WIP: Western Doctor


rockwell17th June 2015

‘Western Doctor’ is one of a series of 150 mm western figures sculpted by the late Ron Hinote of Little Generals that I bought in the late 80’s or early 90’s. Probably inspired by the same Norman Rockwell painting as the more recent Andrea kit: “Is it Serious?“. My only guide for this kit – there was no box art – is the one murky photocopy from the catalogue, blown up here to A4.

Ron’s packing was basic  – screwed up Kansas newspaper – so the kit arrived with many parts broken; mainly the legs and spokes of the captain’s chair. My first task therefore will be to repair these. I’ve already mended one set of chair legs. Quite possibly I’ll substitute thick wire for all the chair ‘spokes’ if it’s easier to do it that way.

There was no stethoscope in the box so I’m probably going to have to make one. I had a bigger scale plastic figure of Keanu Reeves from Sleepy Hollow which includes a stethoscope and very detailed doctor’s bag that I’ve kept for this project but neither of them look right.


23rd June

I’d forgotten just how much cleaning up and preparation go into these old metal figures. A lot of the surfaces are pitted and scratched and the mould lines pretty heavy. There are usually big gaps where the pieces fit together.

Lots and lots of filing and scraping later! I’ve done the trickiest part of the chair and have only got to add the legs which will hopefully be easier. I’m leaving off the arms on both figures to make painting easier.

I employed three levels of filler: Milliput for the deeps fissures, Squadron putty – thinned with cellulouse thinners – for the pitting, and finally Mr Surfacer 1200 which doesn’t do a lot of filling but shows up flaws. It’s a lot better but there are still some scratches so I might brush on some gesso before I prime, on the girls cheeks and her dress.

I’d also forgotten how hard it is to drill holes in metal. Managed to make a hole in the doc with my power drill which will take a screw. I’ve started using screws rather than wire for security to hold bigger assemblies on holders or jigs because there’s nothing worse than a model falling off when you’re working on it (at least metal is less likely to break). However I can’t seem to make holes in the girl’s feet with my drill or Dremel. Need to buy some more – harder? sharper? – drill bits

western-doc western-doc03

 27th June

Ordered 2 carbide bits off the web but stupidly chose sizes that are far too small – oh, well, they may come in useful yet. I bought a cheaper HSS bit from my local timber yard and managed to make a deep enough hole with it to glue a brass rod into the girl’s foot.

For the base I want floorboards and possibly a carpet so I’m going to glue strips of veneer onto a really nice base made by my late neighbour, Brian Hargreaves. (Brian was a carpenter and really nice man who turned several beautiful wooden bases for me in the late 80’s. I hope to use them all one day.) This is a ‘first’ for me so we’ll see how well it works.

My home made stethoscope is made from wire, tubing and Milliput – hope it looks better when it’s painted. The chair was tilting back when I assembled it so I had to extend the back legs to compensate. It’s still a bit wonky but I’ve primed it brown with Army Painter Leather and hope it’s not too obvious. I still don’t want to put the doctor’s arms on until I’ve painted his waistcoat.


30th June

Base colours blocked in, some basic shading using an airbrush. May have to change the doc’s shirt – too much light blue.

I made the wooden floor with strips of veneer but the wood texture doesn’t read that well. Would probably have got better results with balsa or soft foam sheet – but you have to try these things. Thinking about adding a circular navajo type rug for colour contrast


August 4th

A long break from painting, mainly due to a nasty flu bug which laid me low and left me with no energy. I’m sort of over it now but not fully. I hope next to attach the arms of both figures and finish off the girl – cant decide on colours for her bows or the doll.

I also stripped back the veneer to bare wood and want to have another try at achieving a more realistic floor-boarding effect.

September 2nd 2017

Well, two whole years have passed since the last entry. Work and family stuff have got in the way and this piece together with Praying Mountain Man have been sitting untouched on my workbench. It’s not quite as bad as the six year break I took but it’s still too long.

It always takes me a while to find a groove but I’ve repainted quite a bit of the Doctor figure and glued the chair to the base. I think I will try some oil paints on the figure before I glue him to the chair (yes, I know I always say that but maybe this time I actually will)

September 12

Getting closer now. Getting the Doctor seated with the stethoscope (my 3rd attempt at scratch building it – still not great but it will do) was really tricky and I had to do a lot of retouching. The Little Girl’s dress is still a bit too bright but I’m going to leave it now I’ve glued her arms on. I’ll redo her skin – maybe with oils – and then call it done, I think.

September 20th

Pretty well finished. I did try some shading with oil paints and had more success with the clothing than the skin-tones. I used Abeitlung oil paints which are really dense and fine with Orange oil and Sansodor as mediums.

The paints were incredibly easy to blend but after a while I felt I was making all the shading I’d done blend together and become too smooth and blobby. I wiped off quite a lot. (I made the mistake, I think, of doing it at the end of the day when I was tired when a new technique needs practising when you’re fresh.) But I can definitely see the advantages and the paint goes such a long way. I think I must try oils as shading on a completely flat base ground; and also maybe on a  larger scale figure first until I’ve got the hang of them better.

If we get any sunshine I’ll try and take some photos. As always there is more touching up I could do here but I want to move on. Praying Mountain Man, also assembled and primed, is next.

See the final pictures here