Assault Infantry Platoon

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I know... Part 3 was supposed to continue the M16 ‘track build. Well... a funny thing happened on the way to the rear fighting compartment… I moved to Europe. So here’s the deal. My complete shop /studio is not together yet, and may not be for a while, there’s lots of repairs and remodeling yet to do at the cottage here in Czech Republic. We do have our basic studio setup, our art and graphics computers and desks. But no space for project tables to get the M16 back out and continue the build. Oh my.

BUT, all is not lost. Since the M16 quad .50 ‘track was always intended as part of a big diorama, one depicting an assault on a line of fortifications on the West Wall, there are LOTS of other neat goodies that need attention, and possibly the ones requiring the most time and detail are the troops involved in our planned miniature battle. Yes, there will be soldiers, both German and US in this diorama, and quite a few of them. Building each one takes time and patience, and in my case, a good bit of creativity and outside thinking. Because, you see, I really can’t use a lot of the soldier figures on the market today just as-is, out of the box. Here’s why.

Poses. Limited choices in poses in styrene 1/35 soldiers. Oh sure, there are a few in “combat” poses, firing weapons, advancing, doing those action things that soldiers do when battling each other in some kits, but VERY few. There are combat poses available in resin from some manufacturers, but that gets expensive for big dioramas and the choices are still surprisingly limited. To stick with styrene, one must be a bit creative and bold. Basically I need to kit bash and scrap and scavenge to get what I want.

In my opinion, Dragon / DML now makes the best styrene figures in 1/35 since “Gen2” arrived, and the gear in “Gen2” kits is spectacular in most cases. Trouble is, a LOT of the older kits aren’t so hot, and almost ALL the Dragon figure kits are of troops in, well, boring poses. There seems to be a definite avoidance of aggressive combat poses in the modeling of Dragon soldier figures, the majority falling into that “hanging out” or “staring into infinity” class which annoys me no end. This makes a good 80-90% of the DML figure kits pretty useless for what I like to do, which is action and combat depictions. There are a few which are useful and do depict good action poses, and the kits with separate heads and hands and “Gen2” gear, I buy just to strip them of those useful details. Some of the heads and hands in later Dragon “Gen2” kits are really excellent, and let’s face it, getting a whole kit of useful styrene pieces for 4 to 6 soldiers for the price of one kit of resin cast heads or hands? WIN. I’ll scrap out Dragon kits all day for that deal.

You see, there are good soldier kits from Master Box, and there’s the old standby MRC / Tamiya kits, the latter ones being the best for poses, but they ALL need some help. So this is the thing: I mix up all the parts. I bash and scavenge and strip. I might have a Tamiya lower body with a DML upper body and head, or a Master Box body with a DML head and gear. I mix and match, and carve and putty, and create the poses I want by taking from every source. Dragon / DML have the best heads and hands and gear, so when possible, those get used no matter who made the body. If I see a good pose I can create by mixing two different Tamiya bodies together, I’ll use a Dragon head and hands, “Gen2” gear, maybe even Dragon boots, and create a soldier that looks pretty good and fits the action I need in my diorama. This requires an eye for fit, some sculpting and carving skills, and a whole big pile of kits to scavenge from for the required body parts and equipment. Oh I know, I hear 80% of you crying already... you can’t afford to do anything so blasphemous as to butcher up expensive model kits like this. Well, OK. I feel your pain. I’m guess I’m rare. I can afford it, and I frankly have utterly no shame whatsoever. I do whatever is required to get what I need for the scene.

Now my completed figures are NOT what I consider to be top pro modeler contest winning individual pieces, so don’t take this article the wrong way; this is not intended to “teach” or “show” anyone how they should do things. I have seen absolutely frightening and real 1/35 soldier figures painted by so many great artist / modelers, so much so that I don’t even pretend to be close to their level. I’m NOT on that level. What I’m doing with these figures is for the most part, upper mid-level, looks pretty good, and fits the overall needs of the diorama. I’d love to make each one of the twenty soldiers an individual work of spectacular art, but it’s just not on the cards and frankly, not necessary. Time, and most of all, my 58 year old eyes, keep it at the level it is at present, which for me, is plenty good enough. I am most definitely an amateur builder, and anything I present here is strictly for entertainment purposes, or to possibly inspire others who are just starting in this hobby to push the limits of their abilities. My results may be far below what you might like to see, but on the other hand, look far advanced to a beginner or someone who hasn’t thought of doing this yet. So, my results are strictly my own, for my own purposes, to my satisfaction. YOUR mileage may vary, no warranties, express or implied.

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About the Author

About Gary Roberts (WARCLOUD)

I am one of the fortunate ones who has been gifted all my life with the Charm of Making..I am professionally an Artist / Illustrator at this stage of my life, and am or have been a Musician, Commercial Artist, Movie Effects Tech, Set builder, Mechanic, Machinist, Motorcycle Racer and Builder, and ev...


thank you SO much Matthew, and thanks James..forgive my overwhelming you with so many pics to edit! I think it worked out well. Hope you guys enjoy my ramblings and efforts at 1/35 action poses!
MAY 22, 2013 - 11:04 AM
how come no chin straps on the helmets ?
MAY 22, 2013 - 03:38 PM
Being so familiar with this text, having been over it several times during the editing, I know the answer! At this stage there are no straps or slings attached, or tiny things like grenade pull rings. Top of Page 2.
MAY 22, 2013 - 08:00 PM
Yes, thanks again Matthew... in truth, NONE of the figures pictured here are "finished"...my method goes in stages...I get a number of soldiers assembled, then do the basic paint on them all at once..when the entire unit is at that point, then I'll do the dirt, mud, wear, fading on all of them to be consistant with the diorama..the LAST thing is the tiny details like rifle slings and helmet straps and grenade rings etc., those being the most fragile and hardest to work around if attached too soon.
MAY 22, 2013 - 08:21 PM
Gary, Great work! For 58-year old eyes your uniforms are sharp and cleanly painted. Your seam lines are all but invisible. Great looking set with !
AUG 19, 2013 - 04:42 AM