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The last King of Africa

built by Stefan Beck (1/35)

The last King of Africa
Africa, crisis and war torn continent. Battered by imperial claim to power, endless dictatorships and monarchs. This fictional diorama shows the Last King of Africa, of course self-proclaimed, to unite this continent and to bring a better life for all, as all of the leaders before announced - and never kept their word. This was the idea, so how to translate that concept into a scale model?

Fortunately I found some appropriate kits in my stash: As they are all by MENG: Russian ZSU-23-4 Shilka self-propelled AA gun, Russian light AA gun set (ZPU-2 und ZU-23-2), Pickup Set (Toyota Hilux, Toyota Land Cruiser).

But, vehicles all alone are not that interesting, so we need some figures. African scale figures are on the market but not in the poses I needed, only option left is to scratchbuilt the 22 men, of course by the help of the fantastic African heads set by Hornet (2 sets are available). Firearms are provided by Trumpeter, AKs and RPGs are widely available in Africa, so should it be.

Building the Shilka

This kit by Meng is absolutely recommended and built out of the box a real nice model. The included individual track links are a breeze to assembly and very detailed. To realize my vision of a worn out AFV in bad shape I had to put in some additional work. So I used the etched brass sets by Voyager and Eduard to get empty tool clamps, the empty bracket for the self recovery wooden log at the rear of the vehicle and more details all around the tank to get some eye candy.

Painting the Shilka is as fictional as the whole scenario. I was influenced by an original which was in use in Mali (green/red brown/sand with faint black lines, shown in the recommended book “Shilka AA Gun in Detail by WWP”). For painting I did the full Monty. Pre- and post shading, hairspray technique for chipping effects and weathering with pigments and oils. All for a realistic result of weather beaten and abused vehicle.

Did I say abused vehicle ...

Also both of the pickups by Meng did see some better days. Dented sheet metal and damage all around gives some character. Drills, putty, files and blades are the tools of choice to get the modeling juices flowing.

Interesting enough you can see the evolution of Meng by those two pickup kits (Toyota Land Cruiser and Toyota Hilux - around the 2000s). One of the first releases by Meng was the Toyota Hilux, and that’s obvious. Few details, basic interior design and bad fitting glazing. On the other hand the kit of the Toyota Land Cruiser (around the 80s). Easy to built, delicate detail, very nice model. Both kits are blessed with soft vinyl tires, but detail is good so it’s ok.

To get more of an improvised vibe I put some AA guns (ZPU-2 and ZU-23-2) on the truck beds. Those are wildly strapped down, all based on original pictures.

Both cars get the same painting treatment as the tank; the camouflage pattern is strictly fictitious and looks chaotic and gritty - as planned.

The last King of Africa (1:35)

  Diorama built by Stefan Beck, photos taken by  
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Now for the figures

The above mentioned 22 guys were already designed in the building phase of the vehicles, this is the only way to get natural poses so the figures are well integrated and not just mounted on top of the cars and tank.

Figures are built in the classic putty (Magic Sculpt) over wire armature method, topped with Hornet heads and armed by Trumpeter firearms. For painting all the small men I wanted to try out a new medium (at least for me)…oil colors. It took me a while to get used to the completely different workflow compared to acrylic paints. But at the end it turned out quite good. Every medium has its own properties and you learn a lot just by trying out new things.

Next step was to decorate all 3 vehicles with flags and ribbons to get some emotional connection between the figures. This should be more of a parade, not a fighting scene.

Did I say parade?

Well, yes. We can observe the king on his high throne, and what a glorious king he is. Golden AK, bottle of beer and a torn sunshade - impressive! Fully aware of all the African dictators, monarchs and liberators I tried to condense these impressions in that guy; I hope it played out well.

The landscape ...

Finally last thing to do was creating the landscape, no rocket science here, just XPS (extruded Polystyrol) cut to size and covered with putty (Vallejo). The tarmac road is coarse sanding paper. All painted with acrylic colors and pigments.

And that’s it, all in all I’m quite happy with the outcome, it was definitely worth the work.
So, thanks for your attention and happy modeling!
  meet the modeler      

Stefan Beck

  My name is Stefan Beck. I began modeling very early, probably since I started thinking. Like many others I started with Airfix and Esci. As the years passed and the modeling budget increased the subject matter also grew in complexity. I now build (civilian) motorcycles, (military) dioramas and figures but also Science Fiction (Warhammer 40000) in diverse scales (1:12 to 1:285).

If you have questions or constructive criticism donít hesitate and contact me.
  Stefan Beck  
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This page:  GALLERY: The last King of Africa (1/35), built by Stefan Beck
was last modified on: Mar 29, 2022
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