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A Very Spartan Figure

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  • Member since
    June 2018
  • From: Ohio (USA)
A Very Spartan Figure
Posted by DRUMS01 on Saturday, November 12, 2022 11:58 PM

Not "spartan" as in sparsly, or severely simple and without ornament, but instead "Spartan" (noun) meaning a person from the city of Sparta. And considering one Spartan warrior would be nice, I thought three would be even better! Perhaps some of you might remember the Hoplite figure I built a couple years ago (?). I decided to purchase several figures when I bought the Greek hoplite figure and these three Spartan figures were in that group. 

SPARTAN HISTORY:

Here is a short history about Sparta according to Wikipedia. Sparta was a prominent city-state in Laconia, in ancient Greece. In antiquity, the city-state was known as Lacedaemon, while the name Sparta referred to its main settlement on the banks of the Eurotas River in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. Sparta was unique in ancient Greece for its social system and constitution, which were supposedly introduced by the semi-mythical legislator Lycurgus. His laws configured the Spartan society to maximize military proficiency at all costs, focusing all social institutions on military training and physical development. Spartiate men underwent the rigorous agoge training regimen, and Spartan phalanx brigades were widely considered to be among the best in battle.

Around 650 BC, it rose to become the dominant military land-power in ancient Greece. Given its military pre-eminence, Sparta was recognized as the leading force of the unified Greek military during the Greco-Persian Wars, in rivalry with the rising naval power of Athens. Sparta was the principal enemy of Athens during the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC), from which it emerged victorious after the Battle of Aegospotami. Modern Sparta is now the capital of the southern Greek region of Laconia and a center for processing citrus and olives.

FIGURES and MODELING:

It all started years ago when I found an advertisement that turned out to be a web site called AliExpress.com . It is very similar to Ebay except it is based in China. While I knew nothing really of the site, its guarantee along with its use of PayPal made it appear to be safe. After checking it out through on-line sources I found it to be legitimate. The two main things I kept hearing was to check out both the product and the vendor carefully; in this case high feedback with American and European clients. 

The product is made of resin and represent three 75mm or 1/24 - 1/25 Spartan warriors. They arrived in a simple 4x4 cardboard box. Inside the box was two zip-lock type bags with around 45-50 resin parts attached to sprue and resin blocks. There were no instructions, images, paint guides, just the resin in two bags. The quality of the resin was good (very little seam work or flash). There were no pin holes and it had the correct smoothness or texture where needed. Still I found it strange not to have any of the previously mentions documents. 

(SIDE NOTE) After digging a little deeper and through some new friends in the PlanetFigure (modeling) forum I found that many of the figures sold in AliExpress are actually copies of legitimate figures that were sculpted, manufactured, and sold by real model companies. Many of those copied figures did not get permission to produce them and do not compensate the legitimate model manufacturer. While some of the figures are made completely by China, others are pirated copies. I looked for the origins of these figures but cannot locate them through any regular hobby sources. They may be China originals, but they may also be copies. Because of this information I no longer purchase figures through AliExpress. That is my way to better support the hobby and those legitimate people or companies in the modeling industry. 

Back to the figures, after dumping the product out of the bags you could see that each Spartan was molded in several parts. These included the head, upper torso, lower torso, individual arms and legs, capes, and equipment. Initially it was not obvious which parts went to which figure. So to assist me in identifying how the parts are to be paired Jarrod and I copied images from one of the AliExpress modeling vendors sites. Here is how they are suppose to look if built my a skilled figure modeler (not me). 

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And here is a photo of some of the parts though much of the build has already begun. In the photo you can see the distorted spear shafts, swords, and spear tips. We will replace the spear shafts with aluminum tubing. Other items like the swords are also bent but we've been able to warm them up and bend them back to a straight position. 

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As I mentioned, the mold quality is actually pretty good, with some crisp details.

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As Jarrod and I were cleaning the individual parts we found that each part had a unique key and slot assembly (as in the photo above). That helped a great deal in figuring which parts go to each Spartan. With that said, there was still many instances of the product bending or warping. Still with careful removing of the parts, cleaning and gentle reshaping, the parts fell together easily. Here is an example of cleaning out the hand holds designed to hold the spear.

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After a long afternoon me and my helper (Jarrod) were able to get the body parts assembled to the point of painting. Normally I clean and then prime my 120mm figures before my initial base coats, but I was a little worried that the numerous layers of paint might obscure many areas of fine molding in 1/25 scale. So in this case we simply washed them good with common dish soap to remove any oils or release agent used when making the molds. Next was to drill a hole into the keyed area where the head will fit to insert a holder which allows hands free painting and subsequent support away from anything else while drying. My thought is the initial base colors will also act as the primer(s). 

Here is a photo of some initial painting. Our method normally starts with the darkest tone of the final color and then lightly layers. This could be darker shading of the base color such as the deep folds within the material, or a dark skin tone and later progressively lighter shades to create a forced perspective of sun and shade on the person, clothing, and equipment. Note the old file we stuck into the torso's neck to hold the figure while painting as stated.

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In the photo above, the dark brown looking thing is the base coat for the base of the figure. The wadded up piece is the cape that he will be wearing (see completed figures above). And here is the base coat for the cape, believe it or not that is actually flat insignia red. It's going to definitely need some dull coat to quiet down the color. 

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We did continue adding the various base coats on one of the figures as well as some basic shading in the molded cloth-like material. I did that because it would prove difficult working on the recessed areas after adding paint to the raised portions; work from the lower recessed areas to the top raised areas. The arms were left off to make the painting of all components much easier. Check out some of the mold details here.

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That's where we are at right now. We hope to be able to show the other figures base coats along with some of the detail painting in the next update. Time now for a steady hand and small brushes (and my good helper - Jarrod).

Ben and Jarrod (DRUMS01)

"Everyones the normal until you get to know them" (Unknown)

PROJECTS:

1/350 Tamiya Yamato - DONE (GB)

1/20 Revival 1936-37 Auto Union Tipo C  - DONE (GB)

1/32 Revell Arado Ar 196-B Seaplane - WIP - (GB)

1/32 Hasegawa F-16C - Staged

 

 

 

  • Member since
    July 2015
Posted by MR TOM SCHRY on Sunday, November 13, 2022 10:37 AM

WOW!  That trio of figures looks AWESOME!  It also looks like you're making excellent progress on the scene.  Pllease post more pictures as your work progresses.

tjs

TJS

  • Member since
    September 2006
  • From: Bethlehem PA
Posted by the Baron on Monday, November 14, 2022 12:29 PM

Great start to this project, Ben & Jarrod!  I look forward to seeing your next installments.

Yeah, regarding piracy and the PRC, you can generally assume that any eBay seller based in the PRC, or any site that is based in the PRC, is selling pirate copies of copyrighted materials, till it can be proved otherwise.

If you're curious about these figures, you could try posting the "box art" you have above on PlanetFigure and asking if anyone is familiar with them.  You could just say you saw them online and were curious, to avoid any acrimony directed at you.

But it's easy to buy figures these days, and not know that they're unlicensed.  I've got some in my stash that I bought and only learned who the copyright holder and/or actual vendor was.

Figures from Russia can be suspect, too, though it's a little easier to know who the legitimate studios are.  But you can find resin copies of metal figures, and vice versa, from Russian vendors on eBay.

If you want to make sure that the original artist gets the reward, or the legitimate title older, it takes some study.

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.

 

 

  • Member since
    June 2018
  • From: Ohio (USA)
Posted by DRUMS01 on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 7:53 PM

Thanks everyone, and I believe I found the original manufacturer (in Spain), still working that out. I agree that you really can't argue with the quality as the fine details, poses, and general fit are wonderful. I just feel bad that I bought them when I was ignorant to the pirating issues. So to give credit where it is due...

The concept art was done by Pedro Nunez. The wonderful sculpting was by Hugo Gomez Briones and Jesus Ruiz Lopez while the original figures were painted by Ruben Martinez and Jaime de Garnica. I found them marketed in Spain by Big Child Creatives. As I said, I'm reaching out to them concerning my purchase on AliExpress (now that I know). Perhaps they can connect me to the original manufacturer (?).

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On with the build, The figures base coats were completed based on the photos of the originals. 

SKIN: After the darker Vallejo base coat (a mix of dark tan and warm skin tone) I began bringing out lighter shades for the skin using both Vallejo figure paints and Tamiya flesh on the top coat. It was a challenge trying to made the feet look dirty while still blending them to match the rest of the skin tone. My final paint was nothing more than a very light dry brush coating of the Tamiya flesh tone to gradually bring out the skin pigment while still keeping them a little dirty.

UNIFORM: For the material of the uniform I painted it Model Master Flat Signal Red enamel than added a diluted wash to the recessed areas. Even after the wash the Model Master flat Signal Red Enamel was far to glossy. My solution was to dilute a mix of Vallejo Flat Cherry and IJN Hull Red then wash that over the Signal Red and the shading; the transition was remarkable. My last application was a mix of the Cherry Red to the raised / sun exposed portions of the uniform material. 

ARMOR: The gold tone armor was nothing more than a simple application of Molotow Gold marker. I thin it has the extra super fine pigments and curing method to make it look like natural metal (not paint). The spear tips were painted with silver Molotow marker. The remaining belts, slings, straps, and ties were painted various shades of brown and dry brushed with light sand to pick out the raised details. 

BASE: Originally it was dark brown. After lighter shades and progressive dark washes they were dry brushed in Vallejo Dark Earth, MM Flat Brown, Vallejo Desert Sand, and several shades of flat gray. Afterwards Jarrod and I applied some Model Railroad landscape Lychen. Here is one of the bases in the process of painting.

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Here is what they look like at this moment. They are fully assembled and waiting for the clear coat over the gold to fully dry. They still need the final details picked out, the skin dulled and final adjustment, etc. I'm also going to make the "V" on the shields then nick and dirty them up afterwards (along with the armor). I'm not sure If Jarrod and I will use watercolor pencils or oils for the final details. 

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We are also working on some kind of display base to show all three together. I hope the next update can show the final reveal, we will see. 

Ben and Jarrod

"Everyones the normal until you get to know them" (Unknown)

PROJECTS:

1/350 Tamiya Yamato - DONE (GB)

1/20 Revival 1936-37 Auto Union Tipo C  - DONE (GB)

1/32 Revell Arado Ar 196-B Seaplane - WIP - (GB)

1/32 Hasegawa F-16C - Staged

 

 

 

  • Member since
    April 2003
  • From: USA
Posted by keavdog on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 8:43 PM

Great figure set.  Making some quick progress.  

Thanks,

John

  • Member since
    September 2006
  • From: Bethlehem PA
Posted by the Baron on Thursday, November 17, 2022 8:59 AM

Great progress! Regarding the shield, though, it's a lambda, Λ, the Greek "L" Wink   It stood for "Laconia", Sparta's country, and "Lakodaemon", an ancient name for the city itself.

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.

 

 

  • Member since
    May 2013
  • From: From the Mit, but live in Mason, O high ho
Posted by hogfanfs on Friday, November 18, 2022 7:24 AM

Drums,

These are epic! I can't wait to see the finished set. 

Baron,

Thanks for the information! I love learning something new.

 Bruce

 

 On the bench:  1/48 Eduard MiG-21MF

                        1/35 Takom Merkava Mk.I

 

  • Member since
    July 2014
  • From: Franklin Wi
Posted by Bakster on Friday, November 18, 2022 4:47 PM

Very nice! Awesome to display.

  • Member since
    June 2018
  • From: Ohio (USA)
Posted by DRUMS01 on Thursday, December 1, 2022 6:43 PM

It's been some time since my last update. Since then I've been working on the Arado AR196 but can only go so far until the remaining detail items arrive from overseas. Along with the three Spartan figures Jarrod and I also began working on another figure and completed it while waiting on craft items and our idea to become clearer for the Spartan figure base. Just to toss off the Spartan figures for a moment, here is a sneak peak of the other figures base in-progress (this is only four pieces).

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The individual Spartan figures are molded separately on like bases but they do not lock together or even mate up smoothly. Trying to make them link together brings the figures to close to one another. So Jarrod and I wanted to make something that would allow the fit to be more to scale (space for each figure) yet seamless. And since we recently had a couple pine trees chopped down in the yard, we decided to honor one by using a slice of the trunk for the figure base. 

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Now comes our attempt at trying to make it near seamless so we started cutting a base from rigid 1/4 inch foam. Next we used it to cut a second layer that would lay flush to the wood base. Then, using the figure bases as patterns, we decided to cut into the second level of foam board around where each base would be posed. Now came the fun part; Jarrod and I began cutting small pieces of foam at multiple angles to try and recreate a rocky terrain similar to that found on the resin figure bases. Here it is as a work in progress.

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Our goal will be to level the wood base, stain, and seal it. The foam stone / rocky base will be painted separately and built up with colors, small sifted rocks and stone from the property and then add some lichen for greenery (like on the resin bases). We are not sure if we're going to fix the figures to the base or allow them to be removable so they can be viewed individually too (time will tell). Here is where we ended today, still much more to do with the leveling, staining, sealing, foam build-up, painting, detailing the figures more, etc. 

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Till next time! Perhaps you may want to check out my other figure's reveal I created as a separate posting? I should not have to say it, but your feedback is always encouraged.

Ben and Jarrod (DRUMS01)

"Everyones the normal until you get to know them" (Unknown)

PROJECTS:

1/350 Tamiya Yamato - DONE (GB)

1/20 Revival 1936-37 Auto Union Tipo C  - DONE (GB)

1/32 Revell Arado Ar 196-B Seaplane - WIP - (GB)

1/32 Hasegawa F-16C - Staged

 

 

 

  • Member since
    June 2018
  • From: Ohio (USA)
Posted by DRUMS01 on Thursday, December 1, 2022 6:45 PM

Just a small update, still work to do on the base and figures, but it's moving forward...

WOOD:
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FOAM BASE:
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FIGURE SITTING IN BASE:
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I'm still not totally satisfied with it all, but at least my idea has progressed from my head to the model. I still have more detail work on the base to include watercolors and pastels (more earthy colors). Jarrod has shown real patience during the building up of the base because I know his real enjoyment is in the figures. 

Last week we applied clear gloss over the shields and armor then attempted a dark enamel wash. Evidently the clear did not completely coat the metallic because the dirty wash started to bleed into the gold behind the first shield. Today we applied a second coat of gloss and will begin working on the figures again, hopefully tomorrow.

We plan on adding another coat of stain to the wood and then a couple thick clear gloss coats to seal it all in. The final touch will be felt pads beneath the wood base. Hopefully we can wrap this up in our next update....

Ben and Jarrod

"Everyones the normal until you get to know them" (Unknown)

PROJECTS:

1/350 Tamiya Yamato - DONE (GB)

1/20 Revival 1936-37 Auto Union Tipo C  - DONE (GB)

1/32 Revell Arado Ar 196-B Seaplane - WIP - (GB)

1/32 Hasegawa F-16C - Staged

 

 

 

  • Member since
    July 2015
Posted by MR TOM SCHRY on Friday, December 2, 2022 7:55 AM

Ben & Jarrod, this project is looking FANTASTIC!  Your problem solving for the base looks incredible and will add to the final presentation immensely.  I keep thinking of the movie "300" everytime I look at these photos.  Reading your posts always brings back memories of when I modeled with my three kids, one of whom has special needs, and even though none of them continued with the hobby those are memories that I'll always cherish.  Excellent job you two!

tjs

TJS

  • Member since
    November 2009
  • From: SW Virginia
Posted by Gamera on Monday, December 5, 2022 10:23 PM

I love how this is going guys! 

"I dream in fire but work in clay." -Arthur Machen

 

  • Member since
    June 2018
  • From: Ohio (USA)
Posted by DRUMS01 on Wednesday, December 7, 2022 7:43 PM

Well, an update for this string is over due, so.....

The foam base was enhanced with numerous model railroad terrain supplies along with sifted dirt and rock from our property. There was also a plethora of enamel and acrylic paints used to achieve the colors.

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Here is how the foam base ended up. The open areas are where the figures will go. We decided that the figures would be posed together, but can also be removed and seen individually.

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The pine wood base was stained in medium oak twice and then clear coated. And here is the completed base.

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I was asked about the gold color used for the armor and shields, well here it is. Much like molotow but in gold.

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The other delays for getting this done were figure related, specifically detail painting, finishing the multicolored fading on the capes, painting up the shields, and weathering. After some research Jarrod and I chose the following Spartan Shield designs.

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And here are a couple of the templates we created to apply the design to the shields. Regarding the shield, it's a lambda, Λ, the Greek "L". It stood for "Laconia", Sparta's country, and "Lakodaemon", an ancient name for the city itself. 

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And above all, here is my helper who assisted in many of the steps of the build process, my son Jarrod.

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Finally, after numerous applications to both shields and capes we are calling these figures D-O-N-E.

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Jarrod and I are happy with the results, but as always we think we left something undone. Thanks for following along, your feedback is encouraged.


Ben and Jarrod (DRUMS01)

"Everyones the normal until you get to know them" (Unknown)

PROJECTS:

1/350 Tamiya Yamato - DONE (GB)

1/20 Revival 1936-37 Auto Union Tipo C  - DONE (GB)

1/32 Revell Arado Ar 196-B Seaplane - WIP - (GB)

1/32 Hasegawa F-16C - Staged

 

 

 

  • Member since
    July 2015
Posted by MR TOM SCHRY on Thursday, December 8, 2022 9:53 PM

Ben & Jarrod, This model looks fantastic!  The armor looks so realistic and your groundwork turned out great.  You two make a great team!

tjs

TJS

  • Member since
    August 2021
Posted by lurch on Friday, December 9, 2022 4:52 AM

I agree with Tom. You both make a great team. Wish more people would do that. It looks fantastic. Keep up the great work you two.

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