Tuesday 14 February 2017

Gremlins 2: A New Batch of Glue

This here monster takes a lot of sticking.

I'm using 2-part epoxy for long-term stick, CA for quick adhesion, and Milliput to fill and strengthen the gaps.

I've already talked about filling the inside with expanding foam, and the importance of making sure the holes are properly sealed.

Thankfully I caught this before mixing up the foam. Nothing like wasting expensive chemicals and having them pour all over the kitchen counter! The cleanup on the model detail would also be a pain. Foam is fluffy and sticky, and not great for cutting. It is good for keeping things structurally sound, though.

This vinyl kit, as mentioned before, has a few issues. It's a repop (yuk) and certain aspects haven't translated well in the copying process. The mouth, for instance, has some weirdness between the lips, which needs heating and cutting, and maybe resculpting.

Likewise, the elbow joints are unwieldy. Either one side fits well, or the other. I'm not exactly new to reshaping vinyl under heat, but this kit has not been quality controlled like the original Kaiyodo would have been. Shame, but then that's what separates us from the snap kitters.

Here you can see what used to be a massive gap, filled with Milliput. In addition to the standard filler work, however, I've added some scales to match the surrounding details, and textured the 'smoother' areas by pressing the other arm into the Milliput to match the surface detail. I'm not a sculpter by any definition of the word, but blending in these failures in the repop kit will help sell the idea of realism to the eventual audience.

And that's what we do, right? Try and sell the idea of realism in a medium that's not realistic?
How many times have we looked at spaceship kits, or 40k minis, and said 'how can I make this more realistic'?

So the kit isn't exactly as planned, but it'll be structurally solid, and it won't fall over when it's done. It looks good, and even on close inspection it looks consistent within the world it's set in.

And that's the compromise. Do we make it work, regardless, or try and stick to the original intention of the kit designer?

Hopefully both, but if there's wiggle room, I think it has to be in favour of the builder, and artistic interpretation.

The other arm didn't have as many issues. Who knows why? I didn't have to sculpt scales - only some textured filling.

But that, I guess, is the nature of vinyl.

Sometimes it works perfectly, and sometimes you cut the wrong bit and it doesn't fit at all. Sometimes, of course, it's not your fault at all.

And that's the story I'm sticking to.

Wednesday 1 February 2017

Another commission. And a house move.

Things have been a tad quiet on the blog front lately. It looks like I last posted in September 2016.

It's February 2017 now, and the world has changed a fair bit: America has reverted to an older, scarier, time, PETA thinks that Warhammer figures should stop wearing fur, and Britain's MPs have just voted to get its citizens on the coastline, armed with paddles, ready to row away from the 'evil European Empire', right into a dystopian future that sci-fi authors have been predicting for the last 100 years.

Also, I moved house,

acquired a dog,

and took on another commission.

The house is bigger than our flat was, but it lacks a garage for storage and workspace. The puppy is unnecessarily huge, is teething, and always hungry. The commission is scarily mahoosive, creatively exciting, but ethically a smidgen grey. Hang on. We'll get there.

Over the last couple of months, I've turned my hand to a number of new skills: I've learned to lay carpet and laminate flooring, as well as some plumbing basics, I really wish I didn't need to know.

I now have the skeleton of a shed that will act as my new hobby zone - a 6x10ft with asymmetric pitched-roof, which I plan to insulate and electrify, so I can film and livestream - and also build and paint in the old-fashioned 'get on with it' way.

I wasn't planning on the weather turning so foul, though - the garden is consistently wet and muddy, so getting the groundwork even started is next to impossible at the minute. Hobby work will have to continue in the kitchen...

I also wasn't planning on the dog. My stepson reminded me that my wife and I had promised that if we lived in a house, rather than a flat, that we could have a dog. Good logic, I guess. So, a couple of days before Christmas he turned up with a shivering, stinky dark mess he'd just bought from a random guy on Gumtree. No paperwork, so we had him checked out at the vet on Christmas eve, and then chipped and vaccinated. Teddy, as we named him, is a gorgeous mutt of questionable origin, with a taste for socks, slippers and my arms. A DNA test will sort out his breed(s), but it can wait a while. He's also older than we were told, and if he's not snoring, he's tearing around the place or chewing on our new sofa. There's an op that he needs soon that would make most men wince, so right now, quiet afternoons of fine-detail assembly in the dining room are highly unlikely. Bring on the good weather! Bring on the shed!

Just to rub it in, my mum just had this built for her paper crafting hobby

Yeah. Not envious.

So then, the commission - and the real reason you're reading this post. It's a Gremlin. A lifesize Mohawk from Gremlins 2. And it's from a repeat customer! The chap who now owns the Aliens Chestburster that I made last summer emailed me and asked me to take on this project.

The original vinyl kit was made by Kaiyodo a long time ago, and was beautifully detailed. I realised, late on in discussions with my client, that he bought the kit from a site that deals in rare and OOP kits. I emailed the owner of the store, who unashamedly confirmed that most of his stock is recast resin and vinyl.


If you follow this blog at all, you'll know how I feel about recasts - they're bad for the hobby.

Full stop.

Forget about the copyright infringement issues for a minute, and that the right money doesn't go to the artists who created these models - repops tend to be of inferior quality to keep the prices down, and because of this, details can be soft, parts might not fit well etc, etc. I'm sure I'm repeating myself, but they're a blight to our little niche industry.

My client didn't realise he'd bought a recast kit, and as we'd already agreed a rough timescale and price, I decided to build the beasty for him. I did let him know that the kit wasn't an original Kaiyodo, and he was properly disappointed. I doubt he'll buy anything from that particular web store again.

If you can put up with my own hypocrisy for this project, it's a rather exciting build.
There are definitely issues with it. We can overcome these with the old techniques of building things well. Scratch building, reinforcing, and a PhD in glue management and expanding foam will be needed here.

So let's begin.

It's vinyl. It's 2ft+ tall, and it has massive ears. Top-heavy? You bet. Better learn about foam filling.

This is a 2-part, expanding foam which grows up to 8x the component volume. At the right temperature.
it should look like this when cured.

So I filled all the parts with water, and measured them so I could work out how much foam I'll need.

The legs come in two sections - and annoyingly join at the bridge of the foot. This is where all the model's weight will be resting, so along with the foam, I'll be attaching some reinforcing metal bar.

At this point, the foot has been glued with epoxy, and has a bent metal bar inside. Gotta fill the seam before I fill the leg with foam.

With both legs glued and filled, it's on to the next step...

...and that's for next time!