DRAKE

Last modified:
Friday, September 17, 2004 3:34 PM

 


09/10/04 (In progess)- Dragons are a distinctive "furniture" of the Fantasy genre, and I've wanted one ever since I saw a really big one at the Texas Renaissance Festival. Appropriately, it was a table with glass separating the dragon's top and bottom. That says it all: A really big dragon has broader appeal if it also serves a utilitarian purpose. Only the most fanatical dragon lover would plunk down major bucks for purely decorative large-scale dragon statuary. Most dragon collectors are probably satisfied with something more modest, like a tabletop statue or pewter figure. For a 1/6 scale collection, that just won't do. Sadly, the really kewl gigantic poseable latex dragons made by Dragon Realm Studios aren't for sale anymore, and even if they were, I doubt I'd be able or willing to part with that much green (unless they also served some utilitarian purpose, like transportation, nyuk, nyuk).

Being a craftsperson lets you avoid one component of the cost-- the high cost of labor, So why not make one? I'd been daunted by the size of the job since my main remembrance of my only other big project-- Queen of the Demon Monkey Goddesses -- is that it was an exhausting, seemingly endless nightmare. Another reason: Even a small 1/6 scale dragon consumes the shelf space of many, many figures. Dragons are the Fantasy genre equivalent of a military tank. That's why I'd never thought too seriously about doing this. Still, like tanks, they're kewl by virtue of their size, which gives some visual variety to a collection of figures. So what started out as an effort to make a dragon skull floor decoration out of a Hasbro Star Wars Tauntaun head grew to include the neck (which would look as if the dragon were rising from an underground vault), and then grew to include the entire figure.

 

1:6 dragon drake doll 09/12/04- Hasbro's 1/6 scale Tauntaun was the biggest creature-thing I owned that I didn't mind cutting up: I'm not fond of the Tauntaun's look, and the toy always had a hard time standing. That part didn't change; in fact, the two-footed balance problem got much worse with the addition of a long neck and a pair of hefty Rancor arms (wings probably would have aggravated this problem). I decided that the figure wouldn't have any leg articulation, since the Tauntaun's original leg articulation made it prone to falling down. Although I would have preferred a fully articulated dragon like Dragon Realm Studios', I wasn't willing to do the long hard work of making skin molds necessary for a lightweight figure, just to make a single figure. Therefore, this would be approached as a heavy statue with fewer articulation features.

This didn't solve the stability problem, it just eliminated the potential see-saw tendency. A long-necked figure reared up on two legs needs a heavy tail to counterbalance the neck, or additional frontal support from the arms. I didn't want to use the arms for support since the creature looks more menacing with its arms free for mauling. A poseable tail would be desirable to keep it from breaking and for being able to park the figure in a smaller footprint. However, making a heavy poseable tail would be a problem since poseability's usually done by fitting a flexible skin with lightweight wire core covered by Polyfil. I thought about cutting up a huge & heavy solid rubber snake, but ended up using a hybrid approach: The short rigid section of tail right behind the legs was packed with lead bars, and a flexible Polyfilled extension sleeved over that. Adding weight so close to the fulcrum point meant that there had to be a lot of weight in a small area, making this a very heavy figure (8.3 pounds, so far; 40" length). Problem solved.

The mix of rigid and soft materials allowed me to include some articulation, but as usual, there were some unpleasant issues and compromises to be made. I'm not pleased with the wrinkling characteristics of the neck and tail, which are similar to a plush doll. This is mainly due to the stiffness of leather; a thinner material probably would handle it better (but be more delicate). Also, the arm socket articulation seamlines look pretty awful. I'm hoping that hair or fur texturing options take care of that.

From the beginning of the project, I've been very aware of the problem of texturing. Although hair/fur can take care of some areas, the big question has been what to do about the other areas? Everyone knows that dragons are a supposed to have big ol' scales. Frankly, I'm not up to the formidable task of sculpting the zillions of scales that something this big would have. Even if I were, the mix of rigid and soft areas poses a problem-- a flexible sculpture might do this with a sculpted skin casting, and a solid sculpture might do this by direct sculpting-- and then you'd have to blend them. It's a moot point however, since I'm not going to do that. I'll have to find some other way around that problem... (there are imaginary scaleless dragons, aren't there?)

 

1:6 dragon drake doll

09/17/04- I could have spent a lot longer on this but "good 'nuff" lets you get on with life. Random texture was sponged on, with bumps and warts added. I considered doing a more adventurous "Walking With Dinosaurs" (BBC) color scheme but chickened out. Besides, the thing is unwieldly; it's big and heavy and hoisting it one-handed for simple things like painting nails is fatiguing.

1:6 dragon drake doll

This project was far less painful than Queen of the Demon Monkey Goddesses, probably because it's a creature instead of a human form. There's a lot of latitude in what you'll accept when creating a creature, whereas QotDMG had to be carefully tweaked until her proportions looked right (for a buxotic giantess). As for the problem of shelf space... Heck, we all know how that goes: Rearrange a few things and everything is peachy. Where there's a will, there's a way and there's always room for just one more...