Master Box Yankee Scout (minus Tracker)

Christmas is out of the way and though still rather stressed and weary I can now to some extent concentrate on my model making again. I have several kits on the go at the moment, some, like this one, half finished. Master Box are another relatively new model company, but like Mini Art they are producing some interesting kits. One that immediately caught my attention when I saw it, was this one of a Yankee cavalry scout with a red Indian tracker, presumably hot on the trail some Confederate soldiers or marauding Sioux or Cheyenne. It was a scene straight out of the innumerable cowboy films I watched when I was a kid and of course became a must-have. This was also the first kit I purchased online from Hannants, who sent it very quickly.
 
 
 
 
I have actually had this kit for some time and at one point had nearly finished the Indian tracker and his own horse too and completed the kit, but made something of a mess of the latter so I invested in another box so I could finally finish it off. With one thing and another, though, just lately a lot of things have been put on the backburner. I do hope to get the Indian done sometime soon, but thought I'd post a picture of the work so far, namely the Union cavalryman astride his horse.
 
My first impressions of the kit out of the box were favourable. There was very little flash and the prep work was pretty straight forward as regards cleaning off seams, etc., with very little filling needed, plus all the parts fitted together well. I particularly liked the add-on portion of belt to the strap across his chest which saved having to make an additional part myself which would probably have looked rather poor compared to the rest of the figure.
 
And the figure is very nicely modelled and despite the scale difference the sculpting reminds me to some degree of the style of the old Airfix WW2 multipose kits. I have to say, the cavalryman sits in the saddle in quite a relaxed, naturalistic way and there is some leeway in his pose, with a hand resting on the blanket to his front or rear, both of which look equally good. The cavalryman also has a choice of headgear, either the wide brimmed type I have used, or the small peaked cap that can be seen on the box artwork.
 



 
 
The figure painted up very easily, all the accoutrements making a nice addition to the figure scattered around the saddle, though some of these do really need to be tackled separately before being stuck on. When I get to have a good look at my paints I'll note down here what colours I used on this kit, they were for the most part good approximations of the colours suggested on the box.
 
My only reservations were a small niggle with the uniform which I knew straight away to be wrong in that the torso had shoulder tabs for an officer, but chevrons on the sleeve for a senior sergeant, so the tabs had to go. There is also, I feel, something wrong with his horse's head; perhaps the head is too big, I don't know, but it annoys me somehow.
 
As can be seen, I've used an old light switch plate again for the base covered in 'grass', which looks pretty good, though I will have to mess it up a little once the missing scout and his nag are in place.

Miniart Gladiator Finished

Another day, another model completed, though it was touch and go whether I would have got it finished today as I got called into work last minute, but managed to get away early and photograph my model before the light faded. Over the weekend I had fixed the dangly leather thongs to the gladiator's sword arm, decorated these plus the model's hands and its sword, all of which were easily painted. The shield was then attached to the figure. The next stage was to coat the light socket plate that I had bought as a base, with some cheap wood filler that I also obtained from Wilkinsons. After deciding how to place the figure, as its feet are hollow I was able to put a pad of filler under each foot, which would act as an anchor for them. The base was allowed to dry overnight and the next morning I used superglue to fix the gladiator in place.
 
Preparing the base
 
The base was then coated with white glue which I spread liberally over the surface. I left this quite thick as this would enable me to sculpt it a little as it dried. I then got a bag of sand out of my storage box under the bed and scattered this over the surface of the glue, patting it down to thoroughly cover the surface, the excess being tipped off. I had checked, with a quick search on the internet, what did actually coat the floor of an arena and sure enough it was sand, the Coliseum in Rome having a layer of about 6 inches of sand over a wooden floor. The yellow sand used was called harena in Latin, from which the word arena is derived; interesting.
 
On its own, though just a base of sand was rather boring so I coated some parts with patches of blood using Citadel Gore Red, Blood Red and Doombull Brown to simulate it, also putting a little on the sword too. I also stained parts of the sand with thinned down Army Painter Soft Tone to provide a little contrast. Now it looks like a rain shower has dampened the sand, but not enough to stop play.
 
And apart from painting the edge of the base in black enamel and then Citadel Chaos Black and then some general touching up, that was it, and a very satisfying build it has been too. There have been a few surprises and changes of course along the way, but that's model making for you. See the results below
 
Now, what to do next?
 
 



 

Miniart Gladiator (10)

I'll make this the penultimate post on this model, leaving descriptions of the last assembly and basing until it's finished. I've now put the figure's hands in place and will decorate these over the next few days and hopefully by Monday the figure should be done.
 
 
 
Today I've concentrated mostly on painting and placing the decal on the gladiator's large rectangular shield. After cutting the shield free of its sprue and tidying it up, I quickly walloped it with Citadel white base and when this was dry I gave it a couple of coats of Citadel Ungor Flesh. I've no idea what an ungor is, or if I'd want to be pals with one, but the yellowish-ochre colour of its flesh is just a slightly darker hue to the yellow depicted on the gladiator's shield on the box art. I also gave the metal boss in the centre of the shield and the metal trim around it a coat of GW Boltgun Metal. This I allowed to dry overnight.
 
 
 
This afternoon it was time to grasp the nettle and tackle the decal. I've mentioned before that Miniart decals are one of the poorer parts of these otherwise very engaging models, being thin and prone to tearing. I was in half a mind to cut the transfer in two and assemble it in situ a piece at a time, but in the end I decided to go for putting the decal in place in one go. After soaking it in water for about a minute, I slid it off the backing paper onto the shield and to my pleasant surprise and relief, it went on without tearing. A couple of the corners turned over and there was some creasing, but after carefully unpeeling these and stretching the decal into the corners and edges of the shield, things looked much better. I then dabbed away the excess water with a cotton ball and coated the shield with Revell Decal Soft. This softens the plastic backing, making the transfer more malleable and it is easier to flatten or straighten out any kinks as a result.
 

 
 
One this was dry I gave the shield a coat of our old friend Pledge Floor Wax. This does two things; it makes the whole surface of the painted shield and decal shiny and also makes the surface more uniform, making it less obvious where the transfer begins and the real surface ends. I wasn't bothered by the shiny surface as I knew I was going to be applying Army Painter Soft Tone, which will make the shield rather grimy and give it a matt finish.
 
Before that, though, the shield needed to look as if it had been through the wars, so once the wax was dry I scored lines into the surface with a craft knife. Not too many to obscure the design, but enough to look like it had seen service. I knew that the Soft Tone would settle in these nicely, making them more visible on the surface. Here it still looks damp, but it has since dried off to a nice matt state.
 
 
 
All that remains now are a few straps to be fixed the padded arm, the painting of the two hands, fixing the shield in place and then final assembly of the base.
 
 

Miniart Gladiator (9)

Well, after painting on the Pledge last night, I soon changed my mind as the resulting figure looked like shiny plastic, so I had to lightly wipe the wax off with some white spirit. Actually it did some good as once the wax was removed I noticed a few thin patches in the paint, which I touched up this morning. I think the Pledge can be used to simulate sweat, but used more strategically. I shall have to experiment.
 
That aside, today has been a day of simple assembly and just a little decorating. I glued the gladiator's helmet and face mask in place and put a little shine along the edges and on the raised surfaces with one of those gold marker pens. Instead of using my acrylics, while I had them out I used my oil paints to do some highlighting work on the leather boot and bracer. The straps on the leg padding were painted and I have painted and glued in place the loose piece of the loin cloth. There was a gap between this and the main body, but as this was very slight I used some Citadel Liquid Green Stuff to fill in he gap. When dry, I painted this white then used my tester pot red on it.
 
Next I'll tackle the shield and sword. Meantime, here are some pictures of the figure thus far. 


drawing on a highlight with a gold marker pen.

 
 


Miniart Gladiator (8)

I've been doing a little reading up on gladiators as they're not really a subject I know much about. Apparently the character in this model is a myrmillo or murmillo type of gladiator, just one of numerous types pitted against each other in the arena to provide a bit of variety to the contests. It seems that despite the reputation of the arena, not all gladiators met a grisly end, quite a lot reached retirement as each man or woman was a considerable investment for their trainers, not lightly cast aside. Not all of them were slaves or prisoners of war either, some men and women even volunteered to become gladiators. The perks of the job? They were the well-muscled sports stars of the day, who got the female spectators into quite a lather. One story I read was that the oiled sweaty bodies of gladiators were regularly scraped clean with strigils, and the resulting liquid mess was then collected and sold as an aphrodisiac! Gladiator scrapings, whatever next.
 
Anyhow, that amusing history lesson aside, the model has moved on a little. I have repainted the model to a slightly more tanned hue in the same way as before, only this time I mixed in a little Burnt Umber into the flesh tone mix, which seems to have worked nicely. I have also begun to start painting the padding on the right arm and left leg, as well as the leather boot and wrist strap on the opposite limbs. The padding, I painted with Citadel Bleached Bone paint, which after drying was coated with Army Painter Soft Tone ink to get into all the recesses. As I'm painting towards a light source, I've painted pure Bleached Bone along the uppermost sides of the now stained padding to give it all some definition. The leather has been done in the same way as the leather pieces on my earlier figure of Nausicaa, first Humbrol Leather, covered with a coat of Burnt Sienna artists' paint and stained with Army Painter Strong Tone ink.
 
Add Burnt Umber for that all-over tan.

At work on the padding.
 
 
I have also made a start on the gladiator's helmet and face mask. First, I painted the pieces with Citadel Chaos Black and then with several layers of Vallejo Bronze paint. As can be seen from the pictures this has produced a rather bright bronze effect, which I have since toned down with a coat of Army Painter Soft Tone.
 
 
 
Bearing in mind the story about gladiators being scraped down I've decided to coat the skin parts of my figure with some Pledge Multi-Surface Wax. This will give the figure a slight oily sheen that will drive the Roman girls wild.
 
 

Miniart Gladiator (7)

Making this model seems to be turning into something of a mini series, but I'm enjoying myself, and it's good to keep a record of how the build is progressing. Truth to be told, I'm posting this entry two days late and I've done some significant extra work on the model since then, but I'll cover that in the next post.
 
In this post I'm putting in a few images of the first bit of non-skin painting on the model, namely the figure's loin cloth and belt. To paint the clothing I could have chosen any paint I liked, acrylic, enamel, oil paint, etc., but I had already decided that I was actually going to use the Roasted Red paint from a Dulux tester pot. Anyone reading my earlier post on the Miniart Roman Legionary will have seen that I have previously used blue from a tester pot to paint the figure's long tunic. I did actually use this particular red colour on that model in a small way, namely on the neck cloth, but this time it would be the star of the show.
 
Always keep an open mind re paint.
 
Painted over the white base paint, the red went on easily and gave good coverage with very little effort. Contrary to what you might expect these paints are perfectly stable on a model and I think the slight roughness they have gives cloth especially a nice homespun look. Anyhow, I digress. The cloth done, I then painted the belt with my Vallejo bronze paint and set the figure aside to dry. One this was done I then coated the cloth with a liberal amount of Army Painter Soft Tone ink (note to self: need to order some more Army Painter inks - getting low). When dried this had settled into the folds of the cloth, shading it nicely and giving the formerly satin-ish cloth a matt finish.

Army Painter Soft Tone goes on
 
Leave to dry

The finished product.

When the entirety was dry, I went over the cloth with more red paint and mixing a very small amount of tester pot white with the Roasted Red, I then highlighted some parts of the cloth to provide a little definition.
 
Having done this, later that day something occurred to me; this geezer is supposed to be a Mediterranean type, but he looks like a pasty skinned northerner like yours truly; he needs a tan. Cue the oil paints once more.

Miniart Gladiator (6)

In the better light this morning I took stock of my painting yesterday and found that in places the colour on the gladiator was a little patchy and the colours rather stark. So, I got my paint and brushes out once more and did a little tidying up.

The most notable thing was that the areas of Burnt Sienna and flesh tone were too contrasted, so I toned the darker areas down with a thin glaze of flesh tone thinned with white spirit. This effectively muted the darker tones which now showed through the glaze as under painting, giving a slightly more pleasing effect across the legs and torso.

The painting has given the figure a slightly 'hairy' looking texture, so later today I might clean back some of that with a little white spirit.

And the lesson to be learnt from this, Mr Day? Don't try painting in half light.








Miniart Gladiator (5)

Painting; always the fun bit, especially if you get to use artists' oil paints. I find that oils really are the best medium for painting skin on larger figures such as this, not only for the texture and sheen, but also the sheer flexibility of the paint. Let's face it, hundreds of years of world art done in oils speaks for itself. Also for blending there really is nothing to touch oil paint and as the paint stays wet for a few days, if you are not satisfied with the result there is the option of changing it, as well as painting over it.
 
Some people approach painting skin, though, with some trepidation. This is understandable as if you get it wrong then it can ruin or spoil an otherwise beautifully painted model. Certainly it is tricky with enamels and acrylics, but oils again make life easy and I have a quick method of getting (for me, anyway) satisfactory results.
 
After laying down the suitable base colour, in this case the Humbrol flesh tone I painted on my gladiator figure yesterday, this afternoon, I opened a tube of Burnt Sienna paint. Squeezing out a small amount, I thined it a little with some white spirit and then quickly painted the colour into the creases and hollows of the muscles and wherever they met with clothing. Once this was done I squeezed out some white and ochre. I mixed the Burnt Sienna and white approximately half and half and added a little ochre to colour. This gave me a shade pretty close to the Humbrol flesh tone. This I then liberally paint into the spaces between the Burnt Sienna I had painted on earlier.
 
 
 
At this point think about where your light source is coming from. Perhaps the easiest is from straight above. With this in mind you can start to blend the two colours along their edges, keeping the darker Sienna in the folds under the muscles more than on the top. This is the bit I always find the most satisfying, as you can see the results appearing before your eyes, while the malleability of the paint allows you to experiment a little. Dollops of more Burnt Sienna or your patent flesh tone can be added as desired. When I was satisfied with the overall paint job, I then added a few bits of purer white or white and ochre mixed to highlight the tops of the muscles to give them a slight sheen.
 

 
 
And that, as they say, was that. All that was then required was some minor tidying up, plus I mixed some crimson and Sienna to dot the gladiator's nipples and redden his lips. Normally with a model I would spend quite a while getting the face just right, but as the figures face will be hidden behind a face mask I'm not too fussed over getting this as detailed as I normally would.
 
As noted, in many ways painting with oils is a plus. On the downside, though, I will now have to wait a few days for the paint to dry before I can do any more work on it. The figure doesn't look too bad, though, so far. The pictures here are perhaps a little more orange than they should be, as I took them late in the evening with the light on.