Sunday, 12 April 2015

STUNT BUNKERS AND VEHICLES


ROUGH AND READY AND JUST WAITING TO BE DESTROYED!
 


After spending many months on various creations, slaving away for hours in the shed every day, there comes a time when I would like to take a short break from the constant pressure to produce a model that is as perfect as possible. This situation occurs every six months or so for me, the need to “take a rest” from the usual detailed modelling efforts. This “rest” can be accomplished in one of three ways; I can put together a straight kit without any of my usual “modifications”, a rarity indeed to anyone who follows my modelling projects. (The guys in my local modelling club don’t call me “The Butcher of Mackay” for nothing!) I can “adapt” any number of small scale vehicles, eg. small Matchbox toys or similar that I’ve collected over the years to produce slightly modified background vehicles to use in photographs. The third way is to play what I like to call “pot luck” – open a couple of boxes of miscellaneous toys and kit parts, dryfit a host of parts over a matter of hours and finally see what has been created. It sounds a little loose and free and it is in a way, however the results can be surprisingly effective in some cases. Most of the communication/tracking antennae and detail towers on my buildings are made in this very same fashion. Sometimes it’s just good to not follow a plan, although I suppose that most of my model efforts could be categorised under this banner. Usually though, I have ideas in my head that I follow through with, if at all possible. This “pot luck” procedure is pretty haphazard at best and I thought it would be of interest to those of you who follow my modelling ramblings.

In these cases, the models are quite rough in appearance. They lack many of the fine details present in other better quality subjects, their paintwork is “quick and nasty” and weathering consists of a simple “rubover” of graphite from a lead pencil. These stunt models exist for no other reason than to provide a release from the daily rigours of higher quality work, although with the current group on display in this article, I have special plans for them – total destruction in a future video movie! Yes, folks, they were born to die in horrible ways, either by fire or small scale explosions. At least, that’s the theory at the moment. For some reason, as I progressed into my fifth and sixth vehicle in three days, I sort of fell in love with the designs to a certain point and spent way too much time on painting and detailing them. It happens sometimes – you try to make something very rough and it ends up being better and more interesting than some of your regular work! The perils of imagination! What I was attempting to achieve was a collection of bunkers and vehicles that I could “destroy” in a future video, something that I really don’t want to see happen to my better models. Fire and plastic tend to produce molten messes together. I really don’t wish to spend up to three or four months on a creation, only to set it alight and video what happens. It’s way too heartbreaking. I feel for all those model makers in “Thunderbirds” who spent hundreds of hours building, detailing and painting models, only to pass them over to Derek Meddings who would place explosive charges and plastic bags full of petrol inside them and blow them to flaming pieces. Then again, it’s getting “the shot” that counts, not the longevity of the model. Besides, those model makers were getting paid for their efforts and they were just doing a job, so I would assume that there was very little attachment to any particular model. The majority were just created to be destroyed, pure and simple.
 

THE BUNKERS
This all began when I came across the polystyrene foam packaging surrounding a new stereo I had purchased at Christmas. You know the pieces – the end bits that protect the unit from damage. I look at certain shapes and see potential for a model. I’m terrible to take shopping, especially to those $2 stores where shelves of interesting shapes await the creative mind. Anyway, I took these polystyrene foam end pieces and attempted to spray them with acrylic car primer, after first adding some cardboard shapes to detail the roof areas. Well, the paint ate through the first few millimetres of the foam quite convincingly. Interesting effect, not unlike the surface of the Moon, but no good for me. I tried other types of paint in an effort to give the surface a protective coating, including some spray putty, but to no avail. The pitted surface became even more pronounced. 

Nice shapes for bunkers...
...totally ruined by spraying them with any kind of paint or putty!

After sourcing some additional foam pieces, my solution was to make a mixture of PVA glue and water and paint this all over each of my foam buildings with a four inch paintbrush. I spent some time adding extra foam sections to some structures, after firstly cutting them to shape with a hacksaw and smoothing the cut ends as much as possible. They were left to dry for a few hours, after which a couple of recoats of the glue mixture were applied. When totally dry, the buildings were finally sprayed with the grey primer, followed by a cheap spray can of light grey. Masking off with tape and spraying with a red colour provided additional areas of interest. Pen lines were drawn on all over the surface, after which I weathered each bunker with my airbrush, using a dark grey paint sprayed against a couple of business cards. They were certainly rough, both in texture and quality of construction, but I hope to get away with this by careful editing when I video them in the future. It took a little over eight hours in total to produce the final group of bunkers. Some were painted in the grey and red, while others became white with blue details, just because I had that particular colour in my collection. No additional spray cans were purchased. I used what I had in the shed. Basically the cost was zero and I used the cheapest materials and paint I could find in the shed. 








 

THE VEHICLES
After the bunkers, my creative juices were fired up and I dragged some boxes of toys and kit parts to the middle of the shed and proceeded to rummage through them, looking for interesting parts and shapes. Opportunity shops such as the Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul and Lifeline are a boon to my sort of model making as they sometimes carry good quality toys that can be converted, with very little effort, into futuristic vehicles and aircraft. In this case I was searching for toys that I could destroy or set on fire and I found quite a few in some of the boxes – fire trucks, cheap roadside construction vehicles and military tanks – all good for conversions. The main prerequisite for me is that they must be of a styrene plastic nature, not the soft Urethane material that very cheap toys can be made from. That stuff is virtually “unglueable”. After finding a host of pieces, I sat for hours, just putting the parts together and then reconfiguring them until I had achieved something that looked okay. This stage is entirely up to the discretion of the individual model maker. What I think looks okay may be totally unacceptable to others and vice versa.


So, once the basic shape has been established, kit parts and other toy sections are added for detail, any windows are masked off and then the vehicle is primed in grey. Usually the wheels are painted separately if they need it. I tend to use the primary colours of red, blue and yellow, along with silver, gunmetal and green to add a final colour to the vehicle, although it depends on what colours I have in stock. Additional handpainting of small surface kit parts can give detail and interest to the body. Sometimes I will mask off an area and airbrush a different colour, especially on the sides of trailer units. Lines can be drawn on in permanent marker and decals positioned if necessary. Car pinstriping tape (3mm or 1.5mm width) of varying colours can also be added to the vehicle to make it a little more realistic. Weathering is simply a matter of rubbing over with the aforementioned graphite to “dirty down” the model. If the wheels have been painted separately, they can now be put back on and the model is finished. I don’t usually bother about a sealing coat of matte or satin varnish on these rough stunt models. Because they're toy-based, these models are larger than most average kits, however they are still reasonably small-scale. The smallest is 150mm(6 inches) long, while the largest is 300mm(12 inches) in length. What follows is a set of photos of the construction stages and the finished creations that were fully completed over a period of about five or six days. I probably spent approximately six hours each day on them, so the total number of hours is not great at all. 

BEFORE AND DURING...
 



AND AFTER...






















 BEFORE AND DURING...




















 AND AFTER...



 BEFORE AND DURING...





































 AND AFTER...




















BEFORE AND DURING...
















 AND AFTER...


















 


BEFORE AND DURING...
 
























































 AND AFTER...






















BEFORE AND DURING...




 
















AND AFTER...




















  Yes, they are quite rough in appearance, although this may not be visible in the photos, but they will pass muster on video, especially when moving, blowing up or being set on fire. Using toys as a basis for all six vehicles means that all the wheels work, an important feature that most model kits don't have. It just goes to show that a model maker doesn't have to use kits to create a model. In fact, virtually anything can be utilised, from toys to household items. I even have plans to set one of these vehicles alight and have it crashing into one of my bunkers, but that’s at a much later date. Until then, I may just need to create a few more of these stunt vehicles and buildings.They were a lot of fun to do!










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