How a figure is made

As well as the information below, click here to see a documentary about the making of the zoetrope diorama, which includes information about figure-making
Peter Cole explains how a Replicant figure comes into existence…


Nothing comes from nothing: I get a lot of the ideas from paintings, illustrations in old books and so on. Matthew Thair, who does graphic work for Plastic Warrior Magazine, is a plastic collector and converter who has an excellent library of historical and military books which he generously makes available to Replicants for research. The 18th century Royal Marine is in a pose which has cropped up in numerous works.


With these illustrations in mind I draw up a design sketch in roughly the position required.


For the next stage we call on the expertise of Peter Evans who, in his other existence, is a costume designer for television, stage, theatre, radio and bingo halls. He supplies us with authentic uniforms and equipment, and photos are taken in the actual poses we require. This means that the detail on the figure is as accurate as we can get it, and also that a human being is anatomically capable of standing in the pose.


Using the photos, a wire armature is made in the desired position. It may surprise you to learn that the figure is created from the weapon outwards. To ensure the weapons are completely accurate we call on another expert, Bill Harriman – who you may have seen on television in his capacity as arms and armour expert on the “Antiques Roadshow”. He kindly provides us with original specifications for the weapons depicted. From these specs a 1/32 scale miniature weapon is fabricated in metal and attached to the armature.


Then some stuff called Milliput, a putty which hardens, is added…


And then the basic form is created using stuff called modelling wax – similar to plasticene.


Further work is done with the wax until a complete master figure is created.


The figure then passes through several complex and confusing industrial stages until a metal cavity is arrived at. The wax master figure is destroyed in the process but the armature and weapon are retrieved for re-use.


The cavity is assembled into the final mould and test shots are taken. Detailing and engraving can be carried out on the final mould at this stage. Then it is ready for injection-moulding.

Replicants would like to thank the above-mentioned people for their invaluable assistance