Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Up On A Soapbox: badly sculpted vs badly designed

The other night I assembled and primed 2 more Iron Kingdoms figures for my upcoming Witchfire trilogy game and I found myself having an odd thought "these figures are really well sculpted...but kind of badly designed...huh...never seen that before..or have I?"

Anyone who's collected miniatures for any length of time will have unfortunately ended up with some poorly sculpted figs (details too shallow, arms that run off into bodies, proportions that are just wrong, etc) it's pretty common and is happily pretty easy to avoid.  But what's a lot more rare is when you get a beautiful, well-sculpted figure with lots of great texture and detail but still suffers from some sort of critical design flaw you just can't get past.

So, I assembled Father Dumas and Vahn Oberon the other night and was immediately struck by the fact that neither of these guys have feet!  Now to be fair they're both sculpted with long flowing robes that would for the most part conceal their feet but each of them has an area where the left foot (oddly the same on both figures should be visible.  On Father Dumas the left side of his robe is slightly raised...but there is no foot underneath, on Vahn Oberon the back left side of the robe is slightly raised...but still no foot.  Honestly I like both of these figures (you should see them painted before Christmas) so I kept looking at them trying to justify in my own mind why they're sculpted this way, but I really just ended up making it worse for myself.  When you trace Father Dumas' leg outlines through his robes it starts to look like he's got some weird knock-kneed stance going on and rather than conveying a sense of movement it looks like his robe is getting blown up from underneath a-la Marilyn Monroe (which doesn't really seem appropriate for a priest).  Vahn is slightly better but his legs are posed like he is walking to his right while he's twisted at the waist significantly to his left and his staff is pointed at a roughly 90 degree angle to the left of his body while his eyes are turned roughly 45 degrees to the left...it's not awful....it's just weird.

Neither of these figures is so bad that the odd design choices are a deal-breaker for me but it got me thinking; how many other figures are out there that are well sculpted but oddly or illogically designed?
Any thoughts?



  1. I wasn't even done posting this and it hit me that this was the same problem I had with the second generation (Mike McVey) Death Company and Lemartes figures. They were all running in one direction with both legs in the same pose while they were looking off in a completely different direction....just weird

  2. I think 'poorly designed' can also reach into the casting process: How many beautiful miniatures have sprue lines running into finely sculpted hair or cloth? Sometimes this is unavoidable, then others make me want to scream when I realize I will have to re sculpt part of the hair...

  3. Agreed on both comments. But I'd add in the old metal Possessed. They were sculpted well, but were just not nice models. Poorly executed trash by quality sculptors. It was weird.
    Good read!