( D E M O N    W A R R I O R)

Last modified:
Saturday, September 7, 2002 11:54 AM


08/22/02- ANOTHER FOOTSOLDIER CONCEPT? Viewing The Fellowship of the Ring rekindled my interest in making some kind of demonic footsoldier, hence this quickie clay doodle (left). I think it resembles a FOTR creature; or a vampire... but that's not surprising. The FOTR designs, while extremely well done, aren't revolutionary and were selected expressly to meet our expectations: Imagine the outcry if they hadn't!

That's perhaps one of the main limitations of this genre: It doesn't lend itself very naturally to the kind of design freedom that's resulted in the Star Wars or Alien creatures. (And even there, the general look-and-feel of the original groundbreaking designs has been imitated and plugged into some very B-grade movies.) The Fantasy genre has a long, established history. Since childhood I've been exposed to its conventions through Grimm's Fairy Tales, Disney movies, the Tolkien books, the Dungeons and Dragons fad... and everything else since, supplemented by some directed "research" (okay, browsing) on world mythology. While there's a lot of range in creature designs and to a lesser degree in costuming, they're all pretty well known. Consequently, to fit comfortably within this genre, designs are most often derivative, not revolutionary.

Within the general parameters of distorting facial features, there's only so much one can do. This one is closer to a human face than an ape face, flattened, with an exaggerated jutting lower jaw. The nostrils are slit/bat-like and the ears have exaggerated points. There's a hint of horns under the forehead skin.

I reiterate that clay doodling is a low-committment way of testing the waters for a potential figure project. A crude sculpt can give you an idea of how a figure "fits in" with the others you've made-- assuming of course, that you're guided by some kind of unified vision. I can't say that I am, but at least my last "Demon Monkey" doodle didn't inspire me to proceed with a project. On the other hand, the "Troll Demon" doodle did. Most of all though, these visualization doodles are fun. (The pic on the right shows him sculpted in a more permanent form. Gawd, I hate the fat Hasbro necks!)



08/25/02- The above stuff from the I Sez/Remarks section is background for this "Mutant Enemy" project; it saves me the trouble of rephrasing it... or saying the same thing in a different way... or changing the words around to arrive at the same point of departure... or... However, I will add that the turning point came when I made the last-minute decision to replace the original brown eyes with gold-irised ones as they were in the process of being permanently sealed in place. With brown eyeballs, the head kept reminding me of Cade Foster from the sci-fi series, "First Wave".

By this time, I'd pretty much decided that this was going to be the representation of a demon army footsoldier --my version of Tolkien's Orc-- supplanting the monkey-folk previously envisioned for this role. Their problem was that as "noble savages", they had an innocent/victim side (aggravated by my Monkey Woman project) which seemed inappropriate for such a role in the black & white world of fantasy fairy tales. They continue in their worship of the Demon Monkey Goddess, but assume a more neutral, supporting role in the big picture. If that makes any sense (or if you even cared)?

The Demon Footsoldier makes for a much more formidable foe. They're conceived of as something like a mutated and corrupted human, endowed with a high level of intelligence and cunning, but in a twisted direction. This also gave me the opportunity to equalize the technology levels. While I've modelled a wide range of that, the upper end is capped by plate armor (Generic Fantasy Warrior), and in the interest of creating a level playing field, it made sense for the bad guys to have something comparable. An epic battle would be pretty one-sided, pitting stone-tipped spears against metal armour!

So that's how this project's focus changed from figure-making to costume-making. Even before that decision, I'd intended to put the head on a SAJOE figure. I'd done a few half-hearted fixes on the figure to use up excess putty from the Abuela figure, and had intentions of fully revamping the figure itself. Honestly though, I'm at a loss when it comes to improving male figures-- I can't get enthused about fixing them up to put them in skimpy costuming. The armour route took care of that problem. I knew that realistically, the armour would never be removed. In fact, one of my early ideas was just to sculpt the armour directly onto the figure (which would allow for some really wild and ornate stuff). I opted for the more traditional route though; armour which could be removed, but which totally concealed the near-stock doll and all its ugly articulation seams. No sir, no painted nipples for this guy (yeah, it's sexist, but I ain't gonna do it outta obligation).

There are several ways to approach armour construction. In the past, I've used both clay/putty sculpting and styrene vacuforming, enduring a brief (but punishing) flirtation with electroforming. I wanted to try something different this time, so I used sheet copper and leather as the main components. The primary design direction came from looking at pics of Japanese Samurai armor. Using copper segments on the helmet allowed me to easily achieve curvatures which would have been impossible (for me) in a single sheet of metal-- I've tried pounding in contours before, and you really need metal stamping equipment for drastic shaping. The segmented assembly (segments joined by leather straps) was attached to an inner wire frame to strengthen it and assure a secure fit over the head.

Here's a crummy progress pic of the suit after a day's work. The helmet construction suggested a design motif which could be employed elsewhere in the costuming. With its single ridge down the center and side-placed rivets, it's simple, practical, and readily adaptable in many places. This certainly was easier than agonizing over how each area was going to be individually sculpted... easier, but repetitive and tedious.

I used lizard leather for the chest piece, mainly because it was quick and easy, but also because it broke up the monotony of repetitive copper segments. As it was, the segmented construction style seemed vaguely Roman, and a segmented breastplate would have cinched it. I was fortunate to have found a lizard skin scrap which had a good pattern and a strategically located private parts opening (?) which happened to coincide with the placement of the figure's neck hole. Somehow, it seems appropriate.

The undersuit-- really just sleeves and pantlegs -- are made of wired ribbon and are non-removeable. This goes with the idea of simplifying the construction, but it's partially due to the non-removable nature of the SAJOE's humongous "Gung-Ho Grip" hands. Since he's a monster, the size seemed okay and the unusual wrist hinging of the right hand works with spears and swords-- so I left 'em as is (yes, they'll be worked on, and probably covered). And since the sleeves weren't going to be removeable, there wasn't much point in doing the pantlegs differently.


08/30/02 -There's no way around the fact that this stuff takes a lot of time-- the hours just pile up, even when you're doing something as simple and boring as making a bunch of armor plates. I'm less efficient about this than I could be; I approach construction by developing the appearance piecemeal instead of through planning and efficient construction processes. For example, the construction would have gone a lot more quickly and produced better results if I'd known how many segments an assembly would have, cut them out, sanded them, made the ridges, drilled the holes, applied the rivets, blued the pieces, assembled the parts and formed the assembly to shape. Instead, the process bumbled along the fun, undisciplined way, with a lot of test fitting, eyeballing, disassembly and reassembly. By the time I was making the last assemblies, I'd become marginally more efficient, with plenty of lapses.

T.G.I.F.- I love weekends... especially long ones. Last weekend's big block of time let me establish the overall look and get this project off the ground. Basically, you've gotta have enough time for that first burn of inspiration and energy; Development after that can proceed at a more leisurely, piecemeal pace. In fact, during the weekdays it's difficult to get started on anything as ambitious, knowing that the time blocks are smaller. Weekdays are okay for working on things that can be tackled in smaller bites, like the feet, hands and parts of the undersuit. (Unfortunately, I'm hitting this 3-day weekend with a nearly completed project and nothing new in the hopper...yet)

As of this pic, all the areas of exposed dollflesh so intended have been covered/taken care of... sort of a first complete pass through. The figure could be considered "finished" at this point with only a little more work, but it's also a stopping point to evaluate and consider improvements.

One of those improvements is a tail (which was added after this pic). This makes the figure look less human and adds a third leg, which is a practical thing to help the figure stay on its feet. Backstory-wise, this serves as the creature's natural weaponry (stinger at end) and also establishes some linkage to his master, the cheesecake demonesses. I've also test-fitted horns on the helmet-- I kinda like the way they look, but I'm undecided as to whether that might be too decorative and clichéd. The plain functional look of this armor does have its good points-- it's a departure from the usual evil spiked gothic style which bad guys are supposed to wear (making it black has some of that required effect). In context-- with the figure standing next to the Livia demoness --the plain & simple look works for me.

This context is my "backstory"-- which plays a big part in the design of the figure. Yes, you can set about to make something which just looks kewl in isolation, but I feel I get more bang for the buck by engaging my imagination in the grandiose production of The World. (It helps me decide what figures I'll make in the future too.) In this case, it helped me wade through some issues concerning the look of the armour-- There was an initial choice of making it look more grubby and ragged with fur and bone versus the more "civilized" look of armor plates with rivets. The civilized look fit the character of cheesecake demonesses-- they're not the lives-in-filth-with-festering-wounds kinda baddies; their kind of evil empire wouldn't have to worry about keeping their enslaved populace happy, so they could devote significant resources to outfitting their army and having their nails and feet done. I reasoned that the baddies would have no trouble producing the fancier stuff because they could rely on forced labor to mine metals and construct the stuff, similar to the way our toys are produced.

I mention this since I just looked at the cool FOTR designs for bad guy armour, thanks to the book "The Art of The Fellowship of the Rings". I received this yesterday via mail order, having resisted the temptation to get it before starting the project. I'm glad I did it this way because the compulsion and temptation to copy would have been impossible to avoid. There's nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't make much sense for me to create studied knockoffs of the Weta Workshop designs; For LOTR movie memorabilia I'd just buy some of their excellent resin statues or busts, or those extremely well-done small format action figures. I'm trying to create figures for my own "Primeval World" saga (which I'm tempted to rechristen as "Medium-Rare Earth"). I guess you could say it's like a tacky B-grade knock-off, filled with lotsa large-breasted women. (I'll betcha someone has prolly already done that version as a movie.)

fantasy demon warrior doll

[08/31/02- Yeah, so you noticed that I like showing pics of the head cheesecake demoness? I think that she improves the picture a bunch and draws attention from the fact that I haven't done squat to paint the guy's face, give him hair, finish adding rivets, weather his armor, et cetera and et cetera. Livia doesn't care... she's been waiting a long time for a hard-bodied minion who knows how to use his shaft. Some things are more important than a set of pretty teeth.]