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.
PART 1: UPGRADING THE BICYCLE
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.
PART 2: FIGURE CONVERSION
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.