It was "Star Wars Night" at last night's penultimate home outing for the ECHL Gwinnett Gladiators, and the Georgia garrison of the 501st Legion were out in "Force" as part of a fundraiser for Aimee Copeland. It was quite a show. . . and quite a game!
While there was no Leia in attendance (that I saw), it was just the ticket to get me thinking about my Steampunk Princess project, and prompting me to spend some time with her today. . .
Clean-up and minor touch-ups continue, but the restorative putty work is just about done. I have removed the choker, modeled a textured "collar", and tentatively fitted the head. I also pegged and tentatively fitted the plinth. Final posing to follow. . .
Finally, I've begun to clean and "dry-assemble" the gun. So far, so good; but haste is to be avoided at all costs. Most of the build-ups I've seen had had alignment issues with the gun components, which are an annoying distraction at best.
That about does it for now. I will not be available this week as the demands of work command all of my time, but I will hopefully be able to pick-up right where I've left off in 10 days or so. . .
I am giving the button mold a day off to be "burned-out" and reconstituted before casting the remaining buttons this coming week. In the meantime, I have filled all the errant air pockets on the torso (concentrated in my sample along the front lower edge of the flight trousers), as well as the superfluous button holes on the jacket flap. Over the next week, I will begin to rework some of the drapery of the flight jacket to restore the areas where the buttons were removed. I also intend to shift the left column of buttons by 3-5mm to the left (right to viewer).
PS--Began finishing the right side of the face . . . Once I rework the lower lip, I will be well on my way to having Mai, albeit in miniature, before me. Night and day!!!
This figure--bust--exemplifies what I love most about this hobby. . . and the least. Unfortunately, the latter is terminal--at least for this miniaturist.
This is a striking bust. . . no argument. Artistically and technically. . . if not historically. It would be money well spent, even if one were fully aware of the most obvious shortcomings as itemized here. Regrettably, however, they do not stop there: this bust is an onion of errors, and the tears will flow--and flow--IF you consider yourself a historical miniaturist.
Case in point (1): look at the unbuttoned jacket flap on the bust. How many buttonholes do you see? Are we to believe that there are more buttons on the right side--visible or not--than on the left?? It is not only wrong, but, worst of all, this is wanton carelessness! What references was the sculptor using? What was he looking at--thinking?--when he decided to add an extra buttonhole and compress the spatial layout??
(2) The flight cap. How is the strap connected to the buckle? You have a simple frame buckle. . . but no prong!!! Again, wanton carelessness! And yet another imposition upon a miniaturist who paid for the privilege to not only correct, but now complete, the sculpture! [nb: I will probably replaced the "bent" molded buckle with a brass/copper wire one.]
Sadly, most will look upon this as a "slam" on the piece! A dragging through a sty of vilifying mud!! Well, it is indeed a sad state of affairs when stating the honest--if not obvious!--truth is considered too coarse a discourse for polite company. What, pray tell, does this absence of candor provide? If the sculptor and/or manufacturer were so benighted prior to the release, all the vacuous praise in the world will make them none the wiser--or less likely to perpetrate more of the same in future releases!
I am very pleased I did not do my due diligence and did not examine the piece through a magnifying glass--real or proverbial--prior to acquiring it. When I complete it, it will be as faithful a representation of Josef Mai as my abilities will allow. And it will be a prized piece in a collection. That being said, I am sadly reminded that manufacturers--then and now--believe they are doing the source of their livelihood an undeserving favour by providing them with a poorly researched, ultimately incomplete work. It is this blind indifference to ignorance that drove me away from the hobby of historical figure modelling--and will preclude any possibility of an unqualified return.
I cast my first test pour in pure PUR. The casting came out better than I expected: no distortion and negligible shrinkage. In fact, it came out so good, that I have foregone the filled pours: if I had gone the two-piece mold route with a hefty sprue, it would be worth a shot; but as it is, the pour sprue is too narrow to take a thicker compound, and the wear-and-tear on the mold would severely limit the number of castings I could get out of it.
While the pour was curing, I removed the molded buttons on the jacket. If you decide to replace your buttons, I would strongly suggest drilling a center hole into the molded buttons before proceeding to remove them: this will provide you with the original alignment. You don't have to use it; but it's nice to have in case the original alignment works for you.
The second button is in the pressure pot now, and I should be demolding in the next 30 minutes, give or take. I'm going to try to be finished with the first run by Sunday morning at the latest.
Just a quick note by way of follow-up to my last posting. . .
I have just finished pouring the mold for the button. So far so good. . .
As I discussed briefly with Kreston, I am considering introducing atomized bronze or aluminum as a filler to the PUR. Unfortunately, I am completely out of polyester resin (first time in over 20 years!), so the buttons will not be pure bonded metal; but the compound might yield interesting results--and it should stabilize the PUR given the size of the item.
I will try my first test pours over the weekend. . .
One of the things that bothered me the most about this bust were the buttons: they were not only asymmetrical, but they were not "Crowned". Yes, I am well aware that not all Imperial German buttons were embossed, but the ones on Mai's jacket definitely were:
To have flat, assymetrical metallic buttons would be doing this bust a grave disservice.
Given the scale and the relatively few buttons to be enhanced, I would have seriously considered modeling the Crowns in situ if not for the flatness of the buttons and the manifest asymmetry (historicity aside, electing to do the jacket buttons as flat [as opposed to domed], while admit- tedly easier, was a bad choice.). And since the domed surface would enhance any inherent asymmetry, I decided to sculpt a single button, mold it, and cast 5 new buttons.
Step 1: Making the button. This is not quite as easy as it might sound, given the 3-dimensional aspects of the item. I made the button from MS, punching out the "blank" with a piece of 1/8" brass tubing. Once cured, the blank was mounted on a PUR rod with CA+, and shaped with file, blade, and sandpaper.
Step 2: Modeling the Crown. Admittedly, I was not looking forward to this step; but after having done/reworked all the Red Skull's decorations and insignia at half the scale, how bad could it be? Using ProCreate as my medium, it was not bad at all. The Crown is now roughed-in, and I am letting the putty set-up for an hour give or take, before finalizing the work and putting it in the oven to cure. FOLLOW-UP: DONE! Step 3. I won't do this for another week or so, but the next step is obviously molding--and subsequently casting--the buttons.
PS--I also roughed-in the right side of the face. . . the difference is striking!
As most of you know, I am quite taken with military aviation of the Great War. There was never a question of whether I would return to this passion of mine; the only question was, "When?" Well, the time has come, and it is all due to the mostly-masterful work of Igor Danilkin, and his patron, Stormtrooper Miniatures, Ltd.
The third release in Stormtrooper's Exclusive series of 1/9 scale busts is a portrait of German ace, Ltn. d. R. Josef Mai - Jasta 5, based on the well-known photograph of Mai, in September 1918,
standing before his obliquely black-and-white striped Fokker D.VII (OAW). . .
The bust -- 3 pieces + plinth -- is impeccably cast in a light grey resin [nb: An "Open Box" review can be found here]. While it is admittedly not an endorsement for a portrait bust, one of the two items I take issue with in this otherwise superb piece is the likeness! The portraiture can be more easily passed-off as that of "Hard-luck Hermann"! However, I am confident that the remedy to this is readily at hand, as we shall soon--hopefully--witness. The other item alluded to above is the collar of his tunic. There are an additional one or two relatively minor issues--which makes them all the more annoying!--that I will address in the course of the prepwork. Finally, kudos to Stormtrooper for including a referenced painting guide(!), though I am compelled to point out that the above picture was taken in late Sept./Oct. 1918, not 1917; and that Mai was promoted to Leutnant d. R. on 27 Sept 1918.
Herr Mai passed away on 18 January 1982, just short of his 95th birthday.
If WWI Kanonen are your thing, then this is, IMHO, a must have! Highly recommended!!
Cool Mini or Not Steampunk Princess (1/9th scale bust, Carlos Vaquero)
Dark World Creations Judge Dredd (70mm, David Richardson)
Nemrod Gorilla (1/9th scale bust, ???)
ST Models Oberst iG Claus Schenk, Graf von Stauffenberg (90mm, SEO Ho)