Building your own 1:1 battle damaged Arnie
By: Vic 'TF' van der Put
I once visited the Planet Hollywood restaurants and saw one the battle damaged Arnold Schwarzenegger 1:1 full Terminator standing in the room. I was sold. Not having any money back in those days, the plans to build one have since been laying around the house, to be added to once in a while... only to sit in its cabinet for many years, collecting dust. Only to reappear to be scribbled on again and... you've guessed it by now, to be hidden again for later inclusions.
But no more! Over the years I have made numerous contacts within the community and found lots of sources to try and build my own. And I even found the same 1:1 standing in a store, when the Planet Hollywood worldwide restaurants (mine in Amsterdam, The Netherlands) closed, and the 1:1 was sold to a local comics store, who had it for sale for a whopping (recalculated) 9500 dollars. Since I did not have the cash to buy it, I would need to build one for myself.
And now I have.
Before I start with telling you about this project, the most important part in anything one does is planning. As told above, I did this for many years, and whilst planning ahead, I collected stuff from around my sources, with one being the final source that kickstarted this entire project and made it move fast forward into finally being able to build it.
Sure, I already had the jacket, I already had some pants, but the most difficult parts would be the battle damaged head, chest, arm, knee and hand that needed to be added to it. But that was solved with eBay.com dealer Bay12Replicas, who had all battle damaged parts I needed to start on this endeavor. If you want to build your own Arnie, then I advice you to check him out. His replicas are the best on the net, I assure you, since I have searched online for many years.
Though I say you need to plan ahead, I also have to say that I should have done it even more thorough. You will see what I mean with that when we come to the major problem of this build. A problem which could trash the entire project or make it into something else instead. But I will not focus on that yet.
Planning ahead in my book means, checking all possible sources on the looks of the model, drawing out its sizes, checking paintschemes, and writing it down for later checking. Reference material up to wazoo!
And the internet. You can find lots of images of the Planet Hollywood (or T2:3D) versions of the battle damaged 1:1. Collect them all and use them to make your own. I did and I think it turned out quite well, except for that little major problem.
Damn, I'm talking about it again. So what is that problem? You'll have to find out as we go along the project.
Soo... lets get starting!
Collect all parts
Collecting all parts. You already said that in the title of this subject. Well... I can't stress enough that next to the planning of a build, you'll need to collect all parts that are needed. And these are not small. After some research the following came around: the battle damaged parts, being the head, chest, arm, knee and hand needed for the 1:1, the jacket (preferably movie related) and pants, the boots, hair, eyebrows, eyes and lots and lots of different paints that can be applied to all. Screws and wood not taken into concideration.
Sounds small actually when you read it out in one sentence, but it took me more then 6 years to get them all together. Well, maybe because I was not searching for them all week long... but its hard to get the most important parts, especially the battle damaged parts and the movie related jacket. In some cases I concider myself lucky that I did find them all, and even better, all locally. Sure, the battle damaged parts were bought from an eBay.com dealer, from the UK, but all of the rest is found within a 50 mile radius.
Anyway... collect all the possible stuff you think that needs to be part of your 1:1 and then, add them to a pile and start with your plan. Another plan? Yes... since you could be building out your entire project and then when you are almost finished find out that you missed out on something that you should have done way before, something that has a major impact on your project.
The best example of this could be... don't just paint the flesh of the torn skin already... you first need the chroming of the endoskeleton, and then the base skin tone coats of paint, before you can be bothered with detailing the flesh.
Its actually quite simple... just like building a house. You first need a foundation where you can work on building out all bricks into a ground floor, adding a second floor, then cleaning the place, putting on a roof, and then worry about all the detailing. And on the inside, you first paint all walls anc ceilings, before you add any lighting sockets, etc, etc.
Just like with this build of the 1:1 battle damaged Arnold. Litterally!
Starting the build
Its always been my intention to get myself a mannequin, the window dressing kind, and use that as the basis of the build. Just adding the clothes and battle damaged parts to the puppet would work very well (or so I thought) and would make it possible to give attention to other parts instead. Not having to worry about the proportions of Arnold. Well... I did try to find mannequins that looked like him but they either were too expensive or not really in the neighborhood (one 400 miles away which I think is too far to get something).
Then one day, I found one that could fit nicely with the battle damaged parts. And for only a recalculated 20 dollars, it would also be very cheap. So I went to the nearby city and got it... only to come home and find out that some of the battle damaged parts are too big to be added to the mannequin anyway.
That did not stop me from trying to build it anyway. I cut out the chestplate and head parts of the mannequin only to find the next problem at hand; the mannequin had an internal system to be able to put it on its legs (inner tubing). This part of the chest would make it impossible to add the battle damaged chestplate. I did try to check if I could split the chestplate into three seperate parts, adding the top and bottom into the torso, leaving out the middle part, where the fitting of the tubing was situated.
Before continuing with that plan, I first checked the looks of the torso with its head and jacket and came to the conclusion that it was totally out of proportion. This mannequin idea was now officially scrapped. I could have started on a journey to try to find a new one, that would fit Arnold better, but I came up with the idea to start from scratch myself. Make it from wood... building it out as I went along.
Starting from scratch
Over the years I've seen some other fans build their own 1:1 figures, and one of them did it entirely from wood. I was somewhat reluctant to do it that way, since I was unsure of the proportions of the body, but the fan told me once that you should just base it on yourself. Well... I do not look like Arnold, but I am somewhat his same size (or bigger) so I should be able to come up with the basic layout of the bones of the puppet.
Another small plan was stippulated and I went to get a lot of wood, glue, nails, screws, steel and lots and lots of revisits to get other stuff I forgot (I actually revisited that store 6 times over a one week period ;).
Anyway... the plan was there to make a base plate for the 1:1 to stand on, something that could look like a part that was taken out of the steel mill like seen at the ending of the Terminator 2: Judgment Day movie. I checked the basic layout for the feet of the 1:1, adding them on top of the base plate, cutting out squares where wooden bars would fit. Then recut steel I found fitting the base plate, then cutting out the same holes out of the boots, and finally putting that base plate together.
Painting the base
Painting it was a drag, since the paint I used had to dry 16 hours prior to new coating... and it has taken a whopping 5 coats of paints to get to the point that it looked what I wanted, so it took me approx. 4 days to finish that in itself. 2 base coats, one yellow, one black and a final battle damaged special 'marble look' paint.
No need to wait
Waiting for the paint to dry? Build out other parts! I started on making the boots look battle damaged and worked on a connector system for the legs and the upper torso. I also checked out possible new paints sources and researched methods of paper-maché, something that would make it possible for me to make out the body detailing in a cheap and fast method (safes on time also). And I could also start on the build of the battle damaged torn of arm. I actually had two Endoskeleton arm kits laying around for several years, and choose to use one of them on this build.
Putting base together
Finally it was time to get all the parts together. I painted parts of the legs black, so one could not see its connection when you look below the boots. Of course someone can see it, but when its black, its somewhat invisible. Thinking ahead here. I wish I did that all the time... cause of a problem that will soon come around. Aargh!
OK... back to topic: I now finally added the grid and screwed it on top of all the painted layers and when that was done the final 'dirty look' paint could be applied. This was actually some sort of special paint to make something look marble, some sort of paint that sprayed out in strings... and I think it made for a good dirty factory floor. Then the boots could be fitted over the legs and the base plate was finished.
Legs and knee
Then the buildup of the legs could start. The knee was stripped of access parts that made it look too wide and screwed onto the wood, after which I surrounded it with chicken fence wires. This would be the basis of the paper-maché method I checked out earlier. Adding wallpaper glue to pieces of newspaper and pasting that together to make the legs. Of course these legs are not exactly like Arnolds, he is not annorexic. But it was the basis that was needed to save on possible filler. I then test fitted the leather pants (in this image it is still looking new, the battle damaged look would be added later).
Building the torso
The build of the torso took me less then two days. Concidering I spent a full week on the bottom half of the base plate and legs, this is very fast. Unfortunately I did not make a plan for this soo the formentioned ugly problem arrised during this build. Also, the batteries of my camera went dead so I could not make progression images of this build. The only images I have are two for the build up of the torso connectors and the final torso waiting to dry.
Anyway... the basis of the torso was a U shaped wooden frame. I scrapped some parts of the previous mannequin and added them to the torso, being; the connectors of the arms and the middle chest plate connecting the torso to the legs. I added several pieces of wood to help screw on the head and chestplate, then detailed the entire bust with chicken fence wire and the paper-maché solution.
The total ammount of glue and paper needed for the torso took a long time to dry, so I could focus on other jobs at hand. I checked some sources on how to wire a battery onto a led and collected the parts needed from two local shops. I also added more torn flesh detailing to the torn of arm, with a combination of two-component filler and some parts of putty.
When the torso was fully dried up, I could start with adding the paint proof tape over all parts that I did not want to paint in the first layers of painting. This is special tape that can be torn to small pieces but keeps proof of any unwanted paints. It was actually somewhat a drag to have to add it to all the detailing of the torso, knee, and arm... but in a way it was also very cool to do. I love this tape. I will from now on also use it on smaller models I have standing around that need to be build.
Black base coating
After prepping the torso, arm and knee, the black base coat of paint could be applied. Most of the images below do not do the paint any justice, since I used a flash to photograph them. The black base coat is needed to have a good foundation for the chrome. It actually has two functions; one being that its the base coat for the chrome, but also a darker looking paint for all those parts that are not painted. For instance, deep lines in the face look darker then the chroming on clear spaces. This is visible in the next part of this FanProject.
Waiting for the black base coat to dry, I focussed on building up the internal lighting of the eye.
When the black base coat had dried, I applied several layers of chrome paint. This was the second part of the kit I bought and it needed to be done as fast as possible. This special paint actually was dry within 5 minutes coming from the can. All parts were painted in several layers, till I was satisfied with the result. This special paint had a nice feature to it, since you could decide to only add one coat making the chrome look darker or decide to do several layers to make it look lighter.
As told before, the black base coat had a double function. The second being that any parts that were not spray painted that well with the chrome, would turn out to be darker chrome then other parts. This could be seen in the seams and cracks in the model or lines in the chromed head. They looked darker then the rest of the chroming making it have more depth. I will be reusing this chroming system on new projects.
After the few minutes of drying, I removed all the tape. This is best to do when the paint is still a bit fluid, because if you don't, the tape could tear off parts of the paint. After removing the tape it is also possible to do some touchups if neccesary... but it was not in this case.
Show me some skin
The three different layers of chrome actually were dry within 5 minutes each, so after 15 minutes I could have started on painting the skin colors. I however decided to give the chrome some more time to settle... just on the safe side. I could focus on detailing the battle damaged clothing instead.
After a day of working on the jacket and pants, I started painting all parts with a base skin coat. This was actually acrylic paint to be used on walls of your house, but it was the best looking skin tone I could find. And it also works on plastic, so no harm done. I did have to add two layers to all parts, since the first coat showed the grey base coat underneath. The painting of the skin tones took me another two days, since this paint had to dry for 12 hours at max, before being repainted. But it was fun to see that the chroming became more detailed when the skin was added. It started to become something cool!
Fleshing it out
At a certain point I decided to scrap the hand that came with the battle damaged parts. I had a better hand standing amongst my collectibles that already had the glove around it, so I could at that one to the build. The other hand was still being painted, but I could use it to test different methods of detailing the flesh and skin. By now I had accumulated almost 18 different colors of red that could be applied to the skin and flesh and tested a few of them on the hand.
After some tests I applied some base coasts of dark red to the fleshy bits of the torso, arm and knee. Again, the photos do not do the build justice, since the flash on the camera makes them look very light. But to the eye the dark layers are very visible. I first added the darkest colors of flesh working my way up to lighter tones. Again, the paint needed to dry for 12 hours each layer.
During the buildup of the arms, I also decided to paint them totally with the skin color, just in case it would be visible through holes in the jacket. This also took two coats of paint, but the final look is the better for it.
Adding more layers of blood. As told before, one starts with the dark colors first and adds lighter colors till one is satisfied with the result. Of course the lighter colors were not painted entirely on top of the darker colors, or the dark colors would not be visible. The detailing took a long time, since these are more then 5 layers of different red colors added to all parts, but it was also fast, because I had four things to work on; the head, chest, knee and arm. And when I finished the last one, I could return to the first to add another layer of a lighter color of paint.
When most of the red colors were done, I added some darker chrome paint to add shadow to some of the parts, filling in holes in the parts, or for instance to make the hole of the eye look darker. I also added a special dirt paint to the all parts, since the Terminator was dirty at the end of the movie (I can't imagine how he must have smelled). The chroming and skin parts were all brushed with a special tool that made small dots, and I also scratched the surfice with other harder brushes to make the skin and flesh look more torn.
The fifth image in the following list is the best example of the different layers of dark and light fleshed out skin, the dirty chrome and some of the different tones of skin. I could have added more tones, but this would (or could) mean two things: it would never finish, or worse, I could be overdoing it. You have to know when to stop paiting, though there was still one tone of blood to be added.
Soo... here it is finally, the major problem I have talked about in small parts in all previous sections. Problem being: when I combined the lower legs and the upper torso, I came to the fubar conclusion that the full body was totally out of proportion. The upper torso was too wide compared to its hips and legs. Aaargh!!!
This problem has now put this project on a major hold. I have tried to correct the problem, by tearing up the back side of the pants and thus widing the pants, but the problem is still visible. Now I have destroyed the lower half of the pants to make it look better, which it doesn't. And things got even worse when I added the jacket and the arms.
I have made a very big error on this build and can not correct it. I am now thinking of two things:
- Either start over and cut out all parts to be added to an new mannequin
- Only use the upper parts for a torso only version of the 1:1
As you can imagine, I am not amused with this result. Of course I also know its my own fault, for just building ahead, without checking in between of the build. Then again, I had a lot of fun building it and thats also important... having fun with it all.
Make it bleed!
Soo... the major problem is still to be resolved. This project is still being worked on, but on lesser occasions for now. I am however adding several parts as I go along finding a solutions to the problem. I have since added the hair, a eye, some more detailing of the skin, adding the final layer of translucent red blood paint, making it bleed more. Also the t-shirt has had an overhall and cut to fit the torso, and the t-shirt itself still needs to be painted with that same translucent red color.
In due time...
The total project is on hold for the moment. I am working on resolving the problem with the proportions being off. I am also still thinking on both options, either the new mannequin or the torso only bit. Whilst I'm doing that, I work on detailing the torso and some of the missing parts.
I learned some hard lessons with this build, but overall, its been a blast. I learned some new tricks that will be applied to lots of other builds, but I can assure you, I will not just start on another big 1:1 build like this again. Not without even more planning.
That said... I'll be back with updates as soon as I have some.
Check out some images from this FanProject.
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