Polar Lights
The Witch (1/12 scale), Superdetailed
Kit Number: POL811
Reviewed by  Andrew Stanicek, IPMS# 43237

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MSRP: $19.99
Review sample from Round 2 Models - Website: www.round2corp.com

The Witch has been around for a LONG time. This kit was originally released by Aurora several years ago, and then re-released by Polar Lights. Now that Round2 has acquired all of the Polar Lights kits, "The Witch" once again can be found at your local hobby shop. With Halloween right around the corner, it seemed appropriate to dig into this very fun little kit, and see what can be done with her...

Initial Impressions: When I received the box, I was surprised at the size of it. It is much larger than the original Aurora box, and upon opening I realized that it was FULL of plastic. The outside of the box is decorated with a beautifully painted illustration of a witch over a steaming kettle, however, I would say that the witch on the box looks very little like the one in plastic. A note on the front of the box explains the extra plastic with a bold statement that says "Glow In The Dark". Round2 includes a nicely detailed display base including floor, wall, and animal cages molded in a very dark gray, and a clear sprue of glassware to decorate the witch's lair. There is also an identical sprue of translucent "glow in the dark" parts for the bottles. The same is true with the witch figure itself, one set of parts molded in dark gray, and another set in "glow in the dark" plastic. There is almost two complete copies of the model in each kit. This is intended to give the builder a lot of flexibility as far as building it up with as much or as little eerie glowing bits as you want. The parts are all well detailed, with very little flash, and look quite good. Included on the back of the box is a nicely done photographic illustration of the completed model with eerie "ghoul" lighting to make it look particularly creepy - which is where I got my idea for this build.

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The Game Plan - I planed on building this model pretty much OOB, using mostly the opaque dark gray parts with the exception of the fire under the kettle, the "brew", and the bottles which I will be utilizing the glow in the dark parts. I really like the lighting used in the box photo, and would like to emulate that in this project. This is the only part that I will be straying from the directions, and will be adding a couple of LEDs into the base of the kettle to illuminate the "flames", her "brew", and another to light the lantern that is to hang on the wall.

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[review image] Construction - Construction was straightforward and fairly simple. Most seams are logically placed, with only a little extra attention needed around the witch's fingers. Her protruding toes also required a small amount of filing to make look round again. There seems to be a slight mold mis-alignment in that area. For the glass bottles, I painted the insides of the bottles various bright colors, and assembled half of the clear bottles (fronts) with the back half of the glow in the dark bottles to try to make the fluid more "magical". Because of the layered details of her shawl, hair, and various items around the display, it makes sense to build and paint everything is sub-assemblies and hold off final assembly until everything is pretty much complete.

[review image] Painting - Once I had the main sub-assemblies complete, I sprayed everything with a coat of discount primer from a rattle can. This revealed a couple of seam lines that needed to be sanded, which were easily handled with a sanding stick, and the smallest amount of putty. Most of the base painting was accomplished with my trusty Aztec airbrush and Tamiya acrylic paints. A nice feature of the instructions, is that it gives very helpful hints about how the sample model was painted and weathered for a more "finished" look. Suggestions such as applying a dark brown wash over the clothing and woodwork, and drybrushing her hair to bring out the texture are things that I would have done anyway, but would be immensely helpful for the beginner.

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I airbrushed some red, orange, yellow and black onto the glow in the dark flames, and added some "fire light" onto the base of the display, shining between the rocks of the fire ring. I also shaded the rocks of the back wall, and followed this up with a cross hatch pattern dry brushing of white with a fan brush to bring out the stone texture of the rocks. This was finished off with some colored pencil work to bring out the grout and add a couple of cracks in the stones.

For the witch's skin, I started with a base coat of medium flesh, and layered her up with dry brush, colored pencil, and airbrush work to "age" her well beyond her years. Details were then brush painted with a 000 spotting brush, and the whole thing was "dirtied up" with Tamiya weathering pastels.

Lighting - I LOVE adding lights to models. While I am by no means an expert, I find that even simple illumination can add a LOT to the finished model. For The Witch, I decided to utilize a couple of my favorite lighting tricks. I picked up a couple of "flickering tea lights" at the local craft store, and a "light up display stand" that they sell at those booths in the mall that sell the laser etched crystal trinkets. Both of these run very well off of a 4.5V, and will be easily run in parallel with a couple more steadily lit LED's and run off of four AA batteries.

[review image] The first step is to cannibalize the tea lights and display stand. Both of these come apart fairly easily, and contain a small circuit board with power leads, an IC chip coated in epoxy, and LED's mounted directly to the board. I modified the first tealight by removing the original LED, adding an extension wire and reattaching the original 1.5mm LED inside the lantern to hang on the back wall of the display. At this point I realized that not all Tea Lights are the same. The second light did not have a circuit board. Instead, there is a very small IC mounted directly INSIDE the 3mm LED. I also found that the flicker effect of this LED was much more realistic than the one that was equipped with the external circuit. The larger 3mm self-flickering LED was used with a second standard orange LED to illuminate the bottom of the cauldron. I drilled three holes in the bottom, to accommodate the two LED's and a power/ground wire to run all of the lights inside the cauldron. Also inside the cauldron, I installed the tri-color changing circuit board from the display stand. This provides an eerie glow to the Witch's brew. I also added a final green LED into the top of the cages that line the back wall of the display. The small animals presented in a relief sculpture on the back wall of this part of the kit get really lost without some illumination.

Final Assembly - Once everything was wired up, and the sub assemblies were all painted, I put all the pieces together with ZAP CA, and added the final details, like the blood on the table, and the grain in the spoon, with my 000 brush and some Colored Pencil work. As a finishing touch, I added a little moss texture to the ground and the tops of some of the rocks with white glue, and crushed oregano, and some spanish moss for some straw sticking out of the bottoms of the cages.

Final Thoughts - This was a very enjoyable kit, and something fairly different from the "normal" models one finds at the hobby shop. The directions are clear and concise, and the model would be suitable for anyone with basic skills under their belt, but has the potential to be turned into a real contest winner with a little effort. The ONLY thing I could nit-pick about, was the lack of a "familiar". Where's her black cat? There's a great little empty spot under her table that would be PERFECT to have a cat curled up asleep. Guess I'll have to break out the Sculpy.

Thanks to Suzi Klimek and Round 2 for bring back the fun- recommended.

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