Valerie Orion

I tend to keep my models built for a long time. Often older models start to feel outdated with time, and are eventually modified, stripped for some pieces I've ran out, or disassembled completely. But sometimes they grow on me. One of them is Zinnia Superfuzz, a bass player figure I built in 2019. She was on window display for a year or two (I have some triple-glazed windows with nice display space inside). I did make some tweaks, sure - I made the legs a bit shorter for more natural proportions - but in all Zinnia is one of my best works (by the way, she also made a special gig on my review of the new Ideas Fender Statocaster on New Elementary). She was built in slightly larger scale than usual (and required a big hair to make the usual-scale face look natural!) and that scale felt interesting for further experienting, so I built two other original characters, fiddler Doreen Inverardi and drummer Virva Staccato to accompany her on a band. And here's the fourth member, Valerie Orion, who plays a guitar. 

I aimed for similar overall feel than on Zinnia. Doreen was more "out there" - her starting point was a very heavy and brightly coloured skirt that prevented lot of mobility, and pretty much everything on her turned out somehow bizzare or hipster-like. Virva was a drummer from the beginning, which meant ability to sit and therefore trousers. So with this new guitarist I wanted to pursue elegant dress design with enough poseability and some cool boots. I was also excited by the big amount of brightly-coloured curved slopes I had recently bought, and they guided the process. I began with the dress, which originally had black and bright yellowish green; the green was dropped as the feel was too much like "poison-themed villainess" and I lacked anything else than those curved slopes and 1x2 bricks. Bright light yellow replaced it. The another main colour ended up being dark purple, a colour that has also recently grown on me. Forming the neck strap with those small Elves banners defined the attire.

The flanks use similar technique to Tam the Enchanter, but with some extra movement; the large cockpit parts are connected via 1x2 plates with clip on ends. They're somewhat fragile, but hollow enough to allow enough movement to the upper legs. This meant I was able to build full legs with realistic waist lenght - on comparison Zinnia's legs start half way up the thigh, just above the hemline! The front flap is very simple or even "crude" but the studded surface allowed me to add ornaments with round tiles; tiling the the whole flap would have looked too heavy and zigzaggy on the edges. The gaps on the skirt are conscious choice for poseability, and I though that line between the stocking and skin would be nice detail.
The previous figures of the series had all black hair so I chose to continue this motif. They also all had rubber hair - Zinnia's used Hero Factory ammo belts and others' tire pieces. I tried some tires on Valerie too, but they didn't fly. Instead I made an asymmetrical curved slopes and bow pieces type of hair - mostly to give some wildness to contrast the bound and symmetrical hairs of the others. Doreen and Zinnia had these wild hair ornaments, so Valerie got some too - a small serpent-themed hair clip, a big star with trans-purple innard (hence the name Orion - Zinnia's name derives from a flower, appearing on her dress) and a big trans-neon-green Clickits wrist band that shines brilliantly!

From the beginning I new I wanted to make a transparent "acrylic" guitar. I saw Jussi Lehtisalo playing one in Rättö & Lehtisalo few years ago (before the pandemic) and the idea came back to me - I was sure it would look great in brick form. This is not a remake of that specific instrument (I didn't find any photos) but just a random, made-up guitar; the body is somewhat close to Stratocaster, but with symmtrical headstock. Light reflects nicely in different innards of the pieces in it.
The whole band is not here yet - I have several ideas more. Maybe it'll end up being a big band? Time will tell. Until next time!

PS. The boat stud on the right hand is black on some photos and tan in some. It should be black. There was a small accident during the shoot (there usually is) and I lost the original black one. No wonder I didn't find it as I was looking for tan one instead of black! But that's not a huge problem - she just has different bracers on some shots.



Augur of the Last Peak

 I recently bought a bunch of parts from BL. This is not exactly common; while I've been a bit more active BL user during the pandemic (due to loss of first-hand used brick vat browsing on events and such), my prevous order was half a year ago to complete Grand Hotel Kudelma. The new order had lot of cheap curved slopes on pleasant colours, and they inspired me into sort of "free building" without any specific idea. From such ground emerged Augur of the Last Peak.

The seed part, aside the curved slopes, was oil slick -esque cape piece from Friends funfair theme; more about it on my review on New Elementary, from May. I didn't build any creations for that article, but I knew I would use that interesting cloth piece sooner or later. It was here, making the mantle of the robe along with pearl gold and medium lavender pieces. I wanted to keep the robe very simple and elegant; I think it turner out pretty good, except for the back, which has bit too severe blocky steps. That was due to lack of arches or tall slope pieces (except ones on the upper arms) available.

The character ended up being smaller than usual. I first tried six-wide upper torso, but that looked too muscular. I settled on this overall four-wide torso. It also sort of solved the hand problem of not having needed pieces for basic hands in medium nougat (gloves didn't feel fitting for the character) as those hands would have looked huge in the scale; instead I built long sleeved with a tips of fingers (simplified as 1x1 round tiles) peeking from them. The head is usual scale, but does not look out of place. This is new design for double cheese slope chin variant that debuted on Dedofiktion Rocketsuit in January. This new version doesn't need old 3651 Technic Axle And Pin Connector with its loose and weirdly logoless side studs; instead it uses another long gone part, 4081a Plate, Modified 1 x 1 with Light Attachment - Thin Ring. Plates connected to each side of the thin ring line up with the 1x1 plate, so the width of the head is not disturbed. I should probably post a break-up of this and the usual head version. 

But back to the character. She ended up looking like a monk (nun?), or an oracle, or an augur. Some sort of mystic. And she was a rather stiff model with not much poseability, so I wanted to compleate it with some scenery. One alternative would have been a body of water, like a still lakeside or a stream (like on old Red Lady of the Stream). But I wanted to make something airier. The process was influenced by my recent re-reading of Tolkien's books, and I though of Varda, or Elbereth, one of the valar and the creator of stars who lives on the holy mountain Taniquetil in Valinor across the Sea. From the prehistory of Arda arose this mountain-side with its white snows. I first experimented of some more expressive clouds, using balloon panels and dinosaur tails, but they didn't fly; more two-dimensional silhouette clouds were better, with petrified movement and sense of altitude. The cliff has boat weigh pieces inside to give the composition unreal feel - I'm rather happy with it - while keeping the model in good balance. My new blue background sheets helped with the airy feel. I bough them and new black ones today, as the old ones were too crumbles and messy; but they will appear on the next post, as its model was photographed some days earlier.




Ponder Stibbons

 I've build plenty of characters from Sir Terry Pratchett's Discworld books. The wizard of Unseen University have always somehow been my favourites. They're never really the main characters (except in Science of Discworld books, if they count) and they rarely (but sometimes!) go through very touching or impressive stories... but there's certain charming homely silliness in them and it makes me happy. And Ridcully is my favourite character, in general. The charm of UU has made do rather obscure characters like Senior Wrangler or Chair of Indefinite Studies, but I've never built Ponder Stibbons before - even though this youngest and keenest member of the faculty is quite established character in the series. And his name is Finnish translations, Aatos Stibbons, is one of the best.

I've had WIPs of Ponder before, but they never developed further from the face and the hat. Pterry described (in Soul Music) Stibbons wearing a robe of correct lenght but in washed greenish-grey colour, with pockets and a hood with bit of rabbit fur; definitely some references to youth clothing as he has a sort of parka. He has glasses and wears a hat, of course - a wizard would be naked without one. And he was never able to grow a beard. Unlike on Ridcully, I didn't aim for very expressive face, as that would have been hard with the glasses - and Ponder is more mundane character! The face has some offset and SNOT tricks though. I'm pleased with the jaw, which uses new-ish 1x1 curved slope (or bow); it was also used on Ridcully's big potato-nose.

Greenish-grey could be achieved with both sand green and olive green. I used both of these for pleasant combination, olive bringing some life and depth to washed out sand green. The hat brim uses a rubber band hidden between the plates, somewhat illegally maybe. The sides just hand there, making the nead shape and breaking the blockiness of the overall impression. I think making a satisfactory hat was the key point here, and the rest was more or less basic character building without bigger challenges.

The arms are standard issue, and Stibbons has plain grey shirt under the robe; it could read "I actually am a rocket wizard" but it doesn't. The robe has the mentioned fur collar and hood, breaking the smooth curved slope areas, and two dark tan horn toggles. There could be more but I had only two horns in this perfectly fitting colour. The side pockets in olive green balance the scheme, and they hold some magical printed parts. Within shaping I've given Stibbons some belly, which I believe is mentioned in the books. The legs are not poseable except for standard turning-round, but this is not very action-oriented character, so what the hell. White stockings gave some Discworld feel to it somehow, they are taken from Paul Kidby's art. Ponder also has a note pad - I think he generally should have one; it gives the right expression.

I think Ponder turned out to be a solid character build, and while it's not very dynamic, it had pleasant mix of smooth and rugged surfaces. The senior faculty is almost completed now - the final member appears soon-ish.