The Nuckelavee

Badly-lit picture
        in cheesy pose




January 17th, 2012



July 3rd, 2012



Generic dinosaur skeleton



Marvel Legends F4 boxset
Human Torch upper torso and
arms, Toybiz House of the Dead
Hierophant Hands and fins,
many LEGO bits



Apoxy Sculpt, Citadel Paints,
wooden beads, metal rods,
plastic cocktail pricks,
liquid latex

Points of


~ 30

3/4 Front shot
Profile shot 1
Back Shot
Profile Shot 2
Frontal Closeup
Walking Shot

Character & Intent

The Nuckelavee.
Fearsome. Grotesque. Pure Evil. Virtually unknown.
Well, that's not entirely accurate. Once a legend told in hushed
tones on the island of Orkney, this bizarre, demonic horse-and-rider
fusion has gained a little traction in the pop culture of recent years.
And why would it not? It is such a uniquely bewildering combination
of features with no wide-spread "default" visual interpretation that
is just ripe for plucking and usage with reckless abandon.
The purported legend reads thus:

 He soon discovered to his horror that the gruesome creature approaching him was no other than the dreaded Nuckelavee - the most cruel and malignant of all uncanny beings that trouble mankind.

The lower part of this terrible monster, as seen by Tammie, was like a great horse, with flappers like fins about his legs, with a mouth as wide as a whales, from which came breath like steam from a brewing-kettle. He had but one eye, and that as red as fire.

On him sat, or rather seemed to grow from his back, a huge man with no legs, and arms that reached nearly to the ground. His head was as big as a clue of simmons, and this huge head kept rolling from one shoulder to the other as if it meant to tumble off.

But what to Tammie appeared most horrible of all, was that the monster was skinless; this utter want of skin adding much to the terrific appearance of the creatures naked body.

The whole surface of it showing only red, raw flesh, in which Tammie saw blood, black as tar, running through yellow veins, and great white sinews, thick as horse tethers, twisting, stretching, and contracting, as the monster moved.

Personally, I was introduced to the peculiar brand of pure evil by my
friend Metaloony, who had been familiar with the legend for a much
longer time than I. Further inspired by a Bogleech feature article, I finally
set out to bring to plastic life my own interpretation of the legend.

Now, I have to admit that I wasn't entirely successful. Looking at it in hindsight,
The proportions are off, and the veins didn't come out looking like I had hoped.
Still, it was a good learning experience and will serve me well as such in future


This was a project that I had put off for a long time before I began.
The reason for that was that I had no idea how to really
approach it. My original plan was to modify a pre-existing horse
figure as a base, but no such thing (with decent articulation) pre-
sented itself within my price range. My next idea was to sculpt
onto a horse skeleton toy, but this, too, was not something I was able to find at retail or online. So I finally decided that I would have to go full A-Team on this and build it more or less from scratch.

As a first step, I modified the ribcage of a cheap dinosaur skeleton toy (I think it might have been a Triceratops) and outfitted it with a bunch of Lego joints. Then, I selected a human torso that would roughly work with its scale. At that point, I realized that I would have to drill a big hole into the torso to insert a balljoint  at the appropriate spot. I did so with a medium degree of cursing. I also added another balljoint in the middle of the Human Torch torso to make it a little more agile in its role as a dexterous eyestalk. More Lego parts were cut into shape, re-glued and affixed to the main body using hot glue with Apoxy sculpt layered on top of it to provide stability. I actually made the legs far too long and added at least one joint too many per leg at first. I fear that my corrections ended up cutting them a little short in the most terribly literal of ways. And speaking of disproportionate limbs, the human lower arms were sculpted from scratch, using only cocktail pricks (is that even what those are called?) as a basis to sculpt around. The balljoints for the hands are small wooden beads attached to the hands with tiny steel rods (surprisingly also Lego parts, by the way).

Another, large wooden bead formed the basis for the weird eyeball-head. Glued into place and sculpted over. When I was putting the design together, I missed that the "one large eyeball" in the source material referred to the horse's head. Then again, it is only to be inferred and not explicitly stated! Also, I just like the idea of the sensory functions being split between the two heads, with humanoid one being able to look around while the horse head is turned another way to sniff, listen... or devour.
Speaking of the horse's head, I built it onto a Lego hinge, actually sculpting a horse skull and building further on top of it. In the middle of the process, I realized that a horse's mouth would never open as far as I had this one. I wanted to be fairly accurate with that aspect, but I also didn't want to lose the gaping monster maw. My solution to this problem was to sculpt the head so that it would look largely like a "normal" skinless horse with fangs while closed, but reveal a carnivorous lower jaw to open from underneath "false " sides.

On the other end of the body, I drilled yet anothe large hole into the sculpt when it was nearing completion and inserted another large wooden bead (.... Yes, I know what that sounds like. Shut up!) as a balljoint for the tail. Since the Nuckelavee is perportedly male and this is a horse (of sorts) that we are dealing with, I also felt that I had to include something in regard of genitalia. But I definitely didn't want to make this explicit, and I really didn't want to brave a Google image search in order to make it accurate, so I just added a sheath-like bump and decided that it would be enough as a nod.

Another thing that definitely required a nod was the fact that the Nuckelavee is said to be semi-amphibious, spending much of its time in the sea while fearing freshwater. For that reason, I used the Hierophant's webbed hands (which happened to be right in the size range that I'd been looking for) and added its fins to the horse legs and tail. I'd originally planned to make the tail a little more whale- or seal-like, but I feel that it would ultimately have been too distracting. I also modified the design of the hooves to be vaguely akin to flippers, but made sure to also make them pointy and blade-like to add yet another element of immediate danger.

Finally, the paintjob fairly straightforward and included a lot of red. So much red. I can't even tell you how much red. Naturally, I layered a few shades to give a deep, realistic appearance to it. And then I ruined it with those damn black veins. Oh well. Also, I used careful drybrushing with a gloss coat to create the illusion of "wet", exposed tissue.

And there we go, my version of the Nuckelavee. I definitely didn't succeed all the way, but I feel that there certainly a few aspects and ideas about it that do work, so it wasn't a complete waste of time.
Work In Progress


Rearing up,



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