This time I will report on my progress with the Varangian. It is slowly moving forward, but I am super hesitant to work on this model if I do not have the mojo... it is such an exclusive model, and the amount of creative work I have to do to get it where i want it is staggering. But once in a while I my mind clears and I can see the next step clearly enough to take it. I have been slowly working on the base for the last couple of weeks. As I mentioned earlier I want the Varangian to step on an abandoned chimera left by a roadside. The main problem here is the limited step height of the warlord model and the fact that I want the chimera to look like it is actually taking the weight of the warlord foot, i.e it need to collapse enough for the titan to make the step.
As a kid I use to use candles to heat models and make them pliable so that I could deform them as if they had been in an accident. So I bought a chimera and set up a bunch of candles, and as expected the plastic held over the flames went soft and pliable, but in a very small area (I did not have large models as a kid). And if I held the model to long over the flame to get the heat to spread it caught fire at the center. In the end I ended up completely destroying the kit and had to discard it. The left overs might end up as random pieces on other bases in the future. So I had to by a new chimera and try again. This time I actually thought a bit about how to manage to get the effect I was looking for. I was trying to approach it more like an SF tech at a movie set. It was not about how the model would react to heat and pressure, it was more of a question about how I wanted it to react, and I needed to prepare the model in a way that I would achieve the desired result.
In my first attempt at squashing the chimera I tried to heat it very locally and apply some pressure from the top in the form of a wooden titan foot (modeled from the real thing). The lack of cohesive heating meant that the model panels could stand up to the pressure, but the glued joints could not and I ended up making a pancake of every thing (which might not be to in accurate but not what I wanted) with some locally melted plastic (which would have looked cool if I was going for a melta hit). So instead of relying on the panels folding in an "realistic" way on their own I decided to prep them with fold lines, weakening their integrity so that they would collapse in the right way. To achieve this I set out to cut a lot of furrows on the inside of the panels before assembly. In this way the furrows would be heated quicker due to less material in them and also be weaker structurally, and would not hold up as well as the rest of the panel when subjected to pressure and would then provide a fold line.
To shape the base for the titan I used a plate of appropriate size and centered it on each foot and drew in some circles on a board. I then joint the circles using the same plate but turning it "inside out" so that I got a figure of eight shape. I had already decided to make a road between the legs and have one foot make an impression in the concrete (making it more realistic than what I managed on the bases for the rest of my titans). The road surface was make out of cork covered with some plaster. Before adding the plaster I broke up the cork in a concentric pattern around the feet. Each piece was then sanded down so that it could be attached to the base at an angle sticking out of the ground (I missed this on the last bases). In this way I was trying to achieve a look, where the concrete cracks due to the stress and the pieces are pushed down on one side and up on to of the other on the other side. I have also cut out the foot print of the titan in one layer of the board. This will be filled with plaster and sand so that I can make actual imprints of the foot.
All in all I am happy with how it progresses. It is a bit strange to work so much on the base before the model (as I usually work the other way around), but I think that to achieve my goal of a dynamic pose I need to get the ground work done right. I will attach a screw to each foot so that I can screw it to the base for fitting but be able to remove it for paint (I might glue it in eventually) . I also added a wooden peg though the chimera so that the actual weight of the model will not be resting on my weekend chimera model. I think the next step will be to star painting the base and the chimera as I still have some GS work to do on the internal of the titan before I can start paint the model it self. I will get back to you all with some reports on this progress as well in a few days.