Monday, May 31, 2010

Zvezda Trireme

Work in progress on the crew of the 1/72nd scale Roman trireme. The trireme itself can be seen in the background - I epoxied the oars into their sockets and now they make a semi-musical twanging sound when strummed. Some people play the guitar or xylophone; I play the trireme.

In the foreground are some random Roman figures I pluckedo out of my collection to serve as "deck clutter". Mostly Revell, and the standard-bearer is particularly nice. You can read "SPQR" on his standard, and that aint bad for 1/72nd scale at all. I'm not in love with soft polyethylene figures, but small-scale Romans aren't exactly thick on the ground.

I'm experimenting with Krylon "Fusion" spray paint as a primer. Normally I just use whatever flat white I happen to have, but I heard that Fusion worked well. It goes on in agreeably thin coats and doesn't clog detail, and Delta Ceramcoat seems to stick to it pretty well. Further details as events warrant, but so far the portents are good.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Und Jetzt!

A sudden profusion of dinosaurs. With the Lindberg stagecoach finally done and off the workbench, I decided to amuse myself with painting a bunch of dinosaur models that had piled up over the years. I think these are all Revell kits; the allosaur on the left was modified slightly by carving the goopy drool off its tongue. Otherwise, they're pretty much out of the box, though I glued the legs on and skipped the animated leg feature. For filler, I pretty much relied on multiple layers of Testors liquid cement, the gooey kind in the vaguely triangular black bottles, and instead of sanding, I scraped endlessly with an X-acto knife while watching episodes of Lost, Treme and The Pacific. The seams aren't perfect, by any means, but that's okay. I have enough hard projects going on as it is without making simple projects hard too.

I remain blissfully unaware of what dinosaur experts say they should really look like. I just fiddle with them because it amuses me when the neighbors come over and suddenly realize there are small dinosaurs glaring at them from under the bushes. And after a mammoth struggle with a stagecoach, I like to decompress a little.

It's Done!

It's finally done! Or done enough that I'm putting it on the display shelf for a while until I have any further bright ideas. The pictures aren't great - normally I don't photograph models under the regular fluorescent lights in my garage, but it wouldn't fit on my workbench! My modeling workbench, anyway. There are still some things I want to do, like scratchbuild some more luggage and cargo, but for now, it's a wrap. Not a moment too soon, either. I feel like having a beer!
The base is a pine board, stained and varnished, and covered with Celluclay and small rocks I screened out of my dry wash. The tufts of grass are actual horse hair - clippings off one of my wife's horse's mane, actually. I thought the horse hair was much easier to use than the Woodland Scenics stuff I've bought in the past, and the real horse hair is a better color too. And it's free. I kind of ran out and couldn't lay on as much grass as I would have liked, but now my wife knows to save the clippings and soon I'll have more "grass" than I'll know what to do with. Maybe I'll sell it on eBay for a buck a bag.
The only part of the kit that I didn't use - couldn't use, really - was the heavy black vinyl (?) stuff they supplied for reins. It was far too thick and burly, so I made replacement reins out of doubled black electrical tape. It's much thinner, I could cut the reins to a smaller overall size, and they were much more flexible, easy to work, and thread through the driver's hands. It was a little tedious, all that careful snipping with a pair of scissors, but definitely worth it.
I read somewhere that many of these kits had been shipped without all of the required harness parts. I must have lucked out because mine contained a full set. As far as I can remember, the kit was only missing one part, and there's every chance that I lost it myself (many of the harness parts had fallen off the trees while still in the plastic bag, and I probably threw away the plastic bag before making sure I'd recovered every last part.
So what's the final analysis? The subject is unique, the figures were pretty good, and the rest of the kit could be made presentable with a little work. The reins were unusable and the horses required a mountain of work. The whole project was a LOT of work, and to be perfectly truthful there's more work to be done. So. Not a beginner's kit, not a weekend kit, not a kit for those who aren't comfortable with a lot of filing and sanding. But very worthwhile in the long run; where else are you going to find something like this?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Lindberg Stagecoach

Here are some random views of the Lindberg 1/16th scale Stagecoach, which am I getting pretty close to finishing after what seems like an eternity of work. In this picture, we see the worst part of the kit: the horses. They come in two halves, and I had to resort of huge quantities of MEK and actual woodworking clamps to get them to fit together reasonably well. Even then I had to do a lot of actual heavy-duty filing to get the seams even close to smooth, followed by about four fill-sand-prime-sand cycles. BUT, having said that, the horses themselves aren't bad in terms of proportion. I decided to make them all bays, the theory being that pintos or palominos or greys would be ridden by cowboys and not used by a stagecoach operator. I painted them a very dark brown with spray paint (made by Krylon to camouflage boats, pickup trucks, and other outdoorsman-type transport). Then came a lot of sustained drybrushing with Liquitex burnt sienna, which I though gave the horses a reasonable dark reddish bay color (I varied how much I drybrushed them, so none of them quite match in redness). Then came the harnesses, which I found fiddly and troublesome to assemble and attach - I painted most of the harness parts off the horses with Testors Rubber (which despite the name actually looks more like leather than Testors Leather) and attached them with five-minute epoxy. Note that the horses haven't been detail-painted; I decided to leave all that until after the horses have been harnessed. The brass rings were supplied in the kit, by the way.

A frontal view of the stagecoach, awaiting the completion of the horses. At first I thought the figures were made out of plastic, but now I think they're some kind of resin. Note the way that the guy on the right seems MUCH larger than the guy on the left - I'm going to have to make a chest or something for the boyish-looking shotgun rider to rest his feet on. I tried to paint them so they looked dingy and faded, but I still have a little detail painting to do (for this reason I haven't glued them into place yet). In the background, behind the hand sanitizer and under the Viking longboat box, is my latest tool purchase, a micro-table saw from Micro-Mark. Haven't used it yet, but it's ready when I am. Notice also the headless Triceratops... Poor thing. Not finished at the time of writing are the whip, the brake "pedal", and the Winchester rifle. I'm thinking of scratchbuilding a sawed-off double-barreled shotgun, and I wish I could find some suitable pistols to cast replicas of and make pistol belts for.

A side close-up on the stagecoach, mostly to show the three other figures that came with the kit - a US Army officer on the right (I made him a major-general), a well-heeled townie on the left, and his wife beyond him. The paints were a mix of things - craft paint, Tamiya acrylics, Testors enamels, and even a little Liquitex here and there. The red and yellow on the stagecoach itself are barn red and marigold Krylon spray paints. Notice also the enormous ejector pin marks on the inside of the door that I failed to properly fill and sand! The kit is full of enormous ejector pin marks and obviously I didn't get all of them. Fortunately the door is operable and will be closed when it's all done - the kit supplies some brass pins so you can drill out the hinges and have operable doors if you like.

A three-quarters view of the assembled stagecoach. Most of the metalwork on the stagecoach is either Tamiya NATO black or Tamiya dark grey, intended to convey the idea of blackish wrought iron, but I touched some of the nuts and bolts with with Tamiya metallic grey. By and large the stagecoach itself wasn't hard to assemble. The instructions are not particularly clear, but most of it is pretty obvious. The most time was spent eliminating pin marks, flash, mild parting lines and other flaws. Note the large jug of Round-Up (it must be spring!) and the hitherto missing head of the Triceratops, upside down next to the Round-Up.
I've used an awful lot of Testors Rubber on this kit, as it turns out. I hunted around for a good leather color before settling on Rubber. Testors Leather is too red. NATO black is too green. Flat black is too stark. But Testors Rubber is a nice non-reddish dark brown that I think looks a lot like old leather. My wife drives horses and carts (two-wheeled sulkies) so I'm not unfamiliar with the look, feel and arrangement of horse harnesses and harness leather.

Revell-Germany Tank Transporter

Here's a picture of my recently-completed 1/72nd Revell-Germany Faun tank transporter and Leopard 2A5, also by Revell-Germany. Nice kits, both of them, though I still don't like link-and-length tracks! This was painted almost entire with Tamiya paints - NATO Green lacquer out of a spray can overall, and red-brown and NATO black Tamiya acrylics. The grey tires are Delta Ceramcoat craft paint, a color called "charcoal".

In the background can be seen the old Revell PT-109 kit, in this case with the White Ensign Models 37mm AT gun barely visible on the foredeck. Behind it is the Airfix MTB, and to the left lies the stern of Revell-Germany's S-100 S-boat. I'm in the process of revising and expanding my shelving so I don't have to display armor models and torpedo boat models together, but that project isn't done yet.

But at least they're all the same scale!