Wednesday, 29 August 2012


The Cheaper the Toy, the Better!

This model began life as a pair of cheap, armoured car toys that I purchased tor $3.00 each from a “cheap ‘n’ nasty” shop. Joining them, rear-end to rear-end, produced an interesting vehicle shape that I was able to build upon. With the addition of an agricultural water fitting to the top, I joined the two double gun units together with a piece of brass tubing so as to allow some rotation. In fact, except for the agricultural fitting, brass tube, some styrene sheet and Evergreen strips, a tomato sauce top for the cannon rotation and a few plastic kit parts, the entire vehicle is constructed from the parts that came with the original toys. Total model cost: $18; the most expense incurred was the paint!

(Above) The original toys pieces before any joining and construction. It took many hours to trim the various sections with a sharp scalpel as this Chinese-made toy was quite rough and consisted of a type of plastic that was particularly difficult to trim and sand. The cannons and rockets are removable, for transportation purposes.

The pair of armoured car toys were joined together, rear-end to rear-end. The blue section supporting the twin cannons is an agricultural water fitting. Inside it is the top from a tomato sauce bottle, providing the rotation of the guns which are joined in the middle by brass tubing inside another toy part. The basic colour scheme was selected to be yellow and red, just because I happened to have those two colours on hand!

The completed model before commencement of painting. The white areas are styrene sheet and Evergreen strips. A few kit parts give some much needed detail to the construction. They were carefully placed to seem as if they actually belonged to the vehicle. The Evergreen strips are there to cover up the large, gaping seam lines along the flanks of the original toys, as well as to disguise the joining of the pair of armoured cars.

After grey and then white priming, the base colour was sprayed from a can of acrylic auto paint. The red areas were hand brushed in Tamiya acrylics, while the panel and detail lines were drawn in permanent black felt pen. The wheels were painted separately. Weathering consisted of spraying a dark grey, through the airbrush, onto a business card stencil to give straight edges.

Sunday, 19 August 2012


Making Small Things Just That Little Better!

Take a close look at the background of any expansive model panorama from shows such as Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Joe 90 and a host of others and one will notice a collection of parked cars, heavy duty transport vehicles, grounded aircraft and the like, all carefully placed in the shot to convey a ‘busyness’ to the scene and to create interest for the viewer. Scale model aircraft were assembled and Corgi and Dinky toys, along with a host of Matchbox cars, were added to flesh out the background – set dressing as it were. Parked in front of buildings, waiting on the tarmac, moving across the screen – they provided additional ‘eye candy’ for the TV viewer and made this model world that much more real. We expect vehicles to be present in these circumstances – along city streets, parked near airport buildings, occupying car park spaces and the like, so the addition of toy ones into the scene reinforces our view of that scene as being more ‘real’ than it actually is. Perspective played a huge role in filming these scenes, the model trestle tables not being particularly large in area. The ‘hero’ model would be placed in the foreground while smaller vehicles such as the ones already mentioned occupied the background and extended the apparent depth of the scene. Car kits of varying scales were used in many parking scenes, from 1/24 down to the aforementioned Matchbox ones. Store-bought, cheap and very readily available, many hundreds of cars, trucks and model kit aircraft were utilised over the years of filming the various episodes. Many were left untouched and used as is, some were repainted to give more realism, most were lightly weathered to read more convincingly on film and a few were reworked with added signage, lighting and other details. Here are just a few examples from various shows:
Because I’ve needed to replicate the look of these Gerry Anderson shows with my own creations featured, I’ve had to assemble a collection of small vehicles for use in photographic situations. Some have had some minor work done to them, mostly in repainting and added kit details, although a few of them, chosen because they looked quite futuristic, have survived virtually intact. Occasionally I’ll find a small toy in a shop, but more often than not, a hunt through the local markets will net me half a dozen cars and small trucks that will fit the bill nicely. Second hand vehicles are usually a little worse for wear after being played with for many years and they require a little cleaning up to make them acceptable. If repainting is required, then the toy is spray primed and then given its final coat of colour. Tyres are painted and details lines added. With very little effort, an entire fleet of cars and heavy vehicles can be produced in a short space of time, ready to be placed in the background for photography.                                                                                          

Matchbox-scale car collection

N-Gauge scale cars for far distance shots

All background cars and vehicles stored safely in
their containers