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Let's sculpt our own set
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Soldatini on line is glad to introduce an innovative experiment: the making of a new set with the cohoperation of all the customers on line!
In every phase, from design to final packaging, our guests will be able to interact on the forum in order to express opinions and suggestions on the project.
This will be a real challenge and maybe our set will never be in production, but it will be funny nonetheless, as we'll discuss about a lot of technical details and in the end we all will learn something: maybe these will form a sort of guidelines and if some "serious" producer will listen to our suggestions we could get better sets in the future!

This document is a rough translation of the italian text and maybe it will not be always up to date (the images should help you to fill the gaps): I beg you sorry for my poor english, and if you find errors, please notify them!

Remember to come back often, as the project is always in progress: the top image will show you where we get so far...

The first step is to choose the subject. Of course we prefer an italian subject, not produced by other manifacturers: main choices are between italian colonial wars (first Italo-Ethiopian war 1895, Italo-Turkish war 1911, second Italo-Ethiopian war 1935) and contemporary international peace missions (Africa, Afghanistan, Iraq).
The 1895 range could be used in conjunction with the Dervish army (by Waterloo1815) or other coheve British sets; the 1911 army is much similar to WW1; 1935 soldiers could match WW2...
You can vote for these on the forum (in the folder "Sondaggi" there's a pool called "Quale range dovrebbe realizzare SoL?", you will easily undersdtand the questions) or you can express your preferences in the "INTERNATIONAL FORUM - for our foreign guests"

While we wait for the suggestions about the range, we can start thinking about the poses. There will be 2 sprues: the first, in 3 copies, with the main figures, the second in 1 or 2 copies with command group and other figures.
These are some of the possible figures:

firing 1 x3
firing 2 x3
fir. kneeling x3
reloading x3
charging 1 x3
charging 2 x3
kneeling 2? x3
marching? x3

wounded x2
officer x2
bugler? x2
standard bearer? x2

Thus we can have 32 figures on 12 poses (3 copies of the 1st sprue); or 32 on 16 pose (with 4 more figures on the 2nd sprue); or even 40 on 16 pose (with 4 more figures on the 2nd sprue in 2 copies).
Other arrangements are possible: I'd like to hear your opinions!

Next step will be the sculpting: the top left image will show you the actual stage, and you can see more images in the italian article. The masters will be of course in the final size: we can't afford the costs for a metal mould wich requires scaling from bigger sculptures! So the set will not look like the best professional products, but there are a lot of small companies out there that get wonderful results with this limitations...

We can start with basic sculpting, even if we don't know yet the subject: we're going to create some "dollies" useful in the next stages.
You can see here the skeletons near some samples (by Revell) to check for the correct size:

The first pose (firing man) has been roughly covered with cheap white epoxy putty: this cures very fast at room temperature (and here is very warm in June :-) so it's good for this bulk figure, ready in few minutes. To add details, later, I'm going to use a yellow/blu epoxy putty ("green stuff") wich cures in 12h.

These are the resulting figures: not exciting, but we just need a base to get a lead dollie by means of a simple silicone mould...
On the right the kneeling figure covered with green stuff, for comparison.

Now we must make the mould: I prepared a box to contain a layer of fast curing silicon rubber (bottom left), then pushed the figure into the rubber and added some putty (green plasticine) to create the channels to let the metal in and the air flow out.

Once the rubber is cured we need to lubricate all the surfaces and then press another blob of rubber on the top. When the mould is ready we can pour melted metal in and... here is the result:.

You can see both halves of the mould, the original figure, two raw metal copies, and a cleaned one.
Now that we have a metal dollie, we can fix the pose as needed and start detailing it with green putty.

It seems that our set will cover colonial italian infantry in 1895, so I can start to add some details; our source will be "Italian Colonial War 1885-1900" by R.Ruggeri, published by EMI. Here is a sample image that I'll use as a guideline:

The first figure is a man reloading his rifle: quite a simple and static pose (it derives from the metal dolly, by bending and cutting here and there...), but good to test my sculping abilities!
Here are the first images; trousers and gaiters are quite complete, torso, arms and hands are on their way; the weapon is only for testing purposes:

The head is very difficult to sculpt, as it measures 5x5mm! I'll try to make a mould to speed up the sculpting of other figures, so it is separated and will be glued to the body later...

For the finest details I switched to Andrea Sculpt epoxy putty, wich can be sanded once dry: the head is almost finished; note that the image above is almost five times bigger than the original wich measures less than 5x5mm!

For each figure there's one head and one rifle! So we shall make a double mould: let's start sclpting the weapon...
Here is the Vetterli 1870/87 rifle carried by our colonial troops: we will use this image as a guide to build a 18mm model.

We start roughly covering a thin electric guitar wire with "Andrea Sculpt", once hardened we can use files and sandpaper to trim the model into correct size and shape; then we'll add some details:

Once again we'll wait for the putty to set hard to fix the model. The result is not perfect, but it's the only available Vetterli rifle in 1:72 as far as I know!

After the holidays I decided that the head needs a full restyling: is better to sculpt a generic head without the hat (it was too small!), to get more details around the eyes. The result is far better:


February 2007

A quick update on the project:

These are a couple of dollies almost ready for the mould; heads, arms and rifle will be added on the metal copy together with the dresses

Whith the help of metal head (thanks to Lo Hobbi.t.Studio for casting heads and rifles) I was able to sculpt some headdress: here you see the colonial helmet of "Cacciatori d'Africa" and an Askari head with Fez

After the casting of small equipments (see below) everything will be ready to start assembling the first figures!.

Hope to hear from you on the forum!