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Build report: Verlinden 1/16 Viking Raider

Steve Budd brings us another great looking build, this time a stunning Viking figure. You can practically hear him singing “Kill da wabbitt! Kill da wabbitt!” OK, maybe not. It’s still a cool Viking.

I doubt there are many folks in the Northern hemisphere who haven’t heard of the Vikings. Rather than rehash the plentiful information which is available on the Internet about these fascinating people, please see the following link for the historical and cultural taster contained within Wikipedia. While the popular view of the Vikings largely remains that of a people devoted to rape, pillage and conquest violence it seems that they were sophisticated and technologically advanced for the time)

The Kit

The box contains a quantity of resin parts which comprise the figure, together with sectional pieces of moulded plaster that make up the base. Rounding out the presentation is a short section of fine chain which is designed to enable the builder to hang a resin amulet around the neck of the figure (I succeeded in misplacing mine and so it does not figure in the final build).

The overall quality is excellent and consistent with the fine reputation that this line of figures from the Verlinden stable have deservedly built up over many years.


Kit: VP Viking Raider – circa 900AD
Kit Number: VER-833
Price: Circa $34.00

Bearing in mind that the figure is made of resin it is essential to follow sensible health and safety precautions when removing casting stubs from the various parts. I wore a dust mask and razor sawed the plugs outside in the garden on a dry day. Any final sanding was carried out wet using course wet and dry emery paper to adjust to fit between parts until ready for final assembly.

The figure itself was built up with the legs, lower torso, upper torso and the two jacket sleeves; leaving the arms, hands and head, together with the sword and shield to be painted and finished separately.

The base is a different animal entirely, being made of plaster. Assembly is nonetheless extremely simple and while some people will be tempted to use two part epoxy, I took Verlinden’s advice and joined the parts using a medium thick plaster mix. The plaster ‘glue’ was simple household domestic wall filler. The surfaces of the parts to be joined are ‘painted’ with the plaster and brought together. The excess will naturally ooze from the joint and this is perfect for ensuring the easy elimination of any visible joint. I removed the overspill using a quarter inch flat chisel brush that was rinsed off in a jar of water after each application. Any moulding defects like air holes, were filled with a thinner mix of the plaster ‘glue’.

Leave the airbrush tucked away for this one – it’s good old fashioned brush painting all the way. I acquired Verlinden’s “The System” Volume One: Figure Painting at the same time that I picked up the figure. It really is essential reading and helpfully contains illustrations and text relating to finishing the jacket. The only drawback is Verlinden’s habit of referring to all colour call outs in terms of Humbrol paint numbers only – follow this link for an Internet summary chart.

The jacket was base coated with dark green enamel, further darkened with enamel flat black. This provided shadowing in the recesses of the quilted jacket when the lighter tints were dry brushed in later. From there it is simply a case of progressively lightening the base green until a suitable contrast with the recesses is reached.

A different green was used for the trousers and the folds and shadow areas were painted in with a darkened version of the same. The brown tunic was finished using the same approach, as were the shoes.

The leather belt and strapping on the scabbard were base coated with flat black and left to cure for 24 hours before dark brown oil paint was applied over the top. The access was carefully brush away leaving a gentle sheen on the leather.

Humbrol buffable Metalcote paints were used for all the metal areas which had been previously base coated in flat black. Using this system was an enjoyable alternative to Alclad II and enables the builder to finish a project without the need of an airbrush. Once the Metalcote is dry it is simply rubbed with a soft, lint free cloth which transforms it from a slightly rough, dull gray matted paint to the polished surfaces you see in the photographs.

Probably the scariest part of building a figure like this is attempting to reproduce a reasonable flesh tone in the hands and face. I chose this figure as the skin area was minimal, given that the face is unshaven and the longhair masks the neck.

Verlinden’s guide was again followed and Humbrol 63 matt sand was used as the base colour to the oils that would follow. All the oils were mixed 50-50 with Liquin (Japan Dryer in the US) which increases the translucency of the oils and makes them easier to blend. It also reduces the drying time of the oils from a number of weeks to only a day or so.

I guesstimated a mix of several tones of oils to both lighten and darken the basic skin tone until I was relatively happy with the result. Raised areas, like the cheekbones, knuckles, bridge of the nose and so on were all highlighted with the lighter mixture which was then gently blended into the surrounding areas. Recesses and natural shadow areas were painted with the dark mix and again blended in.

The eyes were painted an off white, with a light blue cornea, before the dark gray pupils were carefully touched in. I have to say that this was very much easier under the Actulite daylight balance lamp and 3.5 mag Optivisor.

The base was finished in virtually the same way as the jacket, insofar as each distinctly separate area received a dark base coat before being dry brushed with various lighter tones. Selective washes were run in to help further highlight some areas and smooth the transition between tones in others. The edges of the base were painted in matt black enamel to tidy the finish. As I said when I posted pictures in the forum, the rat was a whimsical touch from the spares box, easily finished in a base coat of dark brown with some lighter oils applied; the eyes being painted black with clear gloss varnish.

Final assembly of the figure was predictably via common or garden superglue.

Not counting my great alien, this was my first figure project and the first time that I had tried painting skin areas since I was a child modeller. Having given it a go it has only increased my admiration for those like Verlinden and Bob Letterman who have obviously mastered the medium.

The great advantage of doing something like this is the fact that it makes painting a face onto a 1:48 pilot seem routine in comparison. Highly recommended as a change of pace.

The internet and “The System” Volume One: Figure Painting by Francois Verlinden and Bob Letterman.

Steve’s bio:
“I’m Steve Budd, based in London, England. My birth certificate says I’m 49 years old but that can’t be right as my head stopped at 19…

I am officially the luckiest guy on the planet – married to a (fortunately) very understanding wife and three great kids, topped off with a self-contained modelling shed that sometimes gets down to -4c or lower in winter; perfect conditions for modelling those November 1943 T-34s!

I took Shep Paine’s and Verlinden’s advice to heart many years ago in keeping the builds broad spectrum – aircraft (WWI, WWII, anything post WWII), armour, figures, dinosaurs, sci-fi and occasional things that float. Each discipline has techniques and approaches that can be transferred or migrated into the others. I can’t count the times one form of modelling has helped out in another, plus a mix of subjects keeps the interest and fun factors high (I’ve often thought kits should be rated in reviews like sun cream – ‘…this ones a fun(sun)-factor 25…’

The infamous modelling stash currently tops 300 but I’m trimming lots of dead wood periodically on E-Bay and only picking up new stuff pretty infrequently.”