Saturday, April 6, 2024

Toys Cabin Parking Lot Collection

Toys Cabin (トイズキャビン) is a manufacturer of gashapon toys of various type, among which are 1/64 cars and related diorama items.

While their cars aren't of any interest to me, I did want to get some of the diorama items to see how they look with 1/72 scale miniatures. Their most recent set is the 1/64 Parking Lot Collection Ver. 1.5 (駐車場コレクション Ver.1.5).

The original set released in 2021 used different colors for some pieces, and had different stickers for signage.

The sets come randomly in gashapon capsules, and I was able to get all four variants. I don't think that each colored capsule corresponds to a particular set, but I could be wrong since I only had a sample size of four.

The first thing I noticed upon opening the capsules was that some of the pieces were bent from being stuffed inside the capsules.

Set A consists of road pieces, a wall, signs with stickers, and a payment machine with cover.

Some of the pieces were bent, and I did my best to straighten them out by heating them with a hair dryer.

Set B includes parking space pieces, a wall, parking blocks, flap locks, a vending machine with stickers, and a recycle bin.

Set C includes parking space pieces, a wall, a ticketing machine, and a parking gate which needed to have the arm straightened out.

Set D includes parking space pieces, a wall, parking blocks, flap locks, and some traffic cones along with a couple of traffic cone bars.

I think that the sets are actually pretty compatible with 1/72 scale figures. The sign post didn't fit in the base, so I drilled it out, but ended up making the hole to big, so now it's all wobbly.

Stickers are included indicating either a full lot or with vacancy, and I chose the later.

The parking spaces are probably unrealistically wide for 1/72 cars, and cars with low ground clearance might not fit very well over the flap lock (thus the painful way the Ferrari is parked).

The ticketing machine doesn't come with its own base, so the one from the payment machine needs to be used for it.

Eight sets are needed to create the lot shown in the promotional art, but I've seen Japanese parking lots with just one or two spaces.

If anyone is interested, a good overview of how hourly parking works in Japan can be found from RISE Corp.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Bobkit Commandos

During the 1980s, Heller started a line of models under the Bobkit/Bobcat brand that was aimed at novice modellers, as well as the Cliclac brand for children.

Mingling also occurred between these brands, with some Cliclac models being sold under the Bobkit name.

The Bobkit Commando set is pretty hard to find, as are most of the individual Cliclac vehicles it includes. However, everything in the kit except the Hughes Cayuse is included in the seemingly more common Bobkit C-160 TransAll kit.

The vehicle models come out of the box packed in a clear plastic bag, along with two sprues of French commandos.

The Hotchkiss M210 is a simple 8 piece model in green plastic.

The Renault TRM-2000 consists of a black sprue with 7 pieces, a green sprue with 6 pieces, and a clear sprue with one piece.

At least two civilian tanker versions (Shell and Elf) of the TRM-2000 were produced under the Cliclac brand.

The Renault VAB is made up of just 6 pieces in green plastic.

The green figures are from the TransAll kit, while the tan figures are from the Heller UN Force set (which I think was also boxed as the Opération Pamir set).

A review of these soldiers can be found at PSR.

The canvas top of the M201 had a solid back, so I cut a window in the rear using a Hasegawa Trytool Template (TP-1).

I drew a centering mark for the template, and used a scribing tool to etch the templated shape (45 x 65). When I could see the outline of the window on the other side of the plastic, I used a hobby knife to pierce the remaining plastic and pop out the oval panel.

Clear UV curing resin was used to add glass to the front windshield and newly created rear window.

Other than adding windows, I only painted the tires of the M201 and VAB black. The models were otherwise unmodified.

The fronts of the vehicles are pretty much devoid of detail, and decals would have been used to give the appearance of having grilles and headlights, but unfortunately my kit was missing the decals.

I actually want to preserve the toy-like appearance of these kits, but I may try to fashion some details to make them look a little better in the future (cupola, machine gun, and armored shutters for the VAB; front grille and headlights for the M201 and TRM-2000).

Friday, March 1, 2024

Lion Dance

The Lion Dance is one the first things that come to mind when speaking of Chinese New Year. However, Lion Dances are not just performed during New Year celebrations, but also for various auspicious events, such as weddings, birthdays, and business openings.

The Beginner's Guide to Chinese Lion Dance
by Tumblr user irenydraws

Lion imagery entered China during the Han dynasty through gifts of actual animals brought to the imperial court by emissaries from Persian and Central Asian states, and images of Manjushri Bodhisattva riding a lion which came with the spread of Buddhism.

Manjushri Bodhisattva
The Met 15.95.154

19th C. New Year's print (年画图片)

At some point (perhaps around the Three Kingdoms period), lions were introduced into Nuo Dance (傩戏) which were performed to exorcise evil influences.

The earliest image I could find comes from a Song dynasty painting of the popular Hundred Children Playing motif.

One Hundred Children Playing in Spring (百子嬉春图页)
– Su Hanchen (苏汉臣)

The theme was used for many types of media, including decorative ceramics.

Children at Play (婴戏图)

Similar dances spread throughout Asia with the spread of Chinese culture and diaspora. Lion Dances can be found in Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Korea, and Japan.

Children Performing a Lion Dance at a Festival
– Suzuki Harunobu, 1760

There are no 1/72 lion dancers, but some limited edition 1/64 figures were released by M&J Toys as MiJo Exclusives from American Diorama.

I think the sets were released around the time of the actual Chinese New Year last month, but I didn't get my sets until today.

Set 1 includes a drummer, a drum, a lion head/mask, and a lion.

Set 2 includes a dancer/Big Head Buddha (大頭佛), a Buddha/clown mask, a lion head/mask, and a rearing lion.

The two lions are both of the southern style and adequately painted. The figures are definitely tall for 1/72 scale figures, but I think they can still fit in without too much notice.

The Buddha mask can be placed on the dancer to become a Dai Tou Fut. However, what really surprised me was that all the pieces are made of metal.

Each set also came with a sheet of small round white stickers, but I'm not really clear on what they are for.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Alfa × Ferrari

The 1920 Targa Florio was the first major race that Enzo Ferrari participated in as a driver for Alfa Romeo—a role he would stay in until the 1930s, when he transitioned over to a management position.

Ferrari parted ways with Alfa Romeo in 1939, but it wasn't until after WWII, in 1947 that he founded his renowned car company.

The Ferrari company logo was based on the emblem used by Francesco Baracca on the side of his aircraft in WWI.

Ferrari cars tend to be prohibitively expensive for most, but Alfa Romeo cars are a bit more affordable (though maybe they aren't particularly reliable).

1:1 Alfa Spider (105/115 series)

There are many diecast models of both Ferrari and Alfa Romeo cars, but the only ones made in 1/72 scale were manufactured by Kyosho.

These models are often used as promotional items for canned coffee in Japanese convenience stores, and known as can coffee omake (缶コーヒーおまけ).

The brand of the coffee is often conflated with the brand of the models, perhaps because of the packaging that some of the cars come in.

The first set to be covered in this post will be the Alfa Romeo × Kyosho Famous Car Mini Car Collection (アルファロメオ×京商歴代名車ミニカーコレクション).

These models were used in the Georgia European Rich Black sales campaign (ジョージア ヨーロピアン コクのブラックキャンペーン), and were available at 7-11 (and possibly other) convenience stores.

I didn't bother verifying the scale accuracy of these cars, but they seem fine to me. I would have preferred if the cars windows were made of clear plastic instead of opaque black plastic though.

The second set is the Ferrari Legacy Masterpiece Collection (フェラーリ 軌跡の名車コレクション), which I believe was exclusive to Lawson convenience stores (at least for this particular campaign).

These cars are often classfied as Hot Wheels, due to the legalities surrounding the use of the Ferrari logo on the models.

Again, I didn't verify scale accuracy, but the cars are all really nice. The one issue with these models is that some of them exhibit paint blistering/bubbling, which really detracts from their character as high-end sports cars.

I have seen other Ferrari Legacy sets with cars in different colors, but I don't have any examples.

I wish they also made a model of the 308 GTS, which became an iconic car of the 80s through exposure in Hollywood movies and on TV shows.

National Lampoon's Vacation, 1983