Hasselfree Miniatures – A Review By TIM

I suspect for a great many painters and modellers the bottom line is the sites which interest us the most are those which align themselves to what we prefer doing.  So it was for me several years ago when my interest was almost exclusively the Old West.  However, whilst I still love the period my allegiance to the genre has moved on, my figure searches have widened and I now paint whatever takes my fancy.  As a consequence I am very much open to each and every site I come across.  If I discover a figure(s) I like the look of and I am inspired to paint and base it then I am almost certain to buy it.

It was during such a search that I discovered Hasslefree Miniatures.  I first came across images of a female fantasy figure called “Lenore” which was enough to make me go to the site and look more closely at what they had to offer.  The menu offers three prime categories – Fantasy & Steampunk, Modern & Post-Apocalyptic and Sci-Fi & Weird War.  There are numerous sub headings under each category.

My first purchase was for a few female fantasy figures.  They arrived like every order I have made since, well packaged and containing a couple of packets of sweets.  Yes that’s right sweets.  I always give mine to my daughter as her tooth is sweeter than.

The figures themselves are simply superb with very little, if any, clean up needed.  Each one is perfectly in scale with nothing out of proportion at all.   They are the work of a master sculptor for sure.  Some manufactures can equal the work of Hasslefree but I have yet to come across anyone who can better them when it comes to quality.  You do pay a little more for the figures but you certainly get what you pay for.  Generally the figures retail at around £4.00 to £5.00 each plus the dreaded VAT and you can expect to pay double that price if you want the resin master figure insead of white metal.  Occasionally Hasslefree will gave a 20% sale on everything and when they do I try to take full advantage.

One of the other things which attracts me to Hasslefree is that the figures are so well posed.  Each one has a charachter and expression of their own and for me and what I do they are simply perfect.   The level of detail is spot on and there is plenty of opportunity for some freehand painting shoild you so wish.  I could paint and base these figures all day long (and often do!).  They are so cool in my opinion and offer so many inspirational ideas.  If you didn’t know previously then I guess you know now that I am rather keen on Hasslefree Miniatures!

I am not sure that I can or that I would want to pick favourites within the ranges they have on offer but the Modern Adventurers category is simply class.   They are popular too and it is not unusual to see certain figures out of stock.  It doesn’t take long for them to become available again although one figure, “Joe”, I just don’s seem to be able to get my hands on at all.

As I said at the start, much depends what you are into but if you do decide to check out the site and take the plunge of buying some figures I am confident you wont be disappointed.

A couple of links to models and figures I have done featuring some Hasslefree figures I have painted below.

TIM

https://theimperfectmodeller.wordpress.com/2019/09/07/apocalypse-what-the-fk-was-that-september-challenge-a-28mm-diorama/

https://theimperfectmodeller.wordpress.com/2020/05/02/covid-19-lockdown-breakout-a-28mm-diorama/

 

 

Reaper Miniatures – A Review By TIM

Having been blogging for a while and wanting to branch out into other genres I started, thanks to the influence of other bloggers, to explore the world of fantasy.  When I first discovered Reaper the site which is based in Texas did not as I recall ship to the UK.  If they did then the costs of shipping were extortionate.  In either event I found myself searching for a UK distributor and discovered a supplier in Mighty Lancer –

https://www.mightylancergames.co.uk/

and it was here that I made my first foray into the world of Reaper Fantasy figures. 

The only problem with Mighty Lancer af that time (it may have now changed) is that they got their figures from the US via bulk shipments which they made periodically.  From what I could see they did not stock the whole Reaper range but if they did not have what you wanted you could pre-order.  Better than nothing but far from ideal.  Since those early days (which ironically weren’t that long ago) Reaper have expanded their own operation and now supply within the UK where the whole range is available through their site – 

https://www.reapermini.com/

So what do I consider the pros and cons of Reaper?

Well the pros are many.  The quality of the metal ranges are top notch as far as I am concerned.  The figures are well packaged and rarely have any mould lines or flash which require attention.  If and when they do it is minimal.  The sculptors all do an amazing job but the work of Bob Ridolfi and Bobby Jackson really stand out in my opinion and their detailed work is simply stunning.  I wont claim to be a fantasy expert but to my mind the range is very extensive and and it is hard to believe there is not something to be found here for everyone interested in fantasy figures.  There are several filters on the website to aid your search but personally I prefer to sit down with a good mug of coffee and browse through a hundred pages of superb metal figures!

What of the cons?

I guess much depends on your point of view of course.  For me I don’t consider that there are any but I can see that some people would bulk at a few things.  Firstly there is the price.  Reaper aren’t the cheapest figures on the market by any means but you get what you pay for as far as I am concerned.  I view them as works of art and art work doesn’t often come cheap.  That said prices vary considerably and often I have found it possible to find the same figure brand new on Ebay cheaper and with free postage.

I am not a war gamer so I have no idea how well these figures fit with the games that are out there, I will leave that for someone else to review.  As a figure painter I think a vast number of the figures make for stunning stand alone pieces.  However, I also do dioramas and vignettes and here I find a slight problem in aligning pieces together to achieve composition.  In fairness this could be down to my imagination and creativity as much as anything else.

Reaper do a few ranges one of which is their “Bones” range which is essentailly a white plastic range of the same metal figures but the prices are much lower.  I have never bought or painted a Bones figure so I do not know how extensive the range is or what the quality of the figures are like.  From the comments of other bloggers opinion is divided.  Some seem happy with the Bones figures whilst others feel they leave a lot to be desired.  Reaper now do a Bones Black range which I believe are superior and more expensive than the white countrpart but again I an unable to comment.  What can I say, I’m a metal guy!

Over a few years now I have done a fare number of Reaper figures, both stand alone and dioramas and vignettes.  I rate these figures very highly indeed and they are my go to range for fantasy figures.  I have plans to do many, many more!

Below are links to just a couple of my Reaper models.

TIM

 

https://theimperfectmodeller.wordpress.com/2020/03/28/viharis-tenspire-a-28mm-reaper-wizard/

https://theimperfectmodeller.wordpress.com/2019/11/16/tom-goldentome-a-28mm-reaper-figure/

 

 

 

Dixon Miniatures – A Review By TIM

In my Miniatures and Musings No: 47 I made reference to doing a mini series of short  “Site Reviews”.  This is the first.  I thought it appropriate to start with Dixon’s as it was this site that really introduced me to the world of 28mm figures.

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Dixon Miniatures is a very small company run by Trevor Dixon which began life in 1976.  I first discovered the site –

https://www.dixon-minis.com/

– back in 2017 when I decided to drop down in scale from 54mm to 28mm.  Still very much hooked on the Old West genre various google searches pointed me in their direction.  At the time I could not find anyone to rival their range of figures and to some extent this still holds true.  Whilst the  Knuckleduster Gunfighters Ball range –

https://knuckleduster.com/shop/index.php?route=product/category&path=1_70

– make excellent figures, albeit a little larger at 32mm, they have yet to match Dixon’s for accessories such as wagons and stagecoaches.

At this point I should point out that Dixon’s offer so much more than the Old West.  Their range is extensive with well over 20 different categories including Napoleonics, English Civil War, Pirates and Gangsters to name but a few.  Although I have only purchased Old West figures to date I do have my eye on several other figures.  The Gangster range has caught my eye, specifically a very nice bootlegger truck (I’m thinking Lawless starring Tom Hardy) and an SAS Willy’s Jeep desert conversion.  Both are on my buy list.

Like a great many miniature figure companies you can usually find pros and cons.  In the case of Dixon’s I like the fact that their figures are all metal including their range of wagons, trucks and cars.  I’m not a lover of resin and plastic (just a personal old school preference and not an opening for a heated debate) so this suits me just fine.  Figure composition is excellent too in my opinion as evidenced by the American Civil War range which is huge.  I also like the fact that the figures can be purchased individually, are relatively inexpensive and horse and riders can be mixed and matched.  I really have a dislike for companies which group figures together where one or two are great and the rest are rubbish (these figures make up the majority of my unwanted lead pile).  It is also possible to download a PDF of the larger ranges on offer.  When it comes to selecting which figures to buy this I find really useful and wish other sellers would do the same.

On the downside some figures I have bought seem a little out of proportion with heads being bigger than they ought to be.  It certainly isn’t a show stopper and doesn’t apply to every figure by any means.  It is only a guess but having been going since 1976 and with the Old West most likely to be one of the older ranges I do wonder if this might have a bearing with the sculptor naturally improving as time goes by?

If you are looking for 25mm/28mm figures (they do a very limited range of 15mm, 20mm and 54mm figures too) in the categories Dixon’s have to offer then this site is well worth taking a look at.  The figures arrive well packaged and postage costs are reasonable.  At the time of writing they are still operational during the coronavirus lockdown.

I have done several models featuring Dixon’s figures, below are links to two of them.

TIM

 

https://theimperfectmodeller.wordpress.com/2017/07/22/28mm-building-project-no-6-wells-fargo-way-station/

https://theimperfectmodeller.wordpress.com/2017/07/12/off-the-work-bench-american-civil-war-28mm-diorama/

 

 

 

 

How to Make a 28mm Palm Tree

How to Make a Palm Tree.

The follow up to last week’s post – “X” Marks The Spot”.

https://wordpress.com/post/theimperfectmodeller.wordpress.com/4059

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To make the palm tree I used the following items, you can of course use similar products:-

  • 3 lengths of Florist wire, approximately 35cm in length
  • Goose feathers, approximately 3 to 5cm in length and roughly 35 to 40 in number
  • Milliput
  • Superglue
  • General purpose filler
  • A very small length of course string
  • Paints (various)

For the build I used the following tools:-

  • Small hand vice
  • Wire cutters
  • A cocktail stick
  • Paint brushes

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Step 1

Take two pieces of the 35cm Florist Wire, fold each in half and cut to make four equal lengths.

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Step 2

Take the four equal lengths of Florist Wire and place all four ends into the hand vice so that they are all tightly clamped together.

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Step 3

Using the 3rd piece of Florist wire start to wind it as tightly as you can around the four clamped pieces staring about 2cm up from the bottom.  Ideally you want to keep the wire wound round closely following each turn but if there are small gaps it really doesn’t matter.  Continue until you have run out of wire and then remove from the vice.  You now have the main basis of the tree trunk.

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Step 4

Take the Milliput and make two largish balls and four small balls.  Use one of the larger balls for the bottom of the tree trunk and one for the top.  Push the four short lengths of wire which exist at the end of each end of the tree trunk through the Milliput as this will ensure it is all nicely fixed together.  Taper the top ball a little to blend with the trunk and make a smooth joint, same for the bottom ball but flatten it a little as well to help create a base for later.

If the four lengths of wire are too long then use the wire clippers to shorten.  You may wish to keep them long at the bottom anyway as this will help when it comes to fixing to a base.  Personally I didn’t bother as I knew I would be adding base work around the tree which would be sufficient to hold it in place.

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Step 5

Before the Milliput dries use the point of the cocktail stick to make numerous holes in the top ball to allow for the feather palms to be inserted later.  If you find you haven’t made enough (which is what happened to me!) you can easily drill more into the Milliput later.

Step 6

Once the Milliput has dried mix some General purpose filler together with some water and PVA glue and coat the tree trunk.  Try to avoid it being to thick, you want to be able to keep the shape created by the wire you wrapped around.  Set aside to dry.

NOTE – If you want to shape the trunk, give it a slight bend for example, do this before applying the filler!

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Step 7

While the filler on the tree trunk is drying it’s time to sort and paint the feathers.  You can of course do this at anytime.

I bought my feathers on Ebay, a pack of 50 which proved sufficient to make a single tree with some over.  I graded the feathers into three piles of similar length, small, medium, large.  The smallest would create the lower palms leaves, followed by the medium length ones with the longest feathers stuck on last as you work bottom up.

After a bit of experimenting I painted the leaves using Citadel Biel-Tan Green Shade.  I found the wash worked well.  I brushed the paint on starting at the center of the feather stroking outwards and painted both sides.  You should find that the paint will bind bits of the feather together to create natural fronds.  You could try airbrushing but as I don’t have one I cannot comment.  My only concern might be that an airbrush won’t create the fronds but if anyone gives it a go I would be interested to know how it went.

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Step 8

When the tree trunk is dry take the four small Milliput balls and glue them around the top ball, these are coconuts!

Once the “coconuts” have dried it’s time to paint the entire trunk.  I used thinned oil paints starting with Burnt Umber as the base and then dry brushed highlights of Yellow Ocre and White.  You can of course use any paints you like.

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Step 9

As a final touch to the coconuts I chopped up some very small pieces of string and stuck them on to create the effect of the husk.

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Step 10

With everything painted and dry it’s now time to glue in the feather palms.  Start with the smallest feathers at the bottom and work round first and then work up.  I chose to stick the feathers in using superglue as it dries quickly, otherwise you will be there all day long!

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Step 11

Your tree should now be complete.  Congratulations!

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The final step is to base it which is of course down to the individual.  I chose to keep mine simple, the figures in my vignette were what I wanted people to look at.  A Milliput foundation held the completed tree in place.  This was topped with sand and then painted.  A sprinkling of chopped string was also added to the bottom of the tree.

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—000—

Well that’s it folks.  Any questions please let me know.  I may well have left something out.  If you do give it a go please let me know how you get on.  This was my first tree but it won’t be my last.

In the meanwhile Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.

TIM

 

 

 

Operation Overlord – A 28mm WW2 Diorama (Part 6 – The Completed Diorama)

The Road To Carentan – US 101st Airbourne (02:00 D-Day 6th June 1944)

The various bits I needed to finish don’t really require an explanation.  They were either paint jobs or basic ground work, nothing I haven’t covered before in the previous posts on this diorama.  With this in mind and before I share with you the photo’s I have taken I thought I ought to give you the background to the diorama to set the scene so to speak.

The original interest in doing this period piece was driven by the Plymouth Model Club, of which I am a member, and their 2019 show which will have a D-Day display.  I fancied a diorama with a couple of buildings and decided in the end to go with what you have seen unfold during the previous 5 posts.

The 101st Airborne parachuted into Normandy France in the very early hours of D-Day, the 6th June 1944.  Their mission was to secure the eastern half of a town called Carentan from German reinforcements.  Doubtless they had other objectives along the way.  I figured their journey would have taken them through outlying villages en-route and this is essentially what this diorama sets out to portray.

The way I see the diorama is this.  France, although occupied was running as business as usual.  Street lights might or might not have been on in the small hours of the morning but a business such as a Baker would quite possibly have been baking at that time.  Noise and explosions would get people to put their bedroom lights on and of course some destruction would be inevitable.

An accurate portrayal?  Probably not, it’s a representation and intended to be nothing more.

Various images appear below, with and without lights on.  I hope you like the end result.

I wan’t able to submit anything mechanical for the November challenge, to committed to this project.  However, the December challenge set by Azazel lends itself to this model so with Christmas coming up and various time constraints with it this will be my submission.

TIM

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Operation Overlord – A 28mm WW2 Diorama (Part 5 – Base & Figures)

Patchy progress this week due to being told domestic projects take president!

Hopefully next week will see me almost there and I would like to get the whole thing completed before Christmas if possible.  I’m anticipating (like all of us I’m sure) that Santa will be bringing me lots of goodies that I will want to get on with instead!

I mentioned in Part 4 that the positioning of the buildings would require more work than I had originally planned to do in respect of rear gardens.  I decided each of the three buildings would require as a minimum a patio and some grass so I laid down some Milliput and rolled it with one of my textured Greenstuff rollers.  My next task was to fix the building in place but before I could do that I needed to pre-drill the base with the holes for the street lighting which would be installed.

Both the two undamaged buildings have lights in them so holes were also made for those light wires too.  I checked to see that they were working OK and then fixed the buildings into place.  Work then began on the rear gardens.

A textured finish using ground up plaster board was used to cover all the ground work not covered by the Milliput patio area.  Once dried the patio and ground work was given its first coat of paint.  I figured the two buildings adjoining would need a dividing line so I went for a wire fence made using twisted 0.5mm wire and drilled match sticks.  To draw attention to the rear of the buildings I thought I would need a center piece, something tall and decided on the obvious, a tree.  A couple of walls were also needed to close the rear gardens off at the sides where applicable.  These were done using plaster board which I carved to provide a weathered effect.

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You may have also noticed in the pictures above that the chip board base has also been given an edged finish which I will stain in due course.

The next task was to lay down some static grass and to put the smaller branches on the tree using Sea Foam.  Once the glued Sea Foam had dried the tree was covered in a mix of general filler and water/PVA and allowed to dry.  It was then painted and the leaves applied in various colours using a strong hold hair spray.

I also added a small flower trough to the patio area.  In my bitz box I had some old Tamiya 1/32nd scale sand bags.  Painted and used upside down they worked just fine as a trough.

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Sea  Foam also works very well for making shrubs and climbing plants so I added a creeper to the outside wall of the Brasserie.

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Next up was adding the street lighting.  Each light was tested to check that it worked but the proper wiring would be done later.

Finding lights on Ebay was easy enough but getting the right height and style was a little more difficult.  Getting English Victorian street lamps wasn’t a problem but I wanted something which I felt had a little more of a French feel and in the end I managed to find the ones you see in the photo’s below.  I reckon they look OK but just need to keep my fingers crossed that they all work once wired up.  They came from China and only costs a couple of pounds so I’m not getting carried away with the quality of them but as long as they look the part.

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Next up was the fountain.  I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a big fan of the finish you get with MDF even when painted, owes more to my ability to paint it as much as anything else but I didn’t have many options in this instance.  For colour I added some red plants to break up the dull ground work.

Something still didn’t quite look right and I figured it was that the fountain wasn’t working.  In an effort to improve things I used some wire and water effects to try to simulate the fountain in use.  I’m not entirely sure that it looks that great but it might look a bit better once its fully dried and highlighted.  We will have to wait and see but for now its what it is.

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The next job was to start adding the debris from the damaged building.  Now before I assembled the original building I made an outline of the damaged sections so I could get a feel for how much actual debris there would be.  It didn’t need to be precise but I didn’t want to go completely overboard either.  The debris needed to be added a reasonable amount at a time and allowed to dry.

It isn’t clear from the photo’s I’ve taken but some of the debris had wall paper added to it to match that inside the building to help keep the thing looking reasonably authentic.  Wood was also needed in the debris and of course a fare few roof tile as well!

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During the piece meal process I got a couple more figures painted although the photo’s below leave a lot to be desired.  In too much of a hurry to get this post out, sorry!

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Not entirely sure where I go from here, need to sit down and reflect fully on where I am.  Off the top of my head I need to complete the remaining couple of figures, wire up the lighting, finish off the rear gardens, get the figures in situ, stain the edge and take some decent photo’s if I can.  Doesn’t sound quite so bad now I come to think about it.  Never know I might even get it finished for next week!

TIM

Operation Overlord – A 28mm WW2 Diorama (Part 4 – Base & Figures)

With the three buildings almost complete it was time over the last week to start thinking and working on the base and to begin painting some of the figures.  To be honest it made a welcome change.  Don’t get me wrong I’ve enjoyed the buildings but it was nice to focus on something else for a while.

Let’s start with the base as there is a lot more to comment on.

Originally my plan was to have the three buildings positioned in a straight line, face on and square to the base.  However, when I positioned them and considered the figures it looked shit.  I then considered putting a road between the buildings whereby two were positioned either to the right or the left with one on the other side.  Although it looked much better it still just didn’t look right.  I then remembered one the of the rules of photography, the rule of thirds.  By splitting the buildings, two one side and one on the other, and placing them at right angles it was possible to position the buildings closer to the sweet spots.  You may not agree when looking at the images below but to my mind this looked much better and thus I made the decision to go with it.  The downside was that there was now much more space behind each building which meant I would have to make back gardens for all three buildings as well.

Another decision I made was to go with the two undamaged buildings on the left with the damaged building on the right.  Why?  You may well ask!

Now I’m no WW2 expert and don’t claim to be.  When completed this model is intended to be a representation and not an accurate depiction of a true scene or event so the way I see it is this.  France, despite being occupied, was for all intent and purposes operating as “business as usual”.  Putting the French Resistance to one side, the shops were open and the people generally went about their business.  All hell of course broke lose when out of the blue the Allies invaded on the 6th June 1944.  My idea therefore was to show business as usual with the two intact buildings on the left and the beginning of the end with the ruined building on the right.  Does it work?  Well I guess that’s for you to decide.

The next step was to draw around the buildings and glue a border of coffee stirrers lightly to the base.  This was to serve two purposes.  Firstly, it provided a clearer boundary line when it came to laying down ground work as pencil or ink would most likely get covered up.  Secondly, when removed the buildings would sit nicely into the recess leaving less ground work to be touched up later.

I mentioned in previous posts that my aim was to include some lighting.  It remains to be seen if this is going to work out but one of the things I needed to overcome was where and how to house the battery and the on off switch.  If I simply stuck it under the base then the base would have to be raised.  Not a problem if it only needed to be raised slightly but but as this was not going to be the case I thought it would look ridiculous.  I therefore decided to drill a FGH (Fucking Great Hole!) through the base so the two parts could be hidden away.  I also needed to make sure that the hole was central so that the wires from two buildings and from street lights which I planned to install would all reach.  All I had to do now was decided how best to cover up the FGH which neatly sat in the middle of the bloody board!

Fortunately I had a eureka moment.  The angles of the buildings gave me the impression of walking through the gap between the buildings and into a village square.  This being the case a lot of village squares have at there center either a statue, a fountain or both.  Fortunately I was able to find a 28mm MDF fountain which I could use, the outline of which was added to the base before starting on the ground work.

For the ground work I decided to go with a cobbled pathway in front of the buildings and a light gravel finish to the center and around the fountain and that’s where I am to date with the the base.  In the photo’s below the buildings have just been placed in situ to provide a first glimpse of how the layout will look.  There is still along way to go!

Now to the figures.

Currently I plan to have eight figures, seven US 101st Airborne and one German.  So far I’ve made good progress on four of the US figures.  Not a great deal to say.  The figures are all ironically from a German site I discovered called “Stoessis Heroes” and are excellent castings in my opinion.  Painted using a combination of Vallejo acrylics and Winton and Newton oils.

Photo’s of base progress and figures below.  The pictures of the figures are poor as I had little time to mess about with the focus which seemed hell bent on placing the focal emphasis on the clamp!

TIM

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Operation Overlord – A 28mm WW2 Diorama (Part 3 – Building No: 3)

Finally managed to make enough progress to post an update!  OK so it’s not the most interesting one but it is as far as I’ve got for now.

If you have been following my progress you will be aware that this is the third building in my planned diorama.  If you haven’t the the title of this post is a bit of a give away too!  It’s also the last building as I’ve decided there will only be three.  As you can see from the images below this building represents a bakery.

The building itself differs in a few ways from the other two.  Firstly, being a shop it has a large front window which can easily been seen into.  Secondly, bakers are up very early so I figure if this diorama is to be set around the early hours of the morning then the lights would be on.  Thirdly, it has a balcony with french doors which means it may be possible to see inside.  With these three points in mind I felt I needed to do a proper interior in some places.

Externally and internally I set about doing things in same way that I built the first two buildings.  Chinchilla dust was used for the external render and a colour printer was used to produce floor and wall tile images which I literally cut and pasted to the MDF interior floor and walls.  The counter with bread loaves and rolls was a very basic scratch build from Milliput.  Far from perfect but hopefully sufficient given the final angle of view.

For consistency I once again went for individual roof tiles, about 1200 of them to be a little more precise!  An LED light was fixed into place to illuminate the shop.  It’s been tested and works and will hopefully continue to do so when the time comes to assemble the building on the base and configure the wiring!  These things are so delicate.

Most of the painting has been done but there are still a few things to be done before I can call it completed (weathering, chimney, balcony and external brick flooring judging from a quick glance).

The time has now arrived to start thinking about painting some figures and getting my head around the base.  The figures will hopefully be straight forward, there are eight in total if I decide to use them all.  The base on the other hand requires a lot of thought.  The positioning of the buildings will be key, there is a need to conceal wiring and I’m toying with the idea of a fountain and street lights.  Some walls will also need to be constructed and each of the three houses will need a back garden.  All in all a long way to go.  Still, everything in good time.

Various progress photo’s below beginning with the basic MDF shell tnrough to where the build is currently.

TIM

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Operation Overlord – A 28mm WW2 Diorama (Part 2 – Building No: 2)

Work on the second building for this diorama is almost complete.  Some additional weathering to be done along with some base work once the building is in situ but that’s for later.  Overall an easier build than Building No: 1 – See link to previous post below – which I pretty much anticipated.

theimperfectmodeller.wordpress.com/2018/10/06/operation-overlord-a-28mm-ww2-diorama-part-1-building-no-1/

The theme going around in my head has the diorama set in the early hours of the morning which to my mind means a Brassiere would be closed.  This allowed me to put blinds at the windows making the place look shut up, so seeing inside wasn’t a significant issue.  However, I did decided to have one window which could be seen through as I’m now considering the idea of lighting.  We’ll see how that idea goes!

I wont describe the build process in great detail, mainly because it was done along the same lines as the previous post.  Instead I’ll simply highlight the bits which were different and show stage development photos of the build at the end.

A bed was made and wall paper added to the “room” that can be seen into just to be on the safe side.  Just how visible any of it will be if it is lit up remains to be seen.

The “Brassiere” lettering was outlined on the MDF but needed carefully painting.  It went well but was time consuming.

Azazel reminded me of a good tip for tiling the roof, specifically to do so using strips instead of individual tiles.  I had been made aware of this technique a while ago but had forgotten about it so I was grateful for the reminder.  However, having done the first build with individual tiles I decided to go the same way again, fearful that the outcome might look odd.  It probably wouldn’t have done but once again I chose not to leave things to chance.

Probably the stand out feature for me, and certainly the most problematic, was the addition of the “Dubonnet” wall advert.  Painted wall adverts are pretty common in France, well they were back in the 1940s,  so I was very keen to add a simple one.  I ruled out free hand without some guidelines because I didn’t feel confident of getting it right, so I thought I would trace the words on.  Unfortunately the textured finish using a sample I made simply didn’t want to know. The idea of making a stencil crossed my mind but when I looked at doing one it was evident straight away that this wouldn’t work either.  Far to intricate.  I was stumped.  I gave YouTube a go but my searches threw up nothing until by pure chance I discovered a craft tutorial.

In the tutorial the artist took a stone, covered it in PVA and then stuck a picture printed on ordinary paper to it face down.  It was then left to completely dry.  Once dried water was rubbed onto the back of the paper which removed the paper slowly and left the picture, albeit inverted, on the stone.  Presumably the PVA absorbed all the ink and retained a very, very thin layer of the existing paper.  Not a technique I had ever come across before.  Anyway, I thought I would give it a go.

The first thing I had to do was print the word.  I chose to go with “Dubonnet”, a drink which has been around since 1846 so would therefore have been relevant in the 1940s.  I typed it out in Word Art on the PC and played about with sizing.  I then flipped the wording so that it would read the correct way around when glued face down.  Applied the PVA to the chinchilla render and left it to dry.  The next day I rubbed water onto the paper and what you see is pretty much what I got.  A bit of weathering and a few minor touch ups and I ended up with something I was quite pleased with.  Doubtless someone will say “all you needed to do was …”.

So there you have it, an almost complete second building.  Work will now start on the third building and probably the last one for this diorama.  This build may prove to be the more time consuming as I think much more of the internal building will be visible but more on that in a future post.

Development pictures below.

TIM

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Operation Overlord – A 28mm WW2 Diorama (Part 1 – Building No: 1)

Introduction

The Plymouth Model Club has chosen D-Day as the theme for next years show, an exhibition to mark the 75th anniversary of the invasion landings.  All the club members have plans to produce something and for my part I thought I would, in addition to a few other models that I will produce, make a sizeable diorama.  If I manage to pull it off then it will be the biggest diorama I will have done.  Not necessarily the most complicated but certainly the biggest.

It will also be time-consuming to produce so this will most likely be the first of a number of posts on this project.  I will post regular updates but for my sanity as well as yours I expect I will work on a few other things in parallel and vary my future posts accordingly.

So what do I have in mind to put together?

The concept is a simple one and one which may well evolve a little as I begin to make progress.  The plan is to have three, possibly four, buildings representing a small street scene with troops from the 101st US Paratroop making their way carefully along the road.  Dimensions and aesthetics will play a part in the final design.  Written down I can’t believe how shit this concept sounds but the image in my head is much better so at this stage you’re just going to have to trust me!  The devil will be in the detail as I hope you will come to see.

Key to the diorama will be the buildings.  Initially I thought I would do my own completely from scratch but windows in particular are a nightmare.  I then decided to buy a kit from Charlie Foxtrot, ironically a company I discovered at this year’s Plymouth show where Colin, the owner had a display.  If I like the end result then I will purchase the remaining buildings from him too.

So let’s get this series underway starting with the first building.

The Kit – Ruined House No: 2 by Charlie Foxtrot Models

Below is a picture of the actual kit as it appears on the website.  It’s probably easier to look at the pictures of how it is designed to look than for me to tell you, particularly as I have plans to make a number of changes.

 

The link below will take you to this kit on the website and to the online shop if it’s of interest to you.

28mm 1:56 "Ruined House 2"

Looking at the kit you may well be asking yourself why would I want to make changes to what is essentially a highly detailed kit?  There are two main reasons.  Firstly the kit is made of MDF which is a great material for accurate laser cutting and etching but the finish is flat and characterless.  Secondly, whilst the kit is probably ideal for war gaming in that it neatly comes apart it is not detailed enough when it comes to being a feature of a diorama (well not for me at least).  This will probably become clearer as the construction of this kit gets underway.

I mentioned earlier that my plan is to have at least three buildings.  This is the first of the them and I expect it will prove to be the most challenging, mainly because it will require internal changes and enhancements in addition to an external makeover.  I’ll explain why as the build progresses.

Time for a couple of photos.

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The first picture shows an image of the kit unopened in its bag.  The second and third show all the bits neatly laid out as I try to work out how the hell it all goes together.  A single A4 sheet of instructions is provided and to my surprise it did prove to be sufficient coupled with a bit of common sense and a few references to the online images on the Charlie Foxtrot website.

The model when assembled is meant to consist of three parts.  The ground floor, the first floor and the roof.  Because it is a war gaming building it is also meant to come apart rather than to be assembled as a solid single construction which is what I will be doing with it.  My first consideration therefore was to determine if it would be possible to see inside the ground floor.  If it was then I would need to make changes at this point as access to this area would not be possible once the first floor was added.

I decided it would be possible to see a little bit inside through the windows and through the hole in the ceiling as you look down from the first floor but I couldn’t be sure just how much.  I therefore concluded that some internal fitting out was necessary, just to be on the safe side at least.

The first thing I decided to do was wallpaper the internal walls.  On a “Dolls House” website I found some free wallpaper downloads.  I chose a small print for scale purposes and printed a couple of sheets on to photographic paper.  Photographic paper being thicker would glue better to the walls and would not make the inks run.  Each wall was “papered”and the floor too was covered with a wooden floor board print which I also found on the same website.  Normally I would use coffee stirrer’s for a wooden floor but didn’t think that was necessary on this occasion given how much would be seen.

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The next step was to glaze the windows using clear hard plastic.  Pieces were cut and stuck to the inside of the walls.  The windows would go in later after they were painted.  Completing the glazing at this stage would also stop the windows from falling into the building when assembled when it would be harder to get them out if that happened.  I also made one of the windows with “broken glass” by simply cutting the clear plastic accordingly.  Using some paper painted with acrylic paint I also made curtain for the windows which would be visible from the outside looking in.

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A similar problem to the windows existed with the front and back doors so to prevent them from falling in when it was time to fix them in place I glued matches to the top and bottom of both the door openings.  When the first floor is in place there is a hole in the floor which looks down and into the ground floor.  Now was the time to put debris in place so ground plaster board along with a few scale brick and pieces of timber were added.  At this stage the modified ground was complete and duly assembled.

The next step was to direct my attention to the first floor.

The first floor is divided into two rooms, one of which represents the damaged end of the house where the roof above the floor has been blown up.  Now the first thing I noticed with the kit design was that you could look into both these areas.  In itself this would not have been a problem except for the fact that the kit has no internal staircase.  This bugged me and so the only way I could see to get around the problem was to put a ceiling above the undamaged room (if anyone asks the staircase is on that side of the house!).

The ceiling was made using wooden coffee stirrer’s stuck to a piece of MDF which was cut to size.  The ceiling piece had to be inserted rather than simply laid on top as this would have thrown out the fit of the roof at the next stage.  For support coffee stirrer battens were positioned at the top of each of the four wall sides.  Having created a ceiling for one half of the first floor it was appropriate to make a damaged one for the other side too.  The first floor was also wall papered and glazed in the same way as the ground floor.

 

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The sharp eyed among you might notice that I have Peter Gabriel on in the back ground!

The next stage was to look more closely at the roof assembly.  The only thing which really needed to be addressed was the tiling.  I don’t like flat roofs and do not have the skill to produce 3D style painting so there was nothing to do but cut out several hundred cardboard tiles and glue them row after row to the MDF.  I’ve done this several times in the past and my method is tried and tested.  With suitable music or a DVD on it doesn’t take that long to achieve.  To make the tiles I used my Greenstuff World tile punch and cardboard from a cornflake box.  I find it is best to use cardboard where one side has a gloss finish.  The gloss finished side should be facing out when the tile is stuck down.  This is better for painting.  The other way around and the cardboard turns to mush if you aren’t careful.

Finally the two wall ends of the roof were rendered on the inside using ground plaster board on PVA glue.

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Following a little painting of areas which would prove difficult to paint if not done now the three components of the kit were ready for assembly.  The assembly itself was very straight forward, testimony of the quality of the kit.

The next job was to glue the windows, which had now been painted, into place.  This was then followed by adding some initial bits of debris to the first floor and then rendering the outside walls.  The rendering was done over several days as each side was allowed to thoroughly dry before moving on to the next external wall.  Diluted PVA was used on the outside walls before chinchilla dust (yes, chinchilla dust!) was applied to the outside.

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The damaged wall kit pieces came with small MDF brick sections which could be stuck on.  As with the roof tiles the brick looks very flat so I simply decided to go with ground plaster board to provide a rough cast finish to the top edges of the exposed MDF.

Once it was all dry I painted the render with some Dulux Emulsion paint and used Burn Umber oil paint heavily diluted with white spirit to provide some initial weathering to the walls.

The completed model to date is shown below.  It is not finished.  The render needs to be weathered further, the window shutters need to be fixed in place and so do the doors.  At this stage I’ve yet to decide which windows will have open or closed shutters and the same goes for the doors.  These are things I will look at more closely when I make further progress on the rest of the diorama.  Scattered debris of brick, tiles, wood and broken glass will be added to the inside and outside at a future assembly stage but for now I have done as much as I can do on this one.

The next step is to order the remaining buildings for the diorama having decided I like Charlie Foxtrot’s kits.  While I’m waiting for them to come I can divert my attention to the October challenge!

Images of the current state of play below.  It doesn’t look very impressive at the moment but there is a long way to go!

TIM

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