Friday, February 10, 2017

More AIP work - Malakand Field Force Prep P.2

"You there, form a line, prepare to receive savage hordes with Stiff Upper Lips!!" 
Lord Balderdash, shortly before having his muttonchops, well, chopped, on the savage frontier with Noweirastan - a ghastly affair.

Had some less scheduled days to continue getting acquainted with the AIP plastics, and my prepping and priming job. The cheap black paint [not even primer!] held up to some strong finger rubbing with no problem. Bending the gun had the paint flake off, and scratching with a finger nail had the paint come off down to the blue plastic[as seen below].

The French officer [above left] had an obvious mold line down the middle of his face that I somehow missed in the prep process. I decided I didn't want to live with it, and also to see how little touch ups would go. I cut off the line with an X-Acto down to the blue plastic, then primed with Testors Grey bottle primer, then painted with my junky old GW Chaos Black. As you can see, his face looks just fine! The grey-primed Brit had his injector-pin marks covered with some old Testors Contour Putty. It quickly dried and I sanded it soon after, but I let it dry for a couple days, then brushed on some of the Testors Grey primer -he looks fine, too.

The kneeling Brits in shirt sleeve order look washed out with the flash [above], so I took a couple more pics, below. You can just barely see the putty touch-ups from the injector circles. I think they'll be fine, but if not it's more my fault at this point - the putty works and it's my technique that's lacking. Filing them with a dirty soft - grit sponge file from Steven's Int'l wasn't a great idea, either, but I think the soft file itself is an idea with promise.

Different light, below. Some of the tiny bits of torn plastic can just be discerned on the right leg of the right figure, in this pic. I'll try another coat of the white Vallejo brush-on primer.

Armed with some more hands-on experience, I finished cleaning and prepping the below squad, from AIP #5423 1895-1902 British Army. They have a bolt-action rifle [I assume a Lee-Metford but the magazine extension below the stock isn't angled enough - that could be corrected with a cut, but I'm uncertain I will bother] and modern sword bayonet. There are ten poses, two of each in a box. They show nice variety for skirmishing figs, but people who like their figs marching in neat rows may want to look elsewhere. With the offered poses, you could get 4 boxes and have a 2 units of 16 advancing with bayonet and 2 units of 16 firing [kneeling and standing] and they'd look fine, I think. Officer's would all be firing their Webley revolver, but some could be modified as ensigns, perhaps.

Note that figs with the Martini-Henry and socket bayonet are in box #5447 British Infantry of 1882 [those also have some different poses, including prone and a high-thrust bayonet, as well as the older belt and gear]. So be certain which look you prefer! If you want figs for 1880 Adghanistan, South Africa, Zulu wars, etc, get the #5447. In any event, I'm fine with these chaps, as they suit the Malakand Field Force era, and came for nearly nothing in the Ft. Khandahar playset! It should be noted that the Indian Infantry with turbans #5446 also have this later era weapons and gear, same as above.

Also prepped were a mounted British Officer and a Camel Corps Bugler of some sort - both came with my second order [more on that later]. Tony threw in a batch of ten sample bags worth $10 for free. Quite smart, and making me work harder at resisting more purchases!

The Horse and camel are just fantastic, a bit harder plastic than some of the men, it seems, especially the camel. I just love these camels, and will have to get another unit of them soon. As you can see, these aren't the usual pony and midget mounts of most metal figs, these monsters are good 3" high, the rider making them 4". They'll certainly be lovely on the table!

So have already decided I must have a uni of Egyptian Camal Corps with fez, and perhaps Naval Brigade with sun hats, as well. They are 2 for 1, and quite a large force of them could be assembled with the 8 for 5 sale [multiplying the items together, one would have a 16 for 5 purchase of camel corps!]. Pretty lovely for animals renowned for their poor dispositions! Yes, I realize that Egyptians and Naval Brigade didn't fight on the NW frontier - we'll just have to see who the Queen decides to send to the relief of Ft. Kandahar, won't we?

So my net will be 40 of these later era fellows, more than enough for skirmishes against the Mad Mullah! And here they are practicing their squad maneuvers in the field:

Pegasus river, craft fur field, Lemax Large Cypress Trees

Overall, quite pleased with the progress. I was a little daunted by having to learn so much new technique, but it's gone quite well. A few things we've learned and shared:

  • Dremel with sander bits, very lightly touching, quickly removes mold lines and the ejector pin marks. But push too hard and you get annoying "fraying" of the plastic.
  • Sometimes it pays to just make a clean, decisive cut on a bit of flash - but definitely use a very sharp, newer X-Acto blade.
  • Dragging the X-Acto along perpendicular to a mold line also seems to work, but the top of the blade should lead the bottom cutting edge, lest you get wavy scrapes on the figure.
  • Hot water and dish soap do well to clean off the release agent - the figs are less shiny after the hot bath and scrubbing with old tooth brush.
  • The Elmer's Glue seems to make the paint more durable - uncertain if one needs it and primer. Martin Rapier says he just paints right onto the glue, and my French officer seems to be coming along fine.  
  • EDIT: I often get some beading on the plastic with the Elmers. be certain to allow the glue to completely dry if you are going to put on a second coat, preferably overnight. Before watering down your Elmer's, give it a try and see how you like it straight out of the bottle. I find that the dry heat indoors during winter makes it dry fast and get tacky quicker than usual. 
  • I am going to try the Super Tacky Glue by Nicole again, and see if there's less beading with that. 
I've been comparing notes and such with the gang, but nothing clearly different being done by anyone else. More on this technique as things develop! Questions or submissions on using any of these techniques, or working with plastic? Just fire away in the comments or send email. Hey, we're learning here also!

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