Fellow Masters of the Universe Classics Customizer Jonathan Barnhart (visit his page at Burning Heart Custom Toys!) recently sculpted a beautifully detailed head called “blacksmith”. It had a stern face and scruffy facial hair, with a bandanna and a round pair of goggles on top of his head. I ordered one immediately! Next was the challenge of creating a body to match.
When I think of blacksmithing, a few key images come to mind. Fire. Hammer. Anvil. Swords/medieval times. Horseshoes/the Old West. Hmm… so blacksmiths exist throughout history. Is there anything universally common about their attire throughout the ages? A simple Google search gave me a variety of reference photos.
As you can see from the samples above, one common trait they share is that they always wear a big, thick, heavy apron, often made of leather. At first I thought about sculpting one. But when I started trolling Ebay for a cheap MOTU figure, some of my top options was Mo-Larr, the Eternian Dentist from the SDCC exclusive set based on the Robot Chicken skit. I realized his tunic with the torn-off sleeves, elbow-length gloves and traditional MOTU furry leather boots would make a great outfit for an Eternian blacksmith. I ordered a loose Mo-Larr figure.
As soon as the head and body arrived, I got to work. First, I started painting the tunic in layers with a few different shades of brown, to create a worn leather texture. I did the same with the gloves, leaving them a slightly lighter shade of brown than the tunic. I painted the boots in coordinating browns. I added a black wash to all the brown to bring out the detail around seams and texture. The bare legs made the tunic look like a dress. That might be part of the humor behind the Mo-Larr/Dentist character, but it wasn’t going to work for this guy. I painted on a pair of grey pants, lending him as much dignity as any Eternian can maintain from the waist down. I painted the buttons on the tunic dark silver, as well as the little metal pick in his chest pocket. Sure, it’s a dental tool, but I thought someone like a metal craftsman might keep a similar tool handy while detailing.
The head was a lot of fun to paint. I painted his hair black. The goggles have black lenses with silver frames and brown straps. These goggles are a signature feature on this figure and I wanted to make them as bold as possible. I also painted his face in two flesh tones to accentuate the goggles, as if they left “clean spots” where they had covered his face. The color of the bandanna was a tough one. I had originally painted it light blue, but it made him look like a surgeon. I thought about grease rag red, but I wanted more contrast from his excessively brown attire. I ended up going with an olive green. It worked with the browns nicely, and provided great contrast with the goggles. I also thought that with the Eternian Palace Guards wearing bodysuits in this color, that it might be a clue to this mysterious character’s past.
Now the Weaponsmith, as decided to name him, needed accessories. I’ve had this really cool hammer floating around my custom figure fodder box for so long that I don’t even remember where it came from. (If any of you can clue me in, I’d appreciate it.)
Before and after…
Along with the hammer, I wanted to include a few more of those key images from earlier, but how could I condense what was essentially a complete blacksmith workshop into a single accessory? I didn’t want to build a diorama. But it’s not as if blacksmiths make a habit of carrying around their anvil. How can I add mobility to an accessory that is pretty much nothing but a very heavy, immovable object?
I eventually came up with the idea of Bricktop, the Weaponsmith’s solid metal, rhino-shaped companion; a Meteorb who decided to will his spherical shape into that of an anvil so that he could find some purpose in life. Bricktop can breathe fire, always allowing the Weaponsmith to heat metal to white-hot temperatures an arm’s length away. Bricktop’s metal hide can withstand the pressure of deep space, so he doesn’t mind the pounding hammer or hot steel on his back.
To create Bricktop, I bought one of those non-posable, realistic animal toys by Schleich. I used Sculpey to sculpt his top half into the shape of an anvil, and added some distress marks for texture. I painted him dark silver, and washed him with black to accentuate the distression.
I used Mo-Larr’s tooth-pulling plyers, removing the tooth and gluing them around a spare sword. I thought about leaving them chrome, but thought they’d look more “used” if I painted them a dark silver, too. I added a bright orange glow to the sword to make it look heated.
Their story: Meldor the Weaponsmith comes from a long line of blacksmiths. Their craft has been passed down from father to son for generations, and they have served the swordsmen of Eternia for as long as can be remembered. Great Kings such as Miro and Randor have also appreciated their wisdom, a trait also passed down through the generations. It is often said that after a King’s council would advise him to wage war, he would then go to the Weaponsmith for a new sword to lead his army, only to leave with a new sword and a plan to broker peace. This knack for counsel is a family trait dating back far longer than their blacksmithing skills; their long-forgotten ancestor is Eldor, the infinitely wise mentor of He-Ro.
Years before Meldor was born, a lone rhino Meteorb fell to Eternia. With little memory of where he came from or how to return, he wandered the planet until he fell into the service of King Miro’s Weaponsmith. Coming to the conclusion that his ability to transform into an orb was useless if he was never going to travel through space again, he willed himself into the shape of an anvil (don’t question it; he’s pretty hard-headed) and went into a partnership with the Weaponsmith. Together they were able to take their trade across Eternia, traveling with Miro’s army as he battled and secured the scattered, frayed territories under his unified banner. Eventually this Weaponsmith had a son, who became his apprentice and successor. Meldor is much like his father, though his wisdom tends to be less matter-of-fact and more wistful, much to the dismay of the gruff and abrasive Bricktop. The two of them often bicker and duel with sparring ideologies, rife with sarcasm. Bricktop reminds Meldor of his long-dead father more than he’d ever care to admit. But he doesn’t have to… Bricktop already knows.