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.