Friday, September 13, 2019

A Throne Fit For A Slug

In 2014, Hasbro released literally the biggest figure up to that point for their Black Series line, one of the most notorious crime lords in the Star Wars galaxy, Jabba the Hutt. At the time of his release, I wasn’t completely all in on the line and was quite happy merely cherry picking my favorites. Although many would consider him a major character from the original trilogy, I wasn’t that big of a fan so he was an easy pass for me.

Fast forward a year later, I had finally gotten past my denial over the line and I figured it was about time to add Jabba to my collection. Fortunately at the time, he wasn’t that hard to find and after a few failed attempts, I finally managed to get my very own crime slug at a very decent and discounted price.

Now the problem with the Jabba figure was that Hasbro pretty much phoned it in on the retail release of the character. They simultaneously released a second exclusive version that was sold in San Diego Comic Con. Like any exclusive, this SDCC version came in a specially designed box that looked like his throne room. It also came with extra accessories including his backrest, frog bowl, hookah and most importantly his evil little cackling monkey lizard buddy, Salacious Crumb. On the other hand, the regular release came with nothing.

Anyway, so as I mentioned earlier I got myself the basic figure, and for display purposes, having Jabba stand on his own without his throne next to all the other figures presented a couple of problems. First of all, due to his size, he took up quite a lot of real estate on the shelf. Secondly, despite being quite large and long, Jabba isn’t too tall, so next to other figures he doesn’t really stand out too much, diminishing his presence on the display.

So finally I decided something had to be done. At this point I had enough Jabba related characters on my collection to justify a Jabba-centric display. And so I set off to do a Jabba’s palace diorama. After some initial planning I decided that the diorama would be composed of three main elements. First of course would be Jabba’s throne itself, second, the background behind the throne and some steps on the side. And finally a side section where I could display my Han Solo in carbonite.

Now if you look, there are a lot of resources and tutorials online on how to make a proper Jabba diorama and pretty much all you need to know can be found on YouTube.

Now for his throne I decided to go the easy and fast route by buying a 3D printed throne from an online seller. I went with the first site I found which was obviously a mistake as I didn’t bother to look elsewhere for other options. Anyway to be fair, the throne I got was a quality piece, very solid and nicely textured. The set I ordered was comprised of the actual throne itself, 6 gargoyle heads that attached to the sides, the backrest and the hookah and frogbowl. I figured this was more than enough to get myself started.

Much later on though I realized two major problems with the set I ordered. First was that the gargoyle heads, although quite nice, weren’t exactly screen accurate. And secondly, the backrest was a little small and Jabba couldn’t sit completely flush against it. And the hookah and frogbowl were printed as one piece with the backrest and lacked any ornate detailing. Anyway, you live and learn and I just had to work with what I got.

First step was the painting. So got started by covering everything with a flat black coat.

And then little by little I added the actual colors I wanted for the different pieces. This was a rather painstaking process as I had to put layers and layers of thin coats until I finally got the colors I wanted.

Finally I finished it off with some dry brushing and washes to give everything more details.

Unfortunately I made another mistake with regards to painting the backrest, I forgot to properly mask the hookah and frogbowl sections when I applied my black base coat. So I just decided to F-it and treat everything as one solid piece. Again, not screen accurate, but ...whatever, my display.

To this day, one of my biggest regrets is passing on the opportunity to buy an SDCC Jabba at a decent price when I had the chance during a trip to HK years ago. Nowadays, that set is selling for crazy prices on eBay. Had I gotten that set, I would’ve gotten a proper backrest, hookah and frogbowl and more importantly gotten myself a Salacious Crumb...but write more about him in another post.

After the throne was done, the next step was to make the additional accents which were comprised of the animal hide rugs and throw pillows that were randomly draped and scattered on the throne.

For the pillows I got the idea to use molding clay from the Budget Jedi on Youtube (he’s got a cool channel with real great ideas for dioramas). I got some cheap air drying molding clay from my local bookstore and shaped me some pillows. While still malleable, I laid them on the throne so I could shape them accordingly on how they would specifically lay on top of each other and against Jabba himself. I also pressed some old socks and cloth over the tops to give them some sort of fabric texture. Once done, I left them off to dry for a couple of days.

Once dry, I proceeded to paint. First a base coat of either black or white. Then the main color, and finally some added detailing with dry brushing and washes.

And finally for the rugs I used some felt paper that I ordered online (the shipping of which actually cost more than the felt paper itself). So basically I worked with 2 colors. A dark brown one and a tan one. For the tan one, I used scissors to get the shape I wanted. I tried to make it as jagged and haphazard as possible. For the darker one I just ripped it apart to get the shape I wanted. This gave me better results as the ripped edges exposed more felt fibers.

After I got my desired shapes, I soaked the felt in water and crumpled them up to distress them even further. Then while wet, I laid them on the throne draping them over the front side and securing them with a little sticky tack to make sure they stayed down. I then placed a heavy weight on top of the throne to keep the rugs pressed down to the throne surface as I left everything to dry overnight.

And finally the next day just added more paint to the rugs to give them a more worn out dirty look. And that was that.

And with that I finally got the first section of my Jabba diorama done. Two more to go.