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Inspired in part by the Great Frogmeister's silly photos of Kaladrax getting into bags of snacks, doing battle against action figures, and tearing up rolls of toilet paper, I thought I'd finally get around to tackling my own Kaladrax from the Bones Kickstarter.




Here is a very rough, un-glued assembly of the parts I have.  All I've done so far is to cover all the pieces with Americana "Parchment" acrylic (a sort of yellowish-beige-white), then to apply a wash with a big jug of brown paint that has gone "soupy."  (This happens to a lot of my acrylic paints: it turns watery, and my attempts to stir it up just result in a bubbly mess.  It's not like there's a bunch of thicker sedative at the bottom; I have no idea how that transformation happens, but it's the peril of having too many cheap acrylic paints, I guess, and letting them sit around for too long.  Fortunately, with the darker paints, they still work just fine as messy washes for "grunging up" terrain and such.  Or, in this case, giant skeletal dragons.)  There's a little bit of lime green in there, in the area between the ribs, but that was an early mess when I was still trying to sort out my "battle plan."  That whole area will have to be repainted, especially after I applied the brown wash to muddle things up.


Now, in a perfect world, I'd be able to pose the dragon a little more like this:



Why?  Because I'm running an Iron Kingdoms campaign on the high seas, and I thought I might find use for this model -- at last! -- as a great Cryx monstrosity.  In Iron Kingdoms, the Cryx are one of the overt "bad guy" factions, consisting of a bunch of undead-steampunk lich lords lurking on the Scharde Islands just off the coast, with lots of pirate minions who raid the mainland for "fresh recruits."  Their forces are characterized by lots of undead thingies with bolted-on armor and parts randomly replaced with mechanisms, plus mysterious "engines" that involve a lot of glowing green undead energy.  So, painting schemes tend toward bone white, gunmetal/gray, burnished bronze, and glowing green.


I would like to pose Kaladrax in a more "rearing-up" position, so as to maybe fit within a base with a somewhat smaller footprint ... but then, the more it is rearing up and vertical, the greater the danger that it's going to wibble-wobble all the time and the wings will simply fall off or worse.  (If I can manage, I plan to NOT glue in the wings, because I'd like to be able to remove them for easier transportation and storage.  If they make a habit of popping off on a regular basis, however, I might have little choice other than to wire them in, and just plan on keeping this critter in a bigger foam-lined box.)


In the picture above, none of the pieces are glued in.  Just getting Kaladrax into position was very troublesome, as parts kept falling off.  The tail is particularly frustrating, with its ridiculous length, combined with its tendency to pop apart easily.


My first order of business will be to find a suitable base that I can start bolting things down to.  If I keep Kaladrax on its original decorative base, at the very least I'll need a base with a diameter of 8" just to accommodate the decorative base at its widest point.  The dragon extends for quite some distance beyond that, however, so if I'm going to use this for miniatures gaming, I think 12" is a more likely minimum.  If Kaladrax is posed as normal, and if the tail is to be included, I might end up with a base as wide as 16" in diameter.  I hope that perhaps with a bit of pinning and some forced bending, I can get the tail to curl in more tightly.  Another consideration I've had is that I might shorten the tail.  Or, if I go with a "Kaladrax emerges from the sea" setup, I might do without the tail entirely.  I also considered removing the rear legs (rather easy to do, with a bit of putty gap-filling, since the hip bones are separate parts), but I'm reluctant to short-change Kaladrax too much.  ;)


I've got a number of coffee can lids and such, but nothing approaching the right size.  I do have a dead fan tower that I could borrow the base from, but I think that would over-shoot the intended diameter.  (I suppose I should measure it.  If it's within the ballpark, it would have the added benefit of having some WEIGHT to it, if I try for a more "dynamic" pose with Kaladrax rearing up.)


My Reaper Kraken (77291) is missing the critical top ridged part of its body, so I've been borrowing its tentacles for "tentacles rising from the murk" pieces for RPG encounters.  I might borrow its decorative "shipwreck" base as well, to add to Kaladrax's own decorative base, to give the scene a more nautical appearance.


Once I settle on a way to bolt down Kaladrax without the thing wobbling all over the place (whether I attempt a more "dynamic" pose or just have it lounging on a rocky precipice), then there will be the matter of cleaning up the ribcage area and touching up my bone-and-wash look, then bolting on various Cryxian "evil-steampunk" elements to turn this into a giant magical-steampunk monstrosity -- the sort of encounter one does not go up against without an army or two.


Here and my Colossal-class Cryx "Kraken" (different model -- basically a big steampunk robot with a couple of robo-tentacles) was going to be the big-shot opponent originally ... until I discovered in my first Iron Kingdoms RPG campaign that even Colossal/Gargantuan stats from the miniatures war game aren't all that impressive when faced by a properly combat-focused PC party.


But THIS guy ... he might be worth a little more respect.


"Kaladrax LAUGHS at your puny so-called 'Colossal' on its mere 120mm base!"

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I really should paint mine soon. I have two and both sit in their boxes.


Any opinion on tail length? I know that quite a few people choose to shorten it.


I'm undecided about the tail.  It's ludicrously long ... but this is a DRAGON, after all, and a ludicrously-long tail would not be out of scope.  I might very well pop out a segment, if it will mean fitting more neatly within a base.  (Iron Kingdoms RPG is very, very base-dependent, and I'd like, as much as possible, for the figure to be fully contained within a base, even though I know it's inevitable that the WINGS are going to protrude beyond.  Wings, at least, may well branch over nearby minis, but a ground-level tail is going to be more of an issue.)


If I can figure out how to re-position the legs (i.e., by cutting apart segments and pinning them back together for a new pose), arc the neck a bit more, and twist the wings (the latter being likely to compromise my wish to be able to pop the wings out easily for storage), and have the dragon appear to be rising out of the depths of the ocean, say, I may just leave off the tail entirely.  I'm sure that I can find other uses for a giant dragon-tail; for instance, I've got two Mega Bloks "Dread Eye's Phantom" sets in the garage, and I could probably incorporate it into some new feature:



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Over Thanksgiving weekend, I manage to fit in a little bit of time each day on Kaladrax, but between the time required for epoxy putty to cure to a point where I could work around it on further things, and various social considerations, I really didn't accomplish terribly much for an extended weekend.




First off, there is the ongoing perplexing problem of what to do about a base.  Kaladrax is far too large to fit into the Iron Kingdoms standard scale of bases (which go "small" at 30mm, "medium" at 40mm, "large" at 50mm, then jumping to "huge" at 120mm), so there's nothing standard about the dimensions, but it still has to be fairly round, and have some sort of a rim that I can indicate facing arcs on.


I live in Orlando, lightning-strike country, and many electronics (and surge protectors and a couple of UPS boxes, and fixtures) have died violent deaths from lightning storms.  Despite a last-ditch bit of surgery to see if I could bring this fan tower back to life, it seemed to be a lost cause, so I decided to formally consign the fan to the junk heap, and salvage its base as a potential base for Kaladrax.


On the up-side, that big seam in the middle provides a pretty clear guideline for where to mark the division for the front/back facing arcs, and it has a clear outer rim that could be used to denote the arcs.  On the down-side, the base is beveled, rising up toward the middle, rather than flat, which makes it a bit more problematic to affix details to it.  I'd like a nautical theme, and my idea was to have Kaladrax perched on a little rocky island rising up from the water, but that big seam is going to work against me on that count.


I'm still pondering borrowing the shipwreck base from 77291 "Kraken."  In the course of digging around, I managed to find another piece to complete the Kraken's body, so I'll likely be building it after all, but I think I'm going to waterline it, and use it for encounters with ~1:1000 representations of pirate ships (i.e., as a kraken big enough to actually threaten to drag down a whole ship) rather than treating it as closer to 32mm scale as it would be if it's shown in relation to a wrecked ship of such a size that its base suggests.




Then, there's the head.  I used some putty to add another vertebra to the neck where the skull joins on, and some wire pinning to attach it more securely.  I filled the gaps with a lime-green acrylic that passes for "Necrotite Green," but most of it is to be covered up by the "visor" typical to so many Cryx monstrosities.  To make said visor, I scrapped a used plastic cup, giving me some smooth plastic already curved a bit to better fit the "face" of Kaladrax -- or so I hoped.





The Dremel has gotten quite the workout for this project.  Yes, I COULD cut Bones plastic with a hobby knife, but with all the mass involved, I figured some power assistance was in order.  Here, I've been trimming down the "key" parts of the plug-in joints for Kaladrax's limbs, to more easily facilitate my attempts to rotate them off of their original alignments.  I don't want Kaladrax lazily lounging atop a decorative base, but rather a more dynamic, "rearing-up" pose.





A big part of this has consisted of using wire and Apoxie Sculpt {sic} epoxy putty to anchor pieces together and to do a bit of gap-filling when they're not quite as snug as they are supposed to be (what with all my messing around with the fitting and angles).





And at this point, I'm finally starting to get closer to where I'm aiming for the pose.  The legs are attached at 90 degrees off from where they're intended to be, so Kaladrax is rising up.  This puts the tail at an odd angle, but I'm working on that.


In the background on the left is a piece from an old Star Wars "Power of the Force" toy (incomplete) that I found in a thrift store; now it's a donor for "mechanized" parts for the dragon's wings.  On the background-right is a Monsterpocalypse figure I got as a grab-bag deal, as it was missing its head and one of his shoulder guards.  What's left is likely to be a "donor" for Kaladrax at some point.

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"Heyyyyyy!"  Kaladrax sports its new Cryxian visor.  The Dremel tool + my unsteady hand did not equal very regular-looking holes, alas, but it seems to get the rough idea across.  I used some putty as gap-filler to give the "visor" a good anchor on the skull, and some backing to paint some "Necrotite Green" to peek through the holes.


How does Kaladrax see?  Well, considering that Kaladrax had no eyeballs anyway, I suppose that there's some MAAAAAAAGIC involved.





There were some more steps involved up to this point, but ... argh!  BLURRY PHOTOS.


Anyway, here's where I am right now.  Instead of Kaladrax's original base, I used a resin aquarium piece I picked up at Goodwill.  My original thought was that the weird skull-face cave might serve as appropriate terrain alongside ~1:1000 scale pirate ships (and giant krakens), especially once the PCs head into the Cryx-blighted Scharde Islands, but I opted to use it instead for a perch for Kaladrax, given its satisfying weight, lack of floppiness, and also that it has more of a vertical element than the original Kaladrax base.


I have the "pincer" pieces bolted onto the wings (pinned and puttied), but I'm going to need a lot more wire, cable, and general "bitz" before the wings will look sufficiently mechanized.  (That, and I need to paint up the "membranes.")


I used the Dremel to cut apart the segments of the left arm / fore-claw, in order to straighten it out of the original "lounging" position it was in, and I ground off the "insert tab," so I hope that it looks more like Kaladrax is reaching out to touch someone, and less like it's trying to take an undead nap.


There's a random mechanized bit pinned-and-puttied onto the sternum area.  It's a random plastic part (again from a thrift store) that had some nice recessed areas and ridges that I figured I could paint up to fit the "rib-cage" look seems popular among Cryx machinery.


Among the "bitz" I have on hand to continue mechanizing and armoring up this Cryx version of Kaladrax, I have a box of Tyranid spare parts that a friend gave me.  Some of those Tyranid ranged weapons might make suitable creepy "smokestacks" for the necrotite engine.  I'm still unsure about how I'm going to manage the armor (plasticard only goes so far, and Cryx armor is very curvy, not just a bunch of flat angles), and there's still the matter of how I'll tackle the base (I'd love some sort of "crashing waves," but I'm not sure how to model that).


A big challenge is going to be how to bolt on all those mechanized bits without making the figure even more flimsy than it already is.  While epoxy putty has been a great binder for pewter, the Bones plastic has enough "give" (even at this thickness) that it seems bound and determined to pull away from any cured putty simply by its own weight -- let alone what'll happen when I pick up the model to move it.


I'd like to be able to lift up Kaladrax and move it around without pieces falling off left and right.  That would detract greatly from any menace I'd attempt to narrate for an RPG scenario, if the players are busting out laughing at the sight of the rickety monster (or "miniature" representation thereof) shaking itself apart.  


I also have to attach the tail, which will be passing through the central "cave" area.  I've tried adjusting the curvature by splitting a tail section and adding another vertebra at a suitable angle, but that hasn't proven as successful at staying together as the skull/neck joint.  (I figure that the leverage of the tail piece, with its own weight, is the major difference.)

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That looks fantastic already.


One word of caution on those "soupy" paints — I use them for the same thing (swamps, slime, etc) but I've recently noticed that somewhere between six months and tow years, they actually dry out. The moss stops being healthy and moist, the snot turns into boogers, and the swamps revert to dried mud. YMMV from using different paints, but I was sorely disappointed. (My next guess has been mixing in a little gloss varnish. In a year or so, I expect to know how it holds up)

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Very cool! I really like where you're heading with this.



Have you thought about pinning some of the joins? That may help to give it some more strength/stability.


Yes, definitely!  There is a lot of wire in my Kaladrax already, but a lot of it keeps breaking.  I think this is probably well beyond the ability of mere paperclip-wire to reinforce, and I'm going to have to invest in some brass rod.


For the time being, I am mostly working with the main body of Kaladrax, minus the wings and minus the remainder of the tail, perched as it is on the "rocky outcropping" resin piece.  It's holding together reasonably well, but even so it feels a bit fragile and I have to handle it carefully.  I have little confidence that it won't be a disaster once I try to add the wings and tail, unless I do some heavy-duty reinforcement.


For the base, I am toying with the idea of using some Vallejo "Water Effects" gel, inspired by this tutorial on "Making Waves" from the "Sproket's Small World" blog: 



I just haven't ordered any yet, because I can't find any locally, and the cheapest place I can find it online isn't quite so cheap with the shipping-and-handling charges ... UNLESS I meet a certain minimum order, and there just aren't enough things on my wish list yet to justify that minimum order.  (Okay, okay, that's not really true.  There are TONS AND TONS of things I would happily splurge my money on, if money and STORAGE SPACE and FREE TIME TO ACTUALLY PAINT IT ALL were of no concern, but I'm trying to keep up appearances that I haven't totally lost my mind yet.)


I just have to figure out whether I'm really going to go with the fan stand as my base, and how much of that base I'm going to cover with ship-wreckage and rocky outcroppings and whatnot before I figure out how much of my precious epoxy putty it's going to take to cover the remaining surface with "choppy waves" for the proper oceanic effect.  (I don't think just painting "water" is going to cut it, and something as massive and awesome as Kaladrax demands a bit more effort to be put into the base, I think.)  I'm getting down to the bottom of the tubs for my epoxy putty, and it might be time for me to make another trip out to Reynolds Advanced Materials to restock.  (That putty lasts quite a long time for miniatures work and regular basing, but BIG STUFF like this really gobbles it up.)

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More progress/experimentation on Kaladrax.


First off, I decided some experimentation was in order for the water effect I am hoping to get for Kaladrax's mega-base.  So, I decided to work on a base for a SMALLER Cryxian horror with a nautical theme: the Kraken.


I started with the decorative shipwreck from Reaper's totally-not-related Kraken miniature, put it on a 120mm resin round base, and used a bunch of epoxy putty to start building a "water" effect.




Basically, I just hit the surface repeatedly with a large "pearl" bead, then went back with the smaller-diameter metal clay-shaping tool to generate ripples (and, I hope, obliterate any of my fingerprints).





Here's the Privateer Press Cryx "Kraken" perched on the shipwreck piece.  It's missing a couple of smokestacks, so I used some Instant Mold to get impressions of two of the remaining smokestacks.  My hope was then to use some putty in the resulting push-molds to make some rough replacements (though of course they'd be inferior to the originals).





Voila!  Replacement smokestacks!  They're indicated by the two green arrows.  Some of the smokestack pieces are pewter, and some resin.  Alas, the central smokestack piece is resin, and cracked at the rim.  I think repairing that might be beyond my ability, but I might go back and attempt it anyway.


How is this relevant to Kaladrax?  I'm getting there, honest!  That's coming up in a bit.

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Here's a better look at the base with the "water effects."  This is a prototype for what I intend to do with Kaladrax's base.  Alas, it's time for me to put in another order for some Apoxie Sculpt, because I'm running low, and Kaladrax's base is a LOT bigger.





My next experiment was with a leather punch tool (a "rotary punch") in the leather craft section of JoAnn Fabric.  Fortunately, I had a "50% off one regularly-priced item" coupon, because this wasn't exactly cheap.  Basically, it's a little plier-like device that has a dial on one side with several holes of different diameters, and then on the other side is a needle-like punch that fits into whichever hole is lined up.  I tried experimenting with pieces of scrap plastic (cut up via Dremel), punching one side to cause raised "rivet" shapes on the other.  This took some practice, and didn't turn out quite as nicely as I'd moved, but I hope there's potential for doing better with this after some more attempts.





And here's some progress on the magi-mechanical torso for Kaladrax.  I have a few "rivet plates" affixed around the torso; I won't be covering up ALL the ribs and gaps, but I want to get to the point where there are some bones and some glowing green bits here and there, but it's not EVERYWHERE.  I want the dragon to look as much magical/mechanical as skeletal, ideally.


Also, while I was making replacement smokestacks for the Kraken, I made a few extra ones of one of the larger smokestacks, to replace some of the spine spurs.  The "casts" look pretty horrible, especially with some paint on them to bring out the (accidental) details, but I'm going to go back with the Dremel and see if I can't clean them up a bit.  In a worst-case scenario, I've got some pieces of plastic tubing I can work with, to replace them.  I stuck in some gap-filler putty at the base of each smokestack, but I plan to go back and add some more details (and, I'm sure, even more rivets) in the hopes of melding the skeletal and mechanical elements a bit more.

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