Friday, 20 April 2018

Nendoroid Wonder Woman (Hero's Edition) - Unboxing and Review

A short break from hobby projects has always been a necessary evil for me to avoid creative burnouts. And I'm using this one to post a quick review of the second Good Smile Company Nendoroid figurine that my son and I got as a gift for the missus i.e. Wonder Woman. It's her second figurine after the highly impressive Belle. Thus far nearly all her collectible figurines have been of strong female characters e.g. Funk Pop Daenerys Targayen. Her collection started all those years ago with Ritsu Tainaka, a mutually beloved character from one of our favourite animes K-On! (see middle figurine in last picture, sandwiched between two non-heroine characters from Star Wars).

Good Smile Company's Nendoroid Series #818: Wonder Woman (Hero's Edition)
Front angled view of the still-in-the-box Nendoroid Wonder Woman
Back angled view of the still-in-the-box Nendoroid Wonder Woman
Pictures at the back of the box show off Wonder Woman's many possible poses
Belle is figure #755 in the series but as I write this the latest one is Nendoroid #910 ... I think
Box-art for Nendoroid Wonder Woman is simple yet nice

Similar to the Beauty and the Beast heroine, Wonder Woman comes with her own accessories which include the lasso of truth, a second face option with an angrier expression, a set of crossed arms, two different hands in which to grip weapons, a sword, a shield an importantly a display base. Because unlike Belle, this DC super heroine isn't as stable - a result stemming from her inability to literally stand on her own two feet. Poses of her seemingly standing on her own feet are actually camera trick shots of her lying on her back. Her legs are too fragile to support the weight of her oversized head.

Nendoroid Wonder Woman and her many accessories encased in sturdy plastic packaging
Instructions for changing Nendoroid Wonder Woman between her many poses

Paint-wise Nendoroid Wonder Woman looks great. Her costume is suitably shiny à la the metallic armor worn by Gal Gadot in the DC movie reboot of the iconic super heroine. Meanwhile her dark brunette hair has subtle shades which make it look voluminous. Sadly such subtle shades weren't properly captured on camera partly due the black background I was using. And while her skin is rather monotone, that's fairly common among figurines comprising this 'chibi' design.

Nendoroid Wonder Woman in her first pose straight out of the box
With the help of the display stand, Wonder Woman is able to strike much more dynamic poses

Posing options are many and varied with the accessories available. This being a quick review, I went ahead with just the more recognizable and movie inspired poses like Wonder Woman with her sword and shield, with her 'wakanda' pose and with her famous lasso of truth (see photos above and below).

Here she is in one of my favourite poses although in hindsight the angry face option might've been better
For some reason this pose evokes nostalgic recollections of Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song

What matters most of all was that the missus loved it. And as much as I would love to get my hands on a pair of Nendoroids myself i.e. the Evangelion pair of Rei Ayanami and Asuka Langley, I would prefer to spend the limited budget on adding to the missus's meager collection (see last photo).

Nendoroid Wonder Woman comes with two face options i.e. angry and not
Wakanda Forever! Oops, sorry ... wrong universe
Lasso of truth in the deployed configuration vs  

For the moment though, none of the super-heroine figurines are on her desk. There's still the problem of finding suitable display cases for them. But more importantly, she's determining the pros and cons of displaying the Nendoroid figurines in an open office environment. 

Currently at the missus's work desk are Bee-bee-ate, Ritsu Tainaka and Darth Vader

Anyhoo, the next post should see a resumption in work-in-progress project updates. Even as I work on the All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST) there are so many other ideas running through my head. To give you a peek into my jumbled thoughts, I've plans to paint 1/8 scale anime resin garage kits to accompany topic-related scale model kits (e.g. Yurisha Iscandar with Space Battleship Yamato, Sayla Mass with RX-78-2, etc.); paint larger miniatures from 1/20 up to 1/6 scale; apply more advanced weathering techniques on AFV kits such as a King Tiger tank and other Star Wars vehicles; try using pastel and oil paints on projects ... the list goes on and on. I guess my short break is officially over.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Star Wars AT-ST [WIP - Pilots seated in Cockpit Interior]

Well duh but a model kit is always greater than the sum of its individual parts. So while both the AT-ST pilots/drivers looked bland on their own, the meh-factor lessened somewhat when they were both seated inside a fully assembled and painted cockpit interior. Well it's either that or I just want so bad for this section of the model kit to not suck that I'm imagining things that aren't real. Either way, the Bandai Star Wars 1/48 scale AT-ST pilots as well as the walker's cockpit interior are finally done with the corresponding macro closeup photographs shown below.  

Work-in-progress: 1/48 scale AT-ST pilots/drivers seated in the cockpit interior
Closeup of AT-ST pilot seated on the right; note the screen display with freehand digital text
Closeup of pilot seated on the left; circles in the square panels have been repainted red like in the movies

One color change I alluded to in a previous post was carried out with minimum fuss. As you can see the tiny circles at the center of the square panels (right hand side of the back control panel) has been painted red. And I must admit they give off a much better vibe than previously. Also if you look closely at the rear control panel (see first photo) you should be able to notice some freehand paintings I did to simulate indicator readouts e.g. digital grids and wave functions. 

If you ask me the interior seems a little too small to fit two ewoks and a wookie
Hues are fairly muted but that's in keeping with the official color scheme
Upper hull plating have yet to be attached to the cockpit interior ...
... because the hull plating will all be painted separately first before being assembled

When assembled the interior space looks a tad too cramped to be able to fit in both pilots. Maybe that's why the pilots look as rigid as they do because any other pose could have hampered the figurines ability to fit into such a small space. Still, a slightly turned head or even a partially extended arm on one of the pilots wouldn't have hurt. It would've upped the level of realism for sure. 

Cockpit view of the AT-ST walker from the pilots' perspective

What comes next will be the upper hull exterior of the AT-ST walker. In addition to the usual washes I would always apply to the Bandai Star Wars vehicles, this time I intend to break up the monotone hull color with some oil dot filter weathering. Until then, enjoy the weekend and see you next week!

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Star Wars AT-ST [WIP - Pilots / Drivers]

What was Bandai thinking, molding a rigid looking pair of AT-ST pilots/drivers to accompany their 1/48 scale AT-ST model kit. Any form of dynamic pose - e.g. having one of them reach for a side control panel - would've made a lot more sense. The alternative was to use a Chewie figurine provided in the kit but I wanted this version to resemble one under the control of the Galactic Empire as opposed to the walker co-opted by Ewoks and the Wookie in Return of the Jedi. So I proceeded to paint them with gritted teeth in the hope it will all come good ... eventually.

AT-ST pilot/driver (to be seated on the right) work-in-progress
AT-ST pilot/driver (to be seated on the left) work-in-progress

Apart from the pilots' face, visor and helmet strap, everything else was painted using lacquer paints. This I usually wouldn't do. But with Bandai's color guide referencing only GSI Creos Mr Color lacquer paints, combined with the fact I'm itching to use my new airbrush setup - something I'm doing only with lacquer paints for now - I used Mr Color paints on the figurines.   

Visually there isn't any distinguishing feature between either pilots/drivers
Figures received a combination of lacquer and acrylic paints via airbrush and hand brush

Because the pilots will largely be hidden from view in the final build, I kept things simple with any depth provided only by a wash which was applied after a protective clear coat had been applied over the basecoat of colors. Essentially this is what I did:
  (a) Helmet - Mr Color Khaki Green (054), airbrushed;
  (b) Visor and helmet strep - Vallejo Model Color Black (169), hand painted;
  (c) Skin - Vallejo Model Color Rose Brown (038), Light Flesh (006), flesh wash, hand painted;
  (d) Seat belt straps - Mr Color Dark Green 2 (023), airbrushed;
  (e) Uniform - Mr Color White (001):RLM75 Grey Violet (1:1), a pinch of Black (002), airbrushed;
  (f) Boots and gloves - Mr Color Black (002), hand painted;
  (g) Vallejo Polyurethane Satin Varnish, hand painted;
  (h) Tamiya Panel Line Accent Color - Black:Grey (2:1), hand painted.

Pilots' back weren't well defined paint-wise because they aren't going to be visible in the final build

To give you an idea of how small these 1/48 scale AT-ST pilots/drivers, they were placed next to the same old, same old i.e. a paperclip and a five sen coin. Anyway, do permit me one final rant about these figurines. In addition to how stiff both pilots looked, their proportions were not very good too. Rant over. I'm just hoping they won't look so bad once seated in the assembled cockpit interior. 

Scale comparison using the good old paperclip and five sen coin

There was one other detail that needed sorting out. AT-ST pilots wore uniforms with Galactic Empire insignia patches on both shoulders. Initially I thought I could use the decals provided on the pilots. However, the decals turned out to be too big so I'm guessing these are meant for other uses. As to what those are I have no idea because no visual guide was provided and I can't read the Japanese instructions. In the end I simply doodled an unintelligible design using a 0.05 mm copic multiliner. At this scale and partially hidden from view, I figured that drawing an actual insignia wasn't worth it. 

Choices were to either use decals or doodle the Galactic Empire insignia on the pilots' uniform
But all decals of the Galactic Empire insignia were to big for the uniform's shoulder patch
In the end the 'insignia' was nothing more than a rough doddle with the copic liner

Isolated as they are in the photos above, both pilots are visually boring in the extreme. In theory, they should look much better once seated inside a fully assembled and painted cockpit interior (which you can see in a previous post). That will be determined for sure in the next work-in-progress update post. Until then, thanks so much for taking the time to read this post and enjoy the weekend. Cheers!

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Star Wars AT-ST [WIP - Cockpit Interior]

As with most Bandai Star Wars model kits, the interior parts are usually molded with close to movie accurate details. But also in most cases the details would've been covered up, sometimes completely, in the final build. For the AT-ST, I have the option to leave both the command viewports as well as the top hatch open which should technically increase visibility into the cockpit interior. Nonetheless, it still wouldn't be effective use of one's time to spend too long a period painting the interior. Sadly I didn't get the memo and proceeded to spend an inordinate amount of time working on the interior.    

Bandai Star Wars 1/48 scale AT-ST work-in-progress: Cockpit interior

There were many instances that the paint job could have been more movie accurate. In fact some of these details may yet be painted to reflect what can be seen in the movie screen captures. Meanwhile other non-movie accurate s will be left as they are because I felt they would be more visible in a final build that may face visibility issues. So what then are the items I will need to repaint for it to be more movie accurate and what will I be willing to let remain in its existing less-than-accurate form?

Bandai AT-ST work-in-progress: Cockpit viewports and front control panels 
Bandai AT-ST work-in-progress: Seats, weapons/motion controls and rear panels

On the rear of the cockpit interior are a series of square panels with a circle at the center (see above). It's clear from actual movie screen captures that the circles are red in color. After some thought I've decided to repaint the circles to red so as to provide a dash of bright colors to help make the interior details more visible to the naked eye. On the other hand, the oval-like shapes on the side panels - two on each side - that I had painted white and red (see below) will remain in their non-accurate hues. In the movie, they contain radar-like readouts which would have been hard to spot in the final build.   

Bandai AT-ST work-in-progress: Side view on the right
Bandai AT-ST work-in-progress: Side view on the left

Well that's all for the cockpit interior with only minor repaints needed before its assembly. In addition, I will have to finish painting the AT-ST pilots to be seated in the interior. That's up next so like most of my previously completed Star Wars projects, this 1/48 scale AT-ST build is taking a similar path of cockpit interior to pilots to exterior. Hope this week has been good for you, and here's wishing you a better one ahead. Cheers, be well and take care. And no this isn't an April's Fool post!

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Star Wars AT-ST [WIP - First tentative steps in the use of Oil Dot Filter Weathering Paint Technique]

Before assembly of the Bandai Star Wars 1/48 scale Imperial All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST) Walker had even started, there was something I needed to get my head around first. That something is a technique used by scale modelers to increase the richness and variety of hues on an otherwise monotone color scheme, namely the oil dot filter weathering paint technique. Results weren't up to par as I went ahead armed with only a basic knowledge of how to manipulate oil paints in a scale modeling context. Nonetheless I'm posting this in the hope others will learn from my mistakes.

Materials used in my first attempt at oil dot filter weathering

Using an actual model kit as a guinea pig was of course a non-starter. So I got hold of some styrene sheets (Tamiya Pla Plate) and cut out a rectangular piece to serve my purpose. I then went through the usual process of priming it before applying a light gray basecoat i.e. a color I plan to use as the AT-ST's primary hue. The final step prior to the oil dot filter weathering technique is to apply a protective clear coat onto the surface. It was here that I made my first mistake.     

White styrene sheets were first cut out in simple rectangular shapes ...
... before being primed with a fine light gray primer ...
... followed by a basecoat color of Tamiya AS-16 Light Gray USAF and finally a protective clear coat

I had erroneously used a gloss clear coat instead of a satin/semi-gloss or even matt/flat one. It seems a glossy surface is slippery thus making it harder to control the blending process. In my old work flow, I apply a gloss varnish to make the application of decals, pin washes and panel lines easier. So in the future I'll have to tweak this by perhaps adding a layer of semi-gloss after the decals, washes and panel lining in order to prepare the surface for oil dot filter weathering. Some modelers suggest doing oil dot filters before the washes and panel lining while some do it after. I believe the order in which they are done depends on how heavy the oil dot filter blending process is i.e. amount of thinner used.

Oil paint colors used are Winton French Ultramarine, Yellow Ochre, Payne's Gray and Zinc White

As for the paints, I used the Winsor & Newton Winton Oil Colour. Price-wise they fall in the mid-range category and are much more affordable than the scale modeling versions. The actual hues I used from this series of oil paints were French Ultramarine, Yellow Ochre, Payne's Gray and Zinc White. The colors were chosen based roughly on what I've seen other modelers do. Going forward, I'll probably have to refine the color choices I've made here e.g. a buff hue vs pure yellow ochre.

Putting wooden coffee stirrers to good use
But first they had to be cut down to size ...
... before being used to apply the oil paints onto the basecoated surface

It's recommended that the oil paints be placed on a cardboard palette to allow the linseed oil inside to be absorbed out. This has a threefold effect in that the oil paints will then be easier to blend, dry faster and to a matt finish. However, it is likely my subsequent error was to allow the oil paint to dry too much before starting the blending process. I could've also used insufficient thinners when blending or just didn't blend long enough. During the blending process, the oil paints didn't blend very well and the only logical reasons I can think of are the aforementioned ones.   

Initial blending steps looked horrible but that is to be expected
Further blending makes things look better
And yet further blending makes the hues imperceptible ... well that was the plan anyway

For a first try the results aren't too bad but they were far from what I would ideally have preferred. Streaks of paint were still visible in parts at certain angles. The intended effect of the oil dot filter weathering technique is one of subtlety. What I achieved war far from imperceptible. Even then though, the piece looks much more interesting than when left in its original monotone color scheme.

Oil dot filter weathering technique - before blending
Oil dot filter weathering technique - after blending
At certain angles the streaks became less subtle which wasn't what I was aiming for

Since the effort above I've done more research and found two good tutorials of this technique. If you are interested you could check out an article by renowned scale modeler, Michael Rinaldi or a video by Karl Logan for Testors Corporation. Both are great references for the technique, albeit executed in slightly different ways. Depending on whether I have the time, I might still do another test piece or just go ahead and use this technique on an actual AT-ST model kit. Regardless I hope to start working on the AT-ST interior soon. That's next, by the end of this week if I'm lucky. Or the next if I'm not.

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