First priority is my figure of Nausicaa on Kai, which I had assembled more of prior to my departure. I had previously stuck on the saddle bags and then put the girl's gun in her hand. The rifle has a projecting lug which is supposed to marry into a corresponding hole in Nausicaa's right hand, but here I encountered my first real difficulty with the figure as I could not get the two to fit together snugly. After a number of tries I finally decided to cut the lug off and fit the gun in place directly against her hand. This was not easy as the pieces had not been designed for direct contact and I needed to do some rather fine filing before I managed to get a satisfactory fit. The thumb and fingers on the hand had taken a bit of a battering in the process and once I had the gun glued in place I repaired them (and extended the thumb slightly, as it was a bit stumpy) with some Humbrol Plasto.
Once the gun had been glued into place (note, for rigidity it really needs to be glued down on the tunic too) I got out my spools of crafting wire and slipping some of this through the holes I had earlier drilled in the rifle mountings, I created two small rings by shaping the wire around a toothpick then clipping the excess off with a pair of nail clippers. These rings would hold the rifle sling, which I had originally intended to make out of a strip of Milliput as I had done with the stirrups. But, remembering how easily one of the Milliput stirrups had broken earlier in the build, I then thought about using a paper strip stiffened with white glue or plastic soup (plastic melted in liquid polystyrene). I attempted this, but the effect was rather poor. Then I found out a thin piece of plastic sheet and cutting a strip I carefully warmed and bent it with the heat from my desk lamp. Managing eventually to get a shape that would fit neatly through the metal rings I put the strap in place then bent the ends around the rings by carefully applying my pyrogravure to the plastic. Using a hot tool with plastic calls for patience and good judgement as it's easy to overdo it and melt the plastic into a shapeless blob. Little and often is the best approach, I think.
The strap was in place and with a little glue and some pressure with my tweezers the ends were sealed in place... hooray! For two days I was satisfied, but after that I began to dislike how the strap stuck forward so conspicuously. It seemed out of place as Kai is depicted running, and even the thickest strap would be blowing in the wind. So, out came my pyrogravure once more and after half an hour's careful heating and bending I got it into the slightly more wind-blown state seen in the pictures. I then applied glue to the rings to hold them rigid and then painted the rings in Games Workshop's Boltgun Metal, shaded with Nuln Oil, while the strap was done in Citadel White Base shaded with Army Painter Soft Tone ink.
Next to be fitted were the reins. In the instructions you are told to fit the reins in the hands before putting the rider in the saddle, but I had not done this as I had originally intended to replace the rather bulky-looking reins with something thinner. Perhaps the trouble with the rifle sling had made me wary of attempting this, though, as using the supplied reins now seemed the easier option. I now discovered why it would have been best to fit them in place before assembly, as it took some time and a great deal of cursing before I finally got them in place in Nausicaa's hand and on Kai's head. The painting also had to be done very carefully as the reins came very close to Nausicaa's tunic. Anyhow, the reins were painted in Humbrol red acrylic, then shaded with Army Painter Soft Tone.
As can be seen in some of these pictures I have also fitted Nausicaa's long sword into place, but I'll leave descriptions of the final fittings and painting until later.