A monstrous piece of Gears of War history...
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Recently we brought you an exclusive interview with TriForce Vice President Drew Seldin. With your pallets wet from the tease, we figured we'd surprise our readers with the first release in their line of high-end collectibles: The Locust Drone Design Maquette.
Drones are the backbone of the Locust Horde and as such, were a quintessential component of the Gears of War design process. Chris Perna, Art Director for Gears of War at EPIC Games, wanted his creation to be realized perfectly. After some hard work and his first bout into the clay sculpting realm, Chris had modeled a bust so fearsome, so terrifying; his art team may even still have nightmares about it.
TriForce recreates that Design Maquette flawlessly for casual fans and Gearheads alike. The first of their high-end collectible Gears of War series, the piece is limited to 500 worldwide, each numbered for your own unique piece of Gears history.
PACKGING: The packaging for the Maquette may seem lackluster at first, but it’s the subtlety of it that really catches the eye. A fully black, rectangular box measuring 22" x 13" x 12" encases the menace. The front of the box bears the Locust Sigil, an Iron Cross design as well as the Gears of War 2 logo. Below the Sigil, the box sports the name of the piece as well as its sculptor’s name, Chris Perna. Each side of the box has a black on black watermark style picture of a Drone; taken straight from the game. One side gives a bio on our cave dwelling friend while the other just takes a full black approach.
The back of the box carries the meat of the information available with info from Triforce and a quote from Chris Perna about the piece; part of which reads, "I wanted to give the artists something to touch and see so that they could further realize the character in CG." He sure did, possibly along with some fear packaged in for good measure.
When pulling the underground denizen from his cardboard coffin, one will notice that the inner foam shell is branded. At first, I joked about this similar to "who brands their foam? I mean really?" It was after a few minutes that the true beauty of the branded foam soaked in. The sheer quality of this product hit like a ton of bricks. Even the foam is unique and special. It can only be described as icing on a polystone cake. Furthermore, it made me wish that more collectible companies branded their foam. Good job guys, you set the bar for everyone else.
SCULPT: I pointed out earlier that Chris Perna hand sculpted this piece himself. You can't get more authentic Gears of War art than that. The piece is astounding in this respect. One thing I noticed immediately was the "ear" canals. I'd always wondered if Locust heard like we humans, but ear canals were never really visible on the in-game models or the other memorabilia out there. Yes, they have ears... sorta.
Chris took no shortcuts when it came to the sculpting of the Horde footsoldier. Each crevice and wrinkle in the skin is present. The heavy veins on the Drone's neck and the scales crawling up his skull provide detail that even the games couldn't. The creases across the septum are much more pronounced and show rigidity nothing short of an ornate, yet sturdy battle helmet. Nostrils seem to have once held a nose in place, but no longer – perhaps a nod to evolution in the Hollow. Teeth are mangled and crooked – the Locust obviously know nothing of orthodontics or just simply don't care. The Drone's eyes, sunken in and recessed, capture the unending ferocity and drive of the horde. One always had to question if the Locust slept at all.
The stories of Seran children being kidnapped from their beds by humanoid boogeymen probably wouldn’t hold a light to seeing a Drone in person. Chris obviously wanted to reflect this in his sculpt when he chose a 1:1 scale. That's right; the Maquette wasn't scaled at all and stands at an astonishing 19 inches tall. When holding it next to a human head, it's understandable that you, plus a Drone, plus a dark alley is not the place to be.
I grabbed a Drone figure by NECA's 7 inch line to give you an idea of just how big this piece is (pictured above).
A firm, mechanical looking base supports the lower half of the Maquette. A part I really loved about this piece is the obvious sculpting process that screams from every nook and cranny. The lower portion of the Maquette shows the carving marks and scrapes from tools used to chisel the clay away. Part of the art exhibited in the piece is seeing and understanding how Chris created the exceptionally grotesque from an amorphous hunk of clay. I'd have to say that he did a fine job for his first journey into the sculpting medium and it shows overall.
PAINT: As if a breath-taking design wasn't enough, Jordu Schell, lead Art Director for James Cameron's Avatar, created and compiled the paint scheme for the Locust Drone Design Maquette. The attention to detail didn't stop with Chris and details that didn't exist prior are added with industry expertise. The overall scheme of Drone exhibits a slimy, living quality. I imagine Jordu asked himself, "what would this underground being look and feel like?" It's a sheen that comes off almost as fake. When you realize that your normal Locust Drone doesn't see the light of day and lives in a cave, it's then that you understand why he appears wet and covered in condensation. It's like a slimy silicon looking similar to Fox Entertainment's Predator's skin – ie, almost reptilian in nature, but not scaley.
The Drone's teeth are wretched and rotting; gums covered in infection. Dirt and grime layer the lips. Given the vast structures players witnessed in Gears of War 2, you start to wonder about a grub’s eating habits and if they sit at tables like civilized humans or if they just grab and eat what they can.
One thing a painter doesn't have to worry about so much when doing 1:1 scaled pieces is the lack of needing to use extreme amounts of shading. Generally, if the right paint is used and medium is picked correctly, then you get exactly what you’re going for. Jordu obviously knows his stuff because no matter what angle one looks at the Drone, the shading vs. sheen is perfect. This is something that could easily be messed up but since TriForce knows fans want perfection, they strive to deliver. One peculiar, yet wondrous, paint application on the maquette is the blue varicose veins running along the neck. I say peculiar because not only did I immediately notice them, but I also noticed them vanish in certain spectrums of light. Much like a living creature, how a room is lit should be important factor when choosing this piece's display. Just like the branded foam, this is a feature that sets TriForce apart from any other Gears collectible available.
Lastly, the paint is possibly where I have a single complaint. I'm not to keen on the eyes. While they match the character, I'm not sure that the gold is strong enough for my liking. The eyes of the Locust have this glowing gold for the iris that is such a distinguishing and yet creepy characteristic. The gold is there, just not bright enough in my humble opinion.
ACCESSORIES: When reviewing a maquette or bust, one doesn't expect for it to come with accessories. TriForce wanted to put a little something extra with each one of their Design Maquettes. With the Locust Drone Design Maquette, collectors will receive a three-dimensional representation of the Coalition of Ordered Governments symbol, the Crimson Omen.
It's funny putting this in a review, but I'm unsure how the Crimson Omen could be improved upon from the sculpt of this piece. It literally is perfect. The teeth markings and shape of the skull couldn't possibly match anymore than they do to the in-game counterpart.
Just like its partner in crime, it comes stamped with a number signifying its existence amongst its 500 counterparts.
COST & OVERALL IMPRESSION: I can't stress how much I love this piece. Being a rabid Gearhead, I've got my own share of Gears memorabilia: figures, boxers, COG Tags, you name it. What I always thought as a price I'd never pay for something suddenly became no question. TriForce retails this bad-boy at $650.00. That seems steep and ridiculous to some, but when you see it in person, you begin to wonder why it's not more. Similar and smaller pieces fetch much higher price tags. This has easily excelled its way to the top of my Gears collection.
Without question, this is a MUST for any Gearhead, casual or hardcore. A piece of Gears of War history, I can't recommend the Locust Drone Design Maquette enough. Warning however, you may be freaked out when you see it staring at you from across the room!
TriForce's Gears of War 1:1 Scale Locust Drone Design Maquette
is available for order now at ProjectTriForce.com
For more photos of the Locust Drone Design Maquette, CLICK HERE
Review by Wes Arnold
Photography by Jeff Saylor
Review Sample Courtesy of TriForce