The comic book story that I've been making the characters from is called Annihilation. The main villain in it, is this guy, Annihilus. The design you see here is how he's basically appeared since the 60's.
In Annihilation he had a bit of a redesign to make him more fitting for a major bad guy.
I think I prefer him this way. He's much more insect like with distended limbs and joints all over the place. Hasbro recently made a figure of him that was pretty decent, but well, I was a bit disappointed that he was more 60's than Annihilation.
(This figure was what they call a Build-a-Figure; meaning that you couldn't buy him on his own. You had to buy lots of other figures who all came with a limb or wing or whatever of him. It's a pretty transparent ploy to get you to buy lots of figures you don't want, but it does pay off in that you get a figure that's much bigger than the others. Annihilus would never have been sold seperately because of his wingspan.)
So when I got this figure (from a very nice gent on eBay so that I didn't have to buy all the other toys) I immediately set about thinking about how to make it better. That was in July or something last year.
Here are the improvements that I thought of.
- His body could be slimmer and almost emaciated.
- His limbs could be less muscular and more distended.
- His wings could be poseable.
A rake in the toybox later landed on this guy.
This is Blackheart. He was nice and tall, already had that weird standing on tip-toes thing happening, and his body was not super duper bulky. So off his head, his tail, his hands and feet came and I set to work.
First thing to do was get him to stand. I had a Lord of the Rings Shelob (the spider) figure that had great insecty legs, so I stuck them onto the bottom of his legs and played a delicate balancing game by adding clay for stability and superglue to tighten the joints so they dont buckle under his weight.
I took the head, parts of the wings and the hands from the Annihilus toy, and modified them. I kept the basic shape of the skull, but changed the jaw. I used sections of cocktails sticks to extend the finger between each knuckle and I kept the basic ball and socket joint of the wings.
This is what basically came out.
I've changed it more since then, but the most time consuming part of this whole process has been.... the wings.
I wanted the wings to fold and not be solid plastic. I thought of several ideas. The papier-mache that I usually use for capes and such wasn't going to work as it needed to be flexible, and clay wasn't going to cut it either. It's not going to fold, and it's too heavy.
So, a trip to the art shop and the supermarket helped me come up with this Wing-Kit.
Liquid Latex (which smells like a dead fish with a bad perm wrapped in shit)
and greaseproof paper
You can kinda see in this picture that I've drawn some rough lines on the paper that I thought would be too big to be Annihilus's wings. (Better to make them too big than too small as I can always cut them down).
I mixed a wee drop of the Stretchi-paint in with the liquid latex then filled the drawn shapes in. Waited a coupla hours. Repeated. Repeated. Repeated. Repeated. Got bored.
I then peeled the floppy rubbery wings off the paper and dusted them with talcum powder (this prevents the latex from sticking to itself). This gave me sheets of translucent green latex that I could use to stretch across the wings I had made out of the remaining legs of Shelob.
It worked well I think. I had to use Stretchi-paint as normal paint would just crack and break if folded or stretched. I want to add more detail to the wings, and am going to try mixing some normal acrylics in with the stretchi-paint. We'll see what happens.
Now, get ready to scroll back up to the drawings. See that yellow pill shaped thing around Annihilus's neck? Yeah, welcome back. That's what gives him his power. It's a cosmic control rod. Sounds a bit saucy if you ask me. Anyway, I wanted this to be a bit more interesting to look at than that yellow plastic tube Hasbro made him wear.
This also tied into what I wanted to do with his antennae. I wanted to get a transparent yellow material. I got a hot glue gun from the art shop and used it to make transparent shapes (and a lovely blister for myself with molten glue) and then paint them with transparent yellow paint. I used some garden wire inside the antennae so they are poseable and won't just snap off (hopefully).
This was the point where I got a bit too ambitious. I wanted the cosmic control to.... duh duh DUH... light up.
I decided to put an LED circuit in the body. God, this was like seven steps back. I had to remove the wing sockets from his back and drill a big cavity inside. I got a 1.99 figure from Poundstretchers that had a light in it, and jammed it in there. Of course in the process I broke the circuit about 10 times and had to hot glue it back together cos I don't have a soldering iron.
At this point, I'm not sure how the cosmic control rod is going to look. The LED is red so I'm thinking it might look a little out of place for a transparent yellow thing to be glowing red. But it might work out with a nice orangey glow.
I put that in, got the wings back on (at a bit of a different angle) and then had to start on tidying the sculpt up and adding some small details.
I think it's going well, and this has certainly been the most ambitious thing I've tried in a long, long time. It's just so hard to try and do a character justice, by not just making a figure of it, but by trying to capture the feel of the character as well.