Project diary: 1177 B.C. - Prologue

by David

Hey all,

this is David, with a brief prologue to my project diary. If you wonder what's the idea behind that diary-thing, feel free to check the announcement post, in which I explain the motivation and general goals of the diary.

Today, I want to provide a bit more substantive background, especially on

  • what's behind the project title
  • where the inspiration came from, and
  • the story I want to tell

So, what's the "mystery" behind the project title? It is, of course, a date, 1177 before the Common Era, or about 3,000 years ago. Around that year (give or take a few decades), a "perfect storm" of natural disasters, social disruptions, and military invasions led to the destruction or at least the decline of a whole range of Eastern Mediterranean Late Bronze Age civilizations, including the Egyptian New Kingdom, the Hittite Empire in modern-day Turkey, and the Mycenaean palace culture of Ancient Greece, ushering in the first "dark ages" in recorded (Western) history.

Old map of the Eastern Mediterranean - the area where the Bronze Age Collapse happened. Source: Old Maps Online

While I long have had an interest in Bronze Age history, the inspiration for the title "1177 B.C.", which was the start of the project idea, came from the book of the same name. I had read the book a few years ago, and now listened to the audio version of its 2020 second edition. In the book, author Eric H. Clyne, one of the most important modern historians of the Bronze Age, paints a great picture of that time, summarizing what we know of the "Late Bronze Age collapse" after decades of his own and more than a century of other historians' work. So, if you're in the mood for some serious yet accessible and extremely well-narrated history lessons on a fascinating time: pick up the book or listen to its audio version.

Easter Mediterranean civilizations of the Late Bronze Age and (potential) movements of the "Sea Peoples". Source: Map by Alexikoua, Wikipedia

One of the aspects of the "perfect storm" of the Late Bronze Age collapse was the appearance, seemingly out of nothing, of the Sea Peoples. Who exactly these people were, where they came from, and whether they actually were "a people", is still a matter of debate. What seems to be clear, however, from both written and archaelogical evidence, is that around that time, 1177 B.C., the centers of civilization around the Mediterranean Sea were attacked by raiders, pirates, and conquerors, who contributed to these civilizations' decline and fall.

Egyptian depiction of Nile battle between Ramses III and "Sea Peoples". Original is a wall relief at temple in Medinet-Habu/Thebes. Source: Wikipedia

So, while I was listening to the audio book, there was this picture in my mind of one of those seafaring raiders on a sunny Mediterranean beach, having just disembarked from his ship. I saw him as the contemporary depictions show the Sea Peoples - bare-chested, in traditonal skirt-type clothing, and with a gleaming bronze sword in hand, on a white-sanded beach. That's what I wanted to portray. All that was missing now, was the right miniature. Of course, it had to be 1/72 and, happily, Caesar Miniatures, one of my favorite 1/72 soft plastic manufacturers, has a nice little set of their interpretation of the Sea Peoples. This will be my starting point!

The next article in this series will be the first actual diary entry, in which I will talk a bit about which mini I will select from the set!

As always, let me know, in the comments, if you have questions. See you in a bit!

Best, D.

Project diary: 1177 B.C. - Announcement

by David

Hey all,

this is David, with a glimpse into my part of the Massive Voodoo woodlands. I want to try something different today. As some of you know, I have been in painting hibernation pretty much since the beginning of the year - since January 11, to be exact. There's no real reason for the hiatus, I just did not feel like painting or playing with miniatures. I have had these spells in the past (usually in the hot summer months), I will have them in the future. And I really don't worry much about them. I just accept these periods of my creative moods being absent as part of the normal flow of inspiration and energy.

However, over the last couple of days, my painting mood and motivation have slowly been rubbing the sleep out of their eyes, and I've been pondering new project ideas and building up the energy to return to my colossal pile of WIPs. In fact, inspired by an audio book I have been listening to these days (more on that later), I had an idea for a quick, simple and fun project to rekindle the modeling and painting flame!

And that's where you come in! I would like to take you with me as I get back into the groove through a little project diary. The idea is that I describe and summarize this little "grooving back in" project in a series of brief articles, here on the blog. These will not be the long and detailed Step-by-Steps (SbS) that you are used to from the Massive Voodoo crew. Instead, I will post a quick article on the progress whenever I worked a substantial bit on the mini. A quasi-live SbS in individual installments, if you will! They will explain what I did with the project, and why - and also, of course, document the setbacks and problems (if any) that occurred - and how I addressed them.

So, I am happy to announce:

The next article in this series will be the prologue, in which I will talk a little bit about the project, the inspiration from that audio book I talked about, and tell the story I have in mind for the mini. And after this, I will start delving into the project - and you can look over my shoulder, if you like!

I'd be happy if you followed along - let me know, in the comments, if you have questions. Thanks so far - and see you in a bit!

Best, D.

p.s.: Big thanks to my jungle-brother Roman for making this wonderful header pic for my diary. You're the best!

Links to all published diary entries

  1. Prologue
  2. Chapter 1: Selecting the mini
  3. Chapter 2: Planning the base
  4. Chapter 3: Preparing the miniature
  5. Chapter 4: Building the base
  6. Chapter 5: Basic colors
  7. Chapter 6: Painting the skin
  8. Chapter 7: Painting the kilt
  9. Chapter 8: Painting the tiara
  10. Chapter 9: Painting shield and sword
  11. Chapter 10: Base-work: beach and water
  12. Epilogue

Review: 1/144 Vol. 1: Propeller Planes

by David

Disclaimer: I received the book as a free review copy by the publisher. This will not predetermine the review, which will be a fair summary and assessment of the book's strengths and weaknesses as I perceive them.

Hey all,

another day in David's part of the Massive Voodoo jungle, and another review of a recent book coming in.

This time it's something a little bit different: a book on scale modeling. For a long time I have been wanting to get into building scale model airplanes, as this is where my interest in the hobby started for me. And as with miniatures, I am particularly drawn to the smaller scales - especially 1/144. And, luckily for me - and for everyone starting out into this world of tiny planes - Ammo by Mig Jimenez, who has been a great fan and supporter of the 1/144 modeling scene, has just published a nice little book dedicated to models in this scale! The book is the first of a two-volume series on modeling planes in this scale, and the name says it all: it focuses on propeller planes, mainly from the 1940s.

The table of contents

The book starts out with a two-page introduction, in which the editor, Julio Fuente, talks a bit about the benefits of modeling planes in 1/144 scale. Next to the small size and economical price, he particularly highlights the comparative simplicity in terms of parts numbers and detail, which makes 1/144 planes potentially a bit quicker projects than their larger-scale cousins, with their seeming endless supply of add-on and aftermarket parts. As is all text throughout the book, the introduction is presented in English and Spanish.

Some advice on how to detail a 1/144 B-29 bomber

The remainder of the book's 140+ pages is made up of ten chapters, each written by another author, which present step-by-step descriptions of the building, painting and weathering process of one of a wide range of historic propeller planes. The ten projects include planes in different sizes - including four smaller, single-engine monoplane fighters plus a biplane, as well as four larger multi-engine planes. While the single-engine flyers cover almost all the common World War II favorites (the German Messerschmidt Bf-109, the US P-51 Mustang, a British Spitfire, and a floatplane version of the Japanese A6M "Zero" fighter, plus the British Gloster Gladiator biplane), the multi-engine planes are a bit more exotic. Next to the US-built B-29 bomber, the German He-219 "Uhu" night fighter and Messerschmidt six-engine monster "Gigant", they also include the only civilian plane in the book, the legendary Lockheed Super Constellation four-engine passenger plane.

Painting the Super Conny - in process ...

... and finished.

This variety of planes of different sizes and nationalities ensure that a wide range of different finishes and liveries are covered, including bare-metal finishes, classic grey-green camouflages, as well as single color paintjobs. Particularly interesting are, in my eyes, the "dotted" black-and-grey night-fighter camouflage of the "Uhu", the Lufthansa livery of the "Super Conny", and the heavily weathered green over natural-metal of the Japanese floatplane.

The book contains a range of different camouflages - here black and grey...

... and a bit more colorful.

Speaking of which, all chapters spend considerable attention on how to weather aircraft in the scale in a convincing way, showing a wide range of techniques, colors and degrees of weathering. Next to the painting and weathering steps, the chapters also include some pointers on building the models and some go into some depth at describing how to upgrade and add detail to the models. Jorge Porto's Chapter 10 is special, in that it does not deal with building planes per se, but how to build, with not too much work, a very convincing diorama for 1/144 planes, using two of the Japanese floatplanes as an example.

Effectful weathering is paid great attention...

... in all chapters

This is a really cool book. As with all recent Ammo books that I reviewed over the last months, 1/144 Propeller Planes is a beautifully-made softcover book with very high production value. All throughout the ten chapters, the book is richly illustrated with high-quality photographs that clearly show the individual steps of building, painting and weathering the model. The pictures are crisp and very well lit, so that you can identify all relevant detail. Each pic is accompanied by brief descriptive texts that tell the reader what the author is doing. All descriptions are clear and to-the-point, making it easy to follow along. Sometimes the authors even provide a little explanation and underlying reasons on why they do a particular step, which is helpful in understanding the particularities of the small scale for model-building.

Detailing the interior of a Japanese floatplane

Kitbashing: making a late model Spitfire from two different kits.

In terms of substance, the book delivers almost everything one could want from such a volume. By covering such a wide range of different paint schemes and liveries it ensures that you will find something useful for (almost) all your 1/144 propeller plane projects - even if you do not want to build one of the model kits featured in the book. I really liked the chapter on the Japanese floatplane, as this discusses in some depth the challenges of detailing "out-of-box" models in the scale. The chapters on the late-version Spitfire and the Gloster biplane also include some cool kit-bashing and scratchbuilding. Finally, Chapter 10 on building the little diorama for the two Japanese floatplanes, is just some really nice icing on an already yummy cake. Overall, I was really pleasantly surprised to see that none of the chapters significantly falls behind the others, which is not guaranteed for edited books with multiple authors. Also, the approach to combine Spanish and English text actually works quite well - due to the English text being printed in bold-face (and the Spanish in regular), the flow of reading is smooth. And: if you are like me and want to brush up on your Spanish, the duolingual approach has the benefit of providing you with the essential vocabulary for your hobby ;-).

Some super-fine detail work: rigging the Gloster Gladiator biplane!

Despite all that praise I have a few minor critical points to raise. For one thing, I think the addition of a substantive introductory chapter, in which the particularities of modeling in small scale are highlighted, would have made the book even stronger. In this, the editor/author could have introduced some general suggestions on detailing in the scale and on how to treat the scale-effect of color, that is, the idea that on smaller objects colors tend to look darker, such that you should highlight the color to achieve a "realistic" value. For another thing, the decision to structure the book as step-by-step descriptions of ten individual projects, leads to some redundancies in the descriptions. Finally, in some chapters I would have liked a bit more thorough language editing (for the English parts, at least).

Icing on the cake: step-by-step on a small diorama!

That being said, I really like this book. It packs a lot of information on a wide range of topics relevant for building, painting and weathering 1/144 scale propeller planes. Moreover, the suggested retail price of 23,50 Euros is a good additional reason to get the book as you get a lot of excellent quality material for that money! So, I cannot but recommend the book if you're interested in diving into the world of 1/144 scale model plane - and I am definitely looking forward to reading the forthcoming Volume 2, which will focus on jet planes. In the meantime, I will make use of the knowledge in this book to guide my first own 1/144 propeller plane build. Watch this space for updates!

And that's it, friends. Thanks for reading, and as always: leave a comment if you have questions.

Best, D.