Monday, December 17, 2012

Village Ewoks

As my ewok collection started growing, I started thinking of ways to properly display them. I thought about getting them a vintage ewok playset and headed over to eBay just to see exactly how much those playsets were going for. The average going rate for a second hand complete set turned out to be more than I was willing to spend, about a 100 dollars or even more if it included the original box. So I left it at that. Until I came upon this one auction that was ending in a few hours, whose current bid was around 20 dollars. I figured what the hell? I placed a max bid of $50 and went to bed thinking I’d never win…..then the next morning received a pleasant surprise….turned out $50 was just right…I won.

Corgi NOT included....
So now that I found myself a proud owner of a vintage ewok village playset I figured why not go the extra mile a make it look fitting for a bunch of modern ewoks. For what it is, the vintage ewok village is a pretty nice playset. It’s definitely not small but not too big as well and has enough room for a good number of ewoks. One thing it definitely had going for it was its excellent sculpt.

Although most playsets back then weren’t too overly complicated in order to keep down costs, many playsets (and vehicles), especially from the original Kenner Star Wars line had excellent sculpts. Unfortunately, most of the sculpted details were lost due very little or no paint. Most playsets back then relied on stickers. So most of these playsets were just cast in the closest basic color they needed to be in and that was it.

Quite a lot of potential...not reached
So yeah, the ewok village looked really nice, and looking closely at the pieces, you can see that they carved out some nice looking trees with textured bark and a little foliage at the roots. The wooden platform and structures like the support beams, railings, throne & elevator come complete with carved up ropes binding the different pieces together. Even the stone fire pit has some nice texturing going on. Unfortunately all of these nice details are lost because they are left unpainted. And because it was plastic, it had that typical plastic sheen when light shined on it, making it really look like a toy. I knew I had to do something about that. Prior to this, I had done a handful of customizing, mostly action figures, but I had never done a complete playset so this was something new, and a welcome challenge. So here’s a step by step on what I did to make this playset come to life. Turned out it wasn’t too difficult, and in all modesty, the results even surprised me.

Step One: Darkening & Dulling
All you need....
First things first, I had to get rid of that plastic shine so I coated all the pieces with some dull black spray paint. Initially I thought I had to pain all the pieces completely black to give a basic coat or primer for the succeeding layers of paint to properly stick onto. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn’t really need to do that. And a spare spraying of black paint was good enough to overall darken all the pieces, take away the shine but still allow the original brown from the plastic to come through.

Step Two: Bringing Out the Highlights
Dry brushing is a technique where in you take a paintbrush put as little paint as possible on it and just lightly brush along the surface of what you are painting, as if you are dusting it. It’s a common technique used by most customizers to bring out highlights in their toys. And better yet, it’s deceptively simple, but the end results can be quite stunning.

From bark
Step Three: Detailing
This is where being OC really helps out. Painting all the ropes and leaves and other small details can admittedly be difficult & tedious, but really, all the effort is really worth it. This is the last part that will make your finished product pop!

Properly detailed....
And just like that, I had a proper ewok village that my little dudes could call home. I was so pleased and excited about the end result, that I started getting more things to add on to my village, an additional log, an ewok glider & catapult, a speederbike & AT-ST walker (both captured by the ewoks) as well as even more additional ewoks and rebels to boot. And pretty soon it became apparent that my little playset was just that…little. So after a few months, after patiently scouring eBay, I got myself a second ewok village at an even better price to add on to my first one. So there you go. From one wicket figure, has grown a full on Star Wars Endor diorama…now all I need are a few more ewoks…

Here are a lot more closeup shots....
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to be concluded...