Monday, 2 August 2021

Passing the 500,000 milestone

 It took a while but after a decade of blogging, I finally passed half a million page views on my blog. Not an impressive number I grant you, especially when one takes into account the length of time that has passed before the milestone was reached. Yet it's a number I am grateful for. Why? Because in spite of all the views that may have landed accidentally, it still means a proportion of them, however small, comprise of readers who do want to follow my blog. For that alone I am grateful.  

 Sadly this milestone has occurred in the midst of other statistics of a much worse nature. Where I'm at, there are almost daily records for number infected, number of deaths, number of patients in the intensive care units, number of people dying in their homes, the list goes on in this never-ending pandemic. May you, dear reader, be safe in such trying times. And to all of you who have taken the time to read and comment on my blog throughout all these years ... thank you!

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Knight Models Marvel Universe Loki [Unboxing & Pre-Assembly Review] ... The Beginnings of a Loki Variant

 In a seemingly interminable period of endless dawdling, I had continually procrastinated on my Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) projects with the excuse that the miniatures in my collection did not closely resemble their movie counterparts either in features or attire. However, this feeble excuse for sitting on my MCU projects no longer holds true in more ways than one (see what I did there) with the introduction of Loki Variants into MCU Phase 3 & 4. With so many versions of Loki in existence, the Knight Models metal figurine in my collection can now lay claim to being one of them.     

Loki Variants as seen in Marvel's Mighty Thor - Issue No.3 (2015)

 So at risk of sounding like a broken record, I dusted off yet another keep-in-view project based on yet another flavor-of-the-month-inspiration. Such miniature figurines inevitably end up as to-be-revived-later-after-inspiration-wanes projects, although I've a good feeling that the Loki figurine is a keeper. It seems well suited to airbrushing which has become my go-to painting technique of choice. Of course, when it comes to figurines, it is almost impossible to paint everything via airbrush. The old paintbrush-by-hand method is still very much an integral part of the figurine painting process.

Knight Models Marvel Universe 1/28 scale figurines - Loki

Loki unboxed - a look inside the Knight Models figurine model kit

 A look inside shows that the Knight Models Loki miniature kit comprises parts made from two types of material i.e. metal for the figurines itself and resin for the base on which the figurine rests (see below). Based on experience, I will likely have to use putty to fill in joint gaps, and even mold the putty to mimic the surface texture of the missing gaps. While quite a challenge for novice modelers, Loki should be breeze for those of you with a fair number of projects under your belt.   

 While Loki Variants have existed in Marvel comics long before their introduction into the MCU, I still didn't quite make that mental-connection with my miniature projects. I guess I was too hung up on ensuring accuracy and likeness of the said miniatures with their movie equivalents in the MCU. It took the latest Marvel Studio made-for-TV-show, namely Loki, to break me out of an impediment I had created of myself. With the many Loki variants (see below for the show's versions) found in the MCU Phase 3 & 4, it was no longer an issue that the miniature looked nothing like Tom Hiddleston's onscreen character. Any Loki miniature can be a variant, and that's cool enough for me.     

Marvel Studios Loki (Season One) as seen in Disney+

From left, Boastful Loki, Kid Loki (holding Alligator Loki) and Classic Loki

President Loki (in the center surrounded by a multitude of other Loki variants)

Sylvie, a female Loki variant that was inspired by two characters i.e. Lady Loki and Enchantress

 You might be curious enough to wonder though, which variant does the Knight Model figurine actually represent. My opinion is that the figurine is nothing more than just a generic old-school representation of Loki, the God of Mischief. But if I had to choose, my guess would be that the figurine most closely resembles a variant known as King Loki (see illustrations below), which is described as one of the oldest and most evil incarnation of Loki. Cool. That just ramps up the inspiration level. 

 Loki is certainly fast becoming my favourite Marvel character, all thanks in large part to Tom Hiddleston's portrayal of the God of Mischief. This now has been enhanced by the brilliant performance of Sophia Di Martino and Richard E. Grant as Loki variants Sylvie and Classic Loki respectively. It's fitting I end this blog with a quote from the show ... I am Loki of Asgard, and I am burdened with glorious purpose. Meanwhile back here in Midgard, my glorious purpose is to stay safe. Hope you and yours are too ... safe.

Sunday, 11 July 2021

An ongoing tragedy played out in greek alphabets

 Alpha, beta, delta, kappa, theta and eta ... these are the Covid-19 variants that now exist within the community in my country. The first three are deemed  as variants of concern while the latter three is currently stated as variants of interest for now. In the past few weeks, there have been an increasing number of areas falling under emergency lock downs. Economically, normal citizens are struggling, with suicide rates in the country rising to four a day so far this year. Things aren't looking good.

 On the bright side, vaccinations are ramping up, albeit still at a slow pace. Most, yours truly included, do not have access to Pfitzer vaccines, which is currently the most effective in the fight against covid. Instead we are being vaccinated with Sinovac. That being said, I believe something is still better than nothing. Rather than crying foul over any perceived unfairness in who gets what, I believe even a vaccine derived from older technology can provide a modicum of protection that may, hopefully, make a difference against hospitalization and death. So with things as bleak as they are, I'm begging off ... yet again ... from the usual hobby posts. I bid you goodbye for now. Be well and stay safe!

Friday, 25 June 2021

Booth Bunny Companion Girls [WIP - Primed in light grey and Re-based with cork material]

 Many a painting project has been undermined by sloppy prep work on my part, and so lest I fail again at the first hurdle I thought I had better make a better go of it with the 1/24 scale Booth Bunny Companion Girls. This I approached using a two-pronged strategy. First was to re-base both girls by using a slightly larger pinning rod onto cork material instead of adhesive tack base. Second was to continue with the prep work after an initial light layer of primer coating before subsequently adding the final primer coat. To understand the rationale behind this two-pronged strategy, please read on.

1/24 scale Booth Bunny Companion Girls primed and re-based (front view)

1/24 scale Booth Bunny Companion Girls primed and re-based (back view)

 After assembly, there were a few issues that needed to be resolved before the foundations of an effective painting session could be established. Chief among those was to solve the inherent instability in both figurines's existing set-up. Not only were the figurines loosely rotating around the pinning rods, they were also tilting frequently because the rods themselves often sagged due to the blue tack's inability to hold them securely. This resulted in both figurines moving uncontrollably and unexpectedly when being handled, a situation that had to be rectified before painting began.   

Both figurines were re-based, first by attaching a slightly larger pinning rod into them ...

... which was then inserted into a base made out of cork material (top down view) ...

... all in all providing a more secure anchoring of the figurines for painting purposes

 To ensure both figurines did not move unnecessarily during painting I first replaced the existing pinning rods with slightly larger ones. While more force was needed to push the 0.09 mm diameter pinning rods into the 0.08 mm holes I had drilled into the figurines, it could be done and resulted in a preferably tighter fit. This together with the insertion of said pinning rods into a firmer base material (namely cork vs adhesive tack) successfully eliminated the instability that was a concern to me.   

Booth Bunny Companion Girls posed facing slightly inwards towards each other (front view)

Booth Bunny Companion Girls posed facing slightly inwards towards each other (back view)

 It took me quite awhile to wrap my head around the idea that more than one layer of primer coat may be required, with further prep work in between the coats. But I am getting better at this with each project. In the case of the Booth Bunny Companion Girls, I initially applied a thin coat of primer to highlight possible areas that needed additional prep work. And lo behold, there was indeed further work to be done. For example, parts of the skin required sanding down with fine grade sandpaper to remove unsightly blemishes I had missed the first time round. Tamiya Fine Surface Primer is especially suited for this use. Subsequently I applied the final layer of primer,  although technically you could still apply yet another light coat and do even more prep work before the final coat.  

Booth Bunny Companion Girls posed facing slightly outwards from each other (front view)

Booth Bunny Companion Girls posed facing slightly outwards from each other (back view)

 And maybe I should have done additional prep work over light coats of primer because even after all the care I took, there seemed to be a slight blemish that I missed (see below). But here is the weird thing. Try as I might, I cannot visibly locate the unsightly mark that seems so clear in the photograph taken using a macro lens. And at certain angles, the blemish cannot be seen even in the photos. What I suspect is that the molded shape of the figurine's face has too hard an edge that is highlighted under certain lighting conditions. How this will play out when I eventually start airbrushing paint on the figurines, well, your guess is as good as mine. What could go wrong? Right? Right?

A potential blemish on one of the figurine's face remains elusive to detection via the naked eye 

 As you may well have inferred from my insanely slow progress on my painting projects, nowadays the heart is not entirely in it when it comes to scale modeling and miniature painting. I suppose it must be the pandemic depression bleeding into my creative subconscious. The missus and I had registered for vaccinations way back in February but everyday it seems a new special interest group gets to cut queue. It's disheartening to say the least. Anyway this brings to mind a Valhallan proverb from the fictional memoirs of Commissar Ciaphas Cain ... 'Things can always get worse'. On that miserable note, I bid you au revoir and hope that you and your loved ones continue to stay safe.

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Booth Bunny Companion Girl B [WIP - Assembly]

 And then there were two ... Booth Bunny Companion Girls that is (click here to see the other girl). With the Hasegawa 1/24 scale Booth Bunny Companion Girl B fully assembled, the pair of car show models can now move on to the next stage namely the priming process and subsequent first layers of paint. For now, lets take a quick look at the fully assembled Girl B.  

Booth Bunny Companion Girl B, freshly assembled and posing next to a bottle of glue

 Not for the first time, the DSLR camera has helped me spot a flaw in my prep work, a flaw in which the naked eye could not detect (see third photo in the series immediately below). Look closely at her face and you might notice a hideous 'scar' or mould line running from the corner of her left eye across the cheek to the left corner of her mouth. So now I've to figure out an effective and clean way to remove this 'scar' before applying the primer coat. Speaking of which I had better give Girl A a once-over again to make sure I didn't overlook any similar flaws after her prep work.   

Hasegawa 1/24 scale Booth Bunny Companion Girl B work-in-progress: fully assembled

Booth Bunny Companion Girl B has a more interesting pose compared to Girl A

Flaw discovered via photographic observation: not the 'scar' i.e. mould line on her left cheek

A closeup view of Booth Bunny Companion Girl B, from the front

 Assembly of Booth Bunny Companion Girl B was comparatively easier than for Girl A, primarily because the former model's arms were already moulded in place thus only her hands required gluing to the body. However, similar issues affected Girl B's legs as with Girl A, and some calculated risks had to be taken to get the positioning of her legs as accurate as possible. I used the curvature of the left buttock as a positioning guide to first attach the left leg. Then the glued on left leg was used as a positioning guide for the gluing of the lower half of her right leg.

Assembly instructions for the 1/24 scale Booth Bunny Companion Girl B

Pieces of Booth Bunny Companion Girl B prior to her assembly process

Front view of Booth Bunny Companion Girl B; lying flat on her back

Back view of Booth Bunny Companion Girl B; lying prone, face downwards

 Similar to what was done to her companion, the Booth Bunny Girl B figurine had a 0.8 mm hole drilled into her foot, before a similarly sized copper rod was inserted into said hole. This functions to anchor the figurine securely onto the base as well as prevent any painting surfaces from being obscured during the airbrushing/hand-painting process. Previously I had incorrectly stated that a brass rod was used. Upon closer inspection, I believe that it is a rod made primarily from copper. 

Booth Bunny Companion Girl B [front view]; fully assembled and anchored to the base

A copper rod (not brass) secures the figurine to the base without obscuring any painting surface

Booth Bunny Companion Girl B; fully assembled [side view, from her right]

Her posture looks more interesting in that the 's-curves' are more prominent

Booth Bunny Companion Girl B [back view]; fully assembled and anchored to the base

The plan is to prime her and her companion in light grey, and work from there

Booth Bunny Companion Girl B; fully assembled [side view, from left]

Positioning and gluing of the arms and feet to her body was easier this time around

As with her fellow model, the details on Booth Bunny Companion Girl B are well moulded

 In terms figurine detail, Girl B is equally as good as her companion, in fact more so in a way. One example of this is the way you can see her shoulder blades hunched in towards her spine, in a naturally occurring way due to her posture. Of course to be fair to Girl A, this only comes about because Girl B has more skin exposed or is more scantily clad if you will.

With the arms moulded in place and only her hands needing to be glued on, the assembly process was far easier

Shoulder blades hunched inwards is an example of the realistic moulded details

Only complaint is that details on her hair are a bit sparse, especially near the crown

 Next on the hobby agenda would be either a continuation of the Booth Bunny Companion Girls project or a resumption of previously on-hold projects such as the Speeder Bike, etc. Incidentally, anything Star Wars related should get an inspirational boost now that I've subscribed to the Disney+ hotstar streaming service. Just watching The Mandalorian alone has gotten me all excited about Speeder Bikes again. It's nice to have that small silver lining in the undulating mass of dark clouds I find myself in. Inspiration begets work actually being done on my projects. This is the way.

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