Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Ei ylinopeutta, Suomen pansarri Leopard II

The title is, if my and Google's Finish is correct, 'No speeding, Finish Leopard II'. Finland uses 139 Leopard A4's bought from Germany in 2003. 10 of these are converted by Patria in to minesweepers, known as the Leopard IIR. The Fins also made a few modifications to their tanks. The differences are highlighted in the next photo:

Initial differences between the 'standard' and 'Finish' Leopard II A4 are marked red on the photo, later modifications yellow (click on the photo for a larger version). The differences are:

  1. A box on the left front side of the turret.
  2. Different handrails on the turret sides.
  3. A more open side skirt at the drive wheel.
  4. Larger stepholes in the side skirts. I didn't made this on my model because the difference is very small, hardly visible and I was afraid I wouldn't get it done properly
  5. The Finish started place stowage boxes here just as on the A5/A6 version of the Leopard II. This photo is made before this modification. I also omitted these from my model.


I build the model from Hasegawa's Leopard II kit no. MT34 reviewed here. The box on the turret is made from a 3 by 3 mm styrene beam, handrails are made from 0,5mm plastic rod and the mofication of the side skirt rear is done by cutting of the last part of the side skirt and glueing a thin styrene strip on it's place.

I chose to put this leopard in a diorama inspired on this photo:

I covered the base of diorama with paper and painted it in a darkbrow color. On the places where I wanted to simulate a lot snow I glued kitchen paper. I also used this for the 'dune' of snow on the side of the road. Over this I applied gridded chalk with water. White glue can also be applied on the paper before applying the powder. I think I have to put some what more 'snow' in certain area's. Once dry it looks quite okey. I finished the ground by placing grass made from hairs of a brush bought at the Do It Yourself market. The tree is made from a twig, the snow on this twig is again made from chalk. The road is made from the plastic of a box of butter. The sand on the road is made from pastels. I used a lighter tone here as on the tank because the sand scattered on the roads to make them less slippery in the winter is of a lighter tone as the soil offroad. The speeding camera is simply a cm long styrene beam on a 0,5 mm copper rod. The car is 1/76 metal model from 'Oxford'. It is completed model for collectors or kids so no assembly or painting was needed. I chose a Volkswagen Golf because this type of car is popular with young men having to much testosterone and too little driving experience leading to frequent violations of the maximum speeding law.

On to the photo's!

Monday, 12 August 2013

A honor to build! Miniart Samurai

Samurai where the elite warriors of the Japanese society from about 1185 to 1867 in Japan. They where an important political factor also. The position, tasks and social development of a samurai in Japanese society has some remarkable parallels with that of European nobility in the period 1100 - 1500. The total period of 1185 to 1867 is a very long period in history and there is a lot to read about it.
The samurai emerged as a power in Japan in the Kamagura period 1185 - 1333. During this time the Mongols tried to invade Japan twice without success. The first time (1274) the Mongol fleet was destroyed by a Typhoon. Japanese called the storm 'kamikaze', meaning 'divine wind'. The second time (1281) the fleet was also destroyed by a typhoon but this was seven weeks after they landed on the beaches of Japan so they samurai and lesser famous Japanese army elements had to fight a long battle. This was no doubt there finest hour since the Japanese where the only power on earth to resist the Mongols during this time in history.

MiniArt released a model of a samurai in 1/16 scale, kit no. 16028. This kit stands out from the rest of the line because of two things: 1. The choice for a non-European subject and 2. The action full pose of the figure. I'm not an expert on Japanese armor but the figure can definitely be placed in the Kamagura period and the model might be inspired on this very uniform:

The box-art and model look quite similar:

This kind of armor looks very different from the European armor at the time. It was often made out of iron or hardened leather scales. The're kept together on large squarish like plates by rivets and laces. The laces are what gives an samurai uniform it's main colors. Samurai didn't seen to have had a need for shields, an other distinctive difference from European and actually all armor from the same period. The samurai's main weapon was a very large sword better known as a 'Katana'. But they mastered other weapons as well such as the bow.

The model from Miniart is of course made out of injection molded styrene and has 57 or 58 parts since the use of the mask is optional. The parts are made in the quality we are used too from Miniart. Sanding and cleaning them up is needed but this can be done fast and the result is very good. The parts fit quite well but I had to use some filler to fill up the seams between the two halves the arms are made out of. I also had to use filler at the ankle and wrists. I think this is my own fault because I was to enthusiast with cutting and sanding away of (what I thought was) excess plastic. The fit of the rest of the parts is simply good, even the belt which is made out of several interlocking parts.

With most figures painting is most of the work and this is no exception. Looking on the web at pictures of samurai armor I found great diversity in colors. Some seem to have one color theme such as 'yellow' with a lot of yellow-brown tints or 'blue' with different variants of blue. Others display a myriad of color and have richly decorated fabrics on the torso armor and helmet. MiniArt provides two very well full colour drawings of a samurai in colourful and richly decorated armor. It's undergarment is suggested to be painted in either red or green. You can make it as easy or difficult for yourself as you want when painting this figure. I chose to make the figure very colorfull and took a lot of inspiration from the very well done drawings by MiniArt. I painted the legs, torso and helmet of the figure separately.

The figure was painted when still broken down in main parts:


The face is largely hidden behind the mask, the mask is an optional part however:

And finally the photo's of the finished figure:

This is a very nice figure of a historic warrior that many find still fascinating today. Figures of samurai tent to be more expensive then those from European knights when they are made from metal and we it in the price of this figure too. It costs a few euro's more then MiniArt's European knights but is still a lot cheaper then a metal figure giving a builder with a small wallet also a change to build a large scale figure of a warrior of the rising sun. Highly recommended!

I also hope MiniArt will release the medieval knight (16021), Crosbow man (16023), footsoldier (16025), Archer (16027) and handgunner (16029) in action poses as seen on there possible boxart.