Saturday, 31 August 2013

Not Showa, but...

I am now the proud owner of a 2004 Honda Jazz (which is the UK version of the Fit).  I am a happy bunny ^_^

She'll get me from A to B during the week, and when I want to she can take me wherever I want to go.  Ah, the freedom of the open road.  A Japanese car for a guy who builds models of Japanese cars... FAB!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013


Just a quick update - my final hurdle to being a car owner has been beaten: I passed my driving test on Monday 19th August.  So now rather than dreaming about buying a car... I CAN buy a car!

Happy days.

And back to model making...

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Takuji Yamada's Diorama Works mook

I ordered a wonderful mook (magazine-style book) from Hobby Link Japan called "Old Days But Good Days" which is basically a series of larger scale dioramas featuring scratchbuilt figures. A majority of the models are set in the Showa era, 1950s and 1960s, although some are 1940s and some are modern, set after the Showa period... well, one of them is.

Here are some photos:

There's so much inspiration in here... I'll never be able to scratchbuild figures like that, but the dioramas themselves are certainly within my skill set... I love this book.

I would also like to thank my former Japanese teacher Yushin Toda for helping me search for Showa era photos on the net... why didn't I think of using a JAPANESE text rather than English?  Baka!  Thanks Yushin, my reference library just increased many, many times.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Experiments with trees

A while back I tried to make trees from wire with foliage added from laser cut paper leaves from Japan... and they didn't look that hot sadly.  However, over the last little while I've seen trees made from something called Sea Foam... and I wondered what Sea Foam was.
Here's a horticultural description from Suttons, the seed people (Site link):

"A delicate-looking plant whose myriad tiny stems start off a soft green and rose and gradually turn a deep russet red as they mature in autumn. A perfect filler, it's also highly prized by model makers as it can be dried and used to simulate shrubs and trees! Height 30-35cm (12-14"). Sometimes known as tumbleweed, Telaxys produces masses of fine stems interwoven to form a foam-like display!"

So, I ordered a pack of Sea Foam trees by Gaugemaster from (over £20... bit steep, I thought, but had to try them.)  They arrived a few days later (this morning to be exact) and I opened the large box with anticipation.  It was jammed full of fragile-looking dried plants that looked like trees just sitting there.
This is a typical example of one of the stems...

The curved appearance of the tree is unfortunately common to this box... and possibly to most boxes from what I've read lately.  I don't know how to deal with this yet, but I'm going to find out.  As you can see from the image below they have masses of fine 'branches', ideally suited to tree making...

So it was time to experiment.  I sprayed a stem with Treseme hair spray, and sprinkled on some Noche summer leaves...

I then gave the tree another spray to fix the leaves...

For a first go I'm more than happy, but there are some issues I need to address before I can start to add these to dioramas.  They are very brittle: I've read that soaking them in water and glycerine will keep them springy without being brittle, so might try that.  The curve... I don't know yet... that's a tricky one.
As they are they work better in small scales as medium to large size trees...

... but for 1/35 and 1/32 I may need to use a thicker section of branch from a dead plant to act as a trunk and add the Sea Foam to that as branches, much as Toho did when they made trees for the Kaiju films of the 1960s.
It's a learning curve.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

How much is that doggy in the window?

1/35 and 1/32 scale dogs are a bit hit and miss.  Arii's old dog is okay, but rather bland.  Tamiya and Riich produce some lovely sheepdogs (German and Collie)... and there are a few other in both plastic and resin, but in most cases the dogs are either just standing, lying or sitting... nothing exciting.  However I found a lovely little dog made by a firm called Doug's Original.  It's part of a double set with a goat.  The beauty of this model is that the dog is actually barking, and in a suitable posture...

He's quite small, so either a spaniel or a little beagle, but certainly a lovely little one-piece resin figure.

Monday, 5 August 2013

More flowers

Just a quick update...

The second set of HO scale flowers arrived from Germany today, so I tried a couple out in 1/32, and they work beautifully.  I can't say what they represent, but they add colour and variety to a rather drab scene... just like real life ^_^

Like the daisies last time they have green moulded stems and separate flowers moulded in (in this case) shades of purple and lilac.  I like them.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Flower Power

While trawling eBay mindlessly a couple of weeks ago I came across this:

What this is is a pack of plastic flowers in HO scale, or 1/87, produced by the German model railway scenery masters Busche. In fact Busche, Noch, Faller, Vollmer and Heki all produce some fantastic scenery products in both soft materials and as normal injection-moulded kits.
They are meant to be daisies, but compared to the woman on the box they appear rather large, so that got me thinking... how would they look in 1/32 or 1/35 scales?  So I bought a set...

What you get are 120 green plastic stems, all identical, and 60 yellow/60 white flowers with holes in the centre, fitting onto the top of the stem and so creating a flower which stands around 4mm tall, or around 140mm in 1/32.

I decided to try some out and used them on my Showa back street model... I like the effect...

I need to paint the centres yellow but I am more than happy with these.  I may buy more of these German products to add some life to my models.  I have a set of Lupins on the way too... although at less than half their intended size they might have to be something else...