Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Alpine Miniatures' 1:16 Fallschirmjäger Sniper (Review)

Manufacturer: Alpine Miniatures
Item Code: 16010
Medium: Resin
Review Publication Date: September 1st 2010

In their bold operations in Western Europe, Scandinavia, Crete, Italy, and the first exhausting days of the Normandy landings, the German Fallschirmjäger fought with distinction and honour, in spite of substantial losses. Frequently on the verge of annihilation they regrouped and continued to fight with heroism until the final days of the Reich. Their devotion to their unit and comrades and doggedness on the front lines earned them the respect of friend and foe alike.

16010 – “Fallschirmjäger Sniper” is a 1/16th scale resin figure sculpted by Taesung Harmms, the owner of Alpine Miniatures, depicting a young German Fallschirmjäger(paratrooper) sharpshooter. Released during August 2010, the box-art is painted Sang Eon Lee, his second such for Alpine Miniatures.

This was the first 1/16 scale Alpine Miniatures figure I have had the opportunity to review, and I must say that I am impressed with the level of detail the sculptor presents us with. Only his third figure in this scale I am happy to say that Taesung Harmms delights us with the quality of his sculpt – if one is amazed by the level of detail in his 1/35 scale figures, then this figure is truly a treat. This figure is yet another fantastic of the various aspects of German WWII uniformology, with the nuances picked up upon in only the way Taesung does.

For the painter, there are unfortunately not a great many ways in which to paint this figure, with this model of the jump smock being produced in a limited variety of camouflage schemes. That said, Jaume Ortiz Forns’ (who has done many box-art commissions for Alpine Miniatures) and Daniel Alfonsea Romero’s “Modelling Fallschirmjäger Figures”, published by Osprey Publishing, is an excellent reference and resource for those modellers interested in this subject.

I cannot fault this figure: the accuracy is spot on; the pose is very well captured and figure well proportioned; and the casting is impeccable. Recommended.

Click here for my full review on Historicus Forma

Monday, 9 August 2010

Mantis Miniatures' German SS Grenadier - Eastern Front 1942-43 (Review)

Manufacturer: Mantis Miniatures
Item Code: 35010
Medium: Resin
Review Publication Date: August 6th 2010

Following the first harsh winter of 1941-42 in Russia, the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS were issued a more practical winter uniform, developed due to the shortcomings of the standard-issue winter clothing. It was in the autumn of 1942 that improved winter clothing was received by troops, this consisting of the hooded jacket, trousers, mittens, hooded toque and felt winter boots.
35010 – “German SS Grenadier - Eastern Front 1942-43” is a 1/35th scale resin figure sculpted by Sergey Travianskiy. The figure depicts a stereotypical Waffen-SS non-commissioned officer of unknown rank loading a flare pistol on the Eastern Front. The figure is inspired by the military artwork of Dmitriy Zgonnik, which has subsequently appeared in the Concord Publishing title ‘Into the Cauldron - Das Reich on the Eastern Front’ by Robert Michulec (ISBN: 962-361-170-6). Released during April 2010, the box-art is painted by Jaume Ortiz.
Sergey Travianskiy and Mantis Miniatures have interpreted Dmitriy Zgonnik’s excellent, but two-dimensional, artwork and made it their own by adding the rear detail, thus completing the picture and rendering that third dimension.
For the painter, as with most SS subjects, there are a number of interesting ways in which this figure can be presented. While this figure wears the Feldgrau/white reversible suit introduced during 1942-43, the Waffen-SS later introduced a reversible, padded winter suit into service during the winter of 1943-4 featuring SS autumn patterns on the one side and white on the other. As there was not noticeable difference in cut between the two versions, this figure could certainly represent the later period as well as the marketed 1942-43 period.
The combination Sergey Travianskiy’s excellent sculpting of and the high quality casting of Mantis Miniatures presents modellers with a really nice figure with a lot of painting potential. Recommended.

Click here for my full review on Historicus Forma

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Alpine's “LAH in the Ardennes Set 2” (Review)

Manufacturer: Alpine Miniatures
Item Code: 35096, 35097, 35098
Medium: Resin
Review Publication Date: July 20th 2010

Waffen-SS troops in the Ardennes offensive displayed an eclectic look in uniforms; an assortment of types of WSS uniforms was worn giving a hotchpotch appearance to the soldiers. There was also a shortage of suitable Waffen-SS winter clothing issued in this campaign – precedence for cold-weather attire went to the Eastern Front.
35098 – “LAH in the Ardennes Set 2” is set of two 1/35th scale resin figures sculpted by Taesung Harmms, the owner of Alpine Miniatures. The set features two Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler (LAH) officers, the first representing SS-Hauptsturmführer Josef Diefenthal while the second depicts a LAH NCO, typifying the many diverse uniform appearances of the WSS during the December 1944 engagement on the Western Front. Released during January 2010, the box-art is painted by regular Alpine box-art painter Calvin Tan.
Both figures are also available individually as figures 35096 Josef Diefenthal in the Ardennes and 35097 LAH Grenadier in the Ardennes.
WWII German, or even Waffen-SS, miniatures are certainly not a unique subject, but what sets Alpine Miniatures’ figures apart from the rest is the manner in which Taesung (and his sculptors) pick up on the very many nuances present in German uniformology. This figure set by Alpine Miniatures is another terrific example of the various aspects of the late war WSS uniform and the manners in which it was worn.
While many armour modellers will without doubt rebuke the pointing and neutral poses of these figures, from a figure modeller point of view these poses serve to display the masterful sculpting and the historical accuracy with all the many fine details of the figures.
For the painter, as with most SS subjects, there are a number of interesting ways in which these figures can be presented due to the great range of Waffen-SS camouflage schemes or even simply revert to Feldgrau. It goes without saying that the character head can be replaced with a generic alternative should the modeller not wish to depict SS-Hauptsturmführer Diefenthal. Add in the masterful sculpting of Taesung Harmms and the high quality casting of Alpine Miniatures and modellers are presented with a really nice set of figures.
As denoted from the title, this is the second “LAH in the Ardennes” set of figures from Alpine Miniatures, the first set depicting Joachim Peiper and a LAH NCO. It would be unsurprising to see these two Ardennes sets released as a numbered limited edition set at some point, much in the same way the Kharkov set was.

Click here for my full review on Historicus Forma

Monday, 21 June 2010

Finally completed something... sort of...

Been a while, hasn't it? About 11 weeks, give or take.

So as the suggests, I finally completed something. A replica of sorts, and actually 10 weeks ago - to the day. About 9 months in the making, and alluded to in previous posts. Yes folks, that's right: 10 weeks ago I became the proud father to a bouncing baby girl! Our first!

My daughter, "The Kid", was born about 1 week (more of less) late, but healthy. We went the public health route, and were pleasantly surprised. The quality of healthcare The Missus and The Kid received makes South African private health cover pale in comparison. The Missus pretty much had a private suite for 2 days before being, somewhat, unceremoniously moved at the stroke of midnight into a shared room. Fortunately she was checking out later that day.

I'll spare you the details of 10 weeks of parenthood (which include being bringer home of paycheck, cook, washboy, houseboy, personal shopper and general dog's body) but leave it at modelling time has become increasingly scarce; the time situation exasperated by the fact that I started fencing again about 8 weeks ago (with The Missus' blessing of course). There's nothing that can really be said about the lack of time: those with kids will understand; those without probably won't. Indeed I finally understand why Calvin Tan has less time to paint (he became a new dad a few months ago).

That said, I've got a few reviews on the go at the moment. I manage to put in a few minutes on the morning trains. I've also recently bought a tripod to help stabilise my camera, but am still trying to fine-tune my lighting.

On the bench? Still the Tamiya StuG IIIB. I recently finished cleaning all those Friul links, but the Aber fenders are a real bitch. I wimped out of soldering them, having visions of burning my clumsy fingers or spilling flux on them, and decided to give Gator glue a try. I'm not convinced yet, but maybe I'm doing something wrong.

The news blog, FigureOneThreeFive, appears to be going quite well, although I've let it slip over the past week. I blame the FIFA World Cup. I'd blame a referee, but given that I've blamed them for so much over the past 10 days I don't think it fair to blame them for the BP oil spill, the war in Afghanistan, world poverty or my not updating F135.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Alpine's Panzer Crew Heads & Hands (Review)

Manufacturer: Alpine Miniatures
Item Code: H001
Medium: Resin
Review Publication Date: April 5th 2010

H001 – “Panzer Crew Heads and Hands”, consisting of four heads and four hands, is the first set in a new accessories product line by Alpine Miniatures. The four heads, all previously released in Alpine figure sets, wear a selection of German Army tank crew headgear. The headgear includes the early Panzer beret as well as the three more common types of headgear worn by armour vehicle crews. Accessory set H001 was released during November 2009.
As I mentioned when reviewing Alpine Miniatures’ H002 “US Tanker Heads and Hands”, while these sets are terrific for those modellers not in possession of the previously released figures, those who have the original figure sets may seek new, previously unreleased heads. That said, the heads selected for this set are all from relatively early figures from the Alpine Miniatures catalogue, and many newer modellers may not own these figures (or may have long since used them).
The sculpting is Taesung Harmms at his best and predictably Alpine Miniatures’ casting is outstanding. It is nice to see a head set which offers modellers one of every significant form of headgear worn by German Army tankers, and as mentioned above these can easily be modified for other branches of service. Naturally the hands are generic enough to be used with virtually any true 1/35 scale figure. Recommended.

Click here for my full review on Historicus Forma

Friday, 19 March 2010

Alpine's US Tanker Heads & Hands (Review)

Manufacturer: Alpine Miniatures
Item Code: H002
Medium: Resin
Review Publication Date: March 18th 2010

H002 – “US Tanker Heads & Hands” is Alpine Miniatures’ second accessory set, consisting of four heads and four hands. The four heads, all previously released in Alpine figure sets, wear the M1942 “Rawlings” tankers helmet. This helmet was officially adopted as the standard Armored Forces helmet in 1942, and is now synonymous with US tankers of this period. Accessory set H002 was released during November 2009.
While great for those modellers not in possession of the previously released figures, those who have the original figure sets may have sought new, previously unreleased heads. That said, one can certainly understand the decision to reuse existing products for the initial launch of the range: it does not require substantial capital investment by Alpine for new product development, minimising the risk of launching a new product range. Hopefully as this product range establishes itself Alpine will release heads unique to these sets.
The sculpting is Taesung Harmms at his best and predictably Alpine Miniatures’ casting is outstanding. The current revival in WWII US Army subjects should make these heads very popular, and of course the hands are generic enough to be used with virtually any true 1/35 scale figure. Recommended.

Click here for my full review on Historicus Forma

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Converting a Flak Gunner to a Stug Gunner

My entry for Historicus Forma's Sculpt-Along 2010 campaign isn't a full figure sculpt: unfortunately I don't have the time and I had a figure I was about to start converting for a current project.

I'm currently working on a Stug III Ausf B for a group build on Tanks and Things and need a figure to fill the gunner's seat. The gunner's hatches will be closed, and the figure will most likely hardly be visible and when so only from the rear. So why bother? Well it's simple: what if someone looks inside?

In the old days, when modellers were modellers and plastic was scared, instead of spending hours, days, weeks, months complaining about the lack of the perfectly posed figure which one modeller would only ever need once, modellers would convert existing figures to suit their needs. So, taking it old school, that's what I'll be doing with this build.

I needed a seated figure, slightly hunched. No dramas, I had the DML 2cm Flak Crew stuck away in the depths of a wardrobe, which includes a gunner. Problem: the figure has a few 'issues'.
  • The pose: the pose seems stiff (like he should be lying in Ducky's morgue), the legs are outstretched (the overzealous trouser folds exaggerate that point) and he's leaning back in the flak gun's seat.
  • Attire: Oops, he's a Luftwaffe ground trooper, and we need a Panzer/SPG dude - for the uninformed the uniforms are different.

So the proposed changes are:

  • Legs: chop off the knees, open the groin (he looks like he's clenching), file down the folds. Resculpt the knees and trouser folds. Change the trousers to Panzer trousers by blousing them at the ankle. Convert boots to short ammo style boots.
  • Torso: shorten torso (partially because the boy is too tall for the AFV), angle forward at hips and stomach. Lean and twist slightly to side. Convert flieggerblusse to Panzer jacket.
  • Arms: not sure on postions yet, but drill out sleeves and repostion hands.
  • Head: Off with it! Head angled up. I'll use a Tamiya head which has sufficient detail, is angled to the left and wears a field cap which is more fitting for the inside of an AFV. The Tamiya head is noticably smaller though - if the figure is out of the vehicle - inside it shouldn't be obvious given viewing angles.

The green lines below represent the current positions, the red the intended.

I'll state up front at this point in time that I have many real life things going on the moment, so this conversion may take a while to be done. That said please check back often.

Also, this is the biggest conversion I've undertaken, so bear with me - good thing it'll be stuck inside the AFV, right?

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Why so quiet (again), Mr Richardson?

It's been a few weeks, about a month methinks, since my last posting on this blog. Why so quiet you may be asking, or not. And so, the purpose of this posting is to inform those vaguely interested why it may be perceived that I have been quiet and perhaps detached over the past few weeks or even months. Even if you're not really interested, but read this blog as a 1/35th scale modeller, keep reading - there may be something of interest herein (he says slyly).

Let's jump right in. Now, whilst I may be been quiet on this blog (and not posting many new reviews lately) I have been busy modelling! OMG! Shocking! Yeah, I know. As most readers of this blog probably know I frequent many, many forums and subscribe to dozens of blog (I'm a self-confessed forum whore!). I think it was last year that I came across a new corner in the modelling world called "Tanks & Things". A site with many Aussie modellers and some big modelling names I made the odd post before over-committing myself to one of the group builds they often run. Quite honestly I was drawn in by the promises of fame and fortune. Just kidding, although the campaign is sponsored of sorts by the Spanish publication Xtreme Modeling. As far as I understand they'll eventually do a photo spread of all (or some?) of the completed entries.

I won't go into the details of the nature of the campaign but I put forward that I would build a Stug III B, since I had the Tamiya 1/35 scale Sturmgeschutz III Ausf B in my closet waiting to be built. Here comes the over commitment bit: I bought 2 Aber PE sets (a general exterior set and fenders - fenders! Bloody hell, PE bloody fenders!), and a set of Friul tracks. Talk about biting off more than I can chew! There I go and enter a group build, procrastinate starting the kit to 3 months before the deadline, and then decide to add more PE than I've ever dealt with as well as tracks I've never dealt with before either. To top it off, for some crazy reason, when I got to the interior stage I even decided to scratchbuild some of the interior. I think there's something wrong with me. Anyway, the build is not going to schedule and I'm way behind. Here's a link to the build for those interested: Rudi's StuG III B. And yes, this is part of the reason I've been off the grid as far as this blog is concerned.

Next up: Some of you may have noticed the feed just under my profile in the right hand column titled FigureOneThreeFive. Some of you may even have clicked it and visited the site. Now if you read the F135 Editorial on 1 Jan '10 (or there abouts) you would know that I am the bugger that started that site/blog. That's right, I've started yet another blog. This time you'll be spared my rants and raves though. FigureOneThreeFive (or Figure 135, or F135) is a blog styled site wherein I'll be posting 1:35 scale figure news, but specifically those figures falling within the Great War (WWI), Inter-War Years period, and World War 2 (WWII). However it's more than just news, I've also been posting links to the reviews of these subjects on a variety of sites. I just post the links, and make no judgement on the review - I expect we all have some form of brain, are able to read the text and between the lines, and make our own deductions and decisions. I should note, that what I'm not linking to are these so-called reviews which simply post the box-art and then descrive it. Yeah, guess what? I can do that when the news is announced if I really care to do so.

So, do yourself a favour, visit If you like it, visit again, or better yet subscribe. For the Facebook addicts (again, guilty Your Honour) I've added a FaceBook link and have a group going there as well simply posting the cross links. Feel free to join there as well if you'd prefer. So there you go, another part of the reason I've been off the grid as far as this blog is concerned.

The more astute Armorama/Historicus Forma readers may have noticed something a bit odd this week. Actually i'll almost guarantee it's not what you're thinking. The more observant will have noticed that from about the 15th of February my name no longer appears as the host of the Armorama Figure discussion group, nor about 4 HF DG's. No, it's not a computer glitch, nor was I canned. Due to personal reasons I have resigned from the Kitmaker staff in all capacities. Jim S is kindly facilitating my "extraction" :-) I gave notice of my intent at the beginning of Feb, ending all hosting duties mid-month, and editorial duties at the end of the month - just to help with any hand-over, not that one is required.

Now, let's get this out the way. When I cite "personal reasons", it is not due to: any discontent within Kitmaker or KMN staff member; or my new blog; or any heightened activity on any other site. The personal reasons we'll get into below, but there is more to this. You see, I'm a firm believer that if one serves on the staff of a club, or organisation, one should be making an active contribution to that organisation. I don't believe in absent landlords. My personal opinion is that if some assigned an editorial position to a site like Armorama or HF cannot spent at least 1 hour a day looking for content, editing features (articles, reviews, news, etc), encouraging users then one should reconsider their role. Similarly if one hosts a discussion group, one should be prepared to spend an hour or 2 a week posting interesting links, and encouraging discussions about DG related topics (it is called a discussion group). I found earlier this year that I was getting to the point where I felt I wasn't contributing enough to this regard and as time was about to become even more scarce, I felt it better to step down and let someone else, someone fresh, pick up the gauntlet.

If you're wondering if you missed a post on Armorama/HF regarding this, no you haven't. Consider yourself special; I'll make an announcement on Armorama/HFlater this month.

I need to clarify one further point though: I will still be reviewing modelling products. So fear not.

So, now, the main reason I've been quieter? Well, I'm going to keep you in suspense just a bit longer. Afterall, it is personal. Did you really think I'd go into the personal bit now? Watch this space, it's a good'un! ;-)

Monday, 18 January 2010

First review for 2010: Alpine's WW2 US Army Officer Set Set

Manufacturer: Alpine Miniatures
Item Code: 35093, 35094, 35095
Medium: Resin
Review Publication Date: January 15th 2010

Although much of the everyday uniform of US tankers was identical to that elsewhere in the US Army, they received a variety of specialised clothing, some of which was intended for general issue, due to the nature of their work. Once committed to combat in 1944, tankers ended up with various items of clothing, some as substitutes, some due to personal preference, and could be seen wearing jackets or other items worn by infantry, just as infantrymen could be seen wearing items of tanker clothing. Alpine Miniatures’ 35095 “WW2 US Army Officer Set” is an excellent example of US Army soldiers wearing an eclectic mixture of cold weather gear.
35095 – “WW2 US Army Officer Set” is set of two 1/35th scale resin figures sculpted by Krisztian Bodi. The two US Army Officers are portrayed wearing an assortment of winter-wear: the one stands somewhat relaxed with legs crossed having a cigarette break; while the other communicates using a hand-held radio transceiver. Released during November 2009 the box-art is painted by Marcin Skfzypek, his first for Alpine Miniatures.
Both figures are also available individually as figures 35093 WW2 US Army Officer #1 and 35094 WW2 US Army Officer #2.
The sculpting is Krisztian Bodi at his best and predictably Alpine Miniatures’ casting is outstanding: this is another exceptional couple of figures from Krisztian Bodi and Alpine Miniatures. The quality of the cast and recent resurgence in WWII Allied subjects should make this set very popular. Recommended.

Click here for my full review on Historicus Forma