13 April 2015

A Second Weekend behind the scenes in the Weta Workshop: ANZACs at Gallipoli - Chanuk Bair

Weekend 2 of the Kapiti Wargames Club's involvement with Peter Jackson's WW100 Project 

Or "How I helped to win the war."

(That subtitle reminds me a bit of the title of a Spike Milligan book I once read...)

But literature aside, I was lucky enough to make my way down to the Weta Workshop to work on the ANZAC Diorama (again) yesterday.

Despairing, as I was supposed to be on call for our surgery, I implore my colleagues for help last week.

Clive and Romain step up, and take over my morning clinic, and the call for the rest of the day.
Yay! Thanks guys, you've allowed me another day of modeling, painting  and wargaming bliss!

Going past Te Papa I couldn't but notice how apt the name of their contribution to the WW100 project was to our miniature efforts. The Scale of  Our War. 

The scale of "our" WW100 is 54 mm or 1:32 !

Some of us realised that we had not got photos of ourselves painting the figures. 
Here I am, starting work on the the Maori contingent.

An (inadvertent) atmospheric shot of Turks making a dawn attack?

So I arrive to find the diorama proper missing. As expected, it had already departed to  (what used to be) the Dominion Museum earlier in the week. The professional team from Weta Workshop was on site there with Rhys and the Perry brothers on hand for guidance.

 I'm sure every one of us would have loved to go to the museum and work on the diorama in its final display position.There was limited space available, and only 4 or 5 of us could go. Bo Patterson waves us goodbye as he departs. Drat!

Anyhow, plenty left to do at the Weta Workshop, and plenty of time, so we get stuck into the job at hand. Varnishing Turks first, then ANZACs. 2 of the team are already in the spray booth at the back of Weta Workshop.

Most of the fugures will probably never be seen close-up again. 
Each one is a work of art in its own right.

Turks ready for the spray booth and the varnish. 
Another unplanned likeness - are they cresting the hill or at the parapet?

Sandbags coming along nicely Bruce and Shaun!

Bruce and Shaun are hard at work spraying and painting sandbags. Alan Perry sends me off to find more spraypaint. Off to Gordon Harris, Wellington's handy dandy artist supply store. Zoom back with the spraycans, and find something to do. Time for a few snaps fist: 

ANZACs at the ready!

Roly and Rhys got their own unique models

As did other contributors to the project

I can still pick out the ANZACs I painted

A small number of British soldiers are also represented in the diorama

Varnish coat being applied in the spraybooth

Roly with the finished products - ready for the diorama !

A phone call from the museum:
Where is the Maori contingent ? What Maori contingent? Roly had painted some figures as Maori, but was told to stop, as it was the wrong figures. We painstakingly  search the hundreds (nay, thousands) of painted figures: We come up with 18 painted figures that will pass as Maori. I pick out a few that will need minimal retouching to look Maori...

 Executive decision. 
No, we'll just build and paint the required 120 figures!

Dig into the last box of unpainted and unbuilt figures. What do we have? NZ Maori ! Someone had returned a number of unpainted and unbuilt figures. Time had run out, and they couldn't finish them.

The well oiled machine springs into action. Soon we have 3 tables humming: building, removing flash and filing, gluing and prepping, base coating and painting the figures destined to become the Maori contingent.

Next thing Rhys arrives with a TVNZ crew. They interview him, Sam and some of the other guys painting at table no 1.

Sam gets interviewed by the TVNZ crew

Filming the action at table no 1.

All too soon it is 5 o'clock! Tools down boys! I tear myself away from the figures I am painting. Oh, the compulsion... I won't be able to come back to finish them tomorrow. Rhys wants to know who will not be back on Sunday. I raise my hand. "Ok, you guys can come on the tour of the museum tonight. The rest can go tomorrow. See you at the pub !"

Outside the museum

Safety briefing and background from the Armchair General. No further photos, 
What an experience NZ has in store for them. Can't wait for it to open.

Kiwi on the balustrade. No other photos inside, sorry.

Night at the museum

In the pub with some of the real-life models for the diorama and their creators.
And some good ale, of course.

5 April 2015

Working for the Man: In the Weta Workshop with Sir Peter Jackson and the Perry Brothers

Working for the Man. Working with the Man.

 On dioramas and purpose of life.

Wellington Artists: Modellers, painters, wargamers in the Weta Workshop. 
Oh yes, and Sir Peter Jackson, and the Perry brothers. 

(Photo credits: First 3 photos :Roly Hermans. Official project blog: Mustering the Troops. The rest are from my camera. Very strict on what photos may be taken. Roly as official photographer/blogger and a brief photo session)

On dioramas and life:

I am 5 years old.
I am standing in front of a diorama in the tower of Fort Namutoni, in the Etosha Park, in what is now Namibia. I ask my father to lift me up, so that I can see the scene better. I am content: 

A  6 foot x 6 foot square diorama: Hundreds of Ovambo warriors assailing the German defenders of the Fort. 
I stand transfixed. I can't stop looking.  My father becomes tired and puts me down. I return several times during our stay, to marvel at the figures, the miniature landscape and the miniature replica of the building that I was standing in.

I am 10 years old. I see a diorama of Rome in a book. My friend Jan and I decide that we would build Rome. We start, but lack any idea of how to go about it. We buy figures and start making walls. The grandiosity of the project overcomes us.

I am 15 years old. I build a diorama in our garage with my friend Barry: A 12 x 12 foot diorama for wargaming. Another depicting a WW2 Airfield during the Blitz. The size is impractical. But it serves its purpose. We game. I am content.

I am 25 years old. I stand in Fort Namutoni with Jeanine, the love of my life. I brought her to Namibia to meet my parents. The African sun is setting, a truly beautiful sight.  I look at the diorama again. A little dusty now, but still there.  I am content.

I am 35 years old. I now stand in New Zealand, with my young family in tow. Somehow a trunk with miniatures make it across the waves. " Daddy, can I play with them? " 
"When you're a bit older, Luc" 
He revisits the trunk over the years, I think as transfixed as I was with the diorama at Namutoni, until the day that we take them out and start to play. I am content.

I am 40 years old. My son and I start building, painting and wargaming together. My wife tolerates and encourages it. I am content.

I am 45 years old. My son and I play in the New Zealand Warhammer Team Championships together. I am content.

I am 50 years old. 

I stand on top of what may be one of the largest dioramas in the world, in the Weta Workshop with my son, Luc. 

We are working on the WW100 Project, depicting the battle of Chunuk Bair during the Gallipoli campaign of WW1. Beside me are my son, my friends and fellow artists and gamers, a retired Chief of the NZ Defence force, the Perry brothers, (makers of some of the best military miniatures in the world), and Sir Peter Jackson. I am not content. 


Sir Peter and the Perrys discussing some of the finer detail of the diorama over a few thousand Turks

Selfie with you-know-who

Sam, Fern and Morty being photo-bombed by the same guy.

Horsing around with the Perry brothers

2 April 2015

All Fall down. ANZACs going over the top and taking casualties

Last of the WW100 Diorama ANZACs (Mostly) Painted

Like most painters in this project I couldn't resist having a bit of a play with the figures before they join their brothers at Chanuk Bair.

As this batch does not have any charging figures I could not make a gallant charge diorama, so I opted for a "Waiting to go over the top" theme instead.

Regrettably my photographic skills lag behind my painting skills, and the result does not really do the mini's justice. I would like to share it though.

It has been an unique honour to have been part of this project. Kudos to Peter Jackson and his vision, Weta workshop and Rhys Jones for pulling it all together. I am lucky enough to live in Wellington, and may be able to assist with the final assembly of this project (if my schedule allows)

They Died
So we may live
Let their memory live forever.

Sound the attack!

OK boys, this is it. When the shelling stops and the whistle blows,  we go over the top !

But we all fall down...


B company ! Get ready !
 A Company got a bit of a pasting, but we'll be all right! 
Fix bayonets!



C Company ! Form up !  

Water! Bring water! Water for the wounded!

Alright chaps! B company didn't do that well either. So it's up to C company to finish the job !

Tell my wife that I love her...

Waiting to go over the parapet...Waiting...

Song for You

Hello darling, this is the army,
I've just got the time to write,
Today we attack, there's no turning back,
The boys they're all ready for the fight.

Yes, I'm well but this place is like hell,
They call it Passchendaele, (We could probably substitute Gallipoli here - Ed)
In nineteen seventeen the war must be ending,
The general said this attack will not fail;

So I'm writing down this simple little melody
When you play it my love, think for me...
We'll be together in this song for you,
And it goes la la la, sing it darling, la la la

They got old Bill, and the sergeant is still out there
Wounded in some shell hole,
They say this war will end all wars,
Oh God I really hope it will,

Oh how's old England, are they still singing
Those songs that we loved to sing,
When all this is over, we'll go sailing in Dover,
Catching fish like we used to with a string,

Oh I miss you, I miss you, I miss you,
If they get me my love you will know
We'll always be together in this song for you

And it goes la la la, I have to go now
Take care of yourself my love.

Chris de Burg