Building Historex Horses
by Barry King
Without question, mounted figures have a certain air of elegance which can be difficult for a foot figure to match. When
doing mounted conversions, the choice for a horse (in 54mm) usually draws the modeler to Historex components.
Historex components are well known, having been used in the hobby for years. Being molded in plastic allows
conversion work to be done with ease when compared to resin or metal. The light weight affords the modeler the
opportunity to strive for dramatic posing with only one hood supporting the rider and horse. There are, however, some
potential problem areas when building a Historex horse.
That is the purpose of this article. What follows are the methods I use when building a Historex horse.
1. The Main Body
I always start the horse with the body sections. You can use the horse halves stock, but I prefer to quarter the halves as
this adds a little bit more individuality to the piece. With a fresh No. 11 blade in an x-acto, clean off the mold lines before
assembly. If any of the hoofs will be off the ground in the finished product, now is the time to detail the hoof Start off by
cutting a "v" at the back of the hoof I then hollow out the hoof with a grinder bit in my dremel tool. Be sure that you use a
speed control for the dremel; failure to do so could result in the hoof being melted by the friction. Be careful and work
slowly. The depth of the hoof need not be great, perhaps 1/16". Once completed, ad the horse shoes but first, cut off
the tabs which are modeled onto the front of the shoes and sand down the thickness of each shoe. I do this by using
400 grit sandpaper laid on top of a small piece of class. With your forefinger, vigorously rub the shoe into the
sandpaper for a few moments.
With this completed, the next step is to drill the mounting hole into the horse's leg. Again, suing your dremel tool with a
suitable drill bit attached, slowly drill up from the bottom of the hoof I like to drill up as deep as possible, usually up to
the horse's knee. I use heavy paperclip wire for the pin.
Most modelers shim the Historex horse halves and I wholeheartedly agree with this practice. I use .040" sheet plastic,
although on some occasions, I'll use the plastic base supplied with Historex or Airfix multipose kits. I prefer to cut strips
of the sheet plastic shim and glue one strip each to the top and bottom edge. Once the glue has set, fill all gaps with
epoxy putty or a modelers putty such as stucco or Squadron green stuff.
2. Neck and Head
Although you can use the Historex head/neck stock I never do. To me, they look very stiff. I prefer to scratchbuiid the
neck on a paperclip wire armature. This allows me to pose the head and neck in the exact pose, which I need easily
without the bother of cutting wedges. This also means that you can use virtually any Historex head regardless of the
Begin by cutting off the head immediately behind the halter strap with a razor saw. Clean off the flash and mold lines
and install the ears to the head. I occasionally install the ears backwards, particularly with a horse posed in motion. I
also add epoxy putty to the nose/bridge area to build up this section. On some heads, this area appears to me to be a
little lean. Another worthwhile job is to replace the straps molded on the top of the heads. These are far too thick to
represent bridle leather. Straps on the horse will be covered in Section 3 of this article.
Sculpting a neck is not nearly as difficult a it may sound. Begin by attaching the head to the shoulders with a piece of
paperclip wire. Use a stock Historex head to gauge proportions. It is alarmingly easy to make the neck too long. Bend
the wire to the pose you desire remembering to curve the wire, do not bend at angles. With the head in its completed
pose, solidify the neck with a heavy coat of epoxy putty. This initial coat of putty should no exceed 3/4 of the desired
finished thickness. After this initial layer dries, add the final layer. In the beginning, concentrate on the proportions.
Again, sue a stock Historex head/neck as reference.
I use toothpicks as a sculpting tool, but use whatever you are comfortable with. To smooth the epoxy putty, I prefer to
sue petroleum jelly (Vaseline). I find that smoothing the putty with my forefinger dipped in Vaseline produces a porcelain
finish which rarely needs to be sanded. With the neck completed, all that remains is the tail, mane and forelock.
3. Finishing details
Adding the tail and mane completes the horse. Several materials are available for these tasks but I prefer to use epoxy
putty. Let's start with the mane. For a static horse, I lay a small snake of putty onto the completed neck. Start off by
sculpting downward to give the length of the mane. Next, sculpt the remaining putty upwards and over the spine. Now
sculpt the hair using a dental probe or sharp toothpick. Concentrate on the mass of hairlocks, not on individual stands.
As with the neck, use a Historex mane section as a guide. When the sculpting is completed, and it should only take a
few minutes, slice off any putty, which is gathered up on the spine. Do the some for the forelock, but only after
completing the harness.
For the tail, I used to use the Historex tails supplied in the kits, but I'm now of the opinion that a sculpted tails gives a
superior appearance. I do the tail in a similar fashion as the neck. Drill a hole into the horse's rump and insert a section
of paperclip wire. Manipulate this wire into the pose that you want and cover with a rough cost of epoxy putty. Apply
more putty after this initial coat dries and texture with a dental probe.
Although there isn't room in this article for me to discuss belts and reins in great detail, I will add this. I prefer to use thin
sheet plastic (the stock that comes with Airfix multipose kits), perhaps .010" for all straps that lie flat against the horse.
For any straps suspended, such as the reins and stirrups, I use sheet lead, which is marketed by Scale Link.
I hope that these tips have been of some help, and good luck with your efforts.