Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Item 37 & Flak 38

The Kugelpanzer is a German prototype vehicle purportedly sent to Manchuria for use by the Japanese Kwantung Army.

Because of the lack of information surrounding the vehicle, any number of half-baked theories regarding its use have circulated on the Internet. The silliest theory I heard was that it was supposed to be some sort of kamikaze weapon (because if it's some weird weapon used by the Japanese, then it must have been for kamikaze attacks).

My vote goes to the theory that the Kugelpanzer was intended to be a mobile pillbox.

MGM makes an Armored Machine Gun Nest (100/30) which is very similar conceptually.

The kit has three parts and two crew (the cart and crew were originally attached to casting blocks, but I cut them off before taking the picture).

The resin is a bit on the brittle side, so you need to be careful when removing the casting blocks. The armor cart looks good, but there are a lot of casting bubbles that need to be filled in.

The Type 97 machine gun is provided in two pieces. I was confused by the barrel at first (or lack thereof), thinking that the gun was not fully cast.

The other part on the sprue looked like an armored plate, but then I realized it was supposed to represent a barrel with jacket guard (even though the header card illustration shows an uncovered barrel).

The uniforms of the crew are not represented very accurately, and they look to be 1/76 scale. The sculpts are crude and riddled with casting bubbles.

I'm unable to find any information on this armored cart, so I'll hold off on building it for now. However, I think that based on the header illustration and crew in the kit, the cart was used with a gunner inside, and another guy pushing it forward from the back.

Given the situation, I'm sure the guy tasked with pushing the cart was all in favor of giving the Kugelpanzer a try.

Anyway, there are two 1/72 Kugelpanzers that have been made—both in resin. One is by Attack, while the other is by Minairons.

The two kits are very similar, but I get the impression that the Attack kit is overscale.

I purchased the Minairons Kugelpanzer along with one of their Flakpanzer I Ausf. A from Noble Knight Games. The Kugelpanzer came in a header bag instead of a box.

The Kugelpanzer has three resin parts and a white metal MG34 barrel.

There is a small amount of clean up required around the pour gates, but the resin is good quality, making the job very easy. There was only one casting bubble, which I filled in with Kneadatite.

The machine gun is supposed to be attached to the small divot in front of the vehicle, but I carved out a rectangular hole so that the mount would not stick out from the hull so much.

The gun barrel is really soft, and with the tendency of the vehicle to tip forward, I think it's only a matter of time before the part breaks off.

I'd have to say that this was probably the fastest I've ever completed a model.

The Flakpanzer I kit contains a plastic sprue for the lower hull and a rear hull panel from their Panzer I Ausf. A kit. The upper hull and three fold down decks are made of resin, and look like they were cast from 3D printed masters. The 2cm Flak 38 has three resin parts and a white metal barrel. Three crew in white metal are also included.

The resin parts are all very thick and simplified, so this is definitely a wargaming piece. The resin is not as nice as the type used for the Kugelpanzer, and there were various casting flaws on all the pieces except the upper hull.

The crew are perfectly sized and well sculpted.

The thickness of the parts and the gunner's chair prevents the Flak 38 from pivoting a full 360°. To resolve this, I epoxied some ring magnets in the hull, and glued a metal rod to the Flak 38 to allow the gun to be pointed in different positions.

The upper hull does not fit onto the lower hull very well, and some of the plastic needs to be filed away.

I was considering using a replacement barrel for the Flak 38, but decided not to bother, given the nature of the model.

Then just to be contrary, I put some anti slip plate on the folding decks. I think that there probably shouldn't be any on the rear fold down deck, but it was already too late by the time I came across that information.

I think I messed up on the placement of the outer girder beams of the suspension, but I'll talk about that more in a future review of the actual Panzer I Ausf. A kit.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Mean Green Mother From Outer Space

Audrey II is the infamous plant monster from the musical and subsequent 1986 film Little Shop of Horrors (in the original 1960 film, it was known as Audrey Jr).

I'm pretty sure that Audrey II is what most people think of when they are asked to envision a carnivorous plant monster, and they show up frequently in the putz nurserys from the Lemax Spooky Town collection.

I wanted some standalone pieces, and was able to find some resin floral decor pieces that were very similar.

These pieces can be found on eBay under the search term "dollhouse venus flytrap", which is totally appropriate, since in the musical casting notes, Audrey II is described as a cross between a Venus flytrap and an avocado, while in the original film, Audrey Jr was a cross between a butterwort and a Venus flytrap.

The D&D version of the carnivorous plant is the Greenvise, which bears some characteristics of the plant from The Flowering of the Strange Orchid by H.G. Wells (i.e., it's ability to produce a Death Fog).

Looks a bit like the Deku Baba from Legend of Zelda.

The D&D Miniature version of the creature is called the Greenvise Vine (Savage Encounters #20).

Similar to the Greenvise is the King Sprout from the Super Dungeon Explore Forgotten King set.

The stat card for the monster even makes a reference to Little Shop of Horrors.

Another plant monster based on the Venus flytrap is the Pakkun Flower (パックンフラワー) or Piranha Plant. Some possible links between the Pakkun Flower and Little Shop of Horrors are discussed at VoVatia.

The one on the left is from the Furuta Choco Egg Super Mario Collection 3 (チョコエッグ スーパーマリオ 第3弾), while the one on the right is a phone strap mascot figure that was used as a premium for the Suntory Dakara energy drink.

The next carnivorous plant is the HorrorClix Pod Mother (The Lab #090). The plant has a face that reminded me a bit of how the faces of the victims of Audrey Jr blossomed from its flowers, but I wanted my model to be less anthropomorphic.

I cut away the eyes, nose, and cheekbones, then touched up the paint. I also cut away the victim, who was overscale.

In 15mm metal, there are the Klorzids Plants from Alternative Armies/Grinning Skull Miniatures.

The first image has a Klorzid New Seedling in Pot (GRN66), Klorzid Sapling with Flower Staff (GRN67), and Klorzid with three heads (GRN70).

The second image is of a Klorzid gaping mouth attacking (GRN68), Klorzid big teeth with Flower Staff (GRN69), and Klorzid wrapped around Flower Staff (GRN71).

I'm not sure if I want to use the figures with the flower staves as they are, but the sapling and three-headed versions are definitely ready to go.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

You know the score pal. You're not cop, you're little people.

After Alien Bear told me about the Gaslands miniatures produced by North Star Military Figures last month, I had to buy a set to check the figures out in real life.

The set I picked up was the Highway Patrol (NSPIoC12), though I would have gotten the Wasteland Warriors (i.e., War Boys) if they were available.

In any event, four of the figures in the set are the eponymous Highway Patrol.

They are in the mould of the old Citadel Dark Future Cops, and I don't really have plans for them, but maybe they can be used for something pulpish like members of the Blackhawk Squadron.

The pièce de résistance of this set however, was the Blade Runner figure.

All the figures are 1/72 scale, so I didn't need to bring them up to height.

I had a little trouble trying to figure out what color to paint Deckard's trenchcoat, since it looks different depending upon the lighting during the scene.

I went for a lighter brown color, but it looks much darker in the picture.

Since we're on the subject of Blade Runner, we need to talk about Spinners. Someone really needs to produce a Police Spinner in 1/72 scale.

The closest models available are from an obscure set of 1/64 diecast models made by ERTL almost 40 years ago.

I didn't even know these were around until a few years ago, but from what I understand, they went to the bargain bin because the movie was a box office flop.

If you look for the models on eBay nowadays, they run anywhere from US$50 to US$100 individually, and a boxed set of four runs over US$500!

I bought two mishandled ERTL Spinners because condition was not as important to me as price.

The first model is Deckard's Chase Spinner (#1872).

A bar was added between the two wheel pods to accommodate the axle, but obviously this does not exist on the actual Spinner.

The second model is Rachael's Spinner (#1874), more properly known as the Alfa Romeo Spinner.

This vehicle is briefly seen passing Gaff and Deckard as they approach the Tyrell Building.

Tomy re-released the model as the Galactic Cruiser at one point, after they picked up the assets of RC2 (which included ERTL and Johnny Lightning).

Syd Mead is said to have based the design on the Alfa Romeo Navajo, and the dimensions of the diecast model match up pretty well with those of the actual Navajo in 1/64 scale.

I was really hoping the models could pass for 1/72 scale, and they actually don't look that bad next to 1/72 figures.

However, if you place them next to actual 1/72 scale cars, they start to look overscale.

The two other models in the set (which I don't own) are Deckard's Ground Car (#1871), and Bryant's Police Spinner (#1873). The Police Spinner uses the same body as the Chase Spinner, but it has a light bar and different tampos.

Maybe I can do something with these models one day, but I think (for me) it will be more difficult than the restoration of an actual Spinner. In all probability, someone will come up with a 3D model in 1/72 before I'm even able to start.

NECA also makes a Spinner from Blade Runner 2049 in their Cinemachines line, which is still readily available.

From what I can tell, it doesn't look like they put much effort into the design, so if I do buy one, it will only be if there is a significant drop in the price of the model.

On a side note, if anyone is interested, you can read about my visit to some of the Blade Runner film locations in November of last year at my other blog.