I commented on TMP that I was sculpting my own arms for the CoZo plastics. On reflection I felt that I was being unfair to Doug and I had better put my money where my mouth was.
Sculpting arms is easier than it looks.
- Modelling knife, I prefer the small snap blade type myself.
- Very small spatula, mine is approx 5mm wide and I think itís from a chemistry lab originally.
- Sculpting tools, I used a couple of old dental picks and a small crochet hook.
- Wire, I used welding wire because I had some but if you're buying wire then florists wire would probably be best.
- Epoxy putty/green stuff.
- 1mm sheet plastic.
You'll first needis weapons for your new arms to hold. You can buy these, but it's more economical and more fun to make them yourself.
Gangers can carry a wide range of weapons but troopers are expected to show a little more consistency. Since I was making troopers, I needed a design that I could replicate easily.
I experimented with a number of designs cut out of sheet plastic with wire barrels (bottom left) but they came out a little bulky and consistent reproduction was a pain.
I finally came up with a simple bullpup design, using two pieces of welding wire with a sheet plastic magazine and sight (top left). Thereís no need for a grip as it can be sculpted in the hand later.
The arms are sculpted over a wire armature as shown . Epoxy putty was added to make the wire fit nicely in the figure.
Now you have to stand up and start waving around an imaginary rifle as you figure out the bends required to achieve your desired pose. (Donít worry about how silly you look, youíre an adult who still plays with toy soldiers so they already believe that youíre mad.)
I found itís a lot easier to bend the arms if you save the cutting off of the excess wire till last.
Roll out a thin strip of putty and work it onto the wire to form a skinny arm tapering to almost nothing at the hand. Allow it to harden.
Superglue the arms in place and add the rifle. If the idea of sculpting hand seems too much you can cut the wire a fraction shorter and glue on hands cut from the arms youíre not using. I tried this once but decided it was more of a hassle than a solution.
Sculpting hands also meant I had spare arms with assault rifles to trade with my 12 year old son in exchange for his spare figures (He seems to have more pocket money than I do).
The secret to sculpting is not to do it all at once, or else you end up destroying one side as you work on the other since the wire does not give enough support to the putty.
Remember to keep dipping your fingers/tools in the water jar to stop the putty sticking to them. Itís very annoying to get the job done perfectly only to have half of it pull away as you remove the tool.
When it looks good, leave it to cure (24 hrs minimum). Tthis is a good time to work on any troopers you're not sculpting arms onto. It'll also keep you from going back and messing up your sculpts.
Here we see the finished arms built up with a thin layer of putty. The hand is formed from a suitably sized ball of putty placed on the end of the arm and pushed to the right shape with the small spatula.
Mark the fingers using the blade of the modelling knife, press it into the putty and wiggle slightly to get the right width of groove, if you made too much of a hand to start with and are marking fingers in a thin layer of putty then at least one finger will come away with the knife and youíll have to start again.
First rifle design now used as machine gun. (right)
Cuffs can be added by placing a small roll of putty around the wrist and flattening it with the spatula till it looks about right. (Note the figure on the right above has a left hand from the assault rifle on the sprue).
Once everything has hardened, you can prime & paint the figures as normal.
Two painted riflemen: Wanting weapons held in the shoulder was one of my reasons for carrying out this project.