Saturday, 25 August 2012

Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong

It was with great sadness that I heard of the news this evening of the death of Neil Alden Armstrong, the first man to walk on the surface of the moon.  One of my great interests is the Apollo programme and especially Apollo 11.  May he rest in peace and rise in glory!




Monday, 30 July 2012

A Blast from the Past (4)

Make your own World of the Theatre 

I first got this book in a discount book shop in Oxford back in 1984 when I started college.   I built it and put on performances as one of our house contributions to rag week that year. ... Of course the performances were black tie and ballgown dos with an interval. lol

The book was written and edited by Rosemary Lowndes and Claude Kailer.  From the book could be made a model of the stage at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (measuring about a 12" cube) along with the sets to stage a production of either the opera La Boheme or the ballet Sleeping Beauty.  I made only the sets for Sleeping Beauty.

The stage, sets, backdrops, figures, drapes and tabs are produced in sturdy enough card and cut out and scored, folded and glued as per the excellent instructions to produce a truly magnificent little theatre.

As I was putting on a twice nightly performance, I made some alterations and additions.

A black screen/booth was erected around the stage front; speakers for music were set up behind the stage; some of the figures were adapted to move onto the sets; lighting was built into the Fly Galleries using black card and wheat grain bulbs; and 'cobwebs' made from a grey hairnet were used for the bedroom scene.

The whole thing must have taken at least a couple of hundred hours to build, but it was worth every second and a joy to build as this is a truly amazing model.  The detail in the finished theatre and the obvious thought that has gone into the production of this book is outstanding and it is incredible how much space the completed stage and sets take up considering the size of the book. ... And no, I'm not on commission!  I think of all the models I have made in my time, this has to rank as one of my favourites.  I love it!

I believe the authors had a dispute with the publishers and the book was withdrawn which is a great pity.  I donated my model to the college when I left as it trained teachers and I thought it may be useful for something.  I longed to get another and eventually, to my unbounded joy, I found some stocked in a little model theatre shop in Covent Garden.  I bought three of them because I didn't know if I would ever find them again.  This, of course, was the days before the internet and the likes of ebay and Amazon  

The book can be obtained from Amazon at least now, but mainly used examples in various conditions.  I would highly recommend this kit to anyone who likes models as it really is a little gem!

The book ...

The stage ...

A view of the theatre front showing the famous frontage and tabs of the Royal Opera House.  A small wheat grain bulb illuminated them when down.  Sorry about the picture - it's been enlarged!
Some shots of book pages ...

The Palace backdrop used in Acts 1 & 4.
The Stage Directions are cleverly and usefully printed on the rear of the backdrop for the scenes that particular one is used in.
The set floor showing where the scenery sub-assemblies and figures should be glued.
Underneath each set floor is printed excellent instructions for building the set.
Figures and set items are printed on both sides.  Even bits of the set that aren't seen are printed showing the bare boards and wooden framing - so the theatre even looks realistic from behind.  Brilliant!
Certain sets have drapes that hang from the fly galeries.  I cut out all the gaps between figures' arms and legs.  This is a bit fiddly and not essential, but it did look better.

How I set it up for the performances ...

Behind the scenes ...

The sets are slid on from the wings and the curtain, backdrops and tabs are inserted from the top into slots in the Fly Galleries.  You can just see the added lighting on the Fly Gallery and a desk lamp and torches etc were used for different lighting effects.

The various scenes ...

Prologue: The Christening
Act 1: The Spell
Act 2: The Vision

Act 3: The Awakening
Act 4: The Wedding

A Blast from the Past (3)

LS 1/1 Nambu

This is the Japanese Type 14 Nambu pistol - an improvement on the Type A Nambu pistol.  It used a low pressure 8mm cartridge which was less powerful than most allied pistols, but the reduction in recoil meant that it was also very accurate.  The pistol was issued to Japanese non-commissioned officers.

Produced in the same coloured plastic and metal parts as the other kits in the LS range and again needing cyanoacrylate type glues for construction. 

The cocking mechanism is closer to the Mauser C96 than the Walther P.08 in that it utilises a bolt rather than a slide.

The kit as it would have been originally boxed ...

The model ...

Some close ups ...

The instructions ...

I have some other LS model pistols in various states of brokenness which I intend to attempt to put back together, but these will be purely static models as the mechanisms on them will be no longer functional.

I also have a few 'Pirate Pistols' to build which are far less complicated, but nicely ornate.  I built these originally in the mid 70s, but they were long since broken and thrown out.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

A Blast from the Past (2)

LS 1/1 Walther P.38 - Secret Agent type

The Walther P.38 9mm semi-automatic pistol replaced the Luger P.08 as the standard sidearm of the German army.

This is the Secret Agent Type  presumably because of the addition of a silencer - although the emblem inlaid into the grips may have been a give away of what kind of 'secret agent'.

Produced again in pre-coloured hard plastic with various metal parts and some slight painting to try and show a bit of wear.

It's such a shame that LS folded and these kits are no longer available although unbuilt ones occasionally appear on ebay and sell in excess of £50 - often over £100 - depending on the model.

How it would have been packaged ...

The model ...

Some close ups ...

The instructions ...


Saturday, 28 July 2012

A Blast from the Past (1)

LS 1/1 Mauser with Holster Stock

LS were, I believe, a Japanese manufacturer producing models of various kinds into the 1980s.  In the late 70s and early 80s, I built a number of their 1/1 scale pistols.  I was never interested in having an airgun or .22 rifle like my friends, but I was fascinated by guns and the way they worked so these kits were ideal. ... Probably the result of watching too many war films and James Bond films and reading too many Warlord comics! 

They were manufactured in pre coloured hard plastic with various screws, nuts and springs made of metal. The nature of the plastic meant that cyanoacrylate type glues had to be used throughout construction.  The models worked like the real thing and could be stripped, but they didn't and couldn't fire anything.

My models are now largely broken to some extent or other with parts not working as they should.  But that is perhaps hardly surprising for kits that are about 35 years old, been used in play many times and endured several house moves.

The Mauser C96 'Broomhandle' here is the 7.63 calibre model with a stock which also served as a holster.  The holster/stock was made of wood in the original. The gun was loaded by means of a metal clip from above rather than the usual removeable magazine.

The box ...

The model ...

And some close ups ...

And some photos of the instruction sheet ...