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Guest article by Toichiro Yokoyama with text by SEAWINGS 

(Click on the article pictures for the full sized image)

Once in a while along comes a modeler whose work, when you see it for the first time just takes your breath away and no matter how long one stares at the pictures, you really don't quite believe what has been done with the standard kit parts that you are holding in your hand but looking at in these pictures, and as for the finish, well you might as well just take up fishing...................

Toichiro Yokoyama (aka 'Toy'), from Sapporo in Japan, is just such a modeler. When I first saw his work on his web-blog site he shares with his modeling friends, I was dumbfounded, it is clearly well beyond the 'norm' both in detail and quality of finish, yet he was starting with the same model kit that you or I can purchase in any High Street model shop, but the difference in workmanship is astounding! Having asked the question "How?", the answer was most unexpected. 

It turns out that Toichiro is in real life a surgeon, a micro vascular surgery specialist of the highest quality and he models for relaxation!! All the skills he uses during his working day are put to great use when modeling, hence the fanatical attention to building in so much fine detail; to him it's natural, it's what he does and does so well every day.

He has very kindly sent me pictures of the construction of his 1/72 scale Matchbox Supermarine Stranraer. As his English is broken and my Japanese is non-existent, all the captions are mine alone. Enjoy, or take up fishing.........you choose.


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Here we see the main hull halves temporarily taped together having had the exterior sanded down prior to filling the infamous matchbox 'trenches' for panel lines.

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Using the very basic kit parts for the cockpit, Toy begins the process of detailing using plastic card and strip, adding internal hull ribbing and a new pilot's seat.

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The exterior of the hull is continually refined by sanding, undercoating and sanding again so that it is smooth and the panel lines filled in.
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Exterior kit holes are filled and the sanding process continues until Toy is satisfied that all imperfections are gone. Particular attention is paid to this due to the nature of the silver finish, which will only serve to highlight them if they are not eradicated beforehand.
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All that detail work begins to pay dividends when it is painted. Note the delicacy of the various levers picked out with red and white paint and the added seatbelts. A new scratch-built detailed instrument panel can be seen on the forward bulkhead part prior to fitting within the hull halves.
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The underside of the centre-section of the upper wing is shown here having received very delicate detailing. Note the added rivet rows on each engine nacelle and the very smooth undercoated finish.
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Here the hull halves have been joined after the cockpit section has been fitted and sprayed with a smooth undercoat. Note the rows of rivet indentations added along the hull. The silver finish will serve to show all this detail as you will see further down the page. Note also how 'sharp' and 'crisp' all the various hull details are; this is a hallmark of Toy's fine workmanship.
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This is the top of the upper wing centre section. Notice again the very delicate rows of rivet detail and added blisters. Once again, the parts have been sanded down and undercoated to a smooth finish.
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Here is the upper hull receiving the detail treatment using tiny scraps of plastic card and fine brass wire.
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Not content with the kit canopy offering, Toy scratch-builds his own, piece by very tiny piece...!! Go have a look at the kit part if you really want to appreciate just how tiny each of these separate window sections really are! Yet, look how neat a job Toy makes of it all. No wonder he is a micro-surgeon. Note also at this stage the hull silver finish has already been applied and the wings are not affixed yet. This is something that I would not have done at this stage and yet Toy finds a way of joining the other kits parts flawlessly later.
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The wings are being detailed here with the addition of rib tapes each being 'post-shaded' to add visual contrast.
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Whilst the main construction continues other items receive attention. Here, on the left the hull forward starboard door interior has been detailed with slivers of plastic card and sprue whilst on the right one of the engines has been replaced by a spare part, detailed and painted prior to fitting; looking at the now redundant kit part you can see why.
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This is one of the floats finished, prior to final fitting. It has been sanded smooth, panel lines re-cut and rivet detail added just like the main airframe, then sprayed silver. Notice also the added caps on top.
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Here is an overall shot of all the wing and tailplane elements, all finished and ready for final fitting. Notice the various different shades in the overall colour scheme.
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An overall view of the underside of the upper wing. If you look closely you can see the ribs showing as a slightly different colour as a result of the masking shown earlier.
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In this overall view of the upper surfaces of the main wings and tailplane you can see the very subtle effect of the multiple shades of silver finish which looks quite realistic, particularly the difference between the doped fabric effect of the wings and the metal covering the wing fuel tanks. Notice also that the decals have already been applied and that, to all intents, the parts are fully finished.
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Forward hull showing the completed cockpit glazing. Again, the hull appears fully finished and decaled. The fine shading of the silver paintwork draws attention to the rivet detail.
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A close-up of the scratch-built fully finished starboard door showing the fine detail now painted. On the right are the brass wire components for the forward hull rails.
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Left and right views of the now fitted rails ready to be painted. Yes, that is correct to have the starboard one longer than the port rail. Notice also again, the subtle effects of multiple shades of silver and the neat rivet detail. The lower wings have been fitted in this view, very neatly and with no apparent gaps. 
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Final assembly is well under way with the lower wings and now the tail empennage joined to the hull.
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The left hand image is a slightly different view than the one above, showing more of the decal walkways on the lower wings, together with the darker coloured fuel tank areas. Note the walkways on the tail empennage also. On the right, we can see that the inter-plane rigging has been done following placement of the upper wing. That all the airframe is painted and fully finished whilst these operations are carried out is quite amazing (to me). It would be so easy to spoil the finish with glue spots and runs.
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Scratch-built beaching gear sub-assemblies with brass wire oleo legs together with odd bits of the kit parts, await painting.
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Close-up of the fully fitted and finished beaching gear with wheel and tyre. Note how delicate this looks. This shot also affords a close view of the wing rigging attachment points which are wither drilled and located into the base of the strut or the wing itself.

The Finished Model - Just Superb!

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And there it is; the finished model in all it's glory. Quite one of the most attractive builds of the Stranraer I have ever seen. It just shows what can be done with the old Matchbox kit given time, patience, good references and the masterly skills of a micro-surgeon! Just look at the detail work in the guns, aerials, propellers and exhausts.  Stunning, simply stunning...!!

Toichiro Yokoyama is indeed a master modeler and SEAWINGS is indebted to him for permission to reproduce his work here. Other equally stunning examples of his work can be seen in the Model Gallery elsewhere on this site.

Don't forget to pay regular visits to his web-blog site where other equally stunning examples of his, and his modeling friends, can be readily seen; don't worry about the language barrier - after you have seen this work you will be speechless anyway!!!!