“I’ve Made a Terrible Mistake.”

The annual Forgotten Heroes “challenge” not only engenders a sense of community, as like-minded hobbyists flex their creative muscles, but also gives those taking part an opportunity to add to their collection a figure (or figures) that they may have been wanting for a while – but no-one has yet to make.

So, Roger at Rantings from Under the Wargames Table is adding to his scratch-built Masters of the Universe collection, Dave is building up his A.B.C. Warriors over at Wargame Sculptors Blog and Alan is working his way through the alphabet over at Golden Ages Heroes.

Wampley has posted his conversion of the Image character Vanguard over at Wampley’s Castle and I know that Harry at War Across the Ages is planning on adding to his cast from Tales of the Gold Monkey. I’m not sure what Keith at Dead Dick’s Tavern & Temporary Lodging is creating this year, but there’s still a couple of weeks to go…

However, I’m not one to talk, as I failed miserably to complete the promised models for Keith’s own Monster May(Hem) challenge – which is kind of what the title of this post is about, as you will see.

Anyway, the character I’d decided upon for this year’s challenge was to create a version of the Eighth Doctor, utilising the Artizan Designs “Captain Withnail.” As mentioned in this post, the Thrilling Tales range this figure comes from has been removed from the North Star site, but I have been assured that the range will return later in the year.

When we last saw my work in progress it looked like this;

So, referring to my source material, it was clear that his lower legs were too chunky, so out came the needle files and craft knife, to ensure that they were pared down to a more acceptable size. I also took the opportunity to scribe a V shape on the front of each shin, to represent the lace-up part of each boot. Now that I was happy with the sculpting, it was time to start painting…

Undercoat in Docrafts Blanc (i.e. white), then hands and head got a base coat of Docrafts Flesh, boots and waistcoat in Docrafts Linen and his sonic screwdriver in GW Mithril Silver.

Now, the paints used for his overcoat and trousers (GW Ghoul Grey and Revell Beige) had partially dried out, so adding water to them meant that they acted a little like watercolours, in that they were quite thin. Each area being covered was given at least three coats of paint, to build up the required hue.

And this is where we have gotten to so far;

He’s starting to come together nicely.

And here he is with the Third and Thirteenth Doctor;

Now, I did get some paint on some of the other figures in the Tray of Shame, including the “monsters” I promised for last month’s challenge;

But no major progress was really made, so nothing really to show there.

However, I DID make some progress on another figure – which fits the criteria for BOTH Forgotten Heroes AND Monster May(Hem) – and explains the quote used for the title.

Horror of Fang Rock was a Fourth Doctor adventure, originally broadcast in 1977, and featured the Doctor and Leela joining the occupants of the Fang Rock lighthouse – including the passengers of a wrecked ship – as they were terrorised and murdered by a shape-shifting Rutan scout. The Rutan are in a bitter war of attrition with the Sontarans and are not doing so well. Rutans, in their natural form, look like a cross between a jellyfish and an amoeba.

Rutans – Doctor Who World

Or possibly a really big ball of snot. Now, Black Tree Design do make a figure of the Rutan

But I am of the opinion that anyone can make their own version of this creature, even if they have ZERO sculpting skills.

So, this is how I made mine, which is probably the simplest figure I have ever made.

First, I got a spare HeroScape base and covered the top in Milliput, textured to represent earth. I then cut a few lengths of wire (from a paperclip), bent these into suitably tentacle-y shapes and glued these to the base, like so;

My initial intention was to then just use a big blog of translucent silicone sealant to create the body of the Rutan, then paint this, so I painted the base and tentacles next.

However, looking back at the source material, I decided that I needed secondary smaller tentacles and that the main body of the Rutan needed to be textured, a bit like the shell of a sea urchin.

The secondary tentacles were created using a small length of pipe cleaner, folded around and teased out, then glued into place. A trick I’ve learnt with using pipe cleaners is that you can coat them with watered down PVA glue and they end up looking textured like Twiglets (or twigs for that matter). However, if you paint them directly using Acrylic paint, you can not only colour the pipe cleaner’s fibres, it will also separate the fibres out, making it look like hair, fur, or hopefully in this case, secondary thin tentacles.

Now, the final part of this model is the body of the Rutan. As this is textured, you could roll up a ball of your sculpting putty of choice, stick the blob in place and then carefully texture the outside until you were happy…

Or you could cheat, like I did, and just get some baking foil and scrunch it up into a oval blob the right size and shape.

The advantage of doing this is two-fold; firstly – you can get it exactly the right size and shape, as foil is easily shaped and you can add additional layers if it’s not quite big enough, secondly – the process of scrunching it up creates a lovely texture on the exterior surface. You can smooth this down, if you wish, but this lends itself to dry-bushing quite nicely and for my purposes, does replicate the textured skin of the Rutan.

Just glue your finished blob into place and you get something like this;

Unpainted, it does kind of look like a big silver brain, so a smaller foil lozenge or two glue together and added to the body of a plastic dog might make a pretty acceptable Intellect Devourer for D&D.

So, there you go – zero sculpting skills needed, materials that you probably already have around your home, so zero cost and, with a little time and effort, a pretty good version of a Fourth Doctor-era alien.

The Fourth Doctor may have believed he made a terrible mistake in regards to the Rutan in the episode in question, but I don’t think I’ve made a mistake creating my own version of this iconic alien, rather than paying for someone else’s version…

Join me next time, as the Eighth Doctor nears completion and I start painting my alien ball of snot. Luckily, I DO have some GW Bogey Green…


16 thoughts on ““I’ve Made a Terrible Mistake.”

  1. Brilliant as always Jez, that Rutan is a total triumph! I would have done the whole thing in greenstuff, but i can assure you the results wouldn’t have been have as good as that, it is spot on, especially the tin foil body! I can even forgive you for not getting my Cyclopians painted yet! (nearly πŸ˜‰).

    Great work on the Doctor too, colours look spot on to the photo you showed a while back. Also a nod to your third Doctor too, I would have painted his hands in flesh but…yes he did wear gloves on occasion and it just works so well!

    Good stuff all round, Cheers Roger.


    • High praise indeed, Roger! My main point with this particular model was that it really IS something that anyone can do. There are those out there who take one look at sculpted figures and say “There’s no way I could something like that!” What I try to do is show that you don’t have to be an expert sculptor to create your own figures – as long as you have a relatively clear idea of what you want and are prepared to adapt when things don’t go according to plan, you can achieve table-ready miniatures with a bit of imagination and effort. And most of mine are pretty inexpensive too – another bonus.


    • Thank you. Sometimes all it takes is someone showing you how easy it is to make reasonable looking (and cheap) models. Using ‘Floam’ or the equivalent is a good substance for Shoggoths or other blobby monsters.


  2. The Doctor is coming along nicely Jez and can’t wait to see the Rutan painted. Curious as to how well the paint adheres to the foil.


    • Thanks Michael. As long as I get the colours right, I don’t think the Doctor will be an issue to complete. As for paint adhering to foil, as we regularly paint metal figures, I’m assuming it won’t be an issue. If it does, I’ll give it an undercoat with spray paint, which should work…


  3. Great work, Jeremy. That trick with the foil is face-palmingly simple, and it looks great. Since anyone with even a passing familiarity with my blog knows I hate the loathsome green stuff, I may have to try this trick when I scratchbuild that Horta I’ve been meaning to get to…
    No worries about Monster May(hem). I know you’ll get to it eventually.
    PS: The subject of unnecessarily scenic elements on bases came up over at Dave Stone’s site in the comments…I couldn’t help but think of the miniature I sent your way a while back…heheheh….

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s one of those materials that everyone has access to, but doesn’t think to use for this purpose. I’ve seen it used to texture clay, putty and foamcore, but no-one seems to use it as a medelling material on it’s own. I also use it to make the bark on my “screw trees”.

      I looked at images of the Horta online and think that a lump of volcanic rock with a couple of strings of silicone sealant to make the ‘lava’ bits would work better. Obviously, depends on how easy volcanic rock is to get, but usually pet stores have it in the aquarium section. Just a thought…

      Liked by 1 person

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  5. I love “Horror of Fang Rock.”. It’s a blast, except the Rutan does look like a radioactive sprout. That’s the 1970s BBC for you. Great work on the model, and as Keith says, the foil trick is so easy now you’ve pointed it out.

    Great paint job on the Third Doctor. He’s my fave, followed by Four and Five.


    • Whilst the Rutan was somewhat sprout-like, it was an improvement on the Tythonian from “The Creature from the Pit.” Although some of the effects of the Rutan flowing over the rocks were quite good for the time.

      As for the foil, it is one of those ideas that you immediately go “why didn’t I think of that?” I’m always happy to share ‘hobby hacks’ like this, as it means that you can spend your money on stuff you *really* want. Plus when you do turn what is essentially ‘rubbish’ into something cool, there is a sense of achievement – and you’ve also got a unique model that no-one else has.

      I still need to finish off the Third Doctor, but he is almost complete.


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