29 December 2013

The Rhino - Painting (III): Rhino suit (5)

And so I wrap up the painting of the Rhino suit from the neck down: the left leg is now [effectively] done! The head cowl and horns will be tackled once the figure is permanently mounted on its display base.

Unfortunately, save for whatever I might get done today in the remaining pre-dinner hours, that also means that the painting for 2013 is effectively done! The remainder of my year is not some- thing I would wish on very many people, so . . .

That being said, a happy, healthy and prosperous 2014 to the readership and yours! In the next six weeks, I will be completing the Rhino and starting--and hopefully finishing!--Judge Dredd, so check back often as the posting count should be rockin'. . .

"Should auld acquaintance be forgot. . . ",


27 December 2013

"JUSTICE": Judge Joseph Dredd--Intro

Being oh-so-close to priming as I am, I thought it was time to get the ball rolling on the painting portion of the project. . .

Firstly, I will say that this will be rendered as originally conceived; i.e., with a black/blue-black uniform. I will probably custom-mix my black to give myself a little more flexibility in my tonal shades, as well as provide a more vibrant appearance to the figure. While most of the artwork shows the Judges' jumpsuit as a medium to royal blue--with the de rigueur hard-edged shading in black, as in so many cases in the Silver and Bronze Age of Comics, what we the readership see is the result of artistic deliberation and/or concessions to the limitation/s of the printing process, not necessarily the conceptual canon. To further complicate matters, Dredd was originally published in B&W: he would not be graced with full-colour until Fall 1988 (Prog 589), over 11 years after his introduction in Prog 2!

As with most venerable comic book icons, points of detail are as varied as the artists behind them. For example, most of Dredd's gear is usually depicted as a tone of Chrome Green; but there have been any number of instances where his elbow and knee pads have been yellow/ ochre/buff. As of this writing, I haven't decided which colour/s I will use. . .

So much for that. I hope to have whetted your appetite for the visual feast around the corner. And any comments, especially from our die-hard 2000AD fans, are most welcome!

26 December 2013

Judge Dredd -- Prepwork - Home Stretch

I have just attached the right arm to the torso and dressed the seam, and with that, the torso sub-assembly can be deemed completed! In fact all the sub-assemblies are now pegged to their work-bases, and save for a few minor touch-ups here and there--and the final (I hope!) final once over, the prepwork is effectively done! I think this may very well be primed by the end of next week!!

Does that mean the groundwork is done? Regrettably not. . . but I am closer! General clean-up and resurfacing has been completed, and all that remains is cleaning up and suitably weathering the tedious custom engraving along the base of the plinth.

Almost there!

25 December 2013

Notable Acquisitions December 2013

This was a Dark World Creations December/Christmas! And a stellar one it was/IS. . .
  • Durham Red (70mm, David Richardson)
  • Judge Death (70mm, David Richardson)
  • "Mean Machine" Angel (70mm, Pedram Karimfazli)
  • PSI Judge Anderson (70mm, Fabricio Torres)
And more "zombie goodness" (Cheers, Rin!) is on its way. . . 

PS--While all of the above are Tier-1+ figures (i.e., exceptional!), Death and "Mean Machine" are simply "off the chain"!

The Rhino - Painting (III): Rhino suit (4)

After 2 1/2 sessions, the right leg is now [effectively] done! The legs have proven to be the most challenging part of the project to date, if only because they have to be painted in anticipation of the addition of rather dramatic weathering: they are more an extension of the groundwork, than a component of the figure!

This will very probably be the last bit of painting done before the weekend. Barring any unforeseen developments in the days to come, I am hoping that the figure itself will be all-but-done by the end of the 29th. . . 

Movin' right along. . .

The Rhino - Groundwork -- Wrap-up

Phase I of the groundwork is now essentially done!  I think I have one more session of general debris/rubble ahead of me to integrate the various components of the rubble field, add burst mains, etc., but this could could be done at the outset of Phase II, hence the completion of Phase I.

If I can jump into Phase II before the weekend, and apply the basecoats by Saturday, the groundwork might be ready to accept the figure by Sunday.

Getting closer. . .

22 December 2013

The Rhino - Painting (III): Rhino suit (3)

The left arm is now [effectively] done!

Half-way there. . . Perhaps even a bit more than. . . I have begun applying the spot-washes and "filters"to the torso, and start tightening-up some of the detail lines and textural relief in and around the folds of the completed sections.

So far, so very good. I am very pleased with what is now before me; and though still overwhelm- ingly grey, the landscape of the morphology is beginning to emerge quite nicely!

More to follow. . . 

21 December 2013

The Rhino - Painting (III): Rhino suit (2)

The right arm is now [effectively] done! 

Two down . . .  

I am hoping that I have the time and inclination to tackle the left arm tomorrow before I am faced with putting up the brushes for the rest of the week, if not the year. . . 

Stay tuned!

15 December 2013

The Rhino - Painting (III): Rhino suit (1)

With the face effectively done--there is still the matter of integration once the surrounding Rhino suit is completed--it is time to take a deep breath and jump into the deep end. . . 

While laying out my palette--blues and warm orange-biased tertiaries to custom-mix my grey hues--I decided to break-up the Rhino suit into six manageable portions: head, torso, arms (x2), and legs (x2).

First up, the torso; and it is now effectively done. There will be A LOT of post-drying washes, dry-brushing, and touch-ups to maximize the depth and visual presence of the skin texturing, but the foundation coat of oils is now in the books.

One down. . . five to go. . . 

14 December 2013

The Rhino - Painting (II): Face

Phase 1 of the face is now done. I don't really anticipate the need for a Phase 2; rather, it will be a matter of tweaking the contrasts--using concentrated washes of the shadows and the most reflective tints for the super-highlights--until I am satisfied with the overall tonal gradient. 

Hopefully tomorrow. . . 

UPDATE 15.12.2013. . . Face is done!

Green Arrow (Eaglemoss DC Chess) -- Review (cont.)

Regrettably, the conclusion of this review is not what I had hoped for. . . 

On the plus side, the quality of the sculpture is superb! As best as I can tell, it is indeed com- prised of 4 pieces + base. This is a significant cost-saving measure afforded by the use of resin, with minimal down-side.

The negative. All the fineness and subtlety of the sculpture is virtually negated by the coarseness of the filler used! So much so that the figure is effectively rendered unusable once the paint is stripped!! Apparently, the production team is either unawares of the nuances of cold-cast metal casting, or are limited by budget constraints. Back in the day, I would have never used an aluminum powder so coarsely ground with the resin they are using--and without a thixotropic medium (read: "stratifier")! What is happening is that the essentially one-piece casting is being poured from the feet, and all the filler metal is settling to the upper body and head. The result is a relatively smooth, albeit virtually metal-free, lower body, and a craggy, coarse upper body. Of course, if you are willing to fill-in the roughness with paint, I don't suppose it really matters; but you are eliminating the repaint option. And even if you elected not to use a stratifier, a finer grade of Al powder would circumvent the problem, but would cut into your profit margin. 

Admittedly, this could have been a fluke. I can tell you with complete and authoritative confidence that it does happen. But if your fallback to a failed casting is a heavy (heavier?) application of paint, then any pretense at quality control during production is disingenuous, if not superfluous. 

I contacted Eaglemoss' CS, and received an immediate and candid response from a charming young lady. To wit, she was not in a position to discuss production issues. When I asked her if she could direct me to the point person on the production team, she replied that she did not have a contact to give me.

And so, my patronage of Eaglemoss has come to an end. The decline in painting quality was merely a symptom of what now lays beneath (HINT: paint is not intended to be used as either a filler or an adhesive!). And I don't need to be wasting my time OR money on an operation whose entire focus now appears to be the latter. CAVEAT EMPTOR!

13 December 2013

Ladies and gentlemen. . .

I am very proud--and pleased as punch!--to announce that "Queen of the Prom" was deemed "Best in Contest" in Dark World Creation's 1st Anniversary Commemorative Painting Competition.

My sincere thanks to Aaron Ishmael (bka Rin) for sponsoring the contest, and the opportunity he afforded us. I am very much looking forward to providing Jessica with some full-bodied companions!

DWC isss AWESOME!!!!

Well, the gang at Dark World Creations is certainly living up to the Christmas spirit! Their last two releases in their 2000AD line are off the charts!!

First up, their rendition of the Judge who is the poster child for "Beauty can be deadly", the blonde bombshell of MC-1, PSI-Judge Cassandra Anderson:

I already have this stunning piece and a hands-on review will follow soon.

And their Chrissstmas sssurprise, announced but a few hours ago. . .

I can only hope that the rest of Death's companions are not far behind. . .

And last, and least only in stature, their latest addition to the DotA horde, Zombie Kid Joe.


PS--Happy Friday the 13th!

PPS--All of the above are now available from The Red Lancers! (as of 12/23)

12 December 2013

The Rhino - Groundwork -- Images

A couple of images of the groundwork through [the majority of] Phase I:

Though there are a few more points of detail to be added, I will probably start applying paint over the weekend. . . I hope. . .

More to follow. . .

Holiday Greetings '13

This year has seemingly flown by! And I expect the last fortnight or so will be a warp-drive run into 2014!!

Whether that is a good thing or not is entirely subjective. I truly hope that most of us will see it as page 1 of a highly-anticipated, hot-off-the-presses novel, but I completely understand--and empathize--if expectations are tempered. . .

Regardless, make sure to take some time for yourselves this Holiday Season: plot out a new project; or make some inroads on an ongoing venture; or simply wrap-up that poor soul that has been desperately clamoring for completion! Make this Holiday fortnight truly memorable!! And above all, enjoy whatever time you have with family and friends, for they are the ones who will be with us in the 365-day journey that is right around the corner.

So, without further ado, I would like to take this opportunity to wish the readership a joyous, restful, peaceful--and, yes, productive!-- Holiday Season; and a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.

Thank you for your patronage and support.



11 December 2013

Green Arrow (Eaglemoss DC Chess)

Those who frequent this blog are well aware of my affinity for Eaglemoss pre-painted collectible figurines--to be stripped, cleaned, and repainted as they deserve!

My latest acquisition is the Green Arrow from DC's "The New 52" reboot. This is the modernized version of the Emerald Archer, complete with compound bow, form-fitting tactical costume, and armored boots. And while it is not my first figure from the DC Chess Collection, it is the first one that I have stripped.

The DC Chess Collection (actually two distinct sets) figures differ from the main Eaglemoss DC Comics Super Hero Collection offerings in that the former are cast in what Eaglemoss calls "metallic resin". "Metallic resin" is a euphemistically vague, and potentially misleading, phrase. What resin was used? What filler was used?? What is the percent saturation??? All of which leads to the ultimate question: are these cold-cast bronze/"pewter"?

The figure is now in its third day in the "purple bath". To date, I have been able to "break down" the figure to 5 pieces:
  • the figure 
  • the left hand/compound bow (white metal)
  • the drawn arrow
  • a 'block' of arrow fletchings (inserts into box quiver)
  • the circular plinth

My observations to this point:
  • The hand/bow unit is cast in white metal and separated quite readily from the left wrist.
  • The balance of the figure is cast in what appears to be a polyester resin sparingly “filled” with powdered aluminum.This is by no means a "cold-cast" metallic! That being said, the retention of detail and the quality of the casting is superb!!
  • The quality of the painting continues to decline. The paint is astoundingly "heavy" and obliterates virtually any detail that it might touch (e.g., the finely sculpted/cast third and fourth fingers on the right hand were hidden under paint!). I can virtually guarantee that even an average paint-up will be light years ahead of this factory slop! 
  • Eaglemoss should be commended for pinning the ankles of the figure with music wire. This is the "Achilles heel" (pun intended) of virtually every "hard resin" figure, and the inclusion of this critical support will do much to forestall any disappointment in the future.

I will continue this review in the days to come once all the the paint is off the figure. . . 

09 December 2013

The Rhino - Groundwork

The Rhino's groundwork is a "project within a project". While all of the foundation work was done/ completed before priming, the very character of the subject demands that most of the defining elements (read: rubble) be done once the groundwork is permanently attached to the display base, with the most important aspects added after the completed figure is permanently attached to the latter.

So today I began to build-out the groundwork. This consisted of individually cracking/crushing a number of Verlinden (#1447) red bricks, and applying the larger structural elements to an under- layer of MS. Once this was cured, I carefully applied a coat of thinned white glue to the overall debris to 1) seal the bricks I applied in the previous step; and 2) apply a layer of chipped and ground bricks for texture and blending.

So far, so great! I think I will have one, maybe two, more general debris sessions ahead of me (using chipped/ground bricks and cat litter) before I can begin painting the "core" ground work. Then comes the fun part. . .(gulp!)

07 December 2013

The Rhino - Painting (I): U/Cing

THE RHINO IS NOW UNDERCOATED. . . and curing in the oven.

The Silver Age Rhino is not the most colourful of characters--chromatically--and herein lies the challenge: how to make a uniform medium grey vibrant and visually interesting! Layering my acrylic undercoat, I was able to "sketch" the lighting plan, as well as introduce colours to break-up the monotony of what amounted to little more than a tonal variant of the primer.

How well did I succeed, and how well will I translate this into the final oils?  Stay tuned. . .

03 December 2013

"I'm Rhino. I knock things down. That's what I do. . .that's who I am!"

Save for a few loose ends in the texturing phase; the final once-over; and--of course--the groundwork, the Rhino is, at long last, DONE!!!

I will hopefully have him primed and on the paint-bench within the fortnight. . .

UPDATE 06.12.2013. . . Did I say fortnight? The figure should be primed and on the painting bench sometime over the weekend. In the meantime, the groundwork is primed, and the black edging and foundation shadows applied.

FOLLOW-UP. . . THE RHINO IS PRIMED!!! Time to go shake-up some acrylics. . . And the groundwork has been permanently attached to the display base!

02 December 2013

Dragon 1/9 scale Bane (#38320)

I acquired this figure on one of the plethora of Black Friday internet sales—and at 50% off msrp, who could resist?! This is the model kit, not the pre-painted (but some assembly required) Action Hero Vignette (#38110). The difference between the two products are as follows:
  • More elaborate boxing/presentation: sleeved, hd foam-lined
  • Completely prepainted
  • Full groundwork/ready-to-display setting (vs. bare plastic display base)
And, of course. . .
  • Price

WHAT YOU GET: 11 finely-molded, solid, “hard vinyl” pieces + one circular, plain, black polysty- rene base. The torso, one-piece legs unit, boots, and mask (3 pieces) are molded in lt. grey; the rest is molded in flesh. 

As with many of my fellow miniaturists, I would love for Dragon to include the “groundwork” setting with their figure kits—or at least make them available to be bought separately. In this case, however, while nicely painted and finished, it would require an inordinate amount of work to make it “show-quality: IMHO, simply not worth the additional cost.

Dragon took quite a few “short-cuts” on this piece. I acquired it knowing that this would be a long- term project to get it up to snuff, with most of the work to-be-done centered on the pants. I have yet to determine how much work will be required on the vest, but I am certain that at least a moderate amount of resculpting will be involved. Ditto for the mask.

Are these earlier releases worth the msrp? Honestly, I would have to say no. But if you can find them at 30% off or better, and you are willing and able to put the time and effort into it to get it “up to speed”, then by all means, go for it!  

01 December 2013

The Rhino--Back on the front burner. . . AGAIN!

By way of prologue, this project has been something of a poster-child for "false-finishes"! Just when you think there is nothing left to be done, one or the other thing pops up, which then forces a reappraisal of all the work done in the immediate area.

Having said that, I can say with utmost certainty that the end is in sight: all that is left to do is detailing the left foot, and adding the tubercles to the shoulders, etc. I will also revisit the left eye to make sure all is as it should be.

And that is it! Save for the groundwork, but that is another story altogether. . .

PS--In case you are wondering, yes, the news about the supposed depiction of the Rhino in ASM 2 was a primary motivator in seeing this project through to completion in the immediate future. I hope they don't decide to go totally "Ultimate" with Aleksei's 'suit'--he is, after all, Aleksei Sytsevich, not Alexander O'Hirn!

Ultimately Amazing?

With now less than 6 months (2 May 2014) before the highly-anticipated release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2--and less than a week before the release of the "first" trailer, it should come as no surprise that "news" has begun to trickle out of the guarded vaults of Sony. . .

Whether it is "good news"--or "bad", will ultimately depend on your personal take on the story- line and how the characters are portrayed. Though hardly a "scoop", it appears as if the movie will definitively set the story in the Ultimate Marvel universe: Earth-1610.

Personally, this is a disappointment, as I have no real connection with the Ultimate universe. The allusions to this setting were fairly obvious throughout ASM 1, but I was hoping that the series would take 'something old' and 'something new' to create a new, vibrant interpretation of the printed works. They have definitely taken "something old", but what they have taken--and why--is at best illogical--at worst, insulting! So, we'll hope for the best as we await the Ultimate Electro, the Ultimate [mecha-]R.H.I.N.O., and--the gods help us--the Ultimate Green Goblin. . .

On the plus side, I guess that Gwen Stacy will survive at least through the second installment-- and the alignment of Disney and Sony is further enhanced. . .

"Excelsior!"? I think not. . .