31 December 2014

Mercury Models' 75mm Viking Warrior

My latest acquisition--and I think we can safely say the last figure I will acquire in 2014--is Mercury Models' 75mm Viking Warrior, brilliantly sculpted by none other than Yury Serebry- akov. By way of introductory background, Mercury Models is a Russian company launched in May, 2013. To date offering full figures in 54 and 75mm, as well as 200mm busts, hitherto they have concentrated on pre-Modern--pre-Renaissance to be precise--subjects.

My version is the limited-edition resin offering: they also offer this figure in white metal. It is com- prised of 6 pieces + a stony outcropping that serves as the groundwork. The fit is a little bit "rough" overall, but not where it counts and certainly well within expectations, so no problems there. And the design is impressive, to say the least! The same can be said for the quality of the castings!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!

As to what I intend to do with this figure, I will use it as a base to represent a Free Folk (bka "Wildlings" to those South of The Wall) raider. Mods and enhancements will be minimal--as of this writing. . .

More to follow!

HAPPY NEW YEAR to one and all!!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

27 December 2014

Andrea's "Dragon Lady" -- Reflections

Within the fortnight, I fully expect to have the "Mother of Dragons" safely ensconced in the dis- play cabinet. With that in mind, I thought I would share some thoughts with you re: this Andrea offering. . . 

First of all, let me just state up front that this figure is not licensed. So what, you say?! And to a point, I would have to agree since the only licensed, unpainted model kits that I know of are those marketed by Dark Sword Miniatures. Frankly, I think the "gorilla in the room" was/is not the creator and author, George R.R. Martin (who is a huge fan of what we do!), but rather HBO: all of DSM's offerings are based on the literary characters, not the televised ones. 

This figure was lambasted based on images of a relatively mediocre rendering of the subject the minute it was announced! This is an aspect of the Internet that I'd just as soon do without. In a world driven by so-called social media, it is acceptable to start and/or join the hue & cry--espe- cially when sheltered by anonymity and under no obligation, moral or otherwise, to act respon- sibly and offer at the very least a retraction. 

I am all for critical evaluation of any piece for sale. However, to do so sight unseen and under a pseudonym is pusillanimous and contemptible! And to stone a figure with rocks of ignorance and pettiness simply because it does not meet ones expectations, whatever those might have been, is beneath contempt!!

And what does it say about the state of the hobby today when a figure's merits--or lack thereof-- are largely determined by the finished end-product in all its PS'd glory?! I have NEVER been a fan of using the painted figure as a promotional hook, if only because we are denied our right as con- sumers to see the product we are buying!

This is the state of the hobby today. A figure is judged by a mob mentality--a largely blind one, I might add. The Academic mindset, so consciously and assiduously suppressed in the 80s and 90s, has now reached unfettered--and unimaginable!--heights. It promotes what it likes, or what is considered "the standard" (by whom?), and represses what it doesn't. And this is Art? Little did an old colleague of mine realize how prescient and discerning his indictment of the hobby was some 15 years ago! And that was before the "age of computers"!!

But I digress. . . as I mentioned in the original posting, this figure has "taken me back to the hal- cyon days of the 80s and 90s: 54mm, quality white-metal castings with minimal breakdown of parts, and average (or above!) fit. . ." Would I feel the same way about this figure if I had not been already an avid miniaturist in the last quarter of the 20th c.? I'd like to think so. . .

This is by no means a perfect figure, but I stand by my original statement: This is the best ren- dition of [Emilia Clarke in the role of] Daenerys 'Stormborn' of House Targaryen, First of Her Name at her defining moment that I have seen to date! And if you like the subject, or at all curi- ous/interested, and you can still work your way around a 54mm figure, I highly recommend it! Kudos to whomever sculpted it!!

AMF

26 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Painting: The Dragons and Wrapping-up

The babies are cleaned-up, pegged, PRIMED(!), and curing in the oven. I intend to have them at the very least uc'd by the end of this weekend: it is critical that I stop at a natural step since I will not be picking up a brush until the following weekend. . .

Stay tuned!. . . 

26.12.2014 - Drogon's wings (Reaper Magma Red) and Rhaegal have been undercoated. 
27.12.2014
  • Viserion undercoated
  • Eggshells sculpted in SSF, finished and permanently attached to base. 
  • Phase 1 (acrylics) of the hair completed.
  • Rhaegal's dorsal surface and Dany's left hand painted. 
  • Eggshells (Drogon's and Rhaegal's) painted.
 28.12.2014
  • Rhaegal permanently attached.
  • Dany's left wrist and Rhaegal's wing faired to her forearm with MS.
  • Viserion painted -- I intend to have him permanently attached by Tuesday latest. 
 29.12.2014
  • Viserion permanently attached. The tail (cast en suite to Dany's calf) has been faired to his body (MS).
  • Drogon's ventral surface (that facing the viewer) painted. 
  • Dany's eyes glazed (Liquin).

 “When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

25 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Painting: Phase 2 (Oils)

Phase 2 has largely been a fine-tuning phase of selective enhancement and overall modulation-- as I had hoped for! While I was perfectly OK with having to add another layer to augment or re- duce some areas, that--thankfully--proved unnecessary. Phase 2 will probably continue up to the point of commencing Phase 3, which will not be launched until the subject has been permanently transferred to her display base. 

Moving right along. . . 

FOLLOW-UP. . . Phase 2 of the Groundwork has been completed as well. The groundwork is now ready to receive the main subject.

The weekend will be spent finishing the prepwork on the babies, and preparing them for painting.

UPDATE 26.12.2014. . . Daenerys has been permanently transferred to her display base! While there is still quite a bit of finishing to be done on her, what remains is more integrative than any- thing else; hence, Phase 2 will likely continue until the project is deemed completed.

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

24 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Painting: Phase 1 (Oils)

Given the "free style" approach dictated by this figure, I decided to lay out my palette, and simply paint. There are no clothes, no hard line separations (save for the hair), and the scale is not an issue in any way, shape or form. 

This is Phase 1, which in this instance, is the "glazing" phase. This is not a true glazing applica- tion, rather, it is merely substituting the usual Turpenoid with linseed oil as a thinner. This not only thins the paint uniformly, but extends the working time--always a consideration when using flesh tones/browns--without unduly extending the workable drying time.   

There will be one more application of oils (Phase 2), and then I will wrap her up with weathering, etc. (Phase 3). 

I also concluded Phase 1 of the Groundwork, also in oils.

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

21 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Painting: Eyes

After careful consideration, I opted to paint the eyes before breaking out the oils. . . 

The eyes are critical on this piece. Yes, yes. . . I know what most of you are thinking, if not ac- tually saying; but I have long held that while eyes are important, they are not--shouldn't be!--the focal point of any figure smaller than 1/6th scale! On this piece, however, the eyes are critical if only because if poorly painted, they will "ruin" the figure, no matter how well painted and/or staged it might be. You need look no further than the boxart for proof. . . 


 
The eyes are perfectly cast--at least on my sample--and this makes for a rather easy undertaking to deal with the basic applications. 

Emilia Clarke's eyes are essentially the same colour as Peter Dinklage's. Thus, I first blocked-in the irises with Vallejo Gold-Brown: this will serve as the undercoat, if you will. I then overpainted the irises with oils, using a custom grey-green mix. The pupils will be added once the face is completely  done, as the final tonality of the irises will be determined by the final coloration of the face. 

That endeavor will commence later this week. . .

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

Notable Acquisitions December 2014

KITS  
Andrea Dragon Lady (54mm, ???)
Dragon Guardians of the Galaxy - Rocket Raccoon (~1/5th scale, ???)
Dragon Guardians of the Galaxy - Groot with Rocket Raccoon (1/9th scale, ???)
Mercury Models Viking Warrior (75mm, Yury Serebryakov)

Holiday Greetings '14

I try to provide a new, contemplative, Holiday preamble to this annual year-end tradition; but last year's seems even more fitting of the way 2014 has unwound, thus I will exercise the "Redux Option". . . 

This year has seemingly flown by! And I expect the last fortnight or so will be a warp-drive run into 2015!!

Whether that is a good thing or not is entirely subjective. I truly hope that most of us will see it as page 1 of a highly-anticipated, hot-off-the-presses novel, but I completely understand--and empathize--if expectations are tempered. . .

Regardless, make sure to take some time for yourselves this Holiday Season: plot out a new project; or make some inroads on an ongoing venture; or simply wrap-up that poor soul that has been desperately clamoring for completion! Make this Holiday fortnight truly memorable!! 

And above all, enjoy whatever time you have with family and friends, for they are the ones who will willingly and selflessly be at our side in the 365-day journey that is right around the corner.

So, without further ado, I would like to take this opportunity to wish the readership a joyous, rest- ful, peaceful--and, yes, productive!-- Holiday Season; and a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.

Thank you for your patronage and support.

MERRY CHRISTMAS
HAPPY HANUKKAH
FELIZ NAVIDAD
BUON NATALE
FRÖLICHE WEINACHTEN
JOYEUX NOËL
CRĂCIUN FERICIT
MERII KURISUMASU
WESOŁYCH ŚWIĄT BOŻEGO NARODZENIA
S'ROZHDESTVOM KRISTOVYM
SUNG TAN CHUK HA

Augie

20 December 2014

Dragon 1/9 Guardians of The Galaxy - Groot with Rocket Raccoon (#38341)

The third release in Dragon’s sub-series dedicated to this Summer’s blockbuster hit, Guardians of the Galaxy is the intergalactic dynamic duo of everyone's favourite trickster, Rocket Raccoon, and his arboreal companion with a VERY limited human vocabulary, Groot. The breakdown of the kit is as follows: 

  • Rocket: 9 PV pieces + "THE GUN" (7 polystyrene pieces).
  • Groot: 11 solid PV pieces.
  • Black polystyrene base.

Except for the base, all the pieces are cast in a neutral grey. 

I will stand by my original caveat re: PV kits: unless you have extensive experience working with polyvinyl, I would keep any reductive/invasive surface modifications to an absolute minimum; i.e.,  these kits should be approached literally straight OOB! That being said, the PV used, though obviously softer, responds beautifully to sharp burrs at low speeds! 

In conclusion, I am delighted to say Dragon is once again in fine form, and this kit represents outstanding value for the money! A groot. . . unh, great. . . kit!!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

16 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Painting: Undercoating

IT. . . HAS. . . BEGUN!!!

I have just finished "undercoating" the figure of Daenerys. Just so that we're all on the same page, if I refer to any painting at this point, it will concern Dany exclusively. I will address each of the offspring individually when the time comes: as much as they truly are the "stars" of the piece, for all practical purposes they are accessory items.

I undercoated Dany in a series of washes using Vallejo Game Color's Elf Skintone: this is no more than a tint of a 'heavier', ruddier flesh colour such as Model Color Beige-Red. 

Once was satisfied with the washes, I scrub-stippled pure Elf Skintone on the structural highlights to begin creating a 'road-map' that I could follow in the next step: glazing with oils.

That's it for now! More to follow. . .

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

14 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Painting: Priming

The "Mother of Dragons" is now primed, and has been transferred to the paint bench!

I decided to try a more dynamic, layered, multi-media approach to painting her, so I primed her with Rustoleum Sandable Auto Primer--[Dark] Grey. 

I will hopefully begin to sling paint by this time next week. . . In the meantime, there are three newborns that I had best see to before they burn the workbench down. . . *;) winking

More to follow! 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

13 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Prepwork: Groundwork 5

The groundwork is now DONE! 

I will conclude final fitting of the figure tomorrow morning, and, if all is to my satisfaction, the base will be primed/undercoated by end-of-day tomorrow. DONE!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

"Mother of Dragons" - Painting: PPP

What is PPP? "PPP" is simply "Pre-Prime Prep". It is the final surfacing of a figure that would otherwise be ready for priming. As such, it is a largely optional--and subjective--step that is all-too-often overlooked, if not outright disregarded. 

In the scene in question, Dany emerges from the funeral pyre of her "Sun and Stars", her clothes burnt away and her body covered in ash, but otherwise unharmed. And with her are three hatch- ling dragons. Once she has stood from the ashes and debris, Drogon rises, spreads its wings and screams, announcing the return of dragons to the world, the first in over a century and a half!

Sorry for the digression. . . As Dany is covered in ash and burnt particulates, I felt it critical that these be integral to the foundational surface of the figure, as well as enhanced by post-painting applications. So I began glazing the figure, selectively building-up the glaze and texturing those areas. Once completely dry, I will inspect the work, and reapply as required. 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

"Mother of Dragons" - Prepwork: Groundwork 4

Phases 1 and [mostly] 2 of the groundwork are DONE! All that remains is careful application of the groundcover, and anchoring (read: gluing) the larger items (adapted from J's Works Terrain Series--EXCELLENT product!), but this will have to wait until the putty is cured. 

So far, so good. . . 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

12 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Prepwork: Groundwork 3

The design of the groundwork has been finalized!

Once I prepare my ground cover, I should be able to complete the groundwork in an afternoon.

More to follow! 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

11 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Prepwork: Observation #2

What is it with GoT 's miniatures and coiffures? 

I was trying to finalize the work on Dany's head this evening when I realized that the problem is not so much with the head/face, but rather the 'do! I ran into the same "thing" with John Snow, and to a lesser degree with Tyrion!

*~X( at wits' end

And that is precisely what is called for!

I should have her all-but-done by the end of the weekend. . .

Stay tuned!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

10 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Prepwork: Groundwork 2

The modified metal groundwork has now been permanently attached to the display pedestal, and the figure fitted--all good!

Once I receive a couple of items, the elaboration of the groundwork can begin in earnest. . .

Stay tuned!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

09 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Prepwork: DONE!

Admittedly, a wee bit of an overstatement; but for all intents and purposes, Daenerys Stormborn is ready for priming!

There is still a bit of work to be done on the face and head, the latter vis-à-vis Drogon. And I will be doing "spot-priming" to make sure I have not overlooked any seam lines--and to begin textur- ing the flesh! Assuming there are no rude surprises in the next fortnight, she is scheduled to be primed on Christmas Eve!

In the meantime, I will continue the finishing work on the babies--detailing, polishing, and mount- ing for painting; and shift my attention ot the groundwork, which I will hopefully have ready for priming along with Daenerys. 

It's been a lot of fun to this point--hopefully the best is yet to come!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

08 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Prepwork: Groundwork and. . .

In an earlier posting, I broached the topic of the groundwork and pegging. What remains of the metal groundwork is now ready to be transferred to the permanent display pedestal

As to the pegging, I stand by my original statement: the ankles are too delicate. "Fools rush in...", and I ain't no fool! That being said, I opted for a compromise solution: I drilled a hole into the mounting blocks past the arches of the respective feet. This will allow me to stage, complete, and paint the groundwork without having to work around the figure; and, conversely, paint the figure off the groundwork as I normally would. Once completed, the primary attachment points will be the foot blocks in their respective openings, reinforced by the copper wires into the wood of the pedestal.

More to follow. . .  

By way of FOLLOW-UP, I believe--hope!--that the putty work has been completed on the figure. There was not much, I assure you; and most of the work was to satisfy my requirements for--and vision of--the canvas. All the putty work that remains will involve the finishing work when attaching the babies to Daenerys.

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

07 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons" - Prepwork: Observation

I am steadily making my way through the clean-up of Daenerys, and it has taken me back to the halcyon days of the 80s and 90s: 54mm, quality white-metal castings with minimal breakdown of parts, and average (or above!) fit. . . 

But I digress. . . I was cleaning-up Viserion when it struck me that the uncredited sculptor, con- sciously or not, has scaled the babies accordingly. It's a subtle difference that enhances the placement of the dragons, to say nothing of their relative pecking order. 

WELL DONE!!!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

06 December 2014

Let the 'labor pains' begin. . . Prepwork

While I stand by my original statement re: clean-up, it is never that easy. . . not if you want to do it right. 

To date, I have cleaned up and polished the outer seam lines. These were quite light, and the process went quickly. The inner seam lines are equally as light; however, their relatively limited access, along with the in situ details (mainly dragon extremities), demand--require!--a prudent approach. HASTE MAKES WASTE!!!

I have also completed modification of the groundwork. The groundwork looks like a typical camp- fire: a bare patch of sandy soil encircled by a ring of stones and pieces of wood. While conveying the essence and mood of the depicted scene, it is decidedly inaccurate, to say nothing of confin- ing. So I removed the border ring, leaving me a textured plinth with the foot openings intact. It is the latter that are critical to preserve, as I am not in the mood to carefully drill peg holes past the delicate ankles--or deal with the probable consequences!

Finally, I have begun detailing the dragons. My main focus has been on Drogon: I have sculpted eyes, redefined the snout, and begun thinning the wings. 

More to follow!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

05 December 2014

"Mother of Dragons"

About a week ago, I received the monthly Andrea newsletter, and there before my eyes was a figure that they titled, "Dragon Lady". Well, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and this is the best rendition of Daenerys 'Stormborn' of House Targaryen, First of Her Name at her defining moment that I have seen to date! If you read the postings, comments, and "critiques" on other sites, it will be obvious rather quickly that I am in a distinct minority--albeit an informed one.

And Daenerys arrived today! She was listed in my letter to Santa, and 'Santa', in all her generous wisdom, presented her to me early.

The kit is comprised of 4 white-metal pieces (one-piece Daenerys + Drogon, Rhaegal, and Vise- rion) + the wm groundwork. The castings are pristine--and in a surprising new twist, have been partially pre-finished. My particular sample appears to be much finer than the one Andrea used in their Unboxing video--but let's keep in mind that the figure is significantly magnified in the video!! Regrettably, the magnification of the piece may have backfired on the folks at Andrea if the pre- vailing comments are any indication. Also the finished example leaves much to be desired: the "Mother of Dragons" deserves better--and more!

I intend to start working on her this weekend. Unless I have overlooked some yet-to-be-seen “rough” spots, it should take no longer than an afternoon and change to get her ready for priming.

All in all, I am very pleased. If you are at all interested, now is the time to act: one piece castings are especially susceptible and conducive to mold deterioration!

Stay tuned!

PS--I forgot to mention that this kit has no byline! I don't quite know what to make of this. . . 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

30 November 2014

Captain Rogers Stealth Suit - Prepwork (IX) - Groundwork

I have consciously opted for an underbased presentation with Cap. My intention is to depict him on the [rear] cargo ramp of a Quinjet just prior to insertion. To this end, the figure's "footprint" will be but 3" x 3".

The base has been selected and the peg-holes tapped, and the sheet plastic is on order. . .

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

28 November 2014

Captain America--STRIKE Stealth Suit - Painting (I - Redux)

I got home from work today and I wanted to have something to show for the derailing events of last weekend--and the hell that was work this week!

When we last spoke, I had pretty much opted-out of the rattle cans. But I just wasn't in the mood to airbrush this evening; and, given the color of Cap's Stealth Suit, the "dark" grey color of Rusto- leum Sandable Auto Primer--Grey was a no-brainer. In fact, there will be areas that I intend to paint straight over the primer. So, I shook the can for a good minute and a half, and fired away. Less than 2 minutes later, I had a beautifully-primed, smooth, matte-finish figure--with absolutely no clean-up! 

Hmmm. . . there might be something to these rattle cans after all. . . 

As a final note, I will probably be priming the head with Mr. Surfacer 500. While I could probably get away with using the Rustoleum Grey, the very fine detail on the helmet and undercoating the skin tones would benefit from a lighter--literally and figuratively--primer. FOLLOW-UP 29.11.2014- After letting the primer cure for 24 hrs., I was most impressed with the results: no apparent loss of detail. . . ANYWHERE! And it dries significantly lighter than when first applied; not Tamiya or Floquil "light", but certainly workable. Hmmm. . .

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

26 November 2014

Notable Acquisitions November 2014

KITS  
GILLman Productions Twisty the Clown (1/4th scale bust, Mark Van Tine)
Pegasus Hobbies Spinosaurus (1/24, Galileo Hernández Núñez and Scott Willis) nb: Yet      another fantastic offering from Pegasus, the best providers of PV kits on the market!

25 November 2014

Primers. . . reconsidered

As some of you know--or might have guessed--I am not at all a fan of "rattle cans". They are wasteful in the extreme; and any control you think you might have is largely illusory. If there are any graffiti artists in the readership, my hat is off to you all! But for me, I simply don't like them. Different strokes. . . and certainly different canvasses!

So the research continued well into today during my break periods at work, and I've decided to stick with what I know. I still have a couple of bottles of G-S Mr. Surfacer 500 squirreled away, and while this is the coarsest of the G-S "liquid putties", it has the tooth/grain I have long missed in my primers. While the original Floquil primer could be applied silky smooth, by dialing back the pressure somewhat and increasing the distance, you could achielve a nice "tooth" that locked-in the subsequent layers of paint and broke up the sheen of the oils in record time (increased tooth increases the surface area of oxidation)!

According to some articles/postings I have read, the Surfacer number (500/1000/1200; with a Finishing Surfacer available in 1500) is roughly equivalent to sand-paper grit. I don't know the veracity of this assertion; but like I said, I like some texture on my primer. And the areas that require a smooth finish can easily be touched up post-curing with fine sandpaper or a finishing pad--or a coarse paper towel! 

So when I got home, I broke out the Mr. Surfacer 500 and conducted some test runs, using the vinyl neck post as my subject. I used both Mr. Color Thinner and lacquer thinner as paint thin- ners--each worked equally well. And I must say that once you get it thinned (start with 60:40 thinner to Surfacer; be prepared to go as high as 70:30!), and you let it sit at least an hour post- application, you have a hard, durable, matte surface that is scratch resistant, sandable, and does not compromise any of the fine detail of the miniature.

Downside? VERY aromatic. As in aromatic hydrocarbons. I would not spray this without a respirator and adequate ventilation. Well. . . I would--and do. . . but everybody should heed the warnings and prepare/proceed accordingly. 

And yes, once the Holidays are over, I will be ordering a bottle--or two--of Surfacer 1000 to add to the "palette". . . 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

24 November 2014

Primers

In case anyone hadn't noticed, modelling life used to be much easier. Not only were there fewer products on the market (the redundancy and one-upmanship game has gotten out of control!), but there was little if any government intervention. This allowed the product to do what it was supposed to do nearly 100% of the times, as opposed to the current "roll the dice and take your chances" approach to products from which the government has felt compelled to protect us.

This vent/rant is by way of preface to my research into primers as a result of yesterday's debacle. I found this excellent summary on why primers should be used on one of the many sites I have visited in the last two days:
  • Primers are the anchors for the new paint system. There are big differences in the quality of primers on the market.
  • A primer is wasted if surface preparation is not thorough.
  • Take time to ensure all surfaces are thoroughly clean and free from contaminants.
"Well, duh?!" you might say? I have repeatedly seen projects that have foregone surface prep, and not a few that have skipped the critical priming step altogether. In this day and age when we have nary a clue of how a piece was cast and/or the formulation of the casting medium, to not use a primer is the height of folly! And I would have to say that your favorite song is "Flirtin' with Disaster"!!

Before closing, I wanted to share with you that I will be priming Cap (and all subsequent PV figures) with a light coat of Rustoleum Sandable Auto Primer--Grey, followed by a final coat of Rustoleum Painter's Touch® Ultra Cover 2x Primer Grey. The reason for the latter is that the former is a rather dark slate grey, while the latter is a normal "primer grey". If it works as I hope it will, I will be buying at least 2-3 additional cans of each, 'cause with such goodies as xylene (Dio-Sol!!!) and toluene in the mix, I can't see Uncle Sam leaving these products be for long!

*X( angry

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

23 November 2014

Captain America--STRIKE Stealth Suit - Painting (I)

A [CAUTIONARY] TALE OF WOE

The first coat of primer went on well, but it revealed two pesky seam lines that I had completely overlooked. I was very tempted to "fill" them with G/S Mr. Surfacer 500; but this was an oversight on my part, so I might as well do it right. The primer also revealed a couple of spots that would require putty intervention.

So far so good. I carefully placed the reworked, primed figure in the oven to accelerate the curing of the MS, and that's when everything went b***'s-up! I went to check the progress of the curing putty when I noticed that the primer coat was quite shiny; and when I carefully touched it, it was tacky! Now, everybody knows--or should know--that enamel paints will not cure on PV figures, which is why I was very careful in selecting one of my remaining bottles of Floquil lacquer-based primer. The joke--a bad one--was on me: the bottle had been mislabeled!

At this point, I had but two choices: dump the figure; or make the best of a bad situation. Three cigarettes later, I opted for the latter. I will have to very carefully remove all the bad primer (since it did not cure, it is readily removable using lacquer thinner), and then re-prime using a lacquer- based primer.

So I'm back to the original timetable--though whether or not I can start uc'ing next weekend is yet to be seen. My main reservation is that I will have to use a spray-can to prime. . .

FOLLOW-UP . . . THE SILVER LINING

98+% of the bad primer has now been removed, so, at worst, only a day was lost. The good news is that I discovered a very useful bit of knowledge: all PV (read: soft-ish vinyl) figures should be thoroughly wiped-down with lacquer thinner prior to applying any paint [NOTE: test on a small, inconspicuous part first!]. This not only removes any mold release and essentially degreases the figure, it leaves a semi-matte-to-matte surface sheen that effectively acts as a primer coat to reveal any surface blemishes, etc.

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

22 November 2014

Star-Lord -- Head

I set aside the boots and began work on the 3-piece masked head. Please note that the kit also includes a one-piece, bare-faced likeness of Chris Pratt (B).

The head components are the nicest castings of the lot! The neck portion fits seamlessly into the main mask unit, requiring no work whatsoever. The hair piece fits equally well; however, I feel there is too much forehead and need to sits lower "in" the mask. Opinions may vary. . .

This is a relatively quick and effortless fix. I simply ground down the plug and reduced the sides until the anticipated results were achieved.

Once I finish cleaning the mask, I will permanently assemble the head. 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

21 November 2014

Star-Lord -- Boots. . . Step 1: Baby steps

Let the journey begin. . . 

As I said, I will begin with the boots. Given their construction, a scale miniature of these would be challenging at best in any medium. Let me just say that "the devil is in the details", and that the more research you do, the better you will be prepared to tackle these bad boys.

I chose the left boot (P) as my "shallow-end of the pool", if only because the extended knee flap (à la Hessian boots) was truncated on the left boot. 

I began by grinding off the seam line. This revealed that many of the details in the actual items were indeed incorporated in the design of the piece--but very poorly reproduced! Soft detail is part and parcel with this type of PV, but this kit is one of the poorer examples I have seen. 

To this point, I have removed the seam line/s, thinned and sharpened some of the layers, fitted the boot to the leg, and drilled out the mounting peg. I'm actually quite pleased with how this is shaping up. . . BUT, I have yet to begin undercutting in earnest. And once that is done, I still have to resculpt a plethora of straps, posts, and rivet heads. This may not be the most difficult aspect of this project, but it will certainly be one of the most taxing. 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

17 November 2014

Captain Rogers Stealth Suit - Prepwork (VIII) - DONE!!!

I truly hope I am not being premature here, but as far as I can tell, the prepwork on the body is a fait accompli! I would add that the head and the shield are still undergoing prepwork, but these are well on their way to completion as well.

So, time permitting--and no "derailing" of plans, by the end of this weekend the body should be be primed. Once the primer is applied, there will invariably be areas requiring a modicum of additional work; but if I have done my job as I hope I have, these should be little more than quick touch-ups. . . 

Which means that with any luck at all, the undercoating will begin over the Holiday weekend!

Stay tuned!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

16 November 2014

Dragon 1/9 scale Guardians of the Galaxy – Star-Lord (#38339)

Peter Quill--interplanetary rapscallion and heir to [at least one] awesome mix tape from the late 60’s early 70’s! No? Well, you might know him as . . . Star-Lord!

This is the first release in Dragon’s sub-series dedicated to this Summer’s blockbuster hit, Guardians of the Galaxy. It is comprised of 21 solid polyvinyl pieces + 1 [black] polystyrene base. As with most (all?) the Dragon model kits, the items that have exposed flesh (in this in- stance, the heads—there are two heads provided: one masked (U + V), one bare (B)) are molded in a semi-translucent, flesh-colored PV; the rest of the kit—including the separate mask (A)--is molded in a neutral grey PV.


As always, unless you have extensive experience working with polyvinyl, I would keep any reduc- tive/invasive surface modifications to an absolute minimum: these kits should be approached literally straight OOB! Unfortunately, that would disqualify this kit for the overwhelming majority of miniaturists! I purchased this kit as a long-term reclamation project with the hope that I would receive a VG (or better!) casting, but expecting otherwise. Depending on your expectations and requirements, this kit will demand you exercise all of your modelling skillsets—and then some! Especially as this kit also falls way short in the [movie-]accuracy category, most notably the pants (D) and detail-rich overcoat tails (Q).

IMHO, this kit represents a significant “step-back” from their, for example, Captain America Stealth Suit offering. As such, I cannot recommend it without significant caveats. That being said, if you enjoy a challenge, can moderate your expectations, and are a fan of the character, you might very well give this one a long, hard second look. . .

PS--Hands-on report to follow upon receipt. . .

UPDATE 20.11.2014 - It has arrived. . . and while I had prepared myself for the worse, the magni- tude of the work that would be required to get this to competition standards is practically over- whelming.  Thus, it will indeed be a "a long-term reclamation project", worked in sections at a relaxed pace. Rocket and the Rocket/Groot vignette are right around the corner, so hopefully they [Dragon] will recover some of their form for these releases. . .

UPDATE 21.11.2014 - As many of you have heard me say at one time or another, "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Yesterday's assessment is no less valid, but compart- mentalizing the work to be done into self-contained "mini-projects", as opposed to looking upon the totality of the work before me, has provided a much-needed revised perspective. And so, the project will be launched in the next few days, beginning with the boots. . . 

STAY TUNED!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

11 November 2014

Captain Rogers Stealth Suit - Prepwork (VII) - Home Stretch

The remaining putty work is now DONE! I can now resume my final once-over and begin address- ing those areas requiring a tad bit more attention. And the shield has been pegged and tentative- ly fitted. . . 

Movin' right along. . . 

FOLLOW-UP . . . All joins and MS-enhanced areas have been putty-glazed.

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

10 November 2014

Captain Rogers Stealth Suit - Prepwork (VI)

The anticipated deadline will unfortunately not be met.

I was well on my way to completing the final once-over, with but a few areas that would require less-than-an-hour of further attention all told, when I noticed that the lower buckles on the gaiters had been traversed by the mold seam! This is the kind of ill-conceived mold design that drives modelers and miniaturists to apoplexy!! *~X( at wits' end

If this were resin, it would be classified as a minor, albeit unnecessary, annoyance. But it isn't; and, as we have seen, PV is another ballgame altogether. I intend to try to scrape off the offend- ing seamlines as best I can, but I have resigned myself to sculpting two new buckles. . .

Stay tuned. . .

FOLLOW-UP . . . The buckles have been successfully "cleaned" with grinder, blade, and Scotch-brite. That is the good news.

The bad news is that I will have to restore at least one prong and any number of holes. . .

UPDATE 11.11.2014 - Three prongs and all the holes later, I am back to where I started yester- day. Tentative priming deadline is now the Thanksgiving holiday weekend--though I will have to work on Black Friday. . .

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

08 November 2014

Citi-Def Trooper -- UPDATE (2)

The "stumps" have been modeled and preliminarily fitted. And the left arm has been permanently attached. . . 

LET THE FINAL FINISHING BEGIN!!!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

06 November 2014

Citi-Def Trooper -- UPDATE

Not much to tell, but some notable progress nonetheless. . .

Firstly, I have pegged the head and routed-out the neck--I am really not a fan of flat-on-flat joins! Within the week, I should have the neck and wrist (l & r) stumps modeled and fitted -- final fin- ishing can then begin in earnest!

Secondly, I've decided to portray a Citi-Def Trooper from the Marie Laveau Block. This block is mentioned in "Who Do the Voodoo that You Do?" (Judge Dredd Megazine #285). Though I do not believe there to be any specific references to the appearance of the CD from this block, this provides the freedom to have some fun!

Stay tuned!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

05 November 2014

DWC's 70mm Citi-Def Trooper TBR in late November!

Yes, you read right, Dredd-heads! Rin has kicked this project into overdrive, and this gem of a kit will be shipping by the end of November!

You may pre-order here

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

29 October 2014

Captain Rogers Stealth Suit - Prepwork (V)

While the rework spotlighted in the last posting is still very much underway (~80% done, give or take), there are other items on the to-do list remaining to be finished and prepped. And now there is one less: the left arm has been permanently attached to the torso! I am now definitely on the homestretch!

Stay tuned!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

27 October 2014

Captain Rogers Stealth Suit - Prepwork (IV)

Regrettably, I am now behind schedule on this piece. As I indicated in the last posting, the time had come where surface work would be the order of the day, and a necessary corrective measure has bogged me down.

There is a padded area on the back of the lower thighs, right above the bend of the knee. This area is rather involved, as you can see:


In my sample, the detail-in-relief was virtually non-existent, the product of a 'soft cast'. I will hasten to add that even if I had noticed this when first inspecting the kit, I probably would not have returned it for a replacement as soft casts are pretty much a fact of life with PV kits. BUT, the fact remains that the area must be resculpted to restore the original pattern. Hence, the dearth of any updates.

The good news is that I should be back on track by the end of the weekend, so hopefully updates will be much more frequent going forward. . . 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

25 October 2014

Notable Acquisitions October 2014

KITS  
Aurora Man from U.N.C.L.E.: Napoleon Solo (1/12th? scale, ???)
Dark World Creations Citi-Def Trooper (70mm, Fabricio Torres)
Master Box Ltd. Zombie Hunter: "Road to Freedom" (Zombieland series; 1/35th scale, A. Gagarin)

Master Box Ltd.'s Zombie Hunter: Road to Freedom

Master Box Ltd. (hereafter MBL), a Ukrainian manufacturer of some of the more unique and inno- vative plastic scale model kits in the marketplace with, until recently, a focus on WWII subjects, has the distinct honour of being the first to offer a plastic diorama kit of a non-historical, ‘fantasy’ nature:  Zombie Hunter: Road to Freedom. This is the premier release in their proposed Zombieland series set in a post-apocalyptic world. 



The kit, executed in 1/35th scale, is comprised of 5 figures sculpted/designed? by A. Gagarin: the Zombie Hunter (huntress, more accurately) and four of the prey (or vice versa?). MBL is very candid about the fact that, curiously, the kit does not provide a critical and integral element of the diorama, namely the motorcycle. By not including the motorcycle, MBL is allowing the modeller to choose for him/herself the motorcycle of his/her choice. A selection of suggested kits from various manufacturers (seven!—including one from MBL) is provided below the kit breakdown on the bottom of the box.

A few thoughts on this at-first-glance glaring omission, if I may. MBL currently has but one motor- cycle in their catalog: a WWII-vintage German BMW R75. This, in fact, is the m/c our belea- guered huntress is depicted riding on the boxart. BUT. . . what is a WWII-era German m/c doing in the Zombie Apocalypse? Granted, even if this were not a fantasy scenario, any number of backstories can be had with little if any effort; but the fact remains—if we allow reality to rear its head for a moment—that this would hardly be a first-choice for any number of reasons.

Another incontrovertible fact is that, afaik, there are but two modern m/c in production in 1/35th scale: Dragon’s Kawasaki KLR250 and Tamiya’s Honda XLR250. The former can be made but passable with A LOT(!) of work, which leaves us with basically one choice if we want to avoid the obvious, albeit explainable, anachronism: Tamiya’s Honda. Having said that, if you know your way around a m/c, enjoy modelling in this scale, and despise whiny off-roaders, any of the cur- rently available H-D WLA’s (MiniArt, Tamiya, Italeri) would make a nice base for a tricked-out, post-war conversion.


Enough of what isn’t in the kit! The figures, especially that of the Huntress, are quite nice: cleanly molded with sharp detail/s. Those who are familiar with the genre will immediately identify her with Milla Jovovich’s Alice, from the Resident Evil franchise—specifically, as she appeared in the third installment, Extinction. In fact, one could build a vignette from a scene in that movie—IF there were a 1/35th scale BMW K1200R in the marketplace!

The zombies aren’t bad, but they aren’t great either—nature of the beast, actually. It will be up to the painter to sell what they are. Curiously, there is another nod to the RE franchise, this time the fourth installment, Afterlife: the split and extendable maxillae and mandibles (part #7) of the zombie repairman/mechanic. This little extra, thankfully provided as a separate piece and essen- tially optional, is not shown on the boxart (Valery Petelin, 2014): it appears to have been included as an afterthought.

Though 1/35th is an annoyingly small scale (that’s the disgruntled lament of age, folks!), some of the best Modern resin accessories (and full kits!) on the market today are being made in this scale thanks to the efforts of Live Resin. If there is such a thing as perfection in our corner of the world, this is it! Which brings us to my supply inventory for this project to date:

MANUFACTURER
Stock #
Item Description
Master Box Ltd.
35175
Zombie Hunter: Road to Freedom (Zombieland series)
Tamiya
35245
JGSDF Motorcycle Reconnaissance Set
Lion Roar
LE35081
XLR250 PE Detail Set
Tamiya
35266
Modern US Military Equipment Set
Live Resin
LR35031
M9 Pistols

LR35036
Empty BlackHawk CQC SERPA Pistol Holster

LR35104
ESS Crossbow goggles/Ballistic Eyeshields

LR35155
US Army Scepter Fuel Canisters

And that about wraps it up. If the subject matter appeals to you, then by all means get this kit: you will not be disappointed! I, for one, am very much looking forward to the next release—if only to get a better idea of where MBL is heading with their laudable initiative. 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

23 October 2014

Solo -- Pre-Prep

Squeezing-in what little time I can at the bench, Napoleon Solo is now pre-assembled; i.e., all the sub-assemblies have been completed and filled: all but the head with PUR; the head with MS. And I have modeled the core of what will be Napoleon's neck in MS, and have drilled out the neck opening in the now-filled torso. Just a few hours of relaxed modeling. . .

FOLLOW-UP . . . The left leg has been fitted--but not attached--to the torso, shimmed with MS to adjust the drapery of the jacket. UPDATE 25.10.2014 - The left leg has been now permanently attached.

UPDATE 24.10.2014 - The head is now pegged and provisionally attached to the torso, awaiting the neck build-out. I have narrowed the shoulders somewhat to create a more linear cut to the jacket. 

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

22 October 2014

GRAIL KIT!

Almost fifty years ago, around 1966, Aurora (Plastics Corp.) secured The Man from U.N.C.L.E. license from MGM. As much of a fan of the show as I was, I never built either of the two figure kits associated with the franchise--though my friend across the street had them both. I guess I must have spent my hard-earned US 98 cents (plus tax!) on the Forgotten Prisoner of Castel- Maré released that same year (nb: this was the only new horror kit released in 1966; it was the last of the long-box releases; and it was created and copyrighted by 'Famous Monsters of Film- land'!), though it was also about that time that my interests began to turn to AFVs and A/C. . . 

Nostalgia being what it is, I was bitten by the U.N.C.L.E. bug a few years back: seeing David McCallum as a regular on NCIS with allusions to his Illya days certainly didn't help matters. Thus was the game afoot once again! I'll save you the boring details of the seemingly endless quest (read: never managed to close the deal); but last week perseverance finally paid off, and I am now the delighted owner of an original 1966 kit of Napoleon Solo. Admittedly, it is a somewhat incom- plete kit as the left hand (part #22) and the single-piece plant (part #20) are missing, but it is otherwise complete--and pristine.

Thinking back on why I never built these back-in-the day, the introductory quip notwithstanding, I frankly never liked them. The composition and staging were awkward--at best! Talk about over- basing!! Illya was literally hidden [from view] behind a lamppost; and the likenesses were horrible! Now. . . how bad must they have been for an 8-year old (almost 9) to pass on models of two of the coolest characters on TV!! 

So why get them now? Nostalgia--and the fact that I intend to spend a lot of time getting this kit 'up to speed' while conserving the Aurora 'feel'. Hence, why the two missing pieces were not an issue. With episodes from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. playing in the background, there are some guaranteed good times ahead. . .    

"Open Channel D. . . "

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003

14 October 2014

DWC's 70mm Citi-Def Trooper

A week ago, I posted a teasingly cryptic announcement of an as-yet-to-be-announced kit that had found its way to my workbench thanks to the bountiful generosity of an overseas manufac- turer. And today, I received the all-clear to not only identify the mysterious figure; but more importantly, recognize the purveyor of the same.

Before me is the latest creation from Aaron Ishmael (bka as Rin) and Dark World Creations: a 70mm Citi-Def Trooper from their 2000AD series, sculpted by Fabricio Torres (Judge Anderson). The Citi-Def's were the Mega-cities' Citizen's Defense units. . . think of Civil Defense and National Guard rolled into one at the "block" level--but with a minimalist's approach when it comes to professionalism and common sense. "The typical view of the Citi-Def soldier is of a man who barely knows one end of a spit gun from the other and, pumped up on action vids on the Tri-D, attempts to live out his fantasies by joining the only military option open to citizens." This less- than-stellar characterization places them a step removed from the gangs.

I will be the first to admit that a Citi-Def figure was not very high on my want list. Though an integral part of the Mega-Cities and their component blocks, they have rarely been at the prota- gonist level of any story or arc. . . more at background filler. This leads to the second 'problem'--depending on your pov: there is no colour-scheme per se! If you want to do the Citi-Def of a particular block, you can pretty much make-up your own colour scheme!!

As I understand it, this figure will not be a 2014 release. As of this writing, there are but 5 in existence: the other four went to some very lucky patrons at Euro. I have been cleared by Rin to treat this figure as if it were TBR'd, and he in turn has been given like clearance by 2000AD. So this is all above board. And as such, here is your first preview of this gem of a kit!


Please note that I have omitted the standard logo'd (2000AD) circular plinth, and the right arm has already been permanently attached. I have also modified the knife (NOTE: NOT included in the production kit!), filling in the clip-point to a make a spear-point; and pegged the left hand.

As I said, a gem of a kit--in all respects!!!--that begs to be painted! I will be doing mine as a Citi-Def trooper; that being said, it undoubtedly lends itself to any number of near-futuristic combatants. This figure is on the board to be completed for the Atlanta Show in February.

Stay tuned!

When the cost of a hobby exceeds the fun and doesn't attract new people, the game is over.” -
Oscar Koveleski, August 2003