If you pay much attention to Privateer Press, you’re probably familiar with their tradition of previewing upcoming models via concept art. It’s something they’ve been doing since the run-up to the original WARMACHINE: Prime, and I’ve always dug the way it points back to the company’s roots as the brainchild of a couple game industry artists. Also, having an amateur’s artistic bent, it’s nice to see the way these minis are planned out visually, giving a look at what visuals a creator had in mind before shipping it off to a sculptor in order to see it realized in 3-D.
The problem with concept art, tho, is that it’s sometimes too good – or, at least, better than the miniature that comes out on the other end. It’s understandable. Sculptors interpret concepts their own way, and often bring a lot to final product, but there’s times where I see a brilliant drawing and wonder just how it became a less-than-impressive physical object. In the case of WARMACHINE (look, PP does the caps, it just feels appropriate), the first real case of this, for me, was the Hunter.
Back in 2004, during the run up to Escalation’s release, there was a wave of teaser concepts for all of the upcoming Warcasters and Warjacks, and they all looked amazing. Hell, they still do. As the months rolled on, we started to see the miniatures, and for the first time, I got to make the comparison between sketches and product for my beloved Cygnaran Royal Army. To my eye, Nemo didn’t quite do the concept justice (though he’s since been re-sculpted in a way that definitely does), and the Centurion, tiny spear aside, just knocked it out of the proverbial park, into proverbial space, and through a few proverbial nebulae. The weight, the pose, the segmented-but-elegant aesthetic all came out in the metal version, and it still holds up a good eight years later.
Then…well, then there was the Hunter. Compare, if you will, concept to miniature:
Doesn’t quite capture the feel, you know? It’s the proportions, I think. The hands are too large compared to the forearms, the gun just looks dinky, and the head-to-body mass ratio, one of the defining traits of a Cygnar ‘jack, is off far too much in favor of the head. Worst of all, though, is that codpiece. It hangs there, all dangly and obscene – the old “play like you’ve got a pair” saying taken to uncomfortable and literal lengths. Since the mini’s initial release, we’ve seen the Hunter chassis re-used on the Grenadier and the Minuteman, and they both share issues with their primogenitor.
Often, it’s just impossible to fix these things unless you’re a real sculpting virtuoso. I’ve tried for ages to make the Hunter look like I’d wanted it too, and most of it is easy enough, but getting the gun to be the proper size has always kept the project unfinished. The Grenadier’s never really made it to the table for a conversion attempt. but the Minuteman’s a ‘Jack I really enjoy, and appeared fixable. I grabbed one the other day, and had planned a long, involved process, documented for all…then went ahead and did the whole thing in an hour in a whirlwind fugue state that left little time or brainpower left for progress photos and notes. Here’s the end result:
In the end, it didn’t actually take all that much to change the mini into state that I felt pleased with. The groin plate was chopped off and moved up about a third of its length on the pelvis, which lost a lot of forward, um, girth in the process. About two-thirds of the head (taking off two of the little ridges up top, for reference) came off, which made the head fit a bit better with the body size, to my eye. Finally, with the pelvis all shaved down, I widened the stance of the legs, for a pose that’s meant to look as if he’s just landed from a jump, and is about to wreck all sorts of hell on whatever unsuspecting infantry might be surrounding him.
If you want an interesting thing to look at, by the by, check out the DeviantArt page of Sean Harrison, who sculpted the original Minuteman, along with several other warjacks. I may have felt the need to fiddle with the Minuteman, but that’s not a knock on his talents – he’s done several of the best ‘Jacks in PP’s line-up. Amazing stuff that gives you a look at how professionals go about making miniature machines.
Now, where’d that Hunter get off to? I feel a sudden need to try fixing that gun arm again…