So I was lucky enough to get my hands on 2 sets of the mercenary jacks around GenCon Indy last year. I had them all built and primed in a matter of hours. except the talon. For what ever reason this jack just didn’t do anything for me. It felt too much like it was built on the Cygnar Lancer platform, and did not have the heavy hitting feel of the Renegade. So it sat. I wound up building one of them to even out my 500 point mercenary list, but I still didn’t like the jack. I was sort of bummed, I liked the stats, I liked its speed. I just didn’t dig the static model. So after a long day wasted stripping figures, I ran across the untouched Talon and finally decided to take another look at the jack. Yep it was still boring. The tip of the Stun Lance was bent and this is where it all started. I was working with some 1/16th inch brass rod for my Iron Fang Pikemen , and it looked to be the exact right size. After a few quick clips and some drilling, I had the Stun Lance looking all straight and proper. While I could have simply bent it back, I decided to reinforce it now vs. trying to correct it on a painted model. Just like normal pinning, you need to consider where weak points are on a model, and correct those spots prior to assembly and paint.
After the lance was fixed, I took a good look at the legs. They were parallel and were not showing any movement whatsoever. It felt lazy. After reading some interesting posts on the consciousness of warjacks I wanted this jack to be older and have some personality and a lot more attitude than the stock model. I also wanted a jack to look like it conveyed a sense of speed and alertness. If the talon was faster than it’s more heavily armored brothers, it had to look it. This was a real challenge; the model was very 2D and static, so where was I going to make my changes?
I actually got inspiration from the Temple Flameguard picture in Prime. I wanted the jack to be standing on a rock surveying the battlefield lance in hand and looking ready to pounce. In the end it wouldn’t be a direct translation, but the concept was close enough for me to work with.
I began by clipping the tab off of the feet. The first actual change I made, was the removal of the right leg. One of them had to come off to change the feel of the pose. I took a razor saw and started cuts on 3 sides, directly under the model, at the back of the hip and on the top of the hip. By selecting more than one cut point, I made sure I would not lose too much detail that would need resculpting later on. There would still be some. But the more I minimized the damage, the better I would feel. Sculpting is NOT my strong suit.
I chose to take off the right one because the right arm contained the weapon and the jack was more exposed on this side due to the shield in the left arm. There are many times where you just need to experiment. In this case I looked where the hip joint was and simply drilled a 1/16th inch hole. I then cut some brass rod to match. This allowed me to move the jack’s leg as if it was articulated. Bam! Instant action figure.
After toying with the removed leg got I the feeling that lifting the right leg to stand on the rock would lead to a lazier pose. So I decided to set it up further back than in the original jack. Something about the right-foot-down pose made it feel more ready to handle an incoming attack or launch and assault of it’s own. With the legs decided, I needed to fix them in place and attach it to the base. Two additional cuts were made with the razor saw on the feet, one on the bottom side of the right foot and on the top of the left. I only wanted to cut enough to allow for easy bending of the “toes” with a set of angled pliers. The modified feet created even more movement. I took a single good-sized rock from Woodland Scenics line of taluses. This stuff is great. It’s light and easily drilled, but still shows tons of detail. I then drilled another 1/16th inch hole through the rock and into the left foot. I curled the “toes” of the jack down over the rock and had the pin run through the foot into the rock and all the way into the base.
So the body was set. Minor repairs needed to be done on the hip, to rebuild the hip-box next to the groin vent. I mixed up a little green stuff and applied it with the back side of an x-acto blade. The smoothness is achieved by just a smidge of Chap-stick on the surface.
Next it was time to tackle the head. I had a good pose, but it would be ruined if the jack head was just facing front. I wanted to turn it to the right to further emphasize a degree of intelligence. This was actually easier than it sounds. The trick? Bass guitar string. A full set of strings is about 16 bucks new. If you have a bassist buddy, you can probably get them free. If you’re forced to buy them new, it’s still a good investment. That much wire will go a long way. Bend the wire prior to cutting it, as guitar wire is tough stuff and you won’t be able to bend it after it is cut. (TIP! Use REAL wire cutters. If you use standard model angle cutter, you will ruin them. Guitar string is steel, not the brass and pewter we normally cut on).
I also decided before I attached the head, that the head looked better upside down! (This is a trick blatantly stolen from my friend David42). In fact both the light jack’s heads can do double duty right side up or up side down. Something about the Talon’s weak jaw line cemented the topsy-turvy head spin. I drilled two holes in the back of the left side of the head, and in the jack itself. Due to the strength of the guitar wire, I chose to drill these deep and use the wire as the pins as well. It held on the head like a champ and now with its new spikey brow, it was already casting derision on any takers. It was starting to have the look of a hardass. The shield arm went on simply. I had its fist resting lightly on its knee to further the surveying look. The right arm needed a minor wrist tweak to give the right feel. So once again the razor saw bit into some fresh pewter this time removing the wrist at the forearm side. This would be easier to build back up than had I tried to take it off at the hand, and it gave me more room for the saw. One brass pin later, and I was almost done.
The only thing left to do was a bit of detailing. I wanted to remove as much of the lancer look as I could. I put on a tie down ring on the left shoulder with a loop of brass wire and a touch of green stuff. I had another pewter miniature that I had removed the head from for a Haley head swap, and upon looking it over; it had some great details like a backpack and a loop of rope. Some careful cutting later and I had both cleaned and glued to my jack. Adding a bit of jeweler’s chain around the right shoulder and I was done. All I had to do was wait for the greenstuff to dry where I could then sand it and prep it for priming.
Total time 120 minutes.