13 January 2018

Old Man Carl - Prepwork 5: Last Lap

13.01.2018 -
  • Reworked barrel of the Python, and roughed-in new grips.
  • Added (sculpted) Carol's "trench tantō".
14.01.2018 - Augmented volume of left thigh.
15.01.2018 - 
  • Fitted tsuka/tsuba; replaced tsuka.
  • Added final volume to hair.
17.01.2018 -Sinister half of tsuka re-laced.

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

Old Man Carl - Intermezzo (2): Step reduction

In my review of "Old Carl", I indicated how MAiM suggests dealing with the "layering" that is part and parcel of the 3d-printing process: “use . . . a small flat brush. Wet the brush [with acetone] and stroke up and down on the areas on your model that might show steps. You will see that the steps disappear instantly. Repeat it if necessary! 

NOT! The steps may disappear instantly momentarily; but once the acetone evaporates, you are back to square 1!! I personally had my doubts that acetone would do the trick, especially after seeing it applied in the video, and the fact that they recommended using the solvent to wash the figure. Acetone is a powerful solvent that is merciless on the wrong medium--and virtually useless on the "right" one.

If you are striving for a non-textured finish, you will have your work cut out for you. Me? For the most part, I like the texturing provided by the layering. And with localized tweaks here and there, will achieve a most agreeable canvas. 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

12 January 2018

Old Man Carl - Intermezzo: TDL

As I fast approach the mid-way point in the prepwork, I thought I'd share with you the TDL to date:


All items are at the very least IP. 

More to follow. . .

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

07 January 2018

Old Man Carl - Prepwork 4: Lucille, etc.

Prepwork is rather slow-going due to the brittleness and hardness of the resin. Having said that, two observations:
  • If you proceed methodically, you can use the stratified resin to your advantage. 
  • It is a near-absolute certainty that if the right resin can be found, we are gazing upon the future of this hobby. 

Lucille was designed with the proximal third of the bat buried in the folds of the poncho: this sim- ply does not work for yours truly! So I extended the length of the bat with a piece of scrap resin; drilled-out the hand; hollowed-out the appropriate fold/s of the poncho; and re-positioned the bat. PERFECT! [NOTE: Upon review, the proportions of the bat didn't quite work. As best I can deter- mine, the "tail wagging the dog" was the barbed wire! So, I decided to replace the bat in its en- tirety, and carve one from birch, essentially making a 17% smaller-version of the one I made for Negan.]

I also spent some time with the hat, re-scaling (enhancing and/or reducing) the brim.

Finally, the sheriff's badge (star). The kit is designed with a 6-pointed star: yet another glaring ex- ample of a designer's failure to do his/her homework! The badge of the SD of the fictional King County, GA is a 7-pointed star!! This will be addressed in the days and weeks to come. 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

05 January 2018

Old Man Carl - Prepwork 3: The Katana

In the course of the pre-receipt evaluation of the figure, I had come to the conclusion that the katana would have to undergo some serious rework, at the very least. Upon receipt, I saw that while my worst fears were for naught, the katana would be the focus of my prepwork travails. 
The two incidents described in the previous posts merely underscored the obvious.

The tsuka was quickly repaired with a spot of superglue; however, that did nothing to mitigate the bulk and squarish x-section of the grip. I intend to reduce the tsuka to the appropriate conforma- tion, and re-braid the grip. Finally, I intend to reshape--and rescale!--the tsuba to its circular form.

The braiding on the saya should be reworked as well, but given the scale and the fact that it is a historically-questionable item, I decided to leave it as is. Which brings us to the broken section of the saya. Rather than glue and refinish, I went ahead and carved the entire section of the saya below the braiding from a piece of scrap resin.

By way of closing, I would point out that the katana has been re-scaled as necessary. . . 

More to follow. . . 

FOLLOW-UP 06.01.2018. . . In the course of fitting the replacement section of the saya, I de- cided to remove the tsuka-tsuba to facilitate the re-braiding of the former, and the truing of the latter. With all "obstructions" removed, I was faced with yet another over-coiffed subject! The hair, in this instance, is used primarily as a filler of deadspace and/or undercuts, but its enormity is ridiculous! So I began paring it down to a more realistic--and complementary!--volume.

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

Old Man Carl - Prepwork 2a

In my previous post, I mentioned that as "indicated in the introductory review, I had a laundry-list of items to address in my pre-receipt evaluation of the figure. I am very pleased (and not a little relieved!) to report that the figure is pretty much good-to-go OOB!" I also indicated that I would "comment on any unexpected encounters in future posts. . ."

I will freely admit that my first unexpected encounter occurred in the process of removing the scaffolding from the figure: approx. 1/3 of the katana's tsuka decided to "snap" off. I say "snap" as it describes what appeared to have happened, but in reality, the tsuka separated. The only thing holding the tsuka in place was the scaffolding--once that was removed, the piece was free to do as it pleased. Upon closer examination, it appears that there was a micro-pause in the printing process, and the two sections were not fused.

Today, I was finishing the distal portion of the katana's saya, when the identical thing happened! 3-d printing is where resin casting was some 35 years ago, so these "incidents" should come as no great surprise. These are the equivalent of the air-bubble honeycombs of yore! Still. . . 

PS--"If you haven't replaced your burrs and cutters in a while, NOW is the time to do it!" SERIOUSLY!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

25 December 2017

Old Man Carl - Prepwork 2

As I indicated in the introductory review, I had a laundry-list of items to address in my pre-receipt evaluation of the figure. I am very pleased (and not a little relieved!) to report that the figure is pretty much good-to-go OOB! 

The only item that absolutely requires a second-look is the sling to Michonne's katana. Yet even this is a minor alteration that can be addressed in 1-2 hrs! 

The rest of the prepwork is SOP finishing. I am reducing the bulk and defining some of the folds of the poncho, but the greatest challenge in this will be dealing with the hardness of the resin. If you haven't replaced your burrs and cutters in a while, NOW is the time to do it!

That's about it! I will comment on any unexpected encounters in future posts. . . 

Until then. . . 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

24 December 2017

Harley Quinn - SS: Brief Interlude (Critique)

In my review of the figure, I lamented the choice of molding given that the legs were finely tex- tured with an "engraved" diamond/lozenge fishnet pattern.

I have several problems with this, most of which could have been avoided by:
  • Using the right kind of resin. 
  • Using a butterfly/one-piece mold.
  • Pressure casting.
  • And in lieu of the above, not texturing the legs at all!

WHAT, say you?! Not texture the legs when she's wearing fishnets??!! In either of the scales pro- vided, the fishnet pattern would be barely discernible. Don't believe me? Take any of the hi-res images of Ms. Robbie in costume available on-line, reduce it to the size of the figure before you, and tell me what you see. . . 

Now, kudos to Andrea for providing what they did! If the appropriate medium and molding/casting method had been used, I would gladly turn a blind eye to what follows. . .

Fishnets come in a variety of patterns, mesh sizes, etc. Harley has a hexagonal mesh, not a lo- zenge! Also, fishnet stockings a very plastic; i.e., the sizes and shapes of the mesh conform to the underlying leg and any movement of the same. The designers of the figure did not take either aspect into account, and while providing a very fine lozenge mesh pattern, it is constant through- out, save across the buttocks. This would serve to "flatten" the legs. 

Lastly, the pattern is "engraved". This makes it nigh unto impossible to paint, as the mesh is "below" the skin! [nb: If you look at the boxart, the hose are not painted at all!]

I have come up with A solution to all of this, which I will elaborate in greater depth when the time comes.

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

Harley Quinn - SS: Prepwork 1

To date:
  • Permanently attached left leg.
  • Cut off bat; drilled-out bat grip in left hand to accommodate haft of mallet.
  • Ground-off "Daddy's Lil Girl".
  • Pegged (thigh) and fitted right leg.

More to follow. . .

26.12.2017. . . Phase 1 grinding/removal of choker has been completed. All the visible tattoos, save for the self-applied "prison" tats on the thighs, have been designed and scaled: 6 down, 12 to go. . .

31.12.2017. . . Both legs have now been pegged (large "non-skid" paper clips). I will be restoring the soles of the boots (DONE) and fitting the figure to its workbase (DONE) in the next fortnight.

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

"Daddy's Lil Girl Monster - Intro & Review

Andrea Miniatures has done it again! In what is slowly emerging as a Christmas tradition, they have released a figure that I simply cannot do without. The first, as you might recall, was “Dra- gon Lady”, released in December, 2014. This year’s offering is no less spectacular: “Daddy’s Lil Girl”, the premier release in Andrea’s Upside Down – Outlandish Figures series (bn: I can only hope that Mistah J is next!).

The quasi-eponymous title of this piece is as red as a red herring can get—so long as you don’t have access to the visuals! For if you do, then the subject of this piece is obvious to virtually any- one, regardless of the marketing chaff hurled at us: this is none other than the the scene-stealing Margot Robbie in the role of Harley Quinn in the film Suicide Squad (2016).

The computer-generated design is commercially available in two scales: 1/32nd and 1/24th (54+ and 75mm, respectively). As indicated in the subject of this posting, I elected the 1/24th-scale offering. The kit is comprised of 10 pieces: 8 white metal (incl. base) + 2 resin (the legs). The white metal castings are exceptional--evidence that the 3d-printed prototype was not thoroughly cleaned before surrendering to the moldmaker included. The resin legs are a bit more problematic in that they were cast in 2-piece molds, which saddles the miniaturist with removing noticeable, significant even, seamlines from the finely textured fishnet stockings--more on this when the time comes. . .
__________________________________________________________________

This is yet another figure that while acceptably fine straight OOB, potentially demands a bit more attention from the end-user, depending on the extent of his/her 'anality'. . .And I think we all know by now where I fall in this range. . .

As we have seen in an alarming number of Andrea releases of late, the promotional boxart simply does not do justice to the figure--nor executes its intended purpose particularly well. This leads to a rather involved TDL for the ever-decreasing number of miniaturists who don't paint by and for the numbers! As to the aforementioned TDL, here is what I have to date:
  • Grind-off bas-relief of “Daddy’s Little Girl” on t-shirt. The fact that the silk-screened(?) motif of the t-shirt is raised (as is the “Good Night” of the bat) delivers a conflicting message as to whom the intended audience might be. It reminds me of the plastic airplane kits of the late 50s-early 60s with embossed markings! Furthermore, in the movie, Harley’s t-shirt reads “Daddy’s Little Monster”! The ground-off bas-relief will be replaced with a custom-made decal (see below).
  • The choker is another head-scratcher. . . Per the boxart, the band is purple, and has “HONEY” in large gold letters. Again, who are they—Andrea—trying to kid here??!! Purple? HONEY?? I have two options: 1) replace HONEY with PUDDIN; or 2) elimi- nate the choker altogether. I choose #2. As much as the PUDDIN choker is iconic, she never wore the choker while wielding the mallet (see below); and it beats the hell out of sculpting six letters in this scale!
  • Rework/enhance spikes on wrist bands.
  • Replace baseball bat with scratchbuilt mallet. The actual bat is embellished rather extensively: to achieve a convincing rendition in scale is a tall order, and one that I don’t feel is worth the not-insignificant effort to get right.

I intend to use custom-made decals to replicate the majority of the ink displayed by Harley in the film (nb: the boxart omits two major tattoos, and a number of minor ones). While I am not a big fan of using decals to replicate things that could be rendered with paint and brush, it is my es- teemed opinion that these cannot. And more to the point, even if they could, I could not do these justice at this stage of my career.

Stay tuned. . . 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

23 December 2017

Old Man Carl - Prepwork 1

The first step is obviously removing the figure from its supporting scaffolding. This was done with nail clippers and hobby cutters. Some words of advice:
  1. Start from the outside, and work your way in circumferentially. 
  2. Clip distally from the figure, THEN remove the remaining sprue proximally to its insertion.
  3. As mentioned in the review, the resin is brittle. Cut carefully, and only use sharp cutters.
The whole process should take less than an hour. 

Next I tapped the legs and permanently attached the support pegs, made from large "non-skid" paper clips. The figure is now mounted on its work base. . .

More to follow. . . 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

MAiM's 1/24th Old Carl--Intro & Review

MAiM—Modern Armies in Miniature—is a German figure and accessories manufacturer that has been in operation since 2009. They have rather limited distribution, which makes acquiring their products a bit of a challenge, a challenge that Irather, my ladywas faced with this Holiday Season.

MAiM has been releasing a series of figures based on AMC's The Walking Dead. This Septem- ber they released Old Carl, based on an illustration by English artist, MJ Hiblen. Whereas their earlier releases were, IMO, less than compelling, Old Carl is brilliant! And this is entirely due to Mr. Hiblen's design, incorporating elements from three of the influential adults in Carl's life: his fa- ther's hat, badge, and revolver; Michonne's katana; and Negan's "Lucille". At a stretch, you can include the poncho as a nod to the unrealized shipsters: Carol and Daryl.

This was a Christmas present from my lady (Thank you. . . Thank You. . .THANK YOU!!!) And an early one at that: I was presented with it this morning! At the time of ordering, Carl Grimes was very much the deuteragonist of the series; at one time, he was Robert Kirkman's favorite charac- ter in the show! However, as we all know by now, Carl's fate appears to have been sealed in the mid-season finale (ep8) of S8, which makes this iteration of Grimes fils all the more significant. This is how I want to remember Carl--not the victim of a creatively-bankrupt showrunner who has helmed a season-and-a-half--and counting!--of disjointed mediocrity and uninspired storytelling. 

The computer-generated and -printed design is available in three scales: 1/35, 1/24, and 1/16 (54, 75, and 120mm, respectively). As indicated in the subject of this posting, I elected the 1/24th-scale offering.

Interestingly, the figure is provided straight out of the printer, with no discernible finishing whatso- ever! This will be a dealbreaker for many, if not most; but before jumping to conclusions, let’s ex- amine what it is provided. 



The kit is comprised of two pieces: the figure itself and the distal, business end of “Lucille”. The pieces are provided supported by resin scaffolding that obviously must be removed: think of them as three-dimensional, structural sprues. Whereas only polystyrene, injection-molded figure kits are provided on structured sprues, just like their scale model counterparts, MAiM’s 3d-printed resin figures are trailblazers insofar as presentation is concerned. 

Once all the scaffolding is carefully removed using sharp cutters—DO NOT twist or snap-off(!), you will need to reduce the insertion points of the sprues. Think of these as the 3d-printed casting's counterpart of seam-lines, with the advantage of having no distortion, slippage, or shrinkage!

MAiM models exhibit the 'microsteps' usually associated with 3d-printing. I have a number of 3d-printed castings, and none have required additional work to reduce the printing layers. In my ex- ample, layering was apparent in the quite-brittle, flesh-tone coloured resin of high durometer. To address the layering, MAiM suggests that one “use . . . a small flat brush. Wet the brush [with acetone] and stroke up and down on the areas on your model that might show steps. You will see that the steps disappear instantly. Repeat it if necessary! 

Once the prepwork is done, the figure should now be ready for priming. Any remaining 'steps', etc. should be effectively "filled" by the primer.
          __________________________________________________________________

This is yet another figure that while acceptably fine straight OOB, potentially demands a bit more attention from the end-user. However, the old saw about fools rushing in definitely applies here, and while I will make some mods, they are nowhere near the number anticipated before I had a chance to spend some time with the figure. Having said that, the shortcomings in research are appalling. . . 

In closing, I would rate this figure a B/B- -- a solid A for casting quality and overall conceptual de- sign; C/C- for execution. 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

10 December 2017

Year-end reassessment

As we enter the final three weeks of 2017, there have been some developments that will see a revamping of the benches going into the New Year.

I haven't done much of anything since Thanksgiving. Tis the cold and flu season--AMEN!--and the ramp-up at work has surpassed expectations. The two, along with dealing with the daily vicissi- tudes, have pretty much knocked the wind out of my creative and productive sails.

I was hoping to get a much needed infusion of inspiration in the last fortnight, but none was to be had. And then the news broke that the forthcoming Atlanta Show would be held in Marietta, not Decatur! On the one hand, I am very glad that they were able to secure a location with the show less than 2 months away; but the new venue precludes my attendance. And that in turn removes any incentive to complete the projects currently on the benches.

This afternoon I cleaned-up the work bench in anticipation of two new projects that will hopefully be launched before year-end. With regard to the painting bench, I am going to see where the muses lead me in the days to come. . .

Stay tuned. . .

FOLLOW-UP 18.12.2017. . . I continue in my creative nadir, so this weekend I put away all the historical projects--two busts--on my painting bench. These will be replaced by two 75mm full figures that hopefully will make it onto Santa's sleigh before the Ol' Man departs the North Pole.

More to follow. . .  

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

17 November 2017

Valak -- Intro & Prepwork I

What a difference 2 years make!

When I first conceived of a project with a nun as the centrepiece, she was affiliated with the Light. 24 months later, I am ready to revisit this project, with one telling difference: Sister Sonia has gone over to the Dark, and the project will proceed as Valak, the Demon Nun! As much as I would like to be able to claim this as an original concept, the subject will be based on the cha- racter in The Conjuring cinematic franchise.  

Things are moving along quite nicely. When we last left the Sister, I had removed the rosary/cru-cifix, started general clean-up, and pegged the bust (nb: as per usual from this manufacturer, no means of display support (read: column) is provided. Since then, I have:
  • removed the upper portion of the veil and bandeau; 
  • restored the upper cranium;
  • begun to rework the eyes, removing the upper lids; 
  • separated the head from the torso (as a preliminary to reposing);
  • begun to rework the guimpe.

Before closing, I would like to clarify the issue of scale. I have seen this bust advertised as being 1/8, 1/9th, and 1/10th--the manufacturer claims 1/8. However, this is most definitely not a 1/8th scale bust: it scales out at very slightly larger than 1/10th.

More to follow. . . 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

14 November 2017

Mary Read -- Prepwork IV: Beat to Quarters!

As I fast approach the end of the prepwork, this is what remains to be done:

  • Cleaning-up and finishing the buttons.
  • 'Stitching' the button holes.
  • Texturing the hair.
  • Final finishing and polishing.

She should definitely be primed within the month!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003