exactly what I want.

Aug 4, 2017

Mont5 sends me new images of the engraving. The logo is positioned correctly now, but it is still not the correct size. I send Mont5 yet another photoshopped image of what I want, this time sending them an image of what I want overlayed on top of the photo of the etching they sent me so they can more easily see the difference in size (which is already so significant enough that the disparity should have been impossible to miss).

Aug 14, 2017

I email Mont5, asking for an update on the progress of the jacket.

Aug 15, 2017

The person at Mont5 I have been dealing with all this time responds with an apology and explains how he is in the middle of being moved to another department within the company.

Aug 25, 2017

I email Mont5, asking for an update on the progress of the jacket. Mont5 responds the same day, apologizing for the delay in the progress of the jacket.

The entire process is handed off to a second employee at Mont5, who sends me new images of the engraving. The engraving is, again, not resized anywhere close to what I want. I respond with another photoshopped image of exactly what I want.

Aug 29, 2017

Mont5 sends me new images. Now the etching is even smaller, and its position is no longer correct! I send them another image of exactly what I want. I am almost at the end of my rope here and am beginning to wonder if I’m just being trolled.

Aug 30, 2017

Mont5 sends me new images. FINALLY the engraving is at the correct size and location — almost exactly matching every single goddamned photoshopped image I sent them previously. Images of the completed jacket will be sent to me in a few days.

Sep 12, 2017

I email Mont5, asking for an update on the progress of the jacket.

Sep 13, 2017

Mont5 responds, telling me that images will be forthcoming within 24 hours.

Sep 14, 2017

I email Mont5, asking for an update on the progress of the jacket.

Sep 17, 2017

Final images of the completed jacket sent. Everything looks good. I request some more photos so I can see more of the jacket (i.e. the cuffs, the back, etc.).

Sep 18, 2017

More images of the completed jacket are sent. However, unlike all images previously emailed to me by Mont5, these images are on Google Drive instead of being attached to the email. Mont5 neglected to give me access to the folder on Google Drive, so I can’t see the images.

Sep 19, 2017

The additional images are recent as email attachments. Everything looks good and I give the go-ahead to send me the jacket.

Sep 20, 2017

Mont5 informs me that the jacket is on its way. I email Mont5 and inquire as to getting reimbursed for the cost of attempting to ship the first jacket back (Mont5’s website says several times that the cost to do returns will be paid by the company).

Later the same day I get an email from DHL about the package. This time the import fees are only $15. Great! I use the link DHL provided in their email to quickly pay it online.

Sep 21, 2017

Mont5 emails me the tracking information for the jacket.

Sep 25, 2017

DHL delivers the jacket to my house. I find this odd because I asked Mont5 to send the new jacket to me at work. I figure they may have gotten mixed up and used my home address provided by Paypal or something. I accept delivery.

Upon opening the package I discover that this is the first jacket that I originally tried to send back to Mont5. DHL tricked me into paying to receive the jacket back! DHL saw that the same company was sending me a second package so they emailed me asking for payment on the import charges — only the charges were for the package I originally sent to Mont5 which Mont5 then refused and which I then further refused to pay for to receive back from DHL!

DHL never emails me about the import charges on the second jacket that Mont5 has just sent back.

Sep 26, 2017

DHL delivers the new jacket to my work. I’m not there to pay for the import fees, so I have to go to their office to pick it up the next day.

Sep 27, 2017

I go and pick up the jacket. The import charges are only about $20 this time, which is more reasonable.

The jacket is perfect! I let Mont5 know I received the jacket and am very happy with it.

Sep 28, 2017

Mont5 responds saying they are glad I am happy with the jacket.

Unfortunately, they can’t refund the shipping charges I paid to send the first jacket back because they technically never actually received the jacket. Plus, they had to redo the jacket four or five times because of “logo changes” and are actually taking a loss on the whole thing.

WTF? I’m not responsible for Mont5 refusing delivery of the jacket I sent back, nor am I responsible for the inability of their employees to follow simple instructions. I mean, how many times did I have to send them an exact photo of what I wanted in order for them to finally get it right?

I let Mont5 know this is unacceptable, and they eventually accept responsibility and reimburse me for the shipping charges.

Despite all the hassle, I’m glad I got the jacket. I enjoy it so much that I’d go through all that nonsense again for it.


Update: I let a draft of this post sit for a while before putting it up.  Man, was I ever upset when I wrote this, lol.  I’ve gotten over that and am still really enjoying the jacket.  I’d definitely recommend Mont5 to anyone thinking of buying a leather jacket online — just be very, very careful about requesting anything customized.

X-wing: Cobra

Not content with ruling the entire world, Cobra Commander has set his sights on outer space!  Piloted by highly trained Star-Vipers, this new fighter — Codenamed Nemesis — extends Cobra Command’s grasp to the stars.

I painted a Kihraxz fighter from the X-wing Miniatures Game over the past couple of days.  I wanted to come up with a color scheme that would look nice, and it occurred to me to try the common colors used in a lot of old Cobra vehicles from the early 80s G.I. Joe toy line.  I think it turned out rather well.

The Cobra insignias on the side didn’t turn out as well as I’d like.  I created them using water-slide decal paper I purchased for my laser printer. The decal material is very thin and transparent, and the dark blue background of the ship overpowered the thin layer of toner that was printed onto it. To remedy this I tried to hand-paint parts of the Cobra symbol so that they would show through the decal. It worked quite well, but my estimates on the size of the logos was not quite spot on.

Original paint job:

“Cobra” paint job:        I wish my smartphone could take better quality photos. So much of the detail is lost in these images.

I like this color scheme and I may try it out on more ships.

Shame On You, Stephen Sommers

Stephen, take a good look at the shitty mask you made for the Cobra Commander in G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra:

What the hell were you thinking?  This looks like someone melted a plastic tray on Cobra Commander’s face!  There’s no clear style; It’s just an amorphous blob.  And to make matters worse, the whole thing is reflective, making it impossible to distinguish what little visual coherence the mask had any way.  Well, if you wanted to show the world what the love child of Darth Vader and the T-1000 would look like, then mission accomplished.

Yes, I know that movie came out in 2009, but it still bugs me that you made such a stupid mistake.  All you had to do was throw a bag over Cobra Commander’s head and it would have been perfect:

See?  But nooooo, you had to get some art school flunky to come up with a mask that a) bore no resemblance to anything the Cobra Commander ever wore in any cartoon, comic, or toy, and b) looked like a lacquered elephant turd.  But, I suppose a decent costume would have been too much to ask from the man who gave the world all those mind numbing Mummy/Scorpion King movies and the abominable Van Helsing film (I still liked Deep Rising, though).

Now look at what Jon Chu — whose entire filmography is made up of stupid dance movies, for goodness’ sake — managed to give us in the upcoming sequel, G.I. Joe: Retaliation (background added by yours truly):

Now that’s Cobra Commander!

See?  That wasn’t so hard now was it, Stephen?