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WIP Geometric Medusa

Discussion in 'vBench (Works in Progress)' started by harto, Nov 10, 2018.

  1. harto Active Member

    Hi, this is going to chronicle my work and modifications on the old Geometric Medusa kit.


    I initially bought one of the Thai vinyl recasts of both the figure and the even rarer base, but was then lucky enough to snag an original figure partially built plus the original solid resin base on e bay. I would say to anyone thinking about this kit, try and track down the original figure if at all possible, the level of detail is simply stunning compared to the very soft detail on the recasts. The base is a great addition but you can get away with buying the recast for this I think, not least because the recast is also vinyl which makes the whole piece a darn sight lighter!

    Whilst the sculpt for this figure is fantastic, there are some well documented problems with it which I am looking to correct:

    1. The bow is way too short in proportion to the length of draw required to fit the arrow.

    2. Partially as a result of the problem outlined above, it is virtually impossible to get the bow string to clear Medusa's body, not least because the sculpt is certainly more "well-endowed" than the original stop motion puppet. One starts to realise why the Amazons of legend reputedly cut off their left breast to improve their archery skills!

    3. the sculpt, once assembled, seems to have the figure doing some sort of backward limbo in that Medusa ends up leaning way backward when drawing the bow, almost as if she is aiming around an unseen object.

    In trying to correct these issues it actually proved very helpful to have the cheap vinyl recast on hand as I could cut this and reposition it with impunity until I figured out how best to do the corrections without having to touch the much more expensive piece of original vinyl.
  2. harto Active Member

    First step is to extend the bow using brass rod which can then be filled in with two part epoxy putty later

    IMG_6445.jpg IMG_6437.jpg

    I also pushed the left arm and right forearm out a bit and decided to use thin stainless steel wire for the bowstring, this has the advantage of adding further rigidity to the whole structure and gives me a good basis for checking that the bowstring can clear the body. Trying to rig the bow with regular string frankly puts too much stress on the vinyl parts in trying to keep the string taught and realistic.
    Jimbo and Landrotten Highlander like this.
  3. Kimmo A Fixture

    By coincidence, I'm working on one of the vinyl jobs at the moment for a friend. I wasn't sure if it was a legit copy or not so decided against blogging. The thing is rather large. A tip for those wanting to tackle the vinyl re-pops, you can warm up the vinyl in an oven on low for about ten minutes to make the vinyl flexible, and easier to remove the casting plugs. The parts should be treated as a vacuform kit to get the best sit and fit. Using foam inserts for the body parts helps a great deal. I'll be watching to see how you get on.

  4. harto Active Member

    Hi, the original is easy to spot as the vinyl is the green colour you see above. The recasts all seem to be white.

    The next job is to try and correct her posture. I tried cutting out some of the body sections on the recast and found a spot where I could cut out two of the lower scale sections and only one of the upper sections which enabled me to bring her whole body more upright and also leave me with as little resculpting of the scales as possible




    this gives the upper torso a much more upright posture. I used a lot of cheap plumbers two part epoxy putty to fill the gaps and join the pieces and then used Aves epoxy to sculpt the detail


    as you can see, she now sits much more upright.
    balder likes this.
  5. Kimmo A Fixture

    Looking good, the fit seems to be a lot better with the original, and the detail is a lot sharper. Mine needed serious trimming, pinching, twisting and naughty words.

  6. harto Active Member

    I have a few of the Geometric kits and the casting quality is outstanding. The Talos figure is also brilliant if you can find it. Here are some more shots with the resculpting coming along




    you can see that repositioning the arms also required some putty work around them, I've also test fitted the quiver. When doing research on the internet you need to be very careful in identifying the original stop motion puppet versus various replicas that have been produced over the years, including the Gentle Giant replicas. If you want to be sure you are looking at the real thing, these are pretty much limited to screen grabs from the movie, shots with a young Harryhausen (beware there are later promo shots of him with a Gentle Giant replica) and pics from one of the exhibitions of original stop motion puppetry. This is important in trying to match colours and details like how the quiver is tied on and most importantly the colour for the main body which seems to be blue tending towards green on the original but very much green on all later replicas. The tail is also very clearly brown on the original.
    balder likes this.
  7. harto Active Member

    Whilst I was resculpting I kept looking at the base. First off, whilst the figure turned to stone is a cool addition, I didn't like his helmet as I thought it made him look too Roman and I am going for Greek mythology, so resculpted the helmet using lead sheet and epoxy putty


    I also kept looking at the pillar on the base. It is a fantastic piece of sculpting with the crumbling effect and it seemed to unbalance the piece having it stuck away at the back of the base. With a bit of tweaking I figured I could use the pillar as a central piece of the base and have Medusa wrap around it which I think makes the whole composition way cooler and gives Medusa something to be anchored to when firing the bow.




    I also had a local builders supply shop cut me a hardwood base to size so I was able to drill into it and the pillar and insert a steel rod to ensure plenty of rigidity when manipulating Medusa to wrap around it. You don't need to do any major surgery to the figure to achieve this, just dip it into warm water to get a bit of flexibility and then slide the Pillar down into the gap which already exists around her tail, you could almost believe that this was how the figure was intended to be assembled if it weren't for the original box art.
  8. igor_belousov Active Member

  9. Kimmo A Fixture

    Nice work and an excellent idea with the column. Fortunately I've only had to do what was necessary to make the whole scene look acceptable. The overall quality isn't worth going all out, plus my friend is interested in the piece for nostalgic rather than aesthetic reasons.

    harto likes this.
  10. taliesin2013 Active Member

    Very fine idea and excellent work.
  11. Henk A Fixture

    Repositioning the pillar does balance the scene very nicely. Good job so far, looking forward to see paint on it. Those scales should come out nice.
    harto likes this.
  12. harto Active Member

    here is the initial painting on the base. I've been trying scale 75 colors recently so pretty much everything on this figure was done using an airbrush and their acrylic range. Shading and weathering was done with oil washes etc over the acrylic. I'm sure you all know that vinyl figures have to be painted or at least undercoated in acrylics anyway first as the vinyl reacts badly with enamels/oils if they are in direct contact with it, resulting in the paint never quite drying - a lesson learnt from bitter experience. You will see in the first picture what I had hoped would look like a faded cloak which I quickly realised had to be toned down.




    Metalics were done with Dark Star miniatures metallic colours, especially their blackened bronze which I was really pleased with. Weathering of the cloak etc was done with a combination of oil paint and actual sand coloured weathering pigments. I wanted to highlight the weathering on the pilar as well so decided on a base colour of painted red and to bring out the cracked and crumbled areas with a colour similar to that used for the groundwork, I think the pillar really looks like Medusa has wrapped herself around it and crushed the plaster facade many times.
    Landrotten Highlander and balder like this.
  13. harto Active Member

    On Medusa herself, I spent quite a bit of time looking at her drawing of the bow. The figure is clearly sculpted based on the arrow being on the right hand side of the bow from her point of view as opposed to a typical modern draw which places the arrow on the opposite side of the bow. The reason for placing the arrow on the opposite side is to counter the curl which inevitably occurs when pulling the bowstring back with the fingers and releasing it. I tried the arrow on the opposite side of the bow in the modern style but it looked odd. However, after finding some more detail on ancient methods of drawing a bow, I discovered that there were recognised techniques which did leave the arrow on the outer side of the bow, in particular Mongolian archery which relies on a thumb draw and where leaving the arrow on the outside of the bow results in a much faster reload and shooting time. I also found references to the Greek using a "pinch" grip where instead of drawing the bowstring with the fingers, one grips the base of the arrow itself to pull it back. Since I could find sufficient evidence to support the draw which Medusa is using, I decided to leave well alone and go with her seeming to grip the base of the arrow itself and left the arrow on the outside face of the bow.

    I did make some further enhancements to Medusa herself, most notably, I copied Chris Wauchop's idea of giving the snakes on her head fangs and tongues, which were cut from lead sheet and placed. One point to note from when I was researching actual snakes for reference, if a snake is baring its fangs, it usually has its tongue retracted, which makes sense before a strike, so you usually would see either the tongue or the fangs but seldom both, which also helped reduce the amount of work which I had to undertake!
  14. harto Active Member

    Finally got some base colour down on Medusa herself. Like I said, matching the colour of the torso is quite a challenge and most people seem to just go for green. However the original stop motion puppet seems to have been a shade of blue which under certain lighting or as it faded over time developed a distinct green tint. The best colour match I could come up with in the Scale 75 range was a custom mix using Caspian Blue, Bering Blue and Sky Blue.



    I highlighted and shaded the base colour by simply adding white and dark blue and airbrushed in the highlights and shadows. I figured I had got the colour close enough when even on my camera, the colour seemed to switch between blue and green. It looks a bit bright at the moment but this is going to be subject to various oil washes and dry brushing which should tone it down quite a bit.

    For comparison, here are some pics of the original stop motion puppet from an exhibition in Manchester which I found online at https://emilysteelefilm.wordpress.com/


    MattMcK. likes this.
  15. harto Active Member

    After doing the basic base coat and shading and highlights with the airbrush. I then used blue and green oil paints to do more detailed shading and highlighting on the torso and head and also did some detail painting on the head. The level of detail on the sculpt is amazing and really pushes you to try and make sure all of it pops.



    Landrotten Highlander likes this.
  16. Kimmo A Fixture

    The difference in level of detail is remarkable. Mine is like a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy in comparison. In a way I'm sort of ok with that fact, because if it was as sharp as this, I shudder to think how much more time I'd be spending on painting to do her justice. The hairy sticks are getting a real good work out.

  17. harto Active Member

    Yeah, the Thai one I have is also obviously a third or fourth generation recast. There is simply no comparison in the detail level. On my Thai version the snakes look more like worms, whereas on the original each scale is visible. Speaking of which....
  18. harto Active Member

    I started to map out the colour of the snakes. I wanted to make them each quite individual.


    This was my first attempt at laying down some base colours and I quickly realised that I would have to tone things down quite drastically to avoid an overly cartoonish appearance. If you look at the original stop motion puppet above there are quite a few different colours to the snakes but the colours are very muted and the patterns are quite basic. Having looked at Chris Wauchop's build here: http://hsfeatures.com/features04/medusacw_1.htm I thought his idea of using patterns from original venomous snakes worked really well and decided to copy that, although with some artistic licence on the patterns I used.




    Here are the basic colours I used. At least using the original garish colours as a base coat also helped me to identify which parts of the snakes curl where on her head since they are so intertwined. I also decided not to add any hair to her head since she has so many snakes which are so tightly packed together. I feel that the original puppet used hair to maybe overcome the gaps between the snakes since there certainly seem to be fewer of them on the original, probably because each one ultimately needed to be animated.

    Here are some detail pics on the snake patterns and some pics of Medusa in situ after giving the snakes a coat of gloss varnish



    balder likes this.
  19. Kimmo A Fixture

    Looking gooder and gooder

  20. harto Active Member

    thanks all, started work on Medusa's tail. As with the torso, this was undercoated in airbrushed acrylics. Light brown for the lower scales and dark brown for the upper. However, I decided to experiment with laying burnt umber oil paint over the acrylic and then wiping most of it off to bring out the shading on the scales. I was very pleased with the result.



    Landrotten Highlander likes this.

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