First to Fight Polish TKS Tankette Diorama Build in 1/72 Scale

Several of the blogs and boards I follow are devoted to the painting of (and/or gaming with) “minis”.  The work of these figure painters is fantastic and inspiring, but makes me more aware of the limitations of my own modeling skills.  I need practice, so I decided to add bases and figures to my recent batch of completed vehicles.

I’ve seen modelers try various ways of building bases on You Tube videos. This one didn’t look difficult and I already had most of the materials in the garage. This is just foam insulation glued to a wooden base. Instead of cutting the foam, I used the “fat lardie” method and contoured the foam by stepping on it on a concrete floor – worked like a charm!
The edges are dressed up with strips of 1 inch (25 mm) wide balsa wood from the Local Hobby Store. All this is glued with carpenter’s clue, clamped, and left to dry overnight.
I added surface contours with lightweight spackling compound. An advantage of the lightweight spackle is it can be compressed when dry without fracturing.
The base color is a suitable shade of acrylic beige wall paint. Cheap, and a quart will be a lifetime supply for modeling purposes.
I have become interested in the use of mounted cavalry during WWII, and surprisingly there are a few choices of figures available in 1/72 scale. These are First to Fight Polish Uhlans mounted on Zvezda horses. Turns out the Polish and Russian cavalry tack is similar, so only a few modifications were needed. The poses of the figures were modified, and reins and bedrolls are made from masking tape.
Here are the figures under a coat of Mr. Surfacer 1000. The biggest improvement is the replacement of the molded-on reins, the tape reins are more dynamic and can be mated with the figures’ hands. The Mr. Surfacer and subsequent paint layers are generally sufficient to bond the reins, but a little dab of superglue doesn’t hurt either!
The mini-diorama depicts a TKS supporting the advance of a unit of Uhlan cavalry. The ground cover is a mix of Woodland Scenics products. I made indentations in the grass where the tracks of the TKS passed by rolling a coin, an example of where the ability of the lightweight spackling compound to compress came in handy. I’m definitely not quick about the figure painting and basing yet, but I do like the effect!