24 February 2013

Steampunk Leia -- Prepwork: Phase (1)

I will save unveiling my plans for this piece until I launch the painting thread; but for now I can say it will be an homage to Luke's twin-sister.

My first step was to remove 2/3 of the left arm as sculpted. The near-symmetrical approach with the arched pose just didn't work for me; in fact it was a needless distraction that drew ones attention away from the focal point of the bust. I could say the same thing of the position of the pistol/right arm, but I will have to wait until the gun is fully assembled before deciding whether any repositioning will be required. 

Next I removed the head. The head is cocked at an unnatural angle, and this very nearly was a deal-breaker! But given the presence of a choker, it is easy enough to fix--and I would have had to remove the head in any event for one of the mods planned. The head is now pinned (1/8" solder) and is awaiting repositioning.

That's it for now. I have a little bit more research to do before breaking out the putty, and then. . .

Stay tuned!

CMON's Steampunk Princess - Review

Now for the full review. . . There was no way I was going to let this bust slip by me. Given its eminently reasonable price-point, this has got to be one of the best bargains currently on the market!

As I mentioned in my intro posting, the 1/9th scale bust was sculpted by Carlos Vaquero, based on the design by Björn Hurri. Curiously, I have seen but a single build-up painted in white. . . which must mean most people are not making the Star Wars connection; don't want to tackle white; and/or simply don't care. And that is fine. . . I have seen some stellar (no pun intended!) painted examples, which goes great lengths to illustrate the versatility of this exciting piece.

The bust is exquisitely cast in 7 pieces. On my sample there was a bit of mold shift on the left side of the head/torso unit, but nothing that can't be dealt with readily. As I intend to make some mods to my rendition, I was perfectly satisfied to receive a less than perfect casting--and lest too much be read into the latter, that was the ONLY "flaw" in the casting: no small feat when the gun itself is cast in 4 pieces! My only regret is that the head was not cast separately; but for the overwhelming majority this will not be an issue.

I am still not sure of CMON's arrangement with Vaquero, but there was no indication that this was in any way a limited edition. Nonetheless, I stand by my original conclusion: ". . . if you're interested, I would suggest acting soon--if not now!"!

23 February 2013

Looking ahead in 2013. . .

Sadly, my prognostication for 2012 was all too accurate. It indeed was an off-year where nothing was completed. Will 2013 be different? I surely hope so! Thanks to dear friends and patrons, I have an unprecedented desire to get back to the benches--both sculpting and painting. But life being what it is, only time will tell if it affords me the disposable time necessary to immerse myself in what must be kept in its place as an avocation. . .

That being said, this is what I would like to get off the workbench and onto the painting table before the end of Summer:

1) Soum (Nocturna Models, 70mm)
2) Judge Dredd (DWC, 70mm)
3) Steampunk Princess (CMON, 1/9th scale bust)
4) Richard III (ip orig bust, 1/9 th scale bust)
5) Josef Mai (Stormtroopers, 1/9th scale bust)

As always, subject--and quite likely!--to change.


19 February 2013

"Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?"

Who doesn't? Even if they are badly done, as most of them have been. . .

But I digress. This posting is really about MiniArt's awesome--and ambitious!--lineup for 2013. I strongly suspect some/many? will not make the cut this year--or rather, there will be a spill-over into 2014. Which is fine, as long as they are released!

One that will be released in 2013, and soon at that (25/02/2013), is a gladiator. . . a murmillo, to be precise. This appears to be an outstanding piece that will satisfy OOB--or, as the basis of a super-detailing project. Either way, it should make for a handsome addition to any collection-- AND it won't strip the wallet. It should also go a long way to helping us forget the disaster that is the Samurai! Regarding the latter, MiniArt has stepped-up and accepted the responsibility for this "thing", and have placed the sub-series on hiatus for the time being.

MiniArt's 15th c. lineup has been enhanced with the addition of a man-at-arms and 3 infantry. Personally, I was not overly impressed with their initial foray into the subject as represented by four "knights" (16001-16004), but these new pieces look extremely promising, especially the infantry.

Finally, I am jonesing for the German Kanonen, especially Udet and Goering!

Before closing, I would point out that these are injection-molded polystyrene model kits. The detail, in my experience, is quite good, as is the fit. Anyone with moderate modelling experience can easily handle these kits; and if a beginner, they are a great introduction into the hobby!

Good stuff!

18 February 2013

Judge Dredd -- Prepwork

When I acquired this figure, it was with the intention to have it hit the painting bench in short-order. And it looks like it will, 'cause 90% of the prepwork is now behind me.

This post will highlight some of the things learned from this exercise: part cautionary tale, part reflections.

The casting quality as I noted was--IS--excellent. As I mentioned in my review, what is of greater concern is that the assortment--and there were quite a few!!!--of surface-trapped air bubbles could/would be overlooked by the hasty and/or inexperienced modeler. As most of you know, I bake all my resin figures prior to commencing work, and this is a critical step to defuse--or rather detonate!--any potential "bombs" down the road. With this figure, I also ran a thin "wash" of glazing putty dissolved in MEK over the entire figure, so there were no remaining secrets! 

The samples of the figure I saw all had a surface sheen to them, which hinted at the possibility of trapped air. While there were quite a few, it was not an inordinate amount. Still the numbers could have been reduced considerably with the use of talc as a pre-casting mold-prep. It appears that they used a mold release, hence the sheen, but mold release does not necessarily break small bubbles. And I will take this opportunity to underscore the importance of washing all parts in warm, soapy water before applying any paint!

In any event, working the air bubbles gave me time to appreciate--and study!--the design and fit of the pieces.

The fit overall is excellent; but careful examination and diligent dry-fitting will yield all but seam- less joins. The importance of this is underscored by the most important revelation of the process: this figure will be painted by-and-large unassembled! The fit is certainly good enough to warrant such an approach, but I personally do not like to paint like this. Nevertheless, the subtle, fairly deep undercuts resulting from the high tolerance fit virtually demand unassembled painting. Respect the company's efforts on our behalf and you will be amply rewarded!

I could probably have this ready for priming in less than a week, depending on the free-time at my disposal. Realistically, I would say mid-late March.

Stay tuned. . .

17 February 2013

Steampunk Princess - CMON exclusive

This may or may not be a future project, as I do not have the bust in my possession; but I will say if the good folks at CMON would have had it on Friday evening, what follows would be but the preface to a full review. . .

There has been quite a bit of speculation as to the who, what, and where of the subject bust, and hopefully this post will go a ways to cast some light on the matter.

Steampunk Princess is a 1/9 scale bust, sculpted by Carlos Vaquero (theHYDRAFactory), based on the design by Björn Hurri. Hurri did a series of illustrations of Star Wars characters in a Steampunk guise that is absolutely brilliant; and his interpretation of Princess Leia is, IMO, one of the best. The bust was the Commemorative Show Figure for last year's La Fabrica Roja event, and as I understand it, it is a CMON exclusive on this side of the Pond.

I have not had a chance to discuss this with the gang at CMON, but Show Commemorative figures tend not to be "open" editions, so if you're interested, I would suggest acting soon--if not now!

16 February 2013

Dark World Creations' Judge Dredd

Late last year, it came to my attention that Dark World Creations (UK) had acquired the much- coveted 2000AD license. This is the graphic anthology (read: comics) that gave the world Judge Dredd. 

The first release under the license was Rogue Trooper. Hot on its heels, release #2 gave the fans what they were waiting for: Judge Dredd. 3-D sculpted by David Richardson, the 70mm figure actually measures 77mm in ht., and the kit is comprised of 7 exquisitely cast pieces + the logo-ed base. I picked-up the figure from The Red Lancers at the Show this weekend.

The first thing that struck me was the quality of the castings. Where they perfect? Admittedly not, but what is nowadays? There was your assortment of surface-trapped air bubbles here and there, but certainly nothing to fret over. As a reviewer, what is of greater concern is that these random voids might be overlooked by the hasty or inexperienced modeler! On the other hand, what was really impressive was the high-tolerance, precision interference fit of the pieces! I have never seen anything like this in my many years in the hobby!  

This is an exciting release that has "great stuff to come" written all over it! And I can't wait!! 

12 February 2013

It ain't over 'til it's over -- AVLH

While I will not be competing or displaying at the Atlanta Show this weekend, I will be delivering two figures that were unveiled at last year's show that the patron was kind enough to let me keep until this year.

The White Ape of Barsoom was--and is!--a fait accompli. It looks even better than it did fresh off the bench last year! My interpretation of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, on the other hand, left something to be desired. Though a "good" piece of work, I did not feel that it met my standards. Fortunately, I was afforded the opportunity to address the shortcomings, as perceived by me, through the patron's generosity. 

And so I have. I have reworked the nose and the upper lip, and for the first time I can say that I truly do like what I see! Tomorrow, I will repaint the face and try to infuse a bit more life and depth to the subject. . . The face should be dry and the figure ready to be delivered to its owner on Friday.

10 February 2013

Richard III, 22.08.1485 -- And so it begins. . .

The head is roughed-in and it is looking great! The research continues, however, and there are minor tweaks to be done before committing it to the oven.

As a sidebar note, I would like to point out that the head is being sculpted for the most part in SSF. This affords me the greatest amount of control and nuance in expression and volume. Having said that, final detailing, etc. (e.g., eyes) will be done in MS or Aves after the base head is baked.

FOLLOW-UP 11.02.2013. . . The head is just about done. I probably won't bake it until the weekend or early next week to give it time to "settle", and to be able to do a final appraisal with a "fresh" set of eyes. Having said that, I think it is a superb interpretation of Richard III; but, the eyes will ultimately have it. . . or not.

In the meantime, I will re-immerse myself into the armour of the l. 15th c., and not only attempt to arrive at a suitable "Italo-German" harness for Richard, but try to get my head around the issue of the circlet/crown on the sallet. . .

More to follow. . .

09 February 2013

Richard III, 22.08.1485

It has been nearly a week since THE announcement, and much has transpired. . .

Those of you who know me well know that there are but three Western [historical] subjects that would have any current undertaking come to screeching halt to make room for them: Jeanne d'Arc, Vlad III Ţepeş, and . . . Richard III of England! I have done 2-1 (2 sculpted + 1 designed) for both Jeanne and Vlad; but Richard is 0-1. . .

It is quite likely that we will soon see an outpouring of Wars of the Roses subjects, and I am guessing that the reason behind this rekindled interest will be at the fore. And I hope that I am at the fore of those undertaking a reconstruction in miniature of the last Plantagenet King. . .

It is my honour and distinct pleasure to announce that I have been given the green-light to proceed with the design and sculpture of a 1/8th scale rendition of Richard III of England as he might have appeared at the Battle of Bosworth. Some of you might recall that I had begun a 1/4 scale rendition some years ago; thus, most of the research is done, and has to be but vetted against the recent archaeological finds.

Additional details to follow as warranted. . .  

04 February 2013

"Loyaulte me lie" (2)

I'm sure many of you are already aware of today's official announcement by the University of Leicester: the identity of a skeleton discovered by an archaeological team in a Leicester car park has been confirmed, beyond reasonable doubt, as being that of Richard III, King of England. Richard was the last English king to die in battle; and the only English king to do so on English soil since Harold II at Hastings in 1066.

I read the first "spoilers" late last night; and this morning, I rushed to the computer for what I hoped would be a resounding confirmation--AND IT WAS!!!

It's a GREAT day for all medievalists, and certainly all Ricardians. I just hope the inevitable squabble over where to inter the body will be kept to a minimum. It is time that he truly rest in peace. . .

FOLLOW-UP. . . He is to be interred early next year in Leicester Cathedral:


03 February 2013

Soum - Assembly

As I mentioned in my introduction/review, the eight castings comprising the core pieces of the kit were perfect: clean, sharp/crisp (as well as subtle!) details and seam lines that were virtually not there. The only flaws were 4 minor air "holes" in areas where they would not be seen if the miniaturist chose to ignore them. Fit, as a whole, was excellent as well. . . and herein lies the rub.

Flawless--or nearly so--castings and seamless fit can be a siren's song in kits like this. If you have this kit and have yet to dive in, or are planning to get it (and I strongly encourage you to do so!), I would say that an angel's approach (rather than a fool's) is the order of the day. The figure is sitting upon a bench with no definite attachment point/s: one not only has to ensure that the figure is actually sitting with the left arm supporting it, but that her feet are touching the flag- stoned floor convincingly. This requires patience and repeated dry-fitting to get it just right. In my example, the left leg was slightly raised, precluding contact of the heel with the floor; and the left hand would not snuggle into the sculpted depression for the palm.

While there are any number of ways to address these issues, I focused on a good seat, and took it from there. I had to slightly bend the left leg at the knee (~1mm cut behind the knee), and elevate (read: fill) the depression for the palm. Voila! Perfect fit!!

The figure is now all-but-assembled. Later today, I hope to be able to permanently attach the right arm, and work-out the fit of the right hand/sword unit. Once that is done, I will concentrate on final clean-up before working on the kanzashi/pony-tail.

More to follow. . .

01 February 2013

Soum of the 13 Moons Sect

I am a HUGE fan of Luis Royo's work. I'm sure that many, if not most of you, who have a passion for Sword & Sorcery and the fairer--but certainly not weaker!--sex, are not only familar with his work, but count yourselves amongst his many fans.

Recently, Nocturna Models of Spain, well known for quality castings of diverse subjects (e.g., Savage Horn, The Fiddler, Nocturna, The Minstrel), "historical" as well as fantasy, have teamed with Norma Editorial and the Royos--Luis and son, Rómulo--to bring their creations to the world of miniatures. While 3-D interpretations of their work are available as large(r) scale, pre-painted collectibles, this is the first time licensed works have been made available to miniaturists. Kudos- and thanks-to both parties!!!

Soum is a spin-off character of the graphic series Malefic Time: Apocalypse created by the Royos. While I am admittedly not intimately familiar with the Royos' "literary" work, as best I can gather, the series revolves around the character of Luz (also available from Nocturna), and her sword, Malefic. Soum, a member of the Japanese 13 Moons sect, has been dispatched to safeguard Luz and ensure that she is not swept to the "other side"--or worse. . . (nb: if anyone wishes to elaborate and/or correct, please do so!)

So what do we get? The figures in the series are sculpted in 1/28th scale/70mm. . . more at 70mm+. These are arguably some of the best resin castings to come out of Spain, and while not perfect as a whole, they can only be described as excellent! In the interest of full disclosure, two of the 10 pieces were damaged: 1) the mirror/moon standard; and 2) the kanzashi (hairpins). The latter were repairable; the former, beyond redemption. BUT, it was an accessory piece that did not work in the presentation, so I would not have used it as provided. It might still be incorporated in the groundwork. . .  literally! As for the other eight pieces. . . PERFECT!

A word about the packaging. The figure comes in a brushed tin box that would be familiar to anyone who has purchased a non-Marvel Knight Models figure. I have to wonder if Nocturna acquired the "boxes" from their neighbors at KM, given that the latter have reverted to cardboard boxes? While the tin boxes provide ample space to securely package the figure, and are light years ahead of the usual blister packs, Nocturna unfortunately does not take advantage of what a tin container offers, thus negating the additional protection provided: the pieces are packaged in a mini zip-loc bag, and placed between to thin pieces of foam. Damage of some sort is to be expected.

As a final note, this is a numbered series: I received no. 51. I don't know if it is limited in any way, shape, or form, but it's a nice touch.

I am very pleased with this acquisition, and you will soon be reading and seeing more about it on these pages.  Until then. . .