Thursday, 31 December 2009

Ademola22's 200mm Landsknecht (Review)


Manufacturer: Ademola 22
Item Code: 200 025
Medium: Resin
Review Publication Date: December 30th 2009



Today the term Landsknecht is more often than not associated with the type of German mercenary originating from what are presently Alsace, Baden Württemberg and the Austrian Tyrol, and who served through the reigns of Maximillian I and his grandson Charles V. The word ‘Landsknecht’ originally appeared in the German language in approximately 1470, and is thought to have been coined by Peter von Hagenbach, who is said to have commissioned troops such as these for the service of Charles the Bold of Burgundy. Landsknecht literally means ‘servant of the land’ however as early as 1500 the word had already transformed into Lanzknecht as the pike became the trademark of the foot soldier.
Ademola 22’s 200 0025 Landsknecht is a 200mm resin bust sculpted by Yury Serebryakov with Roman Rux having done the box-art.
Ademola 22’s 200 0025 Landsknecht is without a doubt a high quality product. The heavy casting blocks and the two seams will need to be carefully addressed, but once this is done, this bust will prove to be a magnificent canvas to paint upon.
This is the second bust from Ademola 22 that I have had the opportunity to review, and minor issues aside, I am not disappointed: recommended.


Click here for my full review on Historicus Forma

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Alpine's WW2 Russian AFV Crew Set (Review!)


Manufacturer: Alpine Miniatures
Item Code: 35090, 35091, 35092
Medium: Resin
Review Publication Date: December 20th 2010



The winter fighting of 1941-42 forced the introduction of more suitable winter gear to the Red Army, which had been under development since the embarrassing Finnish campaign of 1939-40. It included the shapka-ushanka fur cap and a new sheepskin jacket for officers – if available.
35092 “WW2 Russian AFV Crew Set is set of two 1/35th scale resin figures sculpted by Sergey Traviansky (known as “Menelay” on many figure modelling forums), this being his debut for Alpine Miniatures. The two AFV crew members are portrayed post the August 1941 degree wearing the new winter gear, i.e. sheepskin coats and ear-flapped fleece caps and fleece-lined padded tanker helmets. Released during October 2009, the box-art is painted by Man-Jin Kim – who appears to becoming a regular painter for Alpine.
Both figures are also available individually as figures 35090 WW2 Russian AFV Crew #1 and 35091 WW2 Russian AFV Crew #2.
This is an excellent Alpine Miniatures debut by Sergey Traviansky and another terrific addition to the Alpine Miniatures collection. The quality of the cast and the subject should prove to be very popular.
Red Army uniforms did not see extensive change through the duration of the war, thus this set will make great additions to any WWII RKKA winter scene after 1941 and could be used with virtually all, if not all, Russian vehicles of the period. As we have come to expect from Alpine, the casting and sculpting is superb, with only a negligible amount of flash.
Recommended.


Click here for my full review on Historicus Forma

Monday, 7 December 2009

Rest Model's 54mm German Barbarians (Review)


Manufacturer: Rest Models
Item Code: RM3204
Medium: Resin
Review Publication Date: December 7th 2009



It would be an injustice to say that Rest Models are newcomers to the historical figures modelling genre, as their very first 120mm figure was in fact a Napoleonic era French Hussar. Similarly, Rest Models are no strangers to 1/32 scale (approximately 54mm), having previously released two sets of early twentieth century aircraft pilots in this scale. However what is a new avenue for Rest Models is the release of a “vignette in a box” style set of Romanesque period German Barbarians, namely figure set RM3204 “German Barbarians. Burgundians, 4th Century AD”.
Sculpted by Rest Models’ regular sculptor A.Gagarin, the set is inspired by two colour plates from Concord’s “Barbarians”, these being Plate 8 “Alamanni break into a Roman fort, German border, 3rd century AD” and Plate 9 “Burgundians enter southern France, 4th century AD”.
This is another outstanding set of figures from sculptor A.Gagarin and Rest Models. The figures interact well together or could even be displayed individually or in subsets. The issue regarding the cloaks is relatively minor and easily overcome. The quality of the cast and “vignette in a box” aspect of the set should prove to be very popular. Recommended.


Click here for my full review on Historicus Forma

Friday, 27 November 2009

New photos of old works

I finally got around to unpacking the last of the modelling boxes a few weeks ago. It really was like meeting old friends, as most of these hadn't been rummaged through since being packed about 18 months ago. Upon finding my completed works, most of which amazing survived the intercontinental move, I decided to shoot some new photos of 2 pieces in particular. I've loaded the photos into the gallery on my website (RR Scale Models), so I'll simply be posting a teaser pic here and refering you to the site for the rest of the photos.

The first is a 54mm figure sculpted by my friend Tomas Castano, which I finished back in May 2006: (Gallery link) Seil Models' SG/F1. Sergeant, US Army (US-Mexican War, 1846-48).



The next is my first serious attempt at an AFV. I am rather flattered and taken aback that folks don't quite believe me when I tell them it was my first, but it was. Also finished in May 2006 (busy month! I haven't had modelling momentum like that since!) is (gallery link) Emhar's 1/35 scale MkA "Whippet" WWI Medium Tank



I've also added a new WIP to my workbench on the site, so go check it out!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Alpine's German Panzer Crew Set (Review!)

Manufacturer: Alpine Miniatures
Item Code: 35087, 35088, 35089
Medium: Resin
Review Publication Date: November 9th 2009

Staying warm appears to have been a challenge to soldiers throughout time. A fairly common practice is to wear as much of one’s uniform, both issue and non-issue, as possible. Taesung Harmms and Alpine Miniatures 35089 “German Panzer Crew Set” is an excellent example of a Heer tank crew doing just that: layering clothing. The commander wears two field tunics, while the crew member wears a boiler suit over his field uniform.

35089 “German Panzer Crew Set” is set of two 1/35th scale resin figures sculpted by Taesung Harmms. The two Panzer crew members are portrayed aboard a Panzerkampfwagen V (“Panther”): the Unteroffizier stands through the open commander’s cupola holding the cupola rim; while the crew member is seated on the barrel cradling a puppy. Released during August 2009, the box-art is painted by Calvin Tan.

Both figures are also available individually as figures 35087 German Panzer Commander and 35088 German Panzer Crew with Puppy.

Modellers would be short-sighted in thinking that this set of figures can only be used to “accessorise” a Panzerkampfwagen V. The figures can be used with most vehicles, as demonstrated by Calvin Tan’s (the box-artist) portrayal of the crew aboard a Sturmgeschütz III (StuG III) assault gun (see Calvin’s blog: http://zyclyon.blogspot.com/).

The sculpting is Taesung Harmms at his best, and as we have come to expect from Alpine the casting is superb.

This is another outstanding pair of figures from Taesung Harmms and Alpine Miniatures. The quality of the cast and the usefulness of the subject should prove to be very popular. Recommended.


Click here for my full review on Historicus Forma

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Alpine's German Heer Panzer Crew Set (Review)

Manufacturer: Alpine Miniatures
Item Code: 35084, 35085, 35086
Medium: Resin
Review Publication Date: September 30th 2009

Amongst the most coveted of non-issue Luftwaffe flight suits was the home-produced black leather suit with distinctive zip-fastened slash pockets. With the occupation of conquered nations countless alternatives were readily available from civilian outlets wherever the pilot, and thus Panzer officer and crewman, was stationed and differences in cut, fastenings and pockets were prolific.

35086 – “German Heer Panzer Crew Set” is a set of two 1/35th scale resin figures sculpted by Krisztian Bodi. The two Heer Panzer crew members are portrayed in fairly relaxed stances: the commissioned officer wearing a leather aviator’s suit with hands behind his back; while the other indicates direction with a raised, directing right hand. Released during June 2009, the box-art is painted by Man-Jin Kim, his second such commission for Alpine Miniatures.

Both figures are also available individually as figures 35084 German Heer Panzer Crew #1 and 35085 German Heer Panzer Crew #2.

While some may find these figures rather limiting, I actually find them quite versatile. 35084 German Heer Panzer Crew #1 certainly need not only depict a Heer tanker, but a Waffen-SS tanker who were renowned for their use of leather gear, or even an aviator –he does after all wear a Luftwaffe flight-suit.

As we have come to expect from Alpine, the casting and sculpting is superb, with only a negligible amount of flash on one figure.

This is another exceptional couple of figures from Kristian Bodi and Alpine Miniatures. The quality of the cast and the versatility of the subject should prove to be very popular. Recommended.

Click here for my full review on Armorama

Monday, 28 September 2009

Getting there...

We're getting there... Almost back on track and where we were... Almost. That is to say we (Her Ladyship and I) are almost back to where we were before we packed up and left South Africa: we have the jobs; have the house; have the house almost furnished to our satisfaction. Still no car, but roll on the end of year sales!

The house is almost fully furnished, which isn't bad going considered we only moved in about 4 weeks ago. Four weeks ago; 4 weekends ago; 4 weekends spent visiting IKEA and furniture stores; 4 weekends of either looking at and/or assembling IKEA furniture. Does that count as 1:1 diorama accessory making?

Notably, well to me at least and in the interest of model making readers of this Blog, my workshop is not sorted yet. I use the term workshop loosely as it's really just a section across the rear of the garage - thankfully beneath the window. Now anyone that has had the relative liberty to set up their own workshop knows that creating a workshop is not an easy task. There's so much to consider - particularly when you're setting up in a working/living/used garage. How best to position the desk and maximise limited space; how to restict dust; where to position the future spray booth (that right kiddly-winks, we're planning a spray booth!); where to place the photo light tent; how to store supplies yet keep them accessible; how how how what what what where where where.... oooh my poor head! At least I've got a store for the unbuilt kits - I'm using a wardrobe we bought about a year ago when in the flat to store unbuilt kits. At the moment I reckon if I have so many that the wardrobe overflows... I've probably got too many. For the record there's still space in the wardrobe.

I've also started playing around with the DSLR (did I mention I'd bought a Canon EOS 450D DSLR a few months ago? My birthday, anniversary, Christmas present for the next decade). I've bravely left the relative safety of the auto shot, and moved onto a setting called 'P'. I have no idea what the setting is, as I haven't progressed that far in the 'Canon EOS 450D for Dummies' book my wife gave me for my birthday. Anyway, on this setting I've been shooting on RAW and jpeg, which is great since I can adjust the exposure on the RAW image - something I always struggle with. Here's a successful shot (I wonder if anyone can guess what kit these belong to?):

So with all that said, hopefully (h-o-p-e-f-u-l-l-y) I'll be up and running modelling-wize and churning out those reviews like never before really soon!

But first, I'm off to Tasmania for a fortnight on Saturday the 3rd of October for our first Australian holiday. Wish me luck - we're taking the visiting in-laws!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

And then some...

While I'm sure regular readers of this Blog are used to my somewhat infrequent updates, I thought I had better give everyone a brief (since when are my updates and comments ever "brief"? LOL!) update on what's been going on in my life distracting me from the cause.

As I mentioned previously the boss and I have recently bought our first house in Australia. And so, after an extended settlement period, the end of August saw us vacate the flat and trek out to the new house. Of course there is more to a household move than just "moving day" (MD): there are the weeks prior to MD packing up stuff, and then the weeks post MD cleaning the place (let's face it: people seldom clean a place they're leaving to the satisfaction of the new owners/tenants) and unpacking. We're sort of mid-way through the cleaning and unpacking phase. But wait, there's more! More dull stuff that is! When we left South Africa we flogged off our white goods and lounge suite, so whole weekends have been spent looking for the best deals on these as well as a bed for the guest bedroom (the outlaws arrive at the end of the month and apparently they can't sleep on the floor). So as you can see from this brief paragraph (I'll spare you the "exciting" details), there has been virtually zero time for modelling - in fact, I have yet to find my second photography lamp (but I did make unpacking all the models a priority!).

So that said, I've a couple of forthcoming reviews which I'll publish as soon as I find that darn lamp. These include:
  • The recent Alpine Panzer Crew (the set by Kristian Bodi featuring a figure wearing a leather flight suit);
  • An Ademola22 Landskneght bust;
  • And a few more 1/35 scale figures in both plastic and resin.

Hopefully I'll get the first 2 mentioned above done before the in-laws arrive. The month of their visit will be a write-off in terms of modelling and then some. Once I'm back though, the plan is also for me to start working on a few reviews exclusively for my own site (RRSM). So watch this space!

Tally ho!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Review: LionRoar WWII U.S. Army Extra Attachments

Manufacturer: LionRoar
Item Code: LE35089
Medium: Resin
Review Publication Date: August 20th 2009

Period photographs typically show WWII vehicles, Allied vehicles in particular, heavily laden with a wide variety of items: some of these issued, others acquired and collected. But the one constant is the presence of tarpaulins and issue field bags.

LionRoar’s LE35089 “U.S. Army Extra Attachments” is set of 1/35th scale resin accessories, a variety of tarpaulins and general purpose bags, designed for use on WWII era US Army vehicles.

While some may find some the items featured in this accessory set easy to replicate (in other words scratchbuild), others may not have the time or ability to reproduce these items. And accessory sets such as these are targeted these, the latter, modellers. Personally I find this set rather versatile as the items can be used in a variety of scenes. The tarps most certainly need not only be used on WWII US Army vehicles, and would not look out of place in other time periods, on vehicles from other US branches of service, or even vehicles belonging to the armed forces of other countries. In fact, they need not even be used on vehicles. The M1936 field bag was used throughout the war by the US Army, and its use on a vehicle would not be out of place.

This is an excellent accessory set from LionRoar. The quality of the cast and the versatility of the subject should prove to be very successful.

Click here for my full review on Armorama

Monday, 10 August 2009

Review: Tamiya's Volkswagen 1300 Beetle 1966

Manufacturer: Tamiya
Item Code: 24136
Medium: Injection Plastic Mold
Review Publication Date: August 7th 2009

The Volkswagen Type 1, or “Beetle” as it affectionately became known to millions around the world, is virtually instantly recognisable in sight and sound. The mechanically simple“People’s Car” became the longest-running and most-produced automobile of a single design.

Despite having being manufactured for approximately 65 years, and having gone through a number of mostly cosmetic design changes, there are relatively few scale models of the Volkswagen Beetle still in production. One of those is Tamiya’s 1/24 scale“Volkswagen 1300 Beetle 1966”.

Tamiya’s 1/24 scale “Volkswagen 1300 Beetle 1966” has been in production for more than a few years now. However, despite its age the kit is nicely detailed with a full engine and under bonnet detail, well produced with very few casting blemishes and, in true Tamiya form, has easy to follow instructions.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Wee Friends' WWII German Infantryman, with PPSH Review

Manufacturer: Friendship Models/Wee Friends
Item Code: WF35020
Medium: Resin
Review Publication Date: August 7th 2009

The captured robust, reliable PPSh41 sub-machine gun was a favourite weapon of Heer and Waffen-SS troops engaged on the Eastern Front, and because of the similarities between its 7.62x25mm round and the Mauser 7.63x25mm round was easily supplied with ammunition. Indeed, so many were captured that the Red Army’s PPSh41 sub-machine gun, the trademark of the Soviet Army, became the second most common sub-machine gun used by Germany’s Wehrmacht.

WF35020 WWII German Infantryman, with PPSH, 1/35th scale resin figure depicts a Waffen-SS soldier, wearing late war clothing and carrying a captured sub-machine gun, directing troops or perhaps pointing out a enemy position. The figure, released under Friendship Models’ Wee Friends range of figures, is sculpted by Peter Morton.

The sculpting of the figure is, overall, very good. However it is the “hit and miss” nature of some of the finer details that lets it down. Things like the textured woollen socks, cleated boots, detailed PPSh and numerous awards are let down by the incorrect insignia and lack thereof. I also find it peculiar that such a highly decorated WSS infantryman holds such a low rank. That said the issues I have with the insignia are easily rectified.

The casting is perhaps where this figure is let down a bit. It is not as good as it could be: detail such as the shoulder boards, Y-straps and pockets appear soft; and the some of the casting blocks, on the binoculars and PPSh trigger guard, are positioned in such a way that much caution will need to be practiced during clean up.

The subject of the product is always an extremely subjective point to rate, and much of it goes hand-in-hand with sculpting. I like the pose of the figure: not just pointing, but directing while holding binoculars. The PPSh 41 differentiates the figure from others of a similar pose, and given the sub-machine gun’s common use is a great addition to the figure.

Despite its shortcomings this is a nice figure which, with a little bit of attention, will make a nice addition to a vignette or diorama, or even look great on its own.


Click here for my full review on Armorama

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Coming soon to a modelling site near you

July has been a rather quiet month modelling-wize for me. I finished up a work engagement at the end of June, only to have to pull one or two knives from my back a few days later - you just have to love those players that wait until you are off-site to put a knife between your shoulderblades and then twist it. We are also moving house at the end of August, so the missus and I have been doing a bit of packing. Apart from the review items and a few kits I have bought since, all the kits and figures have been packed.
In order to try get out of this modelling motivation funk I am going through, I have seconded the missus' help: she is to ensure that I spend at least an hour every night either writing or photographing reviews. Hopefully that way I can make some decent progress through the pile.
So, the reviews I currently have on the go, and coming soon to a modelling site near you are:
  • Wee Friends' WF35020 WWII German Infantryman, with PPSH
  • Alpine Miniatures' 35086 German Heer Panzer Crew Set
Both of the above items are being reviewed for Armorama. I am also working on a review of Tamiya's 1/24 Volkswagen 1300 Beetle ('66), which I'll post on my own site (RRSM).
In addition to the aforementioned, I do have a number of other items due, however I had better not commit to a specific date just yet, however I do hope to complete most (preferably all) prior to the move.
Watch this space... and wish me luck!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

DML Self-Propelled Gun Crew (Review)

Manufacturer: Dragon Models Ltd
Item Code: 6530
Medium: Plastic Injection Mould
Review Publication Date: July 2nd 2009

In the wake of the catastrophic first winter in Russia the Quartermaster-General of the Army was commanded to develop a winter combat uniform for the next winter campaign season. The uniform which resulted was tested in Finland, and in April 1942 approved. In winter 1942 the level of winter clothing issue was increased to include not only the new padded jacket and trousers but also a number of other protective items such as a matching insulated hood and over-mittens, the woollen toque headscarf, gloves (both woollen and fur-lined), etc. While the majority of troops of all branches of the Army received – over time – the basic uniform, it was not until winter 1943-44 that the padded uniform could really be seen as being “general issue”.

Figure set 6530 Self-Propelled Gun Crew, a 1/35 scale set of plastic injection mould figures, depicts four Wehrmacht self-propelled gun crew members wearing padded reversible winter suits loading ammunition. The set was released December 2008 with the box art by Ron Volstad.

Not content to simply retool and reissue old scale model moulds DML introduced the Premium Edition, which not only includes the retooled kit, but usually a few extra plastic sprues and photoetch frets. One such kit, Dragon Models’ figure set6530 Self-Propelled Gun Crew is essentially a retooled, reboxing of their older figure set by the same name, but different kit number, 6016 Self-Propelled Gun Crew. So what is the difference? In the case of 6530 Self-Propelled Gun Crew, included in the kit are a Dragon Styrene (DS) generic German head set, a DS sprue of wicker ground mats and charges, a DS sprue of wicker cases, a PE fret for the radio head-set, as well as a sprue featuring rounds of Gr.19 and Gr.19 Concrete Piercing rounds in DML’s standard plastic.

For figures which were sculpted in what I estimate to be the mid-1990’s these figures are still rather good by 2009 standards. The casting is above average for plastic injection mould figures, and while there are light casting seams on the limbs these should not take the average modeller long to remove. If there is one thing that really lets this kit down it is the fit of the legs and torso.

DML market this figure set as a Wehrmacht SPG crew loading or firing. Personally I think these figures, due to pose and garb, have a lot more potential than just these two scenarios.

Recommended.


Click here for my full review on Armorama

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

My Site Launched

I've been contemplating this a while. I'm not entirely convinced by the blog format for presenting a portfolio. And so, with that in mind, I've set up a site using sites.google as a host.

I set the site up about a week ago, and opened it to a sample group. I've now set the status to public. I'm still undecided on the name, but I doubt the URL will change. Please check it out and feel free to comment - either here or via email.

The URL: http://sites.google.com/site/rrscalemodels/

So what does the site contain, and what its purpose?

First the latter: my intent of the site is to present my modelling portfolio, consisting of reviews, articles, tutorials, current and completed works (albeit links if published on another site) on a single site, in an easy to navigate format.

What does and will it contain? Well really what I mentioned above: I'll be listing all the articles (reviews and features) I've had published on other sites. I may be posting some articles, tutorials, and works exclusively on my site, but we'll see how that plays out. I'll also be reposting most of the content of this blog there which will hopefully make it easier to find.

The site format is not without its limitations, but as far as I can estimate these outweight the limitations of the blog format. We'll see how this goes - wish me luck!

And please visit the new site!

Monday, 22 June 2009

Alpine's German Infantry Set (Review)

Manufacturer: Alpine Miniatures
Item Code: 35081, 35082, 35083
Medium: Resin
Review Publication Date: June 20th 2009

The first four years of WWII saw very little change in the basic uniform and equipment of the German Infantryman, with most changes due to economic cutbacks. This set of figures from Alpine Miniatures is an excellent example of both the early-mid war German infantry commissioned and non-commissioned officers.

35083 – “German Infantry Set” is a set of two 1/35th scale resin figures sculpted by Yukio Honma, this being his second pair of 1/35 scale figures for Alpine Miniatures. The two Wehrmacht Infantry Officers, both wearing early war clothing, are portrayed in fairly relaxed stances: the commissioned officer looking through a pair of binoculars; while the other poses with his right hand holding his lowered rifle and the left over his binoculars. Released during April 2009, the box-art is painted by Man-Jin Kim, his first such commission for Alpine Miniatures (subsequent to this release he has done more).

Both figures are also available individually as figures 35081 German Infantry Officer and 35082 German Infantry NCO.

While some may find the poses featured in this figure set inanimate, I find the figures rather versatile as they can be used in a variety of scenes. This set need not be represented as infantrymen per se, nor limited in terms of time period as early war uniforms were worn virtually throughout the war. This figure set by Alpine Miniatures is a terrific example of the various aspects of the early-mid war German European theatre uniform.

As we have become accustomed to from Alpine, the casting and sculpting is magnificent, with only a barely noticeable amount of flash on one figure. The map case and water bottle “issues” mentioned in the text are easily corrected.

In terms of painting, trousers could be painted in the initial stone-grey or the early feldgrau (only difference between the M38 and M40 trousers was the colour as the pattern remained the same). Similarly, the primary cosmetic difference between the M36 and M40 tunics being the collars colours.

This is another excellent pair of figures from Yukio Honma and Taesung Harmm’s Alpine Miniatures. The quality of the cast, and the versatility of the subject should prove to be very successful. Recommended.

Click here for my full review on Armorama

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Melbourne Model Expo 2009

The 26th Annual Australian Open Plastic Scale Model Championships, or simply Model Expo 2009, was held over the Queen's Birthday Weekend of 6-8 June 2009 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. For Victorians this 3 day modelling spectacular is seen as the event of the modelling calendar.

I had been looking forward to attending my first Model Expo ever since we decided to emigrate. And so, with that I obtained permission from her supreme highness to attend all 3 days of the Expo. Speaking to friends, I was able to formulate a strategy on how to attend so as to maximise viewing pleasure. Sounds odd, doesn't it?

Day 1: I decided to only arrive at the show after noon, which is when the entries closed. Without the missus in tow, this would be the day I'd do my shopping. Obviously I'd also do the footwork on seeing the entries.

Day 2: Missus in tow, Saturday was my photography day. I took over 500 photos with my new Canon EOS 450D. Amazingly I was simply shooting on fully automatic and in my opinion I got some great shots. I was really impressed. The missus wasn't though, but she didn't complain once over the three and a half hours I took to shoot most of the entries. (The diorama shown here is one by my friend Matt Beattie)

Day 3: Day of the Swap & Sell. If you've never been to a S&S, picture a pirahna feeding frenzy. The S&S was held seperately to the Expo (although same location). Unfortunately the room they held it in was undersized, in my opinion, for the number of sellers - and subsequent buyers. Although I picked up 2 reference books really cheaply, it wasn't long before I got a bit claustraphobic and left. Not that there were really any kits that tickled my fancy.

The full feature article on Kitmaker.net

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Blues Miniatures' SS-Unterscharfuhrer 1944 (Review)

Manufacturer: Blues Miniatures
Item Code: WL35008
Medium: Resin
Review Publication Date: June 6th 2009

WL35008 SS-Unterscharfuhrer 1944, a 1/35th scale resin figure, depicts a SS soldier wearing late war clothing, lying on his left side amidst building rubble, perhaps lying in ambush or under cover waiting for the enemy to move past. The figure is sculpted by N. Pizzichemi while the rubble base is sculpted by R. Giannino, who also painted the box-art.

This Waffen-SS soldier wears a reversible, padded winter tunic with the autumn camouflage on the outside and white inside, reversible camouflage padded mittens, belted trousers and leather lace-up ankle boots with M1942 canvas anklets. He wears a steel helmet, with ‘bread bag’ strap attached for foliage, over a M1942 tubular woollen balaclava. He wears M1939 leather infantry Y-straps and M1911 ammunition pouches; behind his left hip is his bread bag with water bottle attached with his gas-mask case slung to the rear as well. He also carries two M1924 stick-grenades in his belt and a Karabiner 98K.

This is the first Blues Miniatures figure I have had the opportunity to review, and I must admit to being suitably impressed. Despite one or two relatively small issues I might have had with the figure, such as the drapery of the left arm and the inadequate muzzle detail, the rest of the figure more than makes up for these. The pose is different in scale figure terms in that it is not one we see all too often, and yet it is one every soldier assumes at some point. The figure simply screams to be placed in a diorama or vignette.

This is a terrific figure from Blues Miniatures, and the addition of the base virtually makes this figure ready to present directly from the box. Recommended.

Click here for my full review on Armorama

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

RACV Motor Show - Australia Day 2009

I've been meaning to post this for a while, but since I'd promised it to my friend Mike High, then Associate Editor, for publication on Automodeler.com but was unable to deliver due to technical difficulties on the Kitmaker group of sites, I've only got around to having it published now. Sadly Mike has since resigned his position, but I do like to keep promises to friends - well at least attempt to keep them.
Actually, speaking of AutoModeler, Mike's resignation has left the site without a driver so, dear reader, if you do know of any modellers with a serious auto fetish who are interested in running a site, contact the Kitmaker publisher (contact details can be  found on Kitmaker.net). Until then, and on a temporary basis, Armorama Associate Editor James Bella and  I have volunteered to help out with AutoModeler. Unfortunately my auto knowledge is limited to air-cooled VW's, so I'm definitely not any kind of subject matter expert, but I do know my way around the Kitmaker engine.
Anyway, enough on that, more about the real purpose of this blog entry.

The King's Domain Gardens in Melbourne was the venue of the RACV's, in conjunction with the Federation of Veteran,Vintage and Classic Vehicle Clubs, 2009 Australia Day (26th of January) Motor Show. A real favourite with families, and in addition to many family activities, the Kings Domain Gardens featured the famous historic vehicle display, with more than 500 veteran, vintage and classic vehicles.
This being the first Australia Day for both my wife and I, we set forth to the Gardens, spending a wonderfully warm day out car looking - and it’s amazing, I did not get one "they all look the same" comment from The Missus, as even she enjoyed the day.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Mr. Mojo Risin'

As you might tell from the title, I think I might just have my mojo, modelling mojo that is, back. I actually managed to put a few epiphanies I've had regarding the tunic and breeches of Alpine Miniatures' recent 35081 German Infantry Officer to paper, which is something I've been unable to do in recent weeks. And something I am extremely embarrassed about, and something which has caused me even more guilt and embarrassment everytime I've seen Taesung online.
But before I get depressed about this again, on with the mojo story. So not only have I managed to pen a few thoughts, but I finished up the photography of the parts last night. Hopefully if I can get out the office on time tonight I'll put on some The Doors (yup, I'm a fan), wrap up the editing of the photos and get cracking on the text again.
A few modellers have been asking me where I've been lately, i.e. they haven't seen me online. Well, friends, that's all to do with losing my mojo. What has contributed to losing it? Well that's a tale for another day - but you'd have to be blind not to have seen it if you frequent the same places I do...
Watch this space, friends, hopefully Mr. Mojo keeps on risin'.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

This and That...

Regular readers will have noted it has been some time since my last blog update, about 3 weeks ago with the DML Bison I review. So this blog update is really just a quick catch-up on what I have been up to, hence the title: "This and That...".

Let's start with the personal front. The last few weeks have had their highs and lows. 

The low being the passing away of my paternal grandmother this past weekend (Sunday 17 May 2009). It was all a bit of a sudden, in fact neither I nor my family (mother, brother, sister) even knew she was ill until she phoned my brother on Saturday to tell him she'd been in hospital - she died that night. It goes without saying that this is made all the more difficult for me being a continent away. Rest In Peace, Gran.

On the flip-side, the definite high for the past 3 weeks has been hearing we got the finance for the house I mentioned about a month ago!

Situated in a South-Eastern bay-side suburb some 30 odd kilometers out of Melbourne, it's a unit on a plot containing 3 similar townhouses. It's a double-story 3 bedroom house, with a slightly extended garage which will be great for modelling. Here are a few photos which were posted by the estate agents on their website:



From a modelling point of view, what have I been up to? Not much I'm afraid. While I finished the DML Bison I review, I'm still going through that slump I mentioned last month. Which really sucks considering the queue of reviews which has built up. There are some really nice products there, so watch this space! Also, let me offer my public apology to those vendors whom I owe reviews - I can't begin to tell you how guilty I feel.

I've also made an attempt to start my entry for the Kitmaker staff challenge. What's that? Well basically it's a group build between some Kitmaker staff members wherein we're each building something out of our normal modelling genre. Each staffer nominated a few kits, each from a different genre and we allowed the Kitmaker members vote on which kit they'd like each of us to build. Let's just say this wasn't an easy initiative to get going, from trying to get staff to participate (some were keen until it was explained that "out of our normal modelling genre" does not mean simply building something of a different nationality to what one normally does - then they strangely didn't have the time, and couldn't see the point or benefit to Kitmaker) to getting the public to vote (eventually we offered prizes in a lucky draw). Oh well, all in the name of fun!

Anyway, I digress. The kit that was chosen for me to build was Tamiya's 1/24 scale VW Beetle (1966). So, with the end of June deadline looming, I eventually dragged the box out earlier this week and photographed the sprues. At this point in time I'm not sure if I'll be doing a kit review to help out Mike at Automodeler.com - I really do want to help him out, but that whole time thing keeps getting in my way. Hopefully by building something different like this it'll inspire me in the same way painting Warhammer figures for a few months did.

Still on the work-bench is the M8 HMC, but something else I'd like to get cracking on is the Bison I. I'm thinking perhaps a French Campaign theme, but Barbarossa calls as well...

Speaking of the M8 HMC, I've fixed all the faulty photo links. Hopefully this tutorial is of benefit to some.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

DML's sIG33 auf PzKpfw I Ausf. B (“Bison I”)

Manufacturer: Dragon Models Ltd
Item Code: 6259
Medium: Plastic Injection
Review Publication Date: April 28th 2009

This was my first plastic injection mould vehicle review, and boy did I find this difficult. Despite being comfortable with figure subjects and reviews, I found writing this review quite challenging. It was almost losing my review writing virginity all over again. The sheer number of parts, unfamiliar genre and subject, and being all too aware of the pressure to write a fair and objective review for a difficult audience really took me out of my element. All in all though, the Armorama Reviews Editor was very happy with the review - which means I'm happy. Time will tell how readers perceive the value of the review. I hope it's well received.

The ‘Bison’ and ‘Grille’ are generally accepted names for Germany’s self-propelled 15cm schwere Infanteriegeschütz 33 (sIG33) vehicles from World War II. One of Germany’s chief weapons manufacturers, Rheinmetall, introduced the schwere Infanteriegeschütz 33 (sIG33) in 1927. With a firing range of 4.7km it was the most powerful support weapon for the German infantry, and in Januray 1940 the first attempts were made to adapt it to a tracked vehicle. The entire gun carriage, complete with wheels, was mounted on the Panzer I Ausf. B Chassis, with tall shields of armour plate added to protect the front and sides. Six companies of these vehicles were deployed on the Western Front, with each company having six self-propelled guns. The sIG33 auf PzKpfw I Ausf. B (“Bison I”) stayed in service until 1943. Thirty-eight examples of this vehicle were built.

Until recently, January 2009 to be precise, modellers wanting to reproduce one of Germany’s first self-propelled support vehicles (to be produced during the war) in 1/35 scale were limited to the plastic injection mould Alan kit, resin conversion kits, or to a combination of these together with a better, more accurate Panzer I Ausf. B hull and suspension by another manufacturer. Enter Dragon Models Limited with kit 6259 “15cm s.IG. 33 (Sf) auf Pz.Kpfw.I Ausf.B”.

Readers will note that I have elected not to discuss the subject of accuracy. Accuracy of kits tends to be a contentious issue, and I am by no means an expert of this subject, the sIG33 auf PzKpfw I Ausf. B. Thus I will leave it to others more knowledgeable than I to discuss this. What I will say is that with my limited research and reference material (noted below) the kit appears to be an excellent depiction of the vehicle – and DML’s PzKpfw I Ausf. B, of which many sprues are included in the kit, is considered by many to be the definitive kit of the Panzer I Ausf. B.

It has been a while since I have had the opportunity to review a DML plastic scale model kit, and having been very critical of DML in the past, this kit has left me thoroughly impressed. The subject is unique; DML have offered two options regarding the superstructure and corrected the previous Pz. I Ausf. B idler wheel; the sIG33 is a thing of beauty; and the casting is excellent with barely a cast seam in sight.

I highly recommend this kit to modellers interested in the Early War period, vehicles based on the Panzer I chassis, self-propelled artillery, or even those simply looking for something different to build.

Click here for my full review on Armorama

Friday, 24 April 2009

God Save South Africa...

... because it looks unlikely anyone else will.

I am not prone to (public) political rambling, but I feel compelled to as an uneducated thug stands ready to assume the South African throne - officially now, because let's face it, he took the crown last year after overthrowing Thabo and reaffirmed it earlier this year through his political meddling managed to make his corruption charges impossible to process.

My concern for the land of my birth has nothing to do with race, but as Jacob Zuma celebrates his (yet to be confirmed) victory by dancing and singing of his AK(47) I see SA standing on the edge of a precipice, about to lurch forward into the darkness. The same darkness Zimbabwe fell into some 20 odd years ago. As I watch the impending doom unfold, as my concern for my family grows, I am reminded of this story by an unknown author (I apologise for the paragraph formatting - it is mine and not the author's):

And Mugabe awoke with a hoof on his throat and he struggled and howled to be free,
Tripped on the racks of his English shoes and clawed at his English suits,
And crashed down the unlit corridors where his wife has collected her loot,
Screaming "You may not condemn me - there are by-laws and statutes and  fines"
But the Devil replied "God's law trumps that, and by his law you're mine."
Come, see what you've done to your people, see what you've done to your land,
And then I'll haul you back into the light, and see if you understand.

Then the Devil seized him by his neck and dragged him up into the night
And Bob hung limp, for one against one was not his idea of a fight
They spiralled down to a wasteland, and Mugabe sprawled on his face,
"Spare me, spare me" he whimpered, "spare me this terrible place",
For he saw charred beams and scattered bricks, filth and ruin and weeds,
And through the dawn came children, sifting the dust for seeds.

"Eight years ago" said the Devil, "this place was heavy with maize,
There was fruit on the trees and crops in the earth and grass for the cows to  graze;
It was farmed by those who loved the soil, who knew it and tended it well,
And now it's farmed by Cellphone, from the Monomotapa hotel."
"Racist" screamed Mugabe, "Imperialist, Colonist, Queer!
These people are free, that's down to me and that's why I rule here!"

"Free to do what?" asked the Devil, "to cower and cringe to survive?
The farms are going, the work is gone, now only your thugs can thrive,
Preying on women and children, feeding on horror and fear,
Flying flags of hate and despair that had no business here;
Look at your mindless militias, look in each alien face,
Condemned by their own insanity, exiled for life from the race,
Watch them go into action, cheer as they take up the fight,
Beating up Zimbabweans for the crime of being  white,
Red-eyed from drink, thick-tongued from drugs, watch them go off on a spree
Burning the homes of Africans who dared to be honestly free."

Mugabe licked his lips and whispered, "All freedom comes at a price,"
"Indeed?" said the Devil "And for the record - what was your sacrifice?
Did you give blood to the struggle? How many times were you mortared?
Or did you play politics in a hotel, and wait  till your rivals were slaughtered?
If ever you tasted honour or pain those tastes were long since forgotten,
Eclipsed by the flavours of power and greed, the aromas of all that is rotten.

"Come, Mugabe" and up they flew and soared over country and town
And each time they swooped, hunger and horror reached up to pull them down,
And the souls of children streamed past them, and on and up into the light
And Mugabe whimpered and twisted, to shield his eyes from the sight
"Sons of despair," said the Devil "and daughters of desolate selves,
It's the West that gives food to your people, while your cronies are stuffing themselves.
The West you despise and prosecute is the innocent's sponsor and friend.

But when your young 'veterans' seize the supplies, these fragile lives have to  end;"
"I did not know," croaked Mugabe and the Devil applauded with glee:
"Save your lies for Mbeki, they make no impression on me.
Now, look at the shuttered factories, look at the overnight queues."
"Blame the British," Bob stammered, "the whites, the Norwegians, the Jews."

But the streets sent up a whisper, a whisper as loud as a roar:
"The old man who stole three elections - it's time  that we showed him the door!"
A scream rose up from the city, a scream rose up from a cell,
And the Devil plunged them into the earth and to a cameo from hell
Of shadowed figures with smiling lips that shone with delight and disdain,
Of a body convulsing and wrenching, shaking apart from the pain;
"Applaud your police," said the Devil, "corrupted beyond repair;
And caress the electrodes, the batons and guns, and the innocent tied to the chair."

But as Mugabe stretched out his hand the scene was gone in a flash,
And he stared instead at a drive full of Mercs and a house full of money and trash,
And then at the gloom of an upstairs room, heavy with malice and lies,
Where fat men sat and talked poison, avoiding each others' eyes:
"Here are your generals," the Devil hissed, "your ministers, judges and  hacks,
They have fortunes and forex and farms they can't farm, it's only a future they lack,
Do they flee for Malaysia , Libya , France with their women and all they can pack?
Or do they just turn and remove you, and claim dispensation for that?

Look at the wealth that seeps from them, and then hold your nose at the stench
Of the paltry crew that cleave to you, the cowards, the fools and the French;
See them plotting and scheming; hear your folly despised,
Even your reptiles want you gone - you made them, are you surprised?
Now do you know what you are Mugabe, now do you understand?
You're the Lord of the bloated thousand, and King of an empty land.

What gave you most pleasure Mugabe? Which wickedness tasted most sweet?
The mass murder of the Ndebele?
The children with nothing to eat?
The whites you had casually butchered?
The election results that you changed?
Or the war that you fought in the Congo , for diamond commissions arranged?
The perversion of the system?
The enrichment of those you despise?
The limos, money and power?
The lies and the lies and the lies?

I ought to admire you Mugabe; you've certainly earned your hellfire,
And all for small motives; self interest and fear, that aspect I have to admire;
Better by far that you never had lived Robert Gabriel!
The world will heal the wounds you've left, but I cannot heal you in hell!"

Then the Devil's right hand grabbed Mugabe, and Mugabe screamed in his fright,
And he scrabbled and pleaded and whimpered and begged
And awoke to an African night,
And sweated and panted and shuddered, calling his aides to his side.
Reconstituting his ego, his vanity, his evil and pride.
But then he screamed again, recoiling from that he could not bear to see:
The slogans burning his eyes from the walls and the words we want to be  free!

Enough is enough! Zvakwana!! Sokwanele!!
The Devil meandered down Second Ave , strolled up Samora Machel Blvd,
"The brave will inherit," he murmured, "when I have Mugabe in hell.
And the dawn will return to Zimbabwe, and children will learn how to smile,
Zimbabwe is one of God's countries but at least it was mine for a while...


Let's pray this is not the future of South Africa. God save South Africa from the AK47 toting shepherd from KwaZulu-Natal.

Friday, 17 April 2009

All is quiet on the modelling front...

Or is it?
I came to the shock realisation earlier this week that it has been more than a few weeks since I last gave an update on the Tamiya M8 HMC, indeed the last update was the 24th of February 2009. I do apologise for this, but I do assure you that I have not been quietly plugging away at the project and not updating the SBS. No, unfortunately I have not been doing any work on it.
So just where the hell have I been? What the hell have I been up to? Well, a lot I guess! Some of it scale modelling related, and other just life really. So this blog post contains a bit of everything really, but mostly it is an explanation of what has stalled the M8 HMC build and an insight into what I will be working on in the forthcoming weeks.
Let's start on a more personal explanation: what has been going on in my life these past (almost) two months? As everyone (the press, our clients, my bosses) keep reminding us, we are amidst a "Global Financial Crisis", which has lead to a slow down in work for the company I work for resulting in quite a few people being laid off. Fortunately I was not one of them, but I do think if I had not been sent out to a client a few weeks ago I might have been one of those unhappy souls. I am now doing some process documentation and analysis for Australia's largest telco. What started as a week-long "freebie" in February has led to a longer contract. It really is interesting, but somewhat of a challenge as it is quite technical and really takes me back to my days as a network/systems administrator. Most importantly, I am off the bench, out the office, earning revenue for the bosses, and (hopefully) out of the firing line. A further plus to this is that I generally do not work more that 8 hours a day while on a client site, which means that when I work through my lunch-break, which is most days, I can be home before 17.00 if I hop on the train.
Something else that has been going on is that The Missus and I have been house-shopping. The buying process certainly is different here in Australia. I will not attempt to explain it, as I will probably just get it wrong. The long and short of it is that we have seen two houses we really liked. The first one we lost out on due to our offer being too low. In retrospect we could have afforded more and put in a higher offer, but we did not due to our own ignorance of our lending capacity at the time. More recently we put in an offer on a townhouse which we really liked as well. The offer was accepted, but we heard yesterday that the bank valuation of the property was about 10% less than we offered. This despite the fact that the offer was below the area median price for similar properties. We have instructed out mortgage originator to apply through another institution. If they also undervalue the property, we will probably cancel the deal and perhaps offer the vendor a lower price. If they do not accept then we know it is not meant to be. It will be a pity though, because I really like this house.
So what else has been keeping me from the project? I seems to me that I have more time after work.
To be honest I had become a bit unmotivated with the project. The photo-etch instructions were becoming annoying to say the least. I would sit down at the desk, look at the parts, try to decipher the Eduard instructions, get annoyed, and then get up and watch TV or surf the 'net instead.
And that is when it happened. I saw a post on Armorama asking for review volunteers for a range of products, including DML's new Bison I SPG. How could I resist not putting my paw up? Yes, I have volunteered to review an armour model! When I received the box from Jim Starkweather, the Kitmaker publisher, he had also included quite a few more interesting kits for review. Just prior to this though, Neograde had also sent me a few resin accessory/conversion sets. As did Pat McGrath, a fellow Kitmaker staff member, albeit figures. But let's face it: I love writing modelling reviews, and I am really grateful to all who indulge me by supplying samples.
So you ask why I am not at the workbench? It is because I am reviewing again. That is not a bad thing: someone around here needs to write decent, objective (I hope) reviews.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Ufficiale R.E. 1940-43

Manufacturer: Allarmi!
Item Code: 35035
Medium: Resin
Sculptor: Nino Pizzichemi
Review Publication Date: April 14th 2009

The basic uniform worn by the Italian soldier from 1940 to 1943 saw only a few minor changes during this period. An ordinary soldier of 1943, be it rank and file or officer, would to most observers appear exactly the same as he had when Italy entered the war in June 1940.

35035 – “Ufficiale R.E. 1940-43” is a 1/35th scale resin figure sculpted by Nino Pizzichemi. The Ufficiale Regio Esercito (Italian Royal Army Officer), typically attired for Italy’s early war European engagements, is portrayed twisted slightly to his right holding a pair of binoculars in his left hand. The box-art is unadorned and shows only unpainted resin figure.

While no doubt some may find the pose featured in this figure set inanimate, I must admit to being rather fond of such poses. I find such figures rather versatile whether part of a diorama, vignette or on their own.

The casting, aforementioned flaw notwithstanding, and sculpting is very good. That said, the size of the figure in comparison to other “true 1/35 scale” figures is a negative as it does not appear the figure is merely small in stature due to the size of equipment such as the holster and binoculars. The absence of rank insignia and breech stripes and piping is another point against the figure, but should be reasonably easy to correct for most modellers. The lack of rank and insignia may indeed be seen as an opportunity by some to assign their own rank and division to this figure thus increasing its versatility.

This is the first figure I have had the opportunity to review from Allarmi! , and I must admit to being suitably satisfied by it in spite of the above.

Click here for my full review on Armorama

Friday, 10 April 2009

British Armoured Crew Set

Manufacturer: Alpine Miniatures
Item Code: 35078, 35079, 35080
Medium: Resin
Sculptor: Taesung Harmms
Box Artist: Calvin Tan
Review Publication Date: April 10th 2009
The extremes of climate encountered by British troops in the Mediterranean and Middle East theatre of battle saw the use of a diverse mix of uniform items; wool Battledress and greatcoats were often worn in colder weather, and various mixtures of BD, KD items and the issue woollen pullover were commonplace. This set of figures from Alpine Miniatures illustrates just two of the many variations of uniform seen worn by British troops during the desert fighting. This set of figures, depicting two British Armoured crewmen during a halt, is an excellent example of the mix of clothing worn during a change in temperature – be it Spring or Autumn, or a cool desert morning or evening.
35080 – “British Armoured Crew Set” is set of two 1/35th scale resin figures (and a puppy) sculpted by Alpine Miniatures owner, Taesung Harmms. The two British Armoured Crewmen, both wearing a mixture of tropical and Battledress clothing, are portrayed in fairly comfortable stances: the one stands with left hand in his shorts pocket while shielding his eyes from the sun with the other; while the crewman poses seated with his hands resting on his thighs. Released during February 2009, the box-art is painted by regular Alpine box-art painter Calvin Tan.
Both figures are also available individually as figures 35078 British Armoured Crew #1 and 35079 British Armoured Crew #2.
While no doubt some may find the poses featured in this figure set inanimate, I must admit to being extremely fond of them. I find the figures rather versatile given the poses which will suit virtually any British or Commonwealth vehicle placed in the Mediterranean and Middle East theatres of battle, be it tank, armoured car, lorry, or even simply seated on a wall as portrayed by Calvin Tan’s box-art.
With magnificent casting and Taesung Harmm’s eye for detail, this figure set by Alpine Miniatures is a terrific example of the various aspects of the Khaki Drill and Battle Dress uniforms and the manners in which it was worn by British and Commonwealth troops. Furthermore, given that armour personnel were issued with the same uniforms as infantry and other Army branches of service, this set need not only be portrayed as the former.
Alpine Miniatures’ first set of British troops wearing KD dress, or rather the unique manner in which KD and BD were worn together during the war in the Mediterranean and Middle East, is bound to be a popular release. Even more so given the recent resurgence of 1/35 scale British armour releases. These figures will be the perfect accessory to any British or Commonwealth vehicle – or will the vehicle be accessorising these highly recommended figures?
Click here for my full review on Armorama