Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Gentlemen! I have built, THIS THING!: Demon Ninja & Terror Bird

First off, I know it's been awhile since I've posted anything (exactly a month it seems) and I apologize. It's not that I've been particularly busy or short of things to write about, I've just been...kinda lazy. I partially blame XCOM: Enemy Unknown. I never played the originals, but this one made me drop off the map for a couple of weeks straight training my troops into psychic operatives and researching the best tech. But I digress. In the spirit of things I haven't done in way too long, I give you a brand new installment of Gentlemen! I have built, THIS THING!

Today I have for you a Ninjago-inspired beast and rider pair that I just call Demon Ninja & Terror Bird. The names are a bit generic I know, but a big part of the spirit of Lego is fleshing out the basics of a story line with your own imagination, so fairly simple names. Plus it sounds a lot better than "I'm not very good at coming up with cool-sounding fantasy names." This whole thing started with the construction of the Demon Ninja rider, so let's start with him.

This guy came about when I was just idly messing around with mini figure pieces whilst trying to put some finishing touches on a larger thing I was building (which may very well show up in a future installment of GIHBTT) and like a lot of things I build, it took on a life of it's own from there.

This guy started life as the Cole from Cole's Tread Assault, but I switched his gear with Kai from Kai's Blade Cycle to make him all black and gray. I had originally popped the Mummy head from the Monster Fighters set of the same name on just for a laugh, but it looks really cool under the ninja head wrap and gave me the idea to make him an evil undead ninja to begin with.

Kai provided "cursed" black swords which look great with him, but I still felt he needed a little more omph...

There we go! I call that sucker the Oni Maul because it somewhat resembles the clubs traditional Oni supposedly carried. It is quite an intimidating weapon if I do say so myself, but it has another surprise yet to unveil.

When things get tough, the Ninja can unhook the spiked head and let it swing from the chain, turning the maul into a long flail! Also, can you tell by the design I was watching the Lord of the Rings movies while building this? Sauron would love that thing!

A fierce warrior deserves a fierce mount and the Demon Ninja receives that in spades with the mighty Terror Bird! The term terror bird refers to a real family of giant (thankfully extinct) flightless, predatory birds that roamed South America during the Cenozoic era. These ten foot monsters ran down their prey on the ancient savannas and finished it off with savage kicks from the huge claws tipping their powerfully-muscled legs and crushing bites from their hooked beaks. Basically, they were bad news for anything not a terror bird in those days. My Terror Bird is designed to be a distant relative of those creatures with a fantastical twist.

Originally, I had wanted to give the bird full, massive wings so the Demon Ninja could survey his territory from on high (again, Lord of the Rings influence seeping in again), the long, angled vanes from Cole's Tread Assault would make perfect feather sections after all. Once I started playing around with designs however, I discovered that I did not have enough ball and socket joint pieces, nor enough large "filler" pieces to make the wings look good, but still retain at least somewhat realistic bird-like folding capability. So instead of a Nazgul-esque flying terror, I re-imagined the concept as desert dwelling evil ninjas taming and riding the native giant, predatory, flightless avians and ensuring no one ever tries to cross that desert again.

Terror Birds are close in physical build to their real world counterparts with with powerful legs, hooked claws for catching and holding prey and a powerful, sharp beak for tearing flesh and crushing bone. These Desert Terror Birds however sport a few differences: Their wings, though greatly stunted, are still a bit longer and more dexterous than real terror birds and they use them to both help secure prey and climb, plus they can deliver a nasty slash with the scythe-like claws at the tips. Terror Birds have also evolved long, prehensile tails that help them balance while running and can also serve as an additional limb when climbing or manipulating smaller objects.

Additionally, male Terror Birds have a two pronged claw at the tip of their tails. In the wild, this is used to help hold a female steady during mating, but Terror Bird riders have trained the males to utilize this claw in battle, using it to catch and then crush enemies, or hurl them long distances with a single twitch of the muscular tail. Females lack the grasping claw, but instead have a single sharp spine terminating their tails which can also be employed as a weapon with proper training, though generally fewer females are trained as mounts due to their less aggressive nature.

The Terror Bird has ball joints at the base of the skull, base of the neck, shoulders, elbows, wings claws, hips, knees and ankles and the jaw, toes and tail are also fully articulated with a series of varying joints. Originally, I was going to have the chain reins be loose at the end so the ninja could hold them directly, but they rattle around too much already as the bit is loose and just fits in the Terror Bird's beak.

Here's a close up of a leg to show off the joints better. Given the proper parts, I would rebuild the legs to be sturdier (besides giving him full wings) because they are a bit weak in spots right now and pop apart or cause the bird to collapse if stretched too far in a pose. For example, look at the knee joint. See the gray rod peaking through just below the gear at the end of the thigh? That's because I fudged a few ball socket joints by using one of those single ball pieces that only a rod can connect to (for an example see, the "ball" in the ball and chain of the recent Monster Fighters Ghost set) and attached it via rod to another piece. The result is a not very stable joint and little things like that just drive my Lego OCD nuts until I fix them. Still, the foot claws came out nice and can totally grab mini figures pretty tightly.

The saddle for the Demon Ninja has enough room for him to either sit or stand and a place for the Oni Maul to clip to on the back. There are also a spear and an ax on either side of the saddle that can be removed (with a bit of hassle) to give the ninja further armament if he needs it.

I'm pretty proud of this one. It took a while to build to my liking, and there are still a few things I'd like to iron out about it's design, but if I saw this as a set in stores when I was a kid, I would have flipped out about it. I really like the Demon Ninja's overall design and think the Oni Maul came out especially nice, it's kind of hard to build a weapon for a mini figure that doesn't look ridiculously over-sized or silly, but this one has justifiable reason for it's size and looks nice no matter how he wields it.

That's it for the Demon Ninja & Terror Bird entry, but I have two more things built that I really want to show you guys and a third that is about 98% complete so even though it was a long hiatus, Gentlemen! I have built, THIS THING! will have more coming down the pipeline soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment