neděle 11. srpna 2013

Papercraft: Betexa – 3x Architecture

Description of Czech publishing house and review of three of their buildings. Betexa was founded in 1997 in my hometown, Brno, and slowly swarmed the Czech market with dozens of models of all possible genres and difficulties. Among them is a vast collection of Czech castles and chateaus, which would be great, except the quality of execution isn’t always very good. On the plus side are the buildings often huge and impressive, and they are often the only available model of a given structure. For the builders abroad is also a definitively positive thing the presence of the walkthrough in English and German. 

On the opposite side you may expect extremely smooth paper, which should be roughened first on the parts that are supposed to be glued; precision of the drawing also isn’t a strong point. But it seems that their models got better over the years. Personally I’ve built only a handful of their models, most of the castles were put together by my father. This is my presentation and review of three different architectural models from Betexa, which showcases their progress over the last decade (models are from 2000, 2003 and 2009). These were built by me over the course of July 2013, after period of three or four years of my papercraft hibernation. 

1) Karlstejn Castle (Hrad Karlštejn) (2000)  

Author: Ing. Robert Navrátil Scale: 1:350 Website:
Karlstejn is one of the most famous, if not the most famous Czech castle and it’s a rather strange, that this is the first time the model of it was published (some years later the same publishing house brought smaller model). The first unusual thing about the model's construction is the fact it’s build from top to bottom – and during first half of the process it can’t support itself, so you risk the additional damage to the long and uneven parts of the walls. The most difficult part is to assembly the imperial palace and its roof, since there aren’t many available ways how to reach to all pieces that need to be glued together. Assembly of the hill itself is also difficult for precision, but it’s doable. The final hell is to put together two separate parts – the inner part of castle + hill itself and the Burgrave’s palace area and the Well tower. Thanks to abundance of free time, I’ve managed to put it together in four days, to the infinite pleasure of my girlfriend, who is in love with the Czech historical musical set on it.

2) Watch-Tower in Roudnice nad Labem (Hláska v Roudnici nad Labem) (2003) 

Author: Anonymous (possibly Ing. Robert Navrátil) Scale: 1:150 Website:
Actually the first model I’ve build after my three years long gluing slumber, to practice a bit for the Karlstejn castle. Rather simple in execution, but served its purpose. There are no guidelines other than Czech, but the construction drawing is easy enough to follow even without the knowledge of Czech language. My assembly wasn’t completely successful, unfortunately.

3) Vernacular architecture from (Czech-Moravian) Highlands (Lidové stavby z Vysočiny) (2009) Autor: Bestr, Navrátil Scale: 1:87 Website:

Actually two buildings in one package – first is watermill and the other is rural homestead. This is possibly the best made Betexa mode, I’ve seen and built in my entire career. It’s finally printed out at good (not smoothed) paper; the colours don’t go out of the areas of the parts and even enables to build the models in two versions, either the simple one or with using cut-out windows, real-looking milling wheel or the supporting beams. The only greater issue is with the way the roof is attached to both buildings: first you have the walls; these are covered with big, flat, wholesome strip of paper. Then you build the roof, which also get covered with other big, flat, wholesome... you get the idea. And only then you glue these two big, flat... whatever together. It doesn’t make problems with watermill, but the homestead suffers greatly thanks to impossibility to adjust the parts with the final touch while gluing them to the terrain – or you have to cut most of the inside of such construction areas.And in case of the homestead, what looks like a damaged piece, is actually a drawing on the modell.


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sobota 3. srpna 2013

Kebab mit Alles (TV Film)

When you say „TV film“, that is film made directly for screening on TV without showing it in cinema or releasing it on DVD first, it often means a product of a low(er) quality. It may often be so, but sometimes the viewer can find a true jewel. Kebab mit alles is, at least in my eyes, such jewel. The premise is simple – One Turkish family (father played by Tim Seyfi, mother, teenage daughter and small son) moves to Vienna to start a restaurant business there. They buy a house from certain count (Michael Schönborn) and everything seems fine, until they find out the house… houses also true Austrian Coffee shop run by grumpy man (Andreas Vitásek) who despises all foreigners, and his wife (Franziska Sztavjanik). What follows is an amusing clash of wills and different views on life and cultural backgrounds, where no one really wants to see that both sides are basically the same. The story is also sparkled with a bit of magic realism through the character of Prince Eugene of Savoy (Michael Ostrowski), that is hero of the siege of Vienna in 1683 and whose life-sized picture hangs in the Coffee house that bears his name. Prince Eugene occasionally steps out of the painting and talks to the grumpy Johann Stanzerl and tries to teach him some military tactics. Both sides get help from their friends, but these are often unpleasant (Turkish “godfather”), incompetent but well-meaning or even backstabbing and usually make more mess than actual help. While the two husbands can’t come to terms, their wives on the other hand see no reason to mutual enmity and often help to each other. I don’t want to spoil the ending, so here I stop with describing of the story itself. While the film itself takes place mostly in the single house, it doesn’t mind in slightest. To me, it’s film about co-existence of two different nationalities, but also says, that one doesn’t have to be a slave of traditions. And interestingly, while it’s Austrian production (ORF + Arte) and the tagline rephrasing Astérix and Obelix seems to side with the Austrian citizen (“Die ganze Brunnengasse ist in türkischer Hand. Die Ganze? Nein, nicht die Ganze. Eine letzte österreichische Bastion gibt es noch…“), actually shows the opponent (who is Turkish and Piefke) in slightly more positive light. I would also mention shortly the soundtrack, which often plays with different genres and national tunes for comedic effect. If you like witty comedies, give this a try. - full film (unfortunately, the link isn’t valid any longer - this article was written in March 2013). Read more!

pátek 2. srpna 2013

Fingon’s Blog Reloaded!

It’s been years since I’ve started this blog, plus I’ve always wrote only in Czech. Last entry was no less than two years ago... Now it’s time for blog written in English (and maybe a bit in German, if I feel to it and find a suitable topic). But the themes I intend to write about will change only slightly, or rather broaden up a bit: this is where you can find my thoughts about things I like - films, computer games, books and maybe papercraft and cooking... Stay tuned und auf Wiedersehen. Read more!