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  • Writer's pictureArthur Ball

TMNT - Statues

This mean green fighting team was made especially for Jason Mathis, the owner of The Battle Grounds, a really big Gaming/Comic/Toy store in Dalton, GA. He found me at Heroes Con and asked for a set of Maquettes (small statues) of his beloved Turtles. I was up for the challenge. Honestly I think they are the best work of art I have ever created up until this point in my life. (I hope to outdo myself soon.)

Jason was cool enough to give me free range to make them however I wanted to. I didn't want the cookie cutter turtles from the 80's and as much as I love them, I didn't want to just reproduce the turtles from the Nickelodeon cartoon I wanted turtles that were my turtles. (I just want a pet turtle.) Plus I also had to decide how I would make them. I decided to mix and match. These Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles each have a bit of 80's influence and some of the modern cartoon's qualities that I love. Plus I like bottom heavy feet on my characters. (CANKLES for everyone!)

I made them all have an interlocking base that create a sweet sewer scene when put together. It also allowed me to paint and sculpt each turtle separately as apposed to clumping them all together on one base. (Clumping is never good.) Each turtle started off as a small ball of aluminum foil wadded up around a bit of wire. I had to get those distinctive heads just right and capture expressions that helped define the turtles even without their tell tale bandanas. Each turtle sculpt is made out of wire, heavy duty aluminum foil and Sculpey III (Polymer clay).

  • Leonardo I made with that serious face. He's the leader.

  • Michelangelo has the wacky face. He's the wacky one.

  • Donatello looks stressed. He's the nerdy anxious type.

  • Raphael looks angry. He's the tough brooding motha "SHUT YOUR MOUTH!" I'm just talking about Raph. We can Dig it. (That was a Shaft reference.)

I didn't take enough process images, so the base and the turtle are a bit mixed up in the image above. (sorry) I think you'll get the idea. I made each turtle on his own base, so I could support the armature and freely move around each one to sculpt and paint. Some parts like the hands and the stuff they hold were made separately. Then I'd add those in later. The backdrops were designed in Adobe Illustrator. Then I printed that out and pasted it to a piece of MDF (really dense wood particle board). The bases are MDF also. Then I cut the backdrops apart from each other and carved the brick and letters using my Proxxon rotary tool and some hand files. I used glue, dowels and clamps to connect the painted sculpt and backdrop together. It would have been a pain in the butt too if the backdrop was in the way the entire time. (I have big hands.) Each turtle posed it's own little challenges.

Leonardo was the first one I did. That kinda made him the hardest, because I had to make everything for him without knowing how it would turn out. I used a popsicle stick for his deadly Katanas.

Michelangelo came next and I had to order a delicious meat lovers pizza, so I could study how the cardboard box was folded. Then I reproduced that in miniature with a cereal box. (The cereal was also delicious.)

Donatello I wanted holding one of his gadgets, so I made a turtle phone. I also wanted his body to differ from leonardo, so I kinda gave him a gut. He's in the lab or workshop all day. I figure he'd be the fattest of the four turtles.

Raphael was the last and his Squaty Potty pose was a pain in the butt to sculpt. (Ha, Get it?) Plus his Ninja Sais were a struggle. If I made them out of wood they wouldn't look right. I scored the world for the right thing to make them out of. After an exhaustive search I ended up using aluminum knitting needles and ancient ninja magic. They came out pretty good.

I'm so thankful to Jason Mathis for paying me the to make these for him. Go check out his store, The Battle Grounds in Dalton, GA. It's EPIC!

Every challenge making these was a welcomed learning experience. I've already got ideas for a Krang, Shredder, Bebop and Rocksteady set and an April, Splinter, Casey Jones and Metal Head set if Jason ever wants to ad more to his Above Average collection. Cowabunga!

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