I don't want to jinx it, gang, but this week's been kind of awesome so far. I went into last weekend full-throttle pre-menstrual, John and I buckling up for another ride on the Jen-Coaster-Of-Perpetual-Self-Examination-That-Never-Ends-Well, but instead I stumbled across that Geode cake thread and laughed my fool head off.
It was such a relief, you know? I mean, I'm not out of the woods yet, hormonally speaking, but when you're waiting to feel sad and instead get a jolt of unexpected glee, and then you get to share it and see OTHER people lifted up and making new friends, sharing their own jokes and silliness until the whole thing mushrooms (heyoooo) into this big happy THING... well heck, that's why I love writing this blog. You guys get a 5 or 10 minute read, but I get to obsess for hours and hours over all the silly, pretty, and just-plain-awesome things I post here. Best home-therapy a PMS-riddled agoraphobe could ask for.
Which is all a long-winded intro to one of our latest projects. It's not done yet, but I've been thinking I need to loosen my death grip on project posts, learn to show you guys the half-way points and mistakes and do-overs, not just the finished pieces. John and are constantly experimenting with new craft stuff, and most only see the inside of our trash can. Maybe that should change. (Remind me to show you our tests with silicone and resin next time - the silicone in particular has some fun possibilities.)
Plus, I don't know about you, but I freaking LOVE progress photos from the cosplayers & builders I follow. I get so much inspiration from those midway points, thinking what *I* would do next to finish things off. Here's hoping you guys are the same.
So let's get on to this $16 Balrog Pop we found at the mall:
...which you can get on Amazon for $13. (Dangit. lol)
I should point out the Pop isn't nearly as cool as the box art:
I should point out the Pop isn't nearly as cool as the box art:
I mean, it's OK, but it's hard to make paint look like flames.
So obviously we need to make it light up, right?
Getting the head off was hard: eventually it came down to John's brute strength:
Our back-up plan was to cut that neck peg with a dremel, since you can always glue the head back on with epoxy putty.
Popping the flames off the head took more finesse: I recommend patience and a small screwdriver for prying:
There's also a small panel under the head you'll need to pop off to get inside. (The head is hollow.) A craft blade helps to cut through the glue.
Next John cut out the eye sockets using a Dremel, while I cast new eyes out of resin and alcohol ink. Here's John holding one of the new eyes in place for a test run:
The resin eyes DO look pretty sweet, but they block too much light. So we ditched them.
Next John dremeled out the top of the head under the flame, nostrils, and mouth:
Which made the bottom jaw fall off, whoops:
No biggie. We can fix that.
For the interior lighting we cracked open some flickering LED tealights (left over from my floating candles) and harvested the bulbs. John soldered on longer wires, stuck one inside the head with a little cotton batting, and...
That's an unedited shot off my phone; it looks just like that IRL, except it flickers like a flame. SO COOL. (And you can bet I'll have to do this with the new Te Ka Pop coming out, too.)
Ok, but it's not enough that just his head lights up, right?
I know what you're thinking - because we thought it, too - but unfortunately the Balrog Pop body is solid plastic. No getting lights in that way.
So instead, I dug out this beveled wood plaque I've had in a drawer for nearly a decade:
And whaddaya know, it fits!
John drilled three holes and routed channels underneath for the wires:
Then he glued three more tealight LEDs in the holes and wired them all together. He soldered everything into a wall plug from our local electronics junk shop, Sky Craft. I think the plug was $3, and so far we've had everything else we needed, so happily this is a pretty cheap craft.
Here's a look at the lighted base with and without the kitchen lights on:
I like how the lights catch under his torso and wings, but of course the LED bulbs themselves are too bright and distracting; we need to either diffuse them or put some ground cover in front of them. Fortunately we'll be displaying this on a high shelf, so the lights won't need too much shielding.
Our options are:
A) Make clear silicone "flames" to fit over the exposed LED bulbs, which should dim/diffuse the light
B) Make fake rocks and grit to pile up in front of the bulbs to act as a shield
C) Both of those things
Also in process: figuring out what, if anything, I should do with the Balrog's paint job. I used acetone to remove the orange flames painted on his forehead and the super-shiny brown paint on his teeth, so he already looks better:
It turns out the teeth are molded from the same transparent plastic as the head flames, so I'm surprised Funko painted over them. The translucency makes the teeth look way more realistic. Me likey.
I'm planning to remove the yellow on the bottom teeth and paint them to match:
We're also experimenting with cotton batting and cotton balls to add a smoke effect coming out of the eyes. We've been testing dying the cotton vs painting it, so we can make it more gray/black. It's tricky coming up with something that looks good both lit AND unlit, though.
And finally, since the current paint job is a little shiny, I'm debating painting the whole body a solid, dead-flat black. That would lose a lot of the sculpting detail, though, so then I'd be faced with painting in some of the cracks again with red and/or orange. Or dry-brushing on a dark gray for a little contrast. Or I could try aging the whole thing with solid red... ?
Or I could leave the paint job as-is.
So that's our in-process, plussed-up Pop Balrog (which is fun to say). I hope this inspires you guys to try lighting up some of your own figures! Stay tuned for finished shots once I figure out the paint situation.
Oh! I'll leave you with something silly: we'd been working on this for a few hours yesterday before I looked down and asked John, "Wait, did you wear that shirt on purpose?!" He looked down, too, surprised. "No, which one am I wearing?"
It was this one:
(The design is "No One Left To Play With" from Woot.)
Ha! I guess John already had Balrogs on the brain that morning.
Speaking of Funko Pop crafts, you might like the custom Pops we made of Crowley from Supernatural, Dr. Rodney McKay from Stargate:Atlantis, me, and then our DIY Death Star display for a friend's Pop collection. Plus I made a Pop Valentine wreath once. But I'm not addicted, you guys, I'm not. I CAN STOP ANYTIME.