Wednesday, May 29, 2002 7:09 PM
05/29/02- Hey! Haven't we already seen this? Where's the midget? Yeah, yeah, yeah... Jezzie's pissed that no one has commented on how sinfully HOT she is. By Great Odin's Testicles, that's just downright rude! So she's decided not to show any of those classy cucumber and donkey photos which prove how articulated she is. So there. Nyah, nyah, nyah.
As the project winds down, the costuming revisions are less dramatic. The wire shin & knee coverings help conceal the ugly knee hinges so the hip drapes aren't necessary (and didn't drape properly anyway). Removing them allows the loincloth to play a more interesting role, being bracketed by the leg flesh. The arm drapes hang down from the backside to help retain some of that regal, flowing-shawl quality and balance the lower side of the figure with some dark bulk... in other words, make it look less naked than it would otherwise. Uncovering that skin makes it a little less conservative, but still within the bounds of an outfit which Cher might wear.
It took over four hours to make those two shin covers, which includes time spent doing the design-by-eyeball-as-you-go thing. That's actually pretty quick, since you (if you were that type) could spend a lot longer drafting an elegant design and making to-scale bending templates. They're not pretty, symmetrical, or elegant but I just wanted to be done with it, and this quick & dirty designwork did the trick. The actual fabrication probably could have gone better if I had used the right equipment. My soldering pencil has one good "hot spot" (which isn't located at the tip), and I don't have a jig to hold the pieces (Radio Shack has these, and they're pretty cheap). So holding wires in place long enough for the solder to flow can be challenging, without an extra pair of hands to control the soldering iron and feed the solder. Since I've got two hands, one clamps the pieces in position and the other controls the pencil. Your instinct is to let go as the heat suddenly reaches your fingertips, but if you do, the piece will probably be misaligned with a bunch of cold solder trash to deal with for the next attempt. So I suffer the pain until the piece has cooled sufficiently to let go... and cuss immediately afterwards. Unfortunately, gloves are too bulky for this kind of thing, but I'll use tweezers, hemostats, etc. whenever I can...but those tools often don't have as sure a grip or control for these oddly-shaped and easily-deformed pieces of wire. The biggest frustration comes from inadvertently desoldering a wire that you were happy with. Likewise, that triggers lotsa cussing too.
Finding ways to conceal elbow hinges is much more difficult and wire covers aren't among the short list of things that work. Elbow hinges close facing forward, so you can't use rigid materials to hide them without obstructing the hinge and limiting articulation. (For armoured figures it's okay since limited articulation is a given.) High atop that list of things that do work are the obvious; sleeves and elbow-length gloves. But for variety, you might not want to do all of your figures like that. You can mix it up by using other sneaky solutions: upper arm bracelets which dangle straps or scraps in front of the hinge (like I did with "Demon Monkey Goddess"), or a forearm bracelet with fur at the elbow end ("Minerva"). These don't try to hide the hinge totally, but try to break up the regular pattern of the hinge seams so that they're less noticible-- the same way the wire knee covers work. The bracelet drapes add one more way of doing it. At the other end of the spectrum (which I don't do) are rubber arm coverings, which sound good in theory... but if they were the be-all end-all solution, manufacturers would be putting them on every figure, wouldn't they?
I couldn't make the shin coverings without also doing something about her feet, but they couldn't be connected like a boot for obvious reasons... therefore, generic sandals. (The high-heeled bootfeet will be available for the next figure that needs some good ol' leather fetishwear. ) After the initial construction though, I was a little bummed... she was less stable and wobbled front to back. It seemed that the work I'd done to rigidize her rubbery feet seemed pointless. Was it the squishiness of the leather? Arrrrgh. Nope... The problem turned out to be the construction of the sandals: The straps were sandwiched between soles. Conceptually, I had mistakenly thought of this as two layers instead of three, so I was balancing her on a pair of rocking chair sandals-- to fix it, the straps needed to be considered as their own layer and leather spacers needed to be added where the straps weren't-- or constructed as a single piece. Sure enough, this gave a flat sole and fixed the rocking motion. In addition, while the leather sole introduced a tiny bit of springiness (though less than the solid rubber foot), it restored the friction to the sole which stabilizes posing on hard, low-friction surfaces (which makes the hip sockets not have to work as hard-- consider yourself lucky that I deleted my boring treatise on "Components of Stable Posing").
Once these main costuming features had been hashed out, I did some additional detailing using some jewelry pieces. Craft "danglers" provided fancy flourishy detail for the hand coverings, the sandals and the dagger's scabbard. It was an easy way of adding fine detail without having to sculpt or engrave it (although it felt a little like cheating since so much else is homemade). Some crystal "jewels" were glued to the metal costuming, and hematite beads were attached to the loincloth, like weights. And after that, it was time to return to the figure for final tweaking with sandpaper to clean it up for the finishing coat. It's unwise to design costuming like this over a finished figure, since the testfitting and experimentation will undoubtedly do some damage. The only thing left to do are fingernails and toenails (and it's my habit to leave at least one thing unfinished).
I doubt I'll ever create the perfect figure, but his one was in the general neighborhood of my idea of überfemfig; that is, one which harmoniously combines quality mechanical and aesthetic aspects with minimal intercession of the costuming. Unfortunately, the PB has an incompatibility that my reconstruction doesn't fix: the shoulder inward/outward sweep hinge. Normally, elastic tensioning a pressure-tensioned shoulder hinge just results in a tighter hinge which is still easy to adjust precisely (as with "Bunny"). The PB shoulders are extra tight and have subtle "favored" positions (particularly with the left arm). They're less dramatic than the click stops in the PB legs, but they're there nonetheless. So instead of being able to freely and smoothly pose those hinges, they're stiff and hard to "fine tune". Fixing these would require disassembling those hinges and figuring out whether there's an actual mechanism there or an inadvertent molding flaw. This is a high-traffic articulation point, so it's disappointing to find this stumbling block in affordable and readily available fodder... So my conclusion is that constructing my version of überfemfig really requires a PB and a Svetlana ... sigh... and then you end up with a second figure composed of the dregs.