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Topics - Will Vale

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Model Gallery / MiG and a Mark IV
« on: January 06, 2015, 01:34:57 PM »
Hi folks,

I've been a bit slack at posting stuff on this forum lately, but here are a couple of things I finished towards the end of last year:

Eduard's MiG-15SB in 1/72, which is a neat little kit and (in the version I bought) came with nice etch for the cockpit and a few other spots, plus some resin rockets.

More pictures

Tamiya's long-awaited (by me, anyway) Mark IV tank in 1/35. Great kit, everything fits, it runs well and can climb over reasonable obstacles, and the big sides are a perfect canvas for weathering. I added a little bit of stowage and re-worked the plastic unditching beam to show the wood grain.

I also slightly re-posed and painted up on of the British infantry figures in the box as an inaccurate tank crew member. My first figure in this scale, it's quite tricky compared to the fantasy stuff.

More pictures

Cheers and Happy New Year!


Model Gallery / A host of spirits
« on: October 15, 2014, 03:04:21 AM »
Hi folks,

I've been flitting around between projects recently and as well as the spaceship I have a Tamiya Mark IV tank nearly finished, and a little MIG almost at the paint stage. So of course I started something new...

These are some recently-released Games Workshop ghosts. I painted them because I liked all the movement, and I wanted to try some ideas for painting glowing ethereal stuff which I could try on some of their larger undead models. These "Spirit Hosts" are on 40mm bases and each base is supposed to represent a swarm of ghostly foes.

Click for bigger

The basic colours are an airbrushed mix of Tamiya Acrylics, going for a sort of glow-in-the-dark look. I started with a mid green and worked up to pure yellow on the insides of the ghosts, and where they emerge from the skeletons.

My initial plan was to paint them inside-out, and put shadows on all the raised parts, but when I tried it I didn't like the look. I repainted the test model and went with edge highlights over the airbrushed base, and then glazes over everything to tie it together. The highlights are a bit sloppy (done in front of the telly) but the glazes help smooth them out.

I also varied the glazes from yellow in the bright spots, through green in the middles, to blue on the thin bits like hands and faces.

All the gravestones were painted with Citadel paints under a magnifier. I sealed everything with Alclad Klear Flat (so great!) and then treated the blades with various metallics, a teal-black wash, and a rub with AK Dark Steel graphite.

I think they've come up quite well, and they made a nice break from other things I've been working on. Better get on and finish that tank now!



Model In-Progress / '70s starship scratchbuild
« on: August 14, 2014, 05:24:28 AM »
Hi all,

This is a bit delayed since I was having trouble posting, but I've been working on a new thing this week. I'd been messing around assembling some GW stuff since I finished the Viper but haven't really got my teeth into anything. And then I spotted an interesting part in a kit, turned it upside down, and went and got my big Chris Foss book out...

I've wanted to build some '70s or '80s sci-fi for a while and this should scratch that itch. The part I found (can you spot what it is?) looks great when inverted as an under-slung bridge. I did a couple of designs around this - one as a tug or recovery vehicle, with a hexagonal body and arms sticking out the front, and one as a more conventional starship with a pyramidal body.

Bigger pictures

I taught myself to use Sketchup (very basically) at the weekend and worked out the dimensions, so I was able to cut some parts and tape them

The core is a plate of 2mm styrene, and the rest is 1mm. I laid it out with a ruler and dividers, taking the dimensions from the Sketchup model, and cut the parts out with a Tamiya scriber. Amazingly, it fits quite well despite the model not accounting for thickness. I did have to build a second version of the rear plate though since my first attempt had the angles very slightly out.

I braced the inside and made bulkheads to support the hull, and also cut out some holes which I can fill with recessed nurnies later. I think maybe the big one will house some kind of retractable comms dish?

And catching up with progress, I've put it all together. There should be enough access through the main plate to install some lights inside the hull. I don't want/need lots of tiny windows because the scale isn't right for that.

At the back I cut a recess in the plate for the engines, now I need to fill all the hull joints and figure out what to use for the thruster cones.



Model Gallery / Colonial Viper Mark One (with lights)
« on: August 02, 2014, 12:58:39 AM »
Hi folks,

Here's the Moebius Viper I've been building for our club's Build-the-Same-Kit competition. It was a bit of a rush at the last minute since I spent half the last month painting my treeman when I should really have been working on the Viper :)

More/bigger images on Flickr

Not a bad kit to build - some fit issues and quite a few sink marks, but it cleans up quite well and there's some nice detail. I added the Paragrafix etched set for the cockpit and engines, plus my own lighting rig using an ATTiny85 microcontroller and some RGB and plain LEDs. The battery power is on-board - 4 AAA cells should give enough runtime for a whole show, but they were a fiddle to squeeze into the space.

Paint is Alclad and Tamiya with some Citadel paints for details. I used hairspray and masking fluid chipping for the first time and definitely want to do that again! I also masked and painted the stripes, which meant that since I didn't have to apply any decals I was able to avoid the varnish step and preserve all the metallics. I used MIG and AK enamels to weather which didn't cause any problems over the hairspray.

It was predictably a lot of fun writing the code for the lights - here's an edit of the complete sequence, which takes about a minute and a half. I don't think it's possible to embed video on this board, so here's the YT link.

Thanks for the suggestions and encouragement on the WIP thread - it always helps to get other opinions - and thanks for looking, I hope you like it!



Model Gallery / Old Father Elm - ancient treeman
« on: July 12, 2014, 09:36:15 PM »
Hi folks,

After a bit more messing around this morning I finally got this chap finished and managed to take some pictures before the light fell. He's a treeman from the recently-released Games Workshop plastic kit and is about 14cm tall. I'm still quite surprised that it's possible to make something like this in plastic, but they are generally very good at organic stuff.

More/bigger pics on Flickr

I converted the model a little using parts from all three versions. I rebuilt a right hand into a left so I didn't have to use the enormous left hand supplied, and used the long plaited beard as a pigtail. I also removed the bottom of his jaw so that the face looks more like a nut and less like a mask from Princess Mononoke. I tidied up the changes with epoxy putty and CA.

He's all brush painted with Citadel paints except for varnish, the tendrils (where I airbrushed the blends) and an initial application of "Flesh Wash" to the recesses, also using the AB for ease of access.

After the basic paint job was done and sealed I weathered him with enamels and a small amount of pigment - mainly AK and MIG stuff. The flat coat is Alclad Klear Flat, and the gold paint is Vallejo Liquid Gold which I haven't used before, and I think is excellent!

I added a layer of moss mixed from ground foam, green paint and leftover "scenic cement" (dilute PVA). A bit scary initially but when toned down with enamels and drybrushed with some ludicrously bright green I think it's pretty effective.

I was amused to discover just how many bottles and jars went into this!

There's a WIP thread here - thanks to everyone who commented while it was going on, and thanks for having a look here too! I really enjoyed this one, sometimes a bit of messy painting is very good for the soul :)



Model In-Progress / Treeman!
« on: July 01, 2014, 04:47:40 AM »
Hi folks,

I haven't painted any minis for a while, and I was rather taken with this chap, although not with the studio paint jobs. They're beautifully executed but a bit too clean and fairytale (they remind me of Mononoke) for something that spends its time crashing around a forest.

(click to embiggen)

As usual for the Games Workshop figures, the fit is great and the level of layered detail is bordering on the ridiculous - I wasn't entirely sure how to paint him.

The kit builds three versions, I mixed the legs and left arm from "Durthu", the right arm and staff from "Ancient Treeman" and the left hand launching the triffid-like stingers is from "Treeman". I had to convert the provided right hand into a left hand by removing all the fingers and thumb and rebuilding it all the other way around! Managed to cut my own finger while slicing off one of his, ironically. All the official versions use the same left hand which is bigger and looks like a collection of knives, so I'm quite glad I opted for something different here.

I also shortened the beard and removed the plaited section to use as a pigtail, and built a head using the top half of Durthu's and the bottom of the ancient treeman's. I didn't really like the Princess Mononoke-style mask faces and I think what I ended up with looks better, though it's a bit clunky compared to the kit parts.

I started by trying out some paint colours on his wee wooden bum. I airbrushed all the inner wood sections with old-school "Flesh Wash", basically chestnut ink. This should shade and provide warmth under the paint.

Then I highlighted the sapwood with flesh colours, washed it with thinned Vallejo Khaki, and drybrushed with pale flesh colours and greys. I think it looks OK, but a bit messy and hard to touch up owing to the layers.

I also filled in a bit of the bark but I ended up going with something lighter.

I thought the dark bark was a bit too dark (poetry!) so went for one of the new GW base paints - Steel Legion Drab - which is a little bit chocolaty but makes a nice basis for the bark bits. I gave it a heavy black wash after (which is still wet in these pics) to tone it down and shade the recesses.

I did opt to keep the dark colour (Charadon Granite) for the feet, hands and face/mask. I like it on the feet, it's a bit too dark on the hands (but I think if I blend it into the lighter brown at the wrists, it'll be cool.) I don't know about the face yet.

The loincloth and hairband will probably end up red, but I like the red-brown as a base, I think it'll make for a richer, more subtle finish.



Model In-Progress / Colonial Vipers
« on: June 20, 2014, 04:42:42 AM »
Hi folks,

Our club is running its annual Build-the-Same-Kit competition and one of the nominated models was the BSG Viper. Luckily we got enough votes and there are now four of us building them.

I was going to do the new Mk. 1, but I found a cheap Mk. 2 so I thought I might try and build both.

I washed the sprues (long soak in warm soapy water, then clean with a toothbrush and rinse) since they felt greasy. They still feel not quite right, so I think I might give the sub-assemblies another wash before priming.

I've done a tape-assisted dry-fit of both kits, and the difference is not quite night and day, but certainly pronounced. From my limited experience with Moebius their CAD is quite good, but the tool making and moulding quality control is so-so. So once you get the parts cleaned up they fit, but cleaning up can be a pain. The Mk. 2 engineering is a bit wacky too - too many interlocking bits.

The Mk. 1 however is really good - great fit, much less clean-up required, and the way it slots together in paintable sub-assemblies is fantastic. It's also got a bit more presence than the Mk. 2 and better surface detail.

I also have the Paragrafix sets (not really essential but I wanted to try them) and a very nice resin Starbuck/Apollo figure from the original series.

Click for bigger

You can see how much bigger the Mk. 1 is compared to the new version.

I assembled the wings, weapons and undercarriage for the Mk 1. and dug out the cockpit for the lighting gels. Lots of chain drilling, scalpel carving and filing later:

Then I fitted the etched parts with 5 minute epoxy, the front panel first. They ended up a little bit high, but that was where they seemed to want to sit, so...

I filled and sanded the seams on the fin and started on the wings, but then got distracted and decided to get the engines together. This meant dealing with the clear insert - I know this is supposed to be a good idea but it seems weird to me - the insert has all this detail which should be opaque, and is basically impossible to paint, so the etch replacement is handy.

You still need the insert to get the etch in the right place and provide most of the engine tubes, so I opted for the brave-and-stupid approach and drilled out the backs of the nozzles with a power drill and a big spade bit :D

I shattered the supports but the tubes were OK, and after a good hour of sanding starting with 80 grit paper I ended up with this:

I sanded the flat backs of the tubes to about 2/3 thickness to allow for the thick brass, otherwise the whole assembly won't quite fit tidily over the engines.

Here are the bits that are going inside to light it up.

The microcontroller board is on the left - it's an $8 Adafruit product which is basically an Atmel ATTiny85 with a USB interface and voltage regulator. On the right there's a break-away strip of RGB LEDs, also from Adafruit although they call them "NeoPixels". These need a 3 wire daisy-chained bus and they're really easy to set up, with biggish solder pads on the backs of the PCB.

Here's the mostly-assembled lighting rig - I added a few more bits since I took this picture:

Caveat: This is a poor diagram of what may be a poor design, I'm not an expert! D1 is to allow USB power when plugged in since I was running the batteries down too much, and C1 is recommended by Adafruit to absorb in-rush current from long strings of pixels. Probably not needed here but I thought I might as well do it properly since it's being stuffed into a model where I would like it to remain.

I also forgot to add a resistor (I think I used 330 Ohm) from pin 2 to the first "pixel"'s data input. This was also recommended by the vendor.

The other LEDs are just driven by spare pins. It's probably better not to use pins 3 and 4 since on this board they're part of the USB interface and they seem to make it slightly less reliable. Not that it was very reliable on my PC anyway - it only connects every other time, although once connected I haven't had any problems.


I finished writing my software today - I like coding for these little machines, this has half the RAM (512 bytes!) of a ZX-81, which was my first computer. Although it does have about 5K of flash available for program code and constant data.

I did some experiments with writing custom code for the LED animations, but decided it would be better to write a keyframe animation system instead. That lets me define the animation colours and timings in data, and then have some glue code to decide when to trigger which animations, and tie all the results to the outputs. I also added a couple of basic signal generators for the pulsing and flickering stuff and used those to modulate the animation outputs in some cases. It's quite compact - a keyframe is 4 bytes (stored in flash) and the state required to run an animation is something like 6 bytes. All the maths is 8 and 16 bit integer for speed, accuracy but mainly reduced code size.


And here's the result:
Sorry the video is so dark, otherwise the light was washing out the LED animation.

The viper cycles through four stages - "off" (flashing red LED), "start up", "run" and "shut down". The engines are lower right as I'm sure you guessed, the four white LEDs are the cockpit panel backlights, the lower single LED is for the main display backlights, and the two overly-bright red + green LEDs top right will be feeding single lights in the cockpit via fiber optics.

I thought having something flashing would be a good idea so that people would look at it long enough to see the sequence start if they arrived in the "off" part.

Now I need to paint and finish the cockpit so I can get the forward fuselage together.


Model Gallery / Gunship from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.
« on: June 19, 2014, 02:21:05 PM »
Hi folks,

I built this as a "quick" build this week - I have no idea how people manage to do weekend builds of anything - and as an antidote to the big ship I still haven't finished. I was inspired to buy this kit by Norris Packard's lovely build last year and it does feel a bit like an homage to that one :)

(Click for bigger)

It's Bandai's kit of the Nausicaa gunship, with figures of Nausicaa and Mito. I only watched the movie after finishing the model so I didn't realise that the flaps are actually funky thrust-vectoring engines, or I would have got some metallics and exhaust stains in there instead of the interior green.

The figures are nice and I've made an effort to paint them properly, but they had to be installed before the fuselage was closed. I masked them with wet tissue and they're now covered with a tracery of tissue fibres which I haven't been entirely successful in getting rid of.

I hope the crushed blacks aren't upsetting anyone, I thought they looked quite cool. Here are Nausicaa and Mito in cruel close-up:

I won't be using wet tissue again - better to spend more time with Tamiya tape I think. Their heads in the flying helmets are almost exactly the same size as matchheads, so I was quite surprised I managed to get the eyes in. Bandai provided moulded detail to paint, and anime eyes are usually a bit bigger which helps!

Decals are from my spares - the big numbers and the heart are from a Ma.K Grosser Hund, and the stencils are mostly from a Wave sheet. They have mostly silvered in annoying ways (the whole decal rather than bubbles). I'm not sure what I did wrong - plenty of gloss varnish under and over, and I've used them before with some success. Oh well.

Paint is decanted Tamiya IJN Gray-Green, Tamiya acrylics, with Alclad metallics and MIG washes, and it's sealed with Alclad Klear Flat since the Light Sheen was too shiny in this case.

Decals aside, I'm quite happy with it!



Model Gallery / Schnellboot S-104 "Lang" - Bronco 1/350
« on: April 25, 2014, 07:36:49 PM »
Hi all,
I built this little S-boat over the past few weeks, probably not that much actual modelling time involved until it got near the end as I was working on it as a break from something else. I thought it'd be good for developing my maritime skills - the Bronco etch was incredibly thin and soft and I was surprised that I managed to get it all (or nearly all - there's a piece missing from one of the guns) fitted on. I'm also surprised that nothing snapped since I kept knocking bits and having to un-bend them!

Flickr link
It's a nice kit with a sensible breakdown of parts - nearly all the detail is moulded into the deck, so there aren't a load of fiddly bits to attach. You do need to use the etch though as while some parts (rudders etc.) have plastic alternatives, many others don't. I didn't have too much trouble with fit apart from the lower hull to upper hull join which took a fair bit of filling and sanding to correct.

I painted it wIth a mix of Tamiya paints over Alclad grey primer, with the initial finish masked and then various details and fiddly bits brush-painted with Tamiya and GW paints. Weathering is mainly MIG washes with some AK dust effects and engine oil. The torpedoes are sprayed with Alclad and Tamiya paints, as are the depth charges, and the other metallics are AK steel pigment (graphite powder). Figures are from Fujimi and are a bit ET-like in places :(
Some details:

And finally an overall shot for scale. The base is a wooden letter "I" from a gift shop with a hole drilled in it. It's a bit of a dust magnet unfortunately.

Thanks for looking!

Model In-Progress / Squiggly beast (Tyranid Haruspex)
« on: February 23, 2014, 02:38:36 AM »
Hi all,

Been a bit out of the modelling loop lately - Micky broke her ankle a couple of days before Christmas so my holiday time was mostly spent doing housework and generally rushing around. I've not progressed the handful of things I was working on although I did prime the parts for a Moebius Bat-Pod. Anyway, serious danger of modeller's block setting in so I thought I'd better do something easy/fun. Hence this recent Games Workshop kit of a Tyranid monster - the Haruspex.

Flickr link

It all went together quite well and I primed it with decanted Tamiya white primer. Some filler was needed and I must admit I haven't done a great job - I needed to spend more time in better light smoothing the expoy putty down. I sprayed everything with Tamiya acrylics (mainly deck tan and medium blue) including all the blends on the horns and the mouth colours.

Quite a lot of overspray in the mouth area, which was unavoidable really - too organic to paint in pieces, and too concave to paint together. I generally like the colours though, with inspiration coming from crabs, and people. I figure that using human-like colouring for the skin, bone and viscera will help with the whole body horror aspect :)

This afternoon I left the a/b in its box and started working on the carapace using sponges and drybrushing followed by glazes over the medium blue base. It's ended up looking sort of iridescent. The whole model is quite messy and I'm trying to figure out how neat I want it to be - too neat isn't organic enough, too messy just looks bad...

And this evening I've been working up the face and head a bit. The horn is still wet here but I think it may be getting a re-paint or at least some touch up work. I like the colour (tan->brown->black->blue) but it needs to be cleaner and better graduated than it is. The eyes and head carapace are OK though :)

I was sort of hoping to get this done-ish by Wednesday night for our club meeting, I'm not sure if I'm up to that based on tonight's progress but it's fun to be messing around with paint again after quite a long break.

Oh yeah - I forgot that I built this last November (in the space of about two weeks I think, just got it done in time for the club competition) and I don't think I posted it here? It's Trumpeter's Tu-160 in 1/144 scale, with a bit of Engels 2 strategic airbase to stand it on. My etched ladders finally arrived from Latvia so I can get this finished properly now.

White Swan on Flickr



Model Talk / Vinyl kit builds
« on: December 11, 2013, 02:00:33 PM »
Hi folks,

I picked up a couple of vinyl figure kits from my local model shop - they have a small pile of boxes which has been there for the ten-odd years I've been coming in and they finally marked them down 50%. I bought a MIB Halcyon Judge Anderson earlier in the year and I was looking for something to build prior to that to get my feet wet.

So I've ended up with two Elfin kits - one of Iria, which I have since found out is a vinyl recast of a resin/vinyl kit by Takayuki Takeya, and one of Sara - a chainmail-wearing barbarian lady with a small dragon. I can't find out if this is a recast or not (I read that Elfin did some original work as well as recasts.)

So... I intend to build Iria - I don't think buying ancient shelf stock is going to do anything for the recasters, I don't like to throw things away, and I do support GK makers with my wallet - see Halcyon and my many IMech purchases. I know that people feel very strongly about this entire subject, so if I built Iria here (as a Fremen, I think) would that upset folk?

Likewise Sara if she turns out to be a recast as well.



Model In-Progress / Salvage diorama
« on: October 07, 2013, 01:38:03 AM »
So having started a new project I started another as soon as I got to the sanding stage. Funny that :p This was actually what I intended to do next but the sky-ship thing was too awesome not to get started with.

I want to make a smallish diorama using the bits from the UCHG "Zaku Ground War" set. The inspiration is a mix of ship breaking, Shelley's Ozymandias, and seeing Marc Reusser's Ma.K vignette in the AK magazine. The original plan was to have a derelict Zaku on the roadside with the two tanks passing in convoy, but I've changed this a bit since I started messing around.

The rusty Zaku is staying, but the vehicle will be a kitbashed/scratchbuilt survey rover based on a Lego one I built a few years back:

The rover is itself inspired by Chris Foss, Mass Effect and other '80s-esque sci-fi designs. I found some nice wheels on a Siku farm trailer (after searching two toyshops) and I've bought a Revell 1/144 Apache for the cockpit. The 1/144 version will be a larger, two (or more) person machine.

Anyway, here's a bit of work on the Zaku - one leg blown off and some simple detail additions.


I'm thinking about putting this on a round base since it should give a more useful photographic horizon. If I'm feeling really pretentious I might put the relevant lines around the circumference:

"Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."



Model In-Progress / Luftkreuzer (1/700 skyship)
« on: September 30, 2013, 01:04:52 AM »
Hi all,

Now that the Wessex is out of the way, what better time to start something new rather than finish off any number of old projects?

I've really enjoyed decoy's skyships thread, and I was able to get a load of Trumpeter 1/700 ships for a bargain price recently, so I thought I'd have a go. This started as Admiral Hipper, and I've removed a couple of inches from the length and flipped the hull upside down.

Flickr link

The underside (which was the top) is capped off with slices of the waterline plate, and the upper side (which was the bottom!) has the original deck, with a slice removed from the middle. I had to reshape the prow quite a bit to fit it into the section of the hull at what was the waterline, and of course the stern deck stuck out over sides. What I've done there is fill in the gap with Miliput, then added a new lip (the white styrene) to the deck and blended that down to the waistline with filler. Lots of cleanup still to do in that area.

For the prow, I cut the original bow vertically straight and added a sort of keel plate underneath as a guide, then built it up from more Miliput, sanded to shape and reinforced in spots with CA.

To shorten everything I cut it up with a razor saw and mitre box (oo technical!) and fitted it back together. Rescribing the deck planking across the join was fiddly but quite fun. Oh, and the red stuff on the superstructure is blood where I stabbed myself (twice!) while paring away some of the superstructure locating blocks from the deck. I did this because Admiral Hipper was very long and thin, and I think something with a slightly fatter section will look a bit more archaic.

What I'm thinking is that there'll be a triple-tube engine at the back, and some kind of lift mechanism underneath in two rows pointing about 20' outward rather than straight down. I'll probably add a skirt of armour plates extending from the waist to about 5mm below the bottom to give the hull a bit more presence, and use some of the spare details from the shortened deck to build a Yamato-style third bridge underneath. If I can find room I'd like to add some launch/recovery racks for the spotter plane :)



Model Gallery / Westland Wessex HU.5 (Italeri 1/48)
« on: September 24, 2013, 09:10:06 PM »
Hi folks,

I've been building this helicopter for a group build on another forum - I was a couple of weeks late so it didn't make the deadline, but it's done now! It's the Italeri Wessex HU.5 done as XT480, which I believe was involved in the rescue of survivors from Sir Galahad during the Falklands conflict. I used this image for colour and some detail reference, as well as a collection of walkarounds.

Flickr link

The kit goes together OK. Quite a bit of flash/burrs on the edges of parts and I thought when I dry-fitted that it was going to be a disaster, but removing the locating pins from the fuselage halves allowed things to line up properly. The nose wasn't bad either - some putty needed underneath and to clean up some seams, but the big zig-zag seam is where the nose cone lifts up for maintenance access so I left that one alone :) The main problem is the cockpit glazing, which really doesn't fit well at all - I had to glue it to the frame on one side, hold 'til it set, then do the other side with a fair bit of pressure. I used some big files and a lot of putty to re-build the fairing (which is still wrong - it should continue the straight line of the glazing rather than end in a fillet) but at least it doesn't have a gap now.

I added three antennas on the rear fuselage which weren't in the kit, some piping to the hydraulic reservoir on the main rotor head, fire extinguishers and wiring looms in the cabin and cockpit, a map/document box, overhead blinds, rotor brake, etc. etc. Also rearranged the seating in the cabin and provided it with a plywood floor. The kit cockpit is pretty nice, especially the collectives and the IP, although I stuffed that up a bit - I thought I'd got the fit right but it bowed away from the backing so the instruments look a bit weird. Oh well.

In a sense XT480 isn't a great choice as the kit only provides white stencil decals and they should be black, and the typeface for the serial and XQ code letters is much too modern/too bold. Oh, and most of the stencils are the wrong size! I opted to work with what I had since I was trying to finish for the GB, and cut up/faded various decals to try and get things as close to accurate as I could.

The paint is Tamiya - a mixture of olive green fading to darker olive green at the bottom, and olive green plus khaki drab at the top. It's a wee bit darker in real life than in the pics, I think. I had a couple of varnish disasters (frosting/cracking) which I mostly recovered from and did some weathering with MIG washes, AK stuff, and pigments. To do the painted-out crests behind the cockpit I cut masks from post-it note (following the pictures not the decals, which in this case were too small) and blotted paint through with a cotton bud.

The scariest job was probably stringing the antennas, but it turned out to be OK once I got into it:

This all sounds a bit grumbly but honestly I did enjoy myself (except maybe for the varnishing). It is a surprisingly challenging kit though, given how incredibly glowing all the reviews are, but I'll chalk that up to inexperience on my part. And while you could do a lot more work to fix the accuracy issues than I did, it does look like a Wessex!

I had a lot of help from a couple of forum members who worked on and flew the Wessex, which is why I added all the extra stuff - seemed a shame not to use the information once I had it!



Model Gallery / Deathwing Terminators
« on: August 28, 2013, 09:28:00 PM »
Hi folks,

I finally managed to get hold of the Dark Vengeance set at a price I thought was reasonable out here. For the uninitiated, this is Games Workshop's intro to Warhammer 40K - you get two small armies in one box, and they're very nice although suffer a bit from the need to be assemble-able without glue. I've had my eye on it since it was released because I like the Dark Angels marines and the Chaos models are *spectacular* detail-wise. So far, I think the poses and designs are good but there are some details which are soft on account of where they are in the mould. That probably wouldn't be the case if e.g. the arms were separate parts.

Anyway, I've cleaned up and undercoated most of the box, and I thought I'd start by painting the Terminators (Space Marines in big boy armour on 40mm bases) because all those nice areas of armour plate would be easy to paint. Not so! They took ages, lots of detail work to do and I finally got things finished today. I think these are the first marines I've painted, unless I had one when I was little?

(Click for bigger)

I opted to spray the base colour with a mix of Tamiya acrylics (Deck Tan, Buff, White) and Citadel's Gryphonne Sepia for shading. All the other colours were brush painted and I used a mixture of MIG and Citadel washes. They aren't as tidy as I'd like but they look quite nice in person. I even did some edge highlighting, which is something I've thought was a bit over-done in GW's miniatures but having tried it I think I quite like it. I've added some minor weathering (just paint chips and some oily joints) to distract from the fact that the models aren't perfectly clean and tidy. If I'd thought about it I'd have misted a little of the base colour over the feet and lower legs, maybe I'll try that on the Chaos cultists who should look a bit earthier.

For the pictures, I thought I'd have a go at using a black background (because in the Grim Darkness of the Far Future there is Only War) which is a bit different to my usual white. I quite like it but they are rather CMON-style uber-contrasty pictures as a result. It seems to suit these minis pretty well though.

Cheers and thanks for looking!


Model Gallery / Warmaster Araby Guard
« on: August 11, 2013, 06:02:06 PM »
Hi folks,

As a wind-down from finishing the sniper I painted these Warmaster figures - quite a shift from 1/8 to 10mm scale :) They're really nice castings, full of life, and metal with all the pros and cons that entails. Mostly pros, I think, although it's a long time since I touched any metal minis and I keep missing the tags while cleaning them up. I undercoated them black and followed a scheme fairly close to the pics on GW's website because I liked the red and turquoise against the black, and these guys are supposed to be elite troops so black uniforms seem appropriate. For the rank and file I think I'll use the same turquoise with white uniforms maybe?

Click for bigger

Quite fiddly to paint as you can imagine, and my first go a a freehand banner looks nice until you get too close-up to it. Need to work on the consistency of my brush strokes. One huge plus is that I bought a Tamiya "pro" 00 brush and it has the most fantastic point, it's like painting with a laser or something. Very cool.

Obligatory "look at me, I'm small" size comparison picture :D

Now to clean up my work area and do some proper modelling. LCAC and Wessex both need work.



Hi folks,

I'm not sure why I put off finishing this for a month, it didn't actually take all that long to do the final assembly, wiring and scenics. But it's done now!

(click for bigger/more pictures on Flickr)

The kit is from Industria Mechanika, and is a resin cast of a 3D-printed master of a model by a guy called Mike Jensen. My original plan was to do something a bit shinier and cleaner, but I found that the surface was basically too complex to polish, and opted for a weathered finish instead :) The inspiration was District 9, and more specifically Neill Blomkamp's earlier short Tetra Vaal, so I modelled the surroundings after Soweto.

I remodelled the sniper rifle from the kit-supplied anti-materiel weapon to something a little bit more futuristic and police-like, and hollowed out the head and neck to light the eyes. The paint is decanted Tamiya and Alclad lacquer, and various acrylics over the top of that. Markings are a mixture of sprayed and various Gundam kit decals.

On the scenic front, the concrete is florists' foam (never again!) the catfood tins were made from thick foil with laser-printed labels, and the bees are H0 scale from Busch - only 10x larger than they should be for 1:87!

More details of the build here:

Thanks massively to the people who commented on the build thread, I got some key suggestions from there which really helped shape this project!

and a few close-ups:

Incidentally, I spent a lot of time looking at photographs of the poorer areas of Soweto, particularly Kliptown, to get the colours and plants looking right, and felt kind of crap afterwards, like I was taking advantage of other people. I opted to donate some money to Kliptown Youth Program, it's not much, but hopefully better than doing nothing.

If you want to help out, see here:

Cheers and thanks for looking!


Model In-Progress / Super Dungeon Explore!
« on: July 08, 2013, 12:20:01 AM »
I was casting about for something quick and fun to do last week and my wife suggested the Super Dungeon Explore miniatures, which have been sitting in the box for a few months since I bought the game. I thought that'd fit the bill nicely, little did I know how much pain I was letting myself in for vis-a-vis mould lines and assembly! It took about three days of spare time to clean up and assemble the 60-odd figures, and once I'd primed them I had to go right back and do some more scraping. They're still not perfect, but I wanted to get the brushes out and paint something at the weekend.

Hence these two kobolds with slings. The sculpts are cute but the detail is a bit soft so I've been trying to define the shapes with a bit of trompe-l'oeil on the bandages and around the mouth. I'm also trying to kick some bad painting habits (not thinning enough) and paint with a global light source rather than highlighting everything.

Flickr link

I'm an incredibly slow (and clumsy) mini painter, but I like the brush discipline the process is painfully teaching me so I'll probably keep coming back to these over time. It's not obvious from these kobolds that the designs are deliciously chibi, but when I get to the heroes the appeal should be clear :)



Hi folks,

I figured I should stop ogling the Industria Mechanika kits and actually build some of them :) I've been cleaning up the Fichtenfish but I wanted to have a go at the sniper when it appeared since it's big and cool and an antidote to this fiddly 1/144 scale hovercraft I've been building.

I'm a total resin novice, I've used a couple of resin aftermarket parts but that's it, so please point and laugh or suggest things to save me from my own stupidity according to taste :)

I started by soaking the bits in warm soapy water, scrubbed them with an old toothbrush and rinsed them off. They smelled a bit like lacquer thinner in the box, now they don't, so hopefully I got the mould release off?

First impressions are pretty good - with the pour plugs removed you can dry fit the legs, lower and upper body and he'll stand up on his own two feet without the base. Which means the pose really is as natural as it looks - nice :)

Click for bigger

I did some more clean up and put the major bits together with 5 minute epoxy, using the base as a work stand. He's pretty big - would make a good Eva :)

There was one difficult mould line on the back of the left calf - the right one is fine, the left one had a step which goes right through the socket. I've made some progress on cleaning it but there's still more material to remove/fill. Those hamstrings are cool though.

I also put the two main gun components together - had to adjust the slides on the sprung part of the stock, and I also broke the lower spring guard which is very delicate, but it was easy to repair. I'll leave the spring out for now since it can just pop in the guard later. The gun is a little bit soft in detail, so I scribed some of the concave angles to sharpen them up a bit, and I've tried to do all the clean-up with a file to get lots of hard edges. There's a mould line running through the ridges on the top of the body which will be a bugger to clean up properly, I suspect it's better to ignore that one, or remove them completely?

I really like the sight, I haven't messed with that at all apart from paring down the hood over the optics to get a thinner edge.

Oh - there's a long barrel and one of those boxy muzzle brakes, but there's no point fitting that now since I'd only break it :) I suspect I'll replace the resin barrel with metal tube anyway.

As you can see the gun comes to hand nicely - no issues with fit, both hands grip where/what they should. I think the clip is really a bit close to the torso and hips though, it's not a big issue but since I'm wondering about making the gun a little bit more sci-fi (different muzzle + barrel - maybe suggesting it's somehow a coil gun?) I could remove the clip, or most of it, and have an energy hose from one of the sockets on the drone's back?

So primer and more cleanup next. I also have some big unanswered questions, like how to paint it, and can I light it? For the light, the head is really small so the only options I can think of would be:

a) Drill out the eyes and run optical fibre through to the channel on the back of the head, and have an SMD LED there, or curve the fibre around into the body or a backpack somehow? Like predator dreads :) I really don't want to be hollowing out the body though - too much chance to stuff it up and the surface is too smooth to spoil. I also can't see how to run the wires to the base without drilling out everything which would imply some kind of button cell in a backpack?

b) Have an opaque visor over the eyes, with an LED glow behind it? Same issues with the wires, but it could work.

On the paint front, I'm not sure whether to go metallic (like the Geth) or something more like District 9/Chris Cunningham/Cerberus armour from Mass Effect - lots of hard white plates with orange or red contrast and black/metallic detail underneath. I really like the idea of hard white, but looking at the figure in close-up there's a lot of what looks like moving "musculature" and maybe less plating than I thought.

I'm also not sure how either of these would gel with weathering - I quite like the idea of a clean and shiny robo-soldier in a dusty derelict environment, but that would need a soft touch on the weathering and not give me anywhere to hide with the paint job...

I suspect there's a lot of masking in my future :) Apologies for rambling, hope I can keep some momentum going on this one since it feels like I've been doing military stuff for ages now.



Model Gallery / 1/6 scale Yamaha YZ250
« on: April 02, 2013, 11:26:32 PM »
Hi folks,

I've just finished this big dirt bike - only got the one picture so far because I spent the daylight I should've been using to take pictures photoshopping this one...  :sarcasm:

Click for bigger

I'll see if I can get some more in due course. I've also used the hairspray technique for the first time on a bike stand which will go with this on a little scenic base.

This was an interesting and enjoyable build - I haven't made a bike before so there was a lot to learn. It seems like for a long time all you do is produce parts, and then at the 11th hour they suddenly turn into a bike. Very much the opposite to planes and tanks where you have the shape, or something close to it, almost immediately. It was also interesting building a kit that's about as old as I am. Most of it is actually really good, beautiful sharp moulding, but the tube frame took three days (!) to clean up on account of mould lines, misalignment etc. I also needed a fair bit of putty in places.

More soon,


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