Malaysia WWII

This diorama is part of a collective effort to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Independence of Malaysia. A local modeling society (Selangor and Federal Territory Plastic Modeling Society) is collating all relevant models for a road show to be titled "Independence: Before and After"

The main piece of the diorama involves the conversion and mix and match of 2 particular figurine sets from Tamiya, namely the German Soldier with Bicycle set and the dated Japanese Army Infantry Tamiya kit. After a quick reference check in the Japanese Army Handbook (by George Forty, Sutton Publishing), the German blouse is quite identical to the Japanese tropical uniform down to the collar, top breast pocket and lower pockets with exception of not having shoulder straps and of course to get rid of the collar markings in the Tamiya kit. The head and lower body needs modification and replacement work. New leggings need to be made by stripping down the mass of the existing kit and replicating the unique Japanese leggings with either masking tape or thin A+B putty. The ammo belt will need to be shaved off and replaced. This was the least of the work as the real challenge would be to do some major surgery on the existing pieces to pose them in a realistic manner.

The PE set from Lion Roar meant for the bicycle set had a lot of parts to upgrade the bicycle and figures to give them some needed refinement. Only the parts for the bicycle will be used.The original bicycle was a molded single piece with the wheels attached to the frame. After a quick slice and some carving to obtain a consistent wheel shape where the fork was, the spokes were detached and the first of many PE was super glued in after some tedious sanding of the rims to ensure a proper fit.

Due to the size of the PE, I used 2 different tweezers, a scissors and a set of cutting blades, one to cut the PE off the main sheet (a more robust cutter is needed with a hard base to avoid bending the PE.) and the other for trimming (sharper blade).The parts are detached as far as possible from the edge of the parts to avoid bending due to the cutting. The trimming is initially done by shearing with scissors and later trimmed with the sharp knife. A sharp needle is used to apply the superglue.The progress moved swiftly but the pedals were left for later only after the figure conversion was ready to make sure the angles fit.

Some important aspects I stumbled upon during the fist conversion:
1) be careful on the dimensions for some of the 0.8mm rods to replace the plastics as there are no length dimensions given.
2) Due to the breakdown of the major parts, be careful with the alignment of the back and front wheel, fork and chassis
3) If the dimensions of the replacement parts are not correct, the figure will not fit well to grasp the handle bars while seated. I have yet to test fit this yet but since I am cutting the figure up, some adjustments will be possible.

The figure conversion started with the upper torso by removing all things German.

The legs and lower torso was extensively shaved to reduce the bulk and to make an outline to wrap some masking tape around to model the leggings. The bottom tropical Japanese blouse pockets have rounded edge instead of sharp edge, so a little knife work was required. The overall heaviness of the original was then toned down by scrapping away some of the body to reduce the mass. Hopefully this will portray a more petite Asian build. The shoe laces will need to be added later.
The head and headgear came from the Japanese soldier set with a neck spare sprue extension. Most of the main conversion is now complete except for clean up and some putty here and there. The belt buckle will be built with stretched sprue flatten with a vise and the ammo belt will be from the same Japanese infantry set as well.

Some of the references I managed to read indicated that the Japanese tend to tie all their gear, including their rifles to the bicycle ,so there was no necessity to strap them around the figure. To add drama, the head is intentionally turned 10 degrees right and up. This helps to direct a more informal appreciation of the figure. My personal opinion is that a head square to an animated body is a big minus.
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    the original bicycle
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    PE spokes
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    close up of matching 2 halves of the spoke
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    tools and breakdown of the bicycle
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    the front wheels forks are formed with the dynamo in place made of plastic rods. Thin electrical wires are missing at the moment for the electrical lines and brake lines
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    the seat has no less than 7 pieces of PE, the smallest being the bolt heads. The springs are coiled 0.18mm wires
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    back wheel and chain with the pedals
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    major PE parts in place except for the handle bar compared to the original, Photo 9
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    Original bicycle
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About the Author

About Loo Chee Keong (CKLOO)

SFTPMS ( Malaysia) member. Interested in all genre of modelling but have soft spot for dioramas on Malaya/Malaysia related subjects.


The SFTPMS is currently arranging to confirm the exhibition venues. We do have in the collated collection approximately 80 various kits and dioramas related to Malaya/Malaysia. Its unlikely that it will reach Singappore though there would be a lot of interesting stuff to model on Singapore's join history with Malaysia. Anyone out there who knows of any good pictorial references on the Malaya campaigns? It would be of great help because its quite scarce. BTW: guys. Appreciate all the encouraging words. Thanks
MAY 04, 2007 - 11:19 AM
CKLOO, you created a very beautiful and fresh scene (compared to amount of german armor subjects). regarding the bicycles my only comment is: You are nuts in the most positive way I really would like to se more pacific/far east campaign dioramas. I once bookmarked a link on british soldier stories in the far east publish by BBC. Maybe this can be of use for your further projects. Here you can access the page.
MAY 04, 2007 - 10:40 PM
Hi Loo, You made Malaysian proud... At least we have a patriotic modeller who built Malaysia WWII diorama... way to go. The multilevel settings are beautiful and the landscape is fantastic. Love the story line, cyclist and bicycles too..... Hope to see in flash... Allan
MAY 05, 2007 - 01:35 AM
Beautiful job. Makes me wanna use the LionMarc PE set I saw a while ago and add some bicycles to my diorama.
MAY 07, 2007 - 02:00 AM
Barry, get the PE set. Its worth every dime. You just need to be a bit careful with the spokes as the external diameter do not match too well with the bicycle rim. The other part to look out for is the brass rod connection to the seat and handle which needs to be at the similar angle. Good luck on your bicycles. CK
MAY 07, 2007 - 08:41 AM
Thanks CK, I think I will. Has LionMarc been around long? I'm just getting back into military modelling after working on other subjects and am not too familiar with them.
MAY 08, 2007 - 02:03 AM
thanks for the link Patrick. It will come in handy to fill in the missing pieces. Not too sure about LionMarc. I am using the Lion Roar set which is quite good and really value for money. BTW, I still have parts for 1 more bicycle which is meant for a vignette of a lone rider. After that, I will not touch another bicycle in this lifetime!
MAY 08, 2007 - 08:35 AM
Oops, I meant Lion Roar. My bad.
MAY 08, 2007 - 06:45 PM
I read about this while it was in progress and seeing it now just blows me away. One of the best dios I've seen CK ! Cheers patrick
JUN 02, 2007 - 03:49 PM
Fantastic CKLOO I'm impressed with anyone that has the ability to recreate real looking groundwork. That wetness of the bank and the mosslike covering is super... Add to that the flowing nature of the action which really uses the shape of the scene, and also as mentioned the different subject matter and content all adds up to one very attractive diorama Brad
JUN 03, 2007 - 12:51 AM