12 February 2017

In Box Review – Bandai First Order TIE Fighter Set & Poe's X-Wing Fighter (003 & 004)

When Bandai started releasing their new Star Wars kits a few years ago they raised the game to a whole new level. Just focusing on vehicles we had a whole new range of 1:72 scale fighter sized models, and 1:144 scale larger sized spacecraft. And now, spotting another gap in their range, Bandai have started producing their fighter sized craft, in a smaller scale.

The 1:72 scale models are excellent. They are finely detailed and innovatively engineered in such a way that it is possible to snap fit them without any glue. In addition you have a choice of decals or stickers for the markings which opens up the models to a whole range of people, from children who want a simple toy, to model makers who want a finely detailed scale replica.

But can this excellence be scaled down? I've decided to take a look at two sets which feature vehicles from the Force Awakens film, the First Order TIE Fighter set and their adversary, Poe's X-Wing Fighter.



The first thing that come to note is that these are very compact offerings. No instruction manual, the instructions are printed on the inside of the box lid, although they are clear and in both Japanese and English. No decals this time, only stickers, I think they've taken a view that most people won't be comfortable with applying such small decals.

Looking at the plastic, there is, once again, plenty of detail despite the size. The part count is low and there's no clear parts, and as before they'll both snap together. The TIE Fighter set contains two TIE Fighters. One standard First Order fighter and one Special Force's fighter (the twin seater that Finn and Poe escape in during the film).

Star Wars Force Awakens - First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter Sprue
First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter Sprue (one of two TIE fighters in the box)
Star Wars Force Awakens - Poe's X-Wing Sprue
Poe's X-Wing Sprue
Each of the boxes also comes with a stand. In the case of the TIE Fighter set there is a twin stand or one single stand (which means you won't able to put both on single stands). If you don't want to use a stand then there's optional base plates to both TIE Fighter bodies which means you won't be left with a hole where a stand would connect.




I have seen these models advertised as 1:144 scale although in both cases the box does not mention a scale. Other models in the range, such as the Star Destroyer and Millennium Falcon (although there is an actual 1:144 scale Falcon) are clearly not. I measured a TIE fighter and compared it to a 1:72 FineMolds (original) TIE fighter and it seems to be in the same region, scale wise. This means they could easily accompany the larger 1:144 craft, such as the Millennium Falcon should you wish to create a battle diorama.

As I had them open I thought I'd go above and beyond an in-box review and start building. As you can see, a few minutes work and you'll have yourself a very nice little TIE Fighter. It's also worth noting in the picture you can see that the way the wings and cockpit top join it means you can't put this together in the wrong way. This is the same for every part, once again, an example of the thought that has gone into producing these models.

Bandai First Order TIE Fighter Set & Poe's X-Wing Fighte - Overall In Box Score: Promising. I'm scoring both kits together as they both offer a detailed but easy to assemble model. I have seen more complex 1:144 kits with clear parts and decals but these kits appear to be purposely simpler to appeal to a wide range of modellers. Certainly they're much better than any other Star Wars snap fit kits on offer.

Purchase:
Enjoyed reading this article? A purchase using the links below will help maintain this blog.



09 February 2017

12 Day Modelling Challenge: Day #12

Day 12 and I feel it’s time to bring this modelling challenge to an end by writing about an overlooked part of my hobby, reading and research.

For me I rarely build a model or paint a miniature without some sort of reading, or search for inspiration, or in some cases, in-depth research into the subject area. This takes up hobby time, but currently has no obvious direct physical result. A completed model is a completed model, and the depth of research, and the time taken, is not obvious at first glance. I have estimated that with my models I spent an equal amount of time researching a topic as I actually do working on the model itself.

I’m very much a person who likes reading and then, due to my creative, hands-on nature, I explore those topics via my modelling. It’s important to take this journey, it helps build connection between the concepts and information I read and the, physical, real world object I create in my hands. There’s also the issue of accuracy. I get a sense of achievement by producing an accurate model. Again this is personal to me, as I’m not the kind of person who would take time to comment on the inaccuracies of the work of others, only my own work.




It’s slightly different when it comes to the miniatures I paint. In this case I’m trying to create a physical representation that fits a theme. An example of this is when I paint models for Warhammer and I’m trying to aim for miniatures which fit a certain era of the Warhammer world, both the fictional world and a point in time of the real world, something I have written about before.

This reading and research gives me time to engage with my hobby when I’m not sat at my desk working on the models themselves. Usually this is time during the week as I tend to only have time for actual modelling at the weekends. But until now it’s not really been reflected on this blog. When I’m not modelling it appears that I’m just inactive, which is far from the case. And so that’s why I’ve decided, going forward, to share my research here, as I get as much enjoyment from writing about models, history, my inspirations and interpretations as I do from actually building them.

In the coming weeks and months you will see two types of new posts, they will be called, History in Detail and Inspiration in Detail (and will be labelled as such to assist searching). History will typically focus on the real life historical aspects of a model I’m building. This might be a look at the type of aircraft I’m building, the pilot who flew the aircraft or broader themes such as the campaigns in which an aircraft or vehicle took part in. Inspiration will be more geared (but not exclusively) towards my miniatures projects. In this case it will look towards the literature, games etc. which influence the miniature that I’m creating or helped shape my interest in that topic in the first place.

31 January 2017

April the 1st Comes Early?

Of all the strange things that have been happening as of late, here’s another. Yesterday it emerged that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), in the UK, had written to the Games Workshop CEO, Kevin Rountree, asking that the miniature war-gaming brand ban 'fur' garments from all Warhammer characters.[1] They go on to claim “while we appreciate that they are fictional, draping them in what looks like a replica of a dead animal sends the message that wearing fur is acceptable – when, in fact, it has no more place in 2017 than it would in the year 40,000.”[2]

This is not satire.
Source: PETA

Before I continue I should point out my personal stance on animal rights issues. I believe animals should not be treated as commodities or exploited. I live in vegan household and the majority of the time I follow a vegan lifestyle (and when I’m not, I’m vegetarian). I believe that conversations need to be had about our relationship with the other species that we share a planet with. I also believe ill thought out actions and attention seeking publicity stunts by people like PETA benefit only PETA and undermine the serious and hard work people are doing to raise awareness and promote active change.

So back to Warhammer 40K. I have no intention of getting deeply into the lore, as I've been out of the loop for some time. I'm more Quorn than Khorne these days but even so, I’m pretty sure there isn't any active promotion of the exploitation of animals within the game worlds of the Games Workshop. To be honest what they’re targeting exactly seems a bit of a muddled mess. Are beast races in fantasy setting included or indeed the fantasy setting as a whole? What about historical miniatures made by other companies?

And then there’s the target audience of the Games Workshop. Are they more likely to wear fur or condone the wearing of fur after seeing these miniatures? I would say not, the war gaming audience doesn’t exactly strike me as big wearers of fur. I’d like to see some genuine, actual research, from PETA along such lines. Do plastic figures dressed in fur make people less compassionate towards animals? If such research took place and showed a link, then I’d be prepared to listen (and write a retraction to this whole post).

In the midst of all this PETA miss some genuine issues which they could have picked up on. As I mentioned before, things get missed in clamour for attention. Such as, animal products within items like paintbrushes, or the environmental impact of microbeads in textured paints and the plastic production itself. These are issues and criticisms which could have been legitimately raised to the Games Workshop but now will mostly likely be missed in the ridicule which is sure to follow this empty gesture.

And just so I'm not completely hating on them, their recipes section is pretty good, do go check that out.


References

 1. PETA UK (2017) PETA Asks Games Workshop to Ban 'Fur' from Warhammer Characters. [Online] Available from: PETA UK [Accessed 31 January 2017]

 2. PETA UK (2017) Why is PETA Asking Games Workshop to Make Warhammer Fur-Free? [Online] Available from: PETA UK [Accessed 31 January 2017]

Kit List, What's In, What's Out for 2017 - January


Part way through last year I decided to keep a record of everything hobby related that I bought and sold in order to keep track of my hobby consumption. Although I didn't buy an excessive amount I also didn't get much completed.

With a new year starting I've decided to repeat the whole exercise, and actually complete more models. After all what the point of buying them and not building them? I'm not looking to create a bigger stash because I want to keep my hobby consumption at an efficient level.

In - Purchases for January 2017
  • Oil paints (for weathering) - £7.90
  • Tamiya paints x2 - £3.60
  • 4x Bandai 1:144 Star Wars Kits (X-Wing Starfighter, Y-Wing Starfighter, Poe's X-Wing Fighter, First Order TIE Fighter set) - £25.66 
Total Yearly (207) Expenditure - £37.16

Out - Downsizing for January 2017
  • Eduard 1:48 F6F-3 Hellcat

28 January 2017

12 Day Modelling Challenge: Days #10 & #11

The last couple have days have seen me start one of the planned models on my 2017 wish list. The model is the Airfix 1:72 Bf 109E-7/Trop. I’ve had this model for some time, I picked up it last summer for just £2.99 before it was discontinued by Airfix.

1/72 Airfix Bf 109E-7/Trop

I initially thought it was an older boxing and so had decided to sell it as I wanted to purchase and build the newer Bf 109E-4 kit, a kit which I’d owned and started before then destroying with a bit of overzealous conversion work. It was only after a quick look on the scalemates website that I realised the discontinued Bf 109E-7/Trop kit was actually exactly the same kit with an extra sprue for the external fuel tank and bomb load of the later variant. Presumably the similarities were the reason why it’s been discontinued as Airfix seem to be consolidating their range and getting rid of any duplicates.

So I’ve been here before, construction has started with the cockpit, I’ve even managed to salvage the instrument panel from my previous attempt. I won’t be using any of the other interior photo-etch as this cockpit will be occupied and the model will be portrayed in flight.


As for the colour scheme, I’m going to opt for the lesser known Bulgarian scheme, in the markings of an aircraft flown by Bulgaria’s highest scoring pilot, Stoyan Iliev Stoyanov. I’ve recently been reading about smaller WWII air forces and pilots, particularly those from the Balkans, and so this fits in nicely with my research.
1/72 Airfix Bf 109E-7/Trop
Bf 109E-7 - Bulgarian Air Force - 1942
Source: Airfix