March 31, 2014

Links & Web Gems: Figure Painter Magazine Issue 11 Now Available

Figure Painter Magazine Issue 11
From the publisher- This issue is packed full of stuff that will not only help you become a better painter but a poorer one as well :P. We have unboxing reviews of miniatures from scale75 and Dark World Creations and also paint racks from Basecrafts and an in depth review of some Proxxon modelling tools. Italian sculptor, Paolo Fabiani tells us what makes him tick and he shows us how he sculpted one of Antimatter Games’ new miniatures. Sergey “WE7”Chasnyk shows us how to paint chaos spacemerines and we continue our airbrushing series by showing you how to do the salt masking technique. We also have a great giveaway contest and all of our usual features. Not to mention the insight interview with Fernando Ruiz Ceano from Heroes and Villains Miniatures.

BEST DEAL ON THE WEB! FPM is available as a downloaded PDF for less then $2.00 a copy.  FPM is a independent magazine dedicated to sculpting, painting, displaying, collecting and gaming with miniature figures from all genre's. The magazine has details on new releases, reviews, interviews with the industries top painters and sculptors, show reports, tutorials and a user gallery. 

March 28, 2014

How to Photograph Models by Andrea Press

How to Photograph Models is the latest in the best selling line of hobby how-to books by Andrea Press. With this book you will learn the basics of photography, the performance of different types of cameras and mobile devices. Build your own photography studio and learn how to control the lighting for your scale model shooting with professional quality.

• 48 pages
• Format: 210 x 297 mm
• Over 100 full color photographs
• Soft Cover
Pre-order now and save 15%


March 27, 2014

Ak Interactive Introduces a New Wargame Range of Paint Sets

AK Interactive has just released what is being dubbed the "new generation" acrylic paints. AKI has always been distinguished by the quality of its weathering products and now AKI is doing the same thing for paints with a new generation of acrylics, entirely developed in the AKI laboratories. These new acrylic colors offer all kinds of advantages and improvements that will help you paint your models quickly and smoothly. These colors are specially designed for airbrush and brush use, which do not clog the tip of the airbrush and are easily cleaned with water. 

The first of these new paints are being issued under another new series called  Wargame Akrylic Sets. This series offers a wide range of specific colors for "modulation" painting so each color has tonal variations to give more depth to your model and are specially diluted to create the necessary transparency to paint a model using this method. These sets also incorporate the Scale Reduction Effect*, where the tones are subtly lighter than actual color leading them to appear correct to the eye on smaller scale vehicles. The back of each box contains a step by step explanation of the "modulation" painting process. 

AKI 1124 Wargame Series German Red Primer Modulation & Effects Paint Set 
AKI 1131 Wargame Series Us Olive Drab Modulation & Effects Paint Set 
AKI 1160 Wargame Series German Panzer Grey Modulation & Effects Paint Set  
AKI 1167 Wargame Series German Camouflage Modulation Paint Set 
AKI 1552 Wargame Series German Dunkelgelb Modulation & Effects Paint Set  
AKI 1553 Wargame Series 4Bo Russian Green Modulation & Effects Paint Set 

Scale Reduction Effect*
Scale reduction effect reduces the intensity of a color to replicate its appearance to the human eye at different distances. If you view real vehicles, you may have noticed how the colors on a vehicle fade a bit in intensity the further you get from the subject. The same applies to buildings, cars, etc. Conversely, the perceived colors intensify in hue as you get closer. The scale effect theory states that viewing a 1/72nd scale tank from 12 inches away is the same as looking at the full-scale tank from 72 feet away. Paints for small scale vehicles (those 15mm, 1/72nd and 28mm) in the AK Wargames range incorporate Scale Reduction and are slightly lighter than the actual color leading them to appear correct to the eye.

View a PDF of the latest AK Interactive Catalog Here

March 24, 2014

MichToy's Links & Web Gems: Toy Soldier Art!

Artist Joe Black is known for making massive mosaic-like works based on popular imagery, using large quantities of manufactured miniature objects.  To make his works, Black says that he will use anything small and plentiful—ball bearings, Lego bricks, button pins, and coolest of all...toy soldiers —as long as it relates to the image. For example, his work Made in China (2011) depicts a famous 1938 portrait of a Chinese boy soldier, crafted from over 5,500 toy soldiers manufactured in China. His other subjects reference popular culture, politics, war, iconic artworks, and mass media imagery.

Made in China
Produced using more than 5500 toy soldiers. The portrait is of a Chinese soldier boy taken by photographer Robert Capa. The image was used on the front cover of LIFE magazine, January 1938 to cover the Sino Japanese War. The toy soldiers are manufactured in China, hence the title “Made in China”

Workers of the World Unite

Mixed media and 15,000 hand-painted plastic toy soldiers on aluminum  size 310 x 215 cm.

The work references the power of Chairman Mao to lead his Red Army and the population of China under communist rule. The image plays on a quote from the Little Red Book and encapsulates the idea of one man as a unifying and equalizing force over thousands.

March 22, 2014

Tips & Tricks: Antiskid Texture for Models

Here's a no brainer for anyone building modern armor kits. Most if not all of the modern AFV kits released these days have a very fine or almost nonexistent recreation of the antiskid pattern. Recreating this texture, common on modern AFV's can be a pain. But MIG Productions has solved the problem in an easy to use way with MIG Antiskid P508 texture paste. Simply mask off the desired area and apply Antiskid with a brush and let sit for 24 hours. It is rock hard when dry, and can be sanded with normal sandpaper. As it is an acrylic based product it can be thinned in water. With many more uses for texturing figures, models and dioramas and stuff that doesn't even exist yet this is a must have!


March 18, 2014

1/72nd Scale Product Image Updates

We have updated our product images for the latest sets to show the actual figures for the following vendors:
Caesar Miniatures
Red Box
Pegasus Hobbies
Hat Industrie

Figure images courtesy of Plastic Soldier Review

MichToy's Links & Web Gems: Facebook Finds- Rinaldi Studio

Rinaldi Studio, publisher of the besting selling armor modeling books has an excellent Facebook page where author and master modeler Mike Rinaldi offers great armor painting and weathering tips in a concise format with excellent photographs to accompany the tips . And of course he also keeps you updated with news on the publications of the Rinaldi Studio Tank Art series. 

March 15, 2014

MichToy's Links & Web Gems: Doctor Cranky's Lab-RAT-ory

Just what the heck is Doctor Cranky's Lab-RAT-ory you ask? Well Virgil Suárez aka: DR. Cranky has a Ph.D. in Styrene-ology & Gunk and is the Chief Crank, mad-model builder & miniaturist in constant search for the perfect technique (s). He tends to work best during lightning storms and through the night. Assisted by well-trained pet Chihuahua named EyeGore he runs the how-tos, reviews, and model building CRANKY SHOW on You Tube showcasing the completed works of the Doctor and other accomplished auto modelers.

In reality this is an excellent You Tube channel and website packed with lot's of great tutorials especially on airbrushing and weathering techniques. Some of you may know of Dr. Cranky from the AK Interactive Book Ratz, Rodz, & Rust: Building Models Cranky's Way and his weathering techniques for non military models. Have look. It's fun and informative way to kill a few hours of your life.

March 11, 2014

MichToy's Links & Web Gems: The HerseyBrush World

A must stop for any serious braille (small scale) modeler is the website HeresyBrush a.k.a Ruben Torregrosa. This guy is... to put it simple an amazing and talented painter and he absolutely has no problem sharing his techniques with the world! His site is packed with tips and tutorials covering just about everything from masking to modulation to weathering effects  and so much more. His work has been featured in countless magazines such as Breaking War, The Weathering Magazine, Wargames Soldiers & Strategy and he has collaborated with many many miniature companies. He is the featured painter in our best selling book PaintingWAR. I could go on and on but it's easier if you just follow our Links & Web Gems Below. 

Check out this Spanish Civil War Panzer 1 platoon by Minairon Miniatures painted by Heresy Brush and weathered using AK Interactive products. Even at 1/00th scale you can get amazing results

The HerseyBrush World
HerseyBrush Modeling and Painting Blog
HerseyBrush on Facebook
HerseyBrush on You Tube

Tips & Tricks: Using Vallejo Smoke To Create Leather & Wood Effects

Question- I purchased some Vallejo Smoke after hearing that it was a great product. I have a friend who told me that it is supposed to be a wash, however, when I went to use it the consistency was much thicker. After doing some research, it seems kind of confusing as to if this product is a wash or a glaze. I'm still fairly new to modeling, and I was wondering if someone might be able to point me in the direction for using this product. The Vallejo website has it classified as a transparent, which sounds interesting but confused me even more. I could not find a good tutorial on how to apply Vallejo Smoke, I would greatly appreciate any help provided.

Vallejo Smoke (70939) is a satin finish transparent paint/stain that is perfect for creating leather and woodgrain finishes, for shading golds and adding rusty shading to steel/iron colors, for weathering metals and dirtying up most colors. When thinned and applied as a wash, it provides a worn, weathered look to the paint underneath. Smoke is a viscous substance that looks a little like used motor oil. It’s full of gritty little flecks, so it requires a good shaking before use.

Brown Leather: Base coat belting, rifle sling, boots etc... with Vallejo Mahogany Brown (70846) and let dry. Another excellent base color is Vallejo Panzer Ace Leather Belt (70312). Apply a drop of Smoke to your palette and thin down with a few drops of water so that that you have a "inky" transparent puddle of paint. Dip your brush in the puddle, then wick the excess water away on a tissue then apply to the areas you want to stain. It is advisable to repeat this process (once dry) and apply more to to certain areas than others to vary the leather effect. You will find that it creates a very natural, slightly satin finish and will darken the recesses, stain the Mahogany Brown a deep brown color that looks like real leather.

Black Leather: Same basic process as above except base coat leather areas with Vallejo German Camo Black Brown (70822), Shade shadows with Black, highlight with Burnt Umber (70941) or Mahogany Brown. Let dry. Apply Smoke using the repeated steps as above. This will unify the base coat, shadows and highlight and create a very realistic finish.

Light Woodgrain: Base coat with Vallejo Iraq Sand (70819) or any light tan color. Let dry. Apply repeated coats of thinned Smoke - you can "streak" the Smoke to create grain effects.

Dark Woodgrain: Similar to painting Brown leather and the perfect finish for rifle stocks, furniture and other dark colored woods. Base coat with Vallejo Mahogany Brown

Vallejo smoke is great for weathering metals and dirtying up most colors. When thinned and applied as a wash, it provides a worn, weathered look to the paint underneath.

MichToy's Links & Web Gems: Plastic Makes Perfect at Plastic Warrior Magazine

Plastic Warrior was launched in 1985 as a non-profit making newsletter with the aim of putting plastic soldier collectors in touch with each other at a time when the established modelling and collecting press ignored their interests. It is the original magazine for collectors of 1/32 scale / 54mm plastic toy soldiers and figures. From the start PW has been written by collectors for collectors and is the first ever publication to seriously cover soft plastic toy figures.

Nearing it's 30th anniversary (boy do I fell old) Plastic Warrior  has evolved into a glossy magazine published six times per year, distributed in 30 different countries around the world, also providing a range of special issues and manufacturers checklists devoted to plastic toy soldiers and model figures.

Get up-to-date news and issue information via the PW Facebook Page and while you're at it give them a 'Like' and help spread the word.

The magazine is only available by subscription Inquire here:

Tools of the Trade: Tamiya Electric Handy Drill

There are always those certain tools that change everything. Once you get one of these indispensable tools, you’ll wonder how you ever functioned without it! I’ve long been shocked by the seeming non-existence of a cordless (or heck, corded) micro-drill. Yes, there’s the Dremel, but its RPMs blow way past any usefulness for drilling tiny and precise holes.

That brings us to the Tamiya Electric Handy Drill. This is an amazing tool that's perfect for making quick holes in plastic and wood without the burning and melting that you sometimes get from a high-speed tool. It's also perfect for things like drilling out cannon or rifle barrels or holes to thread fiber optic thru for lighting. 

There is one catch however.., this is a functional "model" that you must assemble, just like a car, armor or figure model before using it. The pieces come on plastic sprues, and there is some clean up of the gears and other pieces required. Altogether, I think I spent about 45 minutes on assembly. Once together, this is a very lightweight, simple motorized drill. It doesn't have a lot of torque, it takes a limited diameter of drill bits, and the chuck is the collet type used in Dremels.

Tamiya’s Electric Handy Drill is the kind of tool that I’m shocked isn’t available from dozens of different manufacturers. It is, for all intents and purposes, a battery-powered pin vise that takes human sloppiness out of the drilling equation.


March 09, 2014

Toys in the Attic: Comic Book Toy Soldiers - Defending Truth, Justice, And The Plastic Way Of Life

OK, wow, this almost seems too good to be true. For just under $2, you get an entire army at your disposal. All petty fights will soon be resolved with your personal militia. Your enemies will cower... One look at those ads was all it took for thousands upon thousands of kids across the USA to gladly part with their hard-earned paper route money, their snow shoveling money, their meager allowances, (or their brother's stolen piggy bank loot), etc. - all in a wildly exciting effort to get those gorgeously presented Toy Soldier Sets! So many pieces! So darn cheap! So positively COOL looking in those great Battle Scenes! And so it went. Kids dutifully clipped out the little outlined square-box order form that always seemed to say "Rush Coupon Today!" Then the kids carefully printed their names and addresses on the tiny forms and mailed them off with their money.

Next was the hardest part of it all - the inevitably extended wait for your order to arrive! For most young warriors, that universally dreaded, agonizingly long, several week waiting period, was simply torture. Most of the Ads never seemed to let on how long an order might actually take either, so one was left at the mercy of that cold, uncaring, EMPTY mail box for what seemed like forever. Oh, the misery of that wait! (It was the rare and lucky soul who finally, mercifully forgot all about their order until the day it arrived.)

Eventually, one great day, after maniacally checking the empty mail box twice a day every day for weeks, the package would FINALLY arrive - usually. Some poor little souls sadly waited for their MIA Soldiers for the rest of their lives - or until an understanding parent intervened with a terse letter to the supplier. But for the lucky majority - the big day had indeed come - and it was time to rip into that package with glee and get down to some serious plastic combat!

At this pivotal moment of bliss, a bleak reality suddenly struck hard and deep into many a young soul. The teeny, brittle, sometimes broken-in-the-box, ever-strange-looking little Soldiers that actually came out of those pitifully wimpy cardboard "Footlockers", "Gun Boxes" and "Treasure Chests" JUST COULD NOT BE WHAT I ORDERED! I mean, just LOOK at 'em! They're...TINY! They're...they're...SKINNY! They're FLAT even! Most of all, they look NOTHING LIKE THE PICTURES IN THE AD! Most expected to see typical "3D" full-sized troops that looked like real "Army Men!" Many felt they'd been HAD for the first time by mail order! Oh, the deep disappointment. The horrible pain of getting burned after all that waiting AND having willingly PAID for the honor! Though far from being "fully satisfied" with their orders, the thought of actually returning these odd little miniature soldiers for a "full refund" (usually a fine-print option stated on the order forms), just did not seem right either. Besides, the refund address was always on the order form itself and that form was mailed away weeks ago!

And it was at this difficult stage that a strange thing often occurred. Rather than simply HATING these weird little mail-order soldiers outright and forever, rather than holding onto the pain and disappointment of that negative first impression, rather than focusing on the faults of these sickly lookin' tiny anti-army men - somehow it seemed a better idea just to give them half a chance to perform where it counted - on the Battlefield. Thus a bond began to form. After all, they WERE paid for already by now-lost but hard earned cash. So why not set 'em all up at least and see what happens...Lo and behold...after a battle or two...they were sort of...dare it be said...FUN!? Somehow all that anger slowly but surely turned into a sort of protective bond with these tiny but ultimately LOYAL Plastic Friends. Despite their bleak arrival, maybe they were good Soldiers after all...brave soldiers in need of a caring General to lead them into epic imaginary Battles - battles that surely also took many young Generals, time and time again, far beyond the pain, loneliness and confines of this cruel ol' world. Maybe these little Comic Book Toy Soldiers aren't so bad after all. Maybe...just maybe...they're even sort'a cool to have around sometimes.


So maybe for years, decades, a lifetime will still remember the hours and hours of great playtime spent with those long lost Plastic Pals...and maybe in your heart of hearts...just maybe you'll even miss 'em a little sometimes.

Comic Book Toy Soldiers A brief History
Milton Levine was just a few years out of the military in the late 1940s. Like many young men returning from WWII the New Yorker was searching for his place in post-war America. He read in Kiplinger’s Letter that there were several ways to make big money—two suggestions were “plastic toys or bobbie pins.”
Levine’s real success would come later when he imagined another idea that would sell into the millions and become a mail-order cult classic. But in 1946, his main goal was to enter the “exciting world of plastics.”

Levine formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, E. Joseph “Joe” Cossman and the pair set out to form a mail-order toy company. E. Joseph Cossman & Company (aka Cossman & Levine Co.) was launched. The pair’s business plan was based on the prospect of a post-war baby boom and a manufacturing upswing in the U.S. Since 1912, Cracker Jack had packed small novelty toys in their boxes and that’s where the partners began their search for a manufacturer to make their toys. NOSCO Plastic of Erie, Pennsylvania, was a supplier of plastic toys to Cracker Jack and that’s where the first “flats” were made

While no one can agree on a time line, 1950 seems to be the year the mail-order business was in full production. Initially the small print ads (usually 2-inches x 2 1/4-inches) were placed in local newspapers throughout the southern New York area and later across the nation. The toy soldiers ads were a phenomenal success.

Allow 6-8 Weeks (maybe more)
Sometimes weeks or months after ordering, the postman delivered a package of flat, styrene-based, hard plastic pieces in a marbled green color mixed with varying shades of black or white. Many of the figures were detailed with rank stripes or branch logos on their shoulders.

Levine credits the success of the business as having had “the right product, at the right time, at the right price.” At $1.75 (later $1.98) every child with a minimum deposit in their piggy bank could scrape up enough money to order “100 Toy Soldiers Packed in a Footlocker.” In fact, the footlocker did not arrive for nearly a year, but its addition doubled an already thriving mail-order business. Cossman & Levine hired a staff of women to open the huge amounts of mail that arrived each day. Before long there were daily visits to the bank to deposit thousands of dollars in one-dollar bills and bags of quarters.

Soon, competitors were selling similar items with very similar advertising. The pitch was always the same: a lot of toys for a low price. Mastercraft, a Boston company, sold “100 Toy Soldiers for $1.00,” but did not include the important “footlocker” that held the Cossman & Co. playsets. It is believed that Levine and his brother-in-law either set up a number of separate companies (all with East Coast P.O. Boxes) or sold wholesale to other mail-order companies. New names with new mailing addresses began to appear by 1951 and endless variations of the offer were appearing.

Cossman also sold a popular “100 Cowboys & Indians” set. This set of western figures arrived in an illustrated box with a unique die-cut “pop-out, build-it-yourself” diorama. The plastic figures were typically flat but came in bright red, yellow and blue colors. “3 Ring Circus” was a popular offer that featured a pop-out center ring where the animals and performers could be arranged. Perhaps the pink and purple circus set was expected to attract little girls with imagination and a piggy bank. Levine has been quoted as saying the circus set did not do well.

Mail Order Mania
By 1952 there were dozens of competing ads. Most collectors assume the majority were in some way related, since the products were nearly identical.
In addition to the flat hard plastic pieces, new 3-D figures made of soft, molded plastic began to appear.

Sometime in the mid-50s ads were placed on the back pages of comic books and soon became icons of that decade. Millions of play sets were sold including these:
150 Civil War Soldiers ($1.49)
30pc Indian Village Kit ($1.00)
132 Roman Soldiers ($2.98)
200 WWII Soldiers ($1.98)
204 Revolutionary Soldiers ($2.50)
162pc Viking Attack ($2.00)
104 Kings & Knights ($1.49)
116 Planes of All Nations ($1.25)

There was also a line of wargame sets that included the plastic figures accompanied by full-color fold-out play mats, accessories, and rules of play.
Woods Edge ($1.00)
Tank Trap ($1.69)
Task Force ($1.69)
132pc Fighting Ships ($1.50)
196pc Blast Off Space Game ($1.98)
146pc Daniel Boone’s Trek to Ol’ Kentucky ($1.50)

The Evolution of Toy Soldier Ads
The comic book ads produced spectacular results and the toy sellers realized that a little packaging upgrade—at least in the print ads—might bring even more orders. Russ Heath was one of the preeminent illustrators of the time. His work for DC Comics and other publishers was well-known for its style.
His boss came to him with a small pick-up job to design an ad for an advertiser. Heath’s creation of the Revolutionary Soldiers ad set the standard for all future toy soldier offers. Of course, his ads worked like magic.  Heath’s imaginative styling added the action and adventure element that had been missing by just showing the plastic figures set up in rows.