26 October 2012

Darth Maul 2N - Progress Report #1

As this will be a L-O-N-G term project, to be "sipped" rather than "gulped", I hope that you will overlook the rather informal approach to the chronicling of the same. . . at least in the early goings.

To date, I have done the following:
  • Cleaned and molded right leg. 
  • Cast and reanimated right leg: bisected 'leg' at knee; extended leg; repositioned foot.
  • Removed all vestiges of the Sith mantle from torso and arms.
  • Attached face and sculpted cranium.
  • Removed saberstaff w/ hands from arms at wrists.
  • Pinned, located, slightly repositioned arms (not permanently attached).
  • Repaired the defective casting of the rear section of the fauld. [NOTE: the defective area was one of the "sashes" sewn to the outer tunic. As it did not line up with the sculpted drapery of the latter, I elected to remove it altogether and replace it when the time comes.]
  • Right arm permanently attached.
  • Right thigh permanently attached.
  • Right leg permanently attached and filled.
  • Attachment "step" for displayed mantle filled. 
  • Repositioned left foot slightly. 
  • Left leg pegged, and lower body mounted on work base. 
  • Commenced reworking drapery of pants. 
  • Commenced reconstructing the sub-belt fauld. [NOTE: this is arguably the most critical step of the conversion, if only because it involves the most corrective work.] 
  • The sub-belt fauld is now all-but-done. I anticipate having the finishing well underway by the end of the weekend, and - hopefully - [sub]assembly can begin by next weekend.
  • The lower-half of the body is now assembled. 
  It's a start. There is a ton of work ahead of me; but I figure if I diligently put-in 1-2 hrs/day, this will be ready for sub-assembly and mounting in no time. 

25 October 2012

Darth Maul 2N

There is little that surprises me from this manufacturer anymore. Poor production quality? Check. Little--if any!--quality control? Check. Poor communication? Check. To that we can now add indifference re: customer satisfaction.

KM has acquired a well-earned reputation for not only mis-packaging kits (as in wrong box, wrong insert--which makes you wonder how many of any one kit are truly out there?); but of selling incomplete, or incorrectly packaged kits: shorted parts, duplicate parts, etc. As I mentioned in my review, this was my first experience with anything of this nature; but based on on-line reviews and comments, it is far from uncommon. I wrote KM upon receipt of the shorted kit, and their reply was frankly shocking: "The Stars Wars line is no longer part of our held licenses", and that "they regret the error". That's it! I read this as, "We sold you an unusable/ defective product. . . too bad!"

As I said, KM has lost my patronage. I can forgive--or rather, turn a blind eye to--technical and production issues. But this is beneath contempt--and fraudulent!

As before, enough of that. May they reap what they have sown threefold! I still have an incomplete kit to make whole. . .

And that I have! I was very lucky to find a local collector who was willing to part with his kit of Darth Maul for a very reasonable price. While certain pieces of the kit were deplorably cast, his kit was not only complete, but they had thrown-in an extra left leg! You can well imagine the surface damage due to incidental contact by soft metal in an over-packed tin; but as they say, beggars can't be choosy. . .  Given what I plan to do, I am now short but one right leg. I can live with that--especially as I have a decent right leg to clean-up, mold, and from which I will be able to cast as many right legs as my heart desires!

And so, I now have TWO Darth Maul projects on the stove-top: 1T is the original plan, depicting Maul in his encounter with JM Qui-Gon Jinn on Tatooine, an essentially OOB undertaking. Now for the lemonade from the remaining lemons: Project 2N will be based on the depiction of Maul in his epic, but fatal, encounter with JM Jinn and the then-Padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi (bka "The Duel of the Fates") in the Theed power generator on Naboo. This will be a moderately extensive conversion as he will not be wearing the Sith hooded mantle, his [under-]clothing will have to be enhanced/corrected and detailed, and the legs will have to be reanimated to varying degrees. 

That's it for now. Before closing, I would just like to strongly urge that if you must buy any KM kit, do not do so sight unseen! Inspect the kit carefully before purchasing: if the seller is at all hesitant to let you do so, walk away. If you do agree to buy sight unseen, make sure that the conclusion of the sale is contingent solely upon your satisfaction with what you have received. If that is unacceptable. . . walk away!

15 October 2012

iHobbyExpo 2012 News!

Outside looking in, this appeared to be a bit of a "weak" iHobbyExpo. Granted, there were loads of announcements, but it appears that much of what was seen--whether just released, or imminently on the horizon--was originally announced a year ago--or in the interim.

Thus there is really nothing of note to relate. The 'banner' pieces were announced in May at WonderFest. Personally, I am jonesing BIG time for Round 2's Wicked Witch of the West; with Moebius' 1/18th scale Catwoman and Batpod running a somewhat distant second.

I have a feeling we'll be getting more news in the months to come, but for now, this will suit me quite nicely. And for those who want to check things out for yourself, I can do no better than to point you in this direction. . .

14 October 2012

Knight Models' Darth Maul (KST004)

Let's face it, my run of good luck was bound to run dry when dealing with a company like Knight Models. . . At least it was the last piece I wanted for my SW collection--and given what I have found out in the last few days, the last piece I will ever buy from this manufacturer.

Enough of that. This is a superbly designed piece that captures near-perfectly the appearance of the Sith Lord at the time of his first encounter with Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn on the desert planet of Tatooine [NOTE: Maul would ignite but one blade of his saberstaff on Tatooine, hence what is depicted in this kit in canonically incorrect.]. Sculpted by the very talented KM' regular, Jérôme Renaud, it is a multi-media kit of 11 pieces (one in resin) + a small grainy-textured plinth to serve as groundwork. I would hasten to point out that my count might be off as I was shorted by (at least?) three pieces in my kit: both legs and the groundwork, as best as I can determine. I should point out that the separately-cast face (or half-head) is pristine, which might suggest that the production is being handled by someone not used to the larger (>50mm) scales. . .

So what of what I did get? As if receiving an incomplete kit wasn't bad enough, this kit harkens back to some of the earlier Marvel-series kits I've reviewed. The castings as a whole were pitted and very grainy: a considerable amount of time will be spent surface-finishing. Fit as a rule is compromised by heavy vents and sprues. There will be some reconstruction work to be done, as substandard, incompletely-filled castings were included in the kit. All in all, given the demands of this kit, this is one of the worst cast kits I have ever seen!!!

I was hoping to have this figure done by the year-end Holidays, but much will depend on how soon--if ever--I receive the replacement pieces: remember that the series has been discontinued by KM!

Updates as warranted. . .

06 October 2012

KATŌ Yoshiaki -- a reappraisal

The Yoshiaki master sculpt is essentially fine as is: there are a few spots that need some touching-up and even fewer undercuts that could be cleaner and sharper, but otherwise good-to-go.

However, the shikoro was absent from the kit, and that precipitated a mad scramble! Would I have to resculpt a brand new shikoro? Did I have an adaptable shikoro that I could cannibalize from one of the archive kits?? Being that this shikoro was sculpted specifically for this helmet, I thought it highly unlikely, but anything to avoid having to sculpt a unique shikoro from scratch for a second time!

Well, as it turns out much ado about nothing, as Jim was gracious enough to contact me immediately and affirm that it was a simple oversight on his part: I should have the shikoro by this time next week!

BUT. . . part of the mad scramble entailed poring over the references once again, to see if any of the shikoro that I did have could be suitably modified. And it was then that I came across a few images that I did not have available at the time of original sculpt.. .

Bottom line, while the mods to the kabuto will be minimal , the re-release of KATŌ Yoshiaki will depict an accurized helmet. Even though I have already painted this piece twice, third time is the charm, and I am very much looking forward to painting what will be a near-definitive rendition of this spectacular kabuto. I say "near" because I have never seen this kabuto (or anything similar) in person, and it continues to reveal mysteries once thought solved.

I will hopefully have the reworked master en route to Steve within the fortnight.

UPDATE - 18.10.2012. . . By way of update, I have just received the erstwhile-missing shikoro. Given the proximity to month-end and the demands of work, the completion of the required work will be delayed somewhat. I am still hopeful that it might be en route by month's end, but realistically I have informed Steve that it will be on its way by the week of the 11th.


05 October 2012

Notable Acquisitions September 2012

All the figures this month are/were produced by Knight Models. As most of you know, the Star Wars line was discontinued earlier this Summer. With a little leg work, most can still be found at very reasonable prices--even below msrp(!); however, I have noticed that in the last fortnight or so, the prices are beginning to creep upwards of 10-15%. If you want 'em, act now!
  • Bane (~1/27 scale, "Darko")
  • Darth Vader (1/10th scale bust, Angel Terol)
  • Emperor Palpatine (~1/27 scale, Angel Terol)
  • Emperor's Royal Guard (actual size 85mm+(!), Rhee Hyun)

Emperor's Royal Guard -- Pre-prep (III)

Hit a bit of detour this week, but it was all for the best. The one-piece erstwhile undermantle, now tunic, was bisected just below the waist in order to rework the drapery of the garment, as well as accommodate what is in effect a cummerbund. The upper portion (with cummerbund) has now been permanently attached; the lower portion will probably be permanently attached as well once the drapery has been finished. 
The separate left panel of the mantle has been reworked and fitted. Still a bit more to do on this before it can be set aside for priming and painting: I intend to paint the interior surface first; attach; address any visible seams; re-prime; and then paint the exterior of the garment en suite
This weekend, I hope to have the helmet all-but-done before I begin to work on the force pike. I also hope to have an ip pic (or two) up for your appraisal.