Why I love the Internet: The Cobb Incident

I never tire of preaching the manifold advantages of blogging and getting in touch with other hobbyists: Exchanging ideas with others can lead to all kinds of fantastic hobby projects (*cough* like this *cough*), but you probably know that by now (and are sick of hearing it).

Today, I would like to tell you an absolutely brilliant hobby story that actually has nothing to do with other hobbyists, but everything to do with blogging. So, what is this about?

As you may remember, quite a while ago, I built this guy:

Elias Cobb (3)

Elias Cobb, a twist sniper and member of Inquisitor Lazarus Antrecht’s retinue. When I originally built the model, I chose the name because I liked its sound. In hindsight, I’d like to imagine the name has an almost Dickensian ring to it, if that makes any sense. Heck, it just sounded right for the character. I don’t know.
In any case, the model and its background previously appeared on this blog.

And then, about six months ago, I received an e-mail RE: I’m Elias Cobb. Here’s what it said:

Hello,

I came across your blog, and the figurine you named Elias Cobb while working on branding.  As I am in the recruiting business, I always like to make sure my name is represented well on the internet.  Anyway, imagine my surprise when I came across your “twist sniper” blog and saw you had named him Elias Cobb!!!

Let me just interject that, having read this far, I was pretty sure I was about three sentences away from being served with a cease and desist. But let’s continue:

Can I ask how you came up with that name for the figurine?  And would it be possible for you to make me one and send it to me?  I’d love to display it, and print out your description of his background.  It’s very funny to my co-workers to see –they are getting a lot of mileage out of me being a mutant!

Thank you!

Elias Cobb

Phew, can’t say I had expected that to happen. I mean, what are the odds? In any case, Elias definitely deserved a well-considered answer to his question — if anybody called me a mutant on the Internet, I would want to know what deal was as well. So this was my reply to him:

Dear Elias Cobb,

thanks a lot for your message! Well I’ll be… That’s as unexpected for me as it must have been for you!

First of all, let me say that it was, of course, never my intention to get you connected to mutants on the internet! So if you feel that the fictional character created by me as well as the associated model and background somehow impact your public image and livelihood, I’d be glad to do everything in my power to change that: I could leave out the character’s last name, for example, and edit all my posts on the matter accordingly. Just let me know if you would like me to do anything like that!

As for the creation of the model, here’s how that came about:
First of all, I guess you’re not into tabletop wargaming, right? So let me give you a brief introduction:
Tabletop wargaming is basically a hobby halfway between a boardgame and a roleyplaying game, with the players building (or at least customising) their own playing pieces and painting them. Then those pieces are used in confrontations not completely unlike chess — at least, that’s what some of us hobbyists would like to believe. Usually, there’s also some kind of background attached to the whole thing. In this case, the background is that of the Warhammer 40k universe (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warhammer_40k), an amalgamation of all kinds of 80s dark future and science fiction influences — imagine a mix of Orwell, Dune and Bladerunner, all rolled into one and turned up to eleven, and you’re not too far off the mark. I’ll readily admit that it’s a bit of an acquired taste…

Anyway, “my” Elias Cobb was built for use in a sub-game of Warhammer 40k called “Inquisitor” (think Eco’s “The Name of the Rose” set in a world like the one outlined above). I wanted the character to basically be a good guy whose only fault in life had been to be born a mutant (or “twist”). Mutants are frowned upon in the scenario, as you may have gathered from the character’s background. As for the name, I wanted the first name to have a classical, even biblical quality, to show how the character is a devout believer. The second name was a bit of a coincidence, but it ended up sounding just right, a bit like a character from a novel by Dickens — I realise that this is all a bit strange, seeing how this is actually your name. But there you have it. That’s the origin story.

Regarding your request of having another model built: Well, I guess it’s the least I can do after branding you as a mutant on the worldwide web 😉 However, since these models are built by using different (often disparate) parts from different kits released by the British company Games Workshop ( http://www.games-workshop.com/gws/home.jsp ), I may not be able to come up with something exactly like the model you saw, but only with something very similar. It may also take a little while for me to get the required parts, build the model and paint it. Still, the whole story is so completely off the hook that I’d be quite a killjoy not to play along, don’t you think?

Also, a small request, if I may: In case you don’t want this whole affair to be completely taken off the net in the first place, would it be okay for me to post about this on my blog? I think it would be a blast for my readers to read about this whole story. Again, only if that’s okay with you.

In any case, thanks for bringing this to my attention! Just let me know how we should proceed in this!

Best wishes,

Stefan aka “KrautScientist”

A short while later, I received another e-mail from Elias:

Stefan,

Thanks for getting back to me!  I admit to not knowing much about the wargaming world, but I do understand what you are talking about.

And no, your model doesn’t impact me at all – you don’t need to take down any postings or change the name, etc.  I mostly thought it was pretty funny that you came up with that name, especially given that Elias isn’t exactly a common name!

Feel free to share anything about this on your blog – it is pretty funny and one heck of a coincidence overall!  And I definitely appreciate your idea on building a new model – if you get around to it, wonderful!  If not, I definitely understand as well.

I am now following your blog as well, you may see me as a follower (…)

Anyway, thanks for replying!  Hope you are well.

Elias

So yeah, that’s why I decided to post this brilliant story here for your amusement. Let me just take a moment to say how awesome it is of Elias to play along like this! He’s really very nice and relaxed about this whole thing, which is not all that common a reaction, given all the hysteria surrounding the question of being adequately represented on the Internet.

Anyway, it was perfectly clear to me that I had to honour my promise to Elias and build him another Elias Cobb model. Fortunately enough, the  model sharing a name with Elias was a rather simple and straightforward conversion: If I should ever be contacted by a real-life Legion or Lord Captain Lorimar, I’ll be royally screwed.

And so my quest to duplicate one of my models began. Quite an interesting challenge, actually, since I usually try to make every model as unique as possible.

Unfortunately, it took me some time to get my hands on all the bitz I needed for a second Elias Cobb model – which is why it took me so long to post this story – but I finally made it. Take a look at the Cobb Twins:

The Cobb Twins (1)
The Cobb Twins (2)
Pretty close, huh? Granted, I had to change one or two bitz because I lacked duplicates of the ones I had originally used: The head is slightly different, as are the scroll dangling from that spear and the purity seal on the rifle stock. And the cork on the base looks slightly different, for obvious reasons. But I still think the models are very similar (actually, I should have gone with that scroll in the first place when building the original model. It’s a much better fit).

Shortly afterwards, I painted the new model. Fortunately, the model is fairly small and the original was one of the first models I painted with a heavy use of washes, so recreating the paintjob was a reasonably simple affair. So after about one and a half hours, the twins were ready for their second photo shoot:

The Cobb Twins (3)
If anything, the new paintjob may actually be slightly more polished, since I was still finding my feet with that particular technique when painting the original Elias Cobb.

The Cobb Twins (4)
You know, it’s actually getting to the point where even I start to confuse both models…

The Cobb Twins (6)
You can always spot the differences by looking at the slightly different bitz used in the conversion, of course, but I think you’ll agree that the new model is a fairly accurate recreation of the original.

The last thing to do was to find a suitable container for the model to make its voyage across the great pond in. So I bought a small “treasure chest” and made a custom foam inlay to protect the model:

The Cobb Twins (7)
The Cobb Twins (9)
With the model – hopefully – protected against accidents or enterprising employees of the postal service, I will send it off to the United States in the next days. Let us all keep our fingers crossed that this little guy reaches his namesake in good health!

Elias Cobb twin (2)
Quite a story, don’t you think? Sometimes, the online interactions with non-hobbyists can be just as fascinating as the exchange of ideas with other people addicted to cutting up little plastic men 😉

So, to wind up this post, let me once again say a very heartfelt “thank you” to Elias, who was a true gentleman about all of this and who, I might add, is most defintely NOT a mutant and looks nothing like the model named after him. Take that, Google! 😉

And of course, thanks to you for looking and stay tuned for more!

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20 Responses to “Why I love the Internet: The Cobb Incident”

  1. Alexander Says:

    What a great story! You both behaved like true gentlemen, a good example that fine etiquette doesn’t have to die online 🙂
    My son’s third name is actually Elias and he is still a little twist, or rather ratling since he grabs everything not nailed down 😉

    • Cheers, mate! Well, looks like I’ll need to start a collection of children’s toys based on my Elias Cobb model as well. I’ll be rich! RICH! 😉

      • denna0natt Says:

        There is always money in making kids think they to have something, or making parents believe there kids need something 😉

  2. Mevans1499 Says:

    Awesome little story there; refreshing to hear that the real Elias Cobb took it all in good faith, and bravo to you for the work and effort you went to in recreating a second model for his namesake (nice touch with the treasure chest too) all for no gain to yourself. And a great conversion job on the model.

  3. Great story and in my eyes very cool reaction of the real Elias Cobb. Still to many people “out there” branding you as a cryzy person if you have unusual hobbys. 🙂

    • Yes, that was the part that I especially loved! The “normal” reaction would probably have been to ask me to take down that post immediately, with a generous helping of obscenities ladeled on top 😉 I love how Elias was willing to play along, even though he’s not a hobbyist himself — I also really like the thought of my model being displayed in an office space somewhere in the states, to tell you the truth 😉

  4. Dave Taylor Says:

    What a great story, and an amazing coincidence! I’m glad the non-mutant Elias was so cool about it all, and I hope he enjoys his “twisted” namesake ; )

    Cheers
    Dave

  5. stygianheart Says:

    A humorous and strangely heart-warming story, it actually put a smile on my face.

    Thanks for that.

    🙂

    • Well, the pleasure was all mine 😉
      It is strangely heart-warming, though, isn’t it? Actually, ever since I picked up blogging, stuff like that has been happening to me all the time. Take that, Internet-naysayers 😉

  6. I love this!
    The story is just wonderful… and you, sir, are a legend for building the man another copy of your model.
    Not to mention the fantastic job you did on both versions 🙂

  7. Awesome story, really 😀
    Thanks for sharing (the both of you)!

  8. neil101 Says:

    This story is so wonderful in every way .

  9. […] last but definitely not least, Elias Cobb’s identical twin has successfully made his way to his namesake (who, it bears repeating, is really not a mutant […]

  10. Ralph Wargrinder Says:

    This is a great story and I loved reading it.

    Bad news though, I’ll send my address privately.

    • At first I almost laughed myself off my chair because of your comment, man! Thanks so much! And then, that frightened, small animal voice in the back of my head kept going: “What if this guy is SERIOUS about it…?” o_O

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