One of the oft maligned miniatures in the Privateer Press Warmachine line is Vladimir, the Dark Prince of Umbrey, (or Vlad for short.) Here’s a promo shot, straight from Privateer’s website:
An interesting and little known fact – that photo is of the original sculpt of Vlad. If you’re familiar with the model, take a close look at the head. Kev White did the sculpt and this piece was a master casting. Mike (McVey) decided that the head was too big and had the sculpt sent back to be redone. This sculpt was to be forever known as “Big Head Vlad” and is no longer in existence to my knowledge. The master mold was destroyed along with the original master castings. The Vlad that is in production and was released to the public is the revised version. To the best of my knowledge, the only existing copy of the mini is the painted (by Ali “Fluffy” McVey) version pictured here. The last time I saw it it was still in the case at Privateer. Why Privateer ever put a photo of Big Head Vlad on their website I’ll never know or understand, but I do find it quite humorous knowing the history behind it. Now you know too.
Back to the task at hand: remaking Vlad. If you’re familiar with the mini then you’re familiar with the complaints. The waist is too skinny, he has clown shoes, his dagger is an icepick, and so on. My client approached me to fix some of these issues, namely the waist and the dagger. He sent me a link to a thread on the Privateer forum that had a conversion he liked and wanted me to pattern one after it. After a little digging, I found the thread, the photos and approached the creator of the piece to get his consent to use his photos here. This piece is by forum-goer JTY, aka Jonathan Taylor-Yorke in the real world. Link to the original thread: My Khador Stuff.
What JTY has done is added armor plates to the ribs and hip plates. Both of these help to disguise the skinny waist. He’s also bulked up the forearm greaves and added chainmail sleeves protecting the shoulder joint. The addition of the loincloth hides the wide gap between the legs. All of these additions certainly help to add visual mass to the model, but they don’t help with what I think is the primary problem with the model: the pose itself. The
Yes, the waist is just a bit thin in proportion to the body. The visual of the huge shoulderpads only exaggerates the difference. The other problem is that the legs and shoulders form a visual “X”, which naturally leads your eye to the center, causing you to focus on it. Here’s an illustration of what I mean:
By having the arms thrown back wide they do nothing to help the center and keep the focus on that waist. Why not just use the Alternate Vlad?
Mike (McVey) did a fine job of giving new life to the model. The cloak in particular is my favorite element. With the request to change the dagger blade though the alternate body is out as the blade is against (and part of) the body. No need for unnecessary work. I will be using parts from this version though.
What does all of this mean? It means I’m going to use the referenced conversion for just that: reference. From there I’m making this conversion my own.
Down to Business
First things first – Vlad needs a place to call home. An Apoxie/green slab of rock and some Apoxie fill makes short work of this.
Having the overhang allows the wide stance to hang over the lip of the base without looking silly. In addition I’ve filed down the tips of the feet. The combination mitigates the so-called “clown shoes.”
Yes, I realize that he’s visually off-center. Once the replacement cape is in place you’ll see why. Next step – the arms. Knowing that I needed to replace the dagger (request from the client) actually made this an easy choice. I lopped off the dagger arm at the elbow in order to position the hand more forward in a guarding position. Having the hand separate will also make replacing the blade much easier.
Now he’s nothing but a big “X”, time to fix that. Instead of the stock Vlad sword arm, I chose to use the Alternate Vlad arm. This also brings the arm forward into a guarding position without having to do any cutting. Pinning the dagger arm back in place brings the pose to life.
I’m not settled on the rotation of the dagger arm at this pint and it will likely change, but at least I have something better to work with now. To complete the regal feel the model should have, I picked up the Alternate Vlad cape as well. Mike (McVey) did an awesome job on this piece, it has great flow and movement. It also carries visual weight which I still need. 3 pins and a bit of grinding from a Dremel and the cape is ready to mock up.
You may have noticed that the sword position changed. Nothing on the model is glued in placed here. It’s all just held together by pins. Since I have some sculpting work to do on the torso I need to be able to access it easily.
After a long hiatus from the project I was finally able to come back to it to get the sculpting done. One of the things I did like about the reference conversion is the armor plates that were added. I added my own and did one thigh plate here. I wasn’t keen on how long they were in the reference, so I chose to shorten it and show the client for feedback.
The client agreed with me on the change so I proceeded on to adding the second plate. One thing that always struck me as odd is Vlad is the only model in the Khador warcaster range that has no fur trim anywhere. The alternate cape has fur trimming, so to make the piece look a bit more cohesive I decided to add fur trim to the bottom hem of the under robe. The dagger blade was removed and a temporary pin placed as a visual indication of the new blade length and position. I like the wrist tilted forward so I’m keeping that pose. The sword arm is attached now that the interior sculpting is complete and lastly a loincloth added. Again, pictures sent for approval.
Shaping up nicely. I also added a few pics with the cloak in place for reference.
You can never have too many pictures.
My client was excited at the progress. (Probably because he had been waiting so long for me to get on the ball.) Home stretch now with the finish line in sight.
The Devil is in the Details
After taking a serious look (with fresh eyes 2 months later) at where the cloak was planned to attach, I decided to move it up just a bit and ground off another 1/4″ or so from the top. New pin holes drilled, cloak attached & puttied. I’m using Apoxie / green mixed for everything so far. It allows me to cut / drill / sand / polish things after it sets. I used this to my advantage for the cloak. Once the putty was hardened overnight, I took my Dremel buffing wheel to it and polished up any transition seams between the metal and the putty. Once primed, it should look flawless. *crosses fingers*
On to the dagger. I’ve never sculpted a weapon before, I’ve always adapted other blades or fabricated ones out of styrene. I chose to make this my first one. A bit of a gamble, but you’ve got to try it sometime. For the blade I used a 50/50 mix of brown / Apoxie with the same diameter brass rod inserted into it as the placeholder one on the model. Once that was cured I began to carve it down and file away to make a blade shape. I wanted it to look a bit like the sword so I went towards a leaf shaped blade. Once that was polished I traded it for the pin and added some green to help the transition. As an afterthought I added a raised ridge down the front of the blade. More fur trim for the loincloth and pictures submitted to the client, with some reservations…
The client wasn’t happy with the new blade, and frankly, neither was I. I also pointed out that he would trip over the loincloth now that the fur trim was on it. Stupid oversight on my part. We both agreed to some final adjustments and I set to work.
The Finishing Touches
I pulled the dagger arm back off and scraped off the raised ridge. I filed another notch on each side below the first one to match the sword blade better and filed down the blade below that. Much better.
I cut the loincloth right above the fur trim to bring it up in line with the under robe and added new trim. While I had putty I touched up the resculpted fur trim on the cloak joins and cleaned up the join for the sword arm. Minor things, but they count. Especially in larger than life pictures. Here he is, ready to lead the motherland to victory on the table. (After paint of course!)
And a few fun views. First, the opposing player’s view:
The owning player’s view:
And some worm’s eye views:
And lastly, a detail shot of the sculpting work on the armor.
I’d like to thank my client for being patient with me. This project was over 2 months from receiving parts to completion. Hopefully he feels it was worth the wait. I’m pretty proud of this piece. It took a lot of effort (over 20 hours), but he’s a great example of my work.