Monday, 17 June 2013

Babes: Jo and Asuka

Being male and because it's the way I'm wired, occasionally I do like to take a break from military or macho sci-fi subjects and indulge myself with something curvier, sexier and much more female. I often regret that I never got around to doing the famous latex or leather-clad Michelle Pfeiffer 'Catwoman' figure that came out in the 1980's, though you can still get these if you're lucky and have a good sized budget (which, alas, I don't). Nevertheless, there are still some pretty good female figures out there to keep a fellow good of an evening.

Over the last few years I have purchased a few figures from an internet supplier, E2046, who originally operated out of Hong Kong and now also out of China. They supply a range of resin kits and pre-painted models from traditional Japanese Mecha, a very few male models, and a very wide range of busty, curvy, leggy things that range from the shamelessly pornographic to the merely decorative. Many of these are manga or anime inspired, but others are simply male fantasies given resin form. Hobbyfan in the States seem to offer a similar service, though I have yet to order anything from them.

The first E2046 figure I did was that of Jo, the major character from the anime Burst Angel, a gunslinging girl from a dystopian future Japan. I chose this one as I knew the character and because of the figures available it was fairly cheap, my reasoning being that if the model was poor quality then I'd not lost much. After ordering the figure I had to wait what seemed like an age before it finally arrived, it must have been nearly a month, but the figure was worth the wait as it turned out to be excellent.

The model comes in 25 pieces and is delivered in a sturdy plastic box with an instruction sheet and a photo of a finished model as a colour guide. The pieces went together very easily,  though being a resin figure, the only thing that holds it together effectively are pins and super glue. It needed only a little tidying up, and as far as I can recall I did not need to do any filling with this figure. I took a while painting her in the appropriate colours, but gave her a red scarf instead of the cream one depicted (I had red, but no cream at the time). I kept the colours cartoony and only had a few minor problems - fitting the neck strap for her jacket was a fiddly business and the curious purple 'feather mark' tattoo on her left arm and shoulder took some doing, but otherwise it went together and painted up like a dream. I fashioned a wooden floor style base out of some lollipop sticks from a crafting store and then had to put two screws through the base up into her feet to hold the figure rigid. Voila, a figure to be proud of.

Jo is noticeably flat chested, so for my next figure I went for something busty and on seeing the figure I plumped for a model of Asuka in her plugsuit, part of Shunya Yamashita's range of models offered by E2046. In the Japanese anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Asuka Langley is an annoying brat of a girl, one of the teenage pilots of a group of giant robots known as Evas that are used to battle alien invaders, and the plugsuit is a costume that quite literally plugs her into the machine. In the series its an all-over costume and Asuka is aged about 16 and you can get figures depicting her as such, but I can't be doing with that Lolita stuff. This figure, though, shows a much older Asuka who has filled out nicely and is barely fitting into a rather too tight plugsuit.

Like the figure of Jo, it is a 1/6 scale figure, standing just under 26 cm tall and comprises 17 separate pieces. The figure is beautifully modelled, though the coquettish pose is rather curious (someone said to me that she looked like she need to go to the toilet) and the hair and ribbons can be tricky to assemble, but they are minor problems. Besides the obvious attractions of this model for any red-blooded male, if decorated as suggested the model has a further incredible 'wow' factor with the bright reds, oranges and yellows it can be painted up in, and it was this which had originally attracted me to the kit. Like Jo, the figure did not come with a stand (you only get stands with the pre-painted figures), so I cannibalised an old Star Trek transporter stand that had formerly supported a figure of Mr Spock. And so, once again, I have another very nice figure for my collection.

It's also my father's favourite figure for some reason, I can't imagine why...

Friday, 14 June 2013

Nausicaa on Kai continued (3)

Well, after over a week away from home I am back, suitably refreshed but suffering model maker's withdrawal symptoms. Despite saying that I would return home with more kits, surprisingly I haven't, which must be a first for me. The weather was very pleasant whilst I was away and that proved too much of a distraction, seeing as for most of the year thus far, Britain has hardly had anything that might be described as proper spring-like or summery weather, I was loathe to miss out on it. Now, though, right on cue, I get back home and within a few days the sun disappears, the grey clouds return; time to settle down with a model once again.


First priority is my figure of Nausicaa on Kai, which I had assembled more of prior to my departure. I had previously stuck on the saddle bags and then put the girl's gun in her hand. The rifle has a projecting lug which is supposed to marry into a corresponding hole in Nausicaa's right hand, but here I encountered my first real difficulty with the figure as I could not get the two to fit together snugly. After a number of tries I finally decided to cut the lug off and fit the gun in place directly against her hand. This was not easy as the pieces had not been designed for direct contact and I needed to do some rather fine filing before I managed to get a satisfactory fit. The thumb and fingers on the hand had taken a bit of a battering in the process and once I had the gun glued in place I repaired them (and extended the thumb slightly, as it was a bit stumpy) with some Humbrol Plasto.

Once the gun had been glued into place (note, for rigidity it really needs to be glued down on the tunic too) I got out my spools of crafting wire and slipping some of this through the holes I had earlier drilled in the rifle mountings, I created two small rings by shaping the wire around a toothpick then clipping the excess off with a pair of nail clippers. These rings would hold the rifle sling, which I had originally intended to make out of a strip of Milliput as I had done with the stirrups. But, remembering how easily one of the Milliput stirrups had broken earlier in the build, I then thought about using a paper strip stiffened with white glue or plastic soup (plastic melted in liquid polystyrene). I attempted this, but the effect was rather poor. Then I found out a thin piece of plastic sheet and cutting a strip I carefully warmed and bent it with the heat from my desk lamp. Managing eventually to get a shape that would fit neatly through the metal rings I put the strap in place then bent the ends around the rings by carefully applying my pyrogravure to the plastic. Using a hot tool with plastic calls for patience and good judgement as it's easy to overdo it and melt the plastic into a shapeless blob. Little and often is the best approach, I think.

The strap was in place and with a little glue and some pressure with my tweezers the ends were sealed in place... hooray! For two days I was satisfied, but after that I began to dislike how the strap stuck forward so conspicuously. It seemed out of place as Kai is depicted running, and even the thickest strap would be blowing in the wind. So, out came my pyrogravure once more and after half an hour's careful heating and bending I got it into the slightly more wind-blown state seen in the pictures. I then applied glue to the rings to hold them rigid and then painted the rings in Games Workshop's Boltgun Metal, shaded with Nuln Oil, while the strap was done in Citadel White Base shaded with Army Painter Soft Tone ink.

Next to be fitted were the reins. In the instructions you are told to fit the reins in the hands before putting the rider in the saddle, but I had not done this as I had originally intended to replace the rather bulky-looking reins with something thinner. Perhaps the trouble with the rifle sling had made me wary of attempting this, though, as using the supplied reins now seemed the easier option. I now discovered why it would have been best to fit them in place before assembly, as it took some time and a great deal of cursing before I finally got them in place in Nausicaa's hand and on Kai's head. The painting also had to be done very carefully as the reins came very close to Nausicaa's tunic. Anyhow, the reins were painted in Humbrol red acrylic, then shaded with Army Painter Soft Tone.

It was probably the same idleness on my part that prompted me to use the 'manga' style eye decals that the kit was supplied with. The transfer sheet thoughtfully has three pairs of eyes and eyebrows, just in case you make a mistake, but with my magnifying goggles on and with a little Decal Soft and a toothpick, I managed to float the first pair I cut out into place. I didn't bother with the eyebrows, simply painting these on, but I was pleasantly surprised how good the eyes looked despite my initial misgivings when I first got the model. My only gripe was that they were still rather large, so slipping the highest magnification lenses into my goggles I then carefully painted a thin line of Humbrol Flesh Tone under each eye, which diminished the 'wide-eyed' effect quite nicely.

As can be seen in some of these pictures I have also fitted Nausicaa's long sword into place, but I'll leave descriptions of the final fittings and painting until later.