Showing posts from 2012

Master of War - Finished!

At last, Master of War has been completed. For such a small vignette I am surprised it took me nearly a month to complete. Of course, with a wife and three kids, attempting to model during the busy Christmas season can be an exercise in futility. An hour or two of modeling here or there is all I can expect.

Any how, if you're just joining me, this is a vignette using two action figures from the popular Halo 4 video game for XBox 360. The two main characters you see are a vanquished Elite Zealot, and the ever victorious John-117, better known as Master Chief.
I decided to call this piece Master of War because of the word play associated with John-117's rank, as well as the fact that the Master Chief is truly unbeatable.
After undergoing Spartan II augmentation procedures under the UNSC Naval Special Warfare Command, his reflexes were faster, his strength was greater, eyesight enhanced, and his bones nearly unbreakable. Since then, he has survived the battles and hardships of n…

Meng Model Video Reviews

Aside from building my own models, I take great interest in watching what other modelers can do. There is a lot of talent out there, and I find it inspiring and motivational. Plus, it is easier to understand a tip or a technique being described verbally, and visually on the screen, as opposed to reading text from a scale modeling publication. So I am always appreciative whenever a useful video is produced.
I have two video reviews for you today. Both are detailed build logs for two Meng Model kits: The Merkava Mk.3D and the A39 Tortoise.

Let's start with the Merkava.

Meng Model 1/35 Merkava Mk.3D Guidance Video
This video has been around for nearly two months now, hitting Youtube on Warfare in Scale's channel back in October. It has gotten plenty of views since, but has only recently endorsed by Meng Model, which isn't much of a surprise since they have only been posting videos on their channel for a handful of months.
The video is just over thirty-five minutes long, or l…

New Pre-thinned Acrylic Paints from Testors

Testors has produced a line of paint that will compliment their Aztek line of airbrushes. This new airbrushable acrylic paint will require no thinner and should be able to shoot through any airbrush on the market, which is good considering I use a Paasche.

The new paints come in a wide variety of colors, 40 to be exact, but with names like Pearl Green and Florescent Magenta, these colors may not be ideal for the military modeler. No where do I read Olive Drab, or Russian Armor Green on their paint chart. Despite this, there are some relevant colors and the range of transparent hues can come in handy for tinted canopies, or vision blocks.

I am curious to see how they will stack up against other Testors' paint products like Model Masters or Floquil. And at $5.99 for a 2oz bottle, they are fairly priced, but without enough pigments geared toward the military modeler, it may be a while before I give them a shot.

Meng Model's AMX-30 Main Battle Tank

Meng Model has released another addition to its series of unique armor subjects in 1/35 scale - the French AMX-30B Main Battle Tank. It is a fine looking tank that hasn't saturated the market in scale, and resembles a mix between a Leopard and an M-60, which is no surprise since it was preceded by the M-47 Patton.

The Kit:
There are plenty of moving parts on the completed model - both the main gun and the 20mm cannon are able to elevate independently; the commander's cupola will rotate 360 degrees; the running gear, torsion bar, and shock absorbers can all be articulated, along with the workable tracks, to provide plenty of options for modelers who would prefer to display this monster on a finished base or a diorama. The kit even includes an elaborate little tool to assist in the assembly of the tracks, and allows the included photo-etched parts to be bent to the exact shape - a priceless little addition if you ask me.

The majority of the kit is molded in green plastic, but the…

New Additions to the Workshop

I hope every one had a great holiday, but now that Christmas is over its time to get back to the workshop! Santa was good to me this season as three new kits were added to my modest stash. A 1/72 F-16CG/CJ Fighting Falcon from Academy, Revell's 1/72 scale Panzerhaubitze 2000, and a 1/48 Stuka also from Revell.

I can't complain about any of these kits. For the first time in our twelve year history together, my wife purchased a model for me without my knowledge. The Stuka, which she picked from the shelves of the local AC Moore, is a common kit but one I have never built. The F-16 is particularly exciting because it is the aircraft I work on as a member of the US Air Force, and for some one who models within the limited space of a dining room table, 1/72 is the perfect scale for modern day jets. Lastly, the Panzerhaubitze is a mouthful to say and a very unique subject; a nice digression from the aircraft I typically build.

Also under the tree for me were nine Star Wars action f…

Master of War - Part V: Ground Work

This project is nearing an end with one of the final steps being the ground work for the diorama. This is a fairly small base so finding a way to creatively place two larger figures on it where it wouldn't look terribly crowded was a small challenge. If I couldn't expand outward, I would have to utilize more elevation. If I was to add ground upward, I would need a frame to contain it all.
Doing so was fairly simple. I cut out two retaining walls from picture frame matte material and glued them to the base.

 This way I could easily build upward without it spilling over the sides. Once the walls were up, I had to figure out the correct placement of the Zealot. After he found a comfortable position, crumpled up tissue paper filled the gaps around him, building up the retaining walls. All of this would be a filler to support the celluclay that I would lay down on top of it.

Blue painters tape was used to secure the tissue
paper and seal it from the moisture present in the cellucl…

Master of War - Part IV: Painting Elite Zealot

Welcome to part IV of this project. Its coming to a close very quickly. In tonight's installment, I have completed painting the monstrous Elite Zealot. Much like his adversary, the Master Chief, this Zealot is an incredibly detailed representation, and he was fun to paint.

I started again with a flat base coat of grays for his skin and brown for his armor. I used the tried and true acrylic paints from Vallejo that brush paint beautifully onto most surfaces. This time I was not concerned with applying a wash as I felt his skin and armor bore grooves that were deep enough to provide enough shadow naturally, and applying a wash might have been too stark a contrast. So once the base was down, I dry brushed lighter browns and grays across the grotesque alien.

Once I was satisfied, I added some saliva by applying some hot glue, which I thought came out pretty well but didn't photograph as well as I would have liked. But it adds a nice alien-esque touch, and my wife was creeped out …

Customer Service That Doesn't Stink!

Often times it can be difficult to find quality service from today's retailers and industries. Whether it is a delay in answering emails, trouble delivering products on time, or the inability to return a damaged item, it is easy to be confronted with obstacles in the consumer world. Well, today I bring you a story that is a sweet departure from the world of outsourced call centers, and obstinate corporate heads.

This story begins around Thanksgiving Day when my dad found a kit I must have left at my parents house after I moved out. Truly, I couldn't believe that I would do a thing like that, and to this day I don't remember ever having Monogram's 1/48 Messerschmitt Me-109G in my possession.

When I looked inside the box, a receipt was still in it, dating back twelve years to only three days before my birthday. It was likely a gift that I had forgotten amidst the interests that arise during the high school years. Upon further inspection, I realized that the clear parts …

Model Maniacs

What I love about modeling is that there is no limit to what you can do. If you have the time, the money, and the motivation you can build as much or as little as you want. I mean, if you want a complete navy made out of matchsticks then go for it. If you want a mechanically functioning 1/16 scale aluminum P-51 or F-4U Corsair, or even a model made entirely out of leftovers, nothing should keep you from fulfilling your vision! Me? Well, my vision doesn't include me going crazy so I'll stick to my modest stash of plastic models.
Happy modeling!

For more info on those large scale planes, check THIS out. The mind boggles.

Workshop Headlines - New Release from Master Box Ltd

I appreciate dioramas with a flare for the dramatic, and Dragon Models USA has announced the impending release of several boxed figure sets coming from Master Box Ltd that fit that category.
The one that intrigues me the most is the 1/35 "Vickers Machine Gun Team" pictured above. The kit includes four figures: a two-man British Vickers machine gun team, and two fallen DaK German figures. They were generous enough to also include the machine gun.
I have never built a kit from Master Box Ltd but this one is compelling enough to give it a try. It could build up into a nice little vignette or diorama.

You can check out this kit, and the other upcoming releases from Master Box Ltd here. Look for these items to hit stores in January 2013.

Master of War - Part III: Painting

In this part I move on to my favorite part of any modeling project. Painting. Applying layers of color gives the model, whatever it may be, new life and character. The paint scheme of a model tells the story; where the person or vehicle has been, and what it has done. This is implied visually, through the careful application of paint, accentuating highlights and shadows.
You may be wondering why I should waste time painting a figure that already has sufficient color and character. To that I say why limit myself to what the manufacturer provides? To me, the original action figure is very one dimensional, no changes in tone, no color variation. I like to change that.

To start, I gave the Master Chief a base coat using Model Color acrylic paints by Vallejo. Vallejo acrylics, in my opinion, are some of the best paints to use on figures. They brush on very well, unlike Tamiya acrylics for instance.

Now Chief is looking pretty factory-fresh. Not a bad look really, but I want to add some de…

Master of War - Part II: Figure Prep Continued...

After giving these two action figures a much needed bath, it was time to turn them into something more realistic and less, you know, action figury...
One of the biggest barriers to realism on an action figure are their fingers. In most cases, the fingers do not articulate, and for good reason. Why should they? They are meant for holding guns, and spears, and a cold beer after a long battle. They don't need to be making peace signs. However, if one needs to make a figure look as life-like as possible, certain things need to be altered.
As the picture shows above, I've taken a sharp blade and separated the index finger from the ring finger. It is a simple process, just a steady hand is needed.

Once I did this, I needed to form his hand and finger to accept his weapon in a more human fashion. I filled a small cup with hot water, and another cup with cold water. Then I dipped is trigger hand into the hot water for about 30 seconds, until it was nice and malleable, making his inde…

Workshop Headlines - NECA to Release 7" Dutch Schaefer

To ring in the 25th Anniversary of the film Predator, NECA is set to release Predators Series 8 featuring a 7 inch tall, though no less muscular, Arnold Schwarzenegger who played Dutch Schaefer. He will come in two versions in this series: Jungle Extraction Dutch and Jungle Patrol Dutch (seen above).
NECA produces some of the finest, and most detailed action figures on the market, and they certainly continued the trend here. Along with Dutch, the collection in Series 8 includes the Masked Jungle Hunter Predator and each figure comes with an assortment of weapons.

There is no way this figure does not make the perfect character for an even more perfect diorama. If I don't do it, some else do it. And if it isn't called "Get to da choppa" then you should rethink your life choices...

For more looks at this figure, check them out HERE!

Master of War - Part II : Figure Prep

Prior to doing anything to them, it is important for the Action Figures to have good hygiene. Not only will a bath eliminate all that foul body odor (Action Figures tend to sweat after countless hours of saving the universe), but it will hopefully allow the paint to bond with the figure when it comes time to apply the paint. Why is that, you ask? Well, if you read up on your Action Figure anatomy, you would know that most action figures are molded from plastic resin, known as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or if that is too much to say, ABS will do. The trick here is that in the manufacturing process, once the resin is set in the mold it can be difficult to remove. Therefore, a lubricating release agent is used to remove the resin. This lubricant coats the figure in a thin layer and is often resistant to paint. Giving my little friends here a bath should solve the problem.

As you can see, it is a simple process. A small Tupperware will suffice, filled with water and some…

Master of War - Part I : Composition

Composition is arguably the most important element in any diorama, or any work of art for that matter. It is the way all the elements are combined to form the whole. It is how ideas, and words are combined to form a well written essay. It is how ingredients compliment each other in a delicious culinary master piece. Without proper composition, the work suffers.

A diorama can be used to depict a three-dimensional, full sized or smaller scale scene or model. The word originated in France in the 1820's and means "through that which is seen". Most people should be familiar with the large scale dioramas on display in natural history museums which often exhibit stuffed exotic animals posed in their natural habitats. In a diorama or a vignette, one simply takes a model and displays it in its own environment, using elements like ground work, vehicles, or other figures to create a scene.
In scale modeling communities, it is accepted that a diorama is "a story-based display o…

Coming Attraction...

So, now that I have completed the scene for Master Yoda, it is time to move on. After doing two relatively small vignettes featuring very little compelling action, it is time for a change of pace...and subject matter.

Enter, Master Chief.

Master Chief Petty Officer John 117 is the protagonist from the fictional Halo universe. He is probably one of the most recognizable characters in the video game industry over the last couple of years. He is an icon, and I will admit, he is probably one of the coolest looking characters I have seen...second only to Boba Fett. He looks as if he will win every fight, every time. By himself. To be clear, I can not stand the video game...can you fault a guy for hating a game he sucks at? No. Don't judge me. But I find the look and mystery of his character intriguing and a good subject for my first in-depth build. Every good protagonist needs an antagonist.
Enter, the Elite Zealot.

 The Elite Zealot is a high ranker member of the Covenant, whose size…

Yoda in the Hood

What I've done here is clearly tongue-in-cheek and I'm sure there are many a Star Wars loyalist that would be up in arms about it. However, I'm hoping you have at least a small sense of humor, or at least an appreciation for the unique. I wanted to re-imagine the experience of Yoda as he escapes the fall of the Republic and retreats into exile. The movies do not cover Yoda's life between Episode III and when we are reunited with the Jedi Master in Empire Strikes Back. In fact, I did not even know what was written about that time period in Yoda's experience until reading about him on Wookiepedia the other day. In the version depicted here, after being forced to leave Coruscant, Yoda attempts to hide out on a remote planet in the Outer Rim territories known as Earth - a backward planet no one would ever think to look. There he took up residence in the back streets of a bustling urban center, volunteering at a soup kitchen while schooling disadvantaged youth in the …