Friday, June 17, 2016

Tutorial; Scratch-building a 1/72 aircraft out of wood and spare parts

Today I'll speak to you about the basics of how to scratch-build your 1/72 own airplane. It will be the Hawker Hart.

The story of this model is looooong and full of adversities. Somehow, I realized the possibilities of creating an aircraft out of wood, something like 17 years ago. At that point, I didn't have internet, even if I had it I wouldn't have bought anything through it as I would have never given my bank details through it, and my local model shops had a limited selection of models. So, I looked what will be the best plane to test this system and I chose the Hawker Fury. That was built and painted with quite good success, and my brother asked me to build another one for him, and I chose the Hawker Hart as the parts would be quite similar. Due to lack of interest, and various hardships, the project was stalled for 15 years until now, where I have accumulated enough spare parts to finish the project without having to create everything out of wood. 

The first thing is to get your hands into some blueprints and reduce them to 1/72. Thanks to modern computing and internet, this will be very easy (at the time, it had to be done mathematically and with some room for error). Only the fuselage and wings are to be made of wood. 

The fuselage is made out of pomegranate wood, which I found quite soft and easy to handle. You can test various woods and see which will fit better, but I don't recommend olive tree wood, as it is very hard to cut and sand, although it is very solid, nor hazelnut tree wood, as it usually has many imperfections. The upper wings are made out of balsa wood, which you have to be very careful when sanding. The bad thing of using balsa is that you can see easily the various lines and marks of the wood, and this wouldn't happen using other kinds of wood, but to sand a flat piece of olive tree will take you forever, although you will get a much more smoother result.

In most airplanes, you will be able to find a similar vosp, exhaust tube, propellers, and maybe even tail wings, but in this case I hadn't anything similar so I had to scratch build them. The vosp is made out of epoxi putty, but you can also use green stuff or super sculpey, or you can carve it out of wood, but as it is very small is difficult to control it (I tried to make it, but it broke before getting into shape).
I miscalculated the piece of wood, and there was no room to make the tail wing along the fuselage piece (in the Hawker Fury model I was able to do it), so I had to use epoxi to extend it.

Curiously, now I had a Hawker Fury of plastic, so I was able to make a mould with plasticine of the rear wings and then with molten plastic cast them (you can also use resin).
To eliminate the gaps between the different parts, use epoxy or any other filling material, that once dry you can sand to make it even.
All the other parts were taken from the spare parts of different models, even the lower wings that were the ones from the Airfix Bristol Bulldog. 
To paint it, I first applied a coat of thick varnish to get a smooth result. 

I went for the Estonian air force version, and printed with decal paper the insignias. The base colour should have been possibly silver, but that would have looked quite bad over the wood, and so I went for a pale grey. The final result is not 100 % accurate, but it looks nice.

So that's it, now you know the basics to scratch build your own aircraft. Of course to scratch built this aircraft now is quite pointless, as the kit through eBay is easy to find, but the same basics can apply to any rare, kitless plane or you can do it just for fun. 

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Review; Hat Roman Extra Heavy Legionnaries 1/72 Figures miniatures soldiers Trajan

More Romans with the Extra Heavy Legionaries for the Dacian campaigns, will they pass the cut?

              The Box 

Typical modern Hat box, just showing one man of the depicted set. I am not too fond of this style, for some subjects it is a good idea, and if well done can be as attractive as any other box. In this case, the result is medium low, you can hardly tell that the legionary is extra heavy, and it is rather standard.

  The Figures

HaT sets come in batches, depending on the sculptor apparently, and a bit on the materials. These came in the batch of a sculptor that made very sleek and thin figures, that once adapted and moulded, don't match the expectatives. The figures barely are 1/72, they should be labelled as 1/76.  Many have super thin arms, and all the swords in them are awfully done, they look like stupid short sticks. The pilums have nearly no detail at all. 

Continuing with the bad; the shields have a untolerable fit, they either fall, or the peg breaks, and most look bad, so you will have to cut the peg and glue them with Pattex, hot glue or something that bonds soldiers plastic which is tricky to find.

There is only 8 poses, 5 of them carrying the pilum. In this subject of Extra Heavy Legionnaries, made by Trajan to fight against the dreaded Dacians and their falx weapons who chopped off the legionnaries unprotected arms, it should be they other way round, 5 poses of hand to hand combat and maybe 3 with the pilum. There should be a extra heavy centurion. 

Also, speaking of the poses, two are almost identical, and all of them very flat and lifeless.
Besides this, there was other versions of super armoured legionnaries that would have been more interesting.
There is not much flash, but many figures, the two halfs don't match, so you get a distorted face.
And well, there is not much more to say. I will only add these even look bad, flimsy, puny and thin against the Hat set of Dacians (the Dacian figures without shirt look bigger and stronger).

The Verdict

This set was actually a gift for me, as I have many Roman soldiers and if there are available, I choose from other subjects, unless they are superb figures. The gift was welcome, but it could have been done so much better, being a interesting subject, that the impression maybe even worse. My recommendation is; wait until some manufacturer does a worthy version. 

Historical Accuracy; 10/10, Perfect.
Mould quality; 5/10, Unconvincing.
Fun level; 3/10, Boring.
Price/Quality; 4/10 Bad.

My version

I had these soldiers in a box and half of them had lost their shields, and the swords were ridicolous, so I considered a good subject to modify and then paint. I enlarged all swords, and made 4 armoured centurions modifying them. I also added some figures from other sets, and I painted them in 4 different colours, as different legions, for wargaming. The shields are printed with an inkjet printer in ordinary paper. These soldiers do need some work on them, and one must say they look much better and with their shields, I nearly forget how irritating they were before.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Review; Orion 1/72 Gladiators Roman Figures miniatures soldiers Colosseum

pWe review again a set of figures with these singular set from Orion, the mighty Gladiators.

The Box 

Indeed a curious artwork, as it is using a 18th century painting. It actually does quite well the trick, and it shows that manufacturers could use historical paintings more often. It leaves no doubt about what you are buying, and personally I was hooked the first time I saw it and bought it without hesitating. 

The Figures

As typically in Orion, you get a large selection of poses, all of them made twice. Is a system as valid as any other, and while it leaves you wanting more of some poses, for a subject like the Gladiators is quite perfect. It gives you the chance of painting each figures of two different ways, while you can make them appear all in a diorama without having to disregard some figures.

The first thing we notice about this set is that Orion has been influenced by the film Gladiator, even to the extent of showing captions of the film in the rear of the box (I wonder if they have paid any royalty to the film producers, a thing which I have my strong doubts). 

Some of the figures are clearly based on the film, like the starring Rusell Crowe, and some other of the Gladiator figures. All the same, the accuracy level is quite high, with only some inaccuracies and doubts with the trumpeters helmets, which should never be like that, the man with the bull's head and some of the other helmets. 

But we have to keep in mind that there is plenty of scope for strange ornaments and gear in a subject such as this, we can only say for sure that the trumpeters are wrong, and even they could be in a special garment only used during a very brief period, that has never been recorded in history :).
The poses are extremely lively and full of action, and you can recreate beautifully the action in the arena. It is worth mentioning the superb figures of the lions and tigers/panthers, that are one of the best 1/72 renditions of this animals. 

There is a couple of poses a bit strange, such as the civilian that apparently has fallen into the arena, which holds his hand in his head of a rather strange way, and the man that has lost his hand, which looks completely unnatural.
The sculpting is very well done and anatomically correct.
There is some very small level of flash surrounding many of the figures, which will give you a long afternoon to aconditionate them to painting, which is absolutely necessary if you are going to paint the figures, and you can skip it if you don't.

The emperor figure is one of the best Roman emperors in casual gear you can find.

The only real criticism I have on this set is that I would loved some more civilians to assist as public, but I suppose this could be fully done in a separate set.

Another of the great things of this set is that you could use many figures for special leaders or commanders of other factions, such as using some as Thracians, or using them as roman rebels or bagaudae, as not all of them carry the conventional gladiator gear, besides having some civilians always useful for dioramas.

Note that in this set there is sometimes a bonus figure, a joker, of a gladiator with a pistol. Sadly, I wasn't lucky to get it. I think that he must be present in all dark-blue plastic sets, and mine was in reddish plastic. I bought mine quite a long time ago, but I think the joker was on the first editions only.

                                        The Verdict

Possibly, and in my opinion the best Gladiator set out there. There might be the more accurate Pegasus one, but it doesn't have so much life as this one. I feel that this is really the best set that Orion has ever produced, and while it can be a bit expensive in comparison with other figure sets (at least it was back in the day, when it was 12 € against 8 € that was the normal price) it is still fully worth it, more considering the good quantity of men and poses you are getting.

Historical Accuracy; 8/10, Acceptable.
Mould quality; 7/10, Good.
Fun level; 10/10, Superb.
Price/Quality; 7/10 Good.

My version

I have tried to paint every figure in two very distinct ways, and I am quite proud of the result. It was quite tiring, as first I basically painted most of them, after 5 or 6 years left them nearly finished, and I applied the last touches only recently. I wanted to paint them in a very high standard, and you cannot use fast methods to paint these figures, as they are mostly flesh in colour. Note I modified one of the men without hand, as I found it a very unuseful figure, and I added a sword to the saluting gladiator, and a roman legionary shield to one of the sword gladiators.

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