29 June 2013

Oberschütze Senfgas -- Prepwork: Project Notes/TD List

William was extremely candid re: his approach to this series:
As the series evolves I am working hard to refine the designs of the uniforms and gear. ... But, these are fictional characters so I will also use artistic license when I feel the urge.
And I am perfectly fine with that. These are works of historical fantasy, and one should not expect them to be historical paradigms: historicity is not what compelled me to acquire these.

Having said that, IMO, the broader the historical foundation, the more believable the unbelievable becomes. If nothing else, historicity becomes the "lure" that might attract someone who would otherwise unilaterally dismiss the work. This was/is my motivation for expending so much effort on my renditions of the Red Skull--and now these.

Hence the following TD list. As those of you who know me well know, WWII is not my area of expertise; but neither am I a wet-behind-the-ears noob. I feel there are some areas that could benefit from [a little] additional prepwork, and with everything else being good to go, it is worth spending the time. . .

  • The helmet. The Stahlhelm is a subject of specialization unto itself; and I doubt that I would be able to become sufficiently knowledgeable in the time it takes to prep the bust. But I do want to make sure that the "lines" are right, and that the finish is ultimately believable.
  • The gas mask. Work has already begun on the focal piece of this work, and there is more to be done. Again, a very complex subject that AFAIK has not had much press devoted to it. My intent is to accurize--within reason--the mask and filter to M1938 specs. While I have begun work on the filter as well, I have yet to scale it out to determine whether a Fe41 or a Fe42 is a better "fit".

And that is it! The challenge here is to first accurize; AND then suitably distress the items depicted, whether sculpturally or via paint/finishing. One must keep in mind that these are the reanimated dead 70 years after the fact. . .

27 June 2013

Oberschütze Senfgas -- Prepwork: Phase (1)

As you can well imagine, the OOB/stock option didn't stand much of a chance. Granted, the mods are relatively limited, but it is somewhat involved.

As I mentioned in the opening posting, the left side of the mask will be--has been--modified. While I certainly understand the decision to mold the unbroken left lens of the mask en suite, it just didn't look right to me. . . too much of a "Two-Face" air about it. 

To date, I have removed the unbroken lens in its frame intact, finished the rough back, and restored the ground away mask with MS before resetting the lens. Once the restored mask has cured, I will pop the lens off, grind away the resin lens, and finish the frame. Then I will make a new lens from clear PS, and suitably distress it -- I am undecided to what extent it will be damaged. I am also undecided as to how much of the face behind the lens will be built out: intact eye? avulsed eye?? ruptured eye???

I am also considering blistering the exposed skin, but I have yet to decide whether this embellish- ment will be a good "fit" given the relatively limited amount of exposed flesh.

In the meantime, the research of insignia and helmet continues. . . 

Good times. . . 

UPDATE. . . The resin lens frame is, not surprisingly, somewhat delicate and challenging to handle--and relatively "crude" for this scale. Thus, I am in the process of making a replacement frame from a metal washer. So far, so good; though I may yet settle on the original resin frame. Stay tuned. . .  

FOLLOW-UP. . . The metal replacement lens frame has been completed -- it looks AWESOME! So much so, that I am going to make a second one to replace the partial right frame. Movin' right along. . .

26 June 2013

Oberschütze Senfgas

Well, Q2 end has certainly lived up to the anticipated dread--and the worst is yet to come! Thus, as expected, very little production bench time has been/will be realized this week, but that doesn't mean that the bench is on "lock-down". I have had some very enjoyable chats this week with William Paquet, the creative genius behind Quarantine Studio's Dead Reich series, and that, along with the forthcoming--albeit limited--release (FINALLY!) of Frankenstein's Army got me thinking about the [Nazi] undead again, which in turn prompted me to return Oberschütze Senfgas (Private Mustard Gas), QS' second release in their DR series, back to the bench.

I picked up a very-limited pre-release version of this 1/4-scale bust back in November. What with year-end at work, the Holidays, etc. etc. etc., I barely did anything with it--or so I thought. As it turns out, given the quality of the casting, I had made considerable headway in the prepwork; so much so, that I am now about 70% through the pre-prime phase of the work!

If I decide to go with the stock piece, it should be ready for priming in relatively short order. BUT. . . I am considering modifying the left side of the gas mask. I am also thinking about how to enhance the "gross factor" with evidence of Herr Jünger being host by his own petard.

Lots of fun still to come. . .

23 June 2013

The Vulture -- Prepwork: Phase (2)

And so it begins. . .

The bust is now stripped. And save for the glaring blue-green "shims", it is a beautiful creamy off-white.

Once it is dry, the next step will be to carefully remove the cured adhesive filler. Depending on the degree of adhesion to the substrate, this could be a rather lengthy process akin to removing the matrix from a fossil. We'll see. . .  

And once that is done, I will then prepare the respective mating surfaces to ensure and maximize the stability and permanence of the bond.

This might seem like much ado about nothing, but I have always guided myself by the adage of "garbage in, garbage out". This is my canvas; and the painting will only ever be as good as its canvas.

More to follow. . .

FOLLOW-UP. . . Not bad. . . Not bad at all! 90%+ of the "matrix" has been removed, and I am well on my way to refinishing this bust. 

The fit of the wings sans adhesive leaves much to be desired, and I can certainly see why such a generous amount of adhesive filler was used! Optimizing the fit of the wings will likely be the most onerous aspect of this project; but once done, everything else should fall into place quite nicely.

Movin' right along. . .  

FOLLOW-UP (2). . . The bust is now free of any adhesive filler, and fit optimization can begin in earnest. . .

22 June 2013

The Vulture -- Prepwork: Phase (1)

To quote Ringo Starr, "It don't come easy. . . "

With two figures in the mix, the SC was getting rather grungy, so I figured I'd scrub-out the Vulture bust, and go a second round in a fresh batch of SC. The scrub-out all-but-finished stripping the figure, but it also revealed areas of blue-green in the deepest undercuts. Hmmm. . .

At first I thought that the molds had given-up the ghost. Not a problem, as peeling and picking torn, trapped rubber is old hat for me. But it wasn't rubber--at least I don't think so. As I tried picking it out, it began to look--and feel--more and more like USC Duraglas Fiberglass Body Filler, and this is a whole different ball game. On the plus side, the affected areas are 1) relatively accessible; and 2) on the whole, not visible. On the minus side, it is additional work, and some rather delicate precision work may lie ahead.

FOLLOW-UP. . . I don't know with any degree of certainty if it is Duraglas Fiberglass Body Filler; but if not, it is something similar--it is definitely not rubber! What it is is a 2-part adhesive/filler compound that has been used to permanently attach the bust portion of the sculpture to the wings!!! BRILLIANT!!!

While this will entail a bit more prepwork, I am definitely looking forward to refinishing the join, which will allow me to paint both sections separately and seamlessly attach them once done.

You gotta love this hobby!

21 June 2013

The Rhino #3

Just returned from a thankfully brief business-related outing, and awaiting me was Knight Models' first release of Mr. Green himself, the Incredible Hulk (KMV004)!

First of all recognition, kudos, and thanks to an old friend and colleague from back in the day in Tampa, Ric Fenner. Ric had picked up this figure when it was still available, and he was less than overwhelmed with the production QC [and now that the figure is stripped, I can certainly under- stand why. . . OMG!!!!]--and just to be clear, he had received issue #89/500, or thereabouts (the collectors' card has long gone astray). I knew that he had put it on a backburner to simmer, so when my Rhino fever took hold, I reached out to Ric to see what, if anything, he had done with this kit, and if he would be willing to part with it.

Ric was most gracious in his response, and as luck would have it, he would be happy to see it go to a new home. I was [pleasantly!] surprised on two counts: 1) I knew how much work and teeth-gnashing had gone into getting this piece to the priming stage; and 2) Ric had not only already assembled and primed it, but uc'ed as well! Anyway, who was I to argue?! So once again, old friend. . . MANY THANKS!

If memory serves, this was the first all-resin release for KM. It is engineered in 4 pieces (plus groundwork), and scales out to close to 90mm overall ht. It was sculpted by Jérôme Renaud, who also sculpted the 3-in-1 follow-up, amongst others.

This will be a long-term project that will see the Hulk converted/resculpted into the charging Rhino. As soon as the figure comes out of the Super-Clean (it's been in for less than an hour and it's already close to done!), I will move it to the workbench and start planning. . .

FOLLOW-UP. . . The figure is now stripped, and drying in the oven. Grinding will begin shortly. . .

18 June 2013

Adrian Toomes, bka The Vulture

In descending order, my favourite Spidey villains are:
  1. The Goblin Family
  2. The Rhino
  3. The Vulture
  4. The Lizard
  5. The Scorpion
3 & 4 are actually neck-in-neck: the only reason I listed them in that order is because of seniority.

But I digress. Working on The Rhino got me thinking about the other Spidey villains that were so much a part of my childhood. That, and the fact that if I manage to stay on course throughout the remainder of the year, I will have 1) an even-numbered display--which I prefer to avoid; and 2) a display with no busts--not unheard of, but again not my preference. So how do we address the situation, to say nothing of satisfy the requirements, in a doable fashion?

The deciding factor was the recent announcement that Colm Feore had been cast as Adrian Toomes in next year's Amazing Spider-Man 2. Personally, I think it is an excellent choice: yes, John Malkovich had been cast as The Vulture in the aborted Spider-Man 4; and Sir Ben Kingsley has often been discussed as a potential Toomes (appearance-wise, a dead ringer, IMO); but Colm, I feel, has the potential to not only define the character, but make it his own.

I immediately began looking for a bust of The Vulture. A pre-paint, of course, that I could strip; potentially enhance; and ultimately make my own. There are actually quite a few Vulture busts out there, but the only one that did anything for me was Diamond Select's/Art Asylum's Rogue's Gallery rendition of The Vulture. And I was very fortunate to be able to find one, MIB, for less than half of what we would pay for a "Tier 1" 54mm foot figure!

The bust is a limited-edition (I received issue 920/6500), sculpted by Eli Livingston, and was released in January 2003. Undeniably, there are some [relative] issues; but the main portions, those I intend to "keep", are flawlessly executed!

I have already removed (grinding) the en suite nameplate, and the medium is a bonded porcelain of just-about the right consistency and density. Next step--hopefully this weekend--will be to strip the bust: if all goes well to this point, I will begin to plot out my strategy. As of this writing, I do intend to rework the face, though to what extent I am uncertain. Any other mod will be determined by how I decide to display the piece.

Stay tuned!

FOLLOW-UP 19.06.2013. . . After a God-awful day at work, it was time to channel the over- abundance of frustration into a more productive outlet. So, I broke out the Super-Clean, and immersed the bust in my stripping container. Now, it has been a while since I've stripped anything with SC, but my initial impressions (60 mins. elapsed) are that either the formulation has been "weakened", or the finish on the Art Asylum busts is truly exceptional. Admittedly, I'd like to see nearly instantaneous results; but that is hardly realistic with a well-finished pre-paint. So the waiting begins. As long as I see some paint dissolving by light's out, I am fairly confident that by this time tomorrow, I will be rinsing a bare bonded porcelain bust. More to follow. . . !  

UPDATE 21.06.2013. . . The Hulk might be readily and happily shedding its green skin, but Mr. Toomes is not quite so anxious. It has now been approximately 48 hrs. since immersion, and I would say it is about 70% done. And the Super-Clean is as potent as ever. . . but the finish on this bust is exceptional! Kudos to DS/AA!! No biggie, it can take its time. The important thing is that the solvent is doing its job, and that the underlying sculpt is completely unaffected. Stay tuned. . . 

13 June 2013

4th of July. . .

. . . is but three weeks away! And while Q2 End at work is all but blotting-out the following weekend, I am preparing for some serious bench-time over the mid-year break.

First on the agenda: prime the Rhino. And if that actually comes to pass, undercoat the Rhino!

Second: Work the mail on the iM Frankenstein. . . and continue clean-up and assembly.

Better get to it!

The Rhino #2 - Prepwork last lap. . . HOME STRETCH!

While there are still a few points of detail to address, clean-up, etc., the prepwork for this project is essentially done! All that remains is the texturing of the rhino skin, and that is progressing at a surprising rate!!

Which means that barring any pennies on the track, this piece is pretty much on schedule to be primed over the 4th of July holiday weekend. . . 

Back to the bench!

09 June 2013

The Rhino #2 - Prepwork last lap. . . Final turn

The right eye is now finished, as is the remaining putty-work on the head. 

I also added the fourth fingers to the respective hands. Kifaro had but four digits on each hand: while I deliberated long and hard whether to add  the fifth humanizing digit, I originally opted not to--in spite of the canon dictating five digits/hand. Bottom line, it just didn't look right with a truncated hand, so the the roughed-in "little finger"s are now curing in the oven.

Almost there!

08 June 2013

The Rhino #2 - Prepwork last lap. . .

The Rhino is coming together quite nicely. . . 

Today, I received its display base, and I spent most of the afternoon fitting the groundwork to it. While there is still a considerable amount of "surface texture" to apply and the like, I am quite pleased with the direction it is taking. And it's a GREAT looking base!

The rest of the time was spent with the remaining points-of-detail of the face. Most importantly, I fitted the orbs in their sockets--and finished the left eye. This underscored some imbalances in the features of the left side of the face that were promptly addressed. If the mood strikes tomorrow, I will finish the right eye, and commence final clean-up of the head.

Movin' right along. . .

07 June 2013

Jean Vingeanne - Prep & Assembly (3)

Make that approximately 1/3 of the kit! Which of course means that the legs have been filled and [nearly] finished.

I have begun final assembly of the great coat, and the right half of the coat is now done. While there might be a little bit of cleaning remaining - primarily on the right sleeve, the sleeve and lapel have been permanently attached and filled!

I have also found out why Michael elected to attach the lapels after permanently attaching the pants to the trunk: it is an uncomfortably tight fit! And I don't even have of the obstruction of the left lapel to deal with yet! This will be examined at greater length in the days to come, and I am nearly certain of a satisfactory solution. Worse comes to worse, I have one attached, and the left lapel will be an after-the-fact add-on.

There are now but two remaining pieces to be attached before final pre-prime finishing can begin: the left arm and lapel. Stay tuned!

FOLLOW-UP 08.06.2013. . . The lapel situation has been resolved! Actually, save for some care- ful, measured reduction of some assembly and mold seams, as well as tweaking the added shims, there was nothing to be done! I will have to be quite careful in how I join the left lapel to the coat, but once in place, it should not be an issue. WHEW!

And as a sidebar note, the prepwork on the gun fittings is all-but-done! Once the barrel sections have been cleaned, assembly can begin!!

UPDATE 09.06.2013. . . The left lapel is now permanently attached and filled. Once the left arm is attached and filled, final pre-prime finishing can begin.

05 June 2013

Jean Vingeanne - Prep & Assembly (2)

As of this writing, I have now assembled 25% of the kit: the five pieces comprising the Legs unit subassembly; and the collar to the coat.

As I might have mentioned earlier, the trailing edges of pieces (e.g., the gartered ends of the culottes; the tongues of the shoes) are rather thick. Though these would not detract significantly if left as is, I decided to reduce the trailing edges to a more in-scale thickness. Depending on how far it is taken, this may require a bit of filling of the exposed join seam (e.g., ankle seam where it joins to the shoe). Well worth it, afaic.

Before closing, I would like to mention that I used gel CA glue to attach the stockinged shins to the culottes. As there is some play in the join, especially after reducing the thickness of ends of the culottes, I decided on the gel to afford me extended work time to ensure a natural fit with no drip to contend with. 

NEXT: I will complete cleaning and finishing the Legs unit before moving on to the Great Coat subassembly.

Stay tuned!

03 June 2013

A regenerated lycanthrope. . .

Some of you might recall that there were some scaling issues with the right hand of the Creoda sculpt:
The right hand is actually a half-fist, with the proximal phalanges reduced to a flattened plane that rests on the ground as the front "leg" of the tripod (i.e., fist- walking, as in orangutans). This will either have to be built-out, or the hand resculpted in its entirety. As a clenched fist is a good fit with what I have envisioned, I opted for the former. There is a bit of a problem in that the right hand, as truncated, is not in scale with the left, but I will hopefully be able to work around this and not have to resculpt the entire hand. Stay tuned. . .
My attempts to build-out the right hand, while not unsuccessful, were ultimately unsatisfactory. Thus was the project tabled until a satisfactory solution could be found. And said solution was found in the emergence of Mierce Miniatures, and their making available the component parts of the BaneBeasts line. I ordered 2 of Creoda's left arms, and these arrived in a secure, timely fashion last week.

My plan was to convert the left hand into a right hand by reconstructing the orientation of the thumb and fingers onto the reduced metacarpus, And I am happy to report, that the surgery was an unqualified success! All that remains to be done is to reconstruct the fleshy portions of the hand, and seamlessly integrate the fingers into the metacarpus. The right half-fist has already been removed, and the new carpus fitted and pegged to the distal portion of the right forearm.

More to follow. . .

02 June 2013

Angrir, The Breaker of Souls

Last year, Marvel launched Fear Itself, its first company-wide crossover/tie-in event since 2008's Secret Invasion. I won't bore you with the details, as they are readily available at the usual sites, but this is another Asgardian crossover event that plays out on planet Earth.

Essentially a reboot of Sin, the Red Skull's daughter, she assumes the guise of Skadi, the Serpent's Herald, upon discovering the Norse goddess's hammer. Subsequently, Sin/Skadi unleash the Serpent, and the remaining seven hammers plummet to Earth. They are found by hero and villain alike, and each one in turn becomes one of the Worthy, the Serpent's warlords.

Ben Grimm, bka The Thing, finds one of the hammers on Yancy St., and, upon lifting it, becomes the Worthy Angrir, The Breaker of Souls.

Angrir is the subject of this somewhat ambitious project. I intend to use the Horizon 1/6th scale vinyl figure of The Thing (HC018, sculpted by Moto Hata) as the base figure, and scratchbuild the relatively few mods to convert it to Angrir. The real challenge will be in the painting. . .

Stay tuned. . . 

The weekend after. . .

Month-end was BRUTAL!!! No other way to describe it. And "the fun" continues, so there will be precious little in the way of progress this weekend.

Having said that, I did spend about an hour at the bench today, concentrating on The Rhino. It is coming together quite nicely, and the putty work is almost done. Most notably, the Rhino is now armed! I finished the main horn this evening, and I think one more session of detailing and finishing will wrap-up the head [02.06.13--DONE!].  The remaining work will primarily involve texturing the skin. . . I am shooting for a priming session over the 4th of July weekend.

As an aside, I've begun to gather the raw materials for a major project in 2014: Angrir, The Breaker of Souls. This will be a conversion of a 1/6th scale figure (~300mm), and it will mark my first venture with vinyl in well over a decade! More to follow. . .