THE TOLL ROAD TO HELL
Part Eight-dash-Two: The Undead Project
Monday, January 20, 2003 8:02 AM
12/23/02- (Sorry if the pics don't fit, but I'm running 1024 x 768 on a 13" monitor.) I remembered to attach the heel plates this time; in fact, I've finished most of the straps so that the parts don't fall off. (Didn't do the thigh armour straps because I have to leave at least one thing unfinished.) Throughout a project, I think about out how stuff is going to attach, but eventually you reach that point where you have to do something about it.
Actually, if you ask the "why?" question, the answer can be quite complicated. If you don't ever intend to take the figure out of costume, why make the parts removeable at all? At one extreme, the ideal figure is one which can be outfitted exactly like a real human, or stripped back down to the basic figure. At the other extreme is a view where only the external appearance is important and the parts can be permanently attached, or even sculpted on. Like most situations which involve ideological extremes, we tend to strike a balance between the two-- I place a considerable amount of importance on the figure's external appearance and may adapt the figure's underlying structure to achieve that (creating mutant feet to fit in the shoes and forgoing the Gambeson to cut down on bulk). But I like for the armour to be removeable. During construction, that's simply a practical approach for the ease of being able to work on and make changes to the outfit's parts. It defers committment until final assembly, when everything's ready. But it's also done for the neato play factor, like having working detail versus molded-in detail. Even if you don't ever use it. I suppose it's like battery powered toys-- you press the button a bunch at first but thereafter it's really just unseen and unused potential (unless the batteries corrode and transform the toy into a repair project). But it's there just in case.
The methods of attachment can range between striving for authenticity and doing what's most practical. There are lots of ways you can attach stuff, including the real way-- the way it's done in 1:1 scale. On the other hand, that's not always the most practical way to do it in 1:6 scale. For example, in real life the forearm armour appears to be two half cylinders hinged together and secured by either straps or a catch tab. In 1:6 scale you can avoid the complications of creating a working hinge by creating it as a complete cylinder with a simulated hinge. That's because figures (usually) have removeable hands, whereas real people (usually) don't.
Although vintage Joe's feet are removeable, I didn't follow that strategy and instead made the shin armour as two separate pieces. Mainly, it was done this way because the lower leg has more contours (like the incutting above the calf) which might make a close-fitting slide-on piece impossible. Also, the feet aren't as easily removeable and I didn't want to subject them to excessive joint-loosening wear since the ankles are crucial to making the figure stand. By the end of the project, I had only a vague idea of how I was going to make them stay on the figure. Again, there are a bunch of different ways this might be done. If one had precision crafting skills and tools, the two halves could be fabricated so that they interlocked with hidden tabs (Bwahahahahahah! "If...", riiiiight...). For me, I was lucky that I got the two halves to generally match up and had to label 'em "R" & "L", even though they were supposed to be identical. For similar reasons, I ruled out the notion of making a working hinge. That left leather... Leather hinges are much easier and less critical than metal ones; the only problem is that leather stretches. Since the armour covers would be compressing around fabric, there would be an expansion pressure which would work to widen the gap between the cover halves. Therefore, the most reliable and practical form of attachment was also the most obvious: The front would be strapped to the back on the outside with an adjustable buckle. A single belt wraps around the back and draws the front and back cover together; the buckle permits tightening, so stretching leather isn't a problem. It was necessary to rivet/eyelet the straps to the front since this needed to be a strong join; glue probably wouldn't have worked very well in the long run. The shoes and heels were attached in a similar manner; the only difference was that the heels needed retaining guides (metal "belt loops") for threading the straps so that they didn't slip off. That wasn't necessary for the lower leg armour since the natural contours limited where the straps would go.
The knee and elbow armour were a different situation and required a different approach. Perhaps in real life, these pieces would be hinged to other limb armour sections for articulation. In 1:6, there are other ways of doing things that are easier, not quite as restrictive and don't require as much precision. In this situation, there's no need to tightly contain expansive pressures; the main needs are for the piece to stay in position at the joint and adapt to whatever the figure's hinge is doing without binding or restricting it. The piece is relatively light, so the elbow/knee constriction, the armour below and the fabric underneath will keep the elbow/knee armour generally in position; all you need to do is ensure that it doesn't fall off. A fairly loose strap with a hook will do this. It just needs to be tight enough so that it stays within the constricted zone, lightly compressing the underlying fabric so that the hook remains hooked. It doesn't require a buckle since it shouldn't need drastic tightening; in fact, if it's too tight it will probably bind the figure's hinge and won't allow the armour to "float" and reorient to the repositioning of the armour segments below/above it.
I've avoided doing anything about the thigh armour because it stays in position from pressure fitting alone; The knee armour ensures that it won't slip out at that end. To do this properly though, for aesthetic reasons, I'd probably add a buckled strap, just to be consistent with the lower leg armour. If these were looser fitting, I'd probably attach the top to something resembling a garter belt. Since it doesn't need it and it's not a visible part of the outfit, I probably won't bother.
12/30/02- Some finishing touches;
a new headshot pic (with moustache & homemade eyes) replaces the old
one at the top of this article, a new sword, scabbard and halberd, shown
here. The trim on the armour has also been gold plated, but it's a subtle
The sword was fun to make: satin-finished (which I've decided looks
more natural than the high-polished look), nickel-plated blade, brass
pommel and crossguard; the handle is wrapped with twisted 32 gauge wire.
The crossguard is usually the hardest piece to make in metal since it's
cut with a very small square channel to fit the handle tang.
The halberd went together quickly and wasn't difficult to make; mainly
just slow, noisy cutting with a Dremel emery cut-off wheel. That generates
a lot of heat and every so often the blade binds and gets away-- which
can be a little scary. You go through the cut-off wheels pretty quickly
too. The langet, which holds the head to the wooden shaft, was
soldered to the axe head.
The sword was fun to make: satin-finished (which I've decided looks more natural than the high-polished look), nickel-plated blade, brass pommel and crossguard; the handle is wrapped with twisted 32 gauge wire. The crossguard is usually the hardest piece to make in metal since it's cut with a very small square channel to fit the handle tang.
The halberd went together quickly and wasn't difficult to make; mainly just slow, noisy cutting with a Dremel emery cut-off wheel. That generates a lot of heat and every so often the blade binds and gets away-- which can be a little scary. You go through the cut-off wheels pretty quickly too. The langet, which holds the head to the wooden shaft, was soldered to the axe head.