Wednesday, May 21

Review: Life Miniature's new bust - "Monty" bust in 1/9th scale

Today we are lucky enough to review the new bust from Sang Eon Lee’s company Life Miniatures – This one features the man who saved the Allies in Africa and many other theatres of the war (depending who you talk to) 'Bernard Law Montgomery'
'Bernard Law Montgomery'
General, C-in-C, 21st Army Group
June 1944, Operation Overlord 
Life Miniatures
Sculpted by Sang-Eon Lee
Boxart painted by Myeong-Ha Hwang
1/9th scale resin bust comprising of 4 parts

Life miniatures has really made a name for themselves in a relative short time in the modelling business.  Award winning painting and sculpting and famous or iconic looking faces are the trademarks of this brand headed by the very talented Sang Eon Lee. We have reviewed all of their busts and each of them seem to have raised the bar. 

One thing we have noticed with not only this company but other model makers was the relatively cumulative effect of the over complication of these busts. Now Life miniatures has been a culprit in making busts with many parts. Many of the busts they make have been amongst the more complicated to construct, sometimes this reviewer was thinking where it would end. Elaborate busts with a lot attached to them (and increasing height above other models on the) just how much is enough?

The review of this bust made me breath a sigh of relief. Life Miniatures have gone back to their roots with this one, four parts of grey resin (one of them is the stand) bring the focus back to the person in the sculpt. This figure is of a particularly well known and famous face - that of Bernard Montgomery.

The box art features a colour guide of the medals on Monty's battledress.
Bernard Law Montgomery or as he was known by his own men simply as “Monty” was a much loved figure to the British armies he commanded and her people. A controversial figure who took back Africa after several other general failed in Egypt and the man who saved many a life in northern Europe and Italy. He was lampooned by Patton and the G.I's for being too conservative but his own soldiers loved him.
Life Magazine cover - May 15, 1944
A better version of this picture - Great Britain's General Bernard Montgomery - during the big push by the 8th Army, WWII. - Date taken: 1944 Photographer: George Rodger -  Life Images
This – the latest sculpt by Sang Eon Lee shows the man cast out of four parts of sweet smelling (the resin they use does smell strongly maybe I have breathed in too much of it) The resin has small lumps of casting blocks still attached to them that aren't at all a long or delicate removal process. All in all it only took ten minutes to get him put together - a refreshing change from recent trends in bust modelling.

I did not know this before researching it but Monty donated this famous beret to the tank museum in Bovington in the UK on the 29th September 1945. He said this about the famous beret complete with the tank regiment cap badge.
“This beret was given to me by a Sgt. in the RTR, the NCO in command of my tank during the Battle of Alamein in October 1942. It was worn by me from Alamein to Tunis when it was so dirty that I got a new one; it was the Sgt’s own beret. I added my General’s badge to it and have worn the black beret with two badges ever since…”
The resin beret looks very nice and worn just like the original - the lumpy cloth and the badges on the front of the beret are detailed and are crying out for some paint to bring the details out.  The leather strap around the bottom is nicely wrinkled as well just like the real thing. The resin casting block is an easy removal of a minute or so.
Montgomery had a very memorable face - pointed, angular nose, thin jaw on an almost wizened face that is almost kid of rat-like. It is very hard to capture the face of someone famous especially as wrinkled and as unique as this one.
The socket on the head fits straight into the gap underneath the beret ensuring a correct and secure fit. The hole on the side of the beret fits tightly over Monty's ear.
And together - the likeness is better than 90% of drawings, paintings and commemorative sulpt of the man i have seen elsewhere.
The torso is the other really large part of this sculpt - dominated by the woolly lined jacket as seen in the pictures below it gives a different aspect not often seen in pictures of Monty – you would think that he is captured here around D-Day invasion or late war time. We see the man here in a painting by Reginald Henry Lewis that really reminds me of this sculpt where he is wearing the coat, battledress and beret.
The large thick sheepskin lined coat which he wears over his battledress is a feature of the bust and detailed up to enhance a good bit of paint. Even the chain between the pockets is replicated (very "gangsta" for the 40's) and details like the strap off the left hand side of the neck is there are the medals on his chest. 
The base of the figure has a small casting block to remove again which was out of sight. The large round socket fits neatly (with no glue) into the pole that comes with the figure.

And here he is all together - he took a measly five minutes to get him to the stage were i would wash and paint the resin. A great change from a lot of busts and figures i have made up recently and so a pleasure to make.
Adding finishing touches to this sculpt are the plush woollen lining and cracks in the leather along with details like the hair, ears and stitching and straps really add to the realism of this sculpt
So there he is all together - a likeness of the man i have not often seen. The resin is easy to work, the construction is easy and the clothing is something slightly different to regular desert garb. This makes him appealing to modellers and a good choice for Life Miniatures.

I really haven't found a negative in this sculpt. The hardest part about him is replicating the skill of the box-artist (pictures at the end of the review). It is a great sculpt and a further claim to securing Life Miniatures int he top tier of model makers. For me this is close to - if not a perfect work of art.

Adam Norenberg.

This kit is now available from Life Miniatures – you can find their distributors are at this link along with the other great busts in this range.
Here is the bust painted up by the very talented founder of Life Miniatures MR. Sang Eon Lee – this is what is achievable folks! I think I need a stiff drink and a sit down now…