Monday, November 19, 2012

Midnight Series and la planification. And a word on figures.

I went on record recently committing to build Downton Abbey (Highclere Castle), to the best of my ability. I'm certainly aware of the daunting task it will be, but it's going to be a fun challenge. One reason I wanted to put it down as a committment was that doing so helps me stay focussed. There is a latent sense of expectation at best, and at worse, always the threat of being asked "whatever happedn with ___ "? As you know, I can get distracted fairly easily and doing this helps me stay on task.

Along those lines, there are also some other works that are in the planning stages. For some of these, I need to plan well in advance because it involves ordering parts or having something made. In a few cases, I am having custom made figures created to place into the scene. As you know, I am not a "doll" kind of guy and refer to them as figures. Typically when I see them placed into a scene, no matter how well done the scene was before the thing entered the scene, illusion is no longer suspended and what I see looks like..... a doll.

But there are situations when figures can enhance a scene greatly. There is a way to place them into the scene. If they are added as an accompaniment to the scene, placed in a way that allows them to mellow out a scene, add to the mystery, or even enhance the realism of a situation, they are more than welcome. The problem comes when they are placed front and center and the main focus goes directly to a face that is clearly not real.

As you know, I have several different tracks of design: I build classical architectural pieces, modern architecture, and disparate things like tree houses and Japanese scenes. Another I like to do is "scenes" that aren't really any particular design but are based more on fantasy, science fiction, or literature. I have a series of more "edgey" pieces that I call the Midnight Series. These involve darker themes, perhaps some more risque, Gothic, horror, or haunting scenarios.

Staging shot for the Cask of Amontillado, 1/12 scale, and the use of two figures

One of the upcoming scenes in the early planning stages and that will require the use of figures is Nosferatu. The dracula story is well known and some of the archetypes in that story have survived Victorian London and linger with us today. My treatment of this story is influenced heavily by Nosferatu, Werner Herzog's reworking of Marnau's 1920s classic. Relying largely on imagery--my forte--the story creates suspense in scenes of ....waiting. Dread and doom form in the absence of explanation and that is what I am hoping to capture. Dracula, played by Klaus Kinski, certainly is going to get a figure and I am vetting out candidates now to take on the job to my requirements.The maker has been located!

Dracula, portrayed by Klaus Kinski, in Herzog's 1970s film Nosferatu

Dracula and Mina

The other influence is of course Bram Stoker's novel. I'll admit, the brilliance of the novel upfront as Harker travels to meet the Count for the first time descends a bit into a mushy melodrama toward the middle but there is no denying the shocking power of this book as it became a sensation in 1897. Having just listed my two influences, I have also always enjoyed the Coppola film from the early 90s. The imagery--there we go again--trumps an otherwise minor mess of a film, but one with a great score to back it up and gorgeous characters. The other figure will likely be Mina. I probably will not do Lucy. I have not decided yet whether to use the same maker for both, but I probably will, depending how the various scenes are constructed. There will be several scenes, viewed from different angles.

Mina, played by Winona Ryder

The Count, in one his guises

I have another "large-scale" piece along these lines, which I am calling for now "Murder Rooms", loosely based on a portrayal of the origins of Sherlock Holmes, revealing how he got his start questioning everything and his connections in Victorian London. But Holmes is for another time and a separate project. The piece I am creating simply borrows the title, which I found too appealing to resist. The piece is another multi-scened scenario now under construction. Featuring a New York brownstone as a standalone structure, the view through each room reveals a different aspect of a murder. I will show you more of this as it develops.

I am also in the planning stages for two slightly more modest pieces that will involve figures. One is a steampunk zombie brothel. Two figures are being created for this. They are slightly deteriorated and with the steampunk influences, I hope to make this one to shock with taste. Update 11/20 Two makers located for two of the characters !!

Another is a treatment based on the Exorcist. I am receiving proposals from doll makers doll maker located to create Regan in the scene of levity that we all know. This is the point when things quieted down during the exorcism for a moment as Merren wails out "May the power of Christ compel you!"

Finally, a treatment of the Japanese folkfear story regarding the Grudge. I hope to have my top candidate for this create a figure that shows her talent so well: with the details only she can do justice to: skin, bones, muscle, flesh color, and body structure. The challenge will be to portray someone elegantly who is both dead and yet living, without going over the top. Subtlety, subtlety, and I know she can do it. Cross your fingers that she accepts my request becuase this job has to be in her hands. Update November 20: SHE HAS ACCEPTED MY PROPOSAL!!!!! This will be soooooo cool!

As these scenes progress, I will separate them into separate chronicles so I can document the steps takena and the things done. For now, I bid you fond adieu.


  1. These ideas are BRILLIANT, Erik. You are like the Sharon Needles of the miniatures world. I'm not sure which project I am most excited about...(but I can't WAIT to see ALL of them)! Anyone who does a miniature-Exorcist room box has got my vote. I hope you will someday be able to display all of these works together in a show: Erik Goddard's Cabinet of Macabre Curiosities. I'll be first in line.

  2. Thanks John, being called the Sharon Needles of the miniatures world will always be known in my mind as a true compliment! I look forward to all of these projects and they are finally emerging as a bit closer to some of what I want to do, rather than what I think they might want. If you know what I mean? A classic artist's conundrum. Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. Good news! I woke up today to news from a certain someone in a certain part of the world that has accepted my proposal to make a figure for one of the above projects: based on the Grudge. I am so happy! More as the project evolves....but for now, a small picture to stir you a bit on a Tuesday. So happy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Hello Erik,
    Wow! I have to say you choose fantastic topics for your projects. I love the "horro" genre and can't wait to see the rooms you create. I am a big fan of your miniatures and especially love your composition and use of space and aging...basically everything I guess..
    I'm so happy people agreed to work on the figures. I can't wait to see these works of art come to life.
    Big hug,

  5. Thanks for following my blog, that's how i found yours. You are very talented!! I am looking forward to your projects with the horror theme.