Last Exile +++ 1:8 Tatjana Wiszla: Original design sketch vs. resin character figure
The initial concept designs for Last Exile were created by character designer Range Murata. Murata also spent a great amount of time on costume design. Wanting to portray each character's personality more fully, he "tried to draw in the kind of material that would have been used in creating their clothes and try to represent the stitches connecting the fabric". Although Studio Gonzo initially intended for Last Exile to be shown in a space setting, it did not want characters who use sterile space suits. As a result, Murata's designs placed the show in its current setting.
Although the fictional world of Prester is not a representation of Earth, it features technology reminiscent of nineteenth century Europe at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Many of its designs were also inspired by Germany's technological advances during the interwar period. Uniform designs for Anatoray's musketeers were based on Napoleon Bonaparte's army and American Civil War soldiers. On the other hand, Soviet Red Army fur coats provided the basis for Disith uniforms. The crew of the Silvana wore uniforms that were more modern and utilitarian.
Production of Last Exile relied heavily on 3D computer animation. The animation for Last Exile was also supplemented with Victorian era flourishes. In order to combine hand-drawn animation with computer-generated ones, the production team used a technique for non-photorealistic rendering, which could not be used for Blue Submarine No. 6 (a previous work of Gonzo and one of the first CG anime series) because of a stylistic conflict.
Tatiana Wiszla (タチアナ・ヴィスラ Tachiana Visura?) is only a supporting character in Last Exile. She is the only child of "the proud and noble" Wiszla house of Anatoray. At the age of seventeen, Tatiana left home to become a member of the newly formed Anatoray Military Vanship Corps, a new military division dedicated to using vanships as weapons as opposed to just couriers and transports.
She excelled in both piloting and dogfighting, quickly becoming one of the best vanship pilots in the sky, possibly second only to Alex Row. She sent all the extra money she made as an ace pilot back to her family so that her mother could care for her ailing father. Before too long, she found herself on the Silvana as Row's handpicked wing commander for his small vanship fighter fleet. She pilots a twin-engine vanship fighter which she painted red to distinguish herself from the other pilots as well as all other vanships in the sky (BTW, available from Hasegawa in 1:72 scale).
With her trusted friend, confidant, and navigator, Alister Agrew, she quickly becomes one of the most dreaded forces in the sky next to the Silvana herself, for which the technicians on board the Silvana start calling her the "princess." Her cold demeanor manages to alienate even her close friend Alister. This leads to Alister flying with Claus Valca as his "navi" (short for "navigator") for a time, both as a rebuke to Tatiana and because Claus's navigator, Lavie Head, does not want to fly any more combat missions.
Tatiana is second best to none in her own mind, but her overconfident self-view is challenged when she meets Claus, whose piloting skills rival her own. From then on, her feelings toward Claus go on a roller coaster, making her feel anger, disgust, awe, respect, fear, and even attraction to the young vanship pilot. Her frosty aloofness is clearly a self-defensive façade; she suffers a mental breakdown of sorts after getting shot down over the desert, but recovers, and from that time she begins to show a greater depth of feeling, especially towards Claus, whom she develops a crush on.
In “Last Exile: Fam, the Sliver Wing”, Tatiana ihas become Captain of the Submersible Aircraft Carrier Silvius with Alister as her Vice-Captain.
The kit and its assembly:
As many kits, I had bought this one occasionally and had it stashed away for a while. I have never seen Last Exile, so my motivation and inspiration was rather stirred by severel Hasegawa Vanship builds in different online forums where I lurk, too, and I thought i could a) provide a suitable pilot character for these beautiful, retro-styles air vehicles and b) get in the mood to scratch a Vanship of own design, too - but the latter is another project.
Tatja Wiszla is a typical Range Murata design, very clean and with "soft" curves. Anyway, despite being very simple (the resin kit only has 9 parts), the figure has a very strong expression, and it is actually based on an official design sketch where the character leans onto rails, looking to the side with a stern, even challenging expression.
I was sceptical at first, but the figure catches this pose perfectly, and builders should pay attention to this benchmark illustration and the way the figure is supposed to be posed - otherwise the figure can look pretty goofy!
Anyway, the figure was built almost 100% OOB, with only minor mods. One thing I really did not like was the base that came with it. It actually depicts a small portion of the rails the figure leans on, but the execution in resin plates is so simple and bleak.... no.
I decided to scratch a base, and eventually settled on a round MDF plate with an improvised table onto which the figure can propely lean. Since the base is pretty large for the small figure, I later added a pilot helmet (a metal-cast Franklin Mint collectible, from the local airport's souvenir shop!) on the table. It's not really authentic for Last Exile (even though pressurized helmets exist), but it is a nice detail for the whole display and a good contrast counterpart to the grey-in-grey figure. It also adds a professional/military touch and underlines Tatjana's profession and 'ready when you are' attitude.
As a consequence, the sole of the figure's left foot became visible, so I added two round inserts (tank wheels!) into the sole, the only real modification.
Otherwise, only small details like a zip or the round buttons on the belly and under the collar were added - character design sketches helped here, as well as finding suitable colors.
As per usual. the whole kit was painted with a brush and with enamels. Black ink and black acrylic paint was used to emphasize edges and deepen engravings, as a final step everything was sealed under matt varnish.
Since the figure is cleverly constructed in segments that later carry different colors, I painted the whole thing before I finally assembled it. It's really a nice kit that I can actually recommend for bloody beginners. Fit and casting quality were very good, in fact there were only minimal sanding and putty works to do - and if you take the OOB base you have a 95% painting job on this one.