26 August 2012

HULK SMASH! -- Update #2

This project is a two-figure vignette. Whereas the main figure--the Hulk--is basically a slightly reanimated stock kit, the second figure will be an original sculpt . . .  and it is the latter that I have been working on, as time permits, over the course of the last week.

To date, I have roughed-out a mannequin (dry-assembled using 16ga. copper wire at the joins to freely allow for articulation); however, I am now at an impasse: do I stick with the canonical scale of the second figure; or do I try to go for a greater visual impact using a smaller scale?

I have all but decided to go with the smaller scale. The canonical scale would upset the balance and flow of the scene, creating two primary elements that would effectively "compete" with each other.

Back to the bench!

FOLLOW-UP - 27.08.2012. . . I believe I have reached an ideal compromise. While definitely opting for a smaller-scale mannequin, the reduction still falls within the canonical height for both the Hulk and the current object of his rage. It is decidedly larger than the depiction in the inspirational source, but I have always felt that the Hulk was oversized in that source. 

22 August 2012

Daimyō, Edo Jidai -- Research/Reference hiatus

My copy of Armures du Japon: 100 pièces sélectionnées dans la collection de la Fondation Kōzu de Kyōtō, edited by Robert Burawoy, from whence our subject's helmet was taken (no. 43, p. 74), arrived last week, and I couldn't be happier! This is a handsome book that fills in some notable lacunae in the reference library. . . as well as opening some very discreet routes of exploration. But before getting on with the matter at hand, I would be remiss if I did not praise the good people at the publisher, ToriiLinks Editions: their service and follow-up/ customer service is simply superb! Given the quality of their publications, I am fairly certain I will be soon availing myself of their services again.

As I mentioned in my initial posting, I believe the very broad-brushed dating for this figure has been based on the provenance of the kabuto. Regrettably I am unable to be precise in the dating, but I am fairly comfortable in asserting that this is an early Edo-period kabuto: say absolutely no later than 1650, and more likely ca. 1625, give or take. My reasons are, admittedly, predominantly circumstantial. 

It would appear that though the sculptor might have done his research, he failed to convey to the painter one critical aspect of the kabuto: the fish-tail crest is silver-leafed! He also did not include the maedate-tsunamoto, which will be easy enough to correct.

Admittedly, the helmet could be simply [loosely] based on this example, but it then begs the question as to why the description in the refsheet is copied from that in the "source" practically verbatim! And while certainly not the path of least resistance, wouldn't a bright, polished silver kabuto be much more appealing? To say nothing of eye-catching and a point of interest??

Obviously, I will be doing mine in silver. The question now is whether to leaf it, or simulate a leafed finish with lacquer?

19 August 2012

Chivalry is not dead! It is undead. . .

SUBJECT: Zombie Knight
MANUFACTURER: Tartar Miniatures
ITEM #: TRB200-33
SCALE: 1/9 (200mm)
# of PIECES: 1
Sculptor: Sergey Savenkov

KIT REVIEW: I always liked TM's European Knight, l. 14th-e. 15th c. (TRB200-22), but as you might imagine, while it was well done, it fell short of the mark for me. Nine months later, the sculptor of the historical bust has provided us with a medieval zombie (actually, a revenant) par excellence! And the brush-work of the most talented Sergey Popovichenko put this one well beyond the reach of most mortal painters!!! What can I say? I love a challenge!

As a one-piece bust, there is really not much to review. And there is no pedestal either! This is not a deal breaker for me, as I tend to rework--or resculpt!--most of the pedestals supplied with busts, but I mention this in the interest of full-disclosure to those who might take the inclusion of such a piece for granted. I have already sculpted a pedestal for our reanimated man-at-arms.

Casting quality is VG. Air bubbles are relatively numerous, but none of these are in critical areas. In fact, you might want to carefully deliberate whether or not to fill the holes on a per item basis: this is after all, a revenant!

All in all, if you want to challenge your painting skill-set, in whatever medium, I can enthusiastically recommend this release. Hopefully I will have some time at the bench in the relatively near future when I can begin to bring this piece back from its peaceful rest. . .

17 August 2012

HULK SMASH! -- Update

This kit is proving to be a delight to work on! Yes, there are a fair number of errant air bubbles, but these are well-defined and easy to remedy. KM's resin caster still has not gotten the hang of avoiding mold-shifts, but on this kit, they are but a couple of significant ones and they are easily handled. On the plus side, the resin is a pleasure to work; and save for the stepped mold shifts, the seams are virtually non-existent!

By way of update, I have separated the the groundwork from the assembled body: it was molded with the leg unit. I have pegged the head and the right fist, as these will undergo some minor re- positioning  [UPDATE: I have "opened" the right fist, allowing for a wider grip. The resin responds to heat better than just about any- thing I've ever used!]. I have also pegged both legs (though I have yet to permanently attach the pegs) and mounted the figure on its work base. Finally, the left arm is now ready to be permanently attached once I finish reworking the waist of the pants. . . but more on this later.

16 August 2012

Knight Models' The Incredible Hulk (3-Options) (KMV031)

Just received this kit (36/500) from Chuck at The Red Lancers. I've never been much of a Hulk fan until relatively recently with my introduction to Greg Pak's Planet Hulk and World War Hulk--and, of course, Mark Ruffalo's character-defining role in The Avengers.

This is KM's second Hulk release. The first one was classic Marvel, and sold out relatively quickly. I thought at the time, "Ah well. . . win some, lose some." I really wasn't too heartbroken about it, as I was less enamored of the figure than I was to have a representation of the Hulk in this manageable scale; and my conversations with people that had it were less than "glowing"--particularly about the casting quality.

I had no idea that I would get a second chance quite so quickly. This version of the Green Goliath is actually a 3-in-1: you have the option to build him as the Green, Red or Grey Hulk, depending on which head you choose; and it includes two sets of mix and match hands.

Hmmm. . . so far, so good. . . except for the price! At just under US$100.00, this is definitely--almost egregiously--overpriced! You are paying almost 50% more than a standard kit for two heads and two hands that you simply cannot use!! I will say this though: this figure is more at 90mm than the usual 65-75mm "scale" of the "normal" pieces, and it is all resin.

In any event, the pain ends there, for what you get  is pretty damn good! The sculpting is excellent; and the casting and fit are VG++ -- a solid B++/A -.

So much for the thumbnail review. I will add to this as the situation warrants; and elaborate a bit further when I post the first shots of the assembled kit: I have already joined the torso to the legs unit.

Until then. . . 

12 August 2012

Batpod (Moebius) - Update

While there still remains loads to do, all the subassemblies have been completed (or as complete as my planning will allow), save for the Handlebars Assembly (Step 4). In short, the kit is just about ready to be given the once over, cleaned, primed, re-inspected, and painted.

In spite of all the shortcomings listed to date, this has been a very fun kit to do! And the best is yet to come as they say. If nothing else, it has allowed me to recapture the joys of modelling; and as a secondary benefit, it has been a most enjoyable preview to the 1/18th scale version tbr later this year.

Stay tuned. . .

FOLLOW-UP - 13.08.2012. . . I have just dry-fitted the three major subassemblies, and I must say I'm delighted! Alignment is not--will not be--an issue, though permanent attachment will require care and patience, and most likely will benefit from repeated dry-runs. Finding a way to "lock" the wheels will also help immensely.

The worst is now over. There are multiple prepping sessions ahead of me until the kit is ready for priming, but all in good time. . .

10 August 2012

Reference: Batpod Kit Pitfalls to be Avoided

This will be an ongoing list of pitfalls inherent in the kit that frankly should have been caught in the test-shot phase, but apparently were overlooked, or - at worst - disregarded:
  • Step 1B -- The hollowed tube on the rt. frame half to which the front chassis connector tube is attached will need to be reduced in length to accommodate the latter--nowhere is this mentioned in the instructions! BUT. . . if you make the front chassis connector tube fit flush against the frame as apparently designed. . . 
  • Step 1C -- . . . the shock absorber will not fit correctly: it should be parallel to the frame. You will have to 1) pre-assemble the shock absorber and bracket; 2) remove the locating peg on the bracket; 3) glue the distal end of the shock absorber to its mounting hole on the left side frame brace; and 4) shift the bracket mount laterally towards the left of the locator hole, checking its location by dry-fitting the engine cover. You will then have to fill the exposed locator hole.
  • Step 1D -- The lower surfaces of the engine cover are angular, straight edges that begin right where the seam lines are! If you clean the seam lines, you eliminate the distinctive lines of the cover. Proceed with caution. 
  • Steps 2 & 3 -- The one-piece wheels have splines that center the tire on the same. The problem is that since the tires are a plasticky vinyl, the splines gouge into the sidewall. Apparently, one is supposed to heat the tires to avoid this (not mentioned in the instructions!); but most on-line discussions recommend removing the splines altogether. I have already done this, but also intend to warm the tires (with hair dryer) before sliding them onto the wheels (nb: 15-30 seconds under a hair dryer set on high works like a charm!).
  • Step 2 -- The munitions clusters on either side of the front wheel are hollow cast. Granted, this is relatively insignificant given the size of the tires; but at the right angle, or upon close scrutiny, all the points racked-up by your hard work will vanish in a micro-second! I strongly suggest covering with sheet plastic, or filling with your favorite epoxy putty (I will probably do the latter).
  • Step 3B -- The brake pedal. This one doesn't quite make sense--nor does it gibe with the reference photos of the actual vehicle. First of all, the brake pedal should be on the right--if it were an English "bike", OK; but not an American bike. Secondly, all the refshots suggest that this is a textured shim (adjustable?) for the ball of the foot; not an operational component. Finally, the right foot rest is shorter by design. Why? Because the toe "cup" which is the actual brake pedal makes up the balance of the rest's length. I hope that I am right about this as I have already begun the corrections. . .
Check back often as I will add to the list as warranted. . .

Notable Acquisitions July 2012

DC Direct Black Lantern Batman MB (1/8th[?] scale, Jean St Jean)
Hasbro Marvel Avengers Hulk (Wal-Mart exclusive "AF")
Moebius Models The Bride of Frankenstein (2 figs.; 1/8th scale, Jeff Yagher) -- SUPERB!
Moebius Models The Dark Knight Bat-pod (1/25th scale)

Batpod (Moebius)

With the then-forthcoming release of TDKR, Christopher Nolan's third installment in the Batman/Dark Knight trilogy, I finally broke-down and purchased Moebius' 1/25th scale Batpod (no. 920). Announced in 2010 (if I'm not mistaken), and released in Fall 2011, this is a petite gem of a kit!

The operative word here is "petite": this is not a kit for the ham-fisted or impatient. Comprised of 49 pieces (47 injection-molded black polystyrene + 2 vinyl tires) exquisitely cast, there is an abundance of fine detailing and assembly intricacies that will bring to the fore every modelling caveat you have ever heard (e.g., dry-fit to the nth, glue once!)! Having said that, there is no rider: Moebius has announced, but has yet to release, what at one time was a four-figure set that has now been reduced to two, one of them being Batman in a prostrate riding position. Personally, this is neither here nor there for me, as I don't think the figures will be state of the art, and will very likely detract from the model, unless one is willing to to invest a considerable amount of time effectively retro-fitting the figure to the 'pod.

The instructions are indisputably thorough and well-presented; however, successful assembly will require a moderate amount of modelling experience and intuition, to say nothing of extensive dry-fitting--at the very least the Skill Level 3 assigned by the manufacturer. Painting instructions are "light", but fortunately the Web in conjunction with the movies will provide all that you might need.

It is more than acceptably accurate--screen and otherwise. I had the opportunity to see one of the movie 'pods in person during this Summer's "Tumbler Tour", and this compares VERY favorably. Certainly as good as you could hope for the price and scale. In fact, this looks decidedly better than the TBR 1/18th scale version with Selina Kyle! I am hoping that the final production version far outshines the prototypes!!

As a final note, there is ample room for embellishment! Not structurally, but rather points of detail familiar to all vehicle modellers: cabling, wiring, etc. etc.

I am still working my way through sub-assembly 1 (Chassis assembly): I am hoping to have this completed and ready for priming by next weekend. UPDATE - 11.08.2012. . . The chassis assembly has been completed. There are still 3 pieces to be attached but this will wait until the wheel subassemblies are completed and everything can be lined up before glue is applied.

More to follow. . .

PS--While this is little more than wishful thinking at this point, I am hoping that Knight Models releases a Batpod with the consumer's choice of Batman or Selina as the rider. . . AND that they make the figure/s available separately! One can dream. . .

08 August 2012

Daimyō, Edo Jidai -- Pre-prep: Molding Interlude (II)

Rather than add yet another update/follow-up to the existing post and risk it being overlooked, a stand-alone notification that the resin arrived today and I now have a a perfect casting of the full left arm! I do so love fresh resin!!

The project can now resume in earnest. The only mod to the full arm will be the replacement/reworking of the cut-down haft of the yari with/into a saihai. This portion of the conversion is still very much on the drawing board. . .

More to follow. . .

UPDATE - 09.08.2012. . . By way of a quick update, the pour sprues and vents have been removed and finished, and the arm fits perfectly!

I am leaning toward removing the cut-down haft completely, and building a complete saihai from scratch.

03 August 2012

Holy licensing!!! -- UPDATE

On 3 March I posted the following:

Though it had been rumored for some time, this weekend's Scale Modelling Fair in Leganés (SP) was the setting of one of the most anticipated "reveals" in the biz: Knight Models has acquired the DC and the LotR licenses!


Let's see what you do with 'em, caballeros! Hopefully, the new product lines will inspire improved production and QC values!!

PS--No word on the future status of the Marvel and/or Star Wars product lines.

By way of update, it appears that the quo for the DC and LOTR quid (literally and figuratively!) was the Star Wars product line: this line has been discontinued by the manufacturer.

From their FB page (posted 15 July):

There have been several questions lately regarding the future of the our Star Wars line. After a lengthy evaluation, Knight Models has decided not to renew the Star Wars license with Lucasfilm. We’ve had a long and fantastic run, but with the economic downturn, we have made the tough decision to discontinue our Star Wars lines and extend the licenses we work with new products as the LOTR , DC, BATMAN films, MARVEL and more.

The license has officially ends
[sic] ,while I know the news is disappointing, we wanted to make this announcement as soon as possible and thank you for being such great fans. It’s been a fantastic ride with the Star Wars community and working with Lucasfilm and you never know when we may circle back again!.

Knightmodels Team

If you want 'em, best get 'em while you can!

01 August 2012

Daimyō, Edo Jidai -- Pre-prep: Molding Interlude

The arm is now bedded in clay and the mold frames should be up by the end of the day. The timing is just about perfect, as I can check everything tomorrow, and maybe even pour the first half of the mold, though I have that scheduled for Friday. Regardless, the mold should be finished by the end of the weekend.

On the reference front, I am awaiting the arrival of my copy of Armures du Japon: 100 pièces sélectionnées dans la collection de la Fondation Kōzu de Kyōtō, edited by Robert Burawoy, from whence our subject's helmet was taken. I have admired this reference from afar since it was first published in 2005, and I am very much looking forward to spending some quality time with it. Even if the helmet in question is given a rather short shrift, there is the amazingly spectacular Mori gusoku gracing the cover!

UPDATE - 03.08.2012. . . Just completed pouring the second half of the mold! As my day is pretty much spoken for tomorrow, I will demold tomorrow night or Sunday. . . and if the gods are in good humor, I might have a casting for the left arm by the end of the weekend. . . ! 

FOLLOW-UP - 05.08.2012. . .Or not. . . The mold came out great! It was the first-time using a Smooth-On RTV silicone product, so I had some newbie jitters; but it was all for naught! However, my slow-set casting resins had all given-up the ghost!! The best that can be said is that the trial casting I made indicated that once I get fresh resin, I can proceed with the project with nary a worry.