Great review by Adrian Hopwood
Mr Blacks Publications
Scale Model Handbook – WWII Volume 3
I’ve got to admit that the WWII Special, Volume 2 was, well, something really special. It’s the first time I’ve read articles about painting camouflage and having then followed the methods, actually got something out at the end that I was happy with. In fact I’ve been painting camo of different types ever since..... OK not solely, but enough to raise the eyebrows of my friends.
So I was looking forward to this third instalment, granted that it is filled with articles by different authors, rather than just features with man Jin Kim as the writer, “It’ll be good.” I thought. 82 pages of ‘good’ actually and not all of it German subjects either.
So who do we have on the writing team in Volume 3, well a lot of the staunch and practiced usual suspects – Stelios Neofytidis, Toshihiro Sano, Ernesto Reys Stalhuth and Calvin Tan are joined by David Hernanz Cadevilla, Christos Katselos and Michael Lee. Inside there is very little in the way of advertising, front and back inner covers and a single page at the back is all, the rest of devoted to painting figures.
And what subjects are covered then?
Well, we begin with a cleverly constructed Sherman Tank diorama, showing the moments prior to an attack by two German infantrymen. The two sides to the diorama, split by part of a cottage is highly detailed and gives just the right amount of tension. The figures used are a mix of kits and some scratch building and conversions, with the groundwork being wholly scratch built. This is shown in several pictures with a decent account in the text to back it up.
Another diorama is featured in the second article, this time rather than a French village, the setting is Budapest. German soldiers inside a house corner planning a raid. Again the attention to detail is very well done and considering that both these scenes are in 1/35th scale, the reader can be fooled into thinking they are actually a lot larger.
Simplicity (on the face of things at least) are given to us in the third article; two Alpine Russian figures, again in 1/35th scale. It brought a smile to my face to see these two in an article, having just painted one of them up myself. Nice to compare the painting – I think that Calvin Tan’s figures in the article might be slightly better...... Hey, but only slightly mind J
To ring the changes as far as scale goes, the next article is of a 1/16th scale German machine gunner, unusually the author (in this case Toshihiro Sano) has added camouflage to the face. I can’t recall seeing this done before and it adds a very different spin to the figure.
Back to the small scale though for the fifth article and this is a Mantis Miniatures kit of a German Military Policeman. A simple pose but again well handled with the paint job, which was done for the box art.
Continuing with unusual subject matter, the seventh article features a bust of a French Foreign Legion skier. It’s a dark and brooding piece, given character by the face being painted with a heavy accent of pinks and purples to heighten the feeling of cold.
A Life Miniatures bust follows on from this, with a kit of a British Soldier on the retreat to Dunkirk. The smiling face belies the troubled times he’s been through and the bandaged head and ragged hole in the tin hat tell a truer story of this subjects woes. Painting is handled well and although he looks very clean faced, I think this points to the youth of the fellow being depicted here.
Whilst the 1/35th scale German Military Policeman in an earlier article looked rather serene and in control of things, the next article shows is what might have happened next when a full brigade came through. A 200mm bust (more half figure ) of a screaming German Copper, obviously losing his rag at some driver is not only well handled, but you can almost hear him shouting. It brought a smile to my face.
These are only relatively short articles, two pages for each, but enough to whet the appetite for something more involved; A Leningrad diorama showing two small groups of soldiers, Germans on one side of a factory wall and Russians on the other. Neither group can see the other, but perhaps they can hear their opposing numbers moving stealthily through the bombed out debris. The diorama uses stock kits in 1/35th scale to create a clever scene with that little bit of “what happens next?”
German subjects have featured heavily so far and this continues into the last three articles.
One features a 120mm commanding officer, a cold setting with enough snow to make you shiver. A second article features just a single figure taking a shot over a stone wall. This is small scale but well done and interesting in its own right.
The final article shows just how good the plastics industry has got with figure production. Dragon 1/35th scale and Master Box figures go in to making a vignette featuring German soldiers in a cautious advance around some stone built buildings. Perhaps not quite as good castings as resin offerings yet, but certainly catching up and the article displays what can be achieved by someone with a bit of patience and capable paintbrush.
As noted in Stelios’s introduction to the magazine, this is the 25th Edition of the Mr Black Publications Scale Model Handbooks and to be blunt, he hasn’t let the quality of the handbooks themselves, or the articles therein drop in all that time.
I know I always give these Handbooks a good write-up and although they aren’t cheap, I do feel that they go beyond what we expect from a magazine and enter into the realms of reference for what can be done to convert, paint and display our models.
Good stuff from Mr Demiras and his team of writers.
Available from Sterlios Damiras direct at Mr Black Publications,
PO Box 76341
17110 Nea Smirni,
Historex Agents, price £23.35
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