31 March 2014

Notable Acquisitions March 2014

Young Miniatures La Hire, Battle of Patay, 1429 (1/10th scale bust, Ju Won Jung ) [2x]

30 March 2014

Ser Vardis Egen--The Helmet

Now comes the fun part! The next step with the helmet is the creation of the zoomorphic, 'gro- tesque' upper half of the split-visor, as described by GRRM, 

". . . his visor was a pointed metal beak with a narrow slit for vision. . .

Admittedly, this could just as fittingly describe a Hundsgugel visor, but I have decided to make it more readily identifiable as a falcon's head, in keeping with the dominant Renaissance style of the harness. The "fly in the ointment" will be the incorporation of the bilateral falcon-wing crests once the visor is done.

The first step was packing the facial area with SSF to fill the negative space and creating a flow- ing foundation upon which to build the visor. I next applied a generous coat of vaseline over the front half of the head/helmet before draping a flattened piece of MS over the frontal upper quarter of the head/helmet. Finally, I roughly "sketched" falcon features in the putty before setting aside to cure.

And now we wait. . .

FOLLOW-UP. . . So far, so good. . . The visor blank cured beautifully and released with nary a problem. The final verdict will come in the days to come as it gets reduced and finished. . . 

UPDATE 31.03.2014. . . Phase 1 reduction is all but done. While there is still loads of work to be done, I must say I am delighted: I have a fully functional visor! And as when we started. . . NOW COMES THE FUN PART!!!

29 March 2014

Dark World Creations' Judge Death

With the imminent release of Judge Mortis, the time has come to get the Chief [Dark] Justice on the bench. . . the workbench that is.

Judge Death, the seventh release in Dark World Creations' 70mm 2000AD line, was 3-D sculpted by David Richardson. As with Dredd, the figure actually measures ~77mm in ht., and the kit is comprised of 7 exquisitely cast pieces + the logo-ed base. It is arguably a perfect casting: I have found but two minor air bubbles, and these were where one might expect to find them. Nonetheless, I will bake the castings prior to priming to avoid any potential 'surprises' down the road. And I will run a thin "wash" of glazing putty dissolved in MEK over the entire figure, so that the more stubborn--or elusive!--'secrets' are readily revealed.

Death will be mounted on another extensively reworked Kabuki Models’ base, this time their Eagle Steps scenic plinth. I'm about 60% into the remodelling and this could be wrapped-up in fairly short order.

Stay tuned!

26 March 2014

"I rot you in the name of the Lawww!"

Dark Judge #2, Judge Mortis, will be the next release from DWC in their 2000AD line. And he/it? looks AWESOME!!!  Rin and the team have put the bar beyond reach with this one! Death will be alone no longer. . .

UPDATE 27.03.2014. . . ON ORDER! Yesssssssssss!!!

24 March 2014

Ser Vardis Egen--The Head/Face

The reinforcing plate attached to the bevor that will seamlessly accommodate the upper bevor (lower half of the split-visor) is now 90% finished, and the helmet has been reduced once again to its component pieces. 

Before I can continue embellishing our otherwise plain great bascinet/quasi-close helmet, I must first address--gulp!--the head, specifically the face. None of the heads/faces of the Imai knights are particularly commendable, but that of Friedrich I is one of the worse! Ironically, it is a pretty good base of a decent likeness of Joffrey Baratheon, but little else. I first ground out the orbital sockets to allow me to sculpt the eyeballs, lids, etc. I then glued the two halves together, waited about five minutes, and packed the hollow head with MS. I can now 1) peg the head; 2) grind to my heart's content. 

Before calling it a day, I roughed-in the facial landscape with my leftover MS, letting myself be guided by GRRM's description of Ser Vardis: a "square, plain face. . ."

More to follow. . .  

UPDATE 25.03.2014. . . The face is now over halfway done. I am using Dino de Laurentiis and Bernard Hill as my facial references. I have also pegged the head, and tapped the baseplate of the helmet to accommodate the mounting peg.  The next step will be to build-out the lining/ padding of the helmet. In case you are wondering, the head will be painted in situ.

UPDATE 26.03.2014. . . Save for the eyes, the head is now all-but-done, and curing in the oven. I will hopefully be able to begin work on the helmet lining before the weekend. Movin' right along. . .

UPDATE 27.03.2014. . . The helmet lining is finished and the head has been fitted. Next up: the final facial landscaping and texturing, before permanently attaching the head and assembling the helmet. The eyes and final detailing will be done with the head in situ.

UPDATE 28.03.2014. . . The head has been permanently attached and the helmet assembled.

23 March 2014

Ser Vardis Egen--Weekend Wrap-up

It has been a productive, and satisfying, weekend. Much was accomplished, and the sub- assemblies are all-but-done. . . now the "fun" can begin in earnest!

First up will be the finishing of the close helmet so that I can then proceed with sculpting the zoomorphic, 'grotesque' upper half of the split-visor, and determine how to best depict the falcon-winged crests. I will also have to resculpt the face of the provided head (the weakest aspect of any Imai Knight!) so I can finish the helmet sub-assembly.

So far, so great!

21 March 2014

Ser Vardis Egen, Champion of Arryn

The proposed project is inspired by the description of Ser Vardis Egen in AGoT, Ch. 40:

Ser Vardis Egen was steel from head to toe, encased in heavy plate armor over mail and padded surcoat. Large circular roundels, enameled cream-and-blue in the moon-and-falcon sigil of House Arryn, protected the vulnerable juncture of arm and breast. A skirt of lobstered metal covered him from waist to midthigh, while a solid gorget encircled his throat. Falcon’s wings sprouted from the temples of his helm, and his visor was a pointed metal beak with a narrow slit for vision.  . . .

. . . Ser Vardis held out a gauntleted hand, and his squire placed a handsome double-edged longsword in his grasp. The blade was engraved with a delicate silver tracery of a mountain sky, its pommel was a falcon’s head, its crossguard fashioned into the shape of wings.  . . .

This is quite an evocative—and compelling!—description. And it immediately had me assessing my stash of Imai knights to see if a Ser Vardis could be coaxed out of one—or more!—of these kits.

Imai released their “Armored Knight Series” in the US in 1984. I remember harassing a poor distributor at the IPMS Nationals in Atlanta until he finally agreed to sell me his samples! Appa- rently they had been originally released in Japan having enhanced, if plainer, packaging—I have seen but one of these. And I have never seen the [chrome] plated versions released sometime in the '90s. Given what these are, they are simply superb! OOB, they are excellent representative models of the harnesses in question, all of which I have researched to varying extents in person. If one is so inclined, one can indulge in a bit of super-detailing, and create a 1/12th scale master- piece! 

I have tried to suss the convoluted history behind Aoshima, Imai, and Imex to no avail (if anybody would share even a "Cliff Notes" version, it would be greatly appreciated!). All I know is that at some time, Imex began packaging and distributing the kits in the US out of Brooksville, FL. I have both the Imai and the Imex versions, and while there is no appreciable difference between the two, on the whole, I prefer the Imex versions.

So much for the background of the base kits . . . on to the subject of this venture. Ser Vardis Egen is a knight from House Egen, retained in the service of House Arryn. He was captain of Jon Arryn's Household Guard when the latter was Hand of the King, and then became Captain of the Guards in the Eyrie for Robin Arryn and his mother, Lysa Arryn, widow of his erstwhile Lord and the sister of Lady Catelyn Stark. Somewhat past his prime, he is described as having a “square, plain face, silver hair, a heavy build, and no humor whatsoever.” (AGoT, Ch. 38). In the trial by combat with Bronn (Bronn championing Tyrion; Vardis, House Arryn's claim against the latter), the Arryn champion fell to the blade of the Lannister sellsword.

The project will be a kit-bash of two Imai/Imex kits: the Milanese Armatura alla Francese (AaF) of Kurfürst (Elector) Friedrich I (no. 2 in the series) [Atelier Missaglia | ca. 1450 | Inv. No.: HjRK_ A_2]; and the Adlergarnitur (henceforth, AG) of Erzherzog (Archduke) Ferdinand II (no. 3) [Jörg Seusenhofer | 1547 | Inv. No.: HjRK_A_638]. Parts will be scavenged from the other kits in the series if and when the need arises. As of this writing, I also intend to incorporate elements of, or suggested by, the Faltenrockharnisch of Markgraf Albrecht von Brandenburg, Hochmeister des Deutschen Ritterordens [? | 1526 | Inv. No.  HjRK_A_78]: these will be sculpted.

By way of a brief sidebar, it should be noted that a convincing and satisfactory depiction of Ser Vardis could be had virtually OOB with but the Milanese harness of Kurfürst Friedrich I.

Progress to date:
  •  AG tonlet separated from cuirass and assembled.
  •  AaF fauld separated from cuirass; arms and cuirass assembled.
  •  AG legs assembled.
UPDATE 22.03.2014. . . 
  • AG sabatons assembled, and preliminarily fitted to legs.
  • AG split-visor reduced to lower half. Reduced split-visor will be fitted to helmet of AaF.
  • AaF waist plate roughed-in to AG tonlet, and cuirass preliminarily fitted.
 UPDATE 23.03.2014. . . 
  • AaF/AG waist plate ~60% finished.
  • AG lower split-visor (lsv) tentatively fitted to AaF helmet. This entailed a reduction in breath along join line, for starters. . . 
  • Additional work to integrate the lsv into the bevor; required a reduction of both the upper and lower edges of the visor--the former as the first step to accommodate the sculpted falcon's beak upper sv. 
More to follow. . .

18 March 2014


We all know the quality of the work bearing the Young Miniatures logo. We may not always agree on the historicity of the subject in question, but we would be hard-pressed to be indifferent about, much less criticize, the quality of the casting, packaging, etc.

A recent experience has elevated Young Miniatures to an Elite/5-Star tier manufacturer in my book. I began prepping a YM bust that I had purchased a number of years ago when I realized that the accessory pieces were missing. This was entirely on me, as I distinctly recall that all pieces were present and accounted for when I inspected the kit upon receipt. I wrote YM, inquiring if they would sell me a replacement set of accessory pieces. Less than 24 hrs later, I received a response that they would gladly send me the pieces--at no charge! And less than a week later, I have a complete bust once again.

This is customer service par excellence! Above and beyond!! Heartfelt thanks to Young and his attentive staff!!!

16 March 2014

"The Hound"--Preliminaries

Let the game begin!

First things first: the sprue blocks have been ground/cut off, and reduction and/or finishing has begun.

I then removed the right forearm at the lower edge of the visible rerebrace/upper cannon and pegged the arm to the torso: this will be a classical, "armless" bust.

Next, I ground-off 4 of the riveted base plates for the large lateral spikes on the pauldrons; and attached a smaller spike to the front of the left pauldron. 

Finally, I removed the "fauld" of the coif, pegged the head to the torso, and filled-in the scooped-out portion of the gorget. I will probably begin reduction and finishing tomorrow.

Not a bad start. . .

15 March 2014

Sandor Clegane, “The Hound”

Sandor Clegane, "the Hound", younger brother of the even-more formidable Gregor, "the Mountain that Rides", is one of the most memorable characters in GRR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga. He was horribly disfigured at the age of 7 by his brother, who thrust his face into a brazier for playing with a toy that he himself had discarded.

The kit I selected to serve as the base for this project is one that, I must admit, would otherwise never have made its way into my hands: Young Miniatures' La Hire, Battle of Patay, 1429. My views on this release require but one simple statement: Production quality is as superb as the historicity is deplorable! For those of you who might be wondering what might be wrong with the depiction, I have an even shorter response: EVERYTHING!

The kit is comprised of 17 exquisitely cast pieces + the support plinth. Of these, I will use but 7 (4 major components plus 3 spikes), and "feed" the rest to my spare parts bin.


This will be a rather long term project, as there is much to be done to effect the conversion. First and foremost will be the sculpting of a new head, around which The Hound's iconic helmet will then be sculpted. By way of wrap-up, the armour will be reworked to some extent, but that will largely be at my discretion as there are no defining descriptions of The Hound's harness. I should point out that this will be a synthetic depiction of the character, drawing from both the literary and the visual sources.

More to follow. . .

11 March 2014

"The Lord Crow" -- Prepwork 2

This evening was spent correcting any asymmetry to the ip face, preparing the "fleshed-out" neck for its band, and reworking the eyes. The latter are a classic example of how the painted boxart, properly photographed, can mislead, if not deceive outright.

What were provided as eyeballs were nothing more than the pupils suspended in the orbital sock- ets. While more and more sculptors have taken to emulating their fine art brethren, they have lost sight (pun intended!) of the fact that these are meant to be painted! Provide corneal relief--even a pupillary depression if you must!--but, above all, provide an eyeball!!

I would say that the eyes are about 70% done. They are still curing, and I probably won't have time to reassess tonight; but by tomorrow, I should be able to start working on finishing the face if I am so inclined.

Finally, I have reduced the hood of the chaperon, which will be resculpted. Now comes the "tailor- ing" of the garments, and the build-out of the visible underlying armour. 

More to follow. . .

UPDATE 12.03.2014. . . As I began reworking the face, it became obvious that working around the stock eyes was an exercise in futility: I have ground out the eyes, and have begun resculpt- ing as I normally would. 

UPDATE 13.03.2014. . . Progress continues, albeit not without revealing additional inherent asymmetries. Ah well. . . it's a dirty job, but somebody has/had to do it! On a positive note, the neckband has been sculpted and is now curing.

10 March 2014

"The Lord Crow" -- Prepwork 1

The preliminary phase has been nearly completed: resculpting the face; or more to the point, filling out the gauntness of the casting and enhancing the skeletal underpinnings of the face. If you were to "shave" the stock face, the emaciated visage before you would be quite alien in appearance!

With the left-over putty, I began to rework the ventral halves of the chaperon (hood) and the sur- coat. The cape of the chaperon leaves much to be desired, and is not at all convincing; the sur- coat is equally problematic--especially in light of the dominating guige in the absence of any shield! 

That was completed by early yesterday afternoon. This afternoon, I beheaded the bust. This was done to facilitate the sculpture of the face, as well as allow me some latitude in the posing of the bust. The neck opening has been tapped and the head pegged: I can now begin to finalize the attitude of Lord Jeor, to say nothing of his costume. 

Effectively, I am using a commercial casting as the base, the core, of an original sculpt. 

More to follow. . .