Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The return of the Shizuka Layout!

I'm VERY excited!
We've moved into our new office and - due to a sad departure of a co-worker - I've gotten my office and my spot for SHIZUKA to be reset! I'll probably start pulling it out of boxes next week.

While I'd love to do something more permanent, (SEE: Bright and Shining Future with space for a layout at home) I'm still going to keep Shizuka fluid and mobile, putting people in with clear bases and signage in with blue tack or clear bases as well. Breaking the set down during the office move was much easier since I was able to just pull everything off.

It's going to be a lot of fun resetting things.

For those playing at home, this was the old Shizuka layout in my old office.

More photos here:


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Soyokaze Tour

Visitors to Soyokaze can access it in various ways. Driving through Soyokaze is common, but parking is a chore. There is a large parking area a few miles down the road, but it isn't paved and you need to take a shuttle up from it. So, many people either take the train from Shizuka or spend a little more time and hop on the bus. It's a great way to see the area if you're not in a rush.

Soyokaze Bus System

The main attraction in Soyokaze is the Soyokaze Temple area. They are basic, Wayō style buildings, but they have a rich history and hold a special place in the hearts of people in and around the Soyokaze area. They are currently being looked after by a small, independent group known as Tenpuru gurūpu or The Temple Group.

However, the thing that pleases people's souls the most while in Soyokaze may not be the Buddhist temples. Soyokaze is a harbor area town that has a rich fishing industry. 

Fresh fish is brought in daily and the chefs of Soyokaze are known for their culinary arts. Soyokaze may be a somewhat small area, but there are many variations in cooking styles that will keep you coming back for more.

A visit to Soyokaze will leave you relaxed and well fed. There are several spots that cater to overnight guests, but we recommend that you reserve a spot early. There are many festivals and events that draw crowds to Soyokaze and you don't want to have to take the late night, naito aurubasu home after a long day of shopping and eating!

Eat, drink and be merry in Soyokaze!

Soyokaze Harbor: Update Aug 17

Soyokaze is still rolling along. I've started adding additional scenery and details. It's been a fun exercise. I've been trying to make things work as if it were "the real world" in Soyokaze. I'm making sure things move together like they would if they were really being built out. At least to a certain extent. I still wish all of Soyokaze were higher above the harbor, but that will be addressed on the rebuild once I have more space. 

The worn out stairs are coming along. I've been adding layers of details and foliage and it's shaping up.

The building on the hill - bar, maybe? - has a base now and a garden area with rocks and bushes and flowers. I was speaking to my wife and mentioned that I was thinking the building could be a small hotel or inn. She said, "Above a fish processing plant? Who'd want to stay there?" We had a good laugh about it. So, now it may be a somewhat seedy bar and "social" spot. :)

The garden and rock area is coming along well.

The front gate area was rather plain with the black gravel leading all the way through from the front of the module to the building area. So, I re-layered the gravel and I'm setting in a small track for the gate to roll on. Again, I'm looking for something that adds a "Hey, that looks like it would work" kind of situation. The first pass was rather good, but now I want to go in and add additional details to the gate track and signage on the gate itself.

The fence around the fishing building helped add to the scene as well. They needed some way to keep their equipment safe and all their dock access in line.

And, more foliage and flowers around the area made me (and my wife) happy. I want to keep the layers going. 

Until I get additional trucks from a Japanese supplier, I'll use this set

I've added people to the fish building and I'm getting some action going that I really like. I want to keep it going with some addition figures and scene action. That's the most fun for me. I love having things happening. There are small, Japanese transport lifts that I need to model as well. You see them in many fishing industry shots from Japan. I'll make it out of styrene - it's a simple shape.

What is the secret of the boarded up tunnel?

Another thing I want to keep going are the Soyokaze Stories. One of the things on the Soyokaze Story List is the tale of this boarded up tunnel. It goes along with the...mysterious figure seen around the temple....

The home work area

And lastly...I'm still living in a small apartment in San Francisco. :)    This is our dinner table - also known as my work space. Having everything out isn't a luxury I have. So, when I work on these modules, I need to set everything up, then tear it all down after I'm done. It makes things interesting.

Comments welcome - thanks for reading!

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tomytec Diorama Sets

Tomytec has a solution for people with a lot of cash- $980 plus shipping to be exact. They have several layout options as well, which lets you pick a few Japanese scenics. The diorama bases are unique and you get all the buildings seen in each set, which explains the price point.

I love TOMYTEC items. They have a lot of detail and really work well together. The buildings have a quaint, old town feel to them and provide enough space to have a little track loop going as well.

This would be ideal for someone with a love of Japanese scenes, but without a lot of room or a lot of time to craft something.  The "one stop shopping" aspect is appealing for some folks as well. They even have a module with a sea scenic.

More fun from Japan.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Soyokaze Harbor Update

Soyokaze Harbor Update: The Devil's in the Details

I've been working on going slower with things and really thinking through some of the workings of Soyokaze Harbor. How things run, who's there and what's around it and why. It's been an interesting process for sure.

As I write this, I have some traditional Japanese music playing in my headphones - about as close as I can get to being Japanese. hehehe  And, that's the rub - for a lot of this, I'm just going on what I see in photos and what I like personally. It dawned on me while trying to work out the details that this really is just a "fremo", fun set of modules for me. Not being Japanese is one thing, but having never been to Japan is another. I'm winging this and am in NO way trying to pass this off as textbook Japan. :)

That being said, I'm enjoying the Soyokaze building immensely and seem to be able to work on it without the same, frantic, "I need to get this done" pace that I had with the Station module. This is a good thing. Again, looking at some more traditional styles of Japanese ways, a slower and calmer pacing seems to be not only good for me, but good for the modules as well. What's the rush?

I've come up with a very basic "story" for Soyokaze that involves this harbor scene. Soyokaze is more than just a temple tourist spot. It's also a place to get some of the freshest fish in the area. It rolls from the sea to your plate and is prepared by some of the most expert hands in the region. It's a taste treat that people flock to the area for. And, it's dolphin and shark friendly - another massive plus for their tourism.

The harbor itself is small, but their fishery is a machine that churns out fish for Soyokaze and some of the surrounding areas - Shizuka primarily. It's kept up properly, however it's connection to the building on the hillside is not. The tunnel and stairs that used to connect the harbor building area to the hillside building area are disused and run down.  People still use the stairs from time to time, but the tunnel is avoided at all costs for both physical and spiritual safety.  Why? That's another story. :)  I used styrene for the stairs and will post a proper, in focus photo of them at a later date.

The grey area will be painted out and detailed up with foliage

The overlook has been made safer with the addition of another railing making accidental falls less likely. They also provide a little privacy for lovers looking for a little get away of their own.

Additional moss and details will be added to this lover scene :)

The sea wall has been braced with additional pylons. The natural curve of the harbor prevents waves from getting too wild, but the extra precautions have come in handy on several occasions. In the final module in the Layout Of The Future, Soyokaze will be higher up and the harbor down lower to make it more tsunami safe and hilltop based.

My first pass at dock safety painting of the ramp and stairs made me see that "winging it" isn't the way to go. I'm going to go back and tame the painting down - maybe sticking with just yellow. I'll sit with it a moment to see how things come together.

Too much color? I might shift things to basic yellow and loose the red.

The flat areas on the hillside and waterside are now showing some variation. I added some foam to them to break up the flatness and splashed it with a little base brown. I'll go in and paint them up and add some foliage.

The final version of the rocks will most likely be rock grey. Currently looking for Japanese reference.

All in all, I love how this is working out visually and process wise. I'm managing to slow my pace and I'm enjoying the project much more because of it.

Additional details added slowly. I love the man fishing on the dock!