Monday, November 26, 2012

Fits and Starts

I've been remiss in my posting duties this month. I have actually been working on a new fantasy character project; I just haven't been diligent in posting my work. I will try to rectify that over the next few days.

This month, I decided to build myself a fantasy sword-mage character model. I still wanted to do something a bit different, so, I decided to make him a half-orc model, in the style of many modern (and not so modern) fantasy RPGs.

In this post, I will discuss the part selection, and fabrication for this model. I will discuss construction, (re)design and painting in later entries. I went through quite a few trials and false starts along the way.

There are quite a few half-orc figures on the market, but most of them are either over the top barbarian types, sporting bare chests and massive axes, or heavily cloaked assassins armed with knives or curved blades. Neither was really appropriate for what I was planning, but the more roguish types could be made to work with a little TLC.

I started with just such a thief / assassin model, made by Reaper miniatures. Although it is not a perfect model, I liked it, and the pose worked for what I had in mind. Even better, its hands are cast as separate pieces, allowing for easy modification or replacement.

As soon as I had my base model, I began casting about for a hand donor. If you have looked at many miniatures, you will notice that most of them have closed fists, either plain or holding items, such as staffs or swords. There are good reasons for this arrangement. It is often appropriate. It is usually easier to sculpt, and it is almost always easier to cast and get out of the mold than an open palm. Since I wanted just such a hand to hold my planned fire effect, I went bout searching for wizard models holding either exactly the flame I wanted, or at least something vaguely ball shaped that could be cut away.

I quickly selected a necromancer model, also from Reaper. The picture above shows the eager hand donor after I had cut away the scull cradled in his left hand. I was pretty happy with my choices at this point, but, as you will soon see, it might have been a good idea to keep looking.

Before starting in on construction, I dove into my bitz bucket and dug out an old Games Workshop sword to replace "Rogan's" daggers. I think the blade came off an aging High elf Cavalry model, but I don't have a picture of the intact figure. I plucked a scabbarded sword off of another, more recent, High Elf infantry sprue to provide a new hilt. The picture above shows the blade already pinned to one of Rogan's fists, in place of its original knife blade. The red line shows where I cut the plastic sword to harvest its spiffy hilt.

A new sword suggests a new scabbard. Nobody would believe that full sized longsword would fit in the tiny dagger sheath strapped to the model's hip. Unfortunately, as you can see above, the elf scabbard I cut from the hilt was also a bit undersized. Rather than panic, I tried to fashion a new part out of plain sheet styrene. The resulting part fits nicely, even if it is a bit thin when compared to the blade.

With the scabbard ready (so I thought), I set about grinding off the old knife sheath to make room for the new part. That went quite smoothly. What did not work so well was fitting the plastic sheath in place. I went through many, many rounds of cutting and filing the part to make it fit. I even broke it in half along the way and had to glue it back together to make everything fit. In retrospect, I probably should have restarted with a thicker piece of styrene when that happened, but I didn't think of it at the time. Lesson learned, I suppose.

Astute readers may note that the scabbard should be on the left hip, rather than the right. (To that I say: Pfah! artistic license!) There really would be no way to mount anything visible on the other side without removing, and re-sculpting half the cloak.

Next time: Construction and basing

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