Thursday, 25 July 2019

Neon Genesis Evangelion enters project pipeline & some personal EVA treasures in my collection

Neon Genesis Evangelion was the first anime I owned in hard copy in the form of DVDs which I had scrounged and saved to buy, a few years after entering the workforce. So naturally the Evangelion series holds special meaning for me. Directed by Anno Hideaki, this iconic mecha anime first aired in 1995 in Japan. It has since seen a reboot through a series of movies i.e. Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone [1997]; Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance [2009]; Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo [2012]; and Evangelion: 3.0 + 1.0 [eta 2020]. It took me long enough but I finally got my hands on some Evangelion scale model kits and resin figurines to add to my project pipeline.

As my personal hobby convention would dictate, wherever possible each project universe should comprise a scale model (mecha/vehicle) and figurine kit. Sometimes it's only possible to find either one or the other and not both. So far I've been lucky as two other sci-fi anime universes included in my project pipeline had both (check out the third- and second-last photos below). 

Bandai Limited Model High Grade kits of the EVA-00 and EVA-01 as well as a 1/6 scale resin cast of Rei Ayanami
E2046 miniature 1/6 scale resin figurine kit of Rei Ayanami
Bandai Limited Model High Grade plastic scale model kit of EVA-01 Test Type
Bandai Limited Model High Grade plastic scale model kit of EVA-00 Protoype

Both the EVA-00 Prototype (Yellow) and EVA-01 Test Type model kits were chosen for a specific reason. In Episode 6: Showdown in Tokyo-3 of the original series, there was a scene in which EVA-00 holds up a shield to protect EVA-01 from a Fifth Angel attack as the latter was preparing to take another sniper shot at the angel. It's a cool scene I would love to recreate in a diorama, if I can find miniature trees in the correct scale. If not, I'll just pose them together sans a diorama setting. As for the figurine, my first from this universe will be Rei Ayanami who is the EVA-00 pilot.

Screen capture montage of a scene showing the EVA-00 (left) and EVA-01 (right) 

Back in the 90s when I first got into anime in a big way, there weren't many shows which held my interest. For a show to interest me then it had to have two things going for it. A great storyline and excellent animation. The latter characteristic was harder to come by in an age when digital animation technology wasn't the norm like it is today. So back then what caught my eye was work by directors like Anno Hedeaki (Neon Genesis Evangelion), Watanabe Shinichirō (Cowboy Beebop), Oshii Mamoru (Ghost in the Shell) and the great Miyazaki Hayao (My Neighbor Totoro, etc.). And my first anime series was of course Anno's 26 episode Evangelion which debuted in 1995.   

DVDs  of the original 26 episode series and The End of Evangelion movie still in pristine condition

Aside from the DVDs which I have carefully kept in pristine condition (see above), other Evangelion keepsakes included Gashapon or capsule toys I was collecting at a time when I was introducing my then young son to anime. (Incidentally it was then, sometime in the last decade, when I dropped the "excellent animation" requirement and just chose to enjoy any anime with a good storyline with him.) Gashapon, they are dispensed from vending machines in a random fashion so that you are never sure of what you will get apart from a limited range of products that is specified. What I remember is being extremely lucky in that I got Rei, Asuka and Shinji (see below) almost on my first try.   

Neon Genesis Evangelion Gashapon or Japanese capsule toys
Three separate capsule toys consisting of Rei Ayanami (left), Asuka Langley Soryu (center) and Shinji Ikari (left)
Pen Pen the penguin came together with the seated Shinji Ikari figurine

Also in my collection is a recent addition i.e. an artbook titled Evangelion Illustrations 2007-2017 (see below) published just last month by VIZ Media. This artbook showcases illustrations featuring characters from the series that was used on bullet trains, CD covers, film posters, etc. Here's a bit of trivia: when I first saw the characters drinking UCC Coffee I had no idea that it would eventually become my favourite brand of coffee. Now I drink up to three cups of the stuff everyday.     

Recently released artbook Evangelion Illustrations 2007-2017 is an English version of the Japanese original
Back cover of Evangelion Illustrations 2007-2017 artbook
Artbook contains a decade's worth of Evangelion illustrations used in various commercial settings
Sample page of Evangelion art work showcasing the characters and EVA units
Yet another sample page of Evangelion artwork; this time on the female characters
Info on the last page clearly shows that this artbook was published just last month, June 2019

As mentioned above, there are actually two other E2046 resin cast figurines (see below) in my project pipeline, and it's highly likely that either one would precede Rei Ayanami on the airbrush turntable.

Mobile Suit Gundam universe project pairing of the RX-78-2 and Sayla Mass
Space Battleship Yamato 2199 pairing of the battleship (Cosmo Reverse version) and Yurisha Iscandar

Before starting work on any new figurine, I have to first finish painting the Race Queen. She is coming along nicely and should be the next hobby project to be completed. After that I will decide on who next to paint ... either Sayla Mass from the Mobile Suit Gundam universe, Yurisha Iscandar from the Space Battleship Yamato 2199 universe or Rei Ayanami from the Evangelion universe. 

So that's that. A new sci-fi universe has entered my project pipeline. Neon Genesis Evangelion it is.

Friday, 19 July 2019

German Heavy Tank Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger (Henschel Turret); a MENG Model 1/35 scale model kit [Completed]

Slightly over a year after work began on a scale model recreation of Tank 124 of Pz.Abt. 505 circa September 1944 in Poland, the journey is now complete. In this recreation, a 1/35 scale plastic model kit with zimmerit decal as well as photo-etch metal accessory parts by Meng Model was used. 

Meng Model German Heavy Tank Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger (Henschel Turret)

To paint and weather the King Tiger, I had to use a wide variety of materials. These consisted of lacquer, acrylic and oil paints as well as pastels, enamels and pigment weathering products. At the very least, by working on an armored fighting vehicle (AFV) project one will expose oneself to many different hobby techniques. Techniques that will certainly come in handy in the future.  

Tank crew of the German Heavy Tank Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger
Black uniform of the tank crew required subtle contrasting to stand out
'Charging Knight' symbol adorns the side of the King Tiger's turret

Prior to final assembly, I touched up the face one of the tank crews (figurine that is pointing to the distance). My aim was to lighten the shadow near the bridge of his nose as well as improve the eyes. I succeeded in fixing his left eye which was the most problematic but totally forgot to fix his right eye whereby some of the whites of his pupil had leaked onto the eye lining below. But because this imperfection isn't really visible to the naked eye, I've decided to leave it as it is for the moment.  

Oops, looks like I missed a spot when touching up the crewman's eyes
Shiny blue metallic paint mixed with silver made for an interesting lens effect
Look Herr Commander ... enemy tank at our 2 o'clock
Scheiße! It's two T-34s trying to flank us
It's okay Herr Commander, if I point at them long enough they'll go away

A Meng Model scale model kit is arguably best attempted by a modeller with an intermediate to advanced skill set. But this particular King Tiger is one of Meng Model's easier kits, with a lower than usual part count compared to their other kits. So although the King Tiger is only my second AFV project, the aforementioned fact plus my previous experiences with Bandai Star Wars kits meant that the journey I took with this AFV scale model kit wasn't as painful as it could've been. 

Technically, Tank 124 still had half of its front left fender attached (based on historical tank wreck photos) ...  
but I hated the asymmetrical look so I decided to remove that together with the side skirts and other fenders
Overall weathering was restricted to show minimal to moderate dust and dirt accumulation
Inward bending tracks were also noted by other modelers signifying a possible shortcoming of the kit
Tank numbers '124' and 'charging knight' symbols are both water decals ...
... as is the zimmerit layer coating the turret and upper hull
Dust and dirt weathering was applied on the tank tracks and road wheels
Front view accentuates the sloped armor of the King Tiger, which made it difficult to penetrate

Painting little details comprising the tank's pioneer tools and other tiny parts on the hull provided a sense of comforting familiarity for me as I was more used to working with miniature figurines and their accessories. In that respect, the same went for both the tank crew. Unsurprisingly these were the bits that I completed quickly versus the significantly slower pace for the rest of the tank.  

Wood grain on the hammer (and axe, see below) handle was etched out using a sharp hobby knife
Wood grains on both instrument handles were made clearer by treating them with a dark wash  
Spare tracks have paint chip effects while tow cables display weathered metal effects 
Water decals were weathered to better blend in with the hull's zimmerit coated hull
Rear exhaust pipes display soot, burned metal and rust effects
'Charging knight' decal was also weathered as to better blend into the hull
Level of weathering on the tank tracks was just enough to show moderate dust and dirt accumulation

Below are shots of the King Tiger (Henschel Turret) sans her crew from an isometric viewpoint. It gives a better view of the tank tracks, upper hull and turret top.

Isometric view of the King Tiger (Henschel Turret) sans her crew
Without her crew, the King Tiger then had its turret hatches closed
Isometric shots afford observers with a better view of the tracks and turret top
Rear turret hatch actually opens up but because the inner section is unpainted, it remains closed
Color scheme seems dull but this makes sense as dull colors generally provide better camouflage
Even at 1/35 scale this kit is a huge beast, measuring roughly 28 cm (11") in length from gun barrel to rear exhaust
After receiving a coat of primer and paint, the spare tracks fit tightly/securely onto the hooks on the turret
Recreation of Tank 124 of Pz.Abt. 505, albeit with some creative license applied in parts

After the trails and tribulations of a moderately difficult scale model kit, I believe my next AFV project should revert to a simpler and quicker build. However, this'll be balanced by a more difficult painting process that involves learning a new airbrushing technique i.e. color modulation. All I know at this stage is that I would like to work on a German AFV that saw action on the Eastern Front during World War II. Something much smaller than a heavy tank. Until the reveal, I would like to thank my dear readers for having patiently followed the progress of this lengthy project. Thank you!

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