built a lot of models when I was growing up in the 60s. There
are a few that stand out in my mind - there was Eddie
Rickenbacker’s Spad, a Convair B-58, the USS North Carolina
and a couple of plastic bird models (yes there actually were
plastic bird models). One of my favorites was the Black Knight,
one in a series of medieval knight manufactured by Aurora in the
late 1950s/early 60’s. At some point this model, along with
the rest of my childhood collection went the way of the
trashcan, either broken by accident or subject to firecrackers,
or the powerful ballistics of my Daisy BB gun.
forward to July 2002. I was at the IPMS Nationals in Virginia
Beach perusing the vendor room when suddenly my eyes locked on a
yellowed boxtop with a picture of the Blue Knight of Milan.
Although this wasn’t the same Aurora kit that I built as a
kid, I bought it anyway, with the intention of building it
the next 2 years, I took this kit off the shelf a couple of
times and mused about how I could possibly paint the intricate
engraved detail to represent the gold inlay which is so
prominent in the finished armor. The answer came in response to
a posting I placed on rec.models.scale - more on that later.
2 months ago, about ¾ of the way through a ProModeler Bf110
project, I decided it was time for a change and pulled the Blue
Knight box off the shelf.
quality is not bad considering it’s based on 45-year-old
molding technology. Parts are molded in a medium blue color.
There are approximately 36 parts in this kit, which includes the
base, and weapons - halberd and a sword. The parts are covered
with recessed engraving that represent the gold inlay, which is
so prominent in the box art. Sprues and attachment points are
quite large by today’s standards and there is considerable
flash. The plastic is hard and breaks rather than bends easily
(I found this out the hard way while trying to gently bending
out a warp in the halberd’s staff). The plastic shows little
reaction to the standard modeling glues such as Tenax7, so early
on I decided to use two-part clear epoxy when joining major
appendages. The smaller parts did respond to repeated
applications of Tenax.
subassemblies (i.e., torso, arms, legs) were completed and
painted prior to joining them to the torso. Many of the parts
did not fit well. For example, to get the shoulder guards to fit
properly, I had to apply two-part epoxy, and then clamped each
shoulder guard to the torso in its correct position. The arms
also did not fit well, and required clamping to the torso along
with a healthy application of 2-part epoxy.
Blue (X4) was used as the base color for armor. This was
airbrushed on using my Iwata HPc. After the armor was painted,
Rub ‘N Buff Gold leaf was scrubbed into the engravings with a
stiff brush, and then scrubbed/wiped off with a paper towel. If
wiped off immediately, the Rub N Buff will remain in the
engraved areas, but comes easily off the surrounding plastic.
If this process is not completed immediately, however,
the Rub N Buff will dry and becomes very hard to wipe away, even
with a Qtip soaked in paint thinner.
head is a two-piece affair, consisting of the face and back of
head. The kit is engineered in such a way that the head must
first be completely finished and then sandwiched between the
helmet pieces that are glued together, trapping the head.
Fortunately the helmet will hide the head seam.
have only painted a couple of small scale (1/35 and 1/48 scale)
figures, so painting a face this large presented with challenges
as well as opportunities. Facial features are well molded and
the result will look good if you take your time. I pretty much
used the technique described in detail in Shep Paine’s book, How
to Build Dioramas (I highly recommend this book, now in its
second edition, to anyone interested in figure or diorama
modeling). The face was first airbrushed with Tamiya flesh.
After this was dry, various of artist’s oils (primarily Burnt
Sienna, Yellow Ochre, and white) were combined to yield shadows
and highlights. The darkest areas (around the eyes) were give a
light application of raw umber which was blended into the
surrounding flesh tones. Face highlights (cheekbones and lips)
were painted with a combination of yellow ochre, white, and a
touch of red. The neat thing about oils is that they dry slowly
and really give you time to blend colors once they are on the
I glued the halberd back together, I masked the blade with
Parafilm and airbrushed the staff with Tamiya Buff. This was
followed by a slightly diluted application of various artist
oils (e.g, Mars brown, raw umber, raw sienna), until I got a
good wood grain look. This was set carefully in my food
dehydrator, which was turned out to about half power and allowed
to run overnight. The Parafilm was removed from the blade,
revealing its bare plastic. The staff, now dry, was masked with
Parafilm. The blade was airbrushed with Mr. Color black acrylic
lacquer paint. After drying for a couple of hours, the blade
received several light coats of Alclad II steel, which was then
buffed with a cotton ball.
sword/scabbard was given a base coat of gloss blue. The scabbard
was masked off and gold colored artist ink was airbrushed in
multiple light coats over the sword handle. The grip was given a
hand brushing of Vallejo gloss black.
base was first painted with a flat black and then airbrushed
lightly with heavily thinned German gray laid in on a rather
random manner to break the monotony of the black. The base was
then masked and the raised “block” containing the
identification plate (“Milan 1520”) was painted a light
gray. This was masked again and the ID plate itself was given an
airbrushing of gloss black. After this was dry, a silver gel pen
was used to go over the raised letters and date.
blue knight was topped off with a black feather (part of the
kit), representing the helmet plume.
boys, 11 and 14, love the model and think that the Blue Knight
is way cooler than my usual WWII aircraft.
kit, along with some of the other Aurora knights, can usually be
found on Ebay, ranging in price from under $10 for a re-release
version (around 1970, I think), to well over $100 for the
original release. Of course, if you are going to actually build
this model, the re-release is the way to go.