Senoi Praaq: The Silent Heroes

It's a small dio based loosely on the Senoi Praaq, a secretive elite unit formed during the Emergency to combat CT and beat them in their own element, the jungle. Little is known about this unit although there is a book written about them and apparently Chin Peng was quoted as they were the only unit his men truly feared. The were made up of men from several Orang Asli tribes.

Enough history and onto the figures. I plan to use 4 man SAS patrol being guided by a Orang Asli tracker. The scene will feature a small stream crossing and a part of a slope. Originally in the interest of time I figured I'd just convert a figure for the Orang Asli but looking at it the work required I will have to sculpt it instead. As such work has not commenced yet on the Orang Asli.

Below are the 4 man SAS patrol. From the left to right the 1st and 3rd fig were converted from Dragon's Fallschirmjager Sicily set. The 2nd fig minus a head (Hornet head will be used) started life as a Dragon ARVN ranger and the 4th was from Dragon NVA Sapper set. I had to modify almost all the arm positions to allow them to carry weapons that were different from what they were supposed to carry. A small right leg pocket had to be added and a large left leg pouch for the other non-Fallschirmjager figs.

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Paintwork is a bit too glossy at this point due to poor mixing of the paints. Nothing a Matt coat wouldn't solve.

Boonie hat, belt buckle and strap buckles are all from Bondite epoxy putty as was the trousers end. Straps were from paper tape. Still have to put in the metal buckle attachments at the front above the pouches. This chap with a 1908 design knapsack (I'm assuming some of this were still around at that time) will be sporting a Remington shotgun.

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This chap is the rear man and will be crossing the stream so I didn't bother with covering his boots which will not be seen. He has the 1937 webbing pattern and knapsack and will be having a Sten.

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The officer on the left has a 1944 pattern knapsack which was actually used in Malaya but not favored. Bedrolls were from 2 ply tissue paper that was varnished. Knapsacks were from Verlinden although the officer knapsack was modified to include the side pouches.

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Here's a photo of the "wet" lower pants painted in to simulate the stream crossing. I've added very preliminary shadows at the point where the lower half of the body meets the waist belt.

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More shadows and highlights will be added next. I will hopefully start on the Orang Asli scout too with a bit of luck. Here's some pics with the initial highlights/shadows for the figs and equipment.

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More shadows/highlights done with the flesh color painted in. To start off here's the officer that didn't have a head earlier (hair not painted in yet as well as eyes and 5 o'clock shadow). The base of his neck needs some epoxy to cover the joint.

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These guys look a bit 'pucat' (pale) due to the flash (need to do eyes, a bit more blending and 5 o'clock shadows).

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The early beginnings of Joe Senoi/Temiar/Negrito:

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Next to the officer for comparison. I may have made old Joe Senoi a wee bit too tall I think.

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From the wire frame photo I've made him 6 heads high which I thought should be short enough versus the the SAS men which vary between 7 to 7.5 head height. This was based on a 54mm chart (1/32) as opposed to a 1/35 which I didn't have.

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Just some progress pics. Spent whatever time I had last week putting in the eyes, mouth, 5 o'clock shadows, blending on the figs, bulking up of Joe Asli and started on his head, the SAS weapons. Left to do is the additional ammo pouches, strap buckles, the darkest shadow for the uniforms, 4 sets of Orang Asli parangs for the SAS. For Joe Asli is bulking up, muscle definition, short pants, one parang, blowpipe and bamboo ammo pouch.

Here's Joe Asli bulked up close to his final proportions. I've started on his body and upper legs first so that I can hold on to the arms or lower legs while bulking up and also sand these down easily. Head is too big and needs a lot of sanding down and some buildup of the head and hair.

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Worked on the guns. Base color was Citadel Bolt gun metal mixed with Tamiya German Grey and Black. Highlighted with Citadel Bolt gun metal and 2B graphite pencil. Did some wood grain on the stocks. Barrels drilled out.

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Here are the SAS with their respective weapons. As you can see boots not given black rubber soles, highlights and shadows.

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Just an quick update. I've started working on the groundwork while still sculpting Joe Asli. Since my last work in the post above this one, Joe Asli has had some work done to define the face. As usual the dio begins with sketches and dimensions determined. The terrain was somewhat problematic as I would be placing the high ground to the front which would partially block the view of some of the figs but after several rearrangement this was the only feasible option if I wanted to continue my original storyline.

Here I've use one of my favorite bases, a cheap frame from Ikea. Used the glass as the base and built up with styrofoam. First pic shows the underside not the top.

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Just an quick update. I've started working on the groundwork while still sculpting Joe Asli. Since my last work in the post above this one, Joe Asli has had some work done to define the face. As usual the dio begins with sketches and dimensions determined. The terrain was somewhat problematic as I would be placing the high ground to the front which would partially block the view of some of the figs but after several rearrangement this was the only feasible option if I wanted to continue my original storyline.

Here I've use one of my favorite bases, a cheap frame from Ikea. Used the glass as the base and built up with styrofoam. First pic shows the underside not the top.

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Haagen Daas Time! Yummy.

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3 different soil color was used to give the cutaway soil profile depth and contrast similar to an actual soil cutaway like in the highways. Erosion channels added. I decided not to black it out as a border.

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Exposed roots were added for further realism. Mud at river bank was from a very fine powdered rock. You can barely make out some foot prints in the center.

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By using different "leaves" sources I can vary how a same twig material will look. The twig is a dried flower stalk but the first 3 from the left got black tea leaves, the center 2 got oregano and the 2 on the right green tea leaves. Its the texture of the leaf material used that gives it variation.

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Actually what you see below is real vegetation except for the black & green tea leaves and oregano I used for the trees. Majority are moss I preserved using approx. 1:5 mix of glycerin:water. Using a shallow tray I placed the glycerin-water mix to about 2-3mm thickness and just placed the moss with as much of the soil/debris removed on top. Waited for about 3-4 days for the moss to suck up enough of the mix as indicated by very little mix remaining in the tray. Had to top up a bit of the mix around the 2nd. day. Waited another 2 days for it to dry over a piece of paper towel to observe shrinkage. A bit of shrinkage is expected but if too much then your plant material/moss has not absorbed enough glycerin.

I've found for jungle dios a bit of planning is required. Progressive addition of vegetation to ensure your figs don't get completely covered is important.

  1. Best to place but not stick down your figures/vehicles on the groundwork.
  2. Add the low ground vegetation first but not all.
  3. Add some of the mid size trees/shrubs
  4. Add debris/fallen leaves & logs/exposed roots
  5. Add the tallest trees last.
  6. It's advisable not to leave everything one shade of green otherwise your jungle will have no contrast. Different green shades for different plants, brown and yellows for drying/dead leaves will add more realism.

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This is a new approach for water-making for me as it involves a material called Envirotex-Lite. Its basically a 2-part wood varnish. Having used our local product (shellac) it works in the same way in that:

  1. It can be tinted with acrylics
  2. It dries glossy
  3. Although it initially self-levels it can be shaped when its almost dry (can be shaped after 3++ hours of drying).

Additional advantages of uses Envirotex is that:

  1. It's much, much more glossy
  2. Its dries hard within 24 hours whereas shellac remains sticky for some time.
  3. It degasses itself so minimal bubbles unless its too thick a layer.

The only downside so far I can see is its expensive. It costs around RM 50++ for 16 fl. oz and is available at Ace Hardware, Ikano. Those working on sea dios may want to check it out.

To the river: I've applied 5-6 layers with a total thickness of under 5 mm. White water areas where the water hits the semi-submerged branch and big rock was done with additional glue from GEC that I normally use for making waves.

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Some update on Joe Asli. The head is more or less done. Need to sand down his uneven ears and give some definition to his nostrils. Good thing I took a photo coz his nose bridge is crooked too . The body still needs a fair bit of work including a sanding down of his "guitar" string ribs which is too pronounced and muscle definition of the legs. Need to work on arms, hands and feet.

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I'm more or less done with Joe Asli as far as sculpt goes. He needs a wee bit more work on the left arm though. I've made him a parang but he'll need a blowpipe and a bamboo container for his darts.

Head more or less done with left arm remaining:

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In these pics and in the actual as well he looks like his left hand is holding the family jewels. Either that or he needs to go to the toilet reaaaal bad. Actually I positioned it to hold the blowpipe with part of it leaning on his left shoulder.

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I think his left arm still needs a bit of work especially the forearm.

This will be the last update as I have finished Joe Asli and the dio as well (finally). Joe here provided a good learning platform for me. After painting I realized my mistakes for this sculpt and things to avoid in my future Frankenstein experiments include:

  1. Right foot was too long
  2. Right calf muscle in the sideways view had enough bulk but not the full frontal. He looks like he has 'chicken' legs.
  3. Face a bit too sharp towards the chin
  4. Left upper arm had too much of a droop (noticed by Druid as well)
  5. Need to learn more on upper body muscle placement.

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Joe with his bamboo container for his darts and his trusty homemade parang.

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Joe Asli in his final home with his SAS buddy.

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The final, final post I hope. The vignette, entitled "The Senoi Praaq:The Silent Heroes" is finally done.

Sorry quite a fair bit of photos ahead.

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Thanks all for the support and taking the time to view and comment. To those of the Senoi Praaq out there who didn't manage to go home, my admiration and respect for your sacrifice.