21 years in the making!

Discussion in 'Completed Figures' started by Bob Orr, Mar 14, 2017.

  1. Bob Orr Active Member

    Hi. I wrote this article for the BMSS mag and have waited until it was published before posting it here. Cheers, Bob.21 Years in the Making!
    (the saga of “that” Samurai by Bob Orr)

    Those of you who have seen me at various shows over the years will know that I have been working on a mounted samurai conversion in 54mm for some considerable time. I thought it had been about 12 years or so as I remembered starting it at the first North Somerset Modellers show in Portishead. Well at Bugle Call someone turned up with a picture of me working on the model at that show and informed me that the first show was actually 21 years ago. I don’t remember ever looking that young! This is the story behind the figure which finally made an appearance at Bugle Call 2016.
    I started off with the Andrea 54mm standing samurai archer. Being the pedant (and former archer) that I am about all thing archery I knew I would have to remake the bow which was entirely the wrong shape and adjust his arm to a proper Asian draw, back to the ear. Thinking about it again I thought, well these guys were usually mounted archers during this period of Japanese history so let’s put him on a horse. Well it seemed like a good idea at the time!
    I started by cutting off the legs at the knee then removing the section of legs between knee and waist. The armour plates below the waist then had large lumps of material removed from the rear surface and were thinned down to something approaching scale thickness. This took a lot longer than anticipated. The plates were then heavily scored along the horizontal sections so that they could fold realistically over the saddle.
    The lower legs had holes drilled in the top and paperclip wire inserted to re-attach them to the waist area and the figure was the set aside while I started on the horse. This was a Historex item, assembled as I normally do with a piece of thick plasticard between the two halves to beef it up a bit. I then scratchbuilt a saddle (which on the finished figure you cannot even see!) from Magisculpt. I was then able to position the figure with the paperclip legs onto the saddle and sculpted the upper half of the legs while in this position so as to give him a proper seat in the saddle. The lower armour plates were also added to the figure while it was on the horse and the figure was separated from the horse. I gave the inside of the lower armour skirts a good coat of 24 hour Araldite to help solidify it.
    The right arm of the figure was cut off at the elbow and repositioned with a paperclip reinforcement to the correct position for the Asian draw behind the ear. The fingers were all cut off except for one which was bent back into a little hook to secure the bowstring.
    The original bow was cut off at the hand. I made a new one from piano wire that I tapered on a grinding wheel. I found a picture of a drawn bow on the internet and scaled this picture to 54mm and used that as a pattern to bend the bow to shape. I tried to glue the bow to the hand by drilling it out and gluing it with superglue and this worked for a while but frequently broke off while transporting the figure to and from shows. I then thought I would try to solder it on which resulted in the entire front portion of the arm melting away! Perhaps now you can understand why this figure took 21 years to complete! Something stronger was required. I soldered the short leg of an L shaped piece of piano wire to the handle portion of the bow then drilled out what was left of the arm and glued in the longer leg of the L shaped wire with Araldite. I was not going to risk a soldering iron near the figure again. The arm was then rebuilt with Magisculpt and the fingers rebuilt with Duro.
    While mocking up the bow I found that if the helmet was on the figure you could not get the correct draw as the helmet interfered with the string. Heaven knows how they dealt with this in real life! After several attempts to get it to look right I decided to hang the helmet from the saddle and leave him with the black cap normally worn under the helmet. I replaced the head with one from the plastic Airfix 1/32 WWII infantry set as I thought this looked better than the Andrea original.
    I then assembled all the parts together and strung the bow with aircraft modeller’s rigging thread and realised that the bow was at the wrong angle and it all looked horribly wrong! So off the bow came again, adjusted the angle, re sculpted the fingers and repainted and this tome finally it was ok! An arrow was made with thin piano wire and paper flights and the right hand figures were resculpted after the bowstring was in place.
    The rest of the figure was completed as normal and painted in acrylics. The horse furniture was made from twisted strands of thin lead wire and super glued in place. The distinctive stirrups were made from thin brass sheet and Duro. Saddle cloth and saddle boards were made from Magisculpt. The distinctive horse bits proved to be another challenge. After an aborted attempt at soldering together numerous small pieces of wire, I ended up using thin plastic rod. The horse was painted in acrylics and water based oils. I made a base from a piece of walnut (rumours that I planted this walnut tree the same day I started the conversion, may not be entirely untrue!) and some simple groundwork, name painted on the base and it was done. I finished painting this on the Saturday evening before Bugle Call while also doing the final preparations for the show. I went to bed at 12.30am and at 1am woke and remembered that I had not painted the horse’s reins! I was determined that the finished figure was going to appear the next day so in my dressing gown it was back downstairs to get the paintbrush wet again!
    This figure fought me all the way but I am glad I persevered and am happy with the final result. Now, what to do with the three other 54mm samurai in my grey army……………!
    1.JPG 2.JPG 3.JPG 4.JPG 5 (289x400).jpg 6 (221x400).jpg
    oldtrousers, phil_h, Jaybo and 11 others like this.
  2. elanlane13 A Fixture

    It was great to see the completed figure Bob, it has seemed like a member of the family, possibly the longest birth ever. Now all you need to do is let Kev drop it and you can start the whole process again...
    theBaron and napoleonpeart like this.
  3. Old Pete Active Member

    No wonder people think we are nuts:p
    phil_h likes this.
  4. Oda A Fixture

    As a samurai fanatic I cannot but admire your work.It is a fantastic piece whichever way you see it.I must also comment on your excellent research.Not many people do that and the results are-unfortunately- less than satisfying figures.Above all I admire your courage.I have scratch built samurai but even that was less work than what you have attempted.Converting a metal figure to such an extent is simply amazing.So I'll retitle your post as:21 years but worth the wait.Congrats mate!

    napoleonpeart likes this.
  5. blaster Active Member

    I like this piece. I think that you should do an in depth article on it and with larger and clearer pics. It looks great!

    Rgds Victor
    Oda likes this.
  6. megroot A Fixture

    Excellent job.
  7. Ferris A Fixture

    Nice conversion. The figure looks much more impressive now, on the horse withat big bow.

    Totally recognize how long some projects take. I have several things in my grey army that have been 'almost finished' for one or two decades. We are a persistent lot, us modellers!

    napoleonpeart likes this.
  8. Chris Ribchester PlanetFigure Supporter

    Very impressive.

  9. Dan Morton A Fixture

    "No wonder people think we are nuts:p"
    Well...uh, we ARE nuts, aren't we?

    "...worth the wait."

    All the best,
    napoleonpeart likes this.
  10. Bob Orr Active Member

    If you double click on the pics then you will get a larger version. Bob
  11. tonydawe A Fixture

    Well done Bob. That's perseverance for you. Glad you finally finished it. It might have taken a long time, but the finished result is definitely worth it.
    Oda likes this.
  12. Nap A Fixture


    Hi Bob

    Really nice to see this completed ..so that's why my hands were duck taped behind my back then ......

    That's certainly a impressive piece of work , lets of research and lots of patience ..21 years of it ....

    Thanks for sharing


    PS ..You look no different from then to now ...honest

    PPS ..Victor ..Bob did start a in depth article but lost the ancient papyrus scrolls it was on ...lol
    Oda likes this.
  13. Babelfish A Fixture

    Now that's what I call a labour of love. I'd have thrown in the towel long ago. That of course is assuming I possessed the necessary skills for such a venture in the first place - which I most definitely don't!

    Consider my optivisor doffed in your direction Bob. :notworthy:

    - Steve
    napoleonpeart likes this.
  14. OldTaff PlanetFigure Supporter

    And...relax.... :LOL: Congratulations all round, Bob, a great piece of work.(y)

    napoleonpeart likes this.
  15. peedee A Fixture

    Just....so nice !
    Well worth the wait.

    Thanks for sharing Bob.

  16. blaster Active Member

    I'm just saying that if this was in a magazine, I'd buy the issue.. rgds victor
    peedee likes this.
  17. theBaron A Fixture

    That's a great story and a beautiful figure! There is much to be said for perseverance (beyond that it helped make a bishop of His Reverence).

    Well, at this rate, they'll be another 63 years, right? :D

  18. Bob Orr Active Member

    Thanks for the kind comments guys, much appreciated, Bob
  19. John Bowery A Fixture

    built on instalments and well worth the wait.
  20. phil_h A Fixture

    Great job. The fortitude of carrying on till the end on this is truly epic (y)

Share This Page

planetFigure Links

Reviews & Open Box
Buy. Sell & trade
Link Directory

Popular Sections

Figure & Minis News
vBench - Works in Progress
Painting Talk
Sculpting Talk
Digital Sculpting Talk
The Lounge
Report Piracy

Who we are

planetFigure is a community built around miniature painters, sculptors and collectors, We are here to exchange support, Information & Resources.

© planetFigure 2003 - 2019.