Friday, 28 December 2012

Insane models!

You know how it is... you suffer from Advanced Modeller's Syndrome: you an't just build a model straight from the box... you have to detail it, add aftermarket parts to enhance it, etc.
For military, ship and aircraft kits this is by and large all part and parcel of those branches, and to some extent car modelling.  How about bikes?  Not motorbikes, but bicycles.

Some time back I bought the Fujimi 1/24 roof rack set for the racing bicycle which comes in the kit, complete with etched metal spokes.  You know where I'm going with this?  Yes... I bought an Aber etched brass detail set for the Tamiya pushbikes.  This not only includes such items as spoked wheel inserts to replace the moulded ones, but also springs for the seat, support braces for the mudguards, a clip for a handlebar bell... a brake lever... it's mad!
Anyway, I tried it out on a cycle, and started to regret it almost as soon as I started.  Sherman tank headlight brush-guards, no problem, 1/72 scale Harrier cockpit interior... fine.  However, this was just silly... so all I used were the wheels, support struts, forks and chain/gearing... plus as this was a domestic Japanese cycle I removed the crossbar and added a front basket from Kotobukiya etched metal mesh.

I apologise for the terrible photo but my camera needs batteries and I can't be bothered to go out and get wet just to get them (had I not been on my Christmas hols from work, I would have bought them on the way into the office).
If you also peer closely enough you will see the Diopark Honda Super Cub light motorcycle... which is very fiddly and way too complex for such a small model.  It makes the Tamiya bicycle seem like a walk in the park... for a start the instructions get parts mixed up, and the wheel inserts don't actually fit properly.  When I build the second one I will tackle it in a different way.

Back to the pushbike and I still need to add brackets for the pump, add a new brake handle (not the silly brass thing) and add lights.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Useful reading

When I was on holiday in Japan during November I went into the model shop near the hotel: Orion Models. It's a traditional local model shop with a mix of new and very old kits... and being Japanese, there's a cafe included in the place.
The reason I mention this shop is because on one of my visits there I picked up a 'mook' (Magazine-bOOK) which is about building dioramas for cars... specifically 1/32 Japanese cars!  Lucky me.

It also has articles on settings for Tomica minicars and Dinky scale cars... so all round very interesting.  There  are step-by-step guides which are useful, even if they are in monochrome.  The book dates from 2008, so one would expect full colour.  Oh well, beggars can't be choosers.
On one page there is an advert for a related book, a special all about car dioramas, Showa Era dioramas at that!  I felt frustrated since here was a book which could provide me with so much inspiration, yet the chance of getting a copy was pretty slim.

Then one day I was looking at Hobby Link Japan's website... and there it was!  I made sure it was under HMRC's tax threshold and ordered it.  It arrived a couple of week's later (in a box, believe it or not) and I pounced on it.  Full colour throughout, good clear photos and masses of inspiration!

While leafing through the book one thing struck me as a little annoying: the figures in the dioramas are painted in a very rough manner.  All of the care and attention paid to the cars and structures, and the realistic groundwork seems to be for nothing when the figures are so sloppy.
I have a military modelling background where diorama figures are painted with same care and attention that the rest of the diorama is treated with, so I just find it odd to see work like this.  I think a majority of the figures are either kitbashed or scratchbuilt, as Japanese civilians in this scale are almost unheard of.  Only Aurora models produce 1/32 figures, and they are of modern Japanese schoolgirls and women.

Anyway, really happy to have these book in my armoury.  2013 will hopefully be the year of my first Showa diorama.

To my readers and visitors please have a very Merry Christmas, wherever you are, and a Happy New Year!

Monday, 10 December 2012

"Seibu Keisatsu" again.

Back in November 2011 I blogged about finding a mystery car from a Japanese TV series called "Seibu Keisatsu", which ran from 1979 to 1984.  In that blog I showed the Aoshima 1/32 scale Machine RS1, basically a souped up Nissan.

Well, I found another one.  This time it's a black Nissan Skyline GT called Patrol Car, but I have seen a similar model identified as Machine X on some other sites.  Were there two different black cars?

This one is moulded in black with a sprue of clear parts, including the bubblegum light so beloved of unmarked police cars the world over.
The kit has a battery box (well concealed) for operating head-lights (not supplied) and space at the rear for a motor (not supplied).  The interior details are good for the scale and aren't compromised by the fitting of toy features.
A strange addition is a small warning triangle, which is included to either allow the car to knock it over, or to steer around.  Very strange, but a nice addition all the same... into the Showa Spares Box.

In all this is a nice model... and now I have the incentive to build the two of them!
Now where can I get some sharp-suited Japanese cops in shades?

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Cute pair of Cubs

It's been a long time since my last update, but there were a lot of things going on.

Anyway, back in Japan for a holiday... and old cars are invisible.  I haven't seen anything over a few years old... very frustrating.

On the model front I have found a surprising Showa model: it is a double kit of Honda Cub scooters in 1/35 scale from the Chinese company Diopark.  In case you don't know what a Honda Cub looks like, this is one:

The Diopark kit comes in a rather unexciting box, but the contents are promising:

The little extras are a lot of fun, and it'll be interesting to see how I can use them.  I just wish that we had figures of Japanese civilians from the 50s and 60s... it's deeply frustrating that we can have the cars, structures and now motorcycles of the period, but not the people to give the dioramas real life.  Converting European civilians with Asian heads is the only solution I can come up with.

In addition to the Cub, I also picked up a Tamiya bicycle... by removing the crossbar and adding a basket I can make a civilian bike.  I'll get a few more of these... just dump the Germans that come with them.  There should have been two bikes in the kit, but someone nicked the other one.
Won't be going back to Leopold models again in a hurry!

Much, MUCH better than the Arii/LS Showa diorama kit cycles.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


Sorry for the lengthy delay in posting any updates.
I've had a few personal things to contend with and the models were sidelined unfortunately.  With the summer now on us I'm hoping that I can kick-start my projects and get back on the road again.

One positive piece of news is that I am now taking driving lessons, so I am seeing the cars here in a new light.

I am also returning to Japan in November so my quest for Showa era cars will begin again.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Land Rover

In a slight diversion this is a Series 3 Land Rover that I have been working on.
It is basically an Italeri kit, but I had replaced the axles and suspension with Tamiya parts (as well as the bonnet).  I have also used brass detail parts as well as Accurate Armour wheels.

I know, not Japanese, but it does come from the 70s (as do the Tamiya and Italeri kits used)

Monday, 27 February 2012


Apologies if you have been watching this blog and nothing has been posted in a while.

I am currently concentrating on a long-term model project which doesn't involve 1/32 cars, so I created a new blog for that.  This blog will be updated when I have something new worth posting.

Please stick with me... ^_^

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Plants: Sakura part 3 - Final

Well, it was tedious and labourious but I have completed adding the cherry blossom to the tree.  It's not massively endowed but I like to think of it as a relatively young tree.
It stands around 5" tall and, to me anyway, looks like a cherry tree.  I've started on another couple of trees but as the process is the same I'll leave them for another time.

The tree:

Next time I will continue working on a car model... which is after all meant to be the focus of my blog hahaha.

Mata atode.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Plants: Sakura part 2

I made up a second cherry tree and then painted them both a dark brown.  Here is one of them:
The flash makes is seem lighter.
I then added the blossom and leaves to one of the trees.  I have only completed one branch so far.  I need to add more detail to blossom stems, I should have done that before I added them... oops!
I have some Copic markers on the way and these should allow me to colour the leaves and stems without them looking too flat and lifeless.
I also made up a small shrub and added the 'Brush' leaves to that as an experiment.  It looks pretty good and once added to a display base with other trees and diorama models it should add some extra level of detail.
I like it.

Next update will have the completed cherry tree.  After that I will start work on the first base for the Japanese cars.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Plants part 2: Sakura

Well, much to my pleasure the Kamizukuri plant kits came today, and I was overjoyed.

As mentioned in my last post I ordered 2 sets of cherry blossom, a set of generic leaves and a set of weeds.
Here are the weeds and tree leaves:

 They are on nice quality paper, with the weeds being semi-translucent.  The blue and black you are seeing are the backing cards to keep them flat.  They are just like etched metal, only laser-etched paper.

The Sakura is a step up from these.  The packaging is better and seems to be a special product.  I know that cherry blossom is important in Japan, I just never thought it would extend to model blossom.  It's a nice touch.

Like the others the petals and leaves come on a laser-etched sheet, and are very very well defined, as you can see.

Unlike the generic tree leaves here you get a tree!  Well, this:
It is a bunch of paper-coated thin wire with a wrapped base representing the trunk.  Following the instructions (which are all in Japanese, but illustrated) I twisted and manipulated the strands until I got this:
I should point out that this is the very first tree I have ever made!  So if I can do it I suspect that anyone can.
You snip the overlong branches off and, using small sections, bend into Vs and glue these on as additional branches.  I have done a few, but I don't want to overdo it.

Next time I will cover the twisted wire and start to paint it.  Good references of Japanese cherry trees will be invaluable in getting the colours right.

These are beautifully produced kits and certainly give a good scale appearance of a tree and foliage.

Mata atode.

Friday, 6 January 2012


I recently discovered a Japanese company producing plants in 1/32-1/35 scales from etched paper.  They are called Kamizukuri and their selection are at this link to their homepage.  It's in Japanese but the pictures speak for themselves:

I ordered a few sets from Accurate Armour here in Scotland: Sakura blossom, weeds and generic tree leaves.  The Sakura are beautiful, and will add an extra dimension to my Japanese car bases.

The petals and leaves come on s sheet of paper which has been etched with a laser in a similar way to etched brass frets.  In some cases they need to be painted for added realism, but some are printed on coloured paper.

I will post pics of my efforts when I try a set out.

For readers in the UK you can get them here:
They aren't cheap, but they do look special and are far better than using sponge or flocking for leaves in this scale.

Monday, 2 January 2012


Well, here we are in 2012... Olympic year.  Woo-hoo... Sick of hearing about it already haha.
Anyway, Happy New Year.

In much of the Far East this is the Year of the Dragon, not the ferocious fire breathing monsters we have in the west, but the elegant sinewy long monsters with whiskers and balls in their claws.

This year I plan to get most of my stash of cars built and photographed at long last.  I also fully intend to get a driving licence at long last... about time I actually had a car of my own and not just small plastic ones haha.

Well, good luck for the new year and let's hope it's a goody!