Monday, June 23, 2014

Vehicle Industrial Government

The VIG1 was a tractor manufactured by David Brown Engineering Limited for use by the RAF as an aircraft/supply tug during WWII and well into the 50's.

1/72 versions of the tractor can be found in the Airfix Short Stirling kit from 1966, and the WWII RAF Bomber Re-Supply Set (A05330) from last year. A 1/76 diecast version is also produced by Oxford.

I am currently assembling both old and new Airfix tugs, having picked up an old Craft Master (MPC) Short Stirling at a good price.

The instructions from the old Airfix kit are rather interesting, with detailed assembly instructions written out.

Curiously enough, even though the parts are numbered in the assembly diagram, the sprues do not have any corresponding numbers on them. I'm not sure if the currently produced Airfix Stirling still lacks numbers, but there was one part (223) I had a real difficult time finding.

A comparison of some of the parts are shown below. The tug from the Stirling kit is in white plastic, while the one from the Bomber Re-Supply kit is in gray.

Overall, the two kits are almost identical in size.  Dimensionally, the two major differences are the fenders and the front wheels. The fenders on the old Airfix kit are almost 1mm wider than the fenders on the new kit (making the tug appear almost 2mm wider). The front wheels on the old kit are also almost 1mm larger in diameter.

Finally, a comparison with the Oxford diecast model of a tug in RN Fleet Air Arm colors.

The Oxford model is almost identical in size with the new Airfix model. It might even be a hair longer. Obviously there is something off with either the Airfix models, or the Oxford model. The tugs are about the size of a jeep, and I can tell the difference between a 1/76 and 1/72 scale jeep very readily. Not so with these models. They are either all 1/76, or all 1/72, but since they are consistent in size I wont complain too much.

In my opinion, the new Airfix kit is the most accurate looking, with superior detail. The old Airfix kit is the most simplified, with some oddities, like a mesh front grille. The Oxford model falls somewhere in between.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pit Fiends

Pit fiends are greater devils that appeared for the first time in the AD&D Monster Manual. They have undergone some changes in physical appearance through the various editions of the game.

On the far left is the classic Trampier pit fiend, with its signature saber-toothed fangs. The Planescape version in the middle reminds me more of Mojo, or a nycadaemon than a pit fiend, while the 3.5 edition version brings back the fangs, but becomes very reptilian looking.

I own three miniatures that represent pit fiends. The smallest one is a 15mm figure from Ral Partha (AD&D Battlesystem 11-950). It is the closest in appearance to the Trampier pit fiend, though strangely enough, it lacks any horns. The impressive DDM Pit Fiend (Blood War #42) represents a 3.5 edition pit fiend, and towers over the 15mm figure.

Some people did not care for the tongue sticking out, but I thought it gave the miniature some character. It stands at 2.5" tall, equivalent to about 15', so it is taller than the 12' height given for a pit fiend in the Monster Manual, but it could easily represent a larger specimen, or even the arch-devil Bel.

The third figure is my partially completed conversion of the Reaper pit fiend, Agramon (Bones 77112; also available in metal as Dark Heaven Legends 02895).

The Reaper miniature is largely inspired by the 3.5 edition pit fiend, but it is sculpted in an exaggerated style with big lantern jaw, and overdeveloped trapezius and deltoids. I left most of the body alone, but I wanted it to look like the Trampier pit fiend, so the miniature had to undergo extensive reconstructive surgery.

The Reaper figure is close in height to the DDM miniature, though its crouching pose makes it slightly shorter. It tends to tip over backwards because of the heavy tail, so I will have to modify the base so that it has more mass in the front.

A version of the Planescape pit fiend from Ral Partha also exists, but it is pretty hard to find. I do not have one because the miniature is so expensive, and in any event, does not match how I envision pit fiends to look.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Miniscale Depot

The Miniscale Depot series is a line of figures from Sirius (シリウス), with a subtitle stating that the kits were produced by Tristar Japan. The relationship between Sirius and Tristar (トライスター) is not very clear to me, but the Tristar parent company is based out of Hong Kong, and deals primarily in 1/35 WWII German injection kits, while the Japanese branch seems to include a line of 1/72 resin figures, armor, detail sets, and various hobby tools (sometimes exclusively under the Sirius brand name). I'm not sure if Tristar Japan is still in business, as the URL for their website does not exist any more.

Miniscale Depot figures were available sporadically in limited runs, and rather expensive at ¥1260 a set (for 3-5 figures). I was fortunate enough to pick up a few sets at a good discount from HLJ earlier this month.

Their earlier sets with seated tankers can be seen elsewhere, so I won't bother taking pictures of them. The newer releases seem to be distributed by Trident (トライデント) according to the back of the header card. Figures from some of their newer sets are shown below. The three figures on the left are from the German Veteran Infantry, 1944 set (72020), while the six figures to the right are from the German 352 Infantry Division sets (72021, 72022).

There was very little flash on the figures. Some light scraping with a scalpel took off what little there was. Assembly is required, with the weapon arm typically needing to be attached.

The figures are well proportioned, if a bit static, but seem to be a bit on the short side. I'm not going to bother with commentary on their uniforms other than to say that to me, they look the part of German soldiers for the period they are supposed to represent.

The only problem I had with the set is with the last figure on the right. The left hand for the figure is a separate piece, and beautifully sculpted. However...

Reminded me of Bill the Galactic Hero.