Sunday, September 8, 2002 10:45 AM
I liked the first one so much, I decided to make another! Although you can't reasonably expect to make an army at this scale (unless you've got a hangar, lotsa time, and lotsa bucks...), having a couple of similarly uniformed figures is a rational compromise which suggests that there are more. A single figure by itself is somewhat ambiguous-- while it could represent the typical uniform of an army, it could also be a solitary free-lancer, wearing a unique outfit. That's the impression I wanted to create with my shamelessly sexist barely armoured female figures (Minx's is probably the closest to being a uniform, but it's absurdly impractical). However, when I made the Generic Fantasy Warrior, I must have been thinking of this "representation of an army" concept because I made a few extra breastplates. That recently came in handy for creating the quickie flaccid King figure, Impotentate (not a project article)-- You can infer from the identical styling that they're on the same team. I really don't want to go through the torture of electroforming a second GFW.
Making a second Demon Warrior gave me the opportunity to do a few things differently: I've wanted to add some variety to the human races, so instead of making a dark-skinned bare-chested barbarian, I made a demon warrior who once was a dark-skinned bare-chested barbarian. This made it much easier to trans-racialize the Caucasian-toned SAJOE since the costuming covers everything except the head and hands. (The hands weren't exactly easy though: dye created a too-red shade of brown, which I tried to bleach out... finally resorted to MEK to rub out some coloring... then onto leather dye... finally to paint. With all the dark undercoloring, it really doesn't matter if the paint happens to rub off...)
I was going to give the first DW black hair-- IMO, that just looks more natural --but I decided to go with the chestnut color because it went against the expected appearance of a born-to-be-evil minion. The implication is that the warriors were actually regular humans at one time, but transformed into this state-- somehow. (It goes with the concept of Evil being parasitic and corrupting) Anyway, making a second DW gave me the opportunity to do one with black hair, as I'd originally intended.
This also gave me the opportunity to explore variations in a basic uniform-- although the materials are the same, they're distributed slightly differently. DW2 has more of the lizard leather and less of the metal, which goes with the idea that he's not a frontline scrapper. I may not make a helmet for him since their faces are at least as interesting as anything I could make to cover them. I guess this makes him look kinda Klingon-ish? Another costuming difference is this guy's shoes-- the first one has metal plates on his feet, but this guy's got lizard skin boots. The pattern is kinda kewl, with a mix of large and small scales-- these came from the lizard's snout. To make it look a little meaner, I added a thorn at the pointed toe tip.
This guy's outfitted as an archer. The bow is made of rattan and the arrows are styrene rods with feathers glued to the shafts. Originally, when strung with wire, the arrows easily flew over 15 feet with a modest pull. Neato, huh? Until it dawned on me that the figure would never be able to do a modest pull. In order to allow him to pose using the bow, the bow was reshaped with the curve and the wire was replaced with elastic. Duh. Now it shoots the arrows an anemic 5 feet. For obvious reasons, the cat safari has been cancelled...
come to like Hasbro's SAJOE body-- it's been nearly
perfect for making these guys. So much so that I actually went out and bought
one for DW2, despite having a fodder box filled with naked Dragons, Sideshows,
MEs, etc. Admittedly, some of those figures (like the Neo Guys and MEs)
are reserved for special applications, but SAJOE really was the best choice,
all things considered. I've been very impressed with the stability of SAJOE's
ankles and joints. Without doing any extra work, they seem to handle all
the extra weight I pile on (even before adding the tail)-- which is something
that very few figures can do, out-of-the-box. DW1 can actually hold his
pike, which has heavy-gauge brass blades at both ends.
The mid-torso bobble is weird but doesn't bother me, since the articulation there really does have some range (unlike some figs which look like they should) and stays put when posed. It's really an unusual design and I think I understand what Hasbro was trying to accomplish: Most figures which have torso ball joints balance spring/elastic tensioning against friction. This balance keeps the parts posed outside their preferred state (straight line, shortest distance, least tensioned). At the outer ranges, the friction may not be enough to handle the pull of the stretched spring, so the parts don't pose there. Hasbro's design uses a nylon ball squeezed into socket in a rubbery slab. The compression of the rubbery slab's socket provides both the friction and compression tensioning over most of the surface of the ball, and from every direction. Therefore, there's no "favored" direction, and the ball poses equally well in any orientation. There's no direct contact between the hard plastic torso parts, which accounts for the "bobble" of the nylon ball within the rubbery slab. A liner shim between the hard plastic parts would decrease this, but would probably decrease the range of the articulation. As designed, the articulation operates as a perfectly spherical ball and socket, which gives a uniform and smooth range in any direction: The contour of the hard plastic ball and socket torso shell isn't quite as spherical, which would limit things like waist rotation. At any rate, it may not look real purdy, but it illustrates that recurring theme of compromises.
Whether this is a good design or not depends on the long-term prospect for the materials, particularly the rubbery slab. If it stretches out or becomes hard and slick, then you'd be hard-pressed to whip up a factory-new repair: rubbery slabs with compressive sockets don't grow on trees. In which case, if you're desperate enough, you can convert the articulation layout to... (surprise!) good old elastic tensioning and the hard plastic ball and sockets. They'll probably still be manufacturing elastic 10 or 20 years down the road. (Be thankful that I'm not going to turn this into a diatribe about our civilization's embrace of cheap, disposable technology that isn't designed to be fixed...)
My only beef is with the hands being not removeable. In this project, I didn't have any reason to change them (even though removeable would have been useful for costume removal), but for a "normal" figure, you'd want reasonably sized hands without the funky seams and pins showing. Unfortunately, based on what I saw in my original SAJOE dissection, the refitting procedure would involve lopping off and wasting the Gung-Ho Grips (not a huge loss if you don't have any plans for them) so that you could drill through and adapt the forearm section cleanly. I don't know whether I'll ever have a reason to try this, but a few folks have, with good results. Of course, it would be great if Hasbro would just change the design!