Monday, June 30, 2014

New American Civil War Diorama / Display Base Pt 12 - Conclusion

I've been working on this display base off-and-on (mostly off) since March 22 and is primarily meant to pose and photograph my Civil War toys but I s'pose can be used for other things as well. I kind of put the push on finishing it so that it can be used for the 151st anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg which is 1-3 July.I use the term 'finished' kind of loosely because there may be some odds-and-ends to do later on. For example, the ground is rather flat and barren, except for 'grass' there's little other vegetation like bushes and trees. This was done on purpose so that there'd be more flat space to place figures on. Also, by not permanently 'planting' trees and bushes it gives me more flexibility in changing the landscaping. Anywho, here's the photos of the final steps: Enjoy! Bettina & Fritz Berg :)

A 2' (61cm) x 4' (121.9cm) piece of hardboard was shortened to fit the rear of the display

 Right now it's simply held on by three screws

 The same light blue paint I used on the backdrop for my train layout was used here. It is a real light blue and maybe one day I'll re-paint it a slightly darker shade to provide more contrast.

I think my inner Rembrandt went AWOL LOL. Oh well, only two shades of green were used here

Some shots of the 'finished' display

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ertl 1992 1/64 scale #02457 Batman The Animated Series Gotham City Police Helicopter

Okay, as much as I love the Batmobile from 'Batman The Animated Series' I can't say as much for this Gotham City PD helicopter. It's just weird and clunky looking - period! If this were an actual helicopter I'm fairly certain those twin vertical stabilizers on the rear fuselage wouldn't keep the thing flying. After all, there's a reason copters have a rotor at the rear. However, like I keep saying, it's only a toy and it was also great that Ertl brought to life something out of the cartoon. So in that regard it makes a nice addition to the stable of Bat-stuff! Enjoy! Bettina & Fritz Berg :)

Here's the Gotham City PD helicopter along with Ertl's 'Batman The Animated Series' Batmobile

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Built-Rite 1930s Paper Castle

Castle's are fascinating and I've liked them ever since I was a kid, and as a kid enjoyed movies set in the Middle Ages. Who can forget movies like The Vikings,  El Cid, any of the Robin Hood movies, Ivanhoe, or even comedies like The Court Jester, or Walt Disney's cartoon The Sword In The Stone where the primary action was in and around castles? But if you were to believe Hollywood, one would think that every castle in existence was a grand manor where the king held court, jousting tournaments were a regular weekend pastime, and knights in shining armor went forth to do battle. Not really.

Castles began around the 10th century as strongly fortified residences. The earliest examples were the earth and wood 'motte-and-bailey' type. The motte was a raised earthen mound with a stone or wooden keep at the top. The bailey is an enclosed courtyard surrounded by a ditch and palisade or wall. These evolved into highly fortified stone structures with walls sometimes as thick as 30ft (9m) and castles were built from Europe to the Middle East. Even the Far East saw it's share of castle building. Many were surrounded by wide defensive ditches called moats which were only sometimes filled with water - a common staple of Hollywood movies -  if they were near a stream. Towers were placed near the entrance and at other strategic locations to provide a means of lookout and defense. By the 16th century they began to lose their luster as residences and were supplanted by grand manor houses and grandiose palaces. Also, the thick walls, which were originally meant as protection against catapult shot, were no match against gunpowder and artillery. The castle as a fortified structure was eventually replaced by the fort using different design and engineering techniques.

Another thing to keep in mind is that not every castle was the residence of a nobleman. Many were built to hold a small garrison of men whose job was to watch perhaps a valley, an important road, a waterway, etc. Some, like the Pfalz im Rhein Bei Kaub featured here on Toys and Stuff, were built to collect tolls. The Pfalz castle was actually built on an island in the middle of the Rhein (or 'Rhine' here Stateside). Many are now in ruins. The castle shown below is Burg Hartenfels, Westerwald, Germany. Originally built ca1289 to protect the High Street, the main trade route between Frankfurt and Cologne, it was destroyed in the 15th century, rebuilt in 1594 and destroyed again. It was never rebuilt.

Here's an interesting tidbit. This is essentially the view of the castle (although from a bit farther away in a nearby town) Bettina used to have from the kitchen window of her old house!
Courtesy Wikipedia

A remnant of the wall. The enclosure was relatively small at ca60 x 40 meters.
Courtesy Wikipedia

The tower is 23 meters high but was probably 28 meters at one point. It is called by locals The Schmanddippe, or Butter Churn, probably because of its appearance upon the landscape.
Courtesy Wikipedia

Which brings us - finally - to today's toy: the Built-Rite Castle from the 1930s. Another classic toy from the Warren Paper Products Company of LaFayette, Indiana, the castle is made of heavy cardboard lithographed with stonework and wooden doors and shutters and utilizes Built-Rites easy-to-assemble tab-&-slot assembly. Unfortunately I'm missing the box top and all of the soldiers/knights which most certainly would have been included in the set. However, the castle itself is fairly complete, to include the box bottom which doubles as the castle's base but a couple of shutters are missing. From here on in we'll let the photos do the talking. I had been scouring the Web trying to find any photos of this vintage gem because I wanted to see what kind of figures came with it but folks, I do believe what you see here today is an Internet exclusive because my search came up bupkis! Enjoy Everyone! Fritz (Ed) and Bettina Berg

Including base the castle measures 12" (30.5cm) W x 9 1/2" (24.1cm) D x 9 3/8" (23.8cm) H

The base was too large to scan so it had to photographed and cropped.
It measures 12" (30.5cm) W x 9 1/2" (24.1cm) D x 3/4" (1.9cm) H

The sides and ends

Front Wall
11 5/8" (29.5cm) W x 8 5/8" (21.9cm) H

 Side Wall 1
8 5/8" (21.9cm) W x 8 5/8" (21.9cm) H (WITHOUT tabs) 

 Side Wall 2
8 5/8" (21.9cm) W  x 7 5/8" (19.4)cm H (WITHOUT tabs)

 Back Wall
11 5/8" (29.5cm) W x 7 5/8" (19.4)cm H
The big doors are 3 1/4" (8.3cm) H x 2 3/4" (7cm)W

Tall Tower Wall x2
3 7/8" (9.8cm)W  x 4 7/8" (12.4cm) H (WITHOUT tabs)

 Short Tower Wall x2
3 7/8" (9.8cm)W x 4" (10.2cm) H (WITHOUT tabs)

11" (27.9cm) W x 8 5/8" (21.9cm) D (WITHOUT tabs)

Posed on the new display base

Here's the photo set-up (photo by Bettina Berg)

I built a 'dirt' ramp up to the door by carving a little block of Styrofoam, coating it with wood putty, and painting it. It's not fine art but will do until I come up with something else.

I posed a couple of Britains Deetail Knights which actually go quite well with the castle.

There's not yet enough knight figures in the collection to flesh the scene out with a lot of action.