The Making of Classics Dirge

A Brief History

Envisioned as part of the Transformers "Classics" line, Dirge was created using a modified Ramjet.

Created prior to the release of the Botcon 2007 Dirge, this version differs from the controversial exclusive in two way. First, the wings are completely modified from the base Ramjet figure to better resemble the Generation 1 precessor. Second, the paint application was envisioned in a neo-Classics style, one that more closely resembles those of the Hasbro releases Ramjet, Starscream and Skywarp.

Why go through the trouble of making Generation 1 wings, and then applying something other than a strict G1 paint application? Simply put, Dirge was original envisioned as an entry in TFCon 07's 3D Figure competition (in which the figure was the runner-up of the show), prior to the formal announcement of the Botcon 2007 set. That is not to say a lot of work had been put into Classics Dirge, just that this was his origins.

Feeling rushed, I opted to continue on with the project for TFCon '07. When the Botcon folks released the control art for Dirge in early February 2007, I decided to differentiate my version by varying the paint. Since the Botcon version was a strict repaint of Ramjet (for cost purposes), I still thought it worthwhile going forward.

Ironically, having completely run out of time to put together something new for Botcon 07, Dirge would later be packaged and entered as part of its figure competition.

Dirge (robot mode)

Custom Step-by-Step

Starting Point

Well, you can't have a good custom without a good base figure, and Ramjet is a good base figure. Just a matter of grabbing one and opening him up to get started.

Step 1... Design

When I put together a custom, regardless of difficulty, I always take time to do some level of research on the character in advance. For me, that means consulting web, comic and cartoon images of the character from multiple angles and by multiple artists to get the best feel for where all the detail is suppose to end up. In the case of Dirge, I still needed to do this research, but needed to find something that reflected the new style without completely ignoring his roots. No Beast Wars Two here.

Moving forward, I coloured about a half dozen different variations on his jet colour scheme, before settling on the illustration above.

Step 2... Cutting Deep

In my experience, it is easier to use pre-existing parts when they are available. The beauty of Ramjet is that the pre-existing wings have all the parts one needs to facilitate his transformation. Simply put, having taken Ramjet apart, I cut away his large vertical tail fins and then glued them to the top of the wing section. As you will see in Step 3, I've used an epoxy resin to fill in the gap between the wings and the fins prior to painting, before moving on the base of the wings.

Ramjet has a pair of wings tips that suddenly slope down on a 45 degree angle. These tips were relatively easy to cut off and attached (as seen below in Step 3) at a 90 degree angle facing up.

Step 3... Filling it in

So the wing replacements are glued into place. Now we use the epoxy to fill in around these new additions, as well as covering the base where the tail fins used to be. Once the epoxy dries, we're ready for painting.

Step 4...Paint

Anyone who paints knows there is a chance of scrapage. That chance is magnified with Transformers. All those moving parts just scream out for paint to flake off and crack. I wish I could say I had some magic solution, but I don't. I try and mitigate the trouble by buffing the parts in advance with a sand-based scrub like GoJo, painting thin strokes, and (where possible) refraining from painting sections where paint is not required.

For Dirge, I used three principle colours - blue, gold and black. And for each colour, I used a different paint method. Believe it or not, I used Krylon Fusion spray paint for the blue, where I taped all the areas I didn't want to paint with blue carpenters paint and gave it a spray. Krylon is solid but it goes on thick and doesn't have a lot of choice in terms of colours, so I don't tend to recommend it. But for Dirge, I made an exception because the blue was so close to the original colour.

Removing the tape and carefully scrapping away any excess blue that slipped past my tape barrier, I turned to the gold for which I used an airbrush for the first time. Gold is usually a pain in the bottle, because it separates and settles, causing a lot of stirring and a lot of coats. Whether it was the airbrush or the paint, the gold went on well and has stayed strong.

Finally, the black (and the remaining details) were painted on with a Model Master Gloss Paint by hand. The figure was then reassembled and the heat sticker, carefully taken off Ramjet at the beginning of the project, was carefully reapply when the paint was dried. Ready for inspection.


Powered by Drupal, an open source content management system