This week I was blessed with quite a bit of hobby time, but due to a number of factors, it actually doesn’t look like I’ve achieved that much. The first reason is because I’m working on a super-special secret project, which I can neither divulge nor show you until such time as it is finished AND the recipient has received it – we don’t want to spoil the surprise now, do we? The second reason is due to the particular material I was working with, which I will explain about below. But first, a little background…
Back in 2007, the Doctor as portrayed by David Tennant, first encountered the alien race known as the Weeping Angels in the superb Stephen Moffat scripted episode “Blink”. These creepy ‘quantum-locked’ predators utilise time paradoxes to feed on the potential temporal energy of people by sending them back in time to a point before they were born and usually manifest as stone angels, similar to those found in Victorian graveyard statuary.
But this is not the first time that the Doctor has faced off against animated statues, as the Third Doctor had to contend with a gargoyle animated by the Daemon Azal in the 1971 story The Daemons, who went by the name of Bok…
However, my favourite ‘mobile stone’ from Doctor Who are still the Ogri from the 1978 Fourth Doctor serial The Stones of Blood, which were essentially mobile semi-sentient blood-drinking monoliths.
Now, unlike Bok and the Weeping Angels, you cannot currently buy 28mm miniatures of Ogri – Bok can be purchased from Black Tree Design for £2.75, whilst a pair of ‘Angels of Sorrow’ can be purchased from the Reaper Bones range for $4.99 (or from Miniature Heroes in the UK for £4.38).
But as they’re just monoliths, they should be relatively easy to make, right?
Yes they are, but would have been even quicker if I’d been able to get the right material.
Ideally, you want blue insulation foam for this, which seems to be a popular choice for hobby builds but, for some reason, doesn’t appear to be readily available in my local DIY shops. So I went for something cheap and readily available, namely ‘oasis’ foam.
This is basically the stuff used by florists and flower arrangers to stick the stems of flowers into. It’s very lightweight and a block about 12″ tall by 4″ square only costs £1.50. It also comes in two colours, the standard green you associate with this product and a nice sandstone-y brown. I obviously went with the brown.
So, the first thing I did was to cut several ‘blocks’ about 20mm square and 35-40mm tall out of my foam. This can be easily done with a sharp craft knife and this leads to the very first problem with this material – when cut or knocked or even lightly brushed against, it sheds little particles everywhere, a bit like sand, as you can see from the surface of the cutting mat below, along with my ‘stones’.
The second issue is the weight. This stuff is remarkably light, so sneezing would send these blocks flying. However, I had anticipated this and prepared some bases made from 2 pence pieces, to which I superglued a flat-headed drawing pin/thumb tack, like so.
Having doused the tops of the drawing pins with superglue, I impaled each block onto the spikes, then carved bits off each ‘stone’ until I had a shape I was happy with – obviously creating more dust as I did so.
As the ‘stones’ currently looked like they were floating, the Milliput came out and the base of each ‘stone’ was given a scenic base. As the Ogri, when active, glow from within a golden light and have distinctive circular patterns around their midriffs, I used the handle of a needle file to make some circular depressions on each ‘stone’ with the intention of painting this gold. I only did this on one side, so that it’s not so obvious what they are if you’re approaching from behind. And here are four of them with one of my UNIT troopers, to give a sense of scale.
So far, so good, but it’s called ‘oasis’ foam for a reason – it’s because it’s designed to be porous. Good for plants inserted into it, but not so good for painting.
Seriously, if you’re going to make some of these yourself, only use this stuff as a last resort, as whilst it’s really easier to work with, actually getting it to the stage where you can apply paint takes a lot or preparation.
So, whilst I was happy with the size and shape, it was still shedding particles and would drink paint like a thirsty man in a desert. The solution to both of these problems was to use some watered down PVA glue as a sealant. This stops the material shedding everywhere and also creates a thin ‘skin’ over the top of the material, which will take paint. What actually happens is that the material absorbs the watered down PVA, so whilst it does allow for painting, it also doesn’t obscure the texture of the foam and also makes the foam slightly heavier.
I then gave each ‘stone’ an undercoat of Docrafts Linen, then another coats of watered down Linen to fill in the holes. This was followed by a coat of Revell Beige, with a further coat of watered-down Beige for the same reason. Basically, all those little holes mean that whilst you do get a texture like stone or concrete, which will be a joy to dry-brush, it will need one or two washes to ensure that the colour covers the whole ‘stone’. And that’s as far as I’ve got with this so far, as can be seen in the picture below.
The Third Doctor looks a little concerned that he is surrounded by the blood-drinking Ogri – I don’t think his Venusian Aikido will get him out of this one…
It was only after I’d compared the photos from the unpainted to the beige-painted stones that I realised that they don’t actually look that much different, as the Beige paint is actually very similar in hue to the original colour of the foam. Oh well…
The next stage will be to paint in the golden glowing circles on each Ogri, then give them a darker wash, then several dry-brushes to bring out the detail.
Possibly a little more work than I had originally anticipated, but once they’re done I’ll have five Ogri miniatures, which can also double up as ‘normal’ standing stones, for £1.50. And I’ve still got about 90% of the original block left – perhaps I’ll use it to build a replica of Stonehenge for a rock band or something…
That’s all for this week – join me next time for some more Who-inspired goodness.