Do you know this man?
If you do, then you can take solace in the knowledge that I approve, at least in part, of the way in which you are conducting your life.
For the unenlightened, Thurn & Taxis is the greatest 18th century German postal system board game ever made. No, don’t even try to argue, you won’t win.
While constructing your postal routes, you lean on the deadly expertise of these four terrifying gentlemen. They are, in increasing order of deadliness, the letter carrier, the cartwright, the postmaster, and finally…
…Der Amtmann, He Who Administers.
All will witness his efficiency and despair.
I’m not going to bother trying to connect the dots for my readers relating to how I came to produce a model of Der Amtmann power bombing enchanted mail as a Christmas In March (Delivered In May) present for my friend Pablo, because even after I explained it, it still wouldn’t make any sense. It is an inside joke wrapped in a shared experience wrapped in a cravat.
Let’s just accept that this is a thing that needed to exist and move on.
As usual, the mini started with a wire armature sized up against a printed-to-scale skeleton.
I stuck this wire into the top of a cork, twisted the armature into the pose I wanted– Der Amtmann has a wide, manly mail-bombing pose– and firmed it all up with putty.
Next, I began sculpting his majestic muscles. Small putty blobs were rolled up and stuck to the skeleton.
These were then smoothed into the skeleton with clayshapers.
The same was done on the upper body, first applying putty bulk to represent his ribcage and pelvis…
…and then rounding out his Manly Paunch™.
I generally detail models from the feet upward, so after doing some quick research on 18th-century fashion, I started his outfit with some classy leather shoes.
Next I moved onto the pants; that era’s German gentlemen wore form-fitting pants, so I dressed Der Amtmann’s stunning pegs in a pair of classy slacks.
After doing some work on the torso (which I apparently didn’t photograph), I started setting up his upper body. I added wires for his arms and puttied them into place, built an empty-eye-socketed skull, and finally pressed a pair of eyeballs into it.
On top of this, I started sculpting his face; the pre-built eyes give me an unmoving landmark to make it easier to keep the face from mushing around as I work.
The stages are pretty standard by now… first we have the Ninja Mask phase…
Then the Creepy Featureless Doll phase…
Then the OH MY GOD EVEN CREEPIER featureless doll phase…
Then apparently the Tony Todd phase as I apply but don’t really shape the nose and eyebrows.
I did my best to shape the face to match the illustration, but it’s hard for me to guess what a bearded person looks like underneath, so I mostly focused on the nose and eyebrows.
Here’s where he ended up before the hair went on.
And here he is with hair.
Cower before his Amtmannly wrath.
Aaaaaaand then I went back to building clothes. Here I’m applying putty shreds to be his shirt and vest. I needed to take special care to keep applying putty to his midsection to avoid losing his Manly Paunch™ as the other areas became thicker.
With the first clothing layer complete, I applied the overcoat. I did my best to match this to the drawing, with image research helping me detail the back and coattails.
And then the hands!
We’ve done this dance before. I won’t linger on it.
As always, the hands are really ragged when they’re freshly off the blister, so they take a fair amount of cleanup.
Once they’re secure, I smooth them into the arms, and sculpt sleeves around them.
More cleanup happened after this shot, but again I forgot to photograph it.
Buttons are actually less annoying than rivets, because they’re about twice to three times as big. I sculpted holes in the clothes (pictured above) to give the teensy putty blobs something to grip into.
I asked two sculpting forums about a year ago how to put glasses on a mini, and was told that there essentially isn’t a fantastic way to do it. You can put flat discs on the face, but this works better for “slid down the nose” glasses, as keeping them in “normal position” completely blocks the eyes.
I expected this answer, but wasn’t happy with it because Der Amtmann’s distinctive look very much involves his scholarly spectacles, and leaving them out diminishes his air of authority. Fortunately, after a while, someone on Frothers suggested an unexpected inspiration for sculpted glasses:
Mr. Roosevelt has a similarly distinctive look to Der Amtmann, both being at least in part recognizable by their prescription optics. The solution applied by the sculptor of Mt. Rushmore was to sculpt the frames flush with Teddy’s face. It looks a bit odd if you over-analyze it, but if you quickly take it in, it gives the perfect impression of a light set of frames over the subject’s face.
Mine weren’t nearly as slender and understated as Teddy’s because I was sculpting in a bit of a hurry, but I’m definitely filing this for a second attempt somewhere down the line, as I think it has a lot of potential when I have the luxury of working at a more relaxed pace.
With that, the model was more or less done, and I just needed to sculpt the base-slash-hover-enabler. I had the basic idea of what I wanted from the start: a cobbled road, with a mailbox standing beside it, with a ball of Combat Correspondence being drawn out of it by the sheer force of Der Amtmann’s raw charisma; Der Amtmann would then hang off of this assembly, giving the impression of levitation.
As with building a model, I started at the bottom, flattening a wad of putty into a base and then cutting cobbles into it.
Next, I wired up a rough mailbox frame and put rough putty around it.
It was only now that I actually did some photo research on what 17th-century German mailboxes looked like…
…and discovered that they were 1) incredibly ornate, and 2) wall-mounted.
I ploughed ahead anyway, because I had already done tens– TENS– of minutes of work and it was too late to start over.
I looked at a few different mailboxes, and made my mailbox as a fusion of two different ones that I liked. Sculpting bas relief = fun.
It’s a bit lumpy here, but I cleaned it up a bit later. Sculpting clean edges without much underlying support is hard. ;_;
And then the mail ball!
There’s no trick to this– I just put a big putty wad around a small ball, then used a metal hoe tool to 1) separate out little rectangles, and 2) put envelope flaps in roughly half of them. I made sure to keep the rectangles roughly in scale with Der Amtmann himself, which means there had to be a LOT of them.
Once the main ball was done, I clipped it off of its mounting cork…
…and attached it to the (now finished) mailbox. I sculpted a thin segmented ribbon around the wire to give me a foundation to sculpt actual enveloped around later.
And then I sculpted actual envelopes around it.
I AM SO TIRED OF SCULPTING ENVELOPES.
Though they do look very pretty.
And with that, the sculpting was done, and all that remained was the paint.
And that’s how my 3rd dearest friend, Plablo the Welsh Mexican Theater Hippie, came to acquire a miniature of a 17th century German postal administrator smiting his enemies with his masterful manipulation of written communication.
Do not question this sentence. Simply accept it, and be glad that the world is slightly more awesome than it was before.