Friday, September 27, 2013

Full of (Far) Eastern Promise...

Next up!

The Legatus is still frantically busy at work and today I had a one to one training session on our new database thing.  After about four hours I had sort of got the hang of it but I'm sure I will have forgotten it all tomorrow!  Mr Mike Whitaker, on his splendid Trouble At T'Mill blog had another one of his regular techie tips yesterday.  I always find these fascinating as I don't understand a single word of them.  They always seem full of useful stuff I should be doing but it's all like Middle English to me; there are recognisable words in there but it's like reading a particularly obscure piece of Chaucer.  When every one else was doing The Canterbury Tales for A Level my English teacher Martin (eh, heh!) Payne insisted we study The Parlement of Foules a poem of such catatonic dullness it managed to make Henry James look interesting and put me off Chaucer for life.  The only interesting thing about The Parlement of Foules is that it is the first recorded instance of St Valentine's Day being noted as a special celebration for lovers.  Of course, at that point I had no interest in Valentine's Day and had yet to start spending the epic amounts of money the cursed  "celebration" would cost me over the next thirty years or so. Anyway, yit happeth me ful ofte in bokes reede but have never had any on the Japanese in World War 2 but this has now been remedied by the arrival of my Osprey The Japanese Army 1931-45 (1) (I hadn't realised there was a (2)).

Anyway, it seems to contain all the information I require to paint my Warlord Games plastic Japanese and, indeed, I have chosen a suitable base colour for their uniforms and started a few last night.  There is only one problem with them so far in that I have used the included plastic bases and discovered (as no doubt everyone else did years ago) that PVA glue doesn't stick to bare plastic, so all my sand is falling off in patches.  I usually put the sand on top of plastic filler on cardboard or metal bases so I'd better spread a thin layer of filler on the bases first, which I didn't do because the figures have no integral bases so don't need them hiding under filler.


It's good to see Warlord coming out with some spare heads for these today, including helmets with foliage and the distinctive peaked caps with the neck covers.  I may try to get a little more done on them this weekend although my daughter is returning from Edinburgh for the weekend so will require me to ferry her about everywhere, no doubt.  I can't really paint at night and, for some reason, don't enjoy it, so I am doing a little first thing in the morning.  It's good to be painting regularly again so I hope to get a bit more done between now and Christmas.

The top fifteen finalists for Miss Universe Japan

One of the things I fretted about was the skin colour for Japanese.  My Warlord Chinese I have painted a rather garish saffron colour (Humbrol 63) to the extent that while they don't quite look like the Simpsons they are a little bit too Sax Rohmer yellow devilish. I don't know any Japanese people so had to do some intensive research by looking at the finalists of this year's Miss Japan contest.  Do they have a yellow tint? Hardly.  I have known quite a few people of Chinese extraction, several of whom's skin I have examined in close detail (one of them has just got back in touch with me after 25 years so I'll ask to examine her skin again (maybe not on our first reunion!).  I can't think that they really look any different from Europeans or, rather, they have just as much skin colour variation as Europeans do.

Anyway, here is Japan's entry for November's Miss Universe contest, Yukimi Matsuo.  Lots of Japanese skin here and although it is a lovely colour I can't say it is yellow!  Anyway in the end I put a little Humbrol 62 into my normal Humbrol 61 skin tone on the basis that if they had been out in the South Pacific they would have got tanned.

I seem to be turning Japanese at the moment, with work on my first North Star figures for Ronin beginning, albeit rather gingerly.  Incidentally, a past girlfriend (V, the passionate Catholic one) had a cousin who was a professional musician (you can see him in the band in Local Hero (1983)) and he knew the man who wrote The Vapors I'm Turning Japanese.  Interestingly, this one song was earning him £25,000 a year in royalties years afterwards; which is why you need to be a songwriter not a, here today gone tomorrow, singer.

The easier ones

Anyway, the casting of these figures, I have to say, is much better than the In her Majesty's Name figures, which had quite a few misaligned halves.  They needed a very little filing but there was no flash and the detail is very good.  There were quite a lot of those little filaments (they have a technical name but I can't remember what it is) that needed trimming off, but that's all.  I have undercoated one set and started painting four of them.  I've decided to ease myself in by working on the simpler peasant figures without the armour first.  I have actually finished three now which are my first completed figures for three months. The key problem for me with the armour is that, being lacquered it should have a gloss finish so I will have to paint the figures in matt for everything but the armour, then mat varnish and then apply gloss over the top for the armour which, given the stickiness of Humbrol gloss enamel, is going to be a challenge.  I ordered the North Star Koryu Buntai set as well, as it has representations of the Seven Samurai in it.  This arrived from North Star in a couple of days (unusually) and I also bought the Criterion edition of the film.  It's a Region 1 DVD but my DVD player is a US one so that isn't a problem.  It's multi-region but I only use it for discs I get in Canada or the US.  I use the Playstation 3 for UK DVDs.


Moving from Japan to China (as did the Imperial army, of course) and equally full of Eastern promise, I have just added to my recent music purchases with a really splendid CD of piano encores by the young Chinese pianist Yuja Wang called Fantasia (nothing to do with dancing hippopotami).  She really is a find and manages to combine dazzling virtuosity with extraordinary sensitivity as well.  There is nothing consciously flashy about her playing, unlike, for example, the ghastly Lang Lang whose idiosyncrasies are turning him into a parody of himself.  Anyway, I can't take a musician seriously whose name makes him sound like a Teletubby


Miss Wang doesn't look remotely like a Teletubby and is somewhat infamous for wearing the smallest dresses on the concert stage since Vanessa Mae but, as she says herself, she won't be able to wear then when she is forty so why not now?  Quite.  I need to look out for more of her recordings.  I do wonder what happens if you are a sensationally gifted young female classical musician and you aren't easy on the eye, however.  Well, I know: you don't get signed. Classical music is now as bad as pop music in this.  

Finally, I have just placed an order for something so left field for me that I have even surprised myself by it.  Whether it will ever turn into anything or will just join the dozens of other unstarted projects I don't know. We shall see!

Anyway, now I have finished this post I can stop playing Japanese music which, like bagpipes, you can only take so much of.  Twang!


  1. Not 'lil Hosses, Legatus?

    I am just finishing some Roman marines, and a bottle of Barolo. Not necessarily a wise combination...

  2. My Dear Legatus,

    Skin tones vary widely throughout the world based on genetics and exposure to the sun - as you have brilliantly indicated. My Japanese armies have been painted with a variety of Vallejo skin tones varying from basic flesh for some females to the medium flesh tone. When doing someone who is supposed to be out in the sun after the preliminary paint I will use a heavy flesh tone wash.
    Best regards,
    A/K/A The Celtic Curmudgeon

  3. Those North Star figs are awfully nice. Enjoy painting them!


  4. The chap I shared a room with for a year at school was Japanese and he was definitely on the "yellow" side in terms of skin colour. But I suspect in 25mm there's little difference, although I think Foundry do an "oriental flesh" set that ends up being quite pale.

    I can't stand Lang Lang either!