Monday, March 12, 2018

Dune Factory Crawler Concept Model

A lot going on behind all the scenes, work especially and a big gaming event in which I needed to prepare a lot of new material. I know you are not interested in my paltry excuses, you are here to see models:

I am a big DUNE fan, I recall seeing the 1984 movie three times in the theater...undoubtedly a unique achievement. It wasn't until Waterworld came out that people stopped making fun of me (regarding Dune). I have done some other Dune fanboy things I'm not proud of (and shall not reveal, as they are killing words). And, of course, my last name also is the same of Fransesca, who played Paul's concubine mother. I digress. Did I say I had a stillsuit? Ok, good.

I know, shut up already! This model was built as a sketch, a maquette, or study. I sent these along to Agence Claude Girard which represents Denis Villeneuve in hopes to muscle my way into doing some concepting for the upcoming Dune film. 

No phone calls yet, if anyone out there knows Mr. Villeneuve, pass this along. My understanding is that for this new interpretation Mr. Villeneuve will steer far away from the 1984 offering. A wise choice.

The model: It's around 1/200th scale, or around 100 meters in length. In the book they are described as "Factory Crawlers". I read through the book and kept careful notes on characters and tech. Herbert does an amazing job with so little, almost nothing in the book is described by more than a few sentences. Amazing.

This model is made from faom core, paper and wood dowels. I used Illy to create the track and parasol shield patterns.

My sketches are OK, I'd rather build up in 3D. This is the drawing I started from, you can the things I kept and the things that were transformed by going from 2D to 3D. One major change is the elimination of the spice removal proboscis. In the lower part of the drawing you see the carryall that would come down to evac the factory once a worm is spotted. I have the thopter tech here using rotors, not sure I'm in love with that.

The factory is like a big dumb bug, I imagine the tracks to be quite flexible, as shown here. This would also allow it to traverse the deserts of Arrakis.

I don't think the factory crawlers are Fremen, more likely a combination of local Imperial and Ixian construction. Due to the harsh conditions and expense to get any sort of replacement parts, it seemed to me everything should be designed to be as practical as possible. In our world the Russians are the masters of this. Flat surfaces that can be easily repaired, or folded down to use as a repair stands. Off the shelf parts for transmissions, wheels and hinges. On Arrakis being able to make field repairs would be a necessity.

Here are some pics during construction.

You can see how 3D materials affect the design process. Plus you can't cheat as much, like in a drawing.

The segmentation is meant to allow for flexibility (like a steamboat pulling itself over a snag) and cooling. The frame becomes an accessible hard point in which other units can be easily attached.

Notice on the top there is a large slipper tank. I imagined this is where the melange would go, in the event of a close call with a worm, the carryall could collect the spice tank sans crawler.

Here the parasols start to get positioned on the frame. They would be movable and basically shield the factory from the sun. This would also allow for the factory to have an ungainly appearance, depending on the parasols positions relative to the sun. I tried to capture this in the pics of the finished model.

The stark patterning is also purposeful. The alternating black and white ares act as a heat engine and create paths of air movement along the panels for cooling. Like the stripes on a zebra and a Crookes radiometer. It also makes it look more like a beetle.

A quick shot to show scale. Maybe this will turn into a real model. Thinking on it.


Saturday, January 27, 2018

Bronco Chih Yuan in 1/144 Scale

So, I must be living under a rock. I came across this model recently and thought it was new, the sprues are embossed "2015". The Chih Yuan is turn of the century Yalu river combatant and was sunk in 1894. Typing in Chih Yuan brings you to a Wiki entry "Chinese Cruiser Zhiyuan", being somewhat illiterate on this subject, I finally realized that this is the same vessel. There are several english versions of the Chinese name. Anyway, I thought it was pretty cool and at around $100 a good deal.

Here is my take on this kit, call it a review. It comes in a nice sturdy box, good instructions with basic color call outs. There are two schemes, the white (above) and a grey, in which the white is replaced by grey.

What was especially appealing to me was the one piece molded hull. Very nicely done.

Here is the ramming end of the hull. As you can see, very nicely done. Dragon is a nice touch, the model is essentially "steampunk".

Parts details are well done and consistent throughout. The railings can be made in plastic or etched brass. Personally, I'd use the plastic, it's very thin and looks better than the flat brass.

Main guns (in open turrets) are slide molded.

Here are the air vent thingies, notice they are molded as one part, which will contribute immensely to my joy.

Here are those PE sheets and the plastic railings. All in all I am looking forward to the building. This kit is well done, not overly complex and an interesting subject. My only complaint is a lack of figures. There is some aftermarket (wood deck and turned guns), we shall see if I fall victim to this or not at a future date.

A full sized (working?) replica was also built in China.

Saturday, January 20, 2018


So, I am like totally, building Tamiya's 1/350th Yukikaze. It has these raised things molded on the deck...they look like grossly out of scale tread plate. Why would Mr. Tamiya put those on there? Who is he trying to fool? So I thought I would be a smart guy and chisel them off.

The left deck is my masterpiece, the other deck is the replacement deck sent by my nice friends at Tamiya America.

Here is a pic of the Yukikaze. Oops. Large wooden slats. Yup. Idiot. I'm sorry Mr. Tamiya, I will never doubt you again! Here let me get your slippers.

Time to get to work. First, grind opening in old deck.

Then use pliers to carefully rip the deck sections out while constantly reminding myself of all the wasted effort...

Main deck is next. Actually, I like grinding. Very manly. (coughs).

New decks. Time to start again. Thank you for your  time.
And don't be an Idiot.
Trust Mr. Tamiya.

Tamiya Modeler's Knife Pro 74098 Review

This is a thing of pure beauty. This handle, essentially the banal holder of your blade and the most basic tool for the building of the models. I bought this on a whim. I have used X-Acto branded handles from the dawn of time ranging from the classic all-metal to the newer plastic versions.

Once I hefted the Tamiya one the old X-Acto ones are now scrap.

Here are the two side by side. Conan would definitely use the bigger one. The overall aesthetic is a lot's like giving yourself permission to do this thing for real.

The blade mandible is larger. This gives the tool a nice feel. It's heavier and well balanced. The wider knurled collar is easier to unscrew, making it easier to swap out the blades. (I typically use pliers on the X-Acto ones). The blade is gripped differently, the two jaws with slots cinch it in place.

The solid rear handle. By screwing it in, it pulls the collar to tighten the spring loaded jaws. 

Comes with cover and 3 pairs of extra blades. Highly recommended. Does the hat make the man?

Here is the actual product, I got mine from Amazon for $17.23. It makes me feel like Conan and a concert violinist combined. Building models. Yup.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Mad, San & Cosmo: 3 New Gallery Pics

More pixels for your eyespheres...Enjoy!




Top is a scratch build of a Mad Max era vehicle called "Mach Fury". Middle is a vintage Hawk model of a San Francisco Streetcar. Built out of the box, I added the figures. Lastly, we have a 1/72 Bandai (GO BANDAI!) Cosmo Zero as piloted by Akira Yamamoto in Space Battleship Yamato 2199. Dig that cool aotake deck color!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Bandai Perfect Grade 1/72 Millennium Falcon Review

I found myself at NYCC last week. I've been to a lot of events, and yes these things are amazing, but I'm getting old and after a while the noise starts to sound like a thousand invisible air horns. After Gen Con last year, I said no more. BUT, I had to go for "work"...

So here we are. I made myself enjoy it.

This is me ENJOYING it. Look closely, I am almost smiling.

I planned on not buying anything. Not pictured above are the PO-ZU shoes I bought. I justified this by saying they were shoes. I got Finn's, they are all white. My wife has some issues with this.

In the box is the Falcon. The excitement broke my spirit to the tune of $400 bucks. I waited in two lines for 45 minutes just to get in the tiny Bandai store. There is no "shopping". You move through like an animal in an abattoir. Before your hit by a friendly electrified baton you point at your purchase and the nice girl at the register scans your credit card before your body hits the carpet. I LOVE BANDAI!!

I have this thing now, so let's review it:

This is a big kit. A box in a box in a box. Just so you know, I am already a "Bandait", meaning that I buy their kits sight unseen, because they are better than Tamiya. DO NOT SEND ME HATE MAIL.

Here is all 36 sprues. $400 divided by 36 equals $11.11 per sprue. Given that Disney/Lucas charges Bandai 20% for the licence, this is probably about right. Some of the parts are large, this doesn't include the frills such as the lights and PE.

Unlike Laura P., this thing is staying in plastic. What if I want to resell? Bandai always gets the detail.

More sprueage. 

All of the piping is separate and secured in a box to keep it all fresh during shipping.

Here is the PE and masking. Decals of all the "red wine" panels on sheet (reversed).

Here is the light module. Engines, landing, ramp and cockpit.

This is the frosted light piping for the engines. These are pretty thick.

Another gratuitous sprue shot.

So, this is an expensive kit, but probably the best Falcon period. I have not test fitted this, but I am sure it will slide together like clockwork. When I bought it I wasn't sure if I was completely happy. After a few days, my happiness is complete.

Here are my nit pics: There are lights, but no sound. The new Andromeda has sound. The painting guide is a bit skimpy. Should be more call outs, like those Wingnut kits.

Hey, I know how to make my nit pics go away. SEND ME A REVIEW SAMPLE and poof they are gone.

Keep up the good work Bandai!