Sam Slade : Robohunter
The Action Figure
Review by Seth
“So, are you enjoying your new doll?”
“It’s not a doll”
“ You can tell yourself that, but it is indeed, a doll”
“It’s not a doll, it’s a collectible action figure”
And so on… Is the conversation above in anyway familiar?
It is a fairly regular one in my household. To be fair, my wife is very tolerant. Assorted 2000ad and non 2000ad, but similarly geeky merchandise are all on strategic display around the premises, with little complaint from the missus, maybe the occasional roll of the eyes.
I’ve been impressed with 3As figures so far. My 1/12 Mongrol has pride of place above the fish tank. Judge Death was one I missed when it was first advertised, I only noticed it after I’d ordered my Sam Slade, back in July. I hesitated, I deliberated, I told myself “you don’t need it”. But one late night and a bottle of wine later, 3A got more of my money.
JD arrived the end of last month. It took until this weekend to open him.
After spending £48.94, and then waiting around 5 months, I hesitated over opening the pack. I’m not a speculator, I don’t buy these things for them to increase in value, but I get a little OCD and hate the thought of it getting damaged, marked, or breathed upon.
In the end I saw sense, but wasn’t going to tear open the blister pack in a hurry, I was going to savour it.
Actually, that’s my first issue with this product. Blister pack? I didn’t spend the thick end of 50 quid to have my action figure (not doll) sent in a bit of card with a plastic cover. I wanted a box, a proper high quality cardboard or plastic, pucker box – like Mongrol or Ro Jaws were sent in. It takes the edge off a bit, I can tell you.
Craft knife to hand, off we go. Semi successfully splitting with blister pack from its baking board, only tearing the board a tad (honest), Death is free (if only he was, and not £48.94).
To be honest, I was disappointed with his size, I thought it’d be bigger (which is also what my Wife said, boom boom) – but that’ll teach me to read the description, rather than get all click happy. Bank balances beware, 1 bottle of wine, a credit card and the internet are a lethal combination.
He comes with interchangeable hands, fingers closed or fingers slightly splayed apart. Colour me underwhelmed. A dimension jump, or something else Death related would have been more appropriate – Re:Action’s came with a D jump and a heart – gruesome perhaps, but it made sense.
Detail is excellent, though he does look a little well fed for the usually skeletal death. He’s surprisingly well articulated, even down to the feet. Joints are hidden by the fabric of the (well kept and surprisingly intact) uniform.
Am I asking too much for better packaging and even a stand? Despite these reservations, 3A’s Judge Death is small , but almost perfectly formed (which is what I always tell my wife). It’s an excellent figure and bodes well for Sam, Judge Fish and the Gronk (this side of Christmas 2016?)
In the meantime, negotiations are about to begin on where this fella can be displayed ……..
The good folk at 3A have revealed Judge Fish and The Gronk as the latest in a line of 2000AD characters. You can pre-order them on Bambaland.com here:
At $75 including international shipping, that’s a pretty good deal! The Gronk does look lovely, especially with that fur finish they’ve given him.
Unfortunately for me even a price so reasonable is currently out of my budget. I drooled over these pictures, and cursed the reason for my skintness (I recently bought a house), but then thought ‘Stop with the self pity – there was a time (decades ago admittedly) when you could build one of these for yourself!’
With that in mind, I invested in a block of Super Sculpey (you can get a decent sized block of this for a tenner on Amazon), and raided the kids ‘making box’ for some cheap acrylic and paintbrushes.
I’d like to present to you my first attempt at making anything with clay in over twenty years, and also talk you through the process in case you wanted to learn from my mistakes!
Ok, first up I made a basic wire frame – nothing special, just a circular base and a spine that led right up to the tip of Gronk’s furry bonce. I wound two separate wires around it horizontally about a third of the way up, a centimetre or so between them, to represent the Gronk’s arms.
I then built up the foundation of the Gronk around these wires, initially just trying to get a feel for where the head would start and finish, and position the arms to make it look less static:
Once I had this basic shape, I started to round the edges, clean up the main body a bit, and give him more detail. Again I spent some time positioning the arms, and thought about how I was going to give this clay thing some character. This included working on the hands, thinking about eyes and expression, and how to shape the hair tuft at the top.
Once I was happy with the basic dimensions, and how the body was going to sit, curvature of the spine, hair, features etc, I thought it was time to work in some of the finer detail. Up until this point I had used nothing but my hands, fingers, and even fingernails, to work the shape and get some of the basic detail down. Now I had to find a decent carving implement…
… a pair of nail scissors!
Yep, you don’t need crafting tools to create, folks. Just use what’s around you. That said, I have ordered some basic craft stuff for my next project.
Ok, so then I really went to town, trying to create a fake fur effect by dragging the scissors downwards for very short lines all over his body. This took quite a while, as I realised that as I held it and shaped one area, I was flattening down a previously shaped area with my fingers! D’oh!
I eventually sat the wee guy on a mat, turning the mat to get at the clay I needed to sculpt. After this, I had one last adjust of the arms, and the tuft of hair at the top, and it was ready to cook:
Ok folks, here’s something fundamental about Super Sculpey I wish I’d known earlier. On the packet it said to cook it at about 130 degrees centigrade for 15 mins per 6 mm width (Gas Mark 2 basically). Naturally I though it was very wide at it’s widest, so left it in for about 45 mins.
This was wrong. At it’s thinnest it was only about 2mm deep. What I should have done was put it for 10 minutes at a time, taken it out, air cooled it for 10 mins, and then put it back in for 10 mins, repeating until it had the full 40 – 50 mins of cooking time.
If I had done that I would have prevented this:
Oh my poor heartses! I thought I’d ruined my creation! As you can see, it cooked the thick bits to perfection, but the thin hair tuft at the top was smoking when I pulled it out of the oven.
I was hoping to rely on the nice skin colour of the clay for the face and arms, but as you can see poor Gronk’s nose was a bit burnt! I had no choice but to rely on paint.
It was at this time I realised I couldn’t paint a decent skin tone, as I only had red, white and black acrylic paint (nicked from the kids stash earlier), so at 11pm I jumped in the car and tried to find a large 24 hour Tesco, and the paints I needed. Yes folks, by this point I was a bit obsessed – I wasn’t stopping until the damn thing was complete!
Tesco was almost a bust – no acrylic paints on sale at all, of the regular artists variety. However, there were some tiny pots of acrylic in with a kids ‘paint your own fridge magnet’ thingy. I bought that, belted home, discarded the magnets (I’ll give those to the kids), and was able to get a nice mix of yellow and red for a skin tone.
The first layer of paint went on. I was very impatient by this point, and it was a bit scrappy:
Ok, not bad – it covered the singed bits nicely, but clearly wasn’t finished. I needed more detail around the face, and neded to lightly brush some white over the fur to give a shadowy layered effect. I waited for the paint to dry and treated myself to the last of some lovely 20 year old single malt I’d been nursing since Xmas.
Finally it was time to add one more layer of paint before I really hit the finer detail. As I’d had to paint over the Gronk’s scorched face, I had to cover his arms with the same colour, so it looked consistent:
As mentioned above, I dragged a soft brush lightly over all the fur with white paint. This lightened the surface, but kept the grooves a dark grey, so as to try and bring out that fur effect. I worked a little more detail into the face, and then finally considered the eyes.
I wanted to emulate the 3A masterpiece, as I love the character – those worried eyes looking distractedly to one side, as if something was going to leap out and give the Gronk yet another actual heart attack.
The paint brushes I’d nicked from the kids were far to coarse. There was no way I was going to get his tiny pin-prick pupils right with one of those. Eventually I settled on a fine nibbed Sharpie…
…and he was done.
Here he is in all his glory. My own Gronk, made by my own hands, for a fraction of the price of the 3A one (though admittedly nowhere near as professional looking), after a fantastically diverting evening of creativity.
I’m quite pleased with it. My first serious attempt at clay modelling since the 1990’s.
I hope this has given some hints and tips to those wannabe sculptors out there. I highly recommend Super Sculpey, but heed my warning about cooking times!
The question is, what do I make next..? I’m eyeing Sensitive Klegg…
I’ve been extravagant twice within a month much to the chagrin of my wife. She now knows about the one, but not about the other that will be arriving (c’mon Sam). The other is a surprise, love. I bought two pieces of 2000ad merchandise.
I read loads of comics, but it is only with 2000ad that common sense deserts me and I want to buy merchandise. The desire to maintain a healthy bank balance is ignored and I buy stuff. I buy original art from the prog’ – I have a desire to own all the action figures – not the statues / static figures oddly enough (though that Hammerstein one from Dark World Creations IS tempting) – just action figures.
I am most proud of the 3A Mongrol and Ro Jaws on my fish tank – imposing plastic icons, impressing my male friends, but leaving my female friends to indiscreetly whisper questions on my sanity to my wife.
Anyhoo. Zombo is the result of a drunken purchase a few weeks ago (end of May?). I deliberated, dithered and cogitated for a few hours, but a few ciders later and my debit card slipped out of my wallet all too easily. If it were Nemesis, to Alpha, there would have been no hesitation. Zombo doesn’t have that same level of affection or draw. Having said that, it is one of the best things that has been in 2000ad for years (and to be fair lately there has been a lot of good stuff). Perfect for Tooth’, a black and sharp script, humour, violence, satire, and fantastic art (Henry Flint strikes again).
Zombo : secret government experiment and wannabe singer. The result of melding a human ghoul with a zombie and installing a back up brain containing a different personality in his arse. A rotting X factor candidate, followed everywhere by a “Death Shadow”, a mysterious, dark, cloudy morass that kills stuff.
Zombo hasn’t been around for long, but has been quite the hit. Even so, action figure material? Not sure.
Working from home today, every time I have to get up from typing away I lurk around by the door, hoping the postman will be delivering goodies. Teasing me, he delivers my wife’s current affairs magazine and bills, and just as I walk away, <kerthunk>, a foreign jiffy bag bounces off the quarry tiles, the dogs lunge forward to sniff/eat. I rescue the brown paper covered treasure. I open it, and it is Zombo, here after a month of anticipation.
Back to my workstation, Zombo sits there alongside the computer. Between typing reports sending e-mails and writing presentations I glance at him, unsure what to do now he has arrived. Shall I open him? Shall I leave him sealed? Which leads onto other questions, why would I leave him sealed?? Even if I opened him, I’d keep the packaging (like I did with all the others).What a dilemma. The cauldron of world war III slowly simmering to a boil in Eastern Europe, and the West’s procrastination has nothing on this kind of dithering and indecisiveness.
John Burdis – keeper of the cellar of Dredd (coupled with the consumption of the contents of a bottle of wine) convinced me. Like Ricky Martin -he’s coming out.
Gingerly, I try and prize the plastic blister away from the backing card, trying to minimise the tears to the packing. I successfully inveigle my target out of the packaging without completely splitting the packing and…………………
I’m underwhelmed. I thought he was a tad small anyway, I try to move his arms and legs, no luck with the legs, completely rigid. I try to twist the head – no luck either. I move an arm – it falls off.
Hmmmmmm. They saw me coming.
To be fair, they didn’t hide the size – if I’d read the description (rather than drunkenly just clicked “pay”), then I’d have understood that he was “Star Wars” figures sized. But being the impetuous, profligate, inebriated bum that I am, I didn’t.
The description of “highly articulated deluxe figure set” is more a reflection of the character, rather than the physical characteristics of the toy. Oh yeah, it’s a joke. I get it now.
Other than the danger of our hero’s arm popping out of its socket every time you move it; it’s quite a good representation. Nice detail, good Larry from “Cameo” codpiece, perhaps not enough brain matter showing. Bodywork is perhaps a little shiny? A bit too glossy? Couldn’t they have provided a copy of the Death Shadow with him?
One of the current Humble Bundles includes the choose your own adventure style Dredd game, Countdown Sector 106
You can get it and three others for next to nothing or go up to the massive sum of £4.30 (at time of posting) and get a total of ten games. Either way, you can’t really go wrong.
Go get ’em HERE
You wait years for Judge Death to come along and then suddenly 3 turn up at once, or in this case 3A with some more details of the statue which will be available to order from January 14th. Please form an orderly queue behind Mr Burdis and Mr Wells.