29 April 2014

Looking ahead in 2014--Spring revision

Spring is definitely upon us. . . the birds and the bees are out and about, literally and figuratively; the pollen is rampant; and the "Oz Express"es are wreaking havoc. With a third of the year in the can already, it is time to redraft my plans for the year. I have not listed all I hope to get done: just those items that will most likely get done. While it does not look like I will get the jump on paint- ing I enjoyed last year, I hope to have at least one--maybe two--projects on the painting bench before the end of May.

Here goes . . . 
As always, subject--and very likely!--to change.

27 April 2014

Sláine - Prepwork 1a

The left deltoid muscle has been roughed-in and the arm fitted: a new arm socket is now in place.

What follows will take me into uncharted waters. I need to have both arms attached in their final position semi-permanently to allow me to sculpt a new set of fingers on the left hand in situ. My plan is to use white glue, which can then [hopefully] be loosened by heat and peeled away. 

This is the major hurdle on this project. Once it is done, the rest of the project is just a matter of 'doing it'.

Stay tuned. . . 

FOLLOW-UP 28.04.2014. . . The arms were provisionally attached last night, and the fingers were roughed-in this afternoon. The figure is now in the oven curing: I will hopefully be able to start finishing the fingers this evening. Time to go load a new #12 in the handle. . . 

FOLLOW-UP. . . While I did not have the opportunity to begin final finishing, preliminary indi- cations are very positive indeed. There are a few areas I will need to touch-up--in addition to adding the thumb--but for the time being I am very encouraged. . . More to follow. . .   

UPDATE 29.04.2014. . . SUCCESS!!! The fingers--including the thumb!--are all but done, and the arms have been removed without incident. Part 2 of the stage is now underway: reconfiguring the musculature of the left arm.

26 April 2014

Sláine - Prepwork 1

The left arm has been reanimated and tentatively repositioned. This will be a work in progress until the deltoid muscle is reworked.

The left hand has been "opened" and phase 1 reduction of the palm completed.

All extraneous and/or disassociated belting has been removed; reconstruction of underlying detail has begun.

Rework of the drapery of the to-be trews has begun in anticipation of the addition of the fur leggings.

A good start, but much remains to be done. . .

Ser Ilyn Payne, King's Justice

One of my favourite characters in HBO's Game of Thrones is Ser Ilyn Payne, the former Captain of the Guards of Tywin Lannister during the latter's tenure as Hand of the King for Aerys II Targaryen, and now the mute King's Justice (read: Royal executioner) of the Seven Kingdoms. He is played brilliantly by British pub rock legend Wilko Johnson, who on-screen looks like a cross between Abe Vigoda and Boris Karloff, with a touch of Rondo Hatton thrown in! As a brief aside, Mr. Johnson was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in 2013-- he has defied all predictions, and is still living life to the fullest. God Bless and Godspeed!!

But I digress. . . This is one of the eeriest characters yet seen on the show: silent and with a piercing look that is bone-chilling. And thus, one that screams to be done. . . even if the cha- racter can't! I fully intend to do a large(r)-scale bust of Ser Ilyn; but in the meantime, I thought that I would get a feel for the dynamics of the piece with a finished full-figure maquette.

For my base figure, I decided on Verlinden's 120mm Medieval Headsman (#1611). Unfortunately, pickings are rather slim for this subject, and I did not want to venture into the larger scales (and price tags!) of the gk's. But while Verlinden's take on the subject is somewhat stereotypical and uninspired, it is a superb base for what I have in mind.

The kit is cast in 17 pieces + groundwork. Casting overall is VG+++, with 4 or 5 annoying air bubbles that fortunately are easily identified and quite accessible. Other than that, the quality of the casting is everybody as good as we have come to expect from this manufacturer of late. Proportions are a bit off (short-legged) , but this is an easy enough fix given that I have to re-dress the legs.

I was quite surprised to see that Verlinden has taken to keying most of their parts. This is a dramatic improvement over the take-your-best-shot aligning of flat-on-flat mating surfaces! I can well imagine that this increases production overhead, but kudos to M. Verlinden for doing the right thing!!

That's it for now. Just a quick prologue to a project that I am very much looking forward to. This will be somewhat below filler-project priority, but once the base figure gets pared down and reposed, things should go quickly henceforth.   

Notable Acquisitions April 2014

Dark World Creations Judge Mortis (70mm, David Richardson)
Dark World Creations Sláine Mac Roth (70mm, David Richardson)

Sláine--What is and what shall be, pt. 2

Now for "what shall be" and my vision of the project before me. . . 
  • Delete/Remove:
    • Sword/Scabbard
    • All associated belting
    • The "head girdle"
  • Reposition and re-animate the left arm.
  • Rework the left hand.
  • Add fur leggings.
  • Add torc.
  • Rework the chained skulls--the secondary skull is gravity-defying and just doesn't look right. I have decided to replace the cast resin chains with the real deal. I will also rework the skulls themselves to make them demonic in origin.
  • Extend the plaid by adding a fringe or a distressed edge.
And that's about it. This will be a slow-moving project (yeah. . . that's a surprise!. . . what isn't nowadays?!), but one in which I definitely want to make serious inroads. 

Stay tuned!

25 April 2014

Sláine--What is and what shall be, pt. 1

I originally conceived of this project as a straight OOB “Painter’s” figure. However, the more I looked at the figure and the graphic artwork, the less I was convinced that this figure truly captured the character and presence of Sláine. 

Before I itemize my issues with this piece, please understand that these are MY opinions, and in no way reflect on the quality or design of the figure. I understand why the figure was done in the way that it was—my question to the good folk at DWC is: “Knowing what you do now, if Sláine was to be your next release, instead of it being your fourth release, would you elect this presentation?”

I should also point out that my experience with the graphic version of Sláine is limited to the collected trade anthology, Demon Killer, since this was the source for the 3-d’al interpretation of the subject. While I have attempted to construct a graphic timeline of the subject’s appearance, this is hardly definitive. Hence, some of my conclusions might be, to varying degrees, at best, indefensible.

OK. . . in no particular order. . .
  • The pose is rather stiff and two dimensional. And artistic license has been exercised a number of times, regrettably not in a good way.
  • Case in point, the sword. Sláine is depicted with a sword on the cover art of DK

        but 1) he is not wearing a scabbard; and 2) that is the only instance where Sláine is
        shown wielding a sword! [NOT TRUE! See UPDATE below.] The sword was included to:
        1) increase the mayhem potential of the subject; and 2) give the left hand something to do--
        without  resorting to anatomical machinations, and potentially discouraging sales due to the
        painting implications. Animation on this piece is quite limited.
  • The scabbard. Apparently there were difficulties in lining-up the hand/grip with the scabbarded sword: in my sample, the quillons are not perpendicular to the blade, and the top scabbard binding has been angled to accommodate the quillons. The ideal solution would have been to include the sword as a stand-alone accessory and have the hand jauntily at the hip.  
  • The sword belt. Perfunctory at best! And the scabbard bindings are significantly wider than the belt, which is but a smidge wider that the bindings on the lower legs of the breeches!    
  • The “leggings”. The bindings are very nicely done. . . BUT, why are there no fur leggings?!
  • The “belt” with the head totems. WHY? There is no evidence of the belt being sup- ported in any fashion, which means that Sláine would be tripping on the belt after 2 or three strides! Also, such an accessory is nowhere to be found in the graphic art. UPDATE 24.06.2014. . . Not true. While Rin indicated that the graphic source of this piece is the collected trade anthology, Demon Killer (not the story by the same name!), specifically it belongs to an introductory story titled, "The High King". . . And the figure is faithful to the illustration!
  • Why was the torc left off? This is an iconic--and culturally-defining!--item for the subject. [see previous notation: Sláine did not wear a torc in this story.]
[to be continued. . . ]

    23 April 2014

    Dark World Creations' Sláine Mac Roth

    By way of introduction, this is the background provided by DWC:
    Sláine is a mighty, black-haired Irish warrior. . . . Once banished from the Sessair tribe, Sláine became a wanderer. He wandered the land seeking adventure armed with his axe, Brainbiter.  An unscrupu- lous dwarf called Ukko, who is his sidekick and chronicler, accompa- nies Sláine (note: I'd love for DWC to do a figure of Ukko!). In later stories, Sláine becomes the first High King of Ireland. 
    The graphic novel Demon Killer by Pat Mills and the art of Glen Fabry inspired our Sláine.
    Additional information can be found here.

    Sláine Mac Roth is Dark World Creations' fourth release in their 2000AD series. 3-D sculpted by David Richardson, the 70mm figure actually measures 77mm in overall ht.: this is the "beefiest" of the DWC releases to date. The kit is comprised of 11 exquisitely cast pieces + the logo-ed base.

    In my next posting, I will examine the design of the figure and provide a preliminary outline of my plans for it.

    More to follow. . .

    20 April 2014

    Dark World Creations' Judge Mortis

    Judge Mortis isssss here!

    Hot on the heels of the first Dark Judge and his companion, Judge Mortis is the eighth release in Dark World Creations' 70mm 2000AD line. As with the rest of the line, its design was in the most capable hands of 3-D sculptor, David Richardson. David has consistently raised the bar with every new piece he designs, and I frankly thought that Death was as good as it gets. . . WRONG! Mortis far exceeds anything I might have expected or hoped for--it is absolutely stun- ning! As with Dredd and Death, the figure is close to 80mm in overall height: it is the largest of the three. 

    The kit is comprised of 9 exquisitely cast pieces + the logo-ed base, and the casting is the best yet from DWC! It is arguably a perfect casting: my only reservation is that the caster went a bit overboard with the mold release. Please note that the castings are perfect with no loss of detail whatsoever(!); but if you receive [a] super-shiny, tacky piece[s], you will have to soak them in warm, soapy water for a night or two, and then give them a good scrub-down with a toothbrush. And that is it--no air bubbles, no major seamlines. . . nothing but a faithful reproduction of the graphic design!

    As a sidebar note, when I contacted Rin about this, he was very forthcoming in explaining what had happened and offered suggestions on how to remedy the situation. He also graciously offered to send me replacement pieces if I had any reservations whatsoever. DWC's customer service is exceeded only by the quality and diversity of their offerings. . . or is it the other way around?

    As to my plans for this piece. . . too early to say. Other than the fact that it will join his Dark companion in relatively short order.

    In closing, if you've been on the fence about this series, GET OFF IT!!! These peg the meter in terms of quality, value. . . and fun!

    19 April 2014

    Bang for the buck. . .

    I was responding to a thread on the CH, where the member has recently completed a [painting] conversion of a Pegaso 90mm Knight Templar to Faramir at Osgiliath--inspired adaptation and quite well done! In his presentation, he was lamenting the cost of 90mm wm historical castings-- and I can't blame him!!

    I was recently researching a down-the-road potential project, and the most suitable figure was a 300mm PUR garage kit. Cost: US$120. Versus the cost of a 90mm wm historical figure kit: US$125 - $150!!!

    'Nuff said. . .

    11 April 2014

    Tyrion -- Prepwork 3

    Prepping the Imp continues, though hardly at the pace I would prefer. Work has been incessantly brutal, and unfortunately there is no reprieve in sight. 

    On the plus side, glazing has begun: the surface finishing stage of the prepwork has begun in earnest. And while the pauldron is all-but-done, the pauldron strap (roughed-in the other night in MS)--and the double cuirass straps (I am resculpting the buckles to accommodate the pauldron strap)!--are just underway.

    The face/likeness, on the other hand, is about 70% 80-85% 90+% done. If I had < 2 solid days to work on it, I would say it would be a fait accompli!  

    All in all, while I am disappointed with the amount of progress being made, I am certainly not disappointed with the quality of the progress that has been made to-date!

    More to follow. . .

    05 April 2014

    Tyrion -- Prepwork 2

    The pauldron has been fitted and is now all-but-done. All that remains are some fine detailing, and some minor tweaks here and there. 

    The integral plinth has been roughed-in with MS. I imagine there will be 2-3 more sessions before it can be considered done. 

    Almost there! Stay tuned. . .

    04 April 2014

    Ned Stark -- Prepwork 1

    We are off and grinding! Save for the embroidered tunic collar, anything that was Boromir (see below) is now history! I am beginning to "sketch" Ned's costume, and it should be a fairly straightforward undertaking--which means that most of my efforts will be expended on the shadowcat fur.

    Facial (read: likeness) reconstruction is now underway in earnest. And it is coming along splen- didly! Things began to come together once the overworked hair was reduced. The trick will now be P&P: patience and pacing.

    More to follow. . .

    02 April 2014

    Eddard "Ned" Stark

    My dear friend and colleague, Rich, stopped by last weekend to see what I was up to, and he was astounded at the number of Game of Thrones projects in the works and/or in the planning stages. Well, my friend, I’ve just added another: the Lord Paramount and Warden of the North, and Lord of Winterfell, Eddard “Ned” Stark.

    Ned Stark, as brilliantly portrayed by Sean Bean, had an all-too-short run on HBO's GoT, being beheaded in the pivotal ep9 of the first season. His perfidious execution, ordered by Joffrey, sets the stage for the War of the Five Kings.

    The base figure will be Knight Models’ 1/10th scale bust of Boromir in their LotR line. As you all probably know, Boromir was portrayed by Sean Bean in the first installment of Peter Jack- son’s LotR, The Fellowship of the Ring (he also appears in flashbacks in the second install- ment, The Two Towers). The bust is based on this iteration of Boromir.

    I will be the first to admit that this is not a spot-on likeness of Bean in the role; however, it is nowhere near as bad as some claim. Most of the critiques revolve around painted versions of the bust, not the raw casting—or the master!—and this should never be the basis of a critical review! Unfortunately, I have not seen images of the master; i.e., how much of a role did distortion play in the final product?

    The bust is cast in the now-familiar grey resin in two pieces: bust and truncated shield. Overall, I have to give KM its props and say that this is arguably the best example of resin casting I have seen from this company! It was by no means perfect; BUT, it was certainly that where it needed to be. Very impressive!

    I also have to give props to the price point: this is VERY reasonably priced at right around US$45.00!

    The project will involve sculpting the Ned Stark costume (the challenge here will be the shadow- cat stole/collar of the mantle), and reworking the likeness to reflect an older Mr. Bean.

    FOLLOW-UP. . . Phase I of the facial (read: likeness) reconstruction is done. I believe the main shortcomings can be attributed to casting distortion due to poor mold design. Mold design should have been reevaluated when faced with disproportionate lateral shrinkage/"compression".

    Finally, this is a "large" 1/10th scale bust--IMHO, more at 1/9th!

    01 April 2014

    Judge Death - Prepwork 1

    Death has been pegged and mounted on its work base. . . A word of caution: proceed slowly and very carefully with a sharp, preferably new, bit--there is not a lot of freeboard on those legs!

    AND. . . he's been fitted to the groundwork--after some further mods to the latter.  

    AND. . . the left arm has been tentatively 'fitted' (more at "lined-up") to the torso. Also, all the pieces have been removed from the sprue/s, and the pour blocks and vents removed.

    Movin' right along. . .