1/24/97- The most interesting part of the stormtrooper is the helmet, so that's where I started. This is an unfinished sculpt with flaws and some lessons.

The most obvious flaw is the upper right lens frame. This can be fixed fairly easily by adding a strip on top and blending it in. The depth of the eye socket shouldn't be much of a problem, since this will be filled with hi-gloss acrylic to simulate a lens. The other flaws are less obvious, and demonstrate the lessons:

Lesson # 1: Always be sure that you've got the basic symmetry down before you start working on details!. Unfortunately the upper and lower sections appear to be slightly skewed. In order to fix this I may have to redistribute the mass by pushing and shaping, which will probably wipe out the mask's details. I will avoid this if at all possible by strategically adding and blending small amounts of Sculpey.

Lesson #2: be careful where you put your pinky when stabilizing your hand. The right lower chinpiece was far more detailed before I accidentally obliterated it.

Sculpting an artificial/mechanical subject like this requires near-perfect symmetry, and a near-flawless finish. Most of this will have to be done in the sculpting phase because it will be difficult to sand areas with hard angles due to the size. It's much easier to create a clean, hard angle in soft material than it is to fix it later with sandpaper.

1/25/97- The helmet isn't actually any wider, it was just shot from a different angle. After fixing the symmetry problems, I added the details, worked on the finish, fired it and sanded it. Although you can't easily tell from the photos, it does look significantly better. There are still a few flaws, but I can live with them.

1/27/97- Okay, the helmet was cast in a one-piece mold using the rotation casting method that I often blabber about. Thus there are no "parting lines" to clean up. (Parting lines are the lines that you see in figures when they use two-part molds. Perfectionists often sand them down. They are the birth canal of "flash", the excess material which is commonly found on plastic models parts.) Unfortunately, due to the tight fit of the helmet on the head, I've had to dremel out a bit of the inside to make the walls thinner. Normally, you're concerned about casting the walls thick enough for strength. So I overdid it.

Now we get into the reaaally tedious part of the project. This picture shows the pre & post dremeling of the body. I chose a Van Damme figure because it was cheap, it's got a lot of articulation, it's black and mainly because I bought 3 or 4 of them, so I don't mind trashing one. I added some rotation at the wrists since it was easy to do. Still, this is not an ideal figure: The basic shape of the body is pretty bad. His arms were too low, so I had to move them up. Everything was too pumped up, and needed to be ground down. His back had an unrealistic hump too. His arms were a combination of styrene and nylon. The styrene is easy to handle, but nylon really does not sand well. It doesn't take paint too well, but that's not a concern here. I'll explain why in a bit. This was a messy job, involving lots of molten plastic going everywhere. I'm fortunate to have a carpet that has long since deserved to go to the dump. Surely if you've done this before you know to WEAR EYE PROTECTION, right? The pain of flesh burns is transient, but a blown eye is forever!

Okay, here's the plan. If I can ever work up enough energy and find an uninterrupted block of time to do this, I will: Create a casting of the dremeled body and sculpt the body armor over that. Create a casting of that armor and contact cement it over a black pantyhose body suit. This will let the armor "ride" over the underlying armature, for more realistic posing. (See my Guyver figures in Gallery 00). Create the utility belt somehow. For the arms and legs, I haven't gotten that far in my planning yet but as a last resort, I may end up using epoxy putty. Ideally, I'd like to cast the arm and leg sleeves, but they are a more challenging casting job. Frankly, I'm close to being the world's worst at that sort of thing. So...that's the plan, at least...

1/30/97- I cast the body armor from the POTF2 stormtrooper, since my Super Sculpey chest armor cracked up in the oven. It must have been too thin. A really sickening sight, since it took so long to sculpt. However, casting from the POTF figure saved a lot of time. Nevertheless, it was a tedious process, especially casting the arm & leg sleeves. I still haven't figured out a good, easy way to do this. I'm casting them in front and back halves, and will try to putty over the seams. Once I get the basic figure finished, I get to work on the accessories--combat gear. That's where it gets interesting again.

2/8/97- It's traditional for me to never finish anything I'm working on. I have left his shoes unpainted, and I haven't done any work on the face beneath the mask (He looks like a bald J.C. Van Damme). I'll come back someday to make the removable pauldron, backpack, sexy lingerie, etc.

For more info, see Articulated Armored Figures, formerly at Bill Gerlach's "Customizing the Star Wars Universe".


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