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, 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:
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!
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!
Stefan aka “KrautScientist”
A short while later, I received another e-mail from Elias:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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!
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!