Friday, 30 December 2011

Last post for 2011

Well 2011 has been one hell of a year for several reasons... and I won't remind everyone about what they were. We all know.

It was a year of a few firsts for me: first (and last) time flying with Air France, first experience of an earthquake (only a 3.2 but still my first), and creating my first real blog (this one).

There were happy times: meeting up with friends after a long time, seeing the Great Buddha in Kamakura and the  ocean from there, and making new friends.  There were also sad times: my dad suffering a mild stroke (95% back to his normal self), losing an uncle and two aunties, and the fear that close friends and loved ones had died in the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan (luckily they were safe).

And then there were the weird times... such as when the world was supposed to end in October.

So what will 2012 bring?
Belatedly I will be taking driving lessons in the spring (and maybe buying my own Japanese car).  I took lessons when I was 17 but failed the test.  I should have resat it but I was too depressed.
I will hopefully be going back to Japan in October (if the bottom doesn't fall out of the economy).
I also hope to actually finish a model, hahahaha

To all of you who drop by I would like to wish you a Happy New Year!
Here's to happier and more prosperous times!!


Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Torii arrives

Well, with the Christmas mail delays sorted my Torii arrived from Miniature Park in Tokyo this morning, and what a lovely, simple model it is.
Whereas the Verlinden version has vague location points the Japanese model has very clear pin and socket locations, and more importantly it actually fits together without masses of sanding and shaping.

It is moulded in a light grey resin which is extremely light, and comes in a simple zip-lock bag with a header card showing the painted model.

Here are some photos of the model built up.

This one shows the size of the model compared to a 1/35 Mini-Art man.  I would say that this is roughly the size of the Torii you would find either on a path leading to a shrine, or to a small temple.  As you can see it does look 'right'... true design and just looks like a Torii should look.

Here is the Torii compared to the Verlinden item, which I have now taken apart and put away to use as something else at a later date.  It just looks so... bland and uninteresting, certainly doesn't look like an authentic Japanese Torii.

 While looking at it I thought about other scales.  It is meant for 1/32 and 1/35 figures and dioramas, but how would it look with, say, a 1/64 Taxi?  It works perfectly with this scale, is the answer.  And using 1/80 people, vehicles and buildings it would look even bigger.  One model, so many uses.

 In addition to the Torii I also received a model for my non-Japanese cars in the form off a European or UK rural village road with what is called a barn, but could be anything.
The building and cobblestone road section are vac-form plastic while the details are normal injection moulded plastic.  I have a few of these kits by Mini-Art, a company from the Ukraine.  They seem to have mastered the techniques as the parts are very detailed and fit together well.
As with any vac-form kit there is a lot of prep needed, but to be honest the parts are so well engineered that this isn't too much of a chore.
The injection moulded parts show a fair bit of flash in places, but can be easily cleaned up.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Found a Torii model

As you may recall I was less than impressed with the Verlinden Torii model, which, as a model, is a nightmare to put together and too small anyway.  I had planned to make my own from basswood and doweling but then I saw  one on Miniature Park's site.
This link takes you to the page, and it's the fourth item from the bottom.

It's made by a company called Taisho Modelling and from what I can see is a good size and authentic in design.  Taisho also do a large stone lantern and a couple of Jizo, guardian deities for children.  If the Torii is as good as it looks I'll get these other items.  Modelling shrines and temples would give vehicles like small pick-ups somewhere interesting to be seen.

If I don't update this blog before it, Merry Christmas everyone, and to those who look in, a big thanks for taking the time.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Verlinden Japanese diorama parts

My Verlinden Japanese shrine kit arrived today and it's a mixed bag.

The gate/torii is too small and much too difficult to assemble without some sort of rig.  I'll make a larger replacement from dowling and basswood, using only the sign on my version.

The pool for washing your hands before entering the shrine is good, if a little lacking in places.  It needs to be a bit higher off the ground and also needs things like the ladle and a small dragon to fill the basin.

On the plus side the small Buddha is an excellent one-piece casting and is really well sculpted.  The face is crisp and the detail on the head and robes is lovely.  Placed onto a stone platform to raise it much higher it should really be an impressive little model.

The small.... thing.  I don't know what it's meant to be.  It's not a lantern and not a shrine guardian... whatever it is, it's cleanly cast and has some nice detail.

This photo shows how big the items are compared to a 1/32 Japanese schoolgirl.

I'll post more photos once they are painted and the replacement torii built.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Last Mini update for now

Using Superglue and treating this as a resin kit (thanks to the ABS used) I have built the Mini up into paintable sub-assemblies: chassis/floorpan, wheels, shell/dashboard and the interior details, grille and bumpers.  I decided to build the Morris version as the grille had the best surface detail and the bonnet badge was identifiable (the Austin one was almost invisible).

Here is the model as it stands now.

It needs mirrors on the wings, a rear-view mirror and window wipers.

When I was looking at the almost featureless dashboard I thought Airfix had slipped up, but then I did an internet search, and yes, there was only a single dial on that dash, as you can see below.  The Airfix/MRRC dial will need a printed off dial added to it as it is quite featureless.

When the weather gets better and I can start spraying bodies I will get some of these kits finished.

Incidentally the cobbled base the car is sitting on is a 1/35 scale village road from Mini-Art.  It's a vac-form sheet of good quality plastic with lovely surface detail.  Once painted it will be the perfect photo-base for European cars.  (I have also ordered a section of farm wall/entrance will will give a good backdrop.)

The Mini-Art kits are excellent models, relatively good value and large enough that quite effective photos can be taken.  If only we could get Japanese models like this... a section of Tokyo street, complete with phone box, barriers, vending machines, anything... or just state of the art diorama accessories as the Arii kits must be around 30 years old.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Mini Arrives

Well, the MRRC Morris Mini Minor arrived yesterday and I am so happy with it.
This kit was originally issued by Airfix in the early sixties, while this MRRC (Model Road Racing Cars) reissue came in the early 80s.

As far as I can tell the only parts replaced are the windows (they look modern and certainly not like the ones in the original Airfix Minis I've seen) and the headlights.  Luckily the windows are unscratched and clear (although thick), and I can replace the headlights (which are chrome plated) with clear lenses I bought in Japan.

The model gives you the option to build any of three Mini variants: the Morris Mini Minor, the Austin 7, and the Mini Cooper.  You get three optional radiator grilles and two badges for the bonnet.  

There is one puzzling aspect of this model - it's moulded in ABS plastic and not normal injection moulded styrene like nearly every other model kit.  Assembly could be done with something stupidly strong like Microweld, but I'll be using good old Superglue.  I'll treat it like a resin kit, which I'm used to working with.

Compared to an Arii kit of the same scale it seems old and antiquated, but it's accurate and has enough detail to allow me to build a nice model from it.

The MRRC packaging... unlike the Airfix release there are no illustrations on the header.  Pity.

This is the bodyshell.  It comes with the windows already snapped into place.  Luckily they can be snapped out again and permanently fixed once the model is painted.

Here are the other parts of the kit.  Cleanly moulded and lacking flash on nearly every part.

 Without the flash this photo shows the car in it's true colour.  The original release by Airfix was bright red, while this one is a darker shade.

Monday, 5 December 2011


Well, it's not Japanese but it IS '60s... I won an Airfix/MRRC Mini Minor from eBay.  MRRC bought some Airfix moulds and reissued the kits as racing slot cars, the Mini with them.  However, this is a complete kit, kerbside like the Airfix original.

I may finish this with a Japanese number plate as I have seen Minis in Japan.  Photos when it gets here.

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Today it snowed... yes, Glasgow has been hit by the dreaded white stuff.
As usual the public transport system struggles to cope with 6cm of snow and the Councils fail to send the road gritters out.

Never mind, Christmas is coming and the tree should be going up on the 13th, 12 days before the day.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

December arrives

Well, December has arrived and Christmas is but a mere 24 days away... scary considering I haven't bought any presents yet, lol.

I have managed to find a scale Tori, or Japanese temple and shrine gate.  Arii did one of these, but I have bought the Verlinden one, which is resin, and also contains a small Buddha statue, a small water pool and a stone lamp.  These should go pretty well for a diorama depicting the Japanese countryside for car photos and displays.
Photo (photo from afv news.)