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'The Eagle has Landed' by Aitor Akzue


JeroenPeters
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The Eagle Has Landed

Armour & Aircraft Dioramas by Aitor Akzue

Diorama Series

 

Publisher: AK Interactive

Author: Aitor Akzue

 

Available here from AK Interactive for € 39,95

 

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Today I’m taking a look at a book that covers some of the works by one of my favourite modellers: Aitor Akzue. But first, let me take you back to the days we all remember as a modeller. The time when we got our first inspiration from catalogues, magazines and books by modellers like Shep Paine and Francois Verlinden. I remember them vividly. Scanning the photo’s and marvelling at how they got their shades, details and compositions just right. Like works of art I would probably never be able to match (let alone re-create). It’s modellers and their publications like these that pulled me (and probably you reading this) into the hobby.

 

I remember seeing Aitor’s work in person for the first time at a modelshow some years ago. SMC in Eindhoven (The Netherlands) if I’m not mistaken. It stopped me right in my tracks and I gazed at the resin children playing around the aircraft graveyard. Trying to identify which kits and what After Market sets were used. To be honest Aitor’s name was at that time not known to me. Much later I saw another diorama by his hand and immediately identified it to be from his hands. This was the crashed He111 diorama, which probably still is my favourite dio to this day.

 

As mentioned by Aitor himself in the intro of his book, a good (no great) diorama needs at least 3 different skill sets: a sense of composition, good modelling / painting skills and the ability to work with a wide variety of materials. Kind of like an artist with the skills of an architect, mad scientist and McGyver.

 

The book:

Let me review Aitor’s book and provide you with the information I would want before purchasing.

 

First of all this book mainly offers diorama’s featuring (late war) ww2 Luftwaffe aircraft in often derelict or crashed situations, with the inclusion of a german submarine or panzer here and there. This happens to be Aitor’s favourite subjects, but a little birdy told me to expect some ww1 subjects in the near future too.

 

What I love about this book are the huge atmospheric photo’s, the clear ‘how to’ steps, the inclusion of the colour profiles used on the vehicles and aircraft and the detail shots. But also the small charts at the beginning of every diorama that tells us exactly what kits and after market was used.

 

Contents:

The book contains 10 chapters on 10 diorama’s, a superbly built Ho229 and some extra gallery shots from the author.

 

Diorama 1: Germany 1945

This diorama features a german street in Berlin. A very interesting and staggering display of buildings, bridge, quay and vehicles. Lots of scratchbuilding going on and a mix of Tamiya, Italeri and Tristar vehicles, adorned with Alpine, Verlinden and Pegaso figures. Aitor shows us how to build up the base for this diorama, the groundwork, the scratched facades of the houses, totally scratched bridge, water effects, etc.. etc.. This diorama covers a wide array of techniques.

 

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Colour profiles:

 

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Diorama 2: Autobahn (Stuttgart-Munchen 1945)

We’ve all (well is you are somewhat of a history buff) seen the photographs of Luftwaffe planes hidden between the trees, using the german Autobahn as a runway. And Aitor has managed to capture this event vividly well. A rushed out of the factory, puttied up Me262 being inspected by US soldiers. The foliage, bushes and trees in this diorama are the show stoppers. Another thing I love about this book is the inlusion of ww2 photographs that show what Aitor based his diorama and composition on.

 

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ww2 era photo's:

 

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Diorama 3: Booby Trapped

When I saw this diorama pop up on Facebook not too long ago I had to look for my lower jaw. A converted Ju88G6 and a derelict Bf110 carefully searched by US soldiers for anti-looting devices. The high rising corner of the hangar in the background place the two broken planes in their element. The amount of attention to detail that went into the two planes is amazing. As is the scratchbuilding that went into the hangar. The opened up engine bay of the Ju88, the added detail to both cockpits. The only thing I could possibly find to comment on is the very recognizable stance of the Alpine figures that give away their brand and kind of put them out of context (for me). It’s the moss growing between the concrete slabs and left behind accessories of the Luftwaffe ground crews that really add the finishing touch.

 

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Diorama 4: Hamburg 1945

When I saw this diorama, I though: Ah! That must be the 1/35 Bronco U-boat XXIII! But it was not. This thing is entirely scratched! All putty and greencard. This waterside diorama shows british troops inspecting what’s left after the battle. Defeated german soldiers licking their wounds. Again, here it’s the details that set this diorama off. Offcourse the huge scratched cargo cranes and warehouse façade are impressive to say the least, but the seagulls, spent cartridges, debrie in the water and rubble bring this scene to life.

 

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Diorama 5: Neverending History

This is the diorama I was talking about in the introduction and the first diorama I ever saw of Aitor’s hand. The Luftwaffe graveyard, used as a playground by little children. A FW190D and Stuka are taken apart and opened up all over the place. Resin engines, loose cables, broken props and wings an amazing paintjob. There’s just something to see from every angle.

 

What I like about this chapter is the step by step altering of a white metal figure from Pegaso to a small boy wielding a make believe sword and wearing a fighterpilot skullcap.

This marks a new chapter where several figures from different diorama’s are altered to different stances or sometimes complete make-overs.

 

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Extra figure alteration chapter:

 

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Diorama 6: Norway 1943

And here’s my all time favourite. It doesn’t have an impressive backdrop and it doesn’t even have a whole lot going on. But it does tell a story. A He111 that crashed into a rocky rover. Ice cold water. Injured crew mates, trying to make it to the shore while hailing a german staff car. The water and rocks look too real. Pay attention to the white washes paint chipping from the He111’s wings. This chapter also includes a special how-to in how to make snow and ice.

 

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Diorama 7: Tempelhof 1945

Quite in line with the ‘Autobahn’ and ‘Booby Trap’ diorama’s, this one is set in the end of the war at the Berlin Tempelhof airport. The hangar doors that serve as a backdrop and are humongous. Of course the author explains how he made these from scratch. The same goes for the evenly impressive roof of the hangar, with metal lighting fixtures. As far as the Fw190A is concerned, I’m surprised to see what can be achieved with the old Verlinden detail set! What can I say more? It’s all just mindblowing stuff.

 

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Diorama 8: The Fallen of the Eagles

This is another diorama I’ve had the privilege of eye balling up close and personal. It’s as if the whole spares box was masterfully painted and spread across the hangar floor. A 2 seat Me262. A crippled He219 and yet another He219 wing for good measure. The detail is scary. Right down to the nails of the dog that the pilot in his beach chair is playing with. I can remember not getting enough of this diorama when seeing it in real life, but looking at these detailed photographs reveals even more detail. And I guess that would be the main reason for me to buy this book.

 

 

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Diorama 9: Tirstrup 1945

And yes, another end of war, derelict plane situation. A Ju88 / Fw190A Mistel combination with Luftwaffe ground crew and allied forces paying them a visit. I’m running out of superlatives here, but man, the detail! The Opel Blitz with open hood and superdetailed engine. The detailed Dingo scout car. And again, what I just can’t get over, is the high level of detail Aitor accomplishes with the Verlinden update sets for the Fw190A.

 

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Diorama 10: Winners and Losers

Very much like the ‘Autobahn’ diorama, this Ju188 stands hidden in the forest. Let’s forget the fact that this again is a great diorama and focus on the plane alone. The AIMS Ju188 conversion is actually a pretty tricky one. It takes skills to pull it off. A vac form canopy and chunks of resin. I love Aitor’s way of working. It may seam a little bit messy when he’s on the go, but the result is as convincing as it is stunning! This resembles the way I work. Except my outcome isn’t always that stunning…

 

 

 

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An extra chapter here is added to show us how to make a Birch and Pine tree. A nice little and useful demo, since you just can’t buy these things ready and looking convincing in a store.

 

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Zoukei Mura Ho229

Built straight from the box. Instead of using Uschi’s wonderful wood decals, Aitor takes the high road and uses Photo etch templates. The result is equally pleasant to the eye. It’s a matter of preference.

 

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Last but not least

An extra gallery, revealing huge spread photo-graphs of more amazing diorama’s. Check out the last one in the book… Oh… I forgot to include it in my review? Well… I guess you’ll have to buy the book!

 

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Verdict

Alas I have run out of superlatives to try to convince you.

I’m giving it a 10 out of 10 and will do so every time I take it from the shelf to fumble it’s pages, looking for inspiration.

 

A big thank you to AK Interactive for the review sample and to Aitor Akzue for documenting his work and steps.

 

To purchase directly, click here.

 

Jeroen Peters

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From the moment I saw Aitor's work on fb and magazines I've been a huge fan. When I saw his book was coming out I immediately ordered it and received in the day after it arrived in the UK.

 

2 weeks on and I've been through it several times and took it to my local model club night to show it off.

 

This book is the finest modelling showcase to date. Go get a copy, you won't be disappointed

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