This Black Panther model is both a marvel, and a beast! Yes, those were both intentional puns. But they also stand true. It is a very, very challenging build. And it is an absolute marvelous design. Whenever Metal Earth asks for suggestions / requests, I see people suggesting human characters from tv shows or movies. And it always seems, to me, very unlikely that it will happen. Because human bodies are just a bunch of compound curves connected to each other. And compound curves are not simple to create out of a flat 2D material. However, when it came to Marvel properties, someone over at Metal Earth said, metaphorically, “challenge accepted.”
I am in awe of this crazy model. I know a lot of people had fun with jokes about it having skipped leg day. And it is very top-heavy when it comes to the muscles. But I’m just stunned at how well they managed to execute a humanoid form. There are some odd bits, here and there, but it can be forgiven. Because this is, without a doubt, recognizable as Black Panther. Construction-wise, they did an amazing job too, with only a few places showing gaps, and those might just have been because I didn’t form them correctly. Either way, I’d like to offer the design team at Metal Earth a serious congratulations on this one. There have been other “character” models, by Metal Earth and other brands, but they all used either style or wardrobe to avoid most of the complex, compound curves. But this one takes them head on, and succeeds quite a bit more than it should have a right to.
Now, at this point, I usually discuss the build process, and try to give you an idea of the level of difficulty, then walk through each of the particularly challenging parts of the model. I even try to give advice on how to tackle things (or how not to, when I did it wrong). But that’s not so easy this time, because it would probably be shorter to list out the sections that were easier, than list out the particular challenges. This whole build is made up of complex curves!
I can’t even give you much advice on how to deal with those curves. I’ve dealt with lots and lots of curves in all the builds I’ve completed, and I still had almost no hope of forming the curves right the first time around. So… the most basic advice for this model is to have a few good cylinders available for forming (I use drill bits and batteries), but don’t expect to get the shape right with them. Use them to get a broad estimation of the target shape, then use the tabs to guide you to the correct shape. Then finalize with fingers and cylinder tools. Also, find something you can use to bend over tabs inside of things, something hard and narrow. I hope that general advice helps you, because I don’t have the mental stamina to document the details for almost every step of this build.
I can, however, give you a heads-up for a few places that did trip me up. And, unsurprisingly, these are places where I didn’t read the instructions very well, or there’s a slightly confusing bit of 2D to 3D instructing, or vague instructions, etc. This isn’t going to be comprehensive at all, but I’m going to call out the bigger ones, and maybe drop some details on how I deviated from the instructions and made my life even more difficult (mostly by trying to make as many tabs as possible internal, even when directed to be external, and folding all tabs on the outside).
So, the first big mistake I made was completely my own fault. I just got overconfident and assumed what the instructions were going to tell me to do. So as I built out the shins I secured all the tabs on the front, because that made “sense” and I wanted to get the curve right. But you’re not supposed to secure those top two tabs on the front until after you attach the the side tabs on the knee. Or, at least I thought that was what you are supposed to do. Now that I look at the online instructions, it does say to secure the top two tabs on the front before adding the knee part. I’m so confused. I need to dig up my paper instructions (I store them, just in case) and check. Interesting. Well, I delayed those tabs on the second leg, and it made getting the knee in a little easier, so maybe it’s worth considering?
Right on the other side of the knee piece is where I gave myself a good and pointless challenge. I decided that I wanted the bottom tabs of the thigh section to insert into the model, rather than poke out. Because I decided it would look better. And I can tell you now that it can technically be done. But it’s far from easy. Very far. As in… don’t do it. It’s not worth the struggle.
For parts 7 and 13, the upper section of the things that will join to the torso, it really helps if you can bend over the slots just a little. Makes it a lot easier to align the tabs. I used a blunted hobby knife (the very tip broke off) to wedge inside the slot and then bend it over that way. It prevents the slot from closing up when you angle it. This strategy is also useful later on when you tackle the shoulder sections, parts 33 and 38.
I wish I could give you advice on forming the pelvic area of the torso. It’s just a hard compound curve, and you just gotta do the best you can do. At least the upper half isn’t too hard. Other than the pecs And the back of the shoulders. Okay, so the upper half isn’t much easier. But really… the unspecifiability of the curves are really expected, with the human form.
The head surprised me in not being as hard as I expected it to be. I mean, it wasn’t easy… the face itself is a really confusing congestion of folds. And it seems like he must have a Voldemort nose under there, but it’s actually not that hard to fold up. The hardest part is the rounding of the skull, which you can use the same angled-tabs technique to make it easier to slot the tabs into the inside.
The elbow area was the hardest section of the arms for me. Getting everything to line up between the various segments and pieces… well, there are still some small gaps evident on my build. But I doubt most people will notice them unless I point them out. I also struggled a little bit with attaching the shoulder parts (33/38) to the arm. It almost felt like the tab spacing was fighting me. There are 3 tabs, and they are not spaced evenly. Likewise, there are three slots that are not spaced evenly. but I could swear that the spacing was backwards between the two, so the longer gap between slots lines up with the shorter gap between tabs, and vice versa. I still managed to smush it together, but it kinda bothered me.
Final assembly went fairly quickly, too. squeezing the arms into place just took a little bit of leverage, and the shoulders are fun to align, as always with the humanoid shaped models. Though it was a lot easier in this one than in most others I’ve built, surprisingly. And the feet attached to the base without too much struggle. Kinda nice to end the build on a more zen-like set of steps. Well, end the vanilla-build of this model. I may have done a little more after the fact, which you’ll just have to wait and see…. mwahahahahahahahaaaahahahaaaaaaaa!
Oh, and one final note! You can really make this model even better at the end by touching up the external tabs (and any scratches or flaked paint spots) with a black sharpie. It cleans it up so nice.
And, as always, I’ll finish up this post with the YouTube playlist of my build sessions for this model. Since the build process is so segmented, I was able to break this one up into “body part” segments, so you might be able to skip to a particular section. All told, it took me roughly 6 hours to build, not including the time it took to knoll out the parts beforehand.