Monday, October 10, 2016

Building a 1/35 Japanese Kurogane 4x4 staff car diorama - Part III: wheels, figures, action!

When we left off in Part II (click here) I had just finished chipping the paint using the Hairspray Technique.

The build continued after that. Wheels went on normally at the rear, but I wanted to make the front wheels have more of a dynamic feel - I had decided that this jeep deserved a diorama base, it wasn't just going to be a static single model.  Sadly, the kit did not allow posing the front wheels, which required some surgery to the front axle and some new suspension to be scratchbuilt.

1/35 Kurogane Japanese jeep - the wheels start to go on
Back wheels? Fine. Front wheels? That axle ain't turning nowhere.

1/35 Kurogane Japanese jeep - the wheels start to go on
Such a pity that cute little air-cooled engine will never be visible.

1/35 Kurogane Japanese jeep - the wheels start to go on
Make your own suspension springs.

1/35 Kurogane Japanese jeep - the wheels start to go on
Some minor axle surgery, and the front wheels turn - hooray!

Then I finished the interior: seats, controls, etc, as well as installed the folded-back canvas hood (more on the hood later...). I tried scaling down a photo of a real Kurogane's instrument panel and printing the dials on A4 paper. Then carefully cutting them out and sticking them in. I wouldn't say it was a complete success, my printer just doesn't have that resolution, but it was an interesting exercise.

1/35 Kurogane Japanese jeep - the interior takes shape
Interior in position. I left the steering wheel out at this stage because I knew it was going to be a tight fit fitting the driver.
You can also see the gauge dials I printed on paper and stuck in - not amazing, but worth a shot.

Next up: planning the diorama.  I had an idea that I wanted to make a very dramatic scene, full of movement and energy.  I wanted to tell a story of a Japanese patrol who ran into an Allied ambush, and had to beat a hasty retreat. I always sketch my diorama ideas, to really finesse it before committing to the idea. Even if you're no great artist, this step is essential - planning saves time in the long run, plus it's exciting to see your ideas coming together when your actual model may be a long way from completion.

my diorama planning sketch
First ideas of the tall plinth base.

my diorama planning sketch
A little like Leonardo's sketchbooks.

Then I started the figures. The Kurogane staff car is a weird little thing, it has three seats: two in the front and one in the back. The two figures seated in the front came with the kit, and they are crazy under-scale - maybe deliberately so to make them fit within the tiny vehicle.  I also purchased a figures kit: 1/35 Japanese Imperial Marines, Tarawa, November 1943 by Master Box (kit # 3542).  It is a great kit, I highly recommend it - really beautifully sculpted, and full of detail. I wanted to use the officer figure as my third passenger, and with some tweaking he would be firing a pistol at the pursuing Allied troops.

Master Box Japanese Marines "Bloody Atoll series"
A great kit - recommended.

Master Box Japanese Marines "Bloody Atoll series"
This is the officer I wanted to adapt.

Here is the first trial of the figures in position, a dry trial to make sure they fitted and told a coherent story. The heads supplied in the vehicle kit were woeful, no expression at all, so I replaced the two front figures' heads with ones from the excellent Masterbox kit, full of emotion and expression. I also decided here to make the front passenger wounded, to add to the drama.

Dry fitting the three figures to see that they work
You can see the putty work involved in tweaking the poses of the figures.

Dry fitting the three figures to see that they work
Look at the scale difference in the torsos between the standing Masterbox figure and the 2 x vehicle kit figures seated!

Dry fitting the three figures to see that they work
Drama! Drama! Drama!

Come back for Part IV where I concentrate on the figures, and work out how to get even more life and motion into this diorama.

Until next time!



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