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    Tested Builds: Real-Life LEGO MiniFig Cosplay!

    Our latest project with Frank Ippolito lives at the intersection of creepy and amazing. For this year's Comic-Con, Frank designed, sculpted, and painted a LEGO-inspired mask, made to look like a real-life version of a minifig. We're calling it the creeppyfig, and it found its way home wandering through Comic-Con's exhibit hall.

    The Creature Sculptures of Dominic Qwek

    We stop by the booth of artist Dominic Qwek at this year's Comic-Con. We're big fans of Dominic's sculptures and resin kits, and chat with him about his digital sculpting process and how it differs from working with physical materials like clay. His work inspires us!

    Simone and Norm Tour Comic-Con 2016!

    The Tested team strolls through the massive Comic-Con exhibit hall in our annual walkthrough of the show! It's Simone's first Comic-Con, and we make sure to stop by the Star Wars, Weta Workshop, and LEGO booths to gush over costumes, collectibles, and artwork. Here are some of the best things we saw in our whirlwind tour of the floor!

    Star Trek Beyond and Star Wars Costumes from Anovos

    With every big sc-fi film release, we look forward to costume replicas that fans can cosplay at conventions. Anovos debuted new costumes from Star Trek and Star Wars at Comic-Con, and we chat with them about their process for sourcing fabrics, replicating patterns, and making costume kits.

    eFX Collectibles' Black Panther and Suicide Squad Prop Replicas

    We get up close with the beautiful helmet and prop replicas made by eFX collectibles at Comic-Con. Chatting with eFX founder Bryan Ono, we learn about how they're fabricating the Black Panther helm from Captain America: Civil War, and the process of replicating Harley Quinn's weapons from suicide squad.

    Jurassic Park Prop Replicas at Comic-Con 2016

    We check in with the team at Chronicle Collectibles to see their latest Jurassic Park statues, marquettes, and replica props. We learn about the sourcing of the reference assets from production archives and private collections, and what fans can expect next.

    Cutaway Millennium Falcon Model Miniature!

    One of our first stops at this year's Comic-Con was the Quantum Mechanix booth, where we found some amazing new scale models. John Eblan of QmX's FX Cinema Arts shows us an incredible cutaway Millennium Falcon, a new Star Trek ship, and a fully realized Milano from Guardians of the Galaxy! (Minor Star Trek Beyond spoilers within)

    Sean Bishop's Ghostbusters Ecto-1 Replica!

    Ghostbusters fans have been making replicas of props and costumes from the film for decades. But not many people have taken on building their own Ecto-1 replica. We meet Sean Bishop, who has built a highly-detailed reproduction of the iconic car, both outside and in!

    What's in Our Camera Bag for Comic-Con 2016!

    We're down in San Diego for Comic-Con! As we prep for a week of travel and production, Joey shows you the camera gear he's packed to shoot and edit the videos we're making from the convention. We discuss how we go about shooting our show floor videos, and what new gear we're excited to test on location!

    Tested Goes to the 2016 Replica Prop Forum Party!

    Every year, members of the Replica Prop Forum gather to share their projects and works in progress. Here are some highlights from this year's RPF party, including great replicas of movie props from Star Trek, Jurassic Park, comic books, and even Pixar films. Check out that Pizza Planet Truck!

    Star Wars TIE Bomber Cross Section Model

    We catch up with modelmaker Jonathan Faber at the Replica Prop Forum party to get an update on his Star Wars TIE Bomber projects, including his recently completed cutaway model. Jonathan explains how he designed the imagined interiors of the ship and points out some of its great detail.

    Brian Mix's "Lost in Space" Analog Computer Replica

    Replica prop builder Brian Mix is obsessed with the 60s sci-fi show Lost in Space, and has built a working analog replica of the computer on board the Jupiter 2 spaceship. He explains how the prop was sourced from a real Burroughs B205 computer, which was also the same one used in the Adam west Batman show!

    Adam Savage Visits the Stanley Kubrick Exhibition!

    After making its way around the world, the incredible exhibition of Stanley Kubrick's work has arrived in San Francisco. Adam Savage tours the exhibit to show you some of his favorite items. From rare camera equipment to pre-production artwork and film props, these objects connect us to one of cinema's greatest minds.

    Tested: Radeon RX480 Video Card Review

    Going for second place seems like a weird business strategy, but the RX480 GPU fits in with AMD's CPU strategy of trying hard to stay in second place in a race where only two major players exist.

    It's also a smart strategy, at least on the GPU end. Make the most of what you have, and go for the mass market. The potential volume for $200 graphics cards dwarfs that of cards like the GTX 1070, which costs about twice as much.

    So can a $240 graphics card deliver performance necessary for modern DX12 gaming? Let's take a look at the numbers – first, the GPU specs, then performance.

    By the Numbers

    Nvidia's GTX 970 looks to be AMD's main target for the RX480 when it comes to performance. So let's take a look at the specs of the two GPUs side-by-side (chart below).

    Nvidia shader ALU (called CUDA cores by the company), and AMD's shader cores (which AMD refers to as stream processors) differ architecturally, so you can't really compare performance based on the number of ALUs. The clock frequency for the RX480 disappoints a little – I'd expect more from 14nm FinFET logic. The good news lies with the die size. At 230mm2, AMD likely has some pricing flexibility.

    I also appreciate the fact that AMD finally dumped the DVI port. Owners of older displays may be disappointed, but it's really time to move beyond DVI to a more modern interface. An owner of a DVI-only monitor will need to buy an adapter, however, unless they're willing to replace said monitor.

    Beyond the raw specs, AMD offers several interesting features which Nvidia can't quite match. The Polaris GPU includes native support for FP16 (16-bit floating point, aka half-precision), which can be useful in certain types of GPU compute applications, but unlikely to factor in much with games. Nvidia's Pascal converts FP16 to FP32, then uses that converted format, which reduces FP16 performance a bit.

    The geometry engine includes features supporting small, instanced objects, such as an index cache. That will help games which uses instancing, mostly real-time or turn-based strategy games which might throw hundreds of similar objects onto the screen.

    Testing a Micro RC Model Bomber Plane

    It wasn't so long ago that small, lightweight RC models simply didn't exist. It took some pretty significant leaps in the miniaturization of batteries and radio components before anyone dared to dream that tiny RC aircraft were even possible. Now, these ultra-micro (UM) ships are wildly popular and can be had in a wide range of off-the-shelf kits.

    My first UM model was the ParkZone Vapor. It looked a lot like you would expect for a model that could be comfortably flown in most living rooms. It had a spindly skeletal frame made of plastic and composite materials. The tail surfaces and 14.75 inch wing were loosely draped with thin Mylar. It looked more like a kite than an airplane. But looks can be deceiving.

    My first ultra-micro model was the ParkZone Vapor, a fun model with looks that reflected its slow flying abilities.

    That first Vapor (and others) proved to be a great flying model at indoor venues and in calm outdoor weather. It was so lightweight (.5 ounce) that it was nearly impossible to damage from a crash. The Vapor flew slowly enough that you could walk beside it. This model was a success story in nearly every respect. I credit the Vapor with kickstarting widespread interest in the UM class of RC models.

    My latest UM model, the E-flite UMX B-25 Mitchell ($120), provides a yardstick to illustrate the huge strides that have been made in small model design and technology. You don't have to look very hard to find traces of the Vapor in the B-25, but the differences are more apparent. The Mitchell has an onboard stabilization system, two motors, and removable landing gear. This airplane is more sophisticated than some of my models that are many times its size.

    Analyzing the UMX B-25

    This is how the UMX B-25 looks out of the box. It just requires radio set-up to be ready for flight.

    The aspect of the Mitchell that is perhaps most appreciated by RC pilots is that this is a recreation of the famous WWII bomber by the same name. With a 21.7 inch wingspan, the E-flite B-25 is about 1/38 scale. It lacks the level of detail that you would find in a static plastic model, but it is quite good for an RC model of any size. The scale outline is very accurate, so there is no question what airplane this model represents. The designers even captured the characteristic gull wing of the real Mitchell.

    Like most UM models, the B-25 is completely assembled at the factory. The packaging doubles as a storage and travel container. This model also comes with a factory paint job which represents the typical olive drab color scheme and insignia used early in the war. The kit includes a set of decals that allows you do replicate the specific markings of any of the Mitchells used in the famous Doolittle Raid.

    Hands-On with BattleBots RC Toys!

    Something we were surprised to encounter at this season's filming of BattleBots were RC toy versions of fan-favorite robots. Hexbug was on site in the builder's pit to show off their upcoming BattleBot toys, based off of four competitors. We chat with Jason from Hexbug to learn how these toys were designed from the originals, and see what we can do in the tabletop battlebox.

    Imported Warbirds: Appreciating the Nanchang CJ-6

    For many airplane enthusiasts, the term "warbird" invokes images of P-51 Mustangs, T-6 Texans and other American-made military classics. There is also a wide variety of lesser-known foreign aircraft that satisfy the warbird distinction. These metric machines have found favor with many American owners who appreciate the non-traditional attributes that only an imported warbird can provide. I recently spoke with the owner of a foreign warbird to better understand the benefits and challenges that these airplanes offer.

    Flying For Good

    Kimberly and Bill Mills are the driving forces behind Mills Aviation Charities (MAC), which provides scholarships for college students pursuing aviation-oriented degrees. A large part of the organization's outreach efforts involves flying its aircraft at various public events. I visited the organization's hangar in Florida to get a closer look at one of those airplanes, the Nanchang CJ-6.

    The Nanchang CJ-6 is a Chinese military trainer that has found favor with civilian owners due to its ruggedness and affordability. (Chris Dilley photo)

    The CJ-6 is a 2-seat, single-engine trainer that formerly served in the Chinese military. Now that it is a civilian airplane, the Mills' colorful Chinese warbird is one of the most photographed of the American-owned CJ-6s. The couple can be found in the MAC CJ-6 performing in airshows and flyovers across many states…often in formation with other CJ-6 owners. They even host an annual airshow at their home airport in Palm Coast, Florida.

    If you fancy yourself an airplane aficionado but, you're not familiar with the CJ-6, don't feel bad. I felt the same way when I first stepped into the MAC hangar. I walked out with a much better understanding of the airplane and why it's so appealing to private owners.