Guts: Black Swordsman with Custom Bird Disciple, Specters, and Diorama
- Guts
    - by Field
    - scale 1/8
    - limitation < 300
- Bird Disciple (Bust)
    - by Art of War
    - scale 1/10
    - limitation < 500

- project finished 12.2.06
- estimated value of kit alone: $300+
- pictures uploaded 12.3.06
- painter / custom sculptor: John Allred

When I decided to get this Guts kit painted, I wanted to do something extraordinary. My birthday was coming up in a week so I felt like I should treat myself and go all out! So I thought of ways to spice up this kit, and that's when I remembered I had a Bird Disciple resin bust, made by Art of War. For those that aren't familiar with it, it's a bonus item that is supposed to attach to the Guts: Black Swordsman action figure that was released towards the beginning of AOW's Berserk merchandise line-up. It's a neat little bust, but leaves much to be desired since it's so small and looks more just like a random head than anything else. You can see a stock picture of it here.

Anyhow, so originally I asked John if he could have blood and intestines pouring from his waist since there was no lower body. But instead, John suggested that he could sculpt the lower half of the Bird Disciple's body to make it a full figure. This was actually a REALLY good suggestion because the Bird Disciple doesn't die by getting chopped in half, but rather he dies from a sword swipe to the neck. And now with his whole body intact, John would be able to show this.

So he made the general shape of the Disciple's body with aluminum, and then covered it with putty to detail the curves and folds. Then he used a real buckle to imprint the buckles on his cloak. After baking and hardening the putty, he primed it, and painted it with a firey orange with brown highlights so the blood and details will have a stronger contrast. The blood spewing from the Disciple's neck was done with a kind of epoxy to add some thickness. Very nice touch if you ask me! For the belt, John just used a rubber-band that he glued into place and painted over. For the Bird Disciple's weapon, he folded a piece of thin metal to recreate the omega sign, and then used the teeth of an old hair comb for all the spikes. What a brilliant idea! And of course, he chopped the Disciple's weapon in half to follow the scene in the manga.

Then, there was the setting that we had to recreate. I sent a whole bunch of pictures to John so he could get a good idea of where this battle took place. After reviewing them, the most notable part of the scene was when the tower came crumbling down soon after Guts kills the Bird Disciple. So naturally, John and I wanted to portray this with the diorama. For the stairs, John cut the wood pieces and then plastered it to give it that stone look. He used balsa-foam to carve and sculpt the walls and rubble. After carving all the details, he primed it and painted it as you see down below. Also, if you look close, you can see feathers lying around the stairs too. Originally, John was going to use real down feathers, but the look and scale just didn't fit properly. So instead, John took it upon himself to sculpt feathers to scale and just paint them appropriately. What a cool guy. =)

And now we come to the specters... I really wanted the specters to make an appearance in this diorama. I remember reading this part in the manga and I was so terrified by these googly creatures/spirits that just annihilated everything in their paths. I thought adding this extra feature to the diorama would really add a nice Berserk touch. My only worry was that the diorama might end up looking too busy, but I think it ended up looking superb. John sculpted the specters out of putty, and then carved in a total of ten faces. Some of them are facing the viewer, and the others are facing Guts.

Lastly... is Guts himself! I've always been a fan of this kit because it's dynamic, the cape is awesome, and Guts is equipped with his cross-brow! Also, the details on the armor and accessories are excellent so I was really pumped to see John paint this baby up. And as expected, John did an amazing job. He used a piece of metal for the crossbow string so it's more sturdy, and the crossbow is also removable if I want to remove it for display (not like I ever would!). The sword blood-work was also done with a kind of epoxy to add some texture and depth. It looks absolutely gross and wonderful at the same time. =)

In the end, the diorama measures 14" x 12" x 14". A true masterpiece. John never ceases to amaze me and this new kit is proof. He turned a simple kit and bust into something of a completely different magnitude. This couldn't have been a better birthday present. I am so incredibly happy! Thank you, John, you are my hero!

(note: all pictures by John Allred, himself)


In-Progress Pictures


Finished Pictures

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