Friday, March 4, 2011

Driving a chariot down memory lane

Well, early this week my friends at Gorgon Studios sent me a couple of shots of a painted version of their next release, the Etruscan chariot. I was very excited to see the paint job Dave Pauwels had put on this ancient war machine. Why so excited Dave? We've never heard you express an interest in Etruscans before...

Well, let me tell you a little secret.

About 18 months ago, Hank and Dave approached me with a little challenge they thought I might be interested in. As part of their developing Etruscan range of miniatures, they wanted to include a chariot. The freelance sculptor they work with, Steve Saleh, is great with sculpting models of all historical periods, plus sci-fi and fantasy figures (including the latest Empire State troopers from GW, some of my favorites). While he loves the organic flow of cloth and flesh, he's not too keen on "straight line work" as it's know in the trade (apparently). Enter the guy who loves to work with plasticard and straight line conversions and scratch-builds.

That's me.

So, after taking a look at the source images that Hank and Dave showed me from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we started talking about a few changes we'd need to make to some of the proportions to take the perceived "ceremonial chariot" and turn it into a two-man fighting platform. Note: There's a little bit of debate in the ancient scholarly world as to whether or not the Etruscans ever used chariots in battle, but Gorgon wanted to give it a go anyway.

With some careful cutting, measuring, cutting again, carving, and a smidge of putty work, I was able to come up with the basis for their chariot. Steve Saleh was the man who added all the organic detail to the chariot, the intricate bronze bas-relief work, as that's a bit beyond my current sculpting level. Just over a year ago, I handed over my completed "masters".

Here are some photos I took once the work was done. The horses and stand-in "crewman" are from Gorgon Studios' Etruscan range, sculpted by Steve.

Below you can see the parts I provided for casting. You may notice there's only one wheel. That's because in the master molding stage they can create multiples of the wheel to go into the production molds. There was no may I was going to try and build two of these nine-spoked wheels. An odd number of spokes makes the whole thing very difficult build, and apparently it was a feature peculiar to the Etruscans. Lucky me.

So there you have it. I'm pretty darn stoked to know that a project I worked on for a few friends has now, after being considerably embellished by a sculptor I'm a big fan of, is about to reach the real world market place. There's something about seeing the words "This elegant machine of war was designed and sculpted by Steve Saleh and Dave Taylor" that has me tickled pink.

If I can get a hold of one before Adepticon, I'll try and get it painted up in time for the painting competition.



  1. Congratulations! This is really nice.

  2. well done Dave, you provided a great platform for the sculpter to use.
    Look forward to seeing you painting a few soon
    Peace James

  3. That is lovely work. I'd purchase it for a commander's base, once I finally get around to an Etruscan army. I suspect others out there would use it that way too, even if not for a fighting unit as such.


  4. She's a beauty!

    I love the Chariot model. I want to use it with my Ancients. Must finish my Celts and EIR first though :P

  5. Looks great, Dave! I'm looking forward to see what you enter in this year at Adepticon.

  6. I saw the real chariot last time I was in New York. Very cool.

  7. Thanks everyone for the comments, much appreciated! : )


  8. Dave,

    I was especially stoked to see the line about current thinking regarding whether Etruscans actually used chariots - it was good of you to clarify.

    I'm of two minds. I certainly don't mind seeing expanded mini ranges, but I also like seeing the history taken into account.

    Ah well - take care and see you (from a distance, I'm sure!) at Adepticon.