Sunday, 19 May 2013

Mini Art (1): Roman Legionary



I have to admit to being a big fan of Mini Art models, specifically their 1:16 historical figures and I'm on my sixth kit, a French knight. However, before I get on to talking about that project I'll post a few pictures of some of my older models. The first figure I tackled was their Spartan warrior, but I made something of a bodged job of that one and have yet to photograph it, but the second one I made turned out quite nicely. This was their 2nd Century Roman Legionary. Following the Roman theme there is also a 1st Century Roman Legionary and a Praetorian Guardsman in their 1:16 collection, but I chose the 2nd Century figure as it came supplied with the famous rectangular shield and the Roman pilum, or throwing spear. I liked the overall look of the model and spent quite a long time on its construction and painting, often putting it aside whilst I worked on other kits.

Like all of the Mini Art kits I've assembled, there were a few issues with pieces fitting together correctly and gaps to be filled in, etc. Personally, that kind of stuff does not bother me too much, I regard the effort I have to put into correcting any such problems as part of the fun in assembling a model kit. I've read some reviews of kits that complain  at some length about such problems as if it was the end of the world because there is a gap or two to be sorted out; big deal, fill it, sand it back and move on. Equally, I'm not all that concerned about researching whether a model is historically accurate, for the most part I'm pleased to assemble and paint the figure as the original modeller intended. I have nothing against experimentation or originality or historical accuracy come to that, it's just my personal taste. Saying that, I did take some effort in getting the baldrick suspending the legionary's sword just right, but this was more to do with getting the sword to look as if it was hanging correctly. The strap as it stood did not look right and I carved some of it away, replacing it with a new belt made from thin flattened strips of Milliput.

What do I recall about decorating this model? Firstly, this was where I switched to painting faces with artist's oil paints, which do give a much more defined skin-like finish and this figure has a face with real character, so it was a pleasure to paint it. The only problem with oils is that the paint takes about three days to dry, but patience is a virtue best cultivated. This kit was also the first one where I started using acrylic paints, notably Games Workshop acrylics with their many curious names (though the latest incarnation of these otherwise excellent paints have been christened with even more bizarre titles e.g. 'Doombull Brown' - what the hell..?) Take a look at the tunic; is that Ultramarines Blue? Nope, actually its a similar dark blue emulsion from a Dulux tester pot, I painted the tunic with it before taking a visit to the local Games Workshop store, but was so pleased with the result, which had a rather rough, fibrous look like homespun cloth, that I kept the colour, shading it in the old fashioned way with matt black enamel thinned in white spirit as I had yet to discover the joy of Citadel inks. The lorica segmentata armour, though is painted almost entirely with GW and Citadel acrylics, as are the helmet, pilum and the figure's arms and legs.

The trickiest part was undoubtedly the legionary's shield. The difficulty was not the painting, easy peasy; over a black undercoat I walloped it with dark green inside, tester pot blue outside, a mixture of GW golds for the trim and Boltgun Metal for the boss, shading it all again with thinned black enamel. No, the trouble was the decal, which I have to say was a real pain. I've seen many modellers complaining about Mini Art decals, some even discard them and leave their models plain in disgust. I do have to agree, the decals are very thin and have a nasty habit of just breaking apart almost for the fun of it. This model came with a single large decal for the shield  which had a central hexagonal gap for the shield boss, but when I tried to apply it the transfer broke into at least half a dozen separate pieces which had to be carefully re-aligned with lots of water and a great deal of swearing. In the process some of the decal edges gained a rather 'nibbled' look with my prodding them about with a cocktail stick and I had to don my magnifying glasses and touch them up with an appropriate colour.

Despite these problems I have to say that when finished the Mini Art 2nd Century Roman Legionary makes for a very handsome figurine and is well worth the time and effort you have to put in to get it right. The only thing I must get around to sorting out sometime soon is the rather pathetic bit of basing I did for it with some model railway scatter instead of some better grass. I think I must have been having a bad day when I did that.

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