Heaven help us, it’s a Zauriel custom figure!

To those of you unfamiliar with the DC Comics character, Zauriel is an Angel from Heaven who fell to Earth to join the Justice League.  He wears gold armor and a white bodysuit covered with golden Angellic glyphs, literally protecting him in prayer.  Zauriel wields a sword of flame, a set of white wings, and an optimistic spirit.

The inside story: When Grant Morrison took over the JLA title in the 90’s, he wanted to bring back the iconic team.  That line-up included Hawkman.  Unfortunately, the character Hawkman was about to undergo a reboot of sorts, so Grant was forced to create a stand-in.  That description doesn’t begin to cover one of the most iconic and inspiring new characters to come out of 90’s comics.
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Since Zauriel was intended to be a substitute for Hawkman, it only makes sense to use a DCUC Hawkman figure as his base.  First, I removed the chest straps.  It wasn’t that bad.  They’re tacked onto his back in four spots.  It wasn’t molded or glued to his chest at all.  Next, I carved off his belt and boot details with an Xacto knife, then sanded it smooth with a low-grit sanding sponge.

I couldn’t use the Hawkman head.  If the helmet had been removable, I would have been overjoyed, but no such luck.  I had a Benes-style Superman head laying around that suited him fine.  After a few failed attempts to create a removable helmet, I finally gave up and started sculpting it onto the head itself permanently.
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Due to his unique one-piece armor, there was no way to preserve the ab-crunch articulation without compromising the character’s design.  I do my best to always preserve articulation, but in all honesty I’ve always hated the ab-crunch joint, so gluing it solid didn’t bother me at all.  I then sculpted the armor as a flush piece, and then I carved the dove symbol into it, all the way down to the torso’s plastic.  I also sculpted the wristbands and boot cuffs to roughly the same thickness, and then cut into them as well.  Once the armor was hardened, I poured a little resin in the dove symbol to fill in the muscle lines.  I can’t believe I’ve never noticed this before, but Zauriel has little wings on his ankles!  I took snippets off of the Hawkman helmet’s wings and glued them on his ankles.  Once the sculpting was complete, I covered the entire figure with white primer.

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After it dried, I started painting the gold armor parts, and then the white.  I left his skin (from the neck up) a flat chalk white, but the wings and bodysuit were painted in a pearlescent, metallic white.

Next came the Angellic glyphs.  I had made a Zauriel figure a few years ago, and I was never satisfied with the way the glyphs came out.  They were too big and chunky, lacking in elegance.  I didn’t want to make the same mistake again, which was born out of me losing my patience after hours of minutia with a fine-tip brush.  My solution was to find the finest-tipped gold paint pen I possibly could.  I checked out a few hobby stores before I came across some gel pens.  I brought one to test it out.  It had the effect I wanted, but it took a couple of days to dry fully.  I would do one small section at a time, let it dry for a couple of days, then clear coat it.  I brought Zauriel with me everywhere I went.  I spent more than a few evenings at my girlfriend Jeanie’s house, with Zauriel in one hand and a gold gel pen in the other, and my cell phone on my knee open to a web page full of runes.  I did my best to replicate them, but most of the time my hand would slip into something unintelligible to all but the Angels.

On days when I waited for his glyphs to become smudge-proof, I worked on the helmet and sword.  The sword was from a MOTU weapons pack.  I sculpted the flames on, and then I painted it in layers of red, orange and yellow.

Eventually I drew the last of the glyphs, glued the head on, and gave him a healthy dose of flat-finish clear coat.

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