Saturday, November 11, 2017

Universal-Motor-Gerät


The Unimog is a versatile all-purpose vehicle renowned for its off-road characteristics. The platform has been used worldwide for civilian and military purposes since the end of WWII, but it does not have the name recognition of the Land Rover or Hummer in the U.S. because they are not sold here (due to regulatory compliance issues).

The naming conventions used for the Unimog can be rather confusing since they are sometimes described using the series number, and sometimes described using the model number, and sometimes just referred to as "Unimog" without any indication of series or model.

I will use the series number when referring to specific types of vehicles in this post since the model number reflects the horsepower of the engine, and can be identical for two Unimogs from different series.

All of the Unimogs that I currently own are diecast models. There are a number of resin and white metal kits of military Unimogs on the market, but since they are 3–10 times the cost of a diecast toy, I decided to pass on them for the moment.

One of the oldest diecast models of the Unimog is the Matchbox toy from Lesney Products (blue). It dates to 1967, and has no given scale. Next to it is the Tomica Unimog (yellow) which is listed as 1/70 scale and slightly smaller than the Matchbox Unimog.



These models represent medium-duty 406 series Unimogs (manufactured 1963 to 1989), and are ~1–2mm too long for a 1/72 model. However, any difference would probably be more apparent with respect to height rather than length or width.


The next Unimog is a fire engine version produced by Atlas, described as a 404 series VLF (Vorauslöeschfahrzeug) Unimog.


Not to be outdone by Altaya, Atlas also decided to attach the model to its base with a security screw system, but in this case I was able to remove them with a hex wrench.


The 404 series (manufactured 1955 to 1980) has the long wheelbase, and was apparently popular with European and African armies. The wheelbase measurement of the model is almost dead-on for 1/72 scale.

The side mirrors are very delicate, and I managed to break both of them while unscrewing the model. Luckily they were easily fixed with a little CA glue. The tow hook also fell off, and I only noticed because I found a small plastic piece in the carpet that looked like a model part. Definitely a display-only model.

The next pair are a Majorette Unimog with green camouflage markings, and a Hot Wheels Unimog in desert camouflage.



The Majorette model was packaged with a couple of knockoff Airfix German soldiers like the rest of their Series 220 Special Forces sets.


I'm not sure if these models are supposed to be the heavy-duty 425 series, 435 series (both manufactured 1975 to 1993), or 437 series UHN (Hochgeländegängig) ‎(manufactured 1988 to present). However, most pictures of military Unimogs that I've seen appear to be from the 425 (aka model U1300) or 435 series (aka model U1300L).

I've seen the Majorette Unimog described as being 1/82 scale (which sounds about right), so they're probably okay to use for 15mm gaming (though some might want to replace the monster truck wheels with something more suitable).


The models are about the same size as the Matchbox and Tomica vehicles, but really undersized in both wheelbase and cab size if they are supposed to be series 425/435/437 Unimogs.


The final models are Hongwell medium-duty 405 series UGN (Geräteträger) Unimogs ‎(manufactured 2000 to present).


Hongwell also decided to make these models hard to remove from the packaging by using a screw inside a tube that was too narrow for my regular screwdriver. The Phillips head jewelers screwdrivers (< size 0) that did fit into the tube were too small to turn the screw (~size 1), so I had to use a slotted blade screwdriver to release the models.


These are really nice models with metal cab on plastic undercarriage. The tilting bed with swinging tailgate is also made of metal. The wheelbase is ~52mm which scales out to 3.75m, but I'm not sure if there is a UGN with this length wheelbase, or if the model is off-scale.


Last is a comparison shot of all the Unimogs from this post.



Saturday, October 28, 2017

Scarecrows

From Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

The scarecrow has been used since ancient times to prevent the depredation of fields by birds during planting season and harvest season. It's use during harvest in particular has led to the scarecrow becoming closely associated with Fall.

The animated scarecrow is of more recent origin, with the earliest example that I can find being Feathertop from the eponymous short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne.


Some may argue that Kuebiko (久延毘古) qualifies as an animated scarecrow, but since he is described as being immobile (though capable of speech), the point is moot.


In any event, both Feathertop and Kuebiko were entirely benign, and it wasn't until recent times that more sinister scarecrows became prevalent. The TV movie Dark Night of the Scarecrow (which I vaguely recall seeing, back in the day) is credited with popularizing the "killer scarecrow".

The D&D scarecrow appeared in the Fiend Folio in the same year as Dark Night of the Scarecrow, but the two scarecrows were quite different in appearance.


Scarecrows seem to fall into two main categories as far as looks go. One type has a turnip or gourd for a head, while the other has a sack filled with rags or straw for a head.

Do not confuse the two.
One is a Bram Stoker Award winner,
the other has an audience score of
26% on Rotten Tomatoes.

There are several companies that make scarecrow miniatures, but finding figures that are close to 1/72 scale is more problematic.

The first miniatures I found were the lesser scarecrows from Monolith Designs. Their website hasn't been updated in over 10 years, but the last time I sent an e-mail, they were still in business, and I was able to order a couple of packs of their scarecrows.

From Beyond Crow021

From Beyond Crow022

The scarecrows have old world jack-o'-lantern heads with straw bodies, and are armed with various farm implements.

I modified some of the models to look like the 28mm scarecrows from their Crow011 and Crow012 sets, and replaced the head on one figure with a new world jack-o'-lantern head.


I really like the Monolith lesser scarecrows, although I have one nitpick with the way they painted their samples figures.


If the stem is at the top of the head, the purple color should probably be painted on the upper portion of the head, not the bottom.

Another figure that can be used as a scarecrow is available from North Star Military Figures. They produce a Small Construct (center), which can pass for a sack-headed scarecrow.


The Northstar figure is not as good a value as the Monolith Designs figures, but it is part of a set (Frostgrave Bestiary FGV303), and comes with a Medium Construct that can be used as a wood golem.

A gallery of scarecrows created by "Rot" that you can use to fuel your imagination can be found at Pumpkinrot Works.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Paravane

The paravane (aka water kite, sweep, tadpole) was developed during WWI as a countermeasure against underwater mines.


It had a secondary usage against submarines that was probably infrequently used, and even less often likely to be successful.


I became aware of this obscure piece of equipment because they were shown in the Haifuri anime from last year, so when I came across some 1/72 scale models while browsing through Shapeways, I decided to buy a couple of the more inexpensive models from the 3D Boats store.

Three sentence review of Haifuri from Himeuta Channel

The models I bought were described as early RN paravanes, but they also looked like certain types of USN and IJN paravanes as well. Unfortunately, I couldn't really find any references on the appearance and classification of WWII paravanes to verify any of this.

The models were printed with the Frosted Ultra Detail material, and require the addition of some bent wire to complete.

I believe this is a Type B Mk. IV paravane

The resin used for the print allows a good level of detail. but is still unable to achieve the perfectly smooth surfaces of traditional models. FUD seems to be somewhat brittle, so care is needed when handling models made with the material (particularly with very thin parts).


The translucent properties of the material looks like it might have potential applications as well.

The models are covered with a sticky layer of support wax, and dust will stick to the wax and form a gooey mess on the surface if they are left on the desktop for any period of time.

To remove the wax, I washed the models with dishwasher detergent, then swabbed them down with 95% isopropanol.

I sprayed one of the models with a couple of coats of gray primer, hoping that the paint was sufficient to hide the layer lines of the print.


The top of the model didn't look too bad, but the lines on the underside of the model became a lot more apparent after the primer (I think they were a lot deeper to begin with, but it was difficult to tell until the model was painted).

I guess I need to add some smoothing epoxy to my shopping list for next month in order to finish these models.