“A Spanner in the Works” (Forgotten Heroes 2021)

Gerry Anderson was a genius, I doubt any of my fellow “nerds” out there will argue with me over this, I love just about everything he ever produced from “Fireball XL5” to “Terrhawks” he made puppets “cool” (and yes Simon I know there were earlier ones, and I love them too), but the character I’ve chosen to try and create is not from one of these puppet shows but rather from a lesser known stop animation show called “Dick Spanner” that was shown on a Sunday morning during a dreadful “yoof” magazine program that was so bad I can’t even be bothered to look up what it was called! Anyway I had to sit through this tripe in order to catch the latest five minute episode of Dick Spanner (that’s how much I liked it). The humour was cheesy and a bit risqué in places (you can see why I liked it now), the budget was obviously tiny (in one scene in a bar there are two “A team” action figures sat at a table in the background!) but there is a certain charm to whole thing. Anyway I now have the entire series on DVD, but if you’ve never seen it it’s well worth a watch!

So a real hero of mine, and definitely largely forgotten, he’s a perfect candidate for this challenge, plus it’s a great excuse to do another sculpt from scratch, so enough preamble let’s get on with the building!

So first job with Dick was to cut a length of florists wire burying it into a bottle cap (to hold) leaving a 28mm long piece sticking out and add blob’s of putty as a rough guide as to where his lower trench coat came too, then another blob from his belt to his shoulders (his head I’ll worry about later), this was then left to dry..

I set to work the lower section of his trench coat next day, this was built out with a think sausage of putty pushed around from the back then smoothed out into a “bell” shape, before I added the odd fold in the material (I actually went back and smoothed these out a bit afterward as looking at the source material his coat appeared to be made of a type of foam rubber, and so not really very “floaty”), I then added a small indentation where his right pocket will be, and a deeper hole where his left is, as I plan on having his hand in this one.

Next I did basically the same thing around his top half, though obviously less flared out than the lower section, I cut in the join at the front of his coat and after rolling out four tiny balls of putty added the four buttons on his coat, pushing my pointed shaper into the middle of each, then rolling out a long sausage of putty I wrapped this around his waist and shaped his belt, adding a small tapered piece to the end and pushing three loop holes into it. Lastly today I added the “edging” on his right hand pocket, and with the little bit of putty I had left added the base for his head.

“A call to arms” rang out next day, so it was time to add one of these! I began this by drilling two small holes into the shoulder area of the torso, then measured two lengths of florists wire, and rolling a small amount of putty onto the ends, this is because in the series you often see his writs, and they are thin copper coloured shafts, of the sort that are often used to create “dollies” as used by animators (though when you get close ups of his hands it is obviously a human hand in a silver rubber glove, much like they used to do in Thunderbirds). The left arm was then bent to shape and pushed into place before I covered it in a liberal layer of putty, smoothed it added some folds and blended it into the top of the shoulder. I then added the “edging” on his left pocket over where his hand would be. You might notice that his arms are slightly over long compared to his body height, this is deliberate as this is also apparent on the original. I will do his right arm tomorrow (don’t worry it’s just pushed in so the putty on the end can dry, the finished figure won’t be doing a “Nazi” salute!).

On the downhill slope now (I hope), so today I added his right arm/sleeve in the same way as the left, and then I rolled out a small sausage of putty that was tapered at each end, this was then draped around the back of his neck and shaped into his overcoats collar, I cut two “V”s into the sides of this for where his collar turns into the overlap at the front of his coat, and lastly today I added his belt buckle. This was just a small blob shaped into a square, then the outer sides were pushed down and the middle shaped into a dome with the top and bottom flattened a little.

Time to start on his head, now I’d left this till last mainly because I’d been dreading it! Still it had to be done, so, I started by rolling out a small sausage of putty and sticking this on as his forehead then another bigger piece was stuck about a millimetre below this (as this gap would form his eyes) and they were flattened and shaped with the excess at the sides run up and down into each other to form the sides of his eyes, his “cheeks” were pushed in (his face has an almost “skull” like shape), and I cut off at his top lip area, as I’ll add his “jaw” tomorrow. More putty was added at the sides and smeared around the back enclosing his head. Then I added his nose this was just a tapered tiny sausage, pushed into place and smoothed to shape again. He has “hair” on the sides of his head so this was added with two small balls of putty on each side again flattened to shape. Next I rolled out two really tiny sausages of putty and added his eye-brows, and finally today I added the “epaulettes” on his coat, these were…(guess what) more small sausages, stuck in place flattened and shaped, then after pushing a tiny dent into the ends I added a tiny ball of putty to make a button.

His “lantern” jaw came next day, so I mixed up more putty for this, took a small ball, tried it saw it was too big, took it off cut some away, tried it again, still too big took it off…let’s just say the fourth time was the charm. So this was then shaped and smoothed to shape and I added the “cleft” in his chin last. More putty was flattened into a disk and plonked onto the top of his head and again smoothed to shape and tapered slightly out to the edges, once I was happy with this another slightly larger ball of putty was put in the centre of this dragged down around the edges to meet the disk then more shaping and smoothing took place and his hat was complete bar the band.

And that was the last job (nearly), for this I rolled out a tiny thin line of putty and ran this around the join between the brim and crown of his hat, yet more smoothing later and it was complete. Or so I thought. Having re-watched the DVD the other day I noticed that the back of his coat has a “flap” that runs across the back between his shoulders (there must be a technical term for this but I don’t know what it is!), anyway another small roll of putty was stuck on here and smoothed up into his collar and shoulders, (I do think he looks better with this in place). Once dry I cut as much of the wire that stuck out of the bottom of him off as I could and glued him onto a couple of pieces of coffee stirrer, to add a little height, before sticking him to a two pence piece and using filler to build up his base a little. And he was done.

He too just needs painting now, but that’s another story…

Till then stay safe, and cheers Roger.

This entry was posted in 28mm Pulp, 28mm sci-fi, Forgotten heroes, sci-fi and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to “A Spanner in the Works” (Forgotten Heroes 2021)

  1. Dave Stone says:

    Great bit of sculpting Roger, I do recall this character, but haven’t seen it in many years, and I to don’t recall the program it was in, but Sunday TV was always very limited as to what was available back then ! LOL

    • Thanks Dave, I do think he’s one of Gerry’s character’s that has “fallen through the net” a bit, which is a shame as it’s pretty funny and different to anything else he was connected with.

      Cheers Roger.

  2. Nice sculpting there, Roger! 🙂 I don’t remember this character at all, but then again I can’t remember what day it is!

  3. What a marvellous blast from the past, Roger. Excellent green-stuff work. I actually met Shane Rimmer, who voiced Spanner, at a show quite a few years ago. But tbh we ended up talking about his role on the Bond flick “The Spy Who Loved Me” as opposed to his animation voiceovers.

    • Thanks Simon, that’s part of what “FH” is all about 😁.

      You met Shane Rimmer and you didn’t talk about Scott Tracy!! mind you I would have probably spent all the time talking about what Barbara Bach was like 😉.

      Cheers Roger.

  4. angrypiper says:

    I have no idea who this character is; which is hardly a surprise as I did not grow up in England; and this is “Forgotten Heroes”, after all! Watching and reading about your sculpting process is very cool. You make it look so easy. Are you using milliput or green stuff (it doesn’t look like green stuff, unless you went very light on the adhesive part…)
    Also, “Dick Spanner” may give “Bartholomew Cholmondley-Warner” (created by Jez) a run for the best character name in history.

    • Thanks Keith, I’d be surprised if this was never shown in the US (probably is some strange timeslot to be honest). I can imagine you liking it a lot, as it’s your type of humour.

      Nope just good old Greenstuff mate, and just cut of the two colour strip as normal, must just be the photo’s.

      There are a few great names in the series tbh, his girlfriend is called “Mae East”, there’s’ a Barman called “Mickey Finn” and a couple of heavies called “Trou” and “Ble” (together they spelled Trouble!). Now you get a taste of the level of humour here 😁.

      Cheers Roger.

    • Matt says:

      Even better, Cholmondley is pronounced Chumley…

  5. Pete S/ SP says:

    Not a charcter I know if I’m being honest. The sculpting is great however.

    Loved terrahawks- not thought of that show for years….

    Cheers,

    Pete

    • Thanks Pete, I actually re-watched the whole series of Terrahawks again during the first lockdown!! It was all on Amazon prime (though halfway through they suddenly made you want to pay for each episode, so I watched the last half on Youtube instead!). I also watched “Starfleet X bomber” again and a new one filmed during lockdown called “Nebula 75”.

      Cheers Roger.

  6. borderguy190 says:

    Never seen this show, either. But we didn’t always have cable or even an antenna growing up, so my tv watching has always been hot-or-miss. Very cool. You make it look so easy “sausage here, blob there, Bob’s yer uncle” versus my “blob it on, call it a day” approach. I did finally try that blue reusable molding material and green stuff to make some Bretonnian shields, so I have been mixing blue and yellow together.

    Well done, Roger, your model looks more than a bit like the starting photo, though i am still wondering about his legs!

  7. Matt says:

    I vaguely remember this show but had to look it up to be sure, and you’ve (once again) done a stunning job making Mr Spanner from scratch! Two of my Forgotten Heroes projects involve greenstuff (one is basically just greenstuff) and I’m dreading it, so watching your WIP photos just fills me with awe.

  8. I don’t recall this character at all Roger but later on I’ll do some googling to learn a little more. Love the sculpt and enjoyed seeing and reading the process you went through to get him done.. Looking forward to seeing him painted now. 🙂

    • Thanks Dave, glad you enjoyed the “wip’s”, I’m never sure if people like these or just think they are a load of pictures of ” green blob’s” to be honest, mind you if i didn’t post these it would be a very short post! 😉

      Cheers Roger.

  9. Guru PIG says:

    Roger you are a master with “green stuff” great likeness……..with Dick not you!! I cannot help but think this just might be a publicity stunt repeat of the 2007 puppet hoax. Are you releasing a DVD?

    • Thanks Guru, no not a publicity stunt, I’m not on the payroll of Jamie Anderson (sadly), I have to admit though I thought he was “Forgotten” I hadn’t realised quite how far under the radar he would be! perhaps we should start an awareness campaign for poor old Dick Spanner!!

      Cheers Roger.

  10. Alex says:

    Aw brilliant mate, you make it dound so easy! 😂
    Looking forward to seeing the paint go on 👍

  11. Carrion Crow says:

    I do remember Dick Spanner! Although, no idea what show it was featured on. I seem to recall it was semi-cult viewing amongst my peer group (but only those of a certain temperament).

    To be honest, when you dropped a few hints, all I could think of was the tv show ‘Sledge Hammer’, but was trying to work out if he was distinctive enough to warrant a figure.

    Nice work, Roger – a true Forgotten Hero!

    • Thanks Jez, I must have been of that temperament, as I love it!! 😁 it’s a shame it never got a better slot in the schedule really, though that seems to be a problem Gerry had a few times, lastly with the New Captain Scarlett series that they would show in “two” parts during a Saturday morning kids show!

      I did think someone would have remembered him more (you or Simon were my best hope tbh 😉). He does seem to be more forgotten than I’d expected. I seem to have a bit of a love for the obscure!

      Cheers Roger.

  12. That’s so awesome 😀I’ve seeing the WIP shots, inspires even the cack handed like me to have a go!

  13. Just Catching up now Roger. I really liked the WIP post, Especially as you are such a master with the green stuff. Very very impressive. I certainly never saw this character in the states, but I will never forget what you did here!

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