31 December 2014

Mercury Models' 75mm Viking Warrior

My latest acquisition--and I think we can safely say the last figure I will acquire in 2014--is Mercury Models' 75mm Viking Warrior, brilliantly sculpted by none other than Yury Serebry- akov. By way of introductory background, Mercury Models is a Russian company launched in May, 2013. To date offering full figures in 54 and 75mm, as well as 200mm busts, hitherto they have concentrated on pre-Modern--pre-Renaissance to be precise--subjects.

My version is the limited-edition resin offering: they also offer this figure in white metal. It is com- prised of 6 pieces + a stony outcropping that serves as the groundwork. The fit is a little bit "rough" overall, but not where it counts and certainly well within expectations, so no problems there. And the design is impressive, to say the least! The same can be said for the quality of the castings!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!

As to what I intend to do with this figure, I will use it as a base to represent a Free Folk (bka "Wildlings" to those South of The Wall) raider. Mods and enhancements will be minimal--as of this writing. . .

More to follow!

HAPPY NEW YEAR to one and all!!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

27 December 2014

Andrea's "Dragon Lady" -- Reflections

Within the fortnight, I fully expect to have the "Mother of Dragons" safely ensconced in the dis- play cabinet. With that in mind, I thought I would share some thoughts with you re: this Andrea offering. . . 

First of all, let me just state up front that this figure is not licensed. So what, you say?! And to a point, I would have to agree since the only licensed, unpainted model kits that I know of are those marketed by Dark Sword Miniatures. Frankly, I think the "gorilla in the room" was/is not the creator and author, George R.R. Martin (who is a huge fan of what we do!), but rather HBO: all of DSM's offerings are based on the literary characters, not the televised ones. 

This figure was lambasted based on images of a relatively mediocre rendering of the subject the minute it was announced! This is an aspect of the Internet that I'd just as soon do without. In a world driven by so-called social media, it is acceptable to start and/or join the hue & cry--espe- cially when sheltered by anonymity and under no obligation, moral or otherwise, to act respon- sibly and offer at the very least a retraction. 

I am all for critical evaluation of any piece for sale. However, to do so sight unseen and under a pseudonym is pusillanimous and contemptible! And to stone a figure with rocks of ignorance and pettiness simply because it does not meet ones expectations, whatever those might have been, is beneath contempt!!

And what does it say about the state of the hobby today when a figure's merits--or lack thereof-- are largely determined by the finished end-product in all its PS'd glory?! I have NEVER been a fan of using the painted figure as a promotional hook, if only because we are denied our right as con- sumers to see the product we are buying!

This is the state of the hobby today. A figure is judged by a mob mentality--a largely blind one, I might add. The Academic mindset, so consciously and assiduously suppressed in the 80s and 90s, has now reached unfettered--and unimaginable!--heights. It promotes what it likes, or what is considered "the standard" (by whom?), and represses what it doesn't. And this is Art? Little did an old colleague of mine realize how prescient and discerning his indictment of the hobby was some 15 years ago! And that was before the "age of computers"!!

But I digress. . . as I mentioned in the original posting, this figure has "taken me back to the hal- cyon days of the 80s and 90s: 54mm, quality white-metal castings with minimal breakdown of parts, and average (or above!) fit. . ." Would I feel the same way about this figure if I had not been already an avid miniaturist in the last quarter of the 20th c.? I'd like to think so. . .

This is by no means a perfect figure, but I stand by my original statement: This is the best ren- dition of [Emilia Clarke in the role of] Daenerys 'Stormborn' of House Targaryen, First of Her Name at her defining moment that I have seen to date! And if you like the subject, or at all curi- ous/interested, and you can still work your way around a 54mm figure, I highly recommend it! Kudos to whomever sculpted it!!

AMF

26 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Painting: The Dragons and Wrapping-up

The babies are cleaned-up, pegged, PRIMED(!), and curing in the oven. I intend to have them at the very least uc'd by the end of this weekend: it is critical that I stop at a natural step since I will not be picking up a brush until the following weekend. . .

Stay tuned!. . . 

26.12.2014 - Drogon's wings (Reaper Magma Red) and Rhaegal have been undercoated. 
27.12.2014
  • Viserion undercoated
  • Eggshells sculpted in SSF, finished and permanently attached to base. 
  • Phase 1 (acrylics) of the hair completed.
  • Rhaegal's dorsal surface and Dany's left hand painted. 
  • Eggshells (Drogon's and Rhaegal's) painted.
 28.12.2014
  • Rhaegal permanently attached.
  • Dany's left wrist and Rhaegal's wing faired to her forearm with MS.
  • Viserion painted -- I intend to have him permanently attached by Tuesday latest. 
 29.12.2014
  • Viserion permanently attached. The tail (cast en suite to Dany's calf) has been faired to his body (MS).
  • Drogon's ventral surface (that facing the viewer) painted. 
  • Dany's eyes glazed (Liquin).

 “When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

25 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Painting: Phase 2 (Oils)

Phase 2 has largely been a fine-tuning phase of selective enhancement and overall modulation-- as I had hoped for! While I was perfectly OK with having to add another layer to augment or re- duce some areas, that--thankfully--proved unnecessary. Phase 2 will probably continue up to the point of commencing Phase 3, which will not be launched until the subject has been permanently transferred to her display base. 

Moving right along. . . 

FOLLOW-UP. . . Phase 2 of the Groundwork has been completed as well. The groundwork is now ready to receive the main subject.

The weekend will be spent finishing the prepwork on the babies, and preparing them for painting.

UPDATE 26.12.2014. . . Daenerys has been permanently transferred to her display base! While there is still quite a bit of finishing to be done on her, what remains is more integrative than any- thing else; hence, Phase 2 will likely continue until the project is deemed completed.

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

24 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Painting: Phase 1 (Oils)

Given the "free style" approach dictated by this figure, I decided to lay out my palette, and simply paint. There are no clothes, no hard line separations (save for the hair), and the scale is not an issue in any way, shape or form. 

This is Phase 1, which in this instance, is the "glazing" phase. This is not a true glazing applica- tion, rather, it is merely substituting the usual Turpenoid with linseed oil as a thinner. This not only thins the paint uniformly, but extends the working time--always a consideration when using flesh tones/browns--without unduly extending the workable drying time.   

There will be one more application of oils (Phase 2), and then I will wrap her up with weathering, etc. (Phase 3). 

I also concluded Phase 1 of the Groundwork, also in oils.

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

21 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Painting: Eyes

After careful consideration, I opted to paint the eyes before breaking out the oils. . . 

The eyes are critical on this piece. Yes, yes. . . I know what most of you are thinking, if not ac- tually saying; but I have long held that while eyes are important, they are not--shouldn't be!--the focal point of any figure smaller than 1/6th scale! On this piece, however, the eyes are critical if only because if poorly painted, they will "ruin" the figure, no matter how well painted and/or staged it might be. You need look no further than the boxart for proof. . . 


 
The eyes are perfectly cast--at least on my sample--and this makes for a rather easy undertaking to deal with the basic applications. 

Emilia Clarke's eyes are essentially the same colour as Peter Dinklage's. Thus, I first blocked-in the irises with Vallejo Gold-Brown: this will serve as the undercoat, if you will. I then overpainted the irises with oils, using a custom grey-green mix. The pupils will be added once the face is completely  done, as the final tonality of the irises will be determined by the final coloration of the face. 

That endeavor will commence later this week. . .

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

Notable Acquisitions December 2014

KITS  
Andrea Dragon Lady (54mm, ???)
Dragon Guardians of the Galaxy - Rocket Raccoon (~1/5th scale, ???)
Dragon Guardians of the Galaxy - Groot with Rocket Raccoon (1/9th scale, ???)
Mercury Models Viking Warrior (75mm, Yury Serebryakov)

Holiday Greetings '14

I try to provide a new, contemplative, Holiday preamble to this annual year-end tradition; but last year's seems even more fitting of the way 2014 has unwound, thus I will exercise the "Redux Option". . . 

This year has seemingly flown by! And I expect the last fortnight or so will be a warp-drive run into 2015!!

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 willingly and selflessly be at our side 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, rest- ful, peaceful--and, yes, productive!-- Holiday Season; and a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.

Thank you for your patronage and support.

MERRY CHRISTMAS
HAPPY HANUKKAH
FELIZ NAVIDAD
BUON NATALE
FRÖLICHE WEINACHTEN
JOYEUX NOËL
CRĂCIUN FERICIT
MERII KURISUMASU
WESOŁYCH ŚWIĄT BOŻEGO NARODZENIA
S'ROZHDESTVOM KRISTOVYM
SUNG TAN CHUK HA

Augie

20 December 2014

Dragon 1/9 Guardians of The Galaxy - Groot with Rocket Raccoon (#38341)

The third release in Dragon’s sub-series dedicated to this Summer’s blockbuster hit, Guardians of the Galaxy is the intergalactic dynamic duo of everyone's favourite trickster, Rocket Raccoon, and his arboreal companion with a VERY limited human vocabulary, Groot. The breakdown of the kit is as follows: 

  • Rocket: 9 PV pieces + "THE GUN" (7 polystyrene pieces).
  • Groot: 11 solid PV pieces.
  • Black polystyrene base.

Except for the base, all the pieces are cast in a neutral grey. 

I will stand by my original caveat re: PV kits: unless you have extensive experience working with polyvinyl, I would keep any reductive/invasive surface modifications to an absolute minimum; i.e.,  these kits should be approached literally straight OOB! That being said, the PV used, though obviously softer, responds beautifully to sharp burrs at low speeds! 

In conclusion, I am delighted to say Dragon is once again in fine form, and this kit represents outstanding value for the money! A groot. . . unh, great. . . kit!!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

16 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Painting: Undercoating

IT. . . HAS. . . BEGUN!!!

I have just finished "undercoating" the figure of Daenerys. Just so that we're all on the same page, if I refer to any painting at this point, it will concern Dany exclusively. I will address each of the offspring individually when the time comes: as much as they truly are the "stars" of the piece, for all practical purposes they are accessory items.

I undercoated Dany in a series of washes using Vallejo Game Color's Elf Skintone: this is no more than a tint of a 'heavier', ruddier flesh colour such as Model Color Beige-Red. 

Once was satisfied with the washes, I scrub-stippled pure Elf Skintone on the structural highlights to begin creating a 'road-map' that I could follow in the next step: glazing with oils.

That's it for now! More to follow. . .

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

14 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Painting: Priming

The "Mother of Dragons" is now primed, and has been transferred to the paint bench!

I decided to try a more dynamic, layered, multi-media approach to painting her, so I primed her with Rustoleum Sandable Auto Primer--[Dark] Grey. 

I will hopefully begin to sling paint by this time next week. . . In the meantime, there are three newborns that I had best see to before they burn the workbench down. . . *;) winking

More to follow! 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

13 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Prepwork: Groundwork 5

The groundwork is now DONE! 

I will conclude final fitting of the figure tomorrow morning, and, if all is to my satisfaction, the base will be primed/undercoated by end-of-day tomorrow. DONE!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

"Mother of Dragons" - Painting: PPP

What is PPP? "PPP" is simply "Pre-Prime Prep". It is the final surfacing of a figure that would otherwise be ready for priming. As such, it is a largely optional--and subjective--step that is all-too-often overlooked, if not outright disregarded. 

In the scene in question, Dany emerges from the funeral pyre of her "Sun and Stars", her clothes burnt away and her body covered in ash, but otherwise unharmed. And with her are three hatch- ling dragons. Once she has stood from the ashes and debris, Drogon rises, spreads its wings and screams, announcing the return of dragons to the world, the first in over a century and a half!

Sorry for the digression. . . As Dany is covered in ash and burnt particulates, I felt it critical that these be integral to the foundational surface of the figure, as well as enhanced by post-painting applications. So I began glazing the figure, selectively building-up the glaze and texturing those areas. Once completely dry, I will inspect the work, and reapply as required. 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

"Mother of Dragons" - Prepwork: Groundwork 4

Phases 1 and [mostly] 2 of the groundwork are DONE! All that remains is careful application of the groundcover, and anchoring (read: gluing) the larger items (adapted from J's Works Terrain Series--EXCELLENT product!), but this will have to wait until the putty is cured. 

So far, so good. . . 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

12 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Prepwork: Groundwork 3

The design of the groundwork has been finalized!

Once I prepare my ground cover, I should be able to complete the groundwork in an afternoon.

More to follow! 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

11 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Prepwork: Observation #2

What is it with GoT 's miniatures and coiffures? 

I was trying to finalize the work on Dany's head this evening when I realized that the problem is not so much with the head/face, but rather the 'do! I ran into the same "thing" with John Snow, and to a lesser degree with Tyrion!

*~X( at wits' end

And that is precisely what is called for!

I should have her all-but-done by the end of the weekend. . .

Stay tuned!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

10 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Prepwork: Groundwork 2

The modified metal groundwork has now been permanently attached to the display pedestal, and the figure fitted--all good!

Once I receive a couple of items, the elaboration of the groundwork can begin in earnest. . .

Stay tuned!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

09 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Prepwork: DONE!

Admittedly, a wee bit of an overstatement; but for all intents and purposes, Daenerys Stormborn is ready for priming!

There is still a bit of work to be done on the face and head, the latter vis-à-vis Drogon. And I will be doing "spot-priming" to make sure I have not overlooked any seam lines--and to begin textur- ing the flesh! Assuming there are no rude surprises in the next fortnight, she is scheduled to be primed on Christmas Eve!

In the meantime, I will continue the finishing work on the babies--detailing, polishing, and mount- ing for painting; and shift my attention ot the groundwork, which I will hopefully have ready for priming along with Daenerys. 

It's been a lot of fun to this point--hopefully the best is yet to come!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

08 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Prepwork: Groundwork and. . .

In an earlier posting, I broached the topic of the groundwork and pegging. What remains of the metal groundwork is now ready to be transferred to the permanent display pedestal

As to the pegging, I stand by my original statement: the ankles are too delicate. "Fools rush in...", and I ain't no fool! That being said, I opted for a compromise solution: I drilled a hole into the mounting blocks past the arches of the respective feet. This will allow me to stage, complete, and paint the groundwork without having to work around the figure; and, conversely, paint the figure off the groundwork as I normally would. Once completed, the primary attachment points will be the foot blocks in their respective openings, reinforced by the copper wires into the wood of the pedestal.

More to follow. . .  

By way of FOLLOW-UP, I believe--hope!--that the putty work has been completed on the figure. There was not much, I assure you; and most of the work was to satisfy my requirements for--and vision of--the canvas. All the putty work that remains will involve the finishing work when attaching the babies to Daenerys.

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

07 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Prepwork: Observation

I am steadily making my way through the clean-up of Daenerys, and it has taken me back to the halcyon days of the 80s and 90s: 54mm, quality white-metal castings with minimal breakdown of parts, and average (or above!) fit. . . 

But I digress. . . I was cleaning-up Viserion when it struck me that the uncredited sculptor, con- sciously or not, has scaled the babies accordingly. It's a subtle difference that enhances the placement of the dragons, to say nothing of their relative pecking order. 

WELL DONE!!!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

06 December 2014

Let the 'labor pains' begin. . . Prepwork

While I stand by my original statement re: clean-up, it is never that easy. . . not if you want to do it right. 

To date, I have cleaned up and polished the outer seam lines. These were quite light, and the process went quickly. The inner seam lines are equally as light; however, their relatively limited access, along with the in situ details (mainly dragon extremities), demand--require!--a prudent approach. HASTE MAKES WASTE!!!

I have also completed modification of the groundwork. The groundwork looks like a typical camp- fire: a bare patch of sandy soil encircled by a ring of stones and pieces of wood. While conveying the essence and mood of the depicted scene, it is decidedly inaccurate, to say nothing of confin- ing. So I removed the border ring, leaving me a textured plinth with the foot openings intact. It is the latter that are critical to preserve, as I am not in the mood to carefully drill peg holes past the delicate ankles--or deal with the probable consequences!

Finally, I have begun detailing the dragons. My main focus has been on Drogon: I have sculpted eyes, redefined the snout, and begun thinning the wings. 

More to follow!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

05 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons"

About a week ago, I received the monthly Andrea newsletter, and there before my eyes was a figure that they titled, "Dragon Lady". Well, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and this is the best rendition of Daenerys 'Stormborn' of House Targaryen, First of Her Name at her defining moment that I have seen to date! If you read the postings, comments, and "critiques" on other sites, it will be obvious rather quickly that I am in a distinct minority--albeit an informed one.

And Daenerys arrived today! She was listed in my letter to Santa, and 'Santa', in all her generous wisdom, presented her to me early.

The kit is comprised of 4 white-metal pieces (one-piece Daenerys + Drogon, Rhaegal, and Vise- rion) + the wm groundwork. The castings are pristine--and in a surprising new twist, have been partially pre-finished. My particular sample appears to be much finer than the one Andrea used in their Unboxing video--but let's keep in mind that the figure is significantly magnified in the video!! Regrettably, the magnification of the piece may have backfired on the folks at Andrea if the pre- vailing comments are any indication. Also the finished example leaves much to be desired: the "Mother of Dragons" deserves better--and more!

I intend to start working on her this weekend. Unless I have overlooked some yet-to-be-seen “rough” spots, it should take no longer than an afternoon and change to get her ready for priming.

All in all, I am very pleased. If you are at all interested, now is the time to act: one piece castings are especially susceptible and conducive to mold deterioration!

Stay tuned!

PS--I forgot to mention that this kit has no byline! I don't quite know what to make of this. . . 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003