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Dioramas
Do you love dioramas & vignettes? We sure do.
Contest: Cold feet - part II
GeneralFailure
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European Union
Joined: February 15, 2002
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Posted: Friday, November 08, 2002 - 10:41 PM UTC
(sequel to previous post : "Contest - Cold Feet"
The trouble with Volkmar
I was about to get Volkie out of the picture and pay him a handsome fee for breaching his contract to feature in my contest diorama. Then I got his lawyer on the phone. Took me half a week to find a settlement, then I got his mom on the phone with a heartbreaking story that I couldn't let her son down after all he'd done for WWII and that bringing him into the vignette was the decent thing to do. I was in tears and promised to look into his file and see what I could do.
I won't bother you with the details, but an out-of-court settlement to get him OUT of the vignette would have cost me more than 30 US$ and thus make my entry impossible for the contest. If I wanted to make the vignette with an American or Russian soldier, as I half-heartedly had considered, I'd have hell to pay.
So I finally agreed to keep Volkmar in, but with a few conditions of my own. I needed him to pose without the gear on his back, and carrying a Mauser instead of the rusty MG42. And loose the grenades ! He'd have to look like a sniper, or I would cancel the whole project. Volkmar (through his legal aid Hermann) agreed to that.
So finally he returned in the same outfit, dressed for winter, looking like this :



I said that he really looked the part but he'd have to loosen up a bit. I showed him around the model of my tree (which is now completely finished but not yet painted). He likes the idea of a treehut, but started nagging about exposure. Of course, when he is INSIDE the tree hut, he'll be a lot harder to spot.
So Hermann suggested to display Volkmar in a resting position OUTSIDE the tree hut. I then suggested Volkmar would sit on one of the branches, but he refused that. "If you have snow in the picture, I'm not going to sit on a snowed branch". Climbing an oak tree with a greatcoat and a Mauser would be no picnic either. So I suggested to sit Volkmar on one of the thick roofs of the tree, looking out over the terrain. "Not in this lifetime'", he said. "Not in wet snow, I won't !" Hermann and Volkmar then suggested I would install a comfy sofa in front of the tree and maybe a cosy fire and a kettle of hot coffee. Thanks to my experience in dealing with airline union delegates, I was able to find a workable solution.
If there is a kid's treehut up that oak tree (which I need to meet the Window requirement), why couldn't there be a swing hanging from one of the branches ? Easy for Volkmar to dust the snow away and get a dry seat. It offers a comfortable resting position, and the tree hut is easily available up above to take position when he gets the signal that enemy troops draw closer.

The scenario
The contest vignette will show a bored German sniper who has chosen a kid's tree hut as an advantage point to do his sniping business. He knows the enemy is coming, but he's at this tree for more than three days now and he gets bored. He just came down to stretch his legs for a few minutes and pee against the tree stem, now he sits down on the swing for a moment, listening to the absolute silence of the woods in front of him. The rustling of a squirl in a tree and the sound of a few magpies fighting in the distance, that's all. The first snow even seems to make it all more quiet. No sign of the enemy.

Building in progress
The tree is almost done. The tree hut was made, but will be replaced by a smaller (kid's) version. Not in the dark colors I did first, but something a little more girlish, maybe even in pastels of blue and yellow. A reall kid's tree, but not used since many months (since the war began ?) and a bit used.
I'll also install a swing from one of the branches. I adapted the tree so there's a sturdy horizontal branch to pend the swing from.
All it takes now is to adapt Volkie to a 'swinging' position. As you can see from the picture above, the model by Wolf is WSH023 - German WWII soldier in greatcoat and snowsmock - and you'll have to agree that he doesn't really look the swinger.
I spent most of the evening adapting Volkmar's position into something more "alive". He's seated on a swing, holding the swing rope with one hand (sigarette between his fingers) and in the other hand he holds the other rope plus the barrel of his Mauser. The gun's butt is resting on his knee. The basic structure is done, it only takes some extra modeling detail to adapt the arms to the new position. I made a new greatcoat that hangs open from the waist down, showing his camouflage throusers. (with tissue and the famous white glue technique). This allows me to paint SS camouflage pants, combined with the blue-ish greatcoat and the white snowsmock. His postion looks quite good and natural, and I'm happy with it. Only this morning I decided to redo one of the arms, to make it look even better.
I think it will another day to finish the figure and make a swing, another day to make and install the tree hut. Then I can start painting. When all the painting is done, I'll install the ground on my dio base and fix the tree roots into the ground. Maybe add some extra vegetation. Then I'll start running some tests on the "microballoons" snow. See what gives the best results (on an extra piece of tree I made specially for this). When I'm happy with the result, I'll put snow on my dio. I had planned to try to make some ice, but the whole dio base (15" round) is filled with the tree roots, so a puddle of ice woulnd't look natural in there.

As always, I'll keep you posted on the advance. There' won't be a lot of modeling tomorrow. I'ts my wife's birthday and I have to cook a diner for eight. I think I'll try an African recipe : moambe. It's been many years since I cooked that, and it'll be heartwarming in this sh***y weather. Sunday will be a good modeling day, though !

The "other" Volkmar ?
"What will happen with that superb little model of Volkmar blowing his hands in the cold" (see "cold feet" - part 1), I hear you ask. Well, that will be used in a next dio. Maybe I'll place it next to the Swinging Volkmar in the dio (but not for the competion). The two figures look splendid together. But for the contest, there will only be Volkmar The Sniper, not Volkmar The Cold. (and of course to tree hut to meet the contest's window condition).

I'll have dinner with Volkmar and Hermann on Monday to finally discuss his fee to be in this vignette, but I think I'm in a good negociating position now. I sent his mother a box of Belgian chocolates. That'll soften the mood.
slodder
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North Carolina, United States
Joined: February 22, 2002
KitMaker: 11,718 posts
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Posted: Saturday, November 09, 2002 - 01:29 AM UTC
I bow to the master story teller! Wonderful stuff GF.
I love the tree hut idea. I had considered something similar but didn't have the courage to try it.
Cheers
Eagle
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Noord-Brabant, Netherlands
Joined: May 22, 2002
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Posted: Saturday, November 09, 2002 - 01:50 AM UTC
GF ,

I think you found yourself a new hobby...writing. That's some story that's being told. Can say only one thing.."I LOVE IT" !!

Keep it up.
REMEARMR
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United Kingdom
Joined: August 17, 2002
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Posted: Saturday, November 09, 2002 - 02:18 AM UTC
The scene sounds great, it is amazing the vast range of idea's that have been shared from a few simple rules. I've been on leave for a week, come back and find people have finished their dio's already, I suppose I should try and make a start on mine.
Will we be seing a scattering of other toys in the dio, a rusty childs tri-cycle will give the impression of the treehouse not being used for a while.
Cheers
Robbo
PS My wife put up our Christmas tree yesterday #:-) (:-) . Can anybody beat this?

PPS I sometimes have a Private Message waiting for me, are you familiar with this soldier?
GeneralFailure
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European Union
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Posted: Saturday, November 09, 2002 - 04:41 AM UTC
That tricicle / toy idea is wonderful ! Thanks ! I'll let it simmer for a while, and I think it might lead to something. I'll keep you posted on that.

That X-mas tree is an early bird indeed ! Problem with that is : it may start loosing its needles and look shabby before X-mas (unless it still has the roots).
GeneralFailure
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European Union
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Posted: Saturday, November 09, 2002 - 04:44 AM UTC

Quoted Text

I think you found yourself a new hobby...writing.


LOL ! Danny, modeling is my hobby, writing is my job !

penpen
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Hauts-de-Seine, France
Joined: April 11, 2002
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Posted: Saturday, November 09, 2002 - 08:19 AM UTC
At the hobbystore, I found a metal box with "microballons" written on it. It was rather cheap so I baught it ! Now, when I get back home, I open the box, and guess my surprise : the microballoons are grey !!!!
GeneralFailure
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Posted: Monday, November 11, 2002 - 05:33 AM UTC
I spent all day yesterday finishing the tree, and painting it (dark brown/black with mossy green shine). Painting all those twigs took me almost three hours. I also built a new tree hut with wooden shingles roof and yellow/blue painted walls - for the kids that used to play in it. Today, I experimented with the microballoons snow on a separate tree first, and then sent a snowstorm over the tree. It looks really neat. The treehut got a good dusting of snow too. That completely hid a full hour of shingle making, placing, painting and weathering, so I feel a bit like a fool now. But the result looks good !
Painting Volkmar
I assembled Volkmar in the good old Frankenstein method : sawed off everything beneath the belt and replaced it by new legs showing the camo pants, gave him new arms and hands, added the snowsmock part and the greatcoat beneath the belt (hanging loose and open since he sits on a swing). Now comes the tricky part : painting Volkmar. I think my diorama skills are ok but I'm not in the top 100 of best figures painters. I think I'll start all that tonight after dinner, when Junior is in bed. Gotta go cook now : Chinese steamed pork ribs with black bean sauce and lacquered pork belly with white rice (you see: I'd never make a good muslim !).

When Volkmar's painted, I'll scratchbuild a swing and a rope ladder for the tree hut access. Then I'll finish by making the ground work (all snow around the tree roots, maybe some extra plants) and assemble the whole thing. Then I can take pictures and .... voilą !
GeneralFailure
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Posted: Monday, November 11, 2002 - 11:25 AM UTC
Before going to bed, I decided to make the dio base. Casted a plaster floor, embedded the tree roots, waited till dry. Painted the bottom in white paint and dusted ad libidum with snow (microballoons). I can't wait till all is dry to see the end result when I blow the 'snow' away... Thank goodness I invested in a carbon filter breathing mask before I started "snowing" with those microballoons ! It would have cost me ten years of (the little that is left of) my life !

Here's a warning to all of you ! Those microballoons may make lovely snow, but use safety precautions before you yank open that jar. Use a breathing mask and ventilate well when done. (I suggest don't open a window WHILE using the stuff or you'll be cleaning microballoons for a decade).

GeneralFailure
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European Union
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Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2002 - 12:26 PM UTC
The only thing in my dio I did not like too much - not to say that I hated the idea - was the painting of the figure. I painted and stripped the face four times during the past three evenings, both trying oil and acrylics. The results varied between horrible and disastrous. I was getting pretty desperate. Finally, I continued where I had left off last night, and now the result looks acceptable. Nowhere near some of the great examples I've seen on this site, but acceptable.

Painting the rest of the figure was more fun. I gave Volkmar autumn-colored oak leaf pattern camo throusers for which I found this interesting reference article, a field grey greatcoat and white snowsmock. The helmet became steel grey. When all was done, I added a leather strap to the gun (thin strip of wine bottle cap lead foil).
The most fun was giving it all a wash, and highlighting some areas. I learned a lot here, by careful reading all the kind advice in the "figures" forum ! Thank you to all of you !

Now the end result may not be among the top figures in the Armorama league, but it is by far the best paint job I ever achieved alone. That alone made it worth doing this little dio !.

To increase the "sniper" element, I may scratchbuild a scope to add to the Mauser later this week. I leave Volkmar a few days to dry first, and then give him a flat coating. I look forward to seeing the result when it is all matt.

Tomorrow night, I'll try my hand on scratching a swing I can sit Volkmar on. By the end of the weekend, I'll assemble it all, and take pics to upload.

Maybe the tree needs a little leak of white paint still, I have the impression the snow gets a little yellow at some places. I wonder if that may be caused by the glue. We'll see. As always... I'll keep you posted !