'Old Stoney Face': the 1:6 Halcyon Judge Dredd

Any British lad who grew up in the '70s and 80s would have probably read that seminal comic 2000AD, which first came out back in 1977, and there they would have encountered Judge Joe Dredd patrolling the mean streets of Mega City One. British comics never seem to have gone wholeheartedly down the superhero route of US comics, or warmed overly to the mad mecha of Japanese Manga, but in the Dredd stories we got a taste of them all mixed together, spiced up with a good dollop of deliciously out of place humour. The humour is for the most part ironic in that the story is set in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic USA, and Dredd is an almost humourless fascist future cop. According to one story I've read, which may or may not be true, the director Paul Verhoeven wanted to make a Judge Dredd film, but finding himself thwarted created the equally fascist, humourless but (conversely) grimly amusing world of Robocop instead. Personally I believe he is the only director that could have successfully carried the character onto the big screen with the bravura he deserves. The Stallone/Danny Cannon effort was pretty to look at, but downright embarrassing, while the latest attempt to bring Dredd to the big screen, though much better in depicting the character (nice one Karl!), and blessed with a much better story, suffered from a lower budget. Sorry lads, but a slightly pepped-up version of Johannesburg is not the Big Meg!

Anyhow, enough navel-gazing, onto the model itself. Halcyon brought out three models in this series: Dredd, curvy Psi-Judge Anderson and creepy super-villain Judge Death. Dredd, of course is the iconic figure and is depicted in a typically comic-book action pose, sculpted in the style of the artist Brian Bolland. Moreover, this is old school JD, armed with the original slimline Lawgiver pistol as opposed to the rather lumpen gun that the character now carries. According to the copyright blurb the figure came out in 1994. I can well believe it, as I've probably had this model since the late '90s, during which time it has undergone several repaints, several scrapings back and had all sorts of indignities done to it; I imagine it has as many scars as the character it represents. Anyone who read my first post on this blog will have already seen a picture of this figure, but I lost all of the others when my old computer crashed and I've therefore had another photo shoot. I had to give it a good dusting down this morning, though, as JD was seriously covered in fluff.

I made the model so long ago that I now have only a very vague recollection of the build. It's a resin figure, so it was a mixture of superglue, pins and screws to get it to stay together and as it was hollow to provide rigidity I also filled the model with plaster and after it had dried had lots of fun chipping off and sanding back the plaster that had oozed through the gaps in between the model pieces. This had the added advantage of filling those self same gaps and giving me a solid figure that could be screwed onto its base.

I originally painted the figure up in Humbrol and Revell enamels, but these gave largely unspectacular results, certainly not the eye-popping colours I have always associated with comic art. As I noted earlier this was only the first of a number of attempts to get the colours I was after. About five years ago I did thoroughly clean the model back and undercoated it before leaving it untouched for a few years in a cupboard, having been seduced away by other projects; I am a fickle model maker as well as a nervous one. I then repainted the figure, using oil paints for the face, the one it still has. It's definitely my favourite part of the model, showing Bolland's version of 'Old Stoney Face's' trademark scowl and lantern jaw really well. I'm particularly fond of Dredd's five o'clock shadow; a bloke with his level of testosterone must have major beard problems. I also used oil paints to paint the reflective effect on the Judge's helmet visor. I doing so I tried to give a little indication of the face behind the glass. Of course, we should never see Dredd's face, he is faceless justice and its always been a no-no to take the helmet off and see what lies beneath. I'm still fairly pleased with the results of my painting, which even now still stands up to my increasingly critical scrutiny. Of course to make it look more like glass I then needed to give the visor a couple of coats of gloss varnish.

The colour of Dredd's uniform is dark blue, not black, despite what some interpretations would have you believe and for this I used Humbrol 198, a satin dark blue enamel. The great breakthrough, though, colour-wise was my change over to Games Workshop golds for the eagle, shoulder pad and belt buckle/chain/badge/zip/et al, which have really brought the model to life. The gloves, boots, elbow and knee pads were done in GW Snot Green and the red trim to helmet was GW Blood Red covered in some gloss varnish.

Every model has its down sides and this one was no exception. The most noticeable one was Dredd's Lawgiver, which from the moment I assembled it had a pronounced droop to the barrel that no amount of corrective bending, immersions in hot water and so, could cure. So, I simply rebuilt the gun using a few salvaged bits from the original – the semicircular dial and scope from the back of the gun and the end of the barrel and its magazine. The rest of the gun I constructed from some old plastic rod, a piece of thick wire and an old plastic lollipop stick – Blue Peter would have been proud of me. The other major problem with the model was the base, which was slightly warped and I have only decorated this half-heartedly as sometime in the future I may (I only say 'may') get around to replacing it with something better.

Those niggles aside, though, I now have a model of one of my childhood anti-heroes that I can feel fairly pleased with. I'm not too bothered about the Judge Anderson figure, I always regarded Psi-division as a bit of a cop-out in the Dredd stories - 'Ooooh, we can read your minds...' blah, blah, blah, but some day I would love to get the Halcyon Judge Death model to pit against Dredd. Every hero deserves one decent villain to keep him company.