31 January 2013

Notable Acquisitions Jan 2013

Knight Models Boba Fett (1/10th scale bust, José Miguel Caballero Delso)
Nocturna Soum - 13 Moons Sect (70mm, Pedro Fernández)
Resin Pimps Warth (1/6th scale[?] bust)

27 January 2013

KATŌ Yoshiaki -- FINISHED!!!

Just put the shikoro in the oven to set the final column of lacing. There is still some final clean-up to do, but otherwise I believe this project can be deemed completed.

This sculpture will be en route to Steve sometime during the week. Joining it will be the Toshiie sculpture. After much consideration, I concluded that the projected changes would essentially require a 60-70% resculpt, and that was a capital investment in time that I did not have. So I reworked, repaired, and refinished the shikoro; cleaned-up the main sculpture (this is a 2-piece sculpt); and updated and revised the refsheet.

I think these will see the light of day sometime in the next 3-4 months. I am hesitant as I do not know the status of Ii or Yamamoto. In any case, as soon as Yoshiaki is available, it will express itself to the painting bench--I am very much looking forward to tackling this piece!

Photos to follow shortly!

FOLLOW-UP 31.01.2013. . . The sculptures are now en route to England! Regrettably, I did not have time to photograph the reworked master of Yoshiaki, but I promise I will provide a 360 once I have a kit in my hands. I really can't wait!!!

By way of follow-up, I spoke with Steve today and he confirmed that Ii and Yamamoto will probably be the last two busts released from the first series. Stay tuned. . . 

22 January 2013

Catwoman and 'Pod -- The End

Always follow your instincts. . .

Back in August, in my review of the larger Pod's smaller predecessor, I mentioned that the 1/25th scale version "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!!"

Sadly, it did not. By way of recap, not only were all the pitfalls found in the original 1/25th scale kit still present, but. . . 
  • sink marks and "soft" details are much more prevalent on this kit.
  • the tires came with dimpled sink marks on one side; and on one of them, the polyvinyl was "blistered" on the defective side, while on the other, the bead was deformed.
  • the instructions had numerous errors--more than on the 1/25th!
  • and, finally, as I pointed out in my initial review, "the figure [is] beautifully cast in resin; but if you expect to build it straight OOB, then think again. Don't get me wrong: the fit is near-perfect, and the castings near-flawless, BUT. . . this is not a particularly well-designed, sculpted, or detailed miniature--think Marx toys, [early Elastolin,] or low/mid-end polystyrene. In fact, unless you are willing to invest a considerable amount of time, research, and effort, it would be best to forget about Selina and enjoy the Pod as a stand-alone model." I left out the laundry list of required correc- tions in my initial review, planning to address these as they came up in the build; but alas, that will now not come to pass.
I provisionally mounted Selina to the Pod to see how the "handlebars" lined-up given that I had modified a boot. My boot modification was seamless: no alteration of the original fit whatsoever! And herein lies the rub: the original fit. Or rather, the original design of the grips: the hands are not protected at all and half the forearm is exposed!!! This was the proverbial straw.

I have not filed this in the circular file cabinet, as I might be sufficiently demented one day to attempt to make it right acceptably better--it would take more time and effort than it's worth to make it right. But they--both of them--have been removed from the bench. And for the time being, that means: out of sight, out of mind. Or at least I hope so. . .

New in 2013

Those of sharper eye will have noticed the addition of a new subject in the ToC: Samurai (Historical).

While this blog has always allowed for historical meanderings, they have been effectively kept to nil. However, certain recent events have prompted me to wind-down my bushi-dedicated historical modelling blog (to be closed in the next 2-3 months), and find a home for the projects therein. Hence the new subject label/folder.

So what prompted this decision?
  1. Sengoku Daimyō has been the target of escalating troll and spam attacks in the last few months. Most of these are coming from overseas. While it is little effort to simply not approve the comment, it is a source of aggravation that I would rather not deal with at this time.
  2. My artistic career is in its final act. I will always be sculpting and/or painting; but the time has come to pursue it for what it now is: a hobby to enjoy as a means of escape from the daily toil. This has been coming for quite some time, but the last year finally drove the point home. The future of this blog was also on the table, but it affords me an economical outlet that the countless other boards I visit--and occasionally participate in--could not.
So what does this mean for you, the readership?

AFAIC, you should see little or no change. In fact, you may see some "improvement". The only real difference is that you potentially might see a drop in the number of new postings, but that will be contingent upon the time I have to spend at the bench.   

Speaking of which, the oven timer just went off. . .

Catwoman and 'Pod (3a) - Selina + "Handlebars"

The modelling portion of the project is definitely fast-coming to an end: I have just completed the "handlebar" [x2] assemblies (Step 5) (more at tillers).

That was the easy part. The respective pieces were assembled with a light application of glue as I strongly suspect there will be some repositioning involved once it comes time to mate the rider and handlebars to the bike itself. Fortunately, the plastic used is somewhat resistant to the "welding" effect of Testor's Liquid cement and areas of slight contact can be easily loosened. Trust me, I know whereof I speak. . .

More to follow. . .

19 January 2013

Catwoman and 'Pod (3) - Selina

I have been working on Selina all along, time and circumstances permitting. Now the time has come to begin focusing on what will be the "centrepiece" of this vignette.

By way of recap, to-date I have:
  • Permanently assembled the legs to the torso.
  • Reworked the neck join to allow for a stand-alone head-neck unit.
  • All-but-completed the "conversion" ("the stock, short 'kitten'-heeled boots must be converted to the serrated stiletto-heeled, platform 'kinky boots' of the character..." ) of the left boot.

To the above I can now add:
  • All-but-completed the reanimation of the legs and fitting of the body to the Pod.
Both legs must be reanimated at the knees as well as the ankles. This is a tedious process given the inherent variability of fit of the various kit parts/subassemblies involved. Patience, commitment, and resiliency will be essential.

By way of "spoilers" to what lies ahead, I will mention that to maximize fit of the body to the Pod, I will have to add the omitted high-density foam inserts to the knee rests, as well as tweak the seat. But all in good time. . .

Stay tuned!

13 January 2013

Catwoman and 'Pod (2)

With the arrival of a usable tire, it was time to forge on. . .  My first step was to knock out the Front (Step 2 - including the back-filling of both munitions clusters, this done with Aves) and Rear (Step 3 - save for the rear break pedal) Wheel Assemblies.

The question now is: how far do I want to go to detail the "off" sides of the munitions clusters? While I was inclined to proceed with sheet plastic enhancements, careful assessment dictated otherwise: all the additional work will be essentially unseen. The model has limitations; and with that in mind, one must work within the limits of what has been provided lest we stand guilty of attempting to make a silk purse from a sow's ear. The time can be much better spent detailing the visible/exposed portions of the clusters, and perfecting the fit (e.g., flash suppressors) and finish.

More to follow. . .

08 January 2013

Catwoman and 'Pod (1c) - KUDOS to Moebius!!!

I heard back from Moebius yesterday, as expected, and accepting the given (. . . "if I sent you a new set they would look exactly the same. . . "), however reluctantly, I am delighted with their response and evinced concern for the customer: to paraphrase, they are going to open kits to find the best tire with a non-distorted bead.  

Obviously, the questions remain: Why wasn't this noticed in the test shots? (Was it evident in the test shots?) Why wasn't this addressed sooner?? If the tires were too large to adequately cast in polyvinyl, why weren't they cast as a unit with the wheels in resin??? Etc. . . .

Be that as it may, in anticipation of the receipt of a usable tire, I have begun reworking the boots. To date, I have pegged the lower legs (paper-clip wire), bisected the lower left leg at the ankle, and repositioned the foot. Next will come the stiletto and the platform. . . Once I get one boot more or less done, I will post images of before (right foot)/after (left).

Stay tuned!

FOLLOW-UP. . . By way of a follow-up--and closure--the replacement tire arrived today. Yes, it still has the release dimples, BUT the seat of bead to rim is PERFECT!
My only remaining question is: Why hasn't this issue surfaced on the forums? *:-? thinking  

PS - The Chassis Assembly (Step 1, A-G) is now complete!

06 January 2013

Catwoman and 'Pod (1b)

I heard back from Moebius Friday afternoon. . .

"Unfortunately the dimples you see are from the molding process, if I sent you a new set they would look exactly the same. We try our best to put out a perfect product but due to the complexity of our tooling and manufacturing processes, sometimes these things occur and sadly we cannot always correct the issue in time. I will forward this email to our designers to see if there is something that can be done to correct this with future runs. Sorry for the inconvenience."

While this raises any number of questions, etc., I responded that evening and hopefully will hear back from them sometime tomorrow.

In the meantime, I have permanently attached the knee-rest subassembly, and tentatively fitted Selina to the 'pod. I also began reworking the neck join on Selina so that the head is a complete stand-alone piece: OOB, half her neck was part of the head, with the bottom half attached to the torso. . . not the best engineering to effect a seamless neck-join! Needless to say, the position- ing of the head can/will now be optimized to give the figure a more natural, dynamic look.

As soon as I hear from Moebius, I will post their response--and my decision whether to continue with the 1/18th 'pod; or scrap it and convert Selina into a stand-alone (literally!) 90mm figure.

More to follow. . .

05 January 2013

A glorious afternoon, and Boba Fett. . .

At year's end, I was invited to visit the workplace of one of the major on-line gaming and miniatures retailers in the business, Cool Mini or Not. So on Friday (yesterday), my lady and I made our way north to take them up on their generous offer. . .

It was one of the best afternoons in recent memory! The weather was crisp, cool and sunny-- which took me back some 15 years to my last championship game in roller hockey a mere mile or so down the road. We first ran into Travis, whom we first met at the AMFS show last year, pleasant and welcoming as always; and shortly thereafter we were ushered into the warehouse, which is now overseen by Josh, a fellow hockey fanatic and all-around great guy!

WOW!!! As I told Josh, I now know what Santa's warehouse looks like. What a rush!! Figures, accessories and supplies, oh my! I quickly selected what I had come for (more on this below), but there was no rush whatsoever--in fact, my lady picked up a "picking basket", and a casual hour later had picked up SMOG 1888's Mrs. Dudley; Studio McVey's new release, Hathya; and BaneBeast's Krull, a monster of a masterpiece!

We spent the rest of our time there talking shop with Travis, who is in the process of putting together a 28-30mm WWII Soviet wargaming army. No short cuts were being taken, and I am hoping he has a decently-sized sample of his work at the Atlanta Show in a few weeks: ought to be impressive!

Time flew and we just beat rush-hour traffic, which on a Friday can turn a 40-minute jaunt into an hours-long trek. Our sincere thanks to our most gracious hosts, the good people at Cool Mini or Not.

My main reason for going was to inspect and hopefully pick-up KM's 1/10th scale bust of Boba Fett (KSTB002). I am not that great of a fan of Fett, Jr., or this particular rendition; but it would be a superb base to convert into Boba's father, Jango Fett, IF I could find a decent casting. As I had explained to Josh, this had been one of the poorest received miniatures from this line (and that is saying something!) due to production problems which they apparently chose to ignore rather than aggressively address: at last count (before losing the Lucasfilm license) they were on their third (!) caster. Given the problems I have had with Knight Models over the last four years, I was averse to putting money out without any reasonable assurance of receiving what I am paying for. 

CMON had two of the 4-piece busts in stock (nos. 135 and 136): they are now apparently O/S! Both of these were superbly cast from relatively fresh molds in the now-standard light grey PUR. Were the castings perfect? No; but I would still rate them as VG+++. Save for a few (< 10) stray air holes, and the usual fit problems (these more at design and pre-production than molding and casting), this is a top-notch kit!

The main difficulties involving this conversion revolve around correcting the imprecise, seemingly unfinished, stylizations of the sculptor, José Miguel Caballero Delso. This is essentially an armoured figure, and armour demands symmetry; or if there is asymmetry, purpose and pre- cision. The helmet is very, VERY good; but the "coat of plates" and the jetpack shell leave much to be desired! This 'new school' approach to figures where the painting is expected to hide the shortcomings of the canvas is pure rubbish! If one buys a figure, one should be able to display it unpainted if one so desires!! Not this one -- or its many disappointing stablemates.

That being said, I am delighted with my acquisition (many thanks yet again to Josh and the team at CMON!), and quite excited at the prospect of what lies ahead: to have an "original" bust of the father of Boba Fett and the Clone Troopers in my collection!

03 January 2013

Catwoman and 'Pod (1a)

First of all. . . a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year to the readership! 

Things are finally beginning to normalize after a brutal year-end at work, and while I am stilI a few days away from returning to the bench, my mind can once again begin to think of things not involving numbers and wonky software. . .

First up, the 1/18th scale Bat Pod. As much as I tried to rationalize the defective tires, there is simply no way I could--would!--invest the time and effort to detail the kit and "upgrade" the figure, only to have the illusion shattered by obviously factory-defective tires!

I have reached out to Moebius to see if they will provide a replacement set. . .

On a more positive note, I have assembled the legs to the torso of Selina, and have begun to plot out the rework of the boots.

More to follow. . .