Yexil Miniature Build

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Bueno fine folks! I've decided to put together a journal\diary\tutorial of my first attempt to hack together a miniature. Brief history and introduction, my name is Ryan, I started playing D&D and collecting miniatures back in August of last year (2010 or Six Monkey Slap-Slap minus 152 years). My wife got me Gamma World for my birthday and I ran it for my group on an off date of our normal D&D adventure. It was fun as hell for me as the world was quite open to my madness as was the group.

Though I know miniatures are not at all a necessity for playing, I love plastic thingies. One of the silliest looking creatures I've seen in Gamma World is the beloved Lion-Bat-Insect-Mandible-Laser-Eyes beast. I chose that for my first foray in to the world of miniature crafting\Frankensteining. So this is the story of my Yexil miniature.

SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY
The use of knives and heat guns mean the risk of laceration and burns.  This should only be attempted by adults or under strict adult supervision.  I am not a professional, so unless you have general knowledge about tool safety and common sense, do not try this at home.
SAFETY SAFETY SAFTEY


Tools:
1500W Electric Heat Gun
Exacto Knife with fresh blade
Cutting Mat
Helping Hands

Materials:
Blessed Hunter Unhallowed D&D Miniature ($2.99 at trollandtoad.com)
Shadowhunter Bat  Dungeons of Dread #58 D&D Miniature ($2.99 at trollandtoad.com)
Some kind of soft hardening glue\epoxy (TBD)
Paints (TBD)

PART 1
So I've been a fan of trollandtoad.com for my miniatures needs. I've always had a good experience with them ordering miniatures. While they might not have something in stock (such as the Blessed Hunter at the time of this write up; I ordered the last one), they do have an "Email me when it's in stock" feature that works pretty well and I've almost always seen things come back in stock. There's also other places to buy miniatures, I'm just lazy and I know what to expect with this retailer. Also, there are some other options out there for this build, these are simply choices I made for mine. Sorry, I am long winded and I'll get to the build.  ;)



Hacking and slashing the Shadowhunter Bat:
I hate ruining a perfectly good miniatures, but it's in the name of Gamma World so I'll get over it.

I started by removing the head. One thing to be VERY careful of is your fingers. That's number one. NEVER make cuts with your fingers anywhere near where the blade can slip. AND IT WILL SLIP. For instance, I intend to reuse the bat head as a Hoop head on a future build. I was carefully rocking the blade back and forth to make the cut, but I got impatient, pressed to hard and made a bit of an uneven cut\break. But the head is still salvageable and I was lucky.



After the beheading, I started removing the base with the same rocking motion, this time less pressure. This plastic is very easy to cut with a fresh Exacto blade (always use a fresh or sharpened blade). I cut as close to the base as possible as to not damage the creature, but also attempted to salvage the base for future use. This left me with the tail (which will not be used) and a small piece of tail attached to the wings.



I then bisected the bat right down the middle. I'd much rather have too much plastic than too little when I go to fit the wings to the body.



Finally, I did a small amount of cleanup by removing the tail. I made cuts just below the feet on the bat creature and I carefully trimmed around the wing where the tail was attached.



Quick test fit because I'm very impatient and want to imagine the final product now!



Blessed Hunter Reshape:
You'll notice that the lion creature is making a forward leap and a bit low to the ground for the airborne Yexil.




I decided prior to dismembering his upper legs I would start with reshaping him. Again, I've never done this before. I am opting for a heat gun since I have one handy. It's a 1500W electric heat gun that my awesome wife got me for my birthday (I specifically asked for one with the intention of reshaping malformed miniatures). There are other methods listed such as dipping figures in boiling water or using a hair dryer. Those likely work just as well.

I started by preparing the room. I cracked a window and opened a door on the opposite side of the house. I also turned on a ceiling fan. Ventilation is good when it comes to potentially toxic materials becoming airborned and inhaleable. Please do not ignore this step, it's not worth brain damage. Next I set up an area and prepared some items for holding the figure during and after the heat was applied.  I used a helping hands armature to secure the base. You may also tack it down to your work surface somehow, but these bases tend to warp.



I applied BRIEF periods of heat in intervals of about five seconds. I wore gloves just in case the paint got hot enough to melt off. Safety first please. I used the Exacto tool to test pliability and when it felt soft enough, I placed an available object (in this case a box of dice) under the left paw. I am trying to compensate for the plastic settling when the support is moved. Again, I applied short periods of heat until I felt satisfied.



You can see the base warping I mentioned. To minimize this in the final product I found as much crap as I could to flatten the base while it cooled.

 

After cooling, the creature is more appropriately positioned for my needs.



Now that he's closer to the upright pose I desire, I hack off his wittle paws.



From this point I started doing some finer trim work with the blade to get the arm nubs where I need them to be.  I also went back to the bat wings and trimmed them up a bit before applying them with some Sculpey clay for another test fit.



I may heat and reform that left wing, Larry's left (I named him Larry).  But it looks okay for now.

To be continued...
 


I'll post more as the build progresses.

I'm going to do some research for glue\epoxy to use.  I want something so that if I have to heat him up for reshaping later, I'll still be able to do so.

-Ryan
Nicely, nicely done so far.  I've done a lot of conversion in my day but never much with pre-painteds.  Gonna have to try something like this.
I've done some modding of miniatures myself of both DnD en Star Wars (WotC) lines. I'm not sure if you know this. But this type of miniatures becomes real soft through any heat source. Therefore instead of a heat ray I just boiled water  and filled a glass with boiled water and one with ice water.
 
Then its simply a matter of using a clamp putting the miniature underwater foor xx period of time, pulling it out, bending it in the right position and putting it in ice water to get it solid again. This works quite well. You might have to repeat the process a couple of times (depends on the mini) but it will aloow for the reshaping of miniatures too + all toxic stuff remains in the water instead of being airborne. (well mostly... the hot water could steam a bit I suppose)

As for putting the pieces on. I use a miniature drill to make tiny holes in the parts that need to be stuck together then use paperclip parts to put in the holes and stick the parts in place with those and fast drying (2 second) glue. It melts the plastic together and the metal pin strengthens the link making the mini throwable without breaking it (yes I tried)

To fill up gaps, smooth over rough parts or make small addons I use "green stuff" a two component epoxy used in miniatures... I'm not sure I can mention who makes and sells that hear.. But it works really great.
I've heard that salt, heated on the stove, will transfer heat to plastic and allow it to bend without melting it.
As for putting the pieces on. I use a miniature drill to make tiny holes in the parts that need to be stuck together then use paperclip parts to put in the holes and stick the parts in place with those and fast drying (2 second) glue. It melts the plastic together and the metal pin strengthens the link making the mini throwable without breaking it (yes I tried)

To fill up gaps, smooth over rough parts or make small addons I use "green stuff" a two component epoxy used in miniatures... I'm not sure I can mention who makes and sells that hear.. But it works really great.



Awesome!  Thanks for the info, it sounds a lot like one of my brainstorming ideas.  I'll definitely be doing both of these tips.  Much appreciated!

As for the water, I've heard about that too.  If I didn't already have the gun I'd probaly use that method. Definitely a great way to eliminate one potential cost for those who don't have a heat gun.

Gonna run and hit up the hobby shop for the "green stuff".   Thanks again!
Actually, if you want to actually sculpt, you want "gray stuff."  Sculpting greenstuff is like sculpting blu-tack or silly putty.  I highly recommend Apoxie Sculpt's gray stuff.  It has slightly less natural adhesion, but holds considerably more detail and is easier to sculpt.  It's also workable for longer and is more easily sanded (for smoothness or to sharpen edges) when cured.
Beautiful model!

Super glue works very well on the plastic D&D and Star Wars minis.  You can do simple headswaps and the like that stay put very well just by using a dab.  Thought that might help in case you hadn't tried it.
Holy freakin' wow!
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
Actually, if you want to actually sculpt, you want "gray stuff."  Sculpting greenstuff is like sculpting blu-tack or silly putty.  I highly recommend Apoxie Sculpt's gray stuff.  It has slightly less natural adhesion, but holds considerably more detail and is easier to sculpt.  It's also workable for longer and is more easily sanded (for smoothness or to sharpen edges) when cured.



I'll probably invest in some "gray stuff" too.  I was able to find the green just down the road.  I think it will work for the most part on this model, but for my future builds, the gray stuff sounds like a better fit.

Thanks all for the kind words and helpful tips!  I'll be adding some more pictures soon. 
NSFW

 
I know you have obviously already repositioned this figure but one of the tricks I've learned and used over the years is to heat the miniature, then while it's still warm and in the position I want dunk it in ice water.  This causes the warm plastic to quickly cool in the position you want.
I think I'm going to try the water dunk thing prior to reheating.  I want Larry's right knee to bend a bit more for a more symmetrical stance.  The cold shock may help it set more firmly as opposed to losing shape while cooling off slowly.

I've carved a bit more of the spot where the arms are and where the wings will be.  I'm currently distracted by an encounter I need to get written up for next Thursday.  I was going to run the Iron King as written, but I don't really like it that much and my players have already had one failed whack at it (my fault, not theirs).  To avoid duplicity and make it a more enjoyable story, I've got some re-working to do.

Though Larry will hopefully be making his first appearance too.  
I think I'm going to try the water dunk thing prior to reheating.  I want Larry's right knee to bend a bit more for a more symmetrical stance.  The cold shock may help it set more firmly as opposed to losing shape while cooling off slowly.

I've carved a bit more of the spot where the arms are and where the wings will be.  I'm currently distracted by an encounter I need to get written up for next Thursday.  I was going to run the Iron King as written, but I don't really like it that much and my players have already had one failed whack at it (my fault, not theirs).  To avoid duplicity and make it a more enjoyable story, I've got some re-working to do.

Though Larry will hopefully be making his first appearance too.  



The Iron King was really half-hearted. Virtually no plot and, the whole thing is a series of combat encounters. I assume a deadline compelled them to write it in that fashion.

If your gonna have another whack at The Iron King you should check out one of the older threads called Iron King Redux... it has lots of killer ideas that will help flesh it out and make it more of a story and not so much just a series of fights.
Why did the hoop cross the road?
Oh, and sweet job on the Yexil so far...
Why did the hoop cross the road?
So, uh... why did the hoop cross the road?
So, uh... why did the hoop cross the road?



I really have no idea, just love Hoops, they have always been my favorite... the Gallus gallus was busy... thats the best I could come up with.

How on earth did Corey Haim eat your dog?
Why did the hoop cross the road?
So, uh... why did the hoop cross the road?



I really have no idea, just love Hoops, they have always been my favorite... the Gallus gallus was busy... thats the best I could come up with.

How on earth did Corey Haim eat your dog?



One bite a time.Tongue out


How on earth did Corey Haim eat your dog?



I told him he was no Lucas and he got his bloody revenge.

If your gonna have another whack at The Iron King you should check out one of the older threads called Iron King Redux... it has lots of killer ideas that will help flesh it out and make it more of a story and not so much just a series of fights.


Checking it out now, thanks!

Oh, and sweet job on the Yexil so far...


Thanks!  I need to get back on it.  I think the form is turning out to be quite easy, it's the painting I am now dreading.