OL' PALPIE'S BACK IN TOWN

Last modified: Saturday, January 6, 2001 6:20 PM

I've got three of Hasbro's Palpatine figures, and none of them look like the one I know from the movie. Theirs just doesn't seem to capture his malevolent spirit, so I'm giving it a try. To me, it looks somewhat recognizable...

Being too lazy to look very deeply, I only used a single reference photo for this, so it needs some work. Although this is a "raw" sculpt-- only an hour into it-- it looks sort of "finished" cuz the dude's got so many wrinkles!
One of the issues of headsculpting from photos is the expression. This character has quite a few "signature" expressions-- sneering, confident, annoyed, & teeth-gritting hatred. In each case, the facial landmarks do vastly different things, so you can't combine them all in one. Most of the expressiveness of this character comes from his mouth and chin movements, and are very exaggerated in the film. Although the teeth-gnashing expression would look cool and be fun to sculpt, it limits the type of scene the figure could be placed in. So I prefer neutral expressions because they're more versatile. It ended up being a half-smirk on one side, so the profiles look different-- it's pretty subtle.

This is a direct clay sculpt onto the body. I didn't want to go through the trouble of molding and casting since the electronics in the Hasbro body ensure that there won't be any body-swapping. In fact, I didn't bother to detail the back of the head like Hasbro did-- I can't see ever having a reason to remove his hood.

07/07/99- Here's the progression of "improvements": The first two had really (intentionally) badly textured skin and there were some structural things that didn't look right. The next one had unintentionally badly textured skin, but I did fix some of those structural things-- The brow was lowered, the nose and cheeks were made more puffy. By now I was sick of, and not caring about poor 'ol Palpie- his skin texture was hideous, and I figured he didn't look anything like the movie version. So I put a layer of latex over his face, & dusted it ( above & bottom pic). I dunno... it toned down the texture and imparts a subtle sheen. Plus it sure feels weird. I don't think it's a sound modeling technique because of the long-term instability of latex, but maybe if you coat it with acrylic? Still, it's an interesting technique to try for grins. If you don't care about the long-term thing, you can use latex rubber for interesting effects like peeling skin-- poured onto glass, it's makes a very thin, translucent, and stretchy film which can be glued on (dust it with talcum powder first, though). Perfect for dissected skin and "Night of the Living Dead" stuff.

BTW, this is a really interesting figure from Hasbro. It came packaged with an Imperial Guard, so on sale, they were a real bargain. The Palpatine figure has two layers of clothing, a generic black robe and cloak-- they seem to be useful in different sci-fi/fantasy settings. Besides that, there's the demonic voice feature. I must have pressed it a zillion times while pulling his original head off. In my opinion, It's kind of a perverted toy for kids! Who would want a chunk of plastic terrorizing their kid with "In time, you will call me Master..."? LOL!