by: Matthew Lenton [ ]
Riich.Models say that they have been creating plastic model kits for some time, released under another brand, but for the last year or so have been issuing their own kits covering a variety of subjects. Categorised under “Military Accessories & Diorama” on their web site catalogue are two 1/35 scale Livestock Sets, and it is the first of these, Vol. 1 that we’ll look at here.
what you get
The kit is packed in an end opening box, featuring on its top paintings of the animals that somewhat resemble illustrations from a children’s book: the sow smiling contentedly, the ewe keeping a beady eye out, the dog looking pleased with itself. The box back repeats the same paintings for use as a colour guide, with some extras of the litter of piglets (properly referred to on the box as a farrow). Above these are the instruction diagrams.
All packed in a single polythene bag, the parts are moulded in a fairly soft grey polystyrene: a dog and a cat together with a sow and her litter of five piglets next door on one sprue; a ram and a ewe plus a lamb make up the other. The level of surface detail is reasonably good, though there is a fair bit of flash around the joining edges.
Construction steps are very simple, with just a few things to look out for.
I believe the dog is a Rough Collie, so a working dog. He’s moulded in two halves, but with the face turned to the front so that the seam runs sideways through the head; to allow the mouth to be wide open with tongue hanging out, the lower jaw / tongue is moulded separately, as a kind of banana-shaped piece that needs to be inserted into the face. This is probably the only piece of construction in the set that needs some real care, other than cleaning up the joins among the fur. I had to shorten and narrow down the jaw joining piece as well as do a little reshaping of the hole on the face in order to get the lower jaw to sit far enough in and at a natural looking angle; repeated test fitting of the piece is the only way to go. The only other fit issue was the join along the tail end where a little filler was needed. The long fairly straight hair of the dog makes smoothing the join along the body relatively easy.
The cat just needs its head attaching, which gives an opportunity for slight variation of pose; a slightly frustrating aspect of this is that there’s an attachment point right on the cat’s nose, which means care is needed in the clean up so as not to demolish the cat’s facial features.
The lamb is also straightforward: short fur and the join across the back of the head make it easy to clean up, glue together and smooth down the joins.
Its parents are a bit tougher, the main issue being the very rough woolly texture: because the halves do not fit together with absolute precision, smoothing and hiding the join line among all of it is a relatively time consuming task that requires some care. If you wanted perfection you might find a need to resort to re-engraving some of the texture back in, especially on the back of the ram’s neck. The ewe has her ears and top of head as a separate piece.
The sow requires no construction, being already moulded in one hollow section, as she lies down on her side. The piglets are the one time you should refer to the instructions as they are all different, and the halves need to be matched correctly. Just take care with the tails, I think I lost one somewhere along the way.
I gave the set a quick one day paint job, enough, I hope, to show that the detail on these figures is quite acceptable. Note that the eyes of the cat are deep enough to have taken the thin paint applied, and that the ewe, for example, actually shows a fair bit of expressive character – well, for a sheep anyway. I think that I reached beyond the limits of my face painting ability when I tried to provide the piglets with eyes and nostrils, as these really are tiny, and the eyes are only barely there in terms of moulding.
Do they look like convincing animals? Well, you can tell as well as me… I can’t help thinking the sheep’s’ legs look a little like chair legs, though I think the texture especially on the ewe is good, as is the head and ears; the ram somehow seems a little bit of a blob in comparison. The cat looks a bit skinny and not very furry when compared to his box top likeness, which is a shame. The dog is nicely animated, the tongue hanging out giving a very characteristic look, especially once painted. Not totally convinced about the sow; her face and body are reasonably well sculpted, but is there enough of her, or does she look a bit like two thirds of a pig? Maybe she needs to be lying in some soft mud so that there’s no obvious end to her body. As for the piglets, well, they all look different, which is a definite plus, and they look good both lined up feeding, or on their own.
Generally this is a decent set of animal figures for a reasonable price. Now it’s up to you to work out how to use them; obviously lots of opportunities out in rural situations, though I suppose that the cat and the dog may be the most versatile due to their poses and their greater interaction with humans. Of course the set is also pretty flexible in terms of where and when the animals might be located, though I suppose the breeds look to be of European and post 19th century origin.
By the way, I’d like to challenge someone to paint the cat as per the instructions on the box!