PRELUDE

A couple months ago I received a message from a certain Richard William Andrews of Aviattic fame, asking if I would be interested in reviewing some 1/16 figures from his new venture Luftkrieg 1919. I was intrigued by his “what if” enthusiasm and concepts and so agreed. Little did I know at the time just how incredible the figures would turn out, if only I knew they were sculpted by Patrick “The Small” Masson!

So a few days later two kits arrived in their smoked plastic boxes along with a card depicting the  art by Guillaume Menuel of Richard’s original concepts. Inside we have ziplock bags containing the polyurethane resin parts, in this case eleven in total. First impressions are very good indeed!

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Concept art by Guillaume!

A little chat here and there and I managed to get a little insight into the ideas and slowly I watched the site come to life too!

“Luftkrieg 1919 was devised as an alternative to the intense and sometimes stifling world of WW1 study and product development.

Allowing me to explore where the technology of the time would have led the warring nations as an alternative history takes real events and (some) actual characters into the maelstrom of total war against the idealogical global threat of Communism. Everything has to change….(Richard Andrews)”

Kati Aldershof was the first character I devised – the mystery of her connection to Manfred von Richtofen (The Red Baron) had always intrigued me. Fortunately, with the artist Guillaume Menuel portraying her in a painting for me, she also intrigued Patrick Masson (I decided – if you don’t ask, you don’t get!) when I sent him the details and he agreed to add her into his already mad, busy sculpting schedule.

Such a success was she that Patrick agreed to sculpt “Yumiko” also and so I was bolstered in the belief that this “realistic” and fact based approach to a fantasy concept could win those over more used to impossibly pneumatic warrior princesses and pumped heroes…

The other people in my head started to become more real!

“IN THIS RAPIDLY CHANGING, DEADLY NEW CONFLICT FRESH ALLIANCES MUST BE FORGED, EXPERIMENTAL TECHNOLOGIES EMBRACED AND DEVELOPED AS NEW LEADERS AND HEROES EMERGE TO FIGHT FOR A WORLD FACING ARMAGEDDON…”

ALTERNATIVE HISTORICAL REFERENCE

Kati Otersdorf served in the Great War as a German front line nurse. She famously tended Manfred von Richthofen following a near fatal head wound in 1917. Speculation has been rife as to whether they were sweethearts but other than a photo of the two of them, taken during his convalescence, she has no known history…(and so begins an alternate history (Ed)).

Heartbroken after the Baron’s death and repulsed by aircraft manufacturer Antony Fokker’s amorous advances she applies to Germany’s Air Korps leaders (Idflieg) for transfer to the Fliegertruppe and demands a meeting with High command.

After 4 years of war, experienced flyers are few and their influence and example is vital at the various war fronts. Innovative new aircraft, from the hastily excavated underground factories in the forested heartlands of Bavaria, must be delivered to front-line fighting Jastas at night to avoid detection by roaming Bolshevik fighters. Kati suggests a new concept, designed to keep the few remaining trained combat pilots at the front and fighting rather than distracted by such tasks: A squadron of female night-flying ferry pilots. Her enthusiasm and persistence is rewarded with the command of the new top secret Nachtflieger Korps”.

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Our nurse and the Red Baron

Many servicemen’s widows, wives and sweethearts soon apply to join her, anxious to stem the “Red Tide” of Bolshevism threatening to throw Germany into further turmoil as a civil war threatens to spread through Europe and beyond…

Fast-tracked special flight training is arranged with experimental new equipment developed as a priority. New innovations such as antennae in their flying helmets, which can detect the drones of the enemy’s aircraft, liquid oxygen breathing apparatus and night vision goggles allow them to operate at night and at high altitude. Kati proves to be a natural pilot and inspirational leader.

Once delivered, the new, high performance fighters, aided by the new fleet of re-fuelling Zeppelins that roam the upper atmosphere, enable the hard-pressed pilots to stay in combat longer and fight around the clock. Following many aces deaths through poor build and quality control in the wily entrepreneur’s monoplane aircraft, Anthony Fokker is finally charged with industrial sabotage.

Competitors long under his influential shadow such as Pfalz, Roland, Rumpler and Siemens Schuckert are given the chance to explore new theories and concepts of aircraft design. Fighter competitions are held to exhibit their prototypes and dogfight to win lucrative contracts.

Previous supply issues with raw materials and trade routes are partly eased by alliances with North African countries and Japan’s new relationship, herself under threat from a Bolshevik inspired China. Flying fully armed, powerful new aircraft, Kati and her pilots soon find the temptation to enter combat, though forbidden, irresistible and they start to amass secret scores of victories against night roaming “Red” fighters, bombers, supply trains and ground troops.

At first only front line airfield mechanics, noticing the depleted ammunition and occasional battle damage evident on their new charges, are aware of the prowess of these affectionately dubbed “Fledermausen” and their exploits soon become whispered among the awestruck and inspired Fliegertruppe. The rumours eventually come to the attention of Kati’s masters. Far from court-martialling these new “aces” the propaganda value of this new development becomes very obvious. The legend of “Die Fledermausen” is born.

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Fligertruppe

On hearing of these successes the exhausted and demoralised remnants of the Fatherland’s Air Korps, armies, navy and disillusioned public alike idolise Kati and her pilots. She is decorated with Germany’s highest honour, the “Pour le Mérite” or “Blue Max”. Postcards, storybooks and signed photo portraits are soon enthusiastically collected by an invigorated public, hungry for new heroes and a new political will to unite them.

The Bolsheviks put a bounty on their heads, such is their impact on morale. Kati feels that she has honoured the memory of her beloved Manfred but her loyalty and commitment to the Fatherland is soon to be challenged.

THE SCULPTING PROCESS

Hi, my name is Patrick Masson, I have kindly been asked to write some words about the process of sculpting Kati and Yumiko, the 2 first 1/16th scale models for the new range Luftkrieg 1919. Thank you Jason for that, I hope this will have some interest for the readers.

Let’s talk about the 2 at the same time as the process is nearly the same. As usual, the first step is to receive the concepts. For this line, the concepts are realised by Guillaume Menuel from the ideas by Richard Andrews. I have also received some information about the background, an alternative version of the post WWI. This helps to get the right references and to have the right inspiration when  sculpting details. Both girls are aviatrice and scale should be 1/16th. So about 100mm for women whose height is 1.6 metres. I also get reference images from Richard about what he wants for the face of Yumiko, the Kati’s cross, the mask, etc.

Kati will have an alternative left hand holding a gun (3D sculpture given by Richard). Yumiko will have an alternative head with different hair cut. From that I can start with a wire armature at the right scale made with a metal wire of diameter 0,7mm. Using a 1,3mm wire attached to the back to avoid the movement of the armature during sculpting. Then I put a first layer of green stuff and fimo, scratch the fimo and bake it. Like so, my pose is ready and the scratches are giving some grip to attach the next step of fresh fimo.

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Patrick’s modest tooling

On smaller scale I do not bake the first step, but for this scale it was better to give some greater rigidity to the armature. Then comes the anatomy step. Both girls are fully covered with clothes at the end but I like to do the full anatomy first for several reasons. This is always a new exercise to make my understanding of anatomy better and it gives me better chance to avoid mistakes when covering with clothes. For Kati, I decided to try a mold of the anatomy to keep it for reference. So I did the head and the left hand then baked her. Yumiko was not baked at this stage so I did the head later in the process.

Woman faces are always difficult to do and I had several passes on Kati to give her the right look. But the face of Yumiko was harder to do because Richard had high expectations to get a real Japanese look and not only a generic Asian. I think we are both pretty happy with the result at the end. One great thing with this scale though, is the fact that some early steps of the anatomy can be made with fingers without tools. For sure detailing and face need tools. Mostly 3 tools : a homemade wood tool, a homemade needle (bent) tool and a paintbrush to smooth. The wood tool is declined in 3 different sizes, bigger for early steps and smaller for detailing.

Then comes the clothes step, it just consist of adding the clothes trying to make it believable. I try to use as much references as I can to make the folds look right. Searching on the net or taking my own references with pictures of my clothes. It is not always easy to find the good references and even though the scale is big, some adjustments with the reality have to be made in order to have a nice look and something cool to paint. During this step, we realised Kati had too high heels so I did an adjustment to correct them.

For Yumiko, the concept was not showing the right type of shoes, so first design I did was not ok, then Richard told me he wanted something closer to realistic Geisha’s shoes so I hope I achieved that. Kati’s straps textures were made using a needle, scratching the fimo to give the effect of thick fabric straps. Using a brass wire to make the passing bolts. For Yumiko, the mask was very difficult to do. I had to modify it’s form a lot of times to get the right sculpt Richard was hoping for.

Even though it looks quite simple, the shapes are very subtle and it was really much harder than I thought it would have been. Finally after many steps and modification (and one finger;) ) I managed to get the right shape and design. The texture of the mask was made on separate sheets of fimo, pressing the tube tool 2 times at 90°. Then cutting the sheets to have the right shape and putting it in place on the baked mask. The texture of the quiver was achieved after several trials. It is a kind of happy accident. I put a sheet of fimo on a brass tube then I played with the tube tool in different directions.

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stunning and beautiful

After many trials I finally got something which was looking good. The second hair cut for Yumiko was done on a cast piece, removing the old hair and re-sculpting the new ones. Doing these 2 girls was challenging because I had to be very accurate with Richard’s vision, but it was really interesting.

Working on this higher 1/16th scale is great. I think this is harder in some elements because you have no space for anatomical mistakes for example. But this is very interesting because you can really work on getting nice features, shapes and volumes and more accurate details.

I really want to thanks Richard Andrews for giving me the opportunity to work on these 2 wonderful girls. And thanks to Guillaume Menuel for the awesome concepts, it was a real pleasure to work with his work. I hope I’ll have the opportunity to work again at this scale and even bigger in the future. Hope you have had some interest reading this and you’ll like the models.

Best regards, Patrick « The Small » Masson!

SCULPT AND CAST

First impressions of the kit are quite simply those of awe and shock. It is a beautiful figure with a wealth of detail and textures. Let us have a look at the parts in some detail now, beginning with the head. The delicate facial features of Kati have an almost anime inspired touch to them with high cheek bones, full lips and button nose.

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the kit in full – full of details and textures

Her hair, most of which is held in a folded bun beneath her flight cap is wonderfully rendered with some loose strands framing her face and flowing gently in the breeze. The flight cap itself is full of intricate details and textures, the ear flaps are padded with integrated ear muffs. The cap is finished off with a short peak and some”wings” I think they may house the antennae?! Sat atop the cap we have these intricately crafted night vision goggles, that look like they have some steampunk elements to them, the detail is incredible. The strap to these show nice, sharp undercuts and buckles, great attention to detail.

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realistic folds, straps and details throughout

The head attaches nice and snug via a peg and hole assembly, but note that first you must attach her neck scarf (if you wish to include it), this is a rather simple but effective piece, sculpted so it’s folds flow in the same direction as the hair. This for me serves two purposes, one it is an observation of the sculpt itself but secondly and quite cleverly, the wind blown items strengthen our idea of her as a pilot, a femme-fatale of the skies!

As I have also cleaned up the parts and built the majority of the kit, I can also comment that the fit of the parts is excellent, no gap filling needed. The upper torso and legs fit nicely together with seams and straps from her flight suit lining up perfectly. The flight suit is partially open, wide collar spread to the sides revealing her dress uniform underneath and showing what looks like The Iron Cross. The folds and creases to the fabrics are very nicely rendered, the straps display sharp undercuts and cinch the flight suit in a realistic and believable manner. The detailing to the belt is stunning complete with buckle, holes and eyelets.

The seams and folds are continued down the legs, with straps holding the trouser leg closed at the ankles just above the boots. The boots again show great detailing, slim and feminine yet still practical. The loops of the tied bootlaces poking out from under the trousers is another very nice touch.

The right arm carrying her leather gloves is held relaxed down by her side whilst we have two options for the left arm; one that rests upon the incredible machine gun and the other that rather nonchalantly holds her cigarette (which will need attaching, carefully).

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“Spandau” machine gun

The final part is the hefty machine gun, which in itself is incredibly detailed I have built mine holding her cigarette, which allows me to incorporate the weapon upon  scenic base.

The weapon is the LMG 08/15 “Spandau” machine gun. In real life this would be a blackened metal finish with a hint of blue – not shiny steel. So there is some free advice on how to paint yours!

The casting is very good although there are some small moldlines, I found cleaning them off simple enough however the resin is quite hard and smells quite strong. There are no defects such as air bubble holes or slippages and the casting has captured all of the wonderful details throughout.

DESIGN AND ORIGINALITY

The design is simply wonderful, the sculpt is balanced and well considered. The anatomy is perfect, attention to details is of the highest standard the various optional parts allows for the figure to be assembled in a number of ways. Richard Andrews has created a wonderfully enigmatic and original concept and the scale of the figures means these will be sought after by figure painters and collectors.

There are currently two figures in this larger scale and I for one hope there will be more!

DESIRABILITY

Well what can I say? Patrick Masson, nominee artist for the Dimensional category in Spectrum 23 for his Blind Death project, is an incredibly talented freelance sculptor, whose work for 1919 is nothing short of breathtaking. I believe this kit along with Yumiko will both be highly desirable kits. The concept, sculpt and cast of Kati is exceptional and will provide figure painters with challenges I suspect that no other kits will afford.

AFFORDABILITY

The kit has two prices, Kati “smoking” costs £39.50 whilst Kati accompanied with the large, sub machine gun is £49.50. The machine gun can also be purchased separately. It is my personal opinion that this offers a fair and competitive price point for a 1/16 scale kit, especially one which is so beautiful and I suspect will be a pleasure to paint.

DATES, FIGURES AND STUFF

Cost                                     £39.50-£49.50

Material                              Polyurethane Resin

No of Pieces                       11

Release Date                     Available Now

Where Can I Get It?        HERE