In an EXCLUSIVE feature, Robert Harrop Designs provide Doctor Who Action Figures Online with a rare insight into the model making process for the company’s up and coming Doctor Who Handpainted figurine, the Tetrap.

We’ll be tracking this iconic monster from start to finish, updating this page regularly with all the details from Dan Buckley, operations director at Harrop Designs.

Stage 1: Research

Before the sculpt can proceed; a good amount of research and design has to go into each and every project, in this case, Tetrap Urak from ‘Time and the Rani’, a Sylvester McCoy episode from 1987.  Most of which, particularly with Doctor Who, will come from scrutinising the relevant episodes.

Our mantra has always been one of obtaining the most accurate portrayal of the characters, which means a ‘warts and all’ approach.  Whether it is the weathered and worn appearance of a well-used 1970’s Tardis, to the seams in a Yeti costume, it all goes in and never polished up.  We want to include what is seen on the screen, not an airbrushed cleaned up version of the real thing.  Not only that, if we don’t, then the fans will quickly point out the shortcomings because it is them after all that we are aiming to please.

Once the brief has been set, including pose and scale, this must then all be approved by the licensor BBC.  With the BBC’s approval all the relevant material can then be been accumulated and the sculptor, in this case, Mike Rogers, can then proceed.

Stage 2: Sculpting

The first thing a sculptor must do is build a maquette, or armature, which will help to determine the correct pose, maintain scale and anatomy and to add strength. Layers of modelling wax can then be applied, building up gradually and adding finer and finer detail as the sculpture progresses.

The progress of the sculpt is carefully monitored and regularly checked by Dan Buckley and Creative Director Matt Buckley and any amendments made.  Here we see the completed sculpt of Tetrap sculpted by Mike Rogers.  However, before we can proceed, the sculpt must again be approved by the BBC.

With the thumbs up from the BBC, the sculpt can then proceed to the next stage which is mould making.  First, a seal of plasticine is placed around the sculpt and bleeds added to alleviate any possible areas where air could be trapped. A tube is then added to encircle the sculpt and sealed thus ‘cottling‘ the sculpt in an airtight container.  Once sealed, liquid rubber can then be carefully poured into the sealed container completely immersing the sculpt and then allowed to cure.

Part 2

We continue from our instalment where and follow the process from mould making to the painting studio.

With thanks to our friends at Robert Harrop Designs.