Malaya 1941

In early December 1941, the Imperial Japanese Army initiate their invasion plan of Malaya to capture the tin and rubber rich peninsular which will lead them to the oil rich seas of the Javanese islands. This vignette uses the multipose Airfix 1:32 kit sets to depict a scene in the early days of the war where the sheer guts of the opposing forces played a pivotal role in warfare.

The Airfix Multipose sets used are rather dated figure sets of the British Desert Rats and the Japanese Infantry Army. Though not as up to standard with the current figure offerings, it does provide a very versatile set to mix and match to create scenes to your liking. It comes with a good set of generic equipment and weapons which will come in handy.Thematching of the figures were straight forward using the various limbs, body parts and head and only minor surgeru was required to reposition the head positions for the soldiers locked in a bayonet scrimmage. The Japanese casualty received the most limb modifications with Bondite Epoxy Putty. Bondite is a 2 part epoxt putty which has a drying time of close to 30 mins and dries hard and even with practically no shrinkage. Highly reccomended for figurine modification works.


I wanted to create a scene with some sense of urgency and a bayonet engagement would seem appropriate especially during the early encounters in Malaya. As the British army was represented a good part with Indian conscripts, I decided to model an encounter between these 2 Asian soldiers.

The painting was mainly done with an airbrush base of black and Tamiya flat brown. The uniforms of the opposing forces were Tamiya khaki mixed with either buff/dark yellow and lighter shades to get the slight difference in hue. It was gradually built up with darker shades and lighter shades to bring out the highlights and shadows. After that, Vallejo paints were used to pick up more contrast. The skin tones, equipment colours and weapons were basically Vallejo shades built up with only one gradient of shadows and highlights as the sculpt detail of the figures does not warrant and finer gradation.


The base was a gift from a friend where a mixture of plaster and sand was slapped over a layer of profiled styrofoam. The trees were salvaged from a commercial architectural modeller who specialises in making very realistic and lively trees with own safely guarded trade secret.

Before the plaster set, a light sprinke of sand was padded down to give it a richer texture. A good amount of Futures was then poured on so as not to upset the loose sand and after dried, a layer of PVA glue was applied to set in a sprinkle of spices, namely dill and oregano to represent the forest ground vegetation and tree droppings.


As the composition and position of the figures gave a edge of forest clearing suggestion, I rendered the centre of the piece in a lighter tone and darken the whole vignette in a concentric pattern, ie, anything further from the centre received a darker shade. This helps the viewer focuses on the thick of the action at the centre. Hope you have as much fun viewing as I have had completing it.

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Text and photos by Loo Chee Keong

Tagged under: Malaysia,