Sunday, October 19, 2008

Destroid Spartan

I received this package on Friday, and had been looking forward to getting it. These Imai Destroid kits in 1/72 have been offered at close to US$100 on eBay so I have been trying to hold out for a Bandai re-release for quite a while. I saw one for sale at a price that I considered reasonable, so went ahead an bought it.

Upon opening the kit, I was filled with a sense of nostalgia. I purchased my first Imai Macross kits back in high school. I think they were only US$8 or US$9 then, but it seemed like quite a bit of money. I wonder if the glue still works?

After stroking the plastic a little, and scanning the sprues, I started to build some of the parts. First were the hands.

Then the shoulders. Unfortunately, the doors to the missle pods are molded shut.

The locator pins for parts 49-50 and 51-52 will have to be cut off for this to be aligned correctly.

The crossbars at the rear of the shoulders should be glued only after dry-fitting the inserts. If you cut off the pins to glue these parts, they will be a little off, and the inserts will not sit properly in their positions. Some filing and will be necessary as well.

This kit has moved to the front of the queue for me, and everything else will have to wait for a while.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sdh. 234 Progress

I decided to cast the forward hull of the Sdh. 234 that I was working on since I would be using it for modifying a number of different models. I poured a one piece mold, and mixed up some resin to cast the part. It was my first time casting resin, so imagine my surprise when I came back after pouring and saw that the mold looked like a pot that had boiled over! I pulled out the part, and saw that it was filled with bubbles, but I decided to use it anyway.

The hull will need some more putty work, but I don't think that it is too horrible for a first attempt despite the interior being rather like swiss cheese. In any event, I realized that my original plan to add a second piece to the mold for casting a plenum chamber into the hull would be more problematic than I had first anticipated, so this piece will become a new master hull for subsequent models.

Using the hull pattern, I cut two pieces of thick plastic card, and one thin piece of plastic card into the proper shape. I cut away the middle of the first piece, and glued it to the bottom of the second piece. I then cut away the middle of the second piece, and glued it to the bottom of the thin piece.

A Matchbox SdKfz. 234 will undergo the transformation into the Sdh. 234, but first it had to go through a little reconstructive surgery. I'll probably still have to lengthen the upper hull to make it the right size.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Art in Miniature

I wonder how many modelers view their hobby as art as opposed to an exercise in technique? Probably most like myself, see it as something in between. I found some entries at the blogsite on HO scale miniatures being used in art pieces, so I thought I'd do a me-too entry.

Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz have collaborated on a series of snow globes for the last seven years. I found the subjects fascinating, but then my tastes have always skewed toward the fantastical. Anyway, the globes can be found at their website under "recent works".

Thomas Doyle also creates surreal art with HO scale (and larger) figures. More images can be found on his website.

The street artist known as Slinkachu travels around London with a tube of CA glue and some Preiser figures to create various scenes that juxtapose the miniature figures with the 1:1 scale environment. After the figures are glued, he takes photographs, and the figures remain for the public to see -- or not. More images can be found at his Little People blogsite. Check under his profile for additional blogs on other projects.

Similar to Slinkachu's work, but with food. More can be found at

The prize for smallest works has to go to Willard Wigan who creates works that can fit into the eye of a needle. His work and techniques are reminiscent of that used in Chinese minature art. I found it interesting that he uses a fly-hair brush to do his painting. More can be found at his website.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


The title is Deguchi no Nai Umi, translated as "A Sea Without Exit". It is a film from 2006 about pilots of the Kaiten minisub. The plot sounds reminiscent of Ningen no Tsubasa (人間の翼) "Wings of a Man" from 1995, but I have yet to see either film, so can't really comment on them.

Anyway, Fine Molds has made a 1/72 version of the submarine from the movie, which essentially is a manned Type 93 torpedo. The model is based on the Kaiten that is displayed in the Yushukan at Yasukuni Shrine. The build looked quite simple since it consists of a 15 piece Kaiten Type 1, and a 13 piece dolly for carrying the submarine.

The model comes with the periscope molded in the up position, which didn't make much sense to me if the submarine was to be sitting on a dolly. To make the build a little more interesting, I decided to give the model a retractable periscope. All that was needed was a magnet and a piece of iron wire.

I removed the periscope tube from part #9, and then drilled a hole through the lower part and glued it to the hull. The upper part of the periscope was partially drilled, and glued to the wire.

Using some sprue, I constructed a cradle for a magnet in the hull for holding the metal wire in place when the periscope is raised or lowered to different lengths.

The kit was available through Eu-II (the mail order division of Fine Molds), but I believe it is now discontinued.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Late September Progress (Armor)

Here's where I'm at with several kits that I've started this year:

The Bulgarian Hetzer that I started back in May is almost done. I bought some 1/300 Soviet aircraft decals for the stars on the Hetzer, but they turned out to be too small. What I had to do was use some Archer U.S. stars, and then Soviet armor decals from a PST kit on top to get the red star with white outline for this model. I still need to spray with a flat coat, and weather, but this kit is 90% done.

I have posed the UM Hetzer alongside the Pegasus E-25 and the Fujimi Hetzer. The E-25 is huge compared to its smaller cousins.

For the FSV I started last month, I used Archer Fine Transfers to make the name (Bewitched), and I'll add some Milicast crewmembers. I'm still trying to find some black triangle decals or transfers though.
Next to the FSV is the Heller Somua S-35, which is in the process of being painted, and last in line is the Emhar A7V. I started the A7V about four years ago, and am finally 90% done with it. I only need to spray with a flat coat, and weather. I'm looking forward to do at least two more A7Vs, but will definitely work much faster on them this time.

Another view of the FSV, S-35, and A7V.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sdh. 234

I was planning to scratch build the Maschinen Krieger Sdh. 232 in 1/72 scale, but had reservations about sacrificing my Roden Sd.Kfz. 231. I remembered that I had several Sd.Kfz. 234 kits in 1/76 scale (Airfix & Matchbox), so I decided to make a Sdh. 234 variant. I'm not sure if the Sd.Kfz. 234 hull is canon, but a troop carrier based on this hull has been built by Run Chicken S (presumably with input from Kow Yokoyama if I read the copyright information on the bottom of the page correctly).
The first thing I did was to try and determine the exact dimensions of the Sdh. 232. Using the image above as a template, I reproduced it so that the Sd.Kfz. 231 portion was 1/72 scale. I can't remember the website where I got the image from (is it from the 1/76 Zionel Westen Sandstalker box art?), but it looks comparable to the actual models shown in the Ma.K Encyclopedia. However, when compared, the dimensions given in the Ma.K Encyclopedia don't really correlate with the dimensions of the real world Sd.Kfz. 231. If I combine this image with 1/72 Sd.Kfz. 231 dimensions, the model I plan would be closer to 1/64 in Ma.K universe terms. That's okay though. I'm still going to call it 1/72 for my own purposes.

Using some Evergreen plastic card, I cut out some patterns to get started.

Somehow I messed up my measurements so the ribs were too tall. I had to move them backwards, which affected the distance to the edge of the base.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Beijing Olympics

I received ten sets of Caesar figures commemorating the 2008 Summer Games about a week after the Beijing (that's bay-Jing NOT bay-Zhing) Olympics ended. I wanted to write about them earlier, but didn't really feel like taking any pictures at the time. Anyway, there's only one figure that I'd really associate with the Summer Games, but whatever.

First up are the soccer guys (S006 and S002).

Next are the basketball players (S003, S008, S009). At first I thought that there was something unusual about the basketball set (can you guess what it was?), but then I figured we're talking about international basketball not the NBA. I imagine the guy holding his arms out on the red team is probably supposed to be Yao Ming, but he scales out to only about 6' 6" which is a scale foot too short.

The final sets are of baseball players (S004, S001, S007, S010, S005). I guess Taiwan really likes it's baseball, since the baseball players outnumber the players of the other sports. There is a lone hurdler in the set on the bottom.

Anyway, I ordered an extra box of the red uniformed basketball players because when I saw them, the first thing I thought was that the guy on the end would make a great Hanamichi Sakuragi with the right paint job.

The rest of the figures will remain in their boxes as "collector's items".

Friday, August 22, 2008

Flammpanzer 38(t)

While waiting for some figures to come in for my FSV build, I decided to convert a Fujimi Jagdpanzer 38(t) into a Flammpanzer 38. I'm not quite sure what they were thinking when they designed the UM Flammpanzer 38, but there are a couple of easily corrected problems with it. From what I have seen, Flammpanzer 38s were late model vehicles, while the instructions for the UM kit would have you build it as an early model. The instructions also say not to include the machinegun in front of the loader's hatch, but from what I have read, it should be there. Finally, the gun mounting needs to be modified. But enough of the UM kit, what I built was the Fujimi kit with some UM parts. The Fujimi kit was built pretty much as directed in the instructions.

I added a bit of sprue to allow the UM barrel to be attached, and used a piece of plastic card with a hole drilled in it to wall off the area behind the mantlet. I also used some plastic strip to make the rail over the periscope. It should be curved, rather than angled like the one from the Fujimi kit.

I fixed up the barrel by drilling out the center, and then gluing a bit of plastic rod (also with the center drilled out) inside of it. Some scrap plastic was used as the small protrusion at the end of the barrel. The barrel was kind of flopping around, so I had to add a wad of UHU Tac around the ball joint to firm it up. As mentioned before, the hull of the UM model is longer and wider than the Fujimi jagdpanzer by 2 mm in each dimension.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mid-August Progress (Armor)

I've been able to sneak in a little modeling here and there this week, and have gotten a little further on a couple of projects.

The FSV I started earlier this month is almost done. I replaced the barrel with a piece of brass tube, and sliced up the end of the old plastic barrel to make some discs to simulate lights. I added the smoke dischargers because they look cool, even though most pictures of FSVs in the field show them without dischargers. I also added a pin to the driver's hatch to allow it to swing open and shut.

I have to say that individual link tracks are a royal pain. I can't even begin to count the number of times I had to go looking for little tiny links that fell on the ground somewhere while trying to assemble the tracks for this model. I replaced the incorrect headlight with one fashioned from a bit of sprue and a piece of wire. I managed to make a right mess of the photoetch left fender piece. In my own defense though, I'll have to admit that this is the first time I have worked with photoetch parts. I'm debating whether to add the second photoetch fender, since the right fender of the jagdpanzer in my photo reference seems not to have it. In fact, the fender looks like it is just a sheet metal replacement, so I'm not sure how I'm going to handle it. I'll probably just do the photoetch, since I'm not modeling the exact vehicle in the picture anyway. The machinegun shield is from the Fujimi kit, since the photoetch sprue for the flammpanzer does not come with a shield.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Australian FSV

I decided to put together my Aussie FSV produced by J.B. Models even though I have a slew of other unfinished models on the bench. The FSV is a standard M113A1 chassis mated with a Saladin turret. I originally bought the kit with the intention of sticking the turret on one of my ESCI M113 A1s, but taking a closer look at the J.B. kit, I realized that it was almost the same size as a 1/72 M113. In fact, on instruction sheet it says that the kit is 1/72!

Anyway, the reason I wanted to start this kit was because it only had a few parts, and the color scheme is very basic. Here is the partially assembled kit next to a Trumpeter M113ACAV. It is about 1 mm smaller in length and width, but just a bit taller.

The barrel of the 76mm gun appears to be completely misshapen. I will cut it off where the conical portion begins (actually this is supposed to represent a canvas sleeve), and replace it with some brass tubing. I'll probably add some new lights as well. The side skirts will be left off, since most FSVs seem not to have had them in the field.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Anime Expo 2008

I have accomplished absolutely nothing on the modeling front for about a month now. I did however get to go to Los Angeles for Anime Expo over the 4th of July Weekend, and was able to pick up a few items of interest.

Using knowledge dearly paid for from the previous Anime Expo, I was able to get a second vanship from the Last Exile FA4 GrandStream gashapon set.

Cominica Ushiabu keychains were on clearance, so I bought them all.

Finally, I was able to find a Hasegawa VE-1 Elintseeker at a good price.

Ranka-chan says "キラッ☆!!!!!!"

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Armourfast T-34/85

I started this particular Armourfast T-34/85 (No. 99009) when I was living in the Bay Area. How, you may ask, can someone make so little progress over two years with a model that consists of only eight pieces? To which I would have to reply, that this model needs a lot of work to make a passable T-34. The first thing I had to do was to thin down the treads. The treads were so thick that they made the tank tower over other 1/72 T-34s. The next step was to drill holes in the wheels and add bolt heads on the road wheels. I used the little beads from the inside of a Brita pitcher filter cartridge for bolt heads. Unfortunately I lost all the beads when I moved, so only the right wheels have bolts in them. I added some fuel drums from a PST tank kit, a scratchbuilt headlamp, and wire grab handles.

Recently I decided to try and make some progress on this kit, so I shaved off the turret ring that was molded into the hull of the tank. This ring should be part of the turret. I affixed a 22 mm washer to the turret using CA glue, and applied Kneadatite to fill in gaps. The diameter of the washer is slightly large, but I could not find anything 21 mm at the hardware store.

If the washer looks asymetrically positioned, it is because a) I needed it positioned so that the turret could rotate freely, and b) because the turret actually is asymatric on this model.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Goth Gang II

Here are the figures from my previous entry on TDSC-11 painted up. It's been many years since I've actually painted any metal miniatures. I finished the zombie very quickly, but the other two figures took a bit longer.

Actually, the Gothette was quite simple to paint since she is all in black except for the pink highlights in her hair, and the green skull logo on her shirt. The backpack worn by the Gothette is Hoshimaru from Shadow Star and was made of Kneadatite. I think it came out quite nicely.

I'm not really happy with the way the Wedding Dress Goth turned out. I thought that the purple skirt would look pretty cool, but after I finished it didn't look as good as I though it would. I do like the way that the rabbit turned out though.

The close up images kind of make me cringe. The camera is not very forgiving of my painting skills. I suppose I will get better as I paint more figures though.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bulgarian Jagdpanzer 38(t)

This is my first entry for May, and the month is already almost over. It hasn't been a very productive month as far as hobbies go, but work has been pretty busy. Anyway, I finally decided to start on my UM Flammpanzer 38(t) kit (UM 355), only I will build it as a Late Hetzer. The sprues for both the Flammpanzer 38(t) and the Hetzer (Late Version) are identical, with the only difference being the photoetch parts. I decided to do the build as a Late Hetzer because I wanted to model a Bulgarian Hetzer (pictured below), and the UM kit has link and length tracks and individual side armor plates which is perfect for what I want to do. Actually, I'm not sure why UM decided to make their Flammpanzer an Early Hetzer. The photos of Flammpanzers that I've seen are always of a Late Hetzer.

After assembling the upper and lower hull, I compared the UM Hetzer with my built up Fujimi Hetzer. I'd have to say that by eye, they are very similar in size, though the barrel of the Fujimi Hetzer is much thicker.

The UM Hetzer is much wider, but with the way the armored skirts of the Fujimi Hetzer stick out, the difference in width is not so apparent to the casual observer.

Now that I am looking at the photo of the Bulgarian Hetzer again, I also realize that I used the wrong type of rear idler and headlight. The color profile that I was working from got these wrong. The UM kit actually provides an idler like the one in the photo, but I'm not going to bother correcting it. Oh, well.