It took me a bit of time to get rolling, but on Christmas day, I broke out my trusty 20-year-old (yes, really) Dremel and got to work!
This was the first time I'd cut this much material away to do repositioning. I mostly work with Stablemates, which are solid plastic. I've dabbled in moving some larger (hollow) horses around, but in the past I've always tried to preserve as much plastic as I could.
This time I decided to do things a bit differently, because of a much different plan for filling the hollow space. More on that in a bit.
It took a couple hours or so of careful work with a cut off wheel and the bur bit that I use to get into tight places. What you can't see in these pictures is that I cut all the way around between the front and back legs, and up the rump/along the base of the neck. So each limb and attached shoulder or hip was floating and easily movable.
Here are the results of the first round with my heat gun.
I was happy to see her underway; she looked neat here, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for.
My heat gun is a Wagner brand with two heat settings and an extra metal tip that focuses the heat in a smaller area. It's very nice.
Pro Tip: If you find yourself shopping for a heat gun and are having trouble finding one, be aware that they are sometimes called a paint stripper.
Also, be VERY careful with them, they can get HOT and easily burn you or other things. Mine is rated to get to 1,000 degrees on the high setting.
My end goal was a BIG, flying trot, and it seemed counterproductive to tighten things up at this stage, but I was getting ready for a part that I was dreading (and quite frankly trying to avoid, haha). That would be bending the stifles and having to cut into the huge solid hunk of plastic in that area in order to do it!
I got on a roll on New Year's Eve and skipped documenting the third, fourth, and fifth rounds of fine tuning with the Dremel and heat gun.
Then... attack of the marshmallows!
I used expanding foam insulation to fill the hollow areas and it worked wonderfully! I can't take any credit for this technique, it comes from this blog post and I've been wanting to try it out ever since I came across the idea.
This stage looks pretty spectacular.
Here's a quick picture of her, at the whacky stage, with the picture that inspired this whole adventure.
Much better! Here she is after I tore off the excess foam.
I confess, I couldn't stop smiling when I saw her at this stage. It was a bit of a challenge to get here, but I'm so happy at this point!
My goal from the beginning was for a BIG horse that was really moving out and I think she's just about there. I'll be fine tuning her legs a bit more (is something like this ever really done??) and more Dremeling (sanding). Then comes the scary stage - resculpting. I know she won't be perfect, but I'm looking forward to getting back to work on her.
Right now I'm taking a few days away, so that I can look at her with fresh eyes. Also, I apparently pinched a nerve in my shoulder/back at some point during the past week (Ow.) so I'm on the mend from that. I'm hoping to get back to work on her later this week. I've only got about a month to get her done.
Yeah. I'm crazy.