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In-Box Review
Building Military Dioramas Vol.IV

by: James Welch

Originally published on:

More of the same dribble as in Voll III? Well yes and no. What was good in Vol. II is now better, what was worse, well… The first feature is not only an eye-catcher, but also an original, and well executed piece of miniature artwork. If any single item makes the book worthwhile then this piece by Charlie Pritchard, fits the bill. This time around however this is only one morsel in a collection of fine “eye food”. Mr. Pritchards scene is simply yet effectively executed around a sandbagged emplacement. The article has obviously been well researched, skillfully presented, and well painted. He choice of the Iran/Iraq conflict was a unique choice and only serves to enhance the overall interest factor.

Scene 2, is a great let down after the first piece. This is not because of a lack of skill, but the absurdity of the layout. We find two untarnished and abandoned MG positions, atop a bunker, lying in close juxtaposition with two enormous shell crater. The Machineguns, and their emplacements are seemingly
unscathed after such a ferocious attack in the vicinity of these two recent eyesores on the landscape. Now even the most feeble minded Deewab would realize
that the Mg 34 gun would no longer be standing in such circumstances. Additionally, everything is neatly laid out displaying all the various accessories, completely in contrast with the haphazard methods of nature and the battlefield.

The third topic is a scenette by Greg Cihlar, called “Checkpoint” This is based around the old Italeri Flak 43 gun and two figures. Not much to say about this one, other than excellent! The composition and painting are inspirational. If there are any negative points it would be that the text is woefully brief.

Number four, “Crossing into Russia3 By VP Studios, Here VP Studios break their own golden rule and part with tradition, by laying a structure parallel to the base. The otherwise excellent presentation losses some quality because of this. With a long structure, such as a bridge, this becomes even more evident. On the positive side there is a good historical lead in the introduction. This diorama, once again, suffers from the “regularity syndrome” where figures, vehicles and accessories all appear to be “strategically” and unnaturally placed. I would also question with skepticism, the idea of using scotch-brite on a painted
surface, to allow the resin colour to “peep through”. Maybe this is a personal quirk, but I far prefer to see painted items, as opposed to those partially “in
the raw”. Despite this the bridge does look effective in the photographs. Another disturbing element, involves the use of “scenes within scenes”. This tends to take away from the overall message the story teller is trying to convey, which is a crossing. Thus you have a guy hanging out at his buddy’s graveside, engineers removing charges, a motorcyclist enjoying a fag, a medic treating a wounded fellow, crw of the flak reading, (Mein Kampf??) working, etc. Just what the “Bozo” on the bridge is up to is anybody’s guess. All these little scenettes are fine by themselves, but combined lend, in my opinion, to a sense of clutter. The final shortcoming with this piece is the explanation, “additional details” were added to bring the kits up to date. Which details, how where why?? None of this is explained.

Painting a camel; Not bad, but the advice of heating a piece of resin over a candle flame, I find precarious in the least. Why not a hair-dryer set on low heat? The paint job here is effective and well explained. The base work is also well shown and detailed. The palette of colours is completely useless as the colours are shown but not indicated!! The back drop for the scene shot on page 33, would be fine if you were blind, and had been born in a jungle, and out of contact with all humanity prior to opening this book. Seriously, they should have opened the aperture to reduce the depth of field, or used a different,
neutral colored background. The scene thus depicted looks like Mt. Scopious Israel complete with modern architecture!

Under the tracks, by Greg Cihlar, this scene, while well executed is rather unbelievable. I mean what was the guy sleeping peacefully a s this steel behemoth (Ferdinand) rolled over his motorbike?? On the positive side the landscaping and earthwork techniques are well explained.

Marder in action. Here VP studios gain back a little of the luster lost in earlier work. A nice action filled and well balanced layout. Here the palette of
paints are done properly except that mysteriously mixture 3 is not given, and the paint brands used are not described. There is a slight conflict between the
full action pose of the Machine gunner and those at the “half-ready”.

Crouching Soldiers, the final piece, is more fabulous work from the talented hands of Mr. Cihlar. This includes the “gore of war” not an approach that I personally favor. While it is true that war is a messy business, I don’t think it is a necessity to depict it. Indeed If done skillfully, the hint of such is
enough and in some respects even more overpowering. Good taste should be the
over-riding consideration in such matters.

Overall I’d recommend this title, with much greater enthusiasm than it’s predecessor. Definitely a step in the right direction. I think a less commercial approach, and more modeler oriented interest would bring these manuals into a proper perspective.

Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Aug 22, 2002
  NATIONALITY: United States

Copyright ©2020 text by James Welch. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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