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Tuesday, July 20, 1999 Published at 17:01 GMT 18:01 UK


Hero's Hollywood make-over

Mel Gibson's warpaint has become a national icon

A Scottish model maker is re-writing his country's history - in order to win a battle in the American marketplace.

Scott Sutherland is redesigning his bronze and pewter models of Sir William Wallace because the originals look nothing like Mel Gibson's portrayal of the freedom fighter in the blockbuster Braveheart.

Scott Sutherland: "Accuracy or sales"
Movie-mad Americans want to see Scotland's national hero dressed in a kilt and boasting a saltire-style blue and white face.

But the trendy look is a far cry from Mr Sutherland's historical Wallace figure, who wears mail armour under his gown, a simple helmet, gauntlets and wields a fearsome two-handed sword.

[ image: A Scott Sutherland figure]
A Scott Sutherland figure
Mr Sutherland believes the real Wallace was more like the English Knights he fought than the kilted Clansmen in the Hollywood film.

"There is no evidence whatsoever that Wallace ever wore a kilt. As a Lowlander this is most unlikely. He was almost certainly dressed like a knight of the times, indeed not unlike his English opponents," he said.

Mr Sutherland, 36, from Wick, has already exported a number of his intricately-carved models to North American shops - but their owners are telling him they are not what their customers want.

He said: "I researched the battle-dress that Sir William actually wore and it bears no resemblance to the ones that were shown in the film.

'Against the grain'

"I always try to keep my models as accurate as possible and it will go against the grain to make something that I know within my heart is wrong.

[ image: Mel in kilt: Wrong attire?]
Mel in kilt: Wrong attire?
"But, I am in a commercial marketplace and I suppose I will have to put my principles to one side if I am going to sell any numbers of these figures in the United States, which is a great market."

Mr Sutherland is giving in to consumer power and is now redesigning the Wallace models in keeping with the Braveheart image.

He carves his models from clay with each taking around 50 hours to create. He then makes moulds to cast in either bronze or pewter.

The models, in limited editions of 250 units, retail at around 140 in the UK and $250 in the USA and Canada.

The specialist shops which stock them in the States say that everyone asks them why Wallace is not in the kilt when they show the figures on the Highland Games circuit in North America.

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