Scale 75's Captain Amelia Steam Finished

The one major advantage that I find metal figures have over plastic ones is the ease of assembly, they fit together so nicely with fewer gaps to fill and as a result a little less hassle for the maker. I've certainly found that with this build, Captain Amelia Steam has slotted together quite cleanly and apart from the problem with the two pipes has given me no major hurdles to jump. After fitting the jetpack, all that really needed paining was her pistol which again was simply a mix of brass, copper and a bit of flat brown for the pistol grip, all of which was then shaded with that old standby, Army Painter Strong Tone. And barring a little tidying up and a coat of matt varnish where it was needed, that as they say, was that. Job done.

All that was now required was a stand. I had actually been working on this in tandem with the model. Last year I bought a pile of stands at Scale Model World in Telford. It was a cheap job lot and the stands were made from MDF and as a result were rather rough around the edges and I was wondering what I could do with them. However, whilst watching an old episode of DIY SOS, one of the building team offered up the tip that MDF can be sealed with thinned PVA (white glue) and when dry sanded back to a smooth finish. Double checking this with a couple of vids on YouTube I found that this was indeed true and watering down some PVA I applied it to a couple of stands. On the first time of sanding the surfaces back, first with fine sandpaper then with very fine wet and dry paper, I found that though better, they were still rather rough. So I did it again, and again, and again. It sounds like a lot of hard work, but its only a few moments of work each time and it is rather pleasing to find your efforts paying off, as by the fourth time of sanding the surfaces seemed very smooth to the touch. When the stands were totally dry (which was not long in the current heatwave) I took them outside and gave them both a good couple of coatings of gloss black spray paint (£1, from Poundland, in line with my new cheapskate philosophy). This came up a treat and though there is still a little bit of pitting on the surface, the results are infinitely better than they would have been without the extra work. Probably a couple more coatings and sandings would have given me a very smooth stand.

Rough MDF and smooth(er) MDF

Sprayed MDF

With the stands ready, I chose one to use and after checking and marking where the stand would go, I mixed up some Araldite, scoured the surface of the stand where required and stuck the figure in place. I'm pleased with the result and learnt a little in the process of the build.



Scale 75's Captain Amelia Steam (2)

The bulk of the painting having been done on the body, I next moved onto a little bit of detailing. First of all, I used Army Painter Strong Tone on some parts of the leather strapping that criss-crosses the figure, while on the parts that I thought were supposed to hold the still absent jetpack I stained with some Citadel Nuln Oil. This gave me two different shades of brown leather, which I then distressed by stippling small amounts of Vallejo Flat Brown (70.984) along the edges to give the straps a slightly nibbled appearance. 

After that, I moved on to working on the goggles. These gave me a little trouble as one of the 'lenses', was slightly misshapen. I tried painting it, but it just came out looking rather shabby and I was considering rebuilding it with greenstuff, when I remembered a trick I had read somewhere about using stained Contacta Clear to make bullseye lenses. I painted the lenses black as a background colour and then fished out my small bottle of Contacta Clear and mixed a little Daler Rowney Leaf Green with it, then using a fine brush, I blobbed some of the resulting mix onto the lenses and let them dry. This worked a treat, not only disguising the slightly misshapen edges to the lens, which I disguised further with several layers of brass paint to simulate a ring around the lens, but also giving me the basic green colouring to the lens that I had been hoping to achieve. Some of the black was showing through to nice effect near to the top of the lenses, and though maybe not as perfect as on the Elias Alonso piece, they looked pretty decent. My only addition to this was to run a thin white partial ring of paint around the lower part of the blob of Contacta to simulate the effect of refraction. This I then coated with another thin layer of Contacta. The lenses as can be seen from the first picture are nicely bulbous, though they are rather soft compared to using fillers, so care is needed when handing the model not to damage them.

Yep, they're a bit rubbish.
Jetpack time and back to some straight-forward painting and staining. I had already cleaned up the jetpack and all it and the connecting cables needed was a spray of undercoat. White tacking them to a lollipop stick I quickly blasted then and let them dry. On examining the result I noticed how shabbily cast the cables were and decided fairly quickly that I couldn't be bothered to repair them and would simply replace them with some wire cable. A quick search in our outhouse got me some old headphone wire which did the trick. That sorted, I simply got on with decorating the jetpack, which I quickly painted up in Vallejo Brass and Copper paints, with some old GW Boltgun Metal to add variety. This was then shaded again with Army Painter Strong Tone and left to dry. The jetpack was then easily fitted into place on the back of the figure with super glue and after I had used a small drill bit to widen the receiving holes, the new wire cables fitted into place between the jetpack and the gadgety bits on the figure's arms.



Scale 75's Captain Amelia Steam (1)

Steampunk, eh? It almost seems like a sort of weird joke at science fiction's expense, re-imagining the future from a Victorian standpoint. On reflection, it's easy to see where it stems from, namely those early adventurers into the beyond - Jules Verne and H. G. Wells - plus a few late comers such as Edgar Rice Burroughs. The films later made of their most famous works, shaped their words into telling images and these stand almost as blueprints for modern steampunk gadgetry, be it the Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Cavor's primitive spaceship from The First Men in the Moon, or that wonderful Victorian confection of a time machine in the George Pal  film of the same name, all these feed into the modern styling of the genre, as too do many elements from programmes like Doctor Who. To my mind, at least, the whole 'steampunk' look and sensibility existed long before author K. W. Jeter coined the team.

Though as a history graduate I prefer my Victorian history as nature intended, I must admit to liking the steampunk style, it's fiddly, shiny, brassy look appeals to my magpie nature, and its predilection for strapping comely lasses into interesting if rather restrictive costumes punches all the right buttons too. These two reasons are probably why on my last visit to the IPMS Telford Scale Model World, I splashed some serious cash on one of Scale 75's Platinum Series steampunk figures, a girl in a jetpack, Captain Amelia Steam.

Sculpted by Joaquin Palacios, our curvy captain comes as an eight-piece white metal kit in a well-padded box, with photos showing the figure painted up by award-winning figure painter Elias Alonso. It's a gorgeous rendering, all subtle greens, greys and browns with a few dramatic splashes of colour, plus a nice display of non metallic metal painting... But, let's just forget all that, eh? I'm happy to pay lip service to Mr Alonso's version, but I've neither the skill nor the patience for such super-detailing and as for NMM, I can't see the point of faffing about with it when there are plenty of perfectly good metallic paints out there.

Anyhow, on with the build. As with most metal kits the various parts of the kit required a little tidying up, seams cropping up in the most awkward places needed to be removed and then I made the initial assembly. An arm, a leg and a pistol in its holster were fitted to the body, then that whole assembly was super glued to the cog-like stand. Gaps were filled with Plasto, greenstuff or Zap-a-Gap depending on how troublesome they were, sanded or filed back and for the time being that was it, as I decided to tackle the jet pack and its cables after I had completed most of the main figure. I then drilled a couple of holes in the base, then inserted and glued two cut off paper clips into these ready for mounting on my jeweler's vice.

I undercoated the figure with cheap grey car body primer. For many years I've avoided using spray cans for priming as I had experienced very indifferent results in the past, plus the cans seemed ridiculously expensive. Recently, though, I came across Luke's APS video blogs on YouTube, which addressed both these issues. The blog author takes a pleasantly pragmatic view of painting figures, using the cheapest car body primers and offering tips on getting the best results from them. I won't steal his thunder by going through them, but his videos are well worth a look and certainly enabled me to get much better results with a bargain basement spray can.

Undercoat dry, I then referred to the box art and proceeded to lay down my best guesses at the base colours, the skin, the jacket, jodhpurs, boots, leathers and metals, the flying helmet and goggles and the base. Rather than making her the firey red head she is on the box, though, she went brunette - sorry, just my personal weakness. This stage gave me no major troubles and it was then simply a case of adding shades and extra details, painting her face and d├ęcolletage, etc., then highlighting where it was needed. The beauty of not being given a set of certain paints, though, is that you can experiment or change tack a little with the clothing colour. I did initially try imitating the two-tone stripy effect on Ms Steam's jodhpurs, but could I get the stripes to stay straight and even? The simple answer is 'No', and as I don't consider myself to be serving any sort of scale modeller's penance I quickly gave up and just coated them over with a fawn colour. The choice was fortuitous and gave her a rather Regency/Napoleonic look rather than Victorian and that thought then prompted me to add some pink piping to her jacket to enhance the style - seems to work quite nicely.


ICM 1:35 British Infantry 1914 (3)

Well, what should have been a project I finished last year has been on hold for long enough, and I have finally got around to tackling these World War One boys and am determined to get them finished over the next week or so. Today I finished the officer, a captain, whose insignia underwent a little alteration to make it fit the right period – so much for my boast of being an out-of-the-box model maker!

I've made a start on the first of the three infantrymen too, but they will take a few days especially as work will get in the way.


Master Box 1/24 'Marshal Jessie'

Master Box in the Ukraine have been consistently producing some very good and interesting figure kits over the last few years, not only the stock-in-trade WW2 lines common to most scale model companies, but also ranges covering WW1, the American West, more modern conflicts, civilians, fantasy and even post-apocalyptic ranges, though the latter two could do with a few more additions to make them really interesting – I note with interest an impending centaur, but how about producing some 1/35 wizards, knights or adventurers, Master Box, plus accessories? The model making fraternity would probably bless you for them. Digressions aside, they have also been bringing out a range of female figures, starting initially with a 1/35 kit of WW2 pin-up girls which were then re-released individually at a much more display friendly 1/24 scale. 

This range of ladies has been expanded further still since then with a trio of 1950s pin up girls, a group of sci-fi/fantasy kits, 'Thunder Spirit' and 'Marshal Jessie' (a buxom Red Indian and a rootin', tootin, cowgirl) and much more recently a series christened Dangerous Curves (curvy, shiny women for curvy, shiny cars), plus Bob and Sally (a depressingly generic happy couple). An extra three lasses are in process for the Dangerous Curves series and it will be interesting to see where things go after that. Something a little more grungy would be my preference to add variety to the mix, but that's just me thinking out loud.

For though well sculpted, most of these figures leave me a little cold, since as an out-of-the-box maker and painter I like to have a kit I can get my teeth into and I'm sorry to say but aside from some  minor titillation, girls in bikinis or simple dresses don't really have much to offer me. Two, however, namely Thunder Spirit and Marshal Jessie, immediately stood out from the rest, mostly because they were dressed (albeit barely) in a more interesting manner. Of the two I liked the look of Jessie the best, in her skimpy belty, strappy cowgirl get-up (surely all that leather on bare skin would chafe?) so, yep, you've guessed it, she was to be my date for the next couple of weeks.

The kit comes on one sprue in a large box with a striking if not totally accurate depiction of what the finished figure should look like on the front, but it is enough to give you a taste of what you are in for. On the back are some pictures of an assembled unpainted figure, a colour chart and numbered line drawings of the various parts on the sprue. Here I introduce a note of caution as the numbering of some of the parts is wrong and I had to employ a little deduction at times to figure out what went where. The most notable departures from reality were the chaps or leggings which if memory serves me correctly were numbered the wrong way round. It's a bold model maker who ignores the assembly instructions with a kit, but sometimes you just have to when they don't make sense.

Anyhow, minor construction issues aside I have to say that the kit was a pretty straight-forward build and beyond the normal cleaning up gave me no least until I got to those blasted leggings. After I had finally figured out which part went where (see above!) I had a very devil of a job getting them to fit correctly and indeed stay together long enough for the glue to set. Suffice to say getting the parts to fit involved more bending, checking, refitting, filing, filling and taping into place than they really deserved. As a result of all this attention some of the details became somewhat obscured, such as the lace ties around the leggings and these I had to reconstruct with greenstuff. That, though was the troublesome part in the build; all the rest - arms, hats, guns, straps, tassels, ponytails, etc., - fitted together like a watch.



The built model is quite handsome to look at with its interesting pose and varied accoutrements. I also rather liked the slightly tomboyish look to the figure's face which came out even better when it was painted up. I wonder if the sculptor A. Gagarin was channelling an image of Doris Day as Calamity Jane, but showing a bit more skin when he tackled the project? Whatever the case it works.

Painting her costume was fairly straight-forward and though the colour chart on the back of the box suggested several different browns with which to paint the figure I decided to keep it simple and go with colours that I already owned. Most of the darker leather was initially covered with Humbrol 62 leather which I later painted over with Burnt Sienna artist's paint, though for the fawn coloured bottoms to the leggings I used the Vallejo 860 Medium Fleshtone suggested in the painting instructions, which I already owned. The gun belt was largely done with a base of Daler Rowney Burnt Umber washed several times with Army Painter Strong Tone and Citadel Badad Black wash, with some minor use of Burnt Sienna to highlight. Though I at first painted the pistols with Citadel Mithril Silver, I found they lacked definition, so fell back on my tried and tested combo of Citadel Boltgun Metal gone over with Badad Black. One addition to my paint collection I did go for was the Vallejo 957 Flat Red to use on Jessie's Stetson and cowboy boots. And an excellent colour it is too, one I think will be great for red British tunics from the Napoleonic period. The hat and boots were washed with Citadel Baal Red wash and highlighted with more of the red to even things out. Bingo, barring a few minor matters it was job done.



For a base I utilised a spare 1/16 MiniArt stand, on which I stuck thin cut strips of veneer made from some veneer scraps and spares I recently bought at a marquetry exhibition – get some if you get the chance, they are very useful and often quite cheap. After scoring the surface of the stand I tried sticking these on with PVA, but it was only partially successful, so I did the rest with a cheap contact adhesive. After sanding back the edges of the veneer and taping it over for protection I sprayed the stand black. Jessie was then later easily fitted in place on the stand with some pins super glued into her feet, then into receiving holes in the base.

Andrea Miniatures' 'Technocop 2030'

Technocop 2030Trawling the Historex site is something of a voyeuristic experience for a figure maker and painter like yours truly. There are hundreds of different figures in a variety of scales produced by dozens of different makers, all of which makes choosing the next figure to buy and paint something of a daunting prospect. One of the classiest figure makers is Andrea Miniatures who offer a wide range of white metal kits from 54mm upwards and I had been thinking of tackling one of their kits for some time. I have my eye on a couple of their 75mm historical figures that will make nice future projects, but checking through their 54mm series I came across a number of figures quite obviously modelled after, or at least based on, figures from film and television ... and I was tempted in by these. This one labelled 'Technocop 2030' is obviously based on, the titular character from Paul Verhoeven's violent 1987 sci-fi classic Robocop. As to how closely the figure is modelled after its cinematic equivalent I've not bothered to find out, but it certainly ticks all the boxes from my uncritical standpoint and gave me one of the most pain-free builds I've tackled in a good while.

Counting the base, background and two little pistons that attach to the back of the legs, Technocop is a ten piece kit in white metal that comes in a well stuffed little box that carries numerous useful colour reference photos on the front and back. The parts were pretty cleanly moulded and for the most part required only a very basic tidy up with a craft knife and some fine wet and dry paper. There was a slight encrustation of metal on the right side on the back of the torso, but this was quite easily buffed back with my small engraving tool. The base exhibited a little more flash along the mould lines which needed trimming back, but again this was nothing to write home about and was quickly sorted out.
As to the build, it was simplicity itself, the figure went together without a hitch, bonded quickly with super glue, as too did the two-part stand. Mirroring a scene from the film, the figure is stepping through a large hole in a wall, his gun drawn, presumably intent on sorting out some nefarious malefactors on the other side. The wall here is set leaning backwards at a rather rakish angle, which gives the scene a slightly more interesting look and the figure is married into the correct position by a hole in the base into which a lug on the bottom of his right foot slots. All that is then required is to figure out just where to place Technocop's hand on the wall and you have your two glueing spots for later.

But first the painting. After undercoating I painted the entire base in Humbrol 32 dark grey acrylic and to give it a little more colour drybrushed the whole with Humbrol 93, followed by a lighter drybrushing around the large hole and on some of the surrounding rubble with Citadel Terminatus Stone. When dry the entire base was thoroughly coated in Army Painter Soft Tone to get a little contrast into the nooks and crannies. As the picture on the box had some graffiti painted on the wall I also used a few extra colours to make a few nondescript scribbles on the outer side (reasoning that the back of the stand was inside a building I left it graffiti-free). The edges if the stand and the wall were then painted black and after a coating of Army Painter Anti-Shine it was all put aside while I tackled the figure.
I undercoated the figure in dark grey enamel and the next day painted the black areas (lower torso, gloves, gun, elbows, eye slit and prosthetic jaw) with Humbrol 33 Matt Black and then painted what little of the face you can see in the same manner and with the same GW/Citadel colours referred to in earlier posts. Once painted the face had a noticeably pouty look to it as if he was fishing for a kiss. Before painting the armour I had to go shopping. In the film, our hero's armour has the distict look of blued metal, so I needed a metalic blue to mix with some of my silver acrylics. I had researched two - Humbrol 52 and Humbrol 222 - which I bought at the local model shop a day or so later. That evening I experimented and found that a 2-1 or 3-1 mix of Citadel Mithril Silver and Humbrol 222 gave me the colour I was after. So, when the next free daytime slot appeared I mixed up a puddle of paint on my paper palette and quickly coated all of the armour. This I then coated with Citadel Nuln Oil wash to pick out the lines and details before drybrucking more of the silver-metalic blue mix over it. Later I used raw Mithril Silver on some of the higher details to give them a bit of a lift and provide a highlight. This and a little drybrushing over the black areas with the Humbrol 32 I had used on the base, finished the figure off nicely.
Go on, give us a kiss.

Having buffed back to the metal where the foot and hand would be joined to the base, I stuck Technocop in place with super glue. It was then that I noticed a slight gap under the foot where it didn't fit flush to the base. This I filled with Plasto, but by this time I decided to add a little more rubble to the base as the few lumps that were moulded there seemed rather paltry remains for such a large hole. Rooting around in my supplies box I dug out a bag of small fish tank gravel and some coarse sand and sticking everything in place, first with super glue, then with thinned PVA, I let it all dry over night before painting it up in the same way that I had tackled the base to begin with.
 Technocop 2030

Technocop 2030 Technocop 2030

A fun build, easy, clean and trouble-free. Like the man said, 'I'd buy that for a dollar.'

Pegaso 54 mm Celtic Standard Bearer

With the 2016 IPMS Telford show only a few weeks away, and with another potential bag-full of models in the offing, I decided a few weeks ago to begin work on one of the kits I bought at last years expo, namely this Pegaso Celtic Standard Bearer. The white metal kit came in eight parts in a secure, well padded box with good colour illustrations on the front. Of course, these are only guidelines, you could paint the figure as you please, but as I've stated before for the most part I'm an out-of-the-box model maker and am quite happy to paint the figure as the maker intended.
Though this is the first Pegaso figure I've ever tackled, I don't think that it will be the last as the modelling of the figure, by Pietro Balloni  is excellent and assembly was a doddle. After a little tidying up – filing back a few minor mould lines and a little flash everything fitted together extremely well and only a small amount of filling was required, most notably where the cloak joins the collar; a little bit of Plasto doing the trick. The only minor problem I had during the build was the final assembly and gluing of the staff + hands/arms combination. Being all scrunched up against one shoulder and with the several parts coming in from different angles it was rather tricky to get everything together successfully, but the job was made doubly difficult by my using superglue to stick the metal parts together. We've all suffered the indignities inflicted by superglue, I'm sure – sticking bits to the wrong part, or getting a bad fitting which sets rock hard before you get a chance to correct the problem. Then there is the constant threat of an explosion of superglue over you fingers making you as dangerous as Midas, unable to touch anything. The only option when this happens is to instantly adopt a 'jazz hands' pose and take a trip to the sink. I have heard that rubbing Vaseline on your hands before using superglue is a good preventative, but not having any Vaseline to apply to see if this was indeed true, I diced with danger as normal. As it turned out, despite the difficulty, the glue cooperated and I managed to get all the parts in place before it set hard and I didn't get any glue on me at all, which must be a first.

Once fully assembled the figure was undercoated in Humbrol 61 Flesh enamel and allowed to dry overnight, or rather over several days as work intervened to keep me from my hobby. To constantly go over my painting techniques can get rather monotonous, so from now on I shall limit myself to listing the colours used at the end of the article. Suffice to say the flesh and clothing was painted in my usual fashion, the block colours being shaded with thinned Army Painter Strong Tone and occasionally highlighted with a brighter colour, for instance the figure's crimson tunic was highlighted with a mix of Citadel Gore Red and the brighter Blood Red to give it a little more brightness. One interesting feature of this figure is the black and white chequerboard pattern around the hem and sleeves of the figure's tunic. To get this how I wanted it I first painted a white band where this was to go, pencilled the pattern in and then simply painted the black squares in. There were a few slips of the hand, but it was easy enough to tidy up the mistakes. Then in places where a fold or shadow occurred I shaded the white squares with the Pale Grey wash that proved so useful during my ICM British Grenadier Guard build. I also enjoyed toying with the bronze and gold ornaments and armour on the figure and the boar standard atop the staff; Army Painter Strong Tone used neat gives bronze a nice dulling effect, which I shall use in future.

Then the stand... ah, the stand. I'm usually rubbish at doing bases, but I was determined this time to produce something decent. The figure came with a small, round metal base which was nice enough and might have sufficed on its own normally, but I wanted to make use of the last of the small bases that I had also purchased at Telford last year. So the round base would simply be used as a foundation around which I would build a bigger base out of some quick drying interior filler which I bought from Wilkos. It was a bugger of a job to squeeze the stuff out, even with two hands together pressing down on the tube as if I was giving it CPR, but I quickly pasted it into place on top of the stand. I had previously glued the metal base to the wooden stand and put masking tape around the wooden sides to keep them clean. After sculpting it into something decent I let it cure and sure enough it was quick drying and by the end of the day was pretty solid.

On its own the figure looked a little lonely on it's stand, so before doing any groundwork I cannibalised an old resin 35 mm stand which had an interesting tree bough on it. Sawing this off, I stuck it on the stand and then liberally coated everything with enamel paint. Once this was dry to the touch I did the ground with Citadel textured paints, Stirland Mud for the soil and some Lustrian Undergrowth to simulate moss on the tree bough. The bough itself was painted largely in Humbrol 110 Natural Wood dappled with Humbrol 86 and 102 and heavily coated with Army Painter Strong tone before highlighting again with Humbrol 110. The icing on the cake, though, was the grass-work, which barring some tidying up was the last thing done. In the past I have used railway scatter to simulate grass with very mixed results, but have since then discovered the joys of grass tufts, which can be bought fairly cheaply off several internet suppliers, in my case on eBay. I had previously used round grass tufts on the base of my English pikeman, but had found that more irregular shapes were also produced, so had bought a set which I now used to best effect. The mixed shapes enabled me to fit the grass tufts tightly around the feet of the figure and around the tree bough as well as covering the rest of the ground beautifully. These stick very firmly in place and though you need to use tweezers to manipulate them they are a great model maker's resource.

The masking tape was peeled away from the base and after a little titivating all was done.

Colours used

Face/skin: Games Workshop/Citadel Tanned Flesh, Dwarf Flesh, Elf Flesh, Daler Rowney Flesh Tint.

Tunic: Games Workshop/Citadel Gore Red, Blood Red, Vallejo Model Colour 70.820 Off White, Humbrol 33 Black acrylic.

Trousers: Games Workshop/Citadel Ungor Flesh.

Shoes: Daler Rowney Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna.

Gold: Games Workshop/Citadel Shining Gold and Burnished Gold.

Bronze: Vallejo Model Colour 70998 Bronze.

Staff, belt and scabbard: Games Workshop/Citadel Bestial Brown.

Cloak: Humbrol 32 (Dark Grey), Humbrol 33 (Black), Games Workshop/Citadel Ultramarines Blue, Dulux Roasted Red.

Helmet: Games Workshop/Citadel Boltgun Metal and Milthril Silver.

Textured Paints: Games Workshop/Citadel Stirland Mud, Lustrian Undergrowth.

Shades: Army Painter Strong Tone, Vallejo Game Colour Wash 73.202 Pale Grey.

Varnish: Army Painter Anti Shine (non-metalic parts only).