Sunday 27 October 2019

Schloss Itter's Gatehouse

I have been looking forward to publishing this post for a while now, and must apologise to James for taking so long to realise it, but I am now delighted to reveal the Gatehouse to Schloss Itter!  I would usually show some work in progress shots for a build like this, but have decided not to on this occasion.  The reason being, I feel it only right and proper that James shows you how he went about designing and constructing what, to my mind anyway, is his best design yet. (A link to James' post is at the bottom of this page.)
Castle Itter's Gatehouse is a little architectural gem in its own right, a piece of Gothic whimsey with fairytale turrets and an arched central entryway.  Besotten Jenny, the Sherman M4A3E8, would guard this entrance point having reversed in to position.  Its main turret and .50-Cal. machine gun trained on the narrow access road that led to the town.  Meanwhile one of Jenny's .30-Cal. machine guns was redeployed in the cramped loft room of the Gatehouse, ably manned by Worsham and McHaley.
Working again from only photographs James drew out the design on the computer and so started the now customary process of adaptation as the design went through a number of revisions, each one addressing a different problem or creating a facet in a more appealing way.  It became apparent, quite early on, that this particular piece had really caught James' imagination.  His attention to detail now operating at such a level that saw the intricate tower woodwork realised along with two different types of tiles, a detail clearly visible in the original source material.
As we broke for the half term, James had already built, tiled and applied paint to his model before very kindly starting the assembly of a second.  If truth be told we don't need two, but I just could not pass up the opportunity to work on this delightful kit and have finally got mine to a place where I am happy to share my efforts.
As with the previous hall piece the texture was achieved by using play sand, this time sprinkled on to a PVA base to give a slightly lighter texture.  Very little was needed in the way of construction, just some card stock and lashings of PVA glue to stick down the laser cut tile strips, such was the quality of James' design.  Once undercoated colour was applied with successive layers of dry brushing, before picking out the details with a brush.
We had found some rather good photographs of the original building showing climbing plants festooning the sides of the towers and I was keen to give this a go.  I had found an example on the always helpful 'Terragenesis' website that had used something called eyelash yarn.  Not having heard of this myself, I popped into Sunshine Coast's mighty metropolis and spent a few minutes perusing the aisles of C & H fabrics.  Sure enough I found a couple of likely candidates, although I notice that in Blighty we refer to the yarn as Fur Wool.
I was delighted with the result, which helped to convey that feeling of nature starting to take hold of a once celebrated structure.  
With James having gone to the trouble of designing the loft behind a removable roof panel it seemed a shame not to populate it with a suitable representation of Worsham and McHaley, ordered up from 'Artizan Designs'.
Another wonderful addition to our ongoing project, which continues to move on apace.  James continues to delight with his designing skills and I am very much looking forward to working on the terrain boards on our return to school, but in the interim more miniatures need to be painted!

Please visit James' Blog to see how the Gatehouse was created:

Thursday 24 October 2019

Rubicon Models 28mm Kübelwagen

Having made it safely to the half term break, I had great plans as to how I was going to push things along for the Schloss Itter project, but as we rush towards the end of the week, and I start to take stock, I feel that not as much has been achieved as I had hoped for!  It is not all doom and gloom, we have another terrain piece in the offing that we hope to share before too long, James has completed the base boards and I have collected together, and in some cases converted, the miniatures for a few more of the characters.

I have also, finally, completed my Type 82 Kübelwagen from Rubicon models.  This was my first Rubicon Models kit and I have to say that I was mightily impressed.  A hard plastic multi-part kit, it went together well, with clear instructions and a few variations available.  It comes with the option to have a driver and a set of waterslide transfers that allow you to base it on campaign in the African desert or the Western Front. 
Not an expert in this particular era, I went for a relatively straightforward paint job, but embellished it, a tad, with some mud streaks and general wear and tear.  It feels a little small, particularly when seen next to a standard 28mm miniature, but I wonder if this was because I haven't based the piece at the moment?  This doesn't detract from the quality of the model and the more I read about this Porsche design utility vehicle the more I have come to appreciate it.  
The Kübelwagen plays an important role in our story insomuch as it is the vehicle the Major Josef Gangl takes to meet up with the Americans at Kufstein.  Travelling under a white flag, Major Gangl persuades the American Capt. Lee to help rescue the prisoners and the pair travel back to the castle in the German officer's Kübelwagen, which is now proudly sporting an American star, supposedly on the flag. 

I wanted to include this lovely detail, but couldn't understand how it worked, a white star on a white flag?  It is entirely possible that I have misunderstood the reference, but if anyone has an idea as to how I might make this work then do let me know. 

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Tuesday 15 October 2019

US Tank Crew

The day job is proving relentless at the moment; nothing too onerous you understand, just the incessant reports, meetings and work scrutinies that it has been decreed must be completed before the half term break.  Unfortunately this has contrived to reduce the hobby time to a few precious hours on a Sunday morning.  I am, of course, grateful for that time, but I am starting to feel like I am letting the side down somewhat as James ploughs on, realising more and more of our idle conversations in freshly cut MDF!  
Looking for a quick win at the weekend, I happened across this set of miniatures.  Now I am not suggesting for one moment that teaching is akin to commanding a tank, but I did suddenly feel an affinity for these most beleaguered of troops, whose only option was to ‘button down’ and  plough on into the face of adversary. 
 These four are from 'Artizan Designs' and sold through the ever reliable 'North Star Military Figures'.  I have noticed over the years that my painting style has simplified.  I have stopped trying to paint eyes, to layer three colours or add numerous washes often giving as much time to one miniature as I would now give to whole unit; seemingly with little discernible difference!  I am attributing this change in style to my ever failing eyesight, but it could equally be my impatience to get the miniatures to the table.  This is certainly the case here, especially as James is racing ahead with all manner of structures that we are both looking forward to sharing with you in due course.
Given the aforementioned simplification of painting style, I found the the 'Artizan Designs' sculpts to be wonderfully forgiving.  I thoroughly enjoyed working on these, trying to find subtle variations in the greens to make them stand out; I was even brave enough to attempt the Divisional Insignia on some of them!  
On refection I probably should have attempted to give them a little bit more of a worn look, as these chaps look incredibly pristine given their recent action.  Six crewmen in total took part in the defence of the castle, five from ‘Besotted Jenny’, Commanded by Capt. John C. Lee Jnr. and  Commander of the ‘Boche Buster’, Harry J. Basse, Lee’s second in command and lifelong friend.
So with the addition of ‘Oddball’ I have five complete, just need to find a suitable Captain Lee!  I have a couple of possibles, one of which is winging its way to 'Awdry Towers' as I write this, but if anyone has any suggestions then do please let me know.

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Wednesday 9 October 2019

Getting a feel for the place.

One of the considerations of creating the castle in MDF was how do we ‘sell’ the illusion of an Austrian Schloss? By its very nature our adopted building process produces flat panels to assemble, perfect for square or regular shaped units, but a little problematic for a building that has continuously evolved since the ninth century.     
This becomes doubly difficult when you consider that James has no actual plans to work from, but instead is working from a series of photographs.  That said the infoweb is a wonderful thing and If you are prepared to put the time in then it will, eventually, throw up all manner of useful source material.  So it was that James was able to construct the basic design.  We have decided to progress one section at a time, starting with the smaller, more accessible sections, which allows us to resolve any issues that may arise along the way before we tackle the main structure.  This particular section is located to the North of the main hall and looks as if it should act as an entrance hall from the courtyard.  

Although a relatively straight forward shape, the photographs appear to show that this area is rendered stone and to recreate this we simply used some ‘play sand’, kindly donated from the recently abandoned nursery building next to the studio.  This was duly mixed with PVA glue and liberally spread over the surface of the structure.  Although some my baulk at stone painted grey, the images suggest that the ravages of time have, in fact, left the castle that exact colour, although with a yellow ochre tinge to it.  Some of the masonry has a cleaner, almost whitewashed, feel to it and I am assuming that this has indeed been painted.
Another other design idea has been to create interior panels that have the effect of creating a rebate on the windows and the doors.  This has helped to create a sense of depth, again breaking the flatness of the traditional MDF unit.
When the sand and PVA mix was finally dry, a series of heavy dry brushes were applied until we were started to achieve the desired effect.  When it came to detailing the interior, James had found an amazing shot that we were keen to replicate along with the heavy wooden doors at both ends.  The benches are just strips of card and balsa would, whilst the heraldic devices are 3D printed shields from ‘Winterdyne Commission Modelling’.
For me the success of the piece is in the subtle devices James has used in the build.  The rebutted windows are inspired and although the texture and painting is nothing new, we are both genuinely thrilled to see this first section complete.  There is a real belief that we can pull this off, but we still have an awfully long way to go! 

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Tuesday 1 October 2019

Chocks Away!

Given the interest generated from my last post, 'Flight of the Storch', I am delighted to be able to post a couple of shots of James' latest diversion, a 1/56 scale model of that most iconic of aeroplanes, a Hawker Hurricane.  Pictured here alongside the rescaled Storch, it is already taking shape and looking superb!
This will also give me the opportunity to bring to your attention James' new blog, 'make it miniature'.  A venture that will allow James to go into more detail regarding the design process of some of his builds and give a fascinating introduction to some of the techniques that he employs.  I have made no secret of my admiration for this man's ability to fashion, seemingly, anything from the most humble of materials and delighted that James is going to share this process with a wider audience.

The first post is up and ready, so do head over and have a look if you get the chance.  Link below:

1:56 Hawker Hurricane Part 1

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