Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Prone, Aim & Fire!

One of the most exhilarating part of live firing is the firing of a machine gun. The recoil, the butt hitting the shoulder and the sound of the rounds rattling on and on as you depress the trigger... For those who may not have the chance of firing the General Purpose Machine Gun aka GPMG, firing a SAW light-machine gun is just as fun.


The Section Automatic Weapon (SAW) gives the section of soldiers some extra fire power compared to the assault rifle be it the M16 or the SAR21. Featured here is the miniature figurine from Miniature Stories, a Singaporean company dedicated to making miniature SAF soldier figures in various poses. In my earlier post, I had featured the Section Commander in an attack pose, leading the way.

As with the Section Commander, the details of the SAW Gunner is excellent. From the prone position...


To the aiming...

No details are spared. Take a look at this face of concentration... pay attention to the grass on the left sleeve of the uniform.

Or for that matter, the boots... same level of details.

The tiniest of details are well defined. Take for example the sole of the boots and the toggle rope on the back... The realistic grass on the back - who has ever ran on the field, prone and have no grass bits on their uniform? Now that is attention to details.

Even the SAW gun is well detailed.

And the 6 Div insignia is also hand painted as is the Marksman badge and the IPPT badge on the left arm.

This is one of the figurines I like a lot. And just in case you are wondering, all the die cast metal figurines are hand painted which means no two figurines are a like.

What's more, you may customise the badges - from Division formation on the right arm to the other individual performance badges on the left arm. You may choose from Marksmen, IPPT or even Guards unit. If you are all three, then three badges it is.

Honestly, for this level of detail and realism, I believe these figurines are worth what you are paying for. In the age of mass production, the details in the miniatures made by Miniature Stories is a breath of fresh air - much needed. For more information visit the Miniature Stories website. Both Caleb and Terra, the company's owners believe each figurine will tell a story of every NSMen's adventure during their stint in the army. And I cannot agree more. Sure brings back those good old memories...

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Miniature Soldiers - Small But Not Lacking In Details

For all Singaporean males, serving the National Service regardless of vocation is a rite of passage. This year (2017), Singapore Celebrates 50 years of National Service otherwise known as NS50.

The road from boys to men is transformational - I can vouch for that having served and also seeing my sons go through the same. NS is something all Singaporean men can proudly speak about and amongst brothers, we are proud to have served. With celebration in full swing this year to recognise present and past NS Men, I came across this miniature figurines made by a company called Miniature Stories.

The company is started by husband and wife team of Caleb and Terra. The figurines are made to 1/30 scale and at its tallest, measures 60mm. Each figurine is cast in a metal alloy and hand painted. Featured here is a Section Commander with a SAR21 assault rifle in camouflage uniform.

Because the miniature is hand painted, not two figurines are alike. From the rank epaulette, to the SAR 21 rifle to the camouflage painted face, the details are incredible.

Side profile of the Section Commander in action, leading the way.

The SAR21 in it's full glory. I used the M16 during our days and never had the chance to use the Singapore developed SAR21 Assault Rifle. As we understand it, the SAR21 (Singapore Assault Rifle) was made for the SAF by the then Chartered Industry of Singapore. Even the Division insignia is painstakingly hand painted. Here, the folks at Miniature Stories allow you to choose the different formation insignias. From 6 DIV to 9 DIV to Guards or Commandos to even Armour. All figurines are die cast in metal and gives a heft - a joy to hold in your hands. Caleb and Terra got it right - down to the uniform, weapon, uniform and all the gears.

Even the boots and the grass is hand painted in great detail. Remember those days of parade boots? Burning the spoon and smoothing out the toe cap? Fun nights using the candle after lights out, burning the spoon and then applying it to the toe cap to smoothen it before apply coat after coat of black kiwi (polish). Then you had to polish them to a spit shine - no teeth no count during stand-by parade. I am sure those of us who have gone through that understand what I am saying. Then there was the change parade... but then I digress...

Take a closer look at the details which include knee guard - something we never had in our earlier years in the army. Come to think of it, the welfare of the soldiers today are way better compared to the earlier years. Remember those starched uniforms and rubber boots? Bee hoon (vermicelli) we called rubber bands? Green bean soup (mung beans) with sand? Those were the good old days and I am sure many of us look back with pride having gone through the hard times.

Now for the back. Accurate details again. I recalled the toggle rope - we all called it "togo rope"... never really knew how it was spelt until now...

The figurines are of a high quality as the details will show. These are my first pictures and I have not fully explored the other figurines. But I am confident they are of equally good quality.

I will be posting more of these figurines and sharing the joys of the memories these figurines bring back. For more information, you may visit the Miniature Stories website. Currently, they are having a promotion - if you buy any 6 figurines, you can get one figurine free (conditions apply). And if you have already received your NS50 Vouchers, you can use it to purchase these figurines. The cost of each figurine ranges from S$59 to $75 for those featuring soldiers going through the Standard Obstacle Course (SOC).

Look out for more features of the figurines I purchased from Miniature Stories. Support local and buy something unique. Something that will remind you of those good old days, those days that will bring back a smile. And I understand the folks at Miniature Stories are making more such figurines. Stay tuned!

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Kumamoto Castle and Ramen

When you mention Kumamoto to a Japanese, they immediately tell you about Kumamon - the black bear famously created by the prefecture government of Kumamoto as their mascot. Then of course there is the Kumamoto Castle as well as the tasty Kumamoto style ramen.

We visited Kumamoto in December of 2015 and since then, Kumamoto has been rocked by earthquakes in April 2016. I wish them a speedy recovery and hope that many more visitors will visit Kumamoto to help them in their recovery.

Kumamoto is accessible by the Kyushu Shinkansen from Hakata and the direct service gets you there is about half an hour. The main attraction is the Kumamoto Castle which is about 15 minutes ride on the tram from the Kumamoto Station. You will have to walk towards the east entrance through an underpass and when you exit the train station, you will see the Tram Station about 50 metres ahead. Take Tram A and the cost will be JPY150 per person. Get off at the Kumamotojo-mae Tram Station. The walk from this station to the Hazekata Gate is about 10 minutes. Enjoy the morning walk towards the castle.


It is best to enter via this gate rather than the main Honmaru-goten Gate. Enjoy the tranquility of the garden and the Uto Turrent before heading to the main palace.

As you enter the castle grounds, a sense of tranquility embraces you. The grounds are pristine as one would expect of a castle.

The best part of coming through the "back" gate is the quietness of this area. Visitors tend to go straight to the main castle leaving the various turret towers and castle ground virtually empty.


Gina standing by the granite steps.

This is one of the turret towers closer to the back entrance.


Then you walk towards the main castle and the view is stunning.

Walk up a flight of steps and the view of the castle greets you. Majestic!

This is one of the turret towers facing (and protecting) the main castle.


Walk around and the hustle and bustle of the main castle is evident.


You might need to remove your shoes when you enter some of the turrets. But for the walk into the castle, it is fine. On one of the floors, a wooden replica of the castle.

Gina by the castle grounds. The bench is specifically placed there for photograph shots.

Another view from the side of the castle.

As you walk out to the main gates, you will walk through a dark tunnel which is supported by wooden beams.

We made it back first and ended at the front gates. But that was a blessing.

Admission to the Castle is JPY500 per person. To return to the Kumamoto Station, take the same Tram A in the opposite direction.

I do wish all the Kumamoto residence well. I understand the Kumamoto Castle was damaged in the earthquake so I hope they can restore the castle to its former glory.