Monday, 21 March 2016

ICM 1:16 British Grenadier Queen's Guards Finished

As predicted, most of the remaining work on my Guardsman figure was done over a couple of evenings, though I did leave the most detailed work until yesterday as I needed much better light. Sure enough, nature delivered the goods again, supplying another fine sunny day for the first day of spring. Just the ticket.

The largest job was finishing off the soldier's trousers and painting in the thin red stripe up each leg. I thought this might be tricky, but actually it took much less effort than I thought it would. I had undercoated the legs in Humbrol 104 (Oxford Blue) enamel and left the figure overnight. The next day I again pencilled in the lines where the stripes would go and once I was satisfied I cut some masking tape into thin strips and outlined the stripe down the leg and so stencilled in first a white line before overpainting in red, the white line making the red much brighter than it would be over blue. The rest of the trousers were then painted with a 2 to 1 mix of the same Humbrol 104 (albeit acrylic this time) and Humbrol 33 (matt black). Taking a biggish brush, I then painted the colour on very liberally, finally finishing off around the stripes with a finer brush. I'm still not sure the blue is truly dark enough, but I'm happy with the result.

Having glued the figure to the base after finishing the trousers I let it dry overnight and yesterday I painted the bayonet sheath and the epaulettes. These had already been undercoated in enamel and I did most of the painting whilst they were still on the sprue. The bayonet sheath was a doddle, a white top coat with added gold enamel details and some of the Vallejo Grey Wash to shade, and it was done and soon stuck in place. The epaulettes, though took a little longer. First I roughly painted the white piping on the edges then carefully painted the same dark blue mix that I had used for the trousers (I had by this time also used the same colour on the cuffs and collar). I find that the easiest way to paint piping is to paint the piping colour on first then carefully pare it back with the main colour; it is much easier than trying to paint a uniform thin straight line.
 

 
 

Then came the garter, crown and cypher motif on the epaulettes and this was the trickiest part as even with my biggest magnification goggle lenses on, I was attempting to paint a reasonable amount of detail in a very, very small space, first painting in a solid white form before detailing it in blue. As it was all very fiddly I decided to take an 'expressionist' attitude to my painting of these; I'm not knackering my eyesight or fraying my nerves any more than I have to. There was a slight problem when I fitted the epaulettes to the shoulders as they stood rather pround of the shoulder at the arm end and I mused that it would have been much easier if I had fitted them in place at the start of the build – a lesson for the future. Anyhow, a little Plasto and some fine sanding an hour later sorted the problem out and after touching up the paint and applying a coat of Army Painter Anti-Shine to the clothing parts, the model was finished.

All in all it has been a very satisfying and fun build, ending with a good display piece. ICM have produced a kit that for the most part fits together extremely well, requires little work and is (so far as I can tell) very accurately modelled, kudos to them. Though in a perfect world I would have preferred a more animated figure, marching perhaps, the formality of the pose is perfectly in keeping with the subject matter, so I have no major issues with that and it was nice to paint a 'clean' figure which I did not then need to weather excessively. A bit of British army 'bull' instead of battlefield grime made for a pleasant change of pace and I'm now looking forward to tackling the other formal figures in this series.

Pictures...
 
   
 
 
 
   
  
 




Friday, 18 March 2016

ICM 1:16 British Grenadier Queen's Guards (5)

This will be my penultimate post on this figure as I suspect I'll get the rest out of the way this evening and after work tomorrow, so may be able to put some pictures of the completely finished figure here on my blog on Sunday or Monday. Today has been spent painting the cuff and tail details as well as adding some more contrast to the Guardsman's white belt. I had painted the scalloped cuffs with Humbrol 104 (Oxford Blue) last night and today painted the white patches and piping, leaving the blue lines in the hollows. Before painting the buttons, though, I decided to use one of my more recent (and very useful) purchases, a bottle of Vallejo Pale Grey wash to outline the buttons and also the various parts of the belt. This looks like pale grey water when you pipe it out onto your palette, but dries to a nice thin and very subtle shade (as can be seen in the first photo) which is much less harsh than using a normal black wash like say the Citadel Nuln Oil. It provides just enough contrast to attract the eye without looking too severe. I recently used it on a set of German troops in winter gear and found that it flowed beautifully into all the nooks and crannies of the white uniforms. I recommend it. The buttons were again painted with Humbrol gold enamel but then given some highlights with GW Burnished Gold to perk them up a little. The same was done with the buttons and patches on the coat tail.
 
Vallejo Pale Grey wash - mega useful!
 

Cuffs, tails and buttons done.
 
Since yesterday I have glued the bearskin in place and painted the rifle's weather covers in the appropriate colour (Humbrol 85 Coal Black) and so all that now remains to be done are the epaulettes, the bayonet sheath and I need to finish the figure's trousers and paint in the thin red stripe down each leg, which may be the trickiest part. As the base is all done all that is needed after that is a good coat of matt varnish to cut down on the glossiness of the painting and I can finally stick everything together.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

ICM 1:16 British Grenadier Queen's Guards (4)

Two days at work slowed me down a little, but I continued plugging away at my Guardsman figure in the evening. But even modern lighting cannot match good natural daylight, so I have waited until today (another largely sunny day) to do the more detailed work on the figure, which was mostly on the tunic. I fitted the arms yesterday and after tidying the joins up this morning I undercoated them and this afternoon applied the top coat before moving on to the more detailed stuff.
 
I picked out the belt and buttons in Vallejo 70.820 Off White as I'll be using pure white as a highlight, plus its not so eye-poppingly white as to set alarm bells ringing in any viewer. I had previously used the same colour for the piping to the tunic and will use it again for the epaulettes when they get done. The buttons were later coated with Humbrol gold enamel, though I may try a little GW gold on them to give them a bit of a highlight. We shall see. I had also used a little Citadel Baal Red wash around the piping, buttons and in the few light folds in the jacket to give a little definition to the uniform. I'm pleased with the result.
 



 
 
I finished the collar off with Humbrol 104 (Oxford Blue) with the piping and grenade in Off White. I wanted these out of the way so I can fit and glue the bearskin on, as I'm sick and tired of having to hunt for it when I keep dropping it under my desk! I notice that the ICM instructions recommend black for the trousers and collar, but it's actually a very dark blue, dark navy blue, so I may mimic it with a black wash tomorrow, the trousers, though can wait.
 
I've also tackled the medals, which also have good painting instructions, but I simply used the paints I had available either neat or mixed to achieve the colours. Buying a particular colour for such a small bit of decoration is just bonkers, so, not going there. The medals are actually specific gongs. The senior grey/blue/red one is the Operational Service Medal (Afghanistan), while the wine/blue/white number is the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal 2012.

ICM 1:35 British Infantry 1914 (2)

Now that I'm back in fighting trim again, relatively speaking, I can at last start to finish this set of soldiers off as well as working on my Grenadier Guardsman. The irony is that these soldiers are grenadiers too if the cap badge is to be believed. The figures have been largely painted since last November, but only today have I settled down to finishing off some of the shading and highlighting and tidying up the webbing and most importantly getting the officer's equipment looking right after I had shifted it around somewhat following the previous post on this set and painting it up with a deep leather effect.
 
The faces (which I am quite pleased with) were decorated with GW flesh tones in a same way I did the guardsman's features, while the uniforms were painted using a Vallejo paint 70.988 Khaki. This is a departure for me as for khaki I usually use Humbrol 26, but the Vallejo colour has more of a greenish tinge which seems better for WW1 uniforms. I always think that WW2 Khaki looks browner in tone, which is more in keeping with the Humbrol colour. For the officer's gloves I used Citadel Doombull Brown (which I think was previously Dark Flesh) while his leather equipment was an undercoat of Humbrol 62, covered in a wash of Burnt Umber artist's acrylic and highlighted with Burnt Sienna. It's my favourite way of producing a dark leather effect.
 


 
 
The webbing is supposed to be done in Humbrol 72, but I find that a mix of the khaki highlighted with Humbrol 110 (Natural Wood) gives a little more definition, plus the equipment does take on a more faded look than Humbrol 72 would produce. I used to have a khaki canvas bag and it very quickly faded to a light straw look through everyday use outside.
 
Tomorrow I shall get all the metal buckles and whatnot finished before making a start on their rifles.

Monday, 14 March 2016

ICM 1:16 British Grenadier Queen's Guards (3)

Flicking through the ICM catalogue on their site I note that three other figures in this World's Guards series have already been scheduled, namely the Vatican Swiss Guard, an Italian Carabinier and an officer of France's Republican Guard. I had been hoping for one of the cavalrymen from the latter who always look rather impressive, but beggars can't be choosers I suppose. I will probably tackle most of these kits and look forward to any further additions to the range.
 
As I had to go into work this morning I have only had a small amount of time to work on the model today, most of my time being spent undercoating some of the unpainted bits such as the figure's trousers and boots, the inner parts of the arms which I will fit to the torso before finishing them off, and the bearskin. The undercoat dried quickly and I have given some parts a topcoat, the boots and bearskin being blacked and the boots given a coat of some rather gloopy gloss varnish that I had to thin down with some white spirit. I also used the varnish on the stand, which now looks quite presentable.
 
The most detailed painting I have done today has been on the Guardsman's face, which I tackled with the several skin tones from Games Workshop. First I applied some Tanned Flesh and once that had dried I gave it the highlights with Dwarf Flesh and the final and palest highlights with a 50-50 mix of Dwarf Flesh and Elf Flesh. When it had dried I gave the whole face a gentle wash of very thin Dwarf Flesh to even the tone out. As the model is smaller than the bust that I tackled late last year I did not bother giving it more character by flicking spots of paint onto the surface, leaving it as it is. The lips I highlighted with a mix of Tanned Flesh and Daler-Rowney Cadmium Red Deep Hue artist's acrylic.
 
 


 
The other main painting project I tackled was the soldier's SA80. This is one part of the model I'm not to keen on, but not because of the modelling, which is fine, because of the gun itself. I'm sure that its real-life counterpart can make a nasty hole in somebody as well as any modern firearm and our soldiers are doubtless perfectly happy with its performance in that respect, but I'm not a soldier, I'm a model maker and looks-wise I've always considered the SA80 to be an ugly, clunky little mutt of a gun compared to the much more elegant long arms previously carried by British infantrymen. Anyhow, aesthetic grumbles aside, at least I had the consolation of being able to use some Humbrol Metal Cote on the rifle Humbrol 27003 (steel) and 27004 (gunmetal). Call me a big kid but I do enjoy buffing these up once they have dried and watching the metallic shine appear as if by magic. The handle and butt were then painted with Humbrol 31 and the weather covers were done up in a dark grey Vallejo as I've yet to purchase the Humbrol 85 coal black satin required, I just wanted a similar colour in place prior to gluing the gun in place against the right arm. When I get the chance over the next few days the arms will be fitted prior to undercoating.
 
 

 

Sunday, 13 March 2016

ICM 1:16 British Grenadier Queen's Guards (2)


Day two of the build and we woke up this morning to glorious sunshine; spring it seems, has sprung. It's only a pity that I was not able to get cracking on my model straight away, but the house has to be cleaned, shopping done, etc. Still, it was a pleasant stroll in the sunshine around to the shops, accompanied by the sound of bells ringing out from our church up the road.
 
Once  back home, I was able to spend a couple of hours sprucing up the several parts of the kit that I had assembled yesterday, carving back the hardened glue at the seams and buffing away any unwanted marks. The tunic came up a treat and after I had tidied it up, I glued the figure's head in place. I also test fitted the bearskin (now plus its plume) on the head and found it was rather a tight, insecure fit, so I used my small engraving tool to put a slight bevel at the back of the figure's head. After that it went on nicely.
 
The trousers took a little more work and I needed to use a file to even out a couple of rough patches before sanding it all back with fine sandpaper. In the process I obliterated a good portion of the stripe up each leg, so pencilled in the line for future reference. The figure's boots were then cleaned up and glued into place and I put all the assembled parts together and posed them on the stand. Looking good so far.
 
Adding a bevel to the back of the head to improve the fit.
 
 
Looking good!
 
The next job was the hands. These are the familiar palms-and-fingers combo that you often get with 1:16 kits, wherein the fingers need to be glued to the rest of the hand. The left hand is a simple lightly clenched fist which would slot into place in the end of the arm, held fast by the back of the cuff which was filled separately. The right hand was similar except that the hand and cuff were one piece. N.B. The right hand holds the butt of the soldier's SA80 rifle and one thing I did note was that you need to pop the gun in place against the arm and into the hand, so as to get the grip just right before the glue sets. The two cuffs, meanwhile, afforded the only occasion so far where I've needed to use some filler to plug a gap, as when the hands were in place they made the rear join on the cuff pop apart very slightly. I could have simply carved the wrists back to compensate, but the gap was so minor that I simply pasted on some Plasto on each, let it set for an hour before buffing it back. No problem.
 
 
 
Cue a break for Sunday dinner. The hiatus was useful as it let everything set nicely and later in the afternoon I returned to the model and after cleaning up the hands I decided to undercoat a number of items - the gun, the face and tunic and the hands and cuffs, all in the appropriate coloured enamels.
 

 
 
I have also made a choice re the stand and have gone for the curved cobbles, which will I think provide a slightly quirky visual counterpoint to the square formality of the soldier's pose. The cobbles were painted in panzer grey enamel and when touch dry I used several varying shades of grey (but not fifty, oh no) to give the cobbles a bit of variety. The main stand had earlier been given a couple of coats of Humbrol 33 matt black acrylic to make it look more formal. I think I might give it a coat of gloss varnish when everything is done. The cobbles meanwhile have been given a couple of coats of Army Painter Strong Tone to blend the thing together more and when these had dried I glued them into place on the stand.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

ICM 1:16 British Grenadier Queen's Guards

This is my first complete build for a while. An old recurring shoulder injury and a work-related project have conspired to make me put my model making and painting into a much lower gear since just before Christmas, but now I hope to slowly get back into the swing of things. I have some 1:35 figures to finish off, but when I saw this new kit from ICM being advertised on their site about a week ago I began to salivate and knew I would have to buy it, as it would make an excellent addition to my collection of larger scale figures. I've long been a fan of the MiniArt 1:16 kits, but these seem to have become a little boring just lately (sorry MiniArt, you know I'm very fond of you, but I just can't get all that interested in World War One German airmen) so I'm glad to see that ICM have decided to put out a 1:16 series of figures as well. And the first one is a Brit...hooray! I had been considering buying the 1:16 MiniArt French Imperial Guardsman, but when I saw this new figure I patriotically decided to put the Frenchie on hold for a time and order this British Grenadier Guardsman instead.
 
I bought the kit online from Hannants, a very good supplier that I have used on several occasions in the past and who rarely make you wait more than a couple of days before the model arrives. Sure enough, it did arrive in a couple of days - namely today - and on getting in from work I cracked it open immediately for a look.  
 
The kit comes in a rather big but neat box with a good colourful picture of a Grenadier Guardsman on the front and inside has a trio of of sprues in grey and black carrying 29 pieces, plus a separate black stand. The main figure comes on a single large sprue of its own, the various parts modelled in grey plastic. This comprises the tunic + belt, collar details and medals all nice and sharply moulded, trousers, boots and of course the imposing black bearskin, all of them very clean and fresh from the new moulds with no flash to speak of. Alone on a separate sprue is a one-piece model of the Guardsman's principal weapon the SA80 rifle in its weatherproof covers and with its bayonet fixed. The final sprue offers a selection of paved surfaces to place on top of the stand, on which to base your figure – tarmac, cobbles (straight or curved) and setts - which I quite liked; it's always good to be given a choice. Also in the box is a large photographic image of the Guardsman from the cover art, plus the assembly instructions, though I have not referred to these at all as it is a pretty straightforward build.
 
Immediately after I'd had a meal and downed some tea I became anti-social, retreated upstairs, got the kit out and set to work and after quickly clipping the sections from the sprue I began to assemble it. The legs and tunic are simple two piece affairs while the head and bearskin come in three separate parts. The latter two went together very easily with barely a join to be seen, the face of the head slotting neatly into a recess behind the moulded chinstrap, while the numerous folds on the bearskin also hide the seams on that quite effectively. I like it.
 
The tunic and especially the legs gave me a little more trouble, but only a slight amount as it was difficult at first to get the parts to stay together. The legs see-sawed back between being joined at the hip and coming apart at the legs, or vice versa, but by tightly binding each part with elastic bands the problem was soon overcome. With the tunic the minor difficulty was getting the edges of the coat skirt to stay together and not pop apart under pressure. This was cured though by clamping them with clothes pegs on either side and another on the neck to hold the rest of the figure in a rigid state as I found the two sides had a tendancy to slide sideways away from each other. Otherwise, though, all is hunky dory. I'll let them all set dry overnight and clean them up thoroughly tomorrow.
 

 
 
 
The last part I dealt with today was the stand. I had previously cut away the cross sprue in the centre and glued the base in place and before packing up for the evening I gave the base a coat of panzer grey enamel paint. Again, I'll let it dry overnight and coat it with black acrylic tomorrow. As yet I'm still undecided on what paving to use.
 
 
 
So far so good, it is a nice easy kit but one that holds a lot of promise. I'll check tomorrow to see if there are any parts that need filling, though things seem okay in that respect.