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Re: Work In Progress--Deryni Action Figure Project (was Duncan Action Figure)

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[Note to newcomers to this thread:  When I first started it, I was hosting photos on a website that I no longer have access to, and those picture links are now broken. However, photos from a few posts into Page 2 of this thread onwards should be visible, since they are posted on my Flickr site. I'm sorry for the missing photos at the beginning of the discussion. -- Evie]

OK, so I've wanted to make a Duncan action figure for quite a while, but hadn't found the ideal doll or action figure to base it on.  There was a decent looking Anakin Skywalker 12" action figure that looked like it could be modified to look Duncan-like, and it had nice articulated joints suitable for action poses. It was, alas, $65 at the very cheapest, and I wasn't quite that obsessed with having a dress-up Duncan McLain! 

So this weekend, I found a Ken doll on clearance at Walmart.  At only $10, I figured if I messed it up, I wouldn't be too heartbroken.  The hair color was all wrong, but hopefully it can be dyed darker, and the eye color is right.

Long view

Close up

Yes, it's an "Ultimate Boyfriend Ken."  Yeah, go ahead and laugh.  I certainly did!   :D

There was a brown-haired male doll on clearance as well, but it from the Bratz Doll series, I think, with an oversized head that put me more in mind of a Bobblehead, and dark eyes that might have been vaguely blueish, but certainly not the "striking blue" mentioned in KK's books.  So Ultimate Boyfriend Ken it was, especially once I realized that he talks!  Yes, he's got this heart-shaped button in his chest that you can push to record a 5-second phrase, and then if you push one of three buttons on his back, he will parrot it back in either your own voice, a deeper "male-sounding" voice, or a high-pitched child's voice.  Yeah, guess who spent the morning recording Latin phrases and playing them back at all three pitches?   ;D

OK, so once he was home and out of the box, it was time for the makeover to begin, because really, who wants a cheesy looking Ken doll on their Deryni shelf?  I found my sewing kit and some leftover fabric from my Servants of Saint Camber costume, and began work on a tiny T-tunic that could serve as either an undertunic or an alb.  And while rummaging through my supplies, I also found some ivory ribbon, so that and a small metal ring became a belt.

Tunic/alb and belt

Wearing tunic and belt

Closer view

The tunic goes to just below the knee, which makes it a perfect length to wear either under a shorter dress tunic (probably paired with some hose or trews once I get a chance to make any) or else under some gray Camberian robes.  If I make two white tunics, I will probably use some narrow ribbon to make sleeve trim on one of them, as I found several lovely shades of ribbon that are too narrow to do much of anything else with but which would work admirably as trim for a miniature tunic.  Or if/when I get around to making full bishop's kit for Duncan, a plain white tunic could double as an alb worn over the cassock and under the chasuble and other regalia.  I don't currently have any fabric suitable for trews or chausses, so for now he's stuck with the "indigo-dyed trews" he came with.  I suppose I could cross-garter them with ribbon for a more period look, though he really needs a pair of boots instead of plastic loafers.  If I can find some scraps of thin leather and/or leather-look fabric, that might be the next accessory on the list.

Once he had some decent starter clothing, it was time to work on the hair a bit.  When he came out of the box, his hair had been shaped and was coated with something that made it rather helmet-like  It was like he'd had it heavily hair-sprayed.  Since I plan on trying to dye it brown, I wanted to see if I could wash out whatever it was that was holding the hair in place, and hopefully fluff it out a bit so that the dye could get between the individual strands better.   Once I did, he looked like this:

OK, that was a little bit of an improvement, but still, the haircut looks too modern.  Should I try cutting the bangs (aka "fringe," for those of you across the ocean) before I dye it?  Of course, if I mess up the haircut, it won't grow back out again!  Decisions, decisions....  But upon careful inspection, it does look like that modern fringe could be clipped back just a tad to resemble a more medieval-looking bowl haircut.  But I don't want to overdo it, because I'm really not a fan of that over-shorn Norman look, never mind how apropos it is for the 12th Century!

Will post more pictures once I've tried modding the hair.   In the meantime, not pictured are a spiffy new leather belt made from a piece of leather bootlace and a brass jewelry finding, and also some twine I'm soaking in red and blue food coloring in hopes that I can make a Servants of Saint Camber cincture for his Schola robes.  I'll take a picture of both and upload them here once I get a chance, but as the subject line says, this is an ongoing project. 

10/11/2017--ETA: notice at beginning of post.

Would Duncan have done the bowl cut, or the "Roman" cut that has been mentioned in the books that I believe Morgan would have worn?  With the little tonsure in the back?

It's going to be closer to the Roman cut, now that I've had a closer look at it.  There is actually more hair rooted on one side than the other to give it that modern cut's shaping, and when I started to trim the bangs (very carefully, only a millimeter or so at a time), I discovered that there is no way to cut directly across from the shortest section of one side to the shortest section of the other without making it far too short over the forehead.  It would be so thick on one side  that it would stick straight out at an unnatural angle.  So instead I simply shortened the bangs just a little bit.

As for the tonsure, we discussed that in chat tonight.  He's got rooted hair, so if I tried to actually shave or otherwise remove hair from a spot, he'd have ugly holes in his scalp.  So instead I'll be making him little skullcap style hats to match his wardrobe, and you can pretend he's got a tonsure underneath.  Either that, or I could paint a thumb tack in a matching flesh tone (or cover it with flesh-colored Sculpey) and stick it into that little spot at the back of his head where his hair naturally forms a tiny "cowlick"....  :-D  Unless someone has a better suggestion?  I'll take pictures of the back of his head once it's dyed and dried.  (Assuming, of course, that the dye actually takes.)

Remember a few years ago when they said that Barbie & Ken wouldn't be marketed as a couple any more?

There was a joke going around that Ken and GI Joe had bought an old Victorian farmhouse in the mountains that they were going to fix up and run as a bed & breakfast.

Believe me, if I could have found a GI Joe with the right coloring to mod, I'd have gone that route.   :D  My daughter used to have some sort of skateboarder action figure who would have been perfect, only she accidentally left him outside one day and he became a dog toy.  :(

Speaking of daughters, mine is making Action Figure Duncan meow right now....

So, on to the hair.  The bad news is, plastic hair doesn't take hair dye very well.  In a way, plastic not taking dye well is also the good news, since that also means that any dye that got on his "skin" wiped off right away with a wet cotton swab and a bit of soap, so there's no chance of Duncan ending up looking like Rasoul.  But this means that the dye effect is hardly noticeable in his hair, even though I was using "Darkest Brown" hair coloring (this being my own shade--yes, we dyed our hair together tonight!).  Even with the coloring mousse left in his hair after I had already showered mine out (I'm estimating it was left on him at least 30-45 minutes?), it looked like it was starting to darken nicely, but once I rinsed out the brown mousse his actual hair was only slightly darker than it was originally.  I can tell a slight difference, but it's not as brown as I'd hoped it would turn out.  Fortunately I've always envisioned Duncan as having hair on the lighter end of the brown spectrum, since I think it's about as dark as I'm going to be able to get it with hair dye.

I'll post pictures, but due to the flash, they actually came out looking slightly blonder than he looks if you saw him in person.  As my daughter put it, "So he's gone from being a golden blond to being dirty dishwater blond?"  The back of the hair also ended up getting some paler streaks in with the darker bits, so it looks like he's got some natural highlights.  Maybe it's summertime and he's been out riding a lot.  :D

Front view.  You might be able to tell from this shot that it's a slight bit darker than the bright golden blonde it used to be.  Or you might not.  Le sigh.

Right side of hair.  The original hairstyle was very short on this side and then suddenly turned into "floppy fringe."  I just trimmed the front part a bit so that the angle would be a bit less drastic and his hair wouldn't flop over his eyes.

Left side of hair.  This was originally a little longer than the right side, although fairly short in the section in front of the sideburn before it suddenly swept down into a sort of "V" shaped fringe.  I basically just clipped off the base of the "V" and tried to blend it in with the shorter side hair a bit more, but I couldn't go too short with it because of how it curves out from the scalp and because the hair is actually thicker on the left (Duncan's left, that is...the viewer's right).  If I cut it too much shorter, what was left would have stuck out from his head like a diving board, so I tried to avoid doing anything too drastic.

Top rear view.  See the little 'cowlick' that would make a great spot for a tonsure if only it were a little bigger?

And yes, I was very careful not to have any water flowing over his torso, so his recording mechanism still works.  Now I just need to convince my daughter she needs to get him to meow in Latin.

Oh, as for the Servants of Saint Camber cincture cords I tried to dye with food coloring, I ended up having to try two dye baths, the second with more concentrated dye, but I still ended up with medium blue and pink rather than sapphire blue and crimson.  Oh well...maybe I can find some suitable cords at the crafts store.  I went ahead and tried twisting the newly dyed twine into a cincture cord anyway, just to see if I could get it to look right.  It's not too bad, aside from looking a bit more washed-out than I'd like.  More pictures later.


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