As promised, here is the reveal of the completed Black Dragon, by Piececool. I decided to continue my tradition of building a big dragon for my total build counts ending in 50. This here is my 350th build, which seems to have crunched up way too close to my 300th Metal Earth build. Guess I need to build a few more from other brands so they aren’t so close together!
According to a fellow builder on the facebook Metal Earth models group, this dragon is a spot-on match for a Deathwing from World of Warcraft. I’ve never actually played that game (the idea of having to buy a game, and then having to keep paying to play it bothered me too much). However, it is nice to have some context for this stunning build. There’s a lot to take in with this one, so… enjoy the gallery!
I struggled with this model when it came to taking the photos. There’s a lot of details, but they seem broad sweeping details. So it was hard to focus on single elements without feeling like I was repeating photos. And yet, I still ended up with a lot of photos. And a lot of them seem to repeat. So… sorry about that. It is a gorgeous model, though, isn’t it? The tail is way longer than I was expecting. And those eye-catching wings… wow. At first, I thought it was really weird that the back was silver, but the texturing on the back of the wings really make it work. Ironically, in all the pictures I took, I think the back of the wings show the curvature of the skin flaps much better than any of the photos of the red side.
So, you might be surprised to hear me say that, on the whole, this build can be challenging, or it might not be. It really comes down to how comfortable you are with curves. And if you have decided to take this on, you’re probably comfortable with them, right? However, most of the rings that make up the neck, body, and tail are not actually straight-up cylindrical. That presents some interesting challenges, but once you get the hang of how the rings sorta twist a little, you’ve got it licked. Of course, there are 35 rings to assemble, from head to tail… so it definitely is time consuming.
However, there is another factor that plays heavily into how challenging this build can be. It all depends on if “you like to torture yourself” as my good friend AnimateOrange said to me when I told him what I did to make this build extra special. What’s that, you ask? Well, it’s the fact that I decided to build this with every single tab in the rings inserted from the outside-in. The instructions very specifically indicate building it with that tabs secured on the outside of the body, but I didn’t want them showing. And so… I pointed them in. It looks great, but boy was it a pain! The spacing of tabs and slots around the ring are definitely designed to be secured with the tabs secured on the outside. And in some cases, it kinda made it hard to align the rings to each other correctly, so I would actually suggest that you don’t follow my example. Unless you are incredibly stubborn and patient and “like to torture yourself.”
On this build, there are a couple of things that I want to call out beforehand as things to watch out for across the whole build. First off, most all of the cylindrical/conical formations in the build are not closed right-away. Instead, you attach the parts to adjacent parts, and then you close it up. So don’t get eager! Though I might suggest aligning the tabs and slots as if to close it, so you can get the shape right, but then unslot the tabs until it’s time to close it up. The other thing I will mention is that one of the most useful techniques in this build is to change the angles of the slots to make it easier for the tabs to be inserted. You can do this using a blunted hobby knife tip inserted through the slot, and then levered in the direction you want it angled. Doing it this way prevents the slot from closing up while folding the slots to the desired angle. This is extra useful on the half-domes that cap each of the legs.
Strangely enough, those bits of advice cover for almost all of the build. So much of this build is just ring after ring after ring. However, there is one ring joint that I want to call out… because it’s just plain weird. For some reason, ring 25 is secured to ring 24 with only two tabs. And those two tabs are on opposite sides of the ring. Every other ring join is secured by 3 or 4 tabs, but this single one, right in the middle of the tail, is secured with just two. And they are on the sides. So if you don’t get them super tight, the tail ends up wobbly at that exact joint. And it also ended up, at least for me, not lining up very well.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention one thing… the back legs. You can sorta see it in the rendering above (because it’s more accurate than the product photos), but they really like to bend in towards each other. It’s almost as if the slots for the back legs were placed too low. I tried to work them apart, and kinda got them somewhat separated, so they weren’t overlapping. And then proceeded. Later on, I still wasn’t satisfied and tried to bend them outward some more. Unfortunately, that popped one of the tabs loose on one leg, and it was so deep in there, I ended up having to glue it back together. So… the lesson is… twist the tabs when joining the legs to the body, and don’t pry them apart really hard. They are just not going to be standing “flat” on the ground.
One of the weirder aspects of this build is the gaping hole in the neck/chest area. Though it is very useful for securing some of the tabs, giving you another angle of access to the inside. Still, it’s hard to figure out just how much of a gap there is supposed to be. Anyways, once you’ve finished the tail, you finally get to cover up the unsightly gap (kinda). And it starts with Part 22. But before you attach part 22, I would suggest that you fold out the tabs (two at the base of the neck, two under the belly) that are exposed in the gap, cause it’s gonna be hard to do that after attaching Part 22. And, for attaching Part 22, I would strongly recommend that you start securing on the belly end, and then secure the neck end. There’s more room to work at the neck end.
Right after that, you get to attach what looks like armor plating on either side of this. I don’t know if I did something wrong, but these armor plates (parts 23 & 24) didn’t really sit flush against the side of the body, but I tried to get them as close as possible. Also, when it came time to attaching Part 24, it’s broken into two steps in the instruction: securing to the side of the body, then securing a tab (at the top) to the first set of armored plates (part 23). I tried to be prepared for this second step by pre-folding the tab between the two, but as I started trying to seat everything, I found that aligning that tab to it’s matching slot was really frustrating. So I ended up securing the belly tab, then the middle tab (to part 23) and finishing with the neck tab. It was still a tight fit, but at least I didn’t have slot alignment problems.
One of my favorite parts of the build was the head. It’s just crazy full of details. And, being who I am, I chose to add a few more wrinkles. But it was to add character! Basically, on the spikes/frills and horns, I tried to introduce a slight fold along the seams. Just to give them a little more depth. I also did it to the spike/horn on the top of the head, but it’s harder to illustrate in the photo I chose to use below. Also, while I’m here, I’ll mention that I basically flattened out the last “pleat” fold of the beard while attaching it. Because the tab is coming straight out, but that fold was angled, so… kinda question the design decision there? Not sure how exactly it’s supposed to actually work. But the craggy beard still looks amazing, even with that flattened.
So, after that, it’s time to build the wings! And the best advice I can give you for the wings is: be patient, and trial and error. The skin panels between the “fingers” is kinda guesswork on how much to curve. And I chose to fold the tabs on the backside, which is somewhat challenging, but gives a better aesthetic (in my opinion). My guesswork wasn’t perfect, by any means, and I ended up with a bit of wonkiness to the wings, where the kinda bowed out. So I just kinda tried to bend it back forward. Your mileage may vary.
After I officially “finished the build” (when I stopped recording), I ended up picking it back up and tweaking it a little more. Trying to get the wings at the same angle / curvature, stuff like that. And I touched it up with sharpies. I didn’t actually scratch much at all. But I went through and colored in some of the tabs that didn’t match the surface they were folded over on. It was mostly the bright red tabs on the back of the wings that made me decided to do this step. I don’t always do this “finalizing” pass, but it seemed worth it this time. And, while I was at it, I chose to go through and color all the “ring numbers” of the neck/body/tail, at least where it was a silver circle on a non-silver section. For that, I started with a black sharpie, then filled in the cracks with a red sharpie (I didn’t have a dark-red sharpie that matched the body color). I think it really helped the look, especially on the tail. Not sure why they didn’t just color those numbers in, or have them on the inside.
After all of the tweaking, I found that it no longer was interested in “leaning forward” to stand on the little round “parapet” foot-stands. Really not sure what I did wrong in that respect, but it is what it is.
This build took me right around 10 hours to complete, though I did stop a lot to take photos after almost every step for the build progression. I really should have paused recording every time, but I forgot to a lot. On the plus side, I just figured out how to do the new “YouTube chapters” thing, so each step is marked in the videos. Oh, and one more apology – the camera got knocked out of it’s usual alignment, so a lot more stuff than usual happened “off camera.” Anyways, all 7 videos are in the playlist below: