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Project Notes

#650 Mongol Warriors

Using select 1:72 figures from HäT set 8298 to make a little diorama in an Ikea picture frame with LED lighting.



The Figures

I picked up this set HäT set of “Huns” No. 8298 1:72 with an idea for placing them in a diorama.

Plastic Soldier Review has “middling” things to say about the figures, mainly criticising the somewhat over-scale casting, and the poor sculpting of the horses. Having worked with them now, I must agree, hover my main problem was with the plastic - very soft, like polythene(?), and therefore very difficult to make modifications and clean up seam-lines and other imperfections.

While the figures are intended to represent Huns between the 4th and 6th century AD, the sculpting is not very specific, and is also quite similar in clothing and style to the Mongol Empire of the 13th and 14th centuries.

The Plan

I had this Ikea RIBBA picture frame just waiting for such a project. Testing the layout, I think I have a plan…


Preparing the Figures

Cleaning up as best I can, replacing arrows and lances with wire much more in-scale.


Primed in black..


Horses and riders paired up for painting..


The Picture Frame

The scene is set inside a 23x23cm Ikea RIBBA picture frame (black, item code 802.081.38). It is perfect for this kind of project, as it has a nice depth of about 3cm.

The bad news is that it appears these have been discontinued from the RIBBA picture frame series.

The 25x25 cm SANNAHED may be a close equivalent, but with a plastic front protector instead of glass.

Lighting the Frame

To light the frame, I’m using a short (~7 LED) length of 12V warm white LED strip. To make it easy to power, I’m using a 9V battery to be installed in the frame with a MT3608-based boost converter to bump the output to 12V.

Note: see LEAP#642 for issue with running the boost converter with an input over 7V - basically just need to be careful not to fully adjust the output to the extreme (lest the MT3608 chip will be fried). Adjusted for 12V output is fine.



Testing the LEDs before installing in the frame..


Testing the LEDs in the frame. Better remember not to put in the glass pane for photographs!


Final Figure Painting

I’ve prepared the ground, now I can start selecting final positioning of the riders.

The base:

  • high density foam roughly sculpted to an uneven hill side trail
  • plastered with grout
  • primed in black
  • airbrushed with varied Vallejo model colors
  • some pastels used as pigments


Wow, it is actually coming to life..


These boys mean business.

build04c build04d

Final Assembly

Mongol Warriors - some final shots of this scene in an Ikea picture box. A few HäT “hun” figures, a base, background and LED lighting.

The overall effect is close to what I had intended, but the figures don’t really stand up to close scrutiny .. I’ve replaced some obvious scale aberrations like lances, arrows and bow strings but there are still some oddities (e.g. hand sizes!)

build05a build05b build05c build05d build05e build05f

Credits and References

Project Source on GitHub Project Gallery Return to the LEAP Catalog

This page is a web-friendly rendering of my project notes shared in the LEAP GitHub repository.

LEAP is just my personal collection of projects. Two main themes have emerged in recent years, sometimes combined:

  • electronics - usually involving an Arduino or other microprocessor in one way or another. Some are full-blown projects, while many are trivial breadboard experiments, intended to learn and explore something interesting
  • scale modelling - I caught the bug after deciding to build a Harrier during covid to demonstrate an electronic jet engine simulation. Let the fun begin..
To be honest, I haven't quite figured out if these two interests belong in the same GitHub repo or not. But for now - they are all here!

Projects are often inspired by things found wild on the net, or ideas from the many great electronics and scale modelling podcasts and YouTube channels. Feel free to borrow liberally, and if you spot any issues do let me know (or send a PR!). See the individual projects for credits where due.